Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Edgehill - The Battle Reinterpreted" - a review..

You heard it here first, that's it, there will be an English Civil War project this winter...   ...the, oh so delightful, decision making and researching towards an actual physical end can start..

Let's start here then...

When I start a project practically the first thing I always do is look for something to latch my project on to.. usually a battle...  but for this project I haven't yet decided - certainly the subject of this book is one as I have a track record of leaning towards the start of periods/campaigns (1940 France, Blenheim, 1942 North Africa, pre Kitchener Sudan, etc.). Then there's Lansdown (Sir Bevil Grenville and his Cornish troops..!), or my local battle, Cheriton (Waller versus his very good friend Hopton) - so decision not made on that yet..

All my projects do however rely on research... I don't think the researching ever stops (they keep bringing new books out), but what I tend to gravitate to (after having read the usual history for the campaign - why they were fighting etc) at the start is books explaining the fighting mans experience, and more importabtly how he fought, which is how we come to this book which I bought in the remaindered bookshop in Bath, oh, must be four or five years ago! Clearly even then I knew I'd be doing an English Civil war project..    I'll lay my cards on the table and say that I think this book is a cracker so this one is ideal

So leaving all the usual history stuff to one side (as wargamers I would say we all have a rough idea on why the English Civil War was fought) this book is about the first major engagement (yes there were some skirmishes and minor engagements before, but this was the first big battle) not only substantial research on the timetable of the actual battle (who was where and when and why), but the bigger benefit to me was the earlier chapters on each of the major arms - cavalry, infantry and artillery - their equipment, training and weapons at this stage of the war with some commentary on how these changed as the war progressed..

So we learn that at this stage of the war Parliament would have had better equipment (access to London),which in turn lead to a higher proportion of musket to pike (2:1 or better compared with 1:1 or 3:2 for the Royalists), and that Pike would have worn more armour at this stage of the war (it tended to be worn less as the war progressed, due to improved musketry, and the weight)

Both sides had armies that were pretty new to the game. Largely raw, and poorly trained, but leavened by experienced NCO's, officers and gentry that would have had had recent experience on the Continent either with Gustavus in Sweden, or the Thirty Years War, and some of them would have fought in the Bishops Wars [clicky] a few years before. The authors (Christopher L. Scott, Alan Turton, Eric Gruber von Arni) have a very good chapter on the two major deployment/tactical types - the Swedish and Dutch systems - and the differences between them..  a chapter I feel I'll be coming back to again to refresh my memory from time to time.

This site is very good [clicky] on the difference between the two (and on a huge number of other subjects to do with the English Civil War!) but basically the Dutch was older, more basic (deeper ranks and chequer board deployment) and more easy to learn (and was used by Essex and his Parliamentarian army at the battle), the Swedish system (fewer ranks, diamond pattern deployment, and more complex firing methodology) was newer and controversially was adopted by Charles on the advice of his battlefield commanders (Rupert).. possibly one of the deciding factors in his losing the battle given the paucity of training his infantry had?

All in all then I thought the book was a belter, and an excellent primer to the early armies of the English Civil War..  time will tell if subsequent research comes up with contradictions, but I thought it was very good..  Steve the Wargamer rates it 9/10..

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Portsea Island Beer Festival - 2016

Time again for the Pompey beer festival at Groundling's Theatre - hard to believe that this is the 6th one!

As ever a  most enjoyable event and for this year, we had a full turn out of the beer drinking crew I generally attend these events with.. good to see themand as ever much banter and errr...  bolleaux...  was exchanged! 

Interesting choice of glass this year (left) much like a brandy snifter..  very funny looking round and seeing all the usual old/bearded/scruffy types (and that was only us) grasping their delicate little glasses ..

I've spoken of the venue before and it is still the best venue for an event like this - chock full of character (and as a reminder it is a Victorian era building, now a theatre, but originally a school, and the site where Mrs Dickens went into labour the night before Charley arrived), but again, not an outstanding festival in the humble opinion of the cognoscenti I was with...  poor'ish beer choices, but at least this year we had a good brass band (unlike the nutters with electric instruments they put on last year)... nothing like a good brass band bashing out Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem to get the punters waving their brandy snifters..  err, beer glasses.....

