Thursday, February 28, 2019

Book catch up...

Been so busy with the English Civil War project I have been neglecting the book page and as I've read a few just lately I thought I'd share the following..  the first one in particular is a cracker, from a cracking series.. 

Book
Comments
Score (out of 10)
I cannot rate this series highly enough and would recommend all of them without reservation -  the books [clicky] are set against the British submarine service in the Second World War and feature 'wavy Navy' officer Harry Gilmour - this is the fourth and Harry has been int he service coming on for two years and has been invited to do the Perisher course, the passing of which is the precursor (and still is), for submarine command. Having passed it Harry is posted to the Mediterranean based first at Malta where he commands a number of submarines in temporary capacities before finally being given his own. The books are hugely good on detail, what it was like to serve in a submarine at the time, the attack descriptions re excellent..  at the end Harry and his submarine are transferred to another command and he comes up against an old enemy (in his own service!)..  'nuff said, no spoilers, can't wait for part 5! 9
Not one of his classics, but eminently readable as you would expect..  he'll always be a story teller even when he's not trying very hard, as is the case here I thought..  quite short, and almost a collection of short stories welded into a single book - a young computer genius is taken under the wing of an old Cold War warhorse, and unleashed on the enemies of the free world..  good fun, completely implausible, but an entertaining read and not a waste of time..  besides, the baddies get spanked...  
8
You can almost set your watch by these now, though having said that there was a two year wait for this one, and is it sacrilege to say I didn't really miss it until it arrived? Oh don't get me wrong I'll always read anything Bernard C. puts out I even enjoyed "Fools and Mortals" (which was the reason for the delay in this one coming out I think) but this series has long gone past the point I think it should have stopped...  I wouldn't be able to tell you what happened in each of the previous books because to be honest they are all the same..  Uhtred saves the day and there is a shield wall or two..  oh, and the Christian Saxons are largely perfidious, and the Pagan Norse are wicked but largely good fellows you would have a drink with...  and so it is with this book as well..  there are signs that Uhtred is getting older and slowing down, there are signs that the English as a nation are coming, and you know there is going to be another book..  enjoy it like a comfy pair of slippers, nothing new to see here but enjoyable none the less..
8

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Order of Battle Edgehill...

This will find it's way to the project page, but here is the target/aiming point for the project...

Like most of my projects, I like to base it around a particular battle where possible (Schellenberg/Blenheim; Kernstown; Omdurman; Hampton Roads, etc.) and for this project I have chosen Edgehill, so the units I paint will be from the following (unless I get distracted...  err, zouaves anyone? )..  why Edgehill? No other reason than that I am drawn to the early years of most of the wars I have a specific interest in..  the troops are fresh, equipment is generally less advanced, training is not so good, uniforms more colourful, and all is still to play for...

Click on unit names in the following (where linked) to be taken to the relevant blog post about the unit..

The Royalist Army
  • Commander-in-chief: King Charles the First 
  • Lieutenant-General: Patrick Ruthven, Earl of Forth (who replaced the Earl of Lindsey) 
  • General of the Horse: Prince Rupert of the Rhine 
  • Commissary-General of Horse: Henry Wilmot 
  • Sergeant-Major-General of Foot: Sir Jacob Astley 
  • Major-General of Dragoons: Sir Arthur Aston 
  • Master of the Ordnance: Mountjoy Blount, Earl of Newport (nominal) 
  • Lieutenant of the Ordnance: Sir John Heydon
Unit Type Unit Name Manufacturer
Right Wing of Horse: Prince Rupert
Front line:
Horse Prince Rupert's regiment of horse
Prince of Wales' regiment (nominal, the Prince was not a combatant)
Prince Maurice's regiment
King's lifeguard
Second line:
Horse Sir John Byron's regiment .
Royalist Foot: Sir Jacob Astley
Charles Gerard's Brigade (front line)
Foot Charles Gerard's regiment [clicky]
Sir Lewis Dyve's regiment
Sir Ralph Dutton's regiment
Peter Pig
.
.
Richard Fielding's Brigade (front line)
Foot Richard Fielding's regiment (Fielding taken prisoner)
Sir Thomas Lunsford's regiment (Lunsford taken prisoner)
Richard Bolle's regiment
Sir Edward Fitton's regiment
Sir Edward Stradling's regiment (Stradling taken prisoner)
.
Henry Wentworth's Brigade (front line)
Foot Sir Gilbert Gerard's regiment
Sir Thomas Salusbury's regiment
Lord Molyneux's regiment
.
John Belasyse's Brigade (second line)
Foot John Belasyse's regiment
Thomas Blagge's regiment
Sir William Pennyman's regiment
.
Sir Nicholas Byron's Brigade (second line)
Foot King's lifeguard of foot
Lord-General's regiment
Sir John Beaumont's regiment
.
Left Wing of Horse: Commissary-General Wilmot
First line
Horse Henry Wilmot's regiment
Lord Grandison's regiment
Earl of Carnarvon's regiment
.
Second line
Horse Lord Digby's regiment
Sir Thomas Aston's regiment
.
Reserve
Horse Gentleman Pensioners .
Foot William Legge's firelocks .

