Monday, December 31, 2007

The 2007 Year In Review


Battle of Eylau Re-enactment - February 2007. George Rust, Mike Husky and Keith Leidy (left to right) contest the village of Eylau in a game played earlier in the year.

The paint is drying on the last figures painted in 2007, so I thought that it would be interesting to take an inventory of what I painted during the course of the year. My initial talley indicates a total of 1,015 figures were painted during 2007. This breaks down into 881 infantry, 12 artillery crew, 8 mounted generals, and 114 cavalry. Under the system created by Phil Olley (or Olley Painting Points), wherein an infantry figure or cannon counts as one point and any mounted figure counts as two points (one point each for the rider and the horse), my painting output translates into 1,137 Olley Painting Points. I think that this might be a new personal record for Der Alte Fritz.

Let's break down the output by country to see where the concentration was:

Prussian SYW:
IR5 Alt Braunschweig (60)
IR20 Bornstadt (45) - the first 15 figures were painted in 2006
IR25 Kalckstein (60)
IR34 Prinz Ferdinand (60)
IR35 Prinz Heinrich (60)
5/20 Grenadiers (61)
IR6 Grenadier Garde (12) - to top up the unit to 60 figures

Artillery Crew (12)

HR2 Zieten Hussars (12)
HR5 Black Hussars (12)
DR2 Jung Krakow Dragoons (12)
CR8 Seydlitz Cuirsassiers (24)
CR13 Garde du Corps (24)
Mounted Generals (2)

British SYW:
8th Foot (King's Regt) (60)
42nd Highland Regt (48)
2nd Horse Regt (18)
Household Horse Grenadiers (12)

French SYW: (NOTE - These are for sale)
D'Eu Regt. (30) - to complete the unit to 60
Bulkeley Regt. (60)
Arquebusiers de Grassin (45)

Austrian SYW:
Warrior Miniatures repainted as Austrians (60)
RSM Austrian btn (60)

Teddy Bears SYW
Blue Army (24)
Pink Army (24)

Napoleonics - 1806 Project
Prussian IR24 (21)
French Infantry (156)
French Mounted Officer (1)
Russian Mounted Officers (5)

Well, it is easy to see that my focus was on my SYW Prussian army during 2007. I painted the equivalent of 6 battalions of infantry and 7 12-man squadrons of cavalry. I sold several Prussian battalions during the year as I began to weed out some older figures so that I could replace them with my own Potsdam Miniatures. The Big Battalion Game in October 2007 underscored my need for more Prussian cuirassiers and so I added 48 more of them after the game. My Prussian army is more or less completed now. I will probably top up the Black Hussars with 12 more figures to get them up to a 60-figure regiment and add 12 more Garde du Corps to get them up to three squadrons. I also have to start the task of replacing my artillery guns with the new Berlin Zinnfiguren models that I purchased this year.

The Austrians have not been neglected, despite what the painting talley shows above. Dennis Smail has been painting Austrian infantry for me, adding three 60-figure battalions to my army during 2007. The latest two battalions, the Josef Esterhazy and the Gaisruck battalions, bring my Austrian force up to nine battalions of infantry. My goal is to get to an even dozen Austrian battalions and add more cavalry in 2008.

The 1806 Project got off of the ground during 2007, with two battalions of French line infantry completed. I had finished three Prussian battalions of 40-48 figures towards the end of 2006 and I am currently in the process of building these up to 60-figure battalions. I expect to devote January 2008 to painting 1806 Prussians. This will give me a break from painting strictly Seven Years War figures for awhile and I welcome the change of subject matter. That said, I did paint a couple of the Riesengarde or Lange Kerls today. I now have one grenadieir and one officer in this version of the Potsdam Guard.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The First Teddy Bear Battle


Lord Paddington Bear's Pink army (Eureka Miniatures painted by Der Alte Fritz).


Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe watches as her Blue Bear army marches onto the field of battle. (Bears by Eureka Miniatures, trees by K&M, buildings by Herb Gundt - the builder, not the owner of the Gundt Bear Company).

We held our first Teddy Bear Wargame today and I'm happy to say that my daughter holds great promise as a future general, because she thoroughly defeated her Daddy 25 points to 10 points. The field of Mars was our kitchen table (3ft by 6ft) with two armies (blue and pink) of 24 bears facing one another for the very first time. The prize: Almond M & Ms strewn about the table top in various buildings and wooded areas. Whoever inflicted the most "hits" and collected the most M&Ms would be the winner of the game.



The picture above depicts the advance of Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe's army of blue bears, from the left. Note the perfectly aligned battle lines of the blue bears. It makes a father feel right proud, it does. In contrast, Lord Paddington Bear's army of pink bears, advancing from the right, was having problems keeping the lads together in a common frontage. You can see some of the "honey pots", represented by the M&Ms, in the Hundred Acre Wood in the background. Lady Emma's army has already captured the little hamlet of Stiefsburg, although she is unaware that each house contains a veritable treasure of honey pots.

The rules that we used were made up on the spur of the moment. A D6 was thrown each turn to see who would have the first movement initiative. A player could then opt to walk (three D6 movement) or run (four D6 movement rate). Firing ranges were Close Range (0-6" and a 1 or 2 on a D6 per figure firing for a hit) and Long Range (7-12" and a 1 on a D6). All casualties could be saved on a saving roll of 6 on a D6. Casualties were then placed "in the hospital" for the remainder of the game.



The next picture, above, shows the state of the respective armies at the end of Turn 2 (which was the first turn of musketry, or should I say corkage - the Bears have cork gun/pop guns instead of muskets, and getting bonked on the head by a cork sent a bear to the hospital). Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe won the first firing initiative and mowed down 8 of my Pink Bears in the opening salvo. I think that I was only able to save one of my bears with a saving throw. Lord Paddington Bear's lads only knocked down three of their counterparts on the first turn. In the picture above, you can see that the two units at the top are in close range, while the two units at the bottom of the picture are in long range.


Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe looking very pleased with the performance of her Blue Bear army. Note all of the Pink Bear casualties laying on the ground.

The second firing turn was a little more promising for Lord Paddington Bear's Pink Bear army. They sent 6 Blue bears to the hospital while losing only one of their number. Thus the score was 9 to 8 in favor of the Blue team at the end of turn 2. This was to be the high-water mark of the Pink team, as they were unable to inflict any more trips to the hospital on their adversaries. At this point, both sides decided to start collecting honey pots in the nearby Hundred Acre Wood.

The Pink army casualties are starting to mount up in the Hundred Acre Wood, on the right. The Blue bears can be seen running into the woods to collect honey pots (M&Ms) while a forlorn hope of Pink bears, under the personal guidance of Lord Paddington Bear, conduct a rear-guard defense.

The third turn of firing resulted in a complete whiff by the Pink team, while the Blue team inflicted two more casualties. Thus the score was now 11 to 8 in favor of the Blue team. The Blue team was also running away with most of the honey pots, having collected 4 in the village of Stiefburg, 2 more in the Hundred Acre Wood, and most embarrassingly, 2 more honeypots in Gundtdorf, far in the rear of the Pink army's lines. The Pink army had 2 honey pots collected from within the smaller of the two buildings shown in the picture above, as well as control of 2 more honey pots in the Wood beyond the village of Stiefburg.


Blue Bears collecting honey pots (M&Ms) from Gundtdorf, behind the enemy's lines.

The fourth turn was a complete disaster for Lord Paddington Bear's army. He lost 4 more bears while inflicting no damage on the Blue army. At this point, Lord Paddington Bear was the last bear standing in front of a firing line of Blue bears. Thus, he decided that it was time to skedaddle, and he did so without informing the garrison of 4 Pink bears, holding out in the little tiny house. Lady Emma decided that it was time to storm the tiny house and capture the honey pots and the Pink bears therein, the storming of which is shown below.


The storming of the Tiny House by the Blue Bears.

I made up some quick melee rules on the fly, as it were. Each side would get one D6 for each bear participating in the melee. The side with the highest score would win the melee. Lady Emma threw seven dice to four for the defenders, outscoring them 32 to 20, so she won the melee and captured two more honey pots. The four Pink bears inside the building had nowhere to run, so the surrendered (and counted as hit points). After the melee, there were only four members of the Pink army still standing on the kitchen, erm wargame table and so it was obvious that Lady Emma's army was victorious over Lord Paddington Bear's army. Thus to the victor goeth the spoils, which in this case, were Almond M&Ms. Her Highness consented to sharing her large pot of loot with her Daddy, which was greatly appreciated.

This will undoubtedly be the first of many battles in the Seven Bears Wars and I look forward to future encounters on the kitchen table.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

French 1806 Project

I guess that I just can't do anything nice and easy, when it comes to wargaming projects. I like big beautiful battalions with lots of color and even more miniatures. So after building SYW Austrian and Prussian armies at a 1 to 10 ratio and previously using the same ratio for the American Revolution and the American Civil War, it was probably inevitable that my thoughts would turn to doing something similar with Napoleonics. My nascent 1806 Project is the epitome of doing things in the grand manner, what with French battalions sized at 72 to 81 figures and my 1806 Prussians checking in with 60 figures. A sample French line battalion is depicted in the following pictures. Please click on the pictures to enlarge the photograph.


French battalion in line with voltigeurs deployed in the line with the rest of the unit. Figures are Elite Miniatures (painted by Der Alte Fritz).


French battalion in line with voltigeur company in skirmish order.

My current thinking is to organize the French into 9 companies, per the organization in effect during the glory years of 1805 to 1807. This breaks down into 7 line companies, 1 grenadier company, and 1 voltigeur company. Each company will have 9 figures based in 3 ranks, so an infantry company stand will be 3 figures wide by 3 figures deep. Each figure will be mounted on a 3/4 inch metal base so that it can adher to a magnetized movement tray. Each regiment will have two battalions and four battalions will comprise a brigade. For the post-1807 period, the French would be organized into the more familiar 6 company organization.


Now that's what I call a column! French battalion deployed in a column of divisions with a frontage of two companies. The grenadiers and voltigeurs are deployed in the rear ranks.

The 1806 campaign might seem like an unusual choice of subsegment of the vast Napoleonic Era, but it has all of the elements that have long attracted me to SYW wargaming.

First Element: The Prussian army of the period still retains many of the trappings of its Frederician organization and appearance. The regiments are organized in a similar manner, the uniforms are little-changed from the SYW period, save for the use of trousers instead of breeches on campaign and the wearing of a bicorn instead of tricorn hat. The regimental flags are nearly identical to those used in the SYW (other than a different royal cypher in each period) and regiments take the name of their inhaber or colonel, rather than a regimental number. The artillery and the cavalry organizations also bear a strong resemblance to their SYW counterparts, with the one major exception being that Prussian cuirassiers no longer wear a cuirass. So all in all, an aficionado of the SYW will feel very much at home commanding a Prussian army, circa 1806.

Second Element: The period 1805 to 1807 represents, in my humble opinion, the glory years of Napoleon and his Grande Armee. This mighty miliatary machine, trained to perfection at the camps at Boulogne on the English Channel, were unmatched in this era. Napoleon used this instrument of war to defeat the combined might of Austria and Russia in 1805, Prussia in 1806, and Russia and Prussia in 1807. For some reason, this army seems to get overlooked by wargamers, who seem more interested in Napoleon's later years (1812 to 1815) when the armies were larger, but not as agile or superior to its opponents.

Third Element: Did I mention that the French wore long-tailed coats and bicorn hats? This uniform, like its Prussian counterpart, represents a transition from the uniforms of the elegant 18th Century, to that of the harder and grittier 19th Century. Also, I don't care for shakos. They look fine on the British, but I've always thought that the French look better in the old, pre-Bardin reform, uniforms. The cavalry uniforms of this era are magnificent to look at: the French cuirassiers, the bearskin hats of the Grenadiers a Cheval and the Carabiniers, the gaudy hussars and the chasseurs, and the splendid looking dragoons with their classical helmets, green coats and a rainbow of facing colors (yellow, blue, red, pink and more).

Fourth Element: Interesting personalities. The French army has personality, and then some! What a cast of characters when one can select from such different personalities as Davout, Lannes, Murat, LaSalle, Bernadotte, Ney and many others. But it doesn't just stop at the corps level. The French army had a deep bench of talent at the divisional and brigade levels, with many of these individuals rising through the ranks on merit, to eventual corps command after 1807.

I plan to organize my French army as a division of 8 battalions with supporting divisional artillery. I will probably use Gudin's division in Davout's III Corps circa 1806 as my model for the layout. My cavalry force will consist of the III Corps light cavalry, notably the 1er Chasseurs a Cheval and the 7e Hussars and maybe a unit of cuirassiers and dragoons. French cavalry regiments will have 36 to 48 figures, representing three squadrons.

I will provide more information on the French organization later in the week as well as my initial thoughts and ideas for organizing the Prussians. The rules will be a variant of the BAR rules that we use for the Seven Years War. We haven't written the rules yet, so there is a considerable amount of play testing ahead of us. However, I like the basic system of firing, melee and morale that is used in BAR, so I will probably use this as the framework for a unique set of Napoleonic rules for the 1805-1807 period.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Teddy Bear Christmas Armies


Two full regiments of Eureka Teddy Bears - the Blue Regiment (advancing) and the Pink Regiment (marching). Buildings are old Gallia resin buildings circa 1988.

At long last, the Pink and Blue Teddy Bear Christmas armies are completed (at least the first installment of the same) and drying in the varnishing shed. I have two 24-figure bear armies, with one army decked out in pink coats with green facings, and the second army wearing sky blue with pink facings. This is the first time that I have ever gloss coated a wargaming unit, and I'm rather pleased with the overall effect. The figures shown in these pictures have not yet received their gloss coatings. I used spray varnish and plan to give each unit three coats of varnish, to protect them from the wear and tear that they are likely to get from my 9-year old daughter. She is always talking about wanting to wargame with me, so I thought that this would be a fun way of doing it.

I have not made up any rules, as yet, but rest assured that they will be very, very easy to learn. I am thinking that firing will be with a D6 and it will take a natural "1" (or bulls eye) to get a hit. Melees will be done by matching up the figures one on one and having each player roll a D6 per figure. The highest roll wins that individual melee. I may use saving throws, but that might add a level of complication that my daughter isn't ready for.


The Pink Army of Eureka Teddy Bears in March Attack Pose. Note the officer riding the hobby horse and the reversed uniform colors on the drummer.


The Blue Army of Eureka Teddy Bears in the advancing pose. In this unit I made the musicians white Polar Bears while the rest of the battalion are Brown Bears. Note also that each army is in a different pose to make the difference more noticeable.

The figures are super glued to one-inch square MDF wooden bases and then painted a dark green. I elected to use the larger bases because my daughter has problems with her fine motor skills so I figured that it would be easier for her to pick up the larger bases. The other option was using a 3/4-inch base, but there is less to grab with the smaller base. I had thought of finishing the bases with texturing (spackle, flock and pieces of scrub brush), but elected to go for the Old School Toy Soldier look with the plain green bases. I am also figuring that a few of the figures might eventually break off of their bases, so it would be easier to make repairs if I leave the bases unflocked.

At a later date, I will add 8 grenadiers, 6 cavalry and a cannon with 4 crew to each army. I simply didn't have the time to finish everything before Christmas. I also have to work on the standard bearers for each regiment. The flag poles provided by Eureka have rocking horse or duck finials, but I like the idea that one of my blogger friends used for his Teddy Bear army: he put a pot of honey on the top of the flag pole. The artillery crew comes with a honey pot and I may use these for the flag finials instead of using them with the artillery crew.

These bears were fun to paint, but I look forward to getting back to historical miniatures soon. I have some 1806 French and Prussians on the painting table and these are likely to be my next project. I do need a bit of a break from painting SYW figures, you know.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers. I thank you for all of your kind comments and support for my on line journal. Your enthusiasm for my work keeps me motivated to write new articles all of the time. This is a lot of fun for me.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Project Updates

I am on the home stretch on the Teddy Bears Christmas Project and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (there's two cliches in one sentance). I just completed the 24 - Bear Blue Team and the 24-Bear Pink Team just needs a little bit of details to complete them. I'm going out to a Christmas party tonight with Mrs Fritz and plan to finish the Pink Team later this evening. There will be two teams of 24 Bear musketeers. The Bear grenadiers and the standard bearers will have to wait until after Christmas.

I black primed a dozen more 1806 French line center company figures the other night, and I have to say that I've been eyeing them all afternoon today as I was finishing the Blue Bears. With a full week of vacation time coming up, I could really go to town on a Napoleonic painting jag during this time. I feel like I owe myself a break from painting anymore SYW figures, or Bears, for awhile.

The French legere battalion has been glued to its bases. I am using 3/4-inch metal bases for the Napoleonic project, rather than the 1-inch bases that I have been using for the SYW period. Since the Elite Miniatures take up less space on the base, I can get away with using the smaller size of bases. I think that the smaller bases look better because they really pack the figures in closer together.

I will attempt to take some photographs of the Bears tomorrow and hopefully post them on this site on Sunday. I would also like to paint a couple of Potsdam Riesengarde figures and photograph them as well. So have patience, the pictures will be forthcoming soon.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Lange Kerls Reconsidered




The Riesengarde
I keep looking at pictures of the Prussian Lange Kerls and the more I look at them, the more intrigued I am by the idea of adding a unit of guards in red breeches and waistcoats to my SYW Prussian army. I know that Frederick II disbanded the unit when he became the king of Prussia (and replaced it with a new Grenadier Garde IR6 single battalion regiment), but these fellows look so nice and their uniform is so unique that the idea is hard to resist.


I have painted one sample figure using the Stadden grenadier figure and I like the result enough to consider painting some more. I have 15 spare grenadier castings, so I'll probably paint them as Lange Kerls over the Christmas break next week. I might attach them as a company to one of my other guard units or just keep them as a headquarters guard until I can paint more.

The picture shown above can be found on the website of a re-enactment group in Germany that portrays the Potsdam Lange Kerls or Riesengarde Regiment. Click on the link titled Prussian Reenactors, on the left to find the web site and more pictures. I find that pictures of reenactors is both inspirational and helpful in getting information about certain uniform and equipment details. There is no guarantee that the groups will get it right, but the odds are fairly good that they have done the research and have done their uniform and equipment impressions accurately.


Teddy Bear Update
I have completed the 24 bears in the Pink Army (pink coats with green facings) and am now working on the Blue Army (sky blue coats with pink facings) that I will give to my daughter for Christmas. I hope to be finished with the project by Saturday. I liked painting the figures at first, but now there are a bit tedious and it seems like I will never finish them. This is probably due to the tight deadline that I forced upon myself. Had I started this project a month or two ago, and painted them at a more leasurely pace, then my attitude would be different. The payoff will be the reaction that I get from my daughter when she sees the figures. I know that she will like them and want to wargame with them. I envision us setting up a simple game on the kitchen table and playing an easy game with made-up rules that she can handle. I will post some Bear pictures over the weekend, probably on Saturday.


The 1806 Napoleonic Project
One of the next items on my list is to work on my 1:10 ratio 28mm Napoleonic Project. The antagonists will be the French in bicornes, circa 1805-1807 and they will fight the 1806 Prussians and maybe the Russians. So far, I have painted 3 battalions of French (2 line and 1 legere battalion) and 3 partial battalions (averaging 40 figures) of Prussians. The French battalions will have 72 figures while the Prussians will have 60 figures. I will be using primarily figures from Elite Miniatures.


In the near term, I envision a French army with 6 to 8 infantry battalions, a 4 gun battery of artillery and one or two regiments of light cavalry. Total of 3 players per side. The Prussians will have 8 battalions in two brigades, a battery of artillery, and some heavy dragoons and cuirassiers. So the Prussians will have a stronger cavalry brigade than the French, but be at a disadvantage with respect to the size of infantry battalions. This will be offset by giving the Prussians more battalions so that their overall numbers are higher. They will also have the handicap of having fewer light infantry and skirmishers than the French. The French will rely on their superior quality (this is the Grande Armee at its peak performance level, afterall) of infantry and the elan of their light cavalry. It should be an intersting match up.


Down the road, I may add a brigade of Russians. Back in the early 1990s, Dave Alsop sculpted a limited range of 1805-07 Russians in bicorns and stovepipe shakoes. I think that I bought something like 600 figures and stashed them away. The range did not include officers or musicians, so I bought what I needed from the Elite Miniatures range of Russians to fill out the battalions. I will use Elite's Russian cavalry and artillery from this period for the other combat arms. I plan to have a lancer regiment and a cuirassier regiment (they don't wear cuirasses during this period) and the usual overload of artillery for the men in green.
There will be more information about this project as it gets painted. The rest of the story will then unfold, so stay tuned for more.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Prussian Brigade Organization



The Grand Review of the Prussian army has caused me to give more thought to a more permanent organization for the army, with regiments designated to a specific brigade that is commanded by the same general in each battle. This will give each brigade its own unique identity and over the course of time on the tabletop, it can develop its own unique history and traditions. With respect to conducting wargames, if a particular scenario only requires two infantry brigades, then I will already have the brigades packed away in their own boxes and I can pull the brigades that I need from the storage shelves without having to spend time sorting the regiments out for the upcoming game.

The brigades will be loosely divided into infantry battalions from the same manufacturer. Thus all of my Potsdam figures will be in one brigade, all of the RSM/Minden Miniatures will be in one brigade (since they are similar in size), all of the Elite Miniatures will be in one brigade, and all of the Surens/Stadden, "The Old School Brigade" will be in one brigade. The Headquarters establishment will be comprised of (1) the Guards Brigade (Surens and Staddens) which, in turn, will be augmented by a smaller detachment of pioneers and jager zu fuss; and (2) Colonel Moller's artillery reserve. I list both Brummers and 12 pound field guns in the reserve, with the 18 crew serving one or the other type of gun, depending on what I choose to use in my order of battle for a particular game day. I am contemplating adding a battalion of Potsdam Langen Kerls decked out in blue coats, and red breeches and waist coats. This is more or less a fictional unit that I may, or may not, add to my collection after I take care of the other elements in the OOB.

My proposed organization begins with King Freidrich II as the overall army commander. Reporting to the King are Colonel Moller's artillery battalion, the Guards Brigade, von Seydlitz as the overall cavalry commander, and two infantry wings (consisting of two brigades each) commanded by Prinz Moritz and the Duke of Bevern.

I find that writing all of this down on paper or journal gives one a better sense of what is needed to complete the order of battle. The one thing that really stands out to me is the fact that I need to start working on command stands for the infantry brigadiers and the wing commanders. The cavalry generals are all pretty much set on their new 2" diameter round bases. Over time, I will also substitute my older Elite Miniatures French cannon with proper Berlin Zinfiguren SYW Prussian cannon.

Headquarters - Koenig Friedrich II


Guards Brigade - von Saldern
IR6 Grenadier Garde Regiment (Surens) - 60 figures
IR15/III Third Battalion of Guards (Staddens) - 60 figures
Potsdamer Riesengarde (forming - Staddens) - 60 figures
Jager zu Fuss Battalion (Perry) - 48 figures
Pioneers (forming - TBD) - 48 figures

7 pound howitzer with 5 crew

Artillery Reserve - Colonel Moller
3 by 12-pound field artillery with 18 crew (Foundry)
3 by 12-pound Brummers with 18 crew (Foundry)

Left Wing - Prinz Moritz von Anhalt-Dessau

Manteufel's Brigade
IR34 Prinz Ferdinand (Minden) - 60 figures
IR35 Prinz Heinrich Fusiliers (RSM) - 60 figures
IR42 Margraf Friedrich Fusiliers (RSM) - 60 figures
IR49 Diericke Fusiliers (forming - Minden Miniatures) - 60 figures

7-pound howitzer - 1 howitzer and 5 crew

Hulsen's Brigade
IR5 Alt-Braunschweig (Potsdam) - 60 figures
IR18 Prinz von Preussen (Potsdam) - 60 figures (work in process)
IR20 Bornstedt (Potsdam) - 60 figures
Alt-Billerbeck (5/20) Grenadier Btns (Potsdam) - 60 figures

2 by 6-pd regimental guns - 8 crew

Right Wing - The Duke of Bevern

von Manstein's Brigade
IR