Friday, August 17, 2007

....bonne vaccances...

....that's me done for the next few weeks - enjoy yourselves in my absence... 
Amongst other things the Chandler is packed, some Featherstone, a large number of old Practical Wargamers and Wargamers Newsletters, Programmed Wargame Scenario's, a pad of graph paper, some dice a ruler and some coloured pens
.. and that's all I need (along with some excellent French Biere de Garde!!)

...a bientot mes amis...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bayonne bits and pieces..

..I promised an update on a battlefield trip I plan to make to Bayonne as part of our holiday this year, so here it is.

Usually I have a huge amount of trouble persuading the rest of my brood that they really do want to get into a hot car and come with me while we tramp all over some hot and dusty part of Europe (and it if isn't hot and dusty, it's usually wet/cold and windy!) but I may stand a chance this time, as the city looks particularly nice for a wander around..

Either how, my reading and researching across the web has turned up the following:

The city is situated at the confluence of the Adour and its left-hand tributary, the Nive, about 3 m. from the sea (Atlantic). The two rivers divide the town into three nearly equal parts, communicating with each other by bridges. Grand Bayonne lies on the left bank of the Nive. Petit Bayonne lies between the right bank of the Nive and the Adour; Saint Esprit, which is dominated by a citadel which is one of the finest works of Vauban, occupies the right bank of the Adour.

Bayonne has been besieged a large number of times from Plantagenet times until the end of the First French Empire in 1814, but as previously mentioned the city fortifications were significantly improved by the noted military architect Vauban, in the 17th century. The city reached the peak of its commercial success in the eighteenth century, when it was also a centre of the armaments industry (it gave its name to the bayonet).

Vauban's improvements turned out to be critical when the city was besieged in 1813 and 1814, by Wellington's army.

So what I have found on the events of 1813 and 14?? (NB. a lot of this is from the clash of steel & encyclopedia sites - see link below)

1813: saw the city as the one of the key elements of Soult's defence against the advancing British who had crossed the Pyrenees late in 1813 following the surrender of Pamplona.

In December the British had made a number of attacks with the aim of reaching the north bank of the Adour and by the end of four days of fighting on or around the Adour, and in front of Bayonne, both sides had lost several thousand men and the British had not attained their goal.

1814: When operations recommenced in 1814 (February) the French line extended from Bayonne up the north bank of the Adour to the Pau in the east. Wellington's left, under Hope, watched Bayonne, while Beresford, with Hill, observed the Adour.
Wellington's plan was now to draw Soult away from Bayonne, in order that the allied army might, with less loss, cross the Adour and lay siege to the place on both banks of the river..
At its mouth the Adour is about 500 yds. wide (the google map is good at showing this), but the entrance from the sea was dangerous for small vessels except in the finest weather - due to sandbanks/shifting sands. Wellington was convinced that the French would not expect him to attempt to cross there and so planned to collect a large number of ships at the mouth of the river (shades of D-Day here?!)

Leaving Hope with 30,000 men to watch Bayonne, he began an enveloping movement round Soult's left with the aim of drawing Soult away.

Wellington's plan worked and Soult came out and concentrated at Orthez on the Pau (far left/east of his lines), leaving only 10,000 men in Bayonne...

Hope, after a couple of feints higher up the Adour to throw the French off, succeeded in getting 600 men across the river in boats at the end February. The French hadn’t expected this, and reacted slowly; when they did, some Congreve rockets threw them into confusion (was this the only time they ever worked!?), so that the north/right bank was held until, on the morning of the 24th, the flotilla of boats for the bridge appeared from St Jean de Luz, protected by British men of-war of the Mediterranean fleet.

By noon on the 26th of February a bridge of 26 vessels had been constructed; with batteries and a boom to protect it. 8000 troops crossed, and French gunboats were driven off up the river. Bayonne was then invested on both banks as a preliminary to the siege.

