Thursday, 12 December 2013

Hanover Associators

Another well documented flag of a militia unit from the Revolutionary War is that of the Hanover Associators in Pennsylvania. The flag itself has gone, but there is an ancient engraving in the Pennsylvania State Archives and a description in a letter of Col. Timothy Green, commanding officer of the Hanover battalion. 
PA Archives (the fastening to the staff and the fringes are wrong)
According to him the flag was of crimson watered silk, six feet long by five and one-half feet wide. It contained a figure in the clothes of a frontier rifleman, with gun ready, underneath being a scroll with the motto  LIBERTY OR DEATH.
The colors are listed as "Red field and trim on cap; yellow fringe and scroll; black lettering and cap; green ground and uniform with cream legs, trim, feather and powder horn; brown belt and light blue rifle barrel."
The whole unit (which could be filled up with other militia figures)

As figures I took 12 soldiers of Redoubt's "American Line Infantry in Hunting Shirts" and three figures of their command which had an extra drummer and ensign. The NCO had his halberd removed, he received a pistol instead which he is holding at ready. And he was promoted to officer. With green stuff I added a pouch and powder horn. (Where else should he keep his ammunition?)
The command: officer, ensign, drummer
The officer (finished version)

1st Pennsylvania Regiment


There has been some confusion over the numbering of the first and second Pennsylvania regiments. The 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, raised as the second troop from Pennsylvania, is also known as the Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment, Thomson's Rifle Battalion, or 1st Continental Regiment. As two of their names tell us, they were armed with rifles. And with these they played a decisive part in breaking the morale of the Hessian regiments at Trenton, probably also killing Colonel Rall.
The colours of this troop are preserved until today - at least in some shreds. So we know what the figures in the central field looked like, and what the inscription was. The contemporary description, however, is not what you would call precise:

"Our Standard is to be a deep green ground, the Device a Tyger partly enclosed by toils attempting the pass defended by a hunter armed with a spear in white, on crimson field the motto 'Domari nolo'”.
At least we know from it that the bunting was green, and the central field crimson. The flag was made of silk. The inscription above the figures reads "P.M.I.st Rt." (= Pennsylvania Militia, 1st Regiment). The Latin motto "DOMARI NOLO" on a banner below the central group means "I refuse to be dominated".
Part of the central field of the original flag

One of the surviving shreds shows the central group, the hunter with his spear and the tiger trying to escape from the net in which it is caught. It is much more detailed than most reconstructions show, being painted onto the silk.
Reconstruction of the regimental colours

Doctor James Thacher from Barnstable who knew the troop from many encounters, provides the following description of the soldiers:
 
"They are remarkably stout and hardy men; many of them exceeding six feet in height. They are dressed in white frocks or rifle shirts and round hats. There men are remarkable for the accuracy of their aim; striking a mark with great certainty at two hundred yards distance. At a review, a company of them, while in a quick advance, fired their balls into objects of seven inches diameter at the distance of 250 yards [...] their shot have frequently proved fatal to British officers and soldiers who expose themselves to view at more than double the distance of common musket shot."
(James Thacher, "Military Journal during the American Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783".)


As figures I chose the Perry riflemen. One of them wears a coat. Following the deserter description of 24th July 1776, I painted it as "an old coat of winestone color". The others wear white hunting shirts. Officer, drummer and ensign were borrowed from Redoubt's Line Infantry in hunting shirts. The officer was given a Jäger rifle, of course, instead of his pole weapon. Not a bad change, I think.

The regiment
Ensign and officer (Redoubt)
In case my regiment is regarded too small by my fellow players, I can easily fill it up with men of the Hanover Associators which I painted accordingly.




Stockbridge Indians

For quite some time I had planned to get the group of Stockbridge Indians from the Perries. Ever since I had read the diary of Johann Ewald and seen his watercolour of one of the killed members of this militia of native Americans who fought for the cause of freedom.
Johann Ewald, "An Indian of the Stockbridge tribe", watercolour 1778
Johann Ewald, captain of the Hessian Jäger contingent, describes the members of this semi-civilized tribe who lived in the small town of Stockbridge as follows:

Their costume was a shirt of coarse linen down to the knees, long trousers also of linen down to the feet, on which they wore shoes of deerskin, and the head was covered with a hat made of bast. Their weapons were a rifle or musket, a quiver with some twenty arrows, and a short battle-axe, which they know how to throw very skillfully. Through the nose and in the ears they wore rings, and on their heads only the hair of the crown remained standing in a circle the size of a dollar-piece, the remainder being shaved off bare. They pull out with pincers all the hairs of the beard, as well as those on all other parts of the body.
A company of the Indian troops had been ambushed on August 31st, 1778 in the Bronx by British and Hessian troops, and fifteen of them had been killed. Captain Ewald observed the dead Indians on the ground and painted his picture of them. Furthermore he gives this description:

"After the affair I examined the dead Indians. I was struck with astonishment over their sinewy and muscular bodies. Their strong, well-built, and healthy bodies were strikingly distinguished among the Europeans with whom they lay mingled on the ground, and one could see by their faces that they had perished with resolution.  I compared these Indians with my ancestors under Arminius [Teuton chief who defeated the Roman legions in 9 A.D.], against whom they looked like pygmies to me." 
The gun the Indian carries obviously is a rifle and not a musket. So this may be the portrait of the Indian commander Abraham Nimham or his farther Daniel Nimham who were both killed in the ambush, later known as the Bronx Massacre.
In painting the figures I followed Ewald's description. Here they are: 
The 6 types of Stockbridge Indians by Perry




Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Draft Oxen

Trying to get some cattle (oxen) for my troops I got two draft oxen from Redoubt Enterprises. They have got fixed yokes. So I decided to use them as draft animals and not as victuals. Here they are, pulling a heavy log:


Saturday, 30 November 2013

Water Cart

In order to transport water from one of the wells or the stream to the troops I needed another water cart with a barrel.
My first one was an old model by Erich Erich which I had bought decades ago for my army of flats. It was a nice water cart with a tapped barrel. However there was no draft animal nor a drover. So I bought these from Front Rank Miniatures, a nice looking ox and a drover in a smock.

The drover is a bit chubby, and he carried a whip. I didn't mind the physical appearance so much. There are chubby people, aren't there. And the whip I could easily be exchanged for a prick. At that time (in 2009) I was about to build my French expeditionary force. So the cart was painted blue, which limits its usability though. But I left it as it was (for historical reasons of my collection, so to speak).
With my new water cart I avoided this mistake: It is colored in a neutral wood tone. And I scratch-built it, using a fat barrel I had picked up at a fair (don't ask me from whom). As wheels I used a pair from a somewhat over-sized model of a 3-pounder galloper gun by an Austrian producer. They might go for those over-sized wheels  on agricultural vehicles which were customary in the 18th century. (These big wheels made transport easier on muddy roads, because of their large diameter and broad tires.)
The drover is a Minden miniature who was equipped with a prick by drilling a hole into his right hand and fitting in a bit of wire sharpened at the end.
The oxen are a pair from Mirliton Miniatures from Italy, the yoke originally belonged to a pair of draft oxen from Colonel Bill's Wargames Depot. The original animals are quite nice, too. But I needed walking animals because the drover is walking.
 The oxen I painted as New England cattle, hoping that this race was in existence in 1779.
Now the incident card "hot weather" may be drawn.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Need for Wells


Our war-gaming group (5 members between 24 and 80)  had begun to revise our set of home-made rules. Actually it is a constant process of revising, trying to adopt the rules to new historical information one of us has come across.
Having read about the effects of hot weather on the troops at the Battle of Monmouth, we decided that this ought to be taken into account.
Our rules contain the element of "incident cards", i. e. cards that are drawn every round which describe unforeseeable events in war, for example a change of weather. Drawing the card "Hot weather" (c. 110° F or 40° C!) would have several consequences:
  • The movement of troops would be hampered; 
  • a certain percentage of the unit would suffer from heat strokes;
  • horses and oxen would have to be watered at the nearest stream, pond, or lake;
  • soldiers would have to fetch water at a stream or a well at a neighboring farm or house if they were to move at all. 
So far so good for our attempt to get as close to reality as possible in a game.
However, we did not have enough wells to put this into practice. We could have said that there was an invisible well at every house. But we like to have scenery and not just imagination. otherwise we could play with cardboard bits on a bare table.
Scrap building wells causes some difficulties in my eyes.  It would be manageable with a log built well near a cabin.
My scrap-built log well
But how to achieve the form of a stone well? I had no pipes in my cellar of the right diameter. So I looked for wells to be bought.
Up to now I have discovered two wells at Thomarillion. They are fantasy products, but serve my purposes well enough. I added ropes and buckets (made from a surplus ballpoint pen), and the smaller one got a superstructure with a pulley.
Village well (no. 40339) by Thomarillion
Well (no. 41294) by Thomarillion
with scrap built superstructure of my own

So that's a beginning anyhow.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Red Bull Tavern

I thought a massive stone building on the table might be something like a fortress for the party who took possession of it first. (A nice scenario, isn't it?)
McConkey's Ferry Inn, where Washington stayed before crossing the Delaware