I wonder in fact if the poor beer choice last year didn't affect numbers this year as I thought they were well down - lots of room to move as you can see following (which is the upstairs theatre area where the beer bar is)..  two or three years ago we were shoulder to shoulder..

..this is downstairs, still something of the school room here..

So..  what of the future for this excellent little festival?? I've seen it again and again over the years, organisers try to save money by buying from lesser known breweries (and it was fairly clear the organisers had sent a van to Nottingham for this one as their were five Nottingham Breweries represented! ), but the punters at these festivals are experienced ale drinkers and can tell, and if the organisers carry on doing that, then people are not going to go (like this year?)..  three or four of our party were already ready to go half way through, after a succession of good but not outstanding beers..  if you pay £5 or whatever to get in, and then pub prices for beer, and you know that only a mile away there is a pub selling a good selection of premium real ales without an entry price, what would you do?  The way ahead is to leaven the racks of lesser known breweries with a few barrels of the better known breweries that are not accessible in our area - a few barrels from the likes of Thornbridge or Kelham Island would have made a huge difference to this festival.. Anyway, feedback will be provided and I'll give this festival one more chance next year..

So without further ado here were the beers partaken of.. these were full half's only...  good swigs of a few others were also partaken of...

Brewery (clickable) Beer (click for more info) ABV Notes (from brewery website) What I can remember...
Bude BreweryPorthbud4%"Our latest addition is Porthbud our session Pale Ale. This 4.0% ABV ale has a beautiful light colour, a wonderful passion fruit aroma and tantalising hoppy after taste. We combined Cascade with Pioneer and dry hopped Porthbud to give it a bold flavour that leaves you wanting more".I thought this largely lived up to what was promised and it was a worthy session strength start to the afternoon.. dry/hoppy
Dukeries De Love Tot 4.2% "Golden ale with hints of citrus, mellow lemon and grapefruit with an enjoyable long bitter finish". First of the Nottingham breweries  Not a succesfful choice forme..  from the description Ido wonder if this beer was on the turn as I thought it was a very sour/Saisson style? A "chuck'er"* I'm afraid..
Emsworth Brewery Flotilla 4.4% "A dark amber coloured ale with fruity flavours from the blend of 3 English Ale Malts. Target & Bobek hops enrich the flavours with hints of sultana in the final finish". My local brewery - guess no more than a mile from Chateau Steve the Wargamer..  an OK brewery and an OK beer.. this was a traditional amber British bitter..  slightly malty/sweet, hoppy/dry after taste..
Lincoln Green Little John 4.3% "Brown ale with dark amber colour and chocolate malt flavours." Second of the Nottingham Breweries.. More a mild than anything else - smokey/dark chocolate tones.
Nottingham Bullion 4.7% "A light coloured, exceptionally well balanced smooth ale with a light fragrant hop finish.

Bronze award winner at the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival 2000."
Third Nottingham Brewery..  and I've marked this as "best yet"..
Vale VPA 4.2% "Hops from across the Atlantic produce an assertive, dry, hoppy ale with a citrus nose combined with  a  notable  sweetness". I was looking for some heavy hitting Citra type bitterness but my notes only indicate "nothing special"
Urban Island High and Dry 5.5% "West Coast IPA brewed to celebrate the Americas Cup World Series commencing today in our home town of Portsmouth". Local brewery to the festival - Portsmouth. Strong hoppy bitter finish.

* as in "chuck it in the bucket mate, this is gopping"..

Thursday, October 13, 2016

ACW baggage

Work has started on some wagons I picked up at Colours intended for the American Civil War project..

These are from Britannia Miniatures who also made the other wagons I bought previously [clicky] - they are from their 20mm WWII range but eminently usable. They are also phenomenally cheap..  less than a fiver each... for wagon, horses and crew!