On the 13th of April 1814 news arrived of the capture of Paris, and the abdication of Napoleon; effectively this was peace. Despite this on the 14th April Thouvenot (who commanded for Soult), with 6,000 men, launched an attack on the allied lines. Outposts and front lines quickly fell but determined resistance and then a counter-attack drove the French back into the city. The siege continued and Thouvenot finally surrendered the city on the 26th April, twenty days after Napoleon's abdication which effectively ended the Peninsular Campaign.

Links and stuff:

...and he's off....

...painting that is - though the little'uns and I are counting down the days to the end of the week when we go on holiday. This year we're a couple of weeks later going than normal and it's surprising what a huge difference that makes...

...anyway - the good news is that I hit the painting table with a vengeance over the weekend, and the upshot is that the 35th Regiment of Foot - The Sussex Regiment - are about to pack their bags and embark for America as part of King George's forces in the colonies. They look OK, not one of my best paint jobs, for some reason I couldn't do justice to the figures which are very nice to look at (they're by Parkfield Miniatures), but I found difficult to paint... may just be me, but I find there are some figures that almost paint themselves, and others that don't, and these are more the latter than the former...anyway - they are painted, varnished, and only need basing to complete - if I get some time that'll be in the next few days..

..I've also been rootling around in a huge box of plastics my brother-in-law-in-law (we're married to sisters!) passed over to me ages ago - this was simply chock full of Airfix stuff in various forms - all of it unpainted.

Lots and lots of Napoleonic's (which I'll sort through eventually, bag up, and pass to eBay ), some planes (sad condition), 3 boxes of Indians and Romans still in their original boxes and not even off the sprue (already gone to eBay!), some French Foreign Legion, but best of all an almost complete Fort Sahara!

It's OO/HO scale (so 20mm give or take) but looks perfect for my 15mm Sudan excursion, so this week I put it together, scratch built a couple of roof elements that had gone missing, cut out a base board, and undercoated it ready for a full paint job.. I'm intending to use a succession of lighter and lighter browns to reflect a mud brick construction which would not look out of place in the Sudan. I have to say that even as old it is, it looks really good so far... going to need some new cans of spray paint to do it justice though so am going to wait and see what I find at the Colours show in Newbury next month.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

..various thoughts and activity...

To be absolutely honest, I've not done very much of a 'constructive' nature recently, so this post is more of a catch up/roundup than anything else.. it sometimes happens that way but I have to say I'm definitely feeling the need to get in front of the painting table, problem is I just haven't managed to scratch the time together to get going... very frustrating! The other problem is that it is hot and sticky, and my painting table is in the loft where it always gets warm... add to that the fact that the spray undercoat I use takes three times longer to dry, and it's just not conducive! Anyway, in no particular order, this is what I've done/got waiting/finished in the last week or so...
  • The padded envelope of stuff I ordered from Essex (limbers/crews etc. for the Sudan artillery) have now made their way to the painting table where I've spent the last week just cleaning them up and assembling the limbers - they're going to look good - initial perception was that they were nice figures and having had time to look at them I was right - the only slight doubt is a Mahdist/Dervish gun crew figure depicted running and pointing.... I'd have told him to get back to the gun! 

  • I then spent a fair amount of the week doing research on the screw guns that the British used.. now these are very interesting (well I think so!) as they had the ability to break them down into component parts and then transport them by mule - even the barrel would split into two halves for easier portage. Any way the point of my research was to figure out how I could represent this on the (Sudan) wargame table.. in real life they would have used 5 mules - two for the barrels, one for the wheels, one for the carriage, and one for ammunition and all the other component parts. I was looking for information on how they would have split the loads when using camels ; the fine fellows at the Colonial Wars Yahoo group game me loads on info (it was 4 camels in fact, one camel carried both barrels, the rest was as per mule transport). Having found out though, for scale reasons I'll represent it as being three - one for barrel, one for wheels, and one for the carriage... the picture is from the Redoubt site...