The Parliamentarian Army 

  • Captain-General: Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex 
  • General of the Horse: William Russell, Earl of Bedford (nominal) 
  • Lieutenant-General of the Horse: Sir William Balfour 
  • Commissary-General of Horse: Sir James Ramsey 
  • Sergeant-Major-General of Foot: Sir John Merrick (not present at Edgehill) 
  • General of the Ordnance: John Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough (nominal) 
  • Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance: Philbert Emmanuel Du Bois
Unit Type Unit Name Manufacturer
Right Wing of Horse: The Earl of Bedford
Horse The Lord-General's regiment
Sir William Balfour's regiment
Lord Fielding's regiment
Col. John Browne's dragoons
Col. James Wardlowe's dragoons
Parliamentarian Foot
Sir John Meldrum's Brigade (vanguard)
Foot Sir John Meldrum's regiment
Lord Saye-and-Sele's regiment
Lord Robarte's regiment
Sir William Constable's regiment
Sir William Fairfax's regiment
Charles Essex's Brigade (main battle)
Foot Sir Charles Essex's regiment
Sir Henry Cholmley's regiment
Lord Mandeville's regiment
Lord Wharton's regiment
Peter Pig
.
.
.
Thomas Ballard's Brigade (rearguard)
Foot The Lord-General's regiment (two divisions)
Lord Brooke's regiment
Thomas Ballard's regiment
Denzil Holles's regiment
Cavalry supporting the Foot in the centre
Horse Sir Philip Stapleton's troop of cuirassiers (Lord-General's lifeguard)
Captain Nathaniel Draper's troop of arquebusiers
Sir William Balfour's troop of cuirassiers
The Earl of Bedford's troop of cuirassiers
Left Wing of Horse: Sir James Ramsay
Mixed 24 troops of horse
400 commanded musketeers amongst the horse
300 commanded musketeers and dragoons in the hedges

Sources

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Colonel Charles Essex’s Regiment of Foote..


Second unit painted, and the first of the Parliamentarian infantry has joined the project..
 
Colonel Charles Essex’s Regiment of Foot was originally raised for service in Ireland but instead served with Essex’s army at Edgehill, and had a very short shelf life indeed as it was routed at Edgehill during the first charge of Rupert's horse - basically, they got caught up in the rout of the Parliamentary horse..

It is documented in various sources, that that at the end of the battle, the remains of the regiment did play a part in stopping the remains of the Royalist cavalry charging the rear of the Parliamentary infantry...

According to Scott et al the regiment numbered about 600 (Edgehill: The Battle Reinterpreted
By Christopher L. Scott, Alan Turton, Eric Gruber von Arni)

Their Colonel, Charles Essex, was the son of Sir William Essex (no family connection to the Earl  and General). Somewhat interestingly, said father served as captain of one of the company's in his son's regiment! His father was captured and made prisoner after the battle, but Charles was killed..



Not much known about Charles to be honest - his career was short lived but clearly he was a man of substance - I can't imagine Essex handed out brigade commands to just anybody...  I did find this snippet though - my highlights..

"part of the Enemy make Of Rebels there were slain besides Lord Saint Johns Colonel Charles Essex the Soldier of whom they had the best Opinion and who had always till this last Action preserved a good Reputation in the World which was now the Worse over and above the Guilt of Rebellion by his having sworn to the King of Bohemia by whose Intercession he procured leave from the Prince of Orange to go into England That he would never serve against the King

Clearly he had served in a military capacity on the continent then during the 30 Years War - and I have to assume that as he had to request permission to leave he must have been in a fairly important role...



After the battle the regiment seems to have been present at the stand off at Turnham Green, but shortly after was disbanded, with the remnants being drafted into Colonel Henry Bulstrode’s Regiment of Foot.



