Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"The Fort" by Bernard Cornwell and some American Civil War command...

That has to be one of the longest blogger titles in history, but it sums up the content of the post nicely...

First off though, those officers...

You may remember that I picked up some Kennington Miniatures (who are now owned by SHQ) officers as 'size samples' at the Warfare show just before Christmas - I wanted to see how they compared to the Newline designs figures that make up the bulk of the project.

These are now painted (and a very enjoyable experience it was as I haven't picked up a brush in some time) and are ready to join the forces of the Union and the Confederacy respectively..

In "Regimental Fire and Fury" terms I plan to use these guys as either brigade commanders, or even commander in chief (for multiple brigade games) as they have a certain gravitas!

Ideally they should be mounted, but I can live without that.. my favourite is definitely the Confederate commander, I managed to carry the beard off quite well. The Union commander is OK, but I was a little too heavy handed with the white damp-brush undercoat, so his coat (I use inks) has come out quite light...

The bridge they are pictured on by the way is the second oldest piece of wargames terrain I own - it's a venerable and vintage Bellona bridge and I reckon it must be at least 38 years old and still doing sterling service... I wonder how many little metal men have died while storming over it, and how many daring outflanking manoeuvres have been launched across it... vivid stuff!

Which brings me on to "The Fort" the latest offering by Bernard Cornwell, who has to be the wargamers favourite author...

This one marks a very welcome return (for me anyway) to the American War of Independence (or the American Revolutionary War for my US readers.. ), a theatre of war that he hasn't visited since he wrote "Redcoat" back in 1987 (blimey - was it that long ago..)

I thought the book was good, definitely worth reading, but I had such high hopes of it that I think the reality may have resulted in a slight disappointment when I actually read the book..

The book is about a fairly small and unknown expedition (well I'd not heard of it) that the British sent to Penobscot in 1779. The British sent two regiments of foot (all Highlanders!) and some Royal Artillery, in three small ships to build a fort at a place called Majabigwaduce (now known as Castine), in Maine. The intent was that it would then serve as a base for British naval forces to operate against American privateers operating out of Boston...

Clearly the Americans were not going to settle for this and the State of Massachusetts sent a fleet of forty ships, with militia and artillery to "captivate, kill and destroy" the British. The book is about what transpired, and more than anything is a story of lost opportunity (on the American side).

The cast of characters is excellent (everyone in the book is based on an actual person except for those who have a surname beginning "F" - which I thought was a very clever idea!). I particularly liked the depiction of the British commander (General Francis McLean), the very young Lieutenant John Moore (later to be Sir John Moore the originator of the light division in the Napoleonic War) and on the American side General Peleg Wadsworth. Rounded characters all of them, and immensely likeable... but don't get me started on the American commander Lovell, the American naval commander Saltonstall or Paul Revere (yes, him..).. It's clear where Cornwell at least thinks the failure lay...

So is it worth getting - absolutely "yes" - a good read despite my slightly disparaging comments above...

From the wargaming perspective this absolutely screams out to be a wargame campaign - naval and land is covered, limited numbers of troops, small actions, fairly small theatre of operations - I will definitely be doing it.

Steve the Wargamer gives this one a very solid eight out of ten - nine if you count in the clear wargaming potential..

4 comments:

  1. I quite liked it - mainly I suspect because it was nice to see the Americans portrayed as something other than plastersaints for a change.

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  2. I was so annoyed by 'Redcoat' that i haven't read any Cornwell in 20 years....this latest does seem to have had decent reviews all round, so maybe worth a go.

    If you're looking for a decent factual account of Penobscot then Buker's The Penobscot Expedition is a good read.

    Cheers.

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  3. CK - absolutely - the portrayal of Paul Revere was quite an eye opener... but from what I can research, fair...

    DC - thanks - noted and filed....

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  4. I am a little hurt :(. I am a Yank and have always refered to the war as the AWI. Seems I am a victom of more American stereotyping ;)

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