I'm guessing the moulds for these are "veterans" as they have significant amounts of flash - especially the horses... but a bit of file work and a small dremel tool soon cleaned them up... For the wagon crew I'm going to be using some Newline figures from the artillery limber set - a bit of a neater solution than a file and hack job on the figures that came with the wagons...

Wagon bodies are resin and crisp/clean...

I replaced the attachment points for the wheels with some metal rod* super glued to the bottom of the wagons..

*Hint and tip time: for the UK wargamers amongst you the rod is the bottom (ie. un-burnt) part of used Sparklers from bonfire night... small and big sparklers have different thickness wire, but it is an alloy so easily snipped.. endlessly useful stuff - I use it for flag poles as well as wagon axles...

Bases from East Riding (naturally)...

Bear with - painted versions next post...

Monday, October 10, 2016

AWI re-basing project - Americans (Part 3 of 3)

All figures are Minifigs 25mm unless otherwise stated, click on the unit name to be taken to any specific post for the unit (for more information on unit history etc.)..

SideUnit Name Base No'sUnit TypeArtillery TypeComments/Notes
American and  French

AmericanGreen Mountain Boys - 1st Battalion1 & 2Line Infantry CON/A

I had enough figures for two battalions of these guys - plate no. 18 in the Mollo book looked close enough... The unit came from New Hampshire, and were involved in the taking of Fort Ticonderoga and later the invasion of Quebec, and battles at Hubbardton and Bennington in 1777. There seem to have been two battalions, one commanded by Seth Warner and the other by Ira Allen. Mollo at least believed there were enough of them to comprise one battalion of 500, so two battalions is probably a bit on the high side... the flag is almost certainly not correct (see the Wikipedia article for the correct one), but will do until I get round to re-flagging them. I use them as line infantry, better than militia but not classed as Continentals - totally evocative and they clearly caught my eye when I was first organising the regiments as they are base numbers 1, 2, 3 & 4.
AmericanGreen Mountain Boys - 2nd Battalion3 & 4Line Infantry CON/ASee previous entry..
AmericanMassachusetts Militia - 1st Battalion5 & 6Militia CON/A

First of three separate battalions of plain vanilla American Militia of the type most would recognise - plates 4, 5 & 6 in the Mollo book...
American1st Rifle Regiment7 & 8Militia CON/A

Plate no 40 in Mollo - I treat them as Militia if I use them in my games but in reality they were the 1st regiment formed by Washington in the new Continental Army - apparently created from Hand's Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment these guys have rifles as opposed to muskets.
AmericanNew York Regiment9 & 10Line Infantry CON/A

Fictional I think - I have no idea who these guys were painted to represent - I think I chose them based on plate 52 which shows an American infantryman in a uniform with dark blue breeches - according to the base numbers he is from the Minifigs Seven Years War range, and is a "French Fusilier (Campaign Dress)". Subsequent info from Ray Rousell would indicate that these are Companies Franches de la Marine from the F&IW - they were probably supposed to represent a unit of the Compagnie Franche de La Marine. Now I'll admit that at that point in time I had no idea who the Compagnie Franche de la Marine even were - but I know a whole lot more now... smileys.

In summary, they were a body of troops sent to the French overseas territory of 'New France' ("The possessions of France in North America from the 16th century until the Treaty of Paris in 1763...... At its greatest extent it included much of south-east Canada, the Great Lakes region, and the Mississippi Valley. British and French rivalry for control of the territory led to the four conflicts known as the French and Indian Wars (1689-1763)". From the Free Dictionary)

The first three Compagnies Franches de la Marine were sent to America (or rather New France) in 1683. The force was expanded, and by 1757 had 40 companies of 65 men each, scattered across the various settlements in New France. Originally the units were fully recruited from France, but over time they were eventually manned by recruits from New France itself.

"Marine" comes from the fact that although these troops were infantry first and foremost, because they were based overseas they came under the control of the Navy Department - and that made them Marines.. Franche (according to fellow blogger Mekelnborg), plural franches, means 'free,' he believes we would call it 'independent', so these would be independent companies of marines in English..