At Edgehill they were part of Charles Essex's Brigade (Front left of the Parliamentary line) (along with Sir Henry Cholmley's regiment, Lord Mandeville's regiment and Lord Wharton's regiment)

Sources show the regiment were issued tawny coats lined yellow in September 1642 so I went with that - now I've always assumed tawny is a browny orange and I got spectacularly lucky with a particular shade of Rowney Deller ink ("Red Earth") that came out just right in my eyes..  pleased with these..

No details of the standard the regiment carried, so I went with yellow purely as a result of the yellow lining on the coats, but that's purely supposition...

24 figures - painted Feb 2019 - make Peter Pig..

Sources:
http://wiki.bcw-project.org/parliamentarian/foot-regiments/charles-essex
http://www.battleofedgehillexhibitionradway.org.uk/documents/english-heritage-1995-edgehill.pdf

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Swedish vs Dutch models and basic notes on infantry organisation in English Civil War


A few notes and jottings as I move further into the project ... truly the web is a wonderful place... 

"Your advance upon an Enemy, in what posture soever he be, should be with a constant, firm and steady pace; the Musketeers (whether they be on the Flanks or interlin'd with either the Horse or the Pikes) firing all the while; but when you come within Pistol-shot [so, approx. 30 yards - StW], you should double your pace, till your Pikes closely serr'd together, charge these, whether Horse or Foot, whom you find before them. It is true, the business very oft comes not to push of Pike, but it hath and may come oft to it, and then Pikemen are very serviceable". Sir James Turner

...interesting..  "business very oft comes not to push of Pike".. so the image of large English Civil War armies poking each other at close quarters like some giant rugby scrum may not be as realistic as I thought..

Infantry Organisation/Weapons

  • The basic model of infantry organisation adopted by each side consisted of a regiment of ten equal companies of one hundred men for a total strength of one thousand. Sometimes the companies were of unequal size, but the basic building block was a regiment of a 1000 divided in 10 companies..
  • Pikemen and musketeers were not organised in separate companies, but each company had a proportion of each. 
  • Later in the war a ratio approaching two muskets to every pike (2:1) became the norm on both sides, but at the time of Edgehill it was more likely to be 1:1. All things being equal Royalist regiments would have tended to more pike than Parliamentarian ones, as Parliament had started the war in control of a number of the main arsenals..
  • Most of the muskets would have been matchlocks. The effective range was typically no more than fifty to one hundred meters. I have read in two places of studies showing there was a no better than 50% chance of hitting a man at 100 yards, but of course they weren't firing at just one man, so I'm guessing 100 yards or less was optimal...   musket rests were more common in the early stages of the war but fell out of use as the war progressed..
Now the realities...
  • "In practice .. both Royalist and Parliamentary regiments could have as few as six companies, and were sometimes down to 200 men or so, while 800-900 was about the maximum strength. The gap between establishment and actual strength was even wider in the 16th and 17th Centuries than in later periods, as has already been shown, and in the Civil War the raising of troops was particularly local, personal and haphazard, especially on the King's side, while practices like the recruitment of prisoners of war (though common in Europe also), would be likely to mean many troops of limited enthusiasm, and a high rate of desertion" from http://home.mysoul.com.au/graemecook/Renaissance/RenaissanceWarfare-AirfixMagazineArticles.htm (George Gush Renaissance Warfare)
  • "A regiment, according to strength, would form in the field one or two 'divisions'; some-times drawn up eight deep, more often six, with the musketeers flanking the pikes. Some musketeers would be detached ('commanded') to form a 'forlorn hope' screen, often lining a hedge or ditch, and others would often be found on the flanks giving fire support to the cavalry in Swedish fashion. At first, fire was generally by counter-march*, but in Parliamentary armies of the later war years, and in at least one Royalist force - Montrose's Scots-Irish army - the Swedish 'salvo' or simultaneous three-rank volley was used, the shot being reduced, from six ranks to three by 'doubling the files' before firing." from http://home.mysoul.com.au/graemecook/Renaissance/RenaissanceWarfare-AirfixMagazineArticles.htm (George Gush Renaissance Warfare)
* counter march..  think of an infantry version of the cavalry 'caracole' - basically the first rank would fire and then retire behind the current rear rank to reload, all the other ranks stepped forward one rank, and the firing process is repeated..  the idea being that by the time they got back to the front rank, the first rank to fire had reloaded..  a regiment could do this while advancing or retreating by omitting the step forward to retire, or taking two or more steps forward to advance..
  •  "Both Swedish and Dutch tactical formations [see next for a slightly more detailed view of each] were employed, the latter especially in the earlier stages, though for infantry Dutch formations were simpler and probably more practical than the rather complex Swedish-based formations advocated by contemporary drill books such as that of Robert Ward". from http://home.mysoul.com.au/graemecook/Renaissance/RenaissanceWarfare-AirfixMagazineArticles.htm (George Gush Renaissance Warfare)

