Monday, July 19, 2010

1st Michigan Volunteer Cavalry

The 1st Michigan Cavalry was organized at Detroit, Michigan, between August 21 and September 6, 1861.

Thornton F. Brodhead (1822-1862) - that's him top left - studied law at Harvard, and practiced in Detroit, Michigan. He served through the Mexican was as an officer in the 15th infantry, and was twice brevetted for bravery. Resuming the practice of his profession after the war, he was elected to the state senate, and in 1852 appointed postmaster of Detroit. At the beginning of the civil war he raised the 1st Michigan cavalry regiment, in August, 1861, and the regiment left the State on September 29, with 1,144 officers and men. It went into winter quarters at Frederick, Md., but in February, 1862, moved into Virginia, joining Banks's troops in their advance up the Shenandoah Valley. While there it was attached to Williams's Division, and took a large share of the cavalry fighting in that campaign.

This was their flag..

Brodhead died of wounds received at the second battle of Bull Run while leading a charge; the regiment went on to serve at Gettysburg (where they took part in a charge that Custer – yes, him - pronounced unequalled for brilliancy and gallantry in "the annals of warfare") and until the end of the war..

It was later a part of the famed Michigan Brigade (also known as the Wolverine Brigade), commanded for a time by Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer. The brigade was created on December 12, 1862, at Washington, D.C.. It originally consisted of the 5th, 6th and 7th Michigan Cavalry regiments under the command of General Joseph T. Copeland. During the early part of the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign, the 1st Michigan Cavalry and Battery M, 2nd United States Artillery were added to the brigade in central Maryland as part of a major reorganization of the Army of the Potomac's Cavalry Corps.

The regiment was mustered out of service on September 12, 1865. Over the span of its existence, the regiment carried a total of 2705 men on its muster rolls. The regiment suffered 14 officers and 150 enlisted men killed in action or mortally wounded, and 6 officers and 244 enlisted men who died of disease, for a total of 414 fatalities.

Further references:

Figures are Newline and 20mm ad this represents the regiment in dismounted mode - the picture of them in line with the base width between, will be how I represent them in "extended line" for the Regimental Fire and Fury rules..

Thursday, July 15, 2010

7th Virginia cavalry...

Just to let you know that all wargaming activity in Steve the Wargamers life hasn't completely halted in the face of perfect sunny days, and force four breezes and that while, with weather like this, sailing is taking a bit of a lead (especially as I've only just got the boat back from an extended repair, and am absolutely gagging to get out on it as much as possible!), some painting is being done in the odd remaining minutes left over from said activity, sleeping, and working...

So - no hanging about - this and the next post will detail the first cavalry to join the ACW collection. In both cases, as mentioned before, these represent regiments present at Kernstown. As usual, please feel free to click on any of the pictures for a gratifyingly bigger view...

The following are the Confederate cavalry, and represent the 7th Virginia in dismounted mode - the horse holders are already on the painting table and after that will be the mounted version..

I'm behoven to Wikipedia for a lot of the following - the entry for the regiment is very good, but happily there are also a number of other websites dedicated to the regiment as I think it is fair to say that the 7th Virginia Cavalry were one of the elite regiments of the Confederate States army..

The regiment was also known as Ashby's Cavalry (after a later colonel - read on for a little more about him) and was raised in the spring of 1861 by Colonel Angus W. McDonald, Sr.

The regiment was comprised primarily from men from the counties of the upper Shenandoah Valley as well as from the counties of Fauquier and Loudoun. Two companies contained men from the border counties of Maryland.

The regiment was initially assigned to guarding the upper Potomac and was attached to the command of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in the Valley.

On July 23, 1861, Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston appointed Turner Ashby lieutenant colonel of the 7th Virginia Cavalry (his nickname was the "Black Knight of the Confederacy" due to his striking dark hair and beard - that's him to the left - Wikipedia has an entry here that is a good read, and there is also some good info here).

Due to the fact that McDonald was ill, Ashby had effective control of half of the regiment which he operated separately. When McDonald retired in February 1862 as a result of his continued ill health, Ashby assumed command of the entire regiment on March 12th.

In the spring of 1862 the regiment took part in Jackson's Valley Campaign, where Ashby's reconnaissance and screening skills were factors in the success of Jackson's campaign. At the First Battle of Kernstown, however, he "mucked up" and Jackson ended up attacking a retreating Union column that Ashby had estimated to be four regiments of infantry, about the size of Jackson's force. It turned out to be an entire division of 9,000 men (!), and Jackson was forced to retreat. Ashby was eventually killed on June 6th, he was only 33...

The regiment was reorganized at the end of the campaign as it had swelled to 29 (!) companies; the original 10 companies remained, with the excess forming the 12th and 17th Virginia. Together with these two regiments, the 7th would become the nucleus of the famed Laurel Brigade.

They served to end of the war, but managed to get home after Appamatox and disbanded rather than having to hand in their parole.