A closer look at these figures shows that the coat is not a uniform coat as such - there are no lapels, or turn backs - it represents the fact that the summer campaign dress of these units would have been just the long sleeved waistcoat (normally worn under the coat) along with gaiters or leggings... typically these leggings would have been American Indian style buckskin, but black was known...

Most of these units would also have worn a soft cap rather than the tricorn - but it's not beyond the realms of reason to assume some units would have done..

History advises us that the Compagnies disappeared after the fall of New France (1760 after Wolfe took Quebec).

So what of my little regiment?? The Wiki article makes mention that some compagnies were joined together into battalions to serve alongside regular troops in defence of Montreal and Quebec - what could be more natural then, than one such regiment fleeing south with their families after the defeat at Quebec, and seeking to live in America rather than be subject to their victors in their own land?

Going one step further who cannot blame them, if they then take up arms against their old persecutors upon the start of the War of Independence? I suspect a new flag is in order for this little regiment though, to remind them of their illustrious history... never let the real history get in the way of a good story even if it completely unlikely! smileys

Further reading:

This is very good -

Wiki article:

Uniform and history:
American9th Pennsylvania Regiment11 & 12Line Infantry CON/A

Based on plate no 71 - though Mollo shows them with the light infantry cap as opposed to tricorne, but as Mollo stated there was only one mention of the cap in the regimental returns I thought it would be safe to give them tricorne's. According to Mollo this regiment served all the way through the war until it was disbanded in 1781 on the orders of Washington  - but Wikipedia says that "On 22 July 1778 the regiment was re-assigned to the 2d Pennsylvania Brigade. It was consolidated with the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment on 17 January 1781 and re-designated as the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment and concurrently furloughed at Trenton, New Jersey.The regiment would see action during the Battle of Brandywine, Battle of Germantown, Battle of Monmouth and the Battle of Springfield".
AmericanMassachusetts Militia - 2nd Battalion13 & 14Militia CON/A

See previous entry..
American3rd Battalion Philadelphia Associators15 & 16Militia CON/A

See entry for bases #19 and #20.. 
AmericanMassachusetts Militia - 3rd Battalion17 & 18Militia CON/AThird of three separate battalions of plain vanilla Militia of the type most would recognise - plates 4, 5 & 6 in the Mollo book...

American1st Battalion Philadelphia Associators19 & 20Militia CON/A

John had painted loads of these guys, which were a total mystery to me as I'd never seen that style of headgear before. I thought they looked closest to the figures depicted in plates 93 & 94, which were from the 1st Battalion "Philadelphia Associators" at Valley Forge. Mollo indicates there were four battalions, who were eventually amalgamated into the 3rd Philadelphia Brigade under Cadwalader in 1777. They eventually consisted of five battalions, earning honours in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown. The hats are not right, but the uniform colours are correct as Mollo indicates they were uniformed in brown with different coloured facings for each regiment.

NB. Ross Mac subsequantly came up with the informtion that these are actually SYW/F&IW British Light Infantry ( Gage's or 80th Reg't. - so, wrong war, and wrong side, but they've been serving the American's so long now they'll remain as honorary Philadelphians.. 
American2nd Battalion Philadelphia Associators21 & 22Militia CON/ASee previous entry.
AmericanMaryland State Marines23 & 24Line Infantry CON/A

Another guess - clearly these look nothing like plate no. 150 in Mollo! I'm guessing that when I divided the units these guys were moved to the American side in order to make up numbers. They are clearly marines, or rather sailors, John's tastes were eclectic! Either way, in my American army they form a battalion, and a weak (one base) battalion of state marines - these guys formed sterling service in the action in the Plattville Valley [clicky]. 
AmericanMaryland State Marines25Line Infantry CON/ASee previous entry - single base
AmericanRhode Island Artillery26ArtilleryMedium

I have three artillery pieces for the American’s - these are Rhode Island. an imaginary unit (as are the other two as well), this usally plays as a medium piece..