Dutch System

  • The first of the main military modifications were made by the Dutch (specifically Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange) from the 1590's onward's and were as a result of their long wars with the Spanish.. basically they split the large unwieldy regiment of 900-1000 into two battalions of 500/smaller numbers, changed firing methodology, and modified tactics to take advantage of the more flexible small battalions...
  • Same number of men, but less ranks [than the Tercio that had been the dominant formation up until then] meant the regiment covered a greater frontage.. "its shallower depth of ten ranks meant that it could bring a higher percentage of its musketeers into the firing line than a deeper formation" Osprey - Pike and shot Tactics 1590-1660
From this:

...typical Spanish type Tercio... over 2000 men in one battlefield body..  a steam roller.. reminds me of a French infantry attack column in the Napoleonic Wars...

 ...to this:

...smaller, flatter, more muskets to bear..
  • "The Dutch style was by far the best known system among English officers in 1642. Both the Parliamentarian and Royalist captain-generals, the Earl of Essex and the Earl of Lindsey, had commanded regiments in the Dutch service. At .. Edgehill, .. both commanders planned to deploy their forces broadly in accordance with Dutch practice. However, the King's nephew Prince Rupert insisted upon re-deploying the Royalist army in the more complex brigade formation of the Swedish style." http://bcw-project.org/military/tactics [clicky]
  • "Under the Dutch system, the central pike block drew up in ranks between five and ten men deep, while the flanking shot drew up in ranks of between eight and twelve men. The shot were drilled to perfect the countermarch, in which the front rank would fire a volley, then turn about and march to the rear down the intervals between the files to reload their weapons. The second rank would then step up, fire their weapons and turn about in the same way. This continued until the front rank had returned to its original place, by which time their guns were reloaded and ready to fire again. In this way, the Dutch battalions could keep up a continuous fire for as long as their ammunition lasted". http://bcw-project.org/military/tactics [clicky]
  • The Dutch battalions [army] were deployed in three lines of battle. They were staggered in a "chequerboard" formation, adapted from the Roman acies triplex (triple battle order), so that the gaps between the front line battalions were covered by those behind. While the second line could be used to support the front line, the third line was a reserve or rearguard, which was only committed to battle as a last resort, either to reinforce a final push for victory or to cover a withdrawal". http://bcw-project.org/military/tactics [clicky]

Swedish System

Swedish type deployment - click to embiggen - note how the brigade in the second line deploys to cover the gap between the brigades in the front line...

  • A further modification of the Dutch system driven by Gustavus Adolphus during his wars in Germany - it's basically a more offensive version of the essentially defensive Dutch system, as I read it... In the Swedish system, armies tended to forget about the 3rd deployment line and would deploy in just the two..
  • "Gustavus divided his infantry regiments into two units of around 500 men each, which were known as squadrons and were equivalent to the Dutch battalions. The principal Swedish battlefield unit was the brigade, which was formed either from four squadrons deployed in a diamond pattern or, more usually, from three squadrons deployed in an arrowhead formation.

    Gustavus initially sought to increase the firepower of his infantry in order to compensate for the inferiority of the Swedish horse. Swedish squadrons maintained the central pike block flanked by musketeers, but the formations were shallower than in the Dutch system, with ranks six men deep. This presented a broader front which brought more firepower to bear on the enemy. Like the Dutch, Swedish musketeers were drilled to maintain a continuous fire by use of the countermarch. However, Gustavus added the tactic of "doubling the files" when the enemy drew near, in which the rearmost ranks of shot moved up to fill the gaps between the frontline ranks, thus transforming a six-rank formation into three ranks. The front rank would kneel, the second rank would crouch and the third rank would stand. When commanded, all three ranks would fire simultaneously to deliver a devastating salvo, the "Swedish salvee". If the enemy stood firm, the musketeers would reload behind the shelter of the pikes to fire another salvo. As soon as the enemy faltered, the Swedish infantry charged forward to break them in hand-to-hand combat.