As ever these figures are Newline 20mm and a joy to paint... they are depicted in a very uniform/tidy way - in all likelihood the regiment would probably have been considerably scruffier than this... I have also seen documentation to show a quite bewildering array of armament in the regiment - all sorts or rifles, carbines, muskets, shotguns & pistols. These guys are all shown with the Spencer breech loading carbine - beautifully sculpted by the way!

If anyone has a good source for decent yellow acrylic paint by the way - please let me know - I have several types/versions, but none of them are satisfactory...

Next post will feature the 1st Michigan, a Union cavalry regiment

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Barge "Alice"

As mentioned previously I went out for a days sailing on Thames barge on Tuesday, and what a brilliant day out.. weather was perfect, sunny and hot, with a pleasant enough breeze to get us moving under sail...

As the weather was so good I decided to cycle down to Gunwharf in Portsmouth where the "Alice" was moored - not an insubstantial journey in itself (16 miles each way I found out afterwards..!)

...and on the way happened to see this one coming out...

..she's HMS_Lancaster a type 23 frigate of the "Duke" class.. she's been on patrol off the horn of Africa for the last seven months on anti-piracy, drug, and terrorism patrols, and only just got back to her home port at the end of May... I'm slightly gob-smacked to say that she's the sixth "Lancaster" to have served in the navy.. and makes me wonder what the most numerous ship currently is... another post perhaps..

Returning to "Alice" however, despite her appearance she was built at Wivenhoe in 1954.. she was originally built as a lighter (basically an un-powered barge that was meant to be rowed, or towed) for transporting goods between the River Lea and the Lower Pool of London. She carried various cargoes, but her claim to fame is that she was used to supply the pirate radio station "Radio Caroline" in the 70's.

She was eventually bought by a chap called Owen Emerson in 1994, who chopped off both ends (leaving the cargo hold section) and then went about welding a Thames sailing barge "nose" and "tail" to each end! He managed to finish all this by 1998 - astonishing amount of work, but she looks fantastic..

..she now spends her days on charter - taking parties like ours out sailing for the day.

So, following a breakfast of bacon rolls we dropped the moorings and headed out to sea - the plan was to sail over to Cowes on the Isle of Wight, have some lunch, and then head back to Portsmouth to arrive some time early evening.. and so it transpired...

Weather in the Solent as I said was perfect - just enough breeze to get the sails up, but not too much for a total bunch of incompetents. All sails were soon up and we wended our way to Cowes... have to say that the sailing experience on a big lady like this is entirely different to "Papillon" - very gentle movement, everything very "definite", though she does rack up a quite surprising turn of speed... there's a lot of sails, and she's not as heavily loaded as she would be when working... in normal operation she would only have a crew of 2 - a man and a boy...

Some views along the way... first off Osborne House, this was Viccie's summer time pad...

...and a little further on I also spotted this one...

...this I've managed to find out is Norris Castle which, despite it's appearance, was built in 1790 - there was I thinking this was a full-on medieval castle! Somewhat amazingly, it is still lived in, and despite that huge size only has four bedrooms...

Further on though we came upon these - which was a bit of a highlight for me - I think they were all there for the "2010 British Classic Yacht Club Panerai Cowes Regatta" which takes place later this month - there were at least four of these big boats out... practising perhaps??

..this one is the gaff cutter ‘Tuiga’ (Sail number D3) which was built in 1909 for the Duke of Medinacelli, who was a friend to the King of Spain, and designed identically to the King's yacht, "Hispania" - this was so that they could then race on equal terms against each other (though, allegedly, he never ever won... allegedly... ). She's now based in Monaco full time... a different world my friends!

I also saw "Mariquita" (built 1911), and this one who's name/provenance I'm still trying to track down..

...coming around the headland towards Cowes - "the mecca of world yachting" (it says here ) No reason to doubt it by the way - once we'd moored up and gone to find the pub for lunch I've never seen a high street so full of chandlers and yacht outfitters... nice place though, only my second visit but exactly as I remember it.

Lunch was over (accompanied by two pints of local brewery Goddard's "Fuggle Dee Dum" which was in outstanding condition) we departed Cowes, and the effects of the beer were immediately to be felt, with the more juvenile among us immediately legged it up the rigging... guilty, your honour...

Another highlight of the day - a visit by these guys on the way back.. no, no-one had fallen out of the rigging, one of the ladies on board is married to a helicopter winch man in the coastguard rescue helicopter - they were out and about on another job so they bypassed to say hello on their way back to the base... very impressive close up..

..and that was largely it unfortunately, would have been quite happy to have carried on for at leas another week. If you get the chance, or fancy something a little different I wholeheartedly recommend the experience.. just Google barge and Alice to find them..

Coming ashore in Gunwharf however, I found these two already moored... the first one is MGB 81 - one of the first boats of this design to be built, she was launched in June 1942. She took part in many wartime operations and received the battle honour ‘Normandy 1944’ for the role she played in support of the US landings at Omaha Beach during D-Day... more info here:

This one is "Medusa" - built in 1943 for convoy escort duty in the western approaches. There is a brilliant website that has a very good history of the boat here

Excellent day out...