AmericanNew York Artillery27ArtilleryLight

First of two light guns this time representing the New York, the lights came from the same (long forgotten) plastic source that the British guns came from (Revell?).

AmericanConnecticut Artillery28ArtilleryLight

See previous entry..

AmericanMassachusetts Militia - 4th Battalion29 & 30Light Infantry OON/A

Longer term readers of this blog will recognise this regiment as the one that won their battle honours at the Battle of Carnine [clicky] and which were subsequently subject to an on-line poll to decide which colours they were to have. Nice to know that they will forever be associated with that long-ago battle no matter how badly they subsequently perform!

Either way, by the time I got to these guys I was beginning to get to the bottom of the box of figures that John had provided – so I based these as Light troops for skirmishing – and even then we were clearly a little heavy on fife players...! The clothing style was the same as the first three battalions so these guys became the 4th Battalion. 
FrenchBourbonnais Regiment (1st. Batt.)31 & 32Line Infantry CON/A

These are the first figures I painted for the project – by this time I had decided to focus on Yorktown as the OOB to base the project round, and given the preponderance of Militia and non-Continental units the French were an obvious choice as a “stiffening” unit in the American forces.

French regiments were absolutely huge so to get round the scaling issue in the McNally rules, I just made them two units strong this allowed me to field one unit with the white colonels colour, and the other with the regimental colour. Plate no 201 in the Mollo book, plus the relevant Osprey gave me the uniform details..
AmericanMilitia33 & 34Militia CON/A

These guys came to me in a supplementary parcel I think (I kept getting these odd little parcels of figures from John as he discovered various stashes of figures he had “put safely away” – quite exciting...)

There is further evidence here that what John had actually been collecting for (I think) was a Seven Years War North America set up, but by this time I didn’t care – they fitted very nicely into the War of Independence thank you very much.... I suspect these were meant to be couriers de bois – they all had red stocking caps – all I did was colour some of the caps differently, and based them up as militia from the northern states – where clearly it is winter... Free Happy Smileys

Either way, plate 10 in the Mollo book supports my contention.
AmericanMilitia35 & 36Militia CON/ASee previous entry..
American4th Dragoons37 & 38CavalryN/A

I was also well aware that the Americans were light on cavalry - the American War of Independence was not a "cavalry war", but up until now they had none at all. John had passed me a fair few figures to represent the British 16th and 17th Light Dragoons - far more than I needed - so the quick and dirty approach to remedy this was to take four of these figures and do a paint conversion to an American Dragoon unit - the Mollo plates 176 (and 177) are two of the best in the book in my eyes, so I went with the 4th Regiment as they were present at Yorktown.
American1st New York39 & 40Line Infantry CON/A

Additional stiffening was to be provided by the arrival of the first Continental foot regiments... these guys represent the 1st New York Regiment (Brigadier General James Clinton's Brigade of Major General Benjamin Lincoln's Division at Yorktown).

"The 1st New York Regiment was authorized on 25 May 1775 and organized at New York City from 28 June to 4 August, for service with the Continental Army under the command of Colonel Alexander McDougall. The enlistments of the first establishment ended on 31 December 1775. The second establishment of the regiment (ie. this one) was authorized on 19 January 1776. The regiment was involved in the Invasion of Canada, the Battle of Valcour Island, the Battle of Saratoga, the Battle of Monmouth, the Sullivan Expedition, and the Battle of Yorktown.

The regiment was furloughed 2 June 1783 at Newburgh, New York and disbanded 15 November 1783."

I think it EXTREMELY unlikely that the regiment presented this smart an appearance by this stage of their service - constant campaigning, the heat of the southern states, shortage of supply etc etc would have resulted in them looking considerably different but I took my reference from the Mollo plate 168, and I love the parade ground look for a Continental regiment as it helps to convey the regularity and discipline of the regiment - please don't tell me they "look wrong" as I will ignore you...Free Happy Smileys
American2nd New York41 & 42Line Infantry CON/A

The sister regiment to the 1st New York, same brigade at Yorktown, and same comments apply with regard to appearance..