    The formidable firepower of the Swedish infantry was increased by the use of light field artillery pieces that fired a three-pound shot and were manoeuvrable enough be moved with the troops in battle. As many as twelve field guns were attached to each brigade" http://bcw-project.org/military/tactics [clicky]
Detail from a painting by Snayers [clicky]depicting an infantry formation - from the above I'd say deployed in the Swedish style as the musket sleeves look to be about 7 or 8 ranks deep rather than the slightly deeper Dutch style..
  • "The Swedish brigades themselves were formed of either three squadrons [battalions] to form an arrowhead formation, or four squadrons to form a diamond"
  • "The Swedes deployed supporting cavalry squadrons behind both the first and second lines of infantry, as distinct from the Dutch practice which placed them behind the first line only. The cavalry wings were reinforced with 'commanded musketeers' - a Swedish innovation that differed from Dutch practice".
  • "Soldiers who were already experienced in Dutch and Danish tactics could quickly be re-trained in the basics of the Swedish practice, since the drills were the same. However, the Swedish tactical formation was more complex than the Dutch, and only veteran soldiers could achieve competence in it quickly".

The German Style

A composite of both that came in shortly after the death of Adolphus..
  • "The battalions (sometimes termed 'brigades') had around 1,000 men drawn up with a reduced depth; Monteccuoli referred to a file of seven men for the pike block in 1632 (when the horse included both full cuirassiers and lighter-armed battle cavalry). This formation, influenced by the Dutch but also using the Swedish model of forming small infantry brigades as fighting units rather than simply a deployment tool, was the foundation of the composite German style".

Edgehill specifics:

  • "Prince Rupert was inspired by the aggressive tactical approach and decisive victories of Gustavus Adolphus, and through his influence the Royalist army was deployed at Edgehill .. with its infantry in the Swedish brigade pattern, and both cavalry and infantry in the Swedish unit depths of six-deep an d three-deep respectively........ five Royalist infantry brigades in two lines, each brigade in the Swedish 'four-squadron' formation....  to work successfully it required veteran officers and NCOs and a cadre of veteran soldiers. The Royalist infantry was only recently raised and had few veterans;"Pike_and_Shot_Tactics_1590-1660
  • It's mentioned that the Swedish style was not used again by the Royalists after 1642 - they too went more German in style...
Royalist Deployment Edgehill - copyright Osprey
  • "[At Edgehill] the Parliamentarian regiments deployed in eight ranks, according to the Dutch method, a regimental frontage would occupy approximately 150 yards, and a brigade front over 600 yards. The left of the Parliamentarian line was occupied by Sir James Ramsey with 24 troops of horse, 600 musketeers and perhaps three guns. Ramsey deployed 300 musketeers between his first-line squadrons and 300 along the hedges to his left. The Parliamentarian centre was arranged in two lines with the infantry brigades of Colonel Charles Essex and Sir John Meldrum in the first line, Colonel Thomas Ballard's Brigade in the second and Sir Philip Stapleton's and Sir William Balfour's Horse in support" Pike_and_Shot_Tactics_1590-1660
  • "Parliament army at Edgehill  .. its infantry were drawn up in two lines of  battalions .. with each regiment forming either one or two battalions. The depth for the Parliament army followed an English variation on the Dutch model current since the mid-1630s, with infantry drawn up eight deep rather than the Dutch ten, and the cavalry fighting six deep. The deployment of the Parliament cavalry on its left wing included both commanded musketeer plottons of about 50 men each, drawn up six deep, and light artillery in the model originated by the Swedes and now forming part of the composite German style". Pike_and_Shot_Tactics_1590-1660
  • The Royalist army was deployed at Edgehill - the first battle of the Civil War - with its infantry in the Swedish brigade pattern, and both cavalry and infantry in the Swedish unit depths of six-deep and three-deep respectively. The Royalist battle plan .... shows five Royalist infantry brigades in two lines, each brigade in the Swedish 'four-squadron' formation. .... While this was certainly an effective tactical style, it was more complicated to operate than either the Dutch or German equivalents, and to work successfully it required veteran officers and NCO's and a cadre of veteran soldiers. The Royalist infantry was only recently raised and had few veterans; the practical effect was that while they could be drawn up in the Swedish style this was simply a fagade, since they lacked the experience to use it to advantage". Pike_and_Shot_Tactics_1590-1660

=======================================


Finally, this is amazing - a real resource... click and enjoy

https://brego-weard.com/lib/ns/ELI_179_Pike_and_Shot_Tactics_1590-1660_-_Ospr.pdf

Also recommend here:

http://www.battleofedgehill.org/edgehill-battlefield/index.html [clicky]

Enjoyed that..  cavalry and artillery next! 