For an isolated building only a country tavern came into account. I studied several historical buildings and then constructed one, following my own ideas. A slight remembrance of McConkey's Ferry Inn is not to be denied.
Red Bull Tavern, a product of my imagination
My house is built of quarried stone walls, has got an upper story and a verandah. The roof and the upper floor are made detachable. I even cherished the luxury of interior walls and a staircase. I even didn't forget the door to the wine cellar!
The ground floor
The upper floor
As material I used plywood, cardboard, and all kinds of scrap wood from my collection. For the wall structure I used a model railway maker's mold  for a quarry stone wall, which I filled with a mixture of waste paper, white glue and a filler. And finally I used two sheets of slate roof to cover my building. The windows I bought from a producer of architect's material.
Front view
Rear view

The tavern sign

The tents are ready

I have devised a ridge tent for my figures. In the Internet I found the site of a firm that produces tents for re-enactors. So it wasn't necessary to do all the research myself. I just had to use their measures, do a bit of arithmetic (feet and inches to cm, and reality size to model size, 1:56).
Adopted drawing from the tent-maker's website (measures in cm)

The rest was drawing and remembering my geometry lessons. And printing my work onto thin cardboard, of course (4 tents per page).
My finished tent layout of a French or American Ridge tent with half-bell
Then I started building my first tent.
First I cut it out, folded it, and glued it together. Like this:
The cardboard tent
Then I prepared the base of thick cardboard. I cut it to size (about 5x9 cm), drilled the holes for the tent poles and the pegs (when I did my first tent I forgot to drill four holes on the long sides of the tent, I corrected this later). I cut two poles from tooth pricks (3.7cm), and glued them into their holes. Then I painted the tent floor in ocre (later it would be difficult to reach all the edges).
The base with the tent poles
The next step was adding the cardboard tent, and gluing the pegs (tips of tooth pricks) into their holes. The peg for the tent line was glued in later, in order to be able to straighten the line which might come loose by the cardboard base bending in the process of painting it. At the moment it is just stuck into its hole to hold the line in place.
The assembled tent
Then I painted the base an olive green and put grass around my tent. I also added some paint to the edges and "seams". And finally I straightened the line and glued in the last peg.
The finished tent (sideview)

Front side

Rear with the half-bell
The ridge of my tent model is a bit straight, I must confess. But it does not look too bad, I think.
One of the flaps I threw open, put some straw inside, and added the closing tassels to the flap.
 
 

Waiting for my Perry camp figures to be painted.

At the moment they look somewhat "ghostlike" or like virtual figures.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Johnson's Smithy

I had the idea to have a blacksmith shop among my buildings. So I first looked for some figures. I came across two sets: a horseshoeing group by Minden Miniatures, and another one by Hovels Model Buildings. The latter one is 19th century, if you take things too seriously. But I surmised that an American blacksmith might have worn his hair short in our period. So I had two sets available.

Blacksmith group by Minden Miniatures
Blacksmith and apprentice by Hovels Model Buildings
One of them even contained an anvil. So I didn't have to sculpt that. A appropriate tub was among my spare parts, collected years ago at the Kulmbach Fair.

The water tub filled with plastic water

But what about the building itself? I searched the net for pictures of historic smithies and came across some useful illustrations which helped me concretize my idea of the smithy.
Photo of a Colonial smithy from the internet
The problem was that I not only wanted to have the exterior of the building, but also the interior which could be seen through the wide open door. So I had to do the hearth, the furnace, the bellows, and of course the grinding stone and some spare tools (tongs and hammers). Not to speak of the material the blacksmith was going to use: some iron bars in a corner, a collection of hoseshoes on a beam, and iron wheel tyres on the outside wall.
The hearth with the glowing fire of the smithy was not really a problem. Looking for hints how to build it, I came across a model railway builder's website that offered a cheap solution: using an electronic tea light! Two of these lights cost me two Euros. The parts in the interior of these lights - a battery, battery chamber, a flickering LED and a switch - are so small they easily fit into the hearth.

Electronic tea light
The glowing hearth (mind the tools!)
The electronic tea light inserted into the base 
The grinding stone

Bird's eye view of the interior
A view through the detachable roof
(mind the horseshoes and the spare iron bars in the corner)
The hearth with the bellows
Making all this, turned out great fun, forgetting the original purpose of wargaming, of course. It changed to model building in the course of affairs.
The front

Right side

Rear side

Left side with the wheel tyres

The wheel tyres in their original state (I used the interior ring)
 
Life at Johnson's Smithy