  • I've not forgotten the "Orange Lillies" either - but while tidying up the painting table, and rootling through the 'waiting to paint' box I came across a regiment of AWI troops that I had completely forgotten about buying... those of you who follow my AWI activities will know that for the most part my AWI armies comprise Minifigs 25mm's, well these guys are from Parkfield Miniatures and will form only the second regiment of figures made up from a different manufacturer... I must have bought them ages ago (can't remember when) but they are very characterful, not huge, and they will be painted up with the orange facings of you know who.. Much like the WSS project I paint my AWI units with a view to representing those forces at a specific engagement (in this case Yorktown) and the while the regiment was present at Bunker Hill, Brooklyn and White Plains they were in the West Indies at the time of Yorktown - but hey, they weren't at the Schellenberg either, but they still have orange facings and they're still my local regiment dammit! 

  • I'm about three quarters of the way through "Man of Honour" see previous
  • post [clicky] and have to say that up until now I've been pleasantly surprised.. it's only the first in the series, and only his second novel, but I see definite possibilities in the character - and the book gives you an excellent wargame campaign scenario (I won't give it away)! At the point I was dragged away to work this morning the British and their Allies were just about to launch their assault across the Nebel....!

  • Then last of all - holidays are fast approaching and I shall be disappearing from these pages for a few weeks - can't wait.... it's been a long time coming this year. We are heading down towards the French/Spanish border staying near Biarritz for a couple of weeks... I'm already reading up on some local engagements with a view to take my loved ones and dragging them round Bayonne (famous for the place where they invented the bayonet)... more words on this before I disappear on the travels..

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

...updates, and the "Orange Lillies"...

First, for BlueBear Jeff I can confirm that the two pictures of the AWI game in the last post do now actually take you to two different pictures, rather than the same one...!! (is it me, or is HTML the most complicated set of wargame rules that you ever came across????)

The second momentous piece of news is that the package of Colonial gun crews/limbers etc. from Essex Miniatures dropped on to the door mat yesterday morning - now I think that is first class service, basically they must have turned the order around on the day they got my letter - top marks! Initial thoughts based on a quick scurry through the envelope last night is that the figures are lovely, especially the limbers. I'm already very partial to one of the British gunners who is depicted wiping his face with a large hanky.... can't wait to start painting!

I've also been doing a little more in the way of research for the Royal Sussex Regiment which I have a serious yen to add to my War of the Spanish Succession forces following the tour of their museum last weekend. My research up to now has shown that:
  • the regiment was raised by Arthur Chichester, 3rd Earl of Donegall, and paid for out of his own pocket. As a mark of respect to Chichester, William III granted permission for the regiment to wear orange facings on their uniforms.

  • The regiment was known as The Earl of Donegals Regiment, their nickname, among others, was The Orange Lillies.

  • When the War of the Spanish Succession started in 1702 the regiment was sent to Spain, and was involved in the Battle of Cádiz in 1702, the raid on Guadeloupe, the defence of Gibraltar in 1704 to 1705, and may or may not have been present at the Siege of Barcelona (sources differ), where the Earl was killed. At the Battle of Almansa in 1707 the regiment was the strongest battalion present, but was practically wiped out and the Regimental Colours were lost (87 men killed and 284 captured or wounded). The survivors returned to Ireland where the regiment was reconstituted.
Reading between the lines the regiment seems to have had an extremely hard time of it, in it's first few wars - after Almansa, they went to America during the French and Indian Wars (albeit 40-50 odd years later), and were part of the garrison of Fort William Henry that surrendered to Montcalm and were allowed to depart with full military honours. The regiment (and their families) were subsequently attacked by Indians allied to the French as they retreated.. (which was later depicted in the "Last of the Mohicans"). The regiment got it's revenge at Quebec though....

The picture is a link from the Eastbourne Museum site which I recommend for a more detailed read... and yes, I know the regiment fought in Spain rather than the Low Countries, and I know that my War of the Spanish Succession project centres around the orders of battle for the Schellenberg, but these guys have got orange facings, dammit, and they're my local regiment as well...