Monday, February 11, 2019

"Vietnam - an Epic Tragedy 1945-1975" - a review..

...ever found yourself part way into a book and thought - "Good God, what have I taken on!" .. in a good kind of way of course... 
So it was with this book - it is HUGE. The scope is enormous - from the end of the Second World War to the fall of Saigon, and the research is meticulous and the detail very, very, extensive..

I 'enjoyed' every minute as Hastings is one of my favourite historians, he has an easy to read style that keeps you engaged, but it is a big old book and kept me occupied for almost a month...

So what do you get?

An almost week by week history of the Vietnamese conflict from the French Colonial period to shprtly after the last American troops were withdrawn*

How the scene was set first by French colonial  occupiers who returned at the end of the war looking to pick up where they left off but finding an all too different environment dominated by the communist movement lead by Ho Chi Minh, that they were incapable of adapting to, or controlling..

The increasing numbers of 'atrocities' met by a greater and greater French military reaction lead by French Foreign Legion and other regular troops that culminated in the miraculous victory by Giap  (surely one of the great unknown military strategists) and the Viet Minh communist forces at Dien Bien Phu [clicky] which culminated in France giving up it's control, and the partition of Vietnam into the communist north (capital Hanoi) and non-communist south (capital Saigon) either side of a demilitarized zone..  horrifying times - they think almost a million people moved south out of the north region - mostly Catholics - and because of fear of punishment by the Viet Minh if they stayed..

..and it got worse...

Poor southern governments (utterly, and appallingly inept), communist incursions driven by Hanoi, civil unrest in the south driven by protest at the state of government, and subsequent crackdowns lead to a military coup and the first of a succession of generals in charge of south Vietnam and surely, but slowly at first, US involvement to support the generals began to grow from about 1964 (Hastings is good on the Tonkin incident, very even handed) plateauing at about half a million troops by 1965..

The American's poured billions into Vietnam, and thousands of their troops died, and for little or no benefit... there was a fundamental failing in that for all the war bodies, tanks, bombs, Huey's (and in one operation the Americans used 500 of them - what a sight that would have been!!), shells and ammunition, there was a disconnect between the American's and the south Vietnamese that never saw the south Vietnamese really engage with what they needed to do - it was almost like they (not all of them) sat back and let the American's get on with it..


It's all in here..  Khe Sanh, US issues with drugs, collapse of morale, collapse of discipline, "fragging" (I knew the phrase, but not what it actually was about), My Lai, the role of the Australian's (I had not realised how many troops they committed), the Ho Chi Minh trail, Arclight (the B52 bomber strategy).. hugely readable, and I was itching to start a collection until I looked over and saw the painting table already pre-loaded...

..and then there was Tet, and it all started to really unravel - the American's and their south Vietnamese allies may have won the tactical battle, but the strategic battle was won by the Viet Minh and from that point onwards the descent is rapid...

Withdrawal of American troops starts, driven by opinion in the US and the anti-war movement, and then aid starts to dry up, and then the Americans leave the south Vietnamese unsupported except for a whole load of empty promises no US politician was ever going to enact in the climate of opinion at the time...

Saigon eventually fell to the Viet Minh just 7 years after Tet..

Superb book - definitely a 10'er - but oh my, so depressing - the inevitability of the failure was clear, and the whole sorry history reminded me very much of the book I read on the Fall of France [clicky] - there is that same inevitability (the southern Vietnamese army even had their own "Dunkirk moment") and you just know that it is not going to end well...

Wholly recommended

*we don't count "advisors" as troops...

Friday, February 08, 2019

Charles Gerard's Regiment of Foote... redux!

Well, well, well....  a doppelganger has arrived...

From this ..



..to this..


..looks like they shrunk in the wash...

My regular reader will have read of my writings over Christmas, where, like some 21st Century, flat white drinking, snowflake hipster, I was complaining of  "not feeling the love" for the figure ranges/scales I'd (myself!) chosen for the nascent, and still-born, English Civil War project...  and how, having stamped my feet in a petulant manner, had sent off for an order of Peter Pig figures...



Well I am delighted to report that the flat whites are again creamy and smooth in Steve the Wargamer's world, as the arrival of the (excellently packed, and quickly sent) package was everything I had hoped it would be...  in fact so much love was flowing, a regiment's worth was cleaned, and on the painting sticks for priming the same day they arrived..