"The 2nd New York Regiment was authorized on May 25, 1775, and formed at Albany from June 28 to August 4 for service with the Continental Army under the command of Colonel Goose Van Schaick (good name!). The enlistments of the first establishment ended on December 31, 1775.The second establishment of the regiment (ie., the one these figures represent) was authorized on January 19, 1776.

The regiment would see action in the Invasion of Canada, Battle of Valcour Island, Battle of Saratoga, Battle of Monmouth, the Sullivan Expedition and the Battle of Yorktown. The regiment would be furloughed, June 2, 1783, at Newburgh, New York and disbanded November 15, 1783."
FrenchLauzun's Legion Hussars43 & 44CavalryN/A

Some more cavalry for the American side - I have a couple of units of British cavalry so this unit was intended to "even things up", as they are classed as European regulars.

From the Osprey book "American War of Independence Commanders" (Elite 93): "‘Duc de Lauzun.’

The flamboyant young duke was a scion (wouldn't you just love to be called a scion? Free Happy Smileys) of France's wealthy, high-nobility. He was colonel by the age of 20 and saw his first action in 1768 campaigning with light troops in the hills of Corsica. He was also a handsome, quick-witted and noted courtier, and, in 1778 he was made colonel-in-chief of the Volontaires étrangers de la Marine (Foreign Volunteers of the Navy). This brigade-like new unit was to have up to eight legions of mostly German soldiers, comprising infantry, hussars and artillery, and intended for service overseas. The Volontaires étrangers de la Marine raised only three legions, the 1st going to the West Indies, and the 3rd to Mauritius and later India. Lauzun was more interested in managing a corps at home and, in 1780, the 2nd Legion that had remained as a depot in France was transformed into Lauzun's Legion (see Men-at-Arms 244: The French Army in the American War of Independence 1778-83)

Eager for action, Lauzun commanded the troops sent with Adm. de Vaudreuil's fleet to capture Senegal from the British: it fell on January 30, 1779. His new corps, the Volontaires étrangers de Lauzun (known to Americans as Lauzun's Legion) and comprising 300 hussars and 300 infantry, sailed for North America with Rochambeau's army in June 1780. Once on Rhode Island, there was little action and it was not until a night skirmish on July 17/18, 1781 that a detachment saw action against some British light dragoons. The French army was now marching south past New York and Philadelphia and the hussars of Lauzun's Legion proved to be valuable scouts as it neared and then invested Yorktown."

This regiment represents another failed attempt on my part to find a decent yellow!
FrenchBourbonnais Regiment (2nd. Batt.)45 & 46Line Infantry CON/A

See previous entry for 1st Battalion.

FrenchSaintonge Regiment47 & 48Line Infantry CON/A

Another French regiment - this time Saintonge. Just one unit of this regiment so far - like Bourbonnais I will add another at some time.

The regiment served in Brigade Soissonois, along with the regiment of the same name, and also the Touraine Regiment.

"The Saintonge Regiment, also known as the 85e Regiment of the Line, was raised in the year 1684 in the province of Saintonge, France. From 1763 to 1768 the regiment served in the West Indies and French Guiana. In 1780 the regiment was sent with Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau to help the United States during the American Revolutionary War. The regiment took part in the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. In 1782 the regiment returned to the West Indies and then back to France in 1783. Following the French Revolution the regiment became the 82e Regiment of Infantry."
AmericanMilitia49 to 52Light Infantry OON/AMore figures that I bought last year from one of my fellow "Old School Wargamers"..

AmericanRhode Island Regiment53 & 54Rangers OON/A

These guys have been painted to "represent" the Rhode Island Regiment - bought as part of a group of used figures from one of my fellow Old Schooler's (thanks Jim!), and originally painted as, I think, light infantry from one of the New York regiments. Happily I didn't have to strip them, I just re-undercoated in black, and painted as if they were new.