Let me introduce you then, to the "new" first regiment in the English Civil War project...  Sir Charles Gerard's Regiment of Foote

Poised to receive horse..
Seriously - they are lovely - look at the character in those resting pikemen..


The paint flowed quickly on these ones..  couple of hours?? I used the same technique I demonstrated in the post before last, it may be worth using a grey rather than black primer next time, same white wet brush after, but when the figures are this small I think the grey will help lighten the overall colouring..  for the next order I will get resting musketeers for the second ranks..

According to my research the regiment were originally raised - probably in early 1642 - as part of the Earl of Derby’s forces in Lancashire, where they were present at the siege of Manchester in September, and then at Edgehill (which is the the basis for this project) in October. They numbered approximately 740* at the battle, and were brigaded with Sir Lewis Dyve's and Sir Ralph Dutton's regiments on the front right of the Royalist deployment (see following)...

Picture courtesy Google Books

By all accounts they did sterling service anchoring the Royalist line at a time of most need.

The Concise Encyclopedia of the Revolutions and Wars of England, Scotland ...
By Stephen C. Manganiello

In November the regiment were present at Turnham Green, before going into winter quarters as part of the Oxford garrison at the end of a fairly successful year (for them, if not the King).

Gerard was a bit of a 'hard charger' by all the accounts I've read... he learnt his trade in Holland and the Low countries before returning to serve the King..  as above he was wounded at the battle, but went on to survive the war and was seen as a trusted pair of hands by the Royalist command - he was particularly active in Wales, and liked by Rupert. At the end of the war he went into exile, was influential at the court of Charles II, married, four children, was restored to his estates following the restoration, but was implicit in the later "glorious revolution" and after a short banishment was back in favour with the succession of William - he died in 1694 at the, not bad, age of 76...  not a particularly happy or pleasant man it seems - he seems to have been fairly litigious, a conspirer, and while in Wales during the war there were sufficient complaints about his heavy handedness to the King, that he was 'promoted sideways'..

Decision made then.. this is going to be a 15mm project

On to Parliament next - one of Charles Essex's Brigade I think who as you can see in the map were deployed opposite.. 

* source "Edgehill: The Battle Reinterpreted" By Christopher L. Scott, Alan Turton, Eric Gruber von Arni  

More details here:

http://www.battleofedgehill.org/edgehill-battlefield-map/index.html
http://bcw-project.org/biography/charles-gerard
http://wiki.bcw-project.org/royalist/foot-regiments/col.-charles-gerard-oxford

Friday, February 01, 2019

Blockage Runner... Setup and Game


I'm just glad to be here, happy to be alive (At the end of the line)
'End of the Line' Traveling Wilburys

If all goes to plan this will be my 900th post since I started blogging back in February 2007 (it didn't go to plan as a couple of other posts snuck in first so this is actually the 902nd'th), which means I've been blogging for about 12 years, now..  I have to say it's been remarkably good fun - chatted with a whole load of people, had a whole load of kindness'es done (figures given and sent, magazines donated - you know who you are, Jim - advice on a myriad of subjects. etcetc), but as far as I'm concerned the post is BAU, and I now look forward to the next 12 years and what I guess is the next milestone which is the 1000th post...!

Either way, with some time on my hands after I'd completed the American dismounted dragoons, I cast around for something to do and happened to spot out of the corner of my eye the ACW ships I built last year, and which I had not yet played a game..  decision made then!

So for this game a mixed force of three (fictional, but typical) Confederate blockade runners have been intercepted by a (fictional, but typical) Union force consisting of an ironclad monitor, and a small gunship..

CSS Butternut, and the CSS Tiger
CSS Robert E Lee and in the background the USS Drewery

USS Monitor
I was hoping that this would give a fairly balanced game as although the Confederates have a larger number of ships, the monitor should balance the equation...

Objective is for the Confederate ships to exit the opposite table edge..  game was played lengthwise on a 6' x 4' table..

Armaments:

'Robert E Lee' - 2 x Medium rifled guns (fore and aft) and a broadside of 1 Medium and 2 Small Smooth-bores per side - light armour
'Butternut' - 2 x Medium rifled guns (fore and aft) and a broadside of  2 Small Smooth-bores per side - light armour
'Tiger' - 2 x Medium rifled guns (fore and aft) and a broadside of  2 Small Smooth-bores per side - light armour

'Monitor' - 2 x Heavy Smoothbores - heavy armour - also classed as "small" target
'Drewery' - 2 x Medium rifled guns (fore and aft) - light armour - also classed as "small" target

So the "Rebs" have more guns, but the "Bluebelly's" have bigger guns, (some) better armour, and are harder to hit .. 

Starting positions as follows:



Game:

Turn 1:

The US win the initiative and both sides get 3 action points to play with..each side advances, with the Confederates turning to starboard so as to get their broadsides in arc...




Turn 2: 

The US win initiative again but only get 1 AP. With it, the Monitor opens fire on the Robert E Lee at long range but misses (and this was to be a theme for the whole game!) Drewery being smaller does a double move - I had an idea to use her as a flanking force..

In the Confederate phase the Robert E Lee opens fire on Monitor at long range and hits 3 times (!), though one of these is saved when the test for small target was taken into account - being medium and light guns that also means there is an additional save which meant neither of these shots had penetrated Monitors heavy armour to do any significant damage...  elsewhere, Butternut and Tiger fire their main armament at Drewery but miss..



Turn 3: 

..and the games begins to go decisive..

The Confederates win initiative, and throw 3 AP's..  with them the Robert E Lee again opens fire on Monitor but this time with no effect. Butternut and Tiger again fire their main armament at Drewery and this time cause a hit and start a fire

What it does do is cause the US to spend their AP's on recovering from damage sustained in the Confederate phase - so no shooting, just the obligatory (free) move forward.




Turn 4: 

The Confederates win initiative again, and have 2 AP's - they move forward, turn to port (so as tot be heading up the table for their exit edge) and fire everything they have at Monitor..  (five medium rifles, 1 medium smooth-bore and a handful of light smooth-bores - basically everything except the kitchen sink) – causing two hits, one of which penetrates causing 'confusion' on board Monitor

The US throw 4 AP’s which Monitor uses to move and recover from before firing unsuccessfully and reloading. Drewery turns, moves twice and fires (and misses) - yet another turn of poor gunnery by the US.



Turn 5: 

For the third time the Confederates win initiative, and roll 2 AP's - basically they repeat the actions of the previous turn but without the successes they saw while firing..

The US only get 1 AP which Monitor uses to fire at Tiger, causing two hits neither of which penetrate despite weight of shell. Drewery needs to manoeuvre to avoid running aground so doesn't fire..



Turn 6:

Finally the US win back the initiative and also with the maximum of 4 AP's - they have the opportunity to start finally hitting back..  Monitor reloads, fires (and misses!), before manoeuvring (so as not to hit Drewery ), and at the same time reloading…

The Drewery manoeuvres, and fires at short range at Butternut causing two hits (at last!), one of which penetrates causing engine damage and a boiler explosion (permanent reduced speed)..

The Confederates have also got 4 AP’s – with it Butternut recovers the engine failure and then fires back at Drewery causing 1 pt damage before moving.. Tiger and Robert E Lee move twice and fire their broadsides at Monitor (3 hits) - at this point in time the Confederates are simply obeying orders which is to get their ships off the far end of the table rather than inflict what could easily be a crushing defeat on the Union navy..

Nothing they can do...

Turn 7: 

I called the game as a Confederate victory – all ships will exit the the board as ordered - a little singed round the edges but nothing that couldn't be repaired in the Confederate graving yards up river..

Post match analysis:

  • Rules used were a set I picked up via the web from Bill Gilchrist - I won't go into a huge load of detail, as I believe there was a hope/plan they might be picked up by Osprey as a future rules release? What I can say is that I like them lots, as for me they hit that lovely spot between simplicity and complexity ie. just enough of each to give tactical decisions to make, with detailed weaponry, and period flavour, while not drowning in rivet counting...
  • Clearly a most unbalanced scenario as what is more important in these rules is weight of shot rather than thickness of armour...  bottom line if you have kitchen sinks to throw, even if they are not very big kitchen sinks, then the more kitchen sinks the better as statistically one of them is going to do some damage!
  • Rules reviews for "Cruel Sea's" the WW2 patrol boat set from Warlord, have shown an interesting method of showing speed - basically a cone placed underneath the back of the ship and placed so as to show speed- see following - I like it and will manufacture something similar as it is one less thing to have to track - if I can also build in a turn circle it will be two things less to track ...
    Picture purloined shamelessly from Google and courtesy Warlord [clicky]
  • Stay tuned as the South will sail again - somehow or another they need to get back down river.. and sure as eggs the Union is not going to allow that! 
  • This post also prompted me to put together a "project page" - I toyed with the idea of adding it to the current American Civil War one, but for the time being it will live separately..  link to the left under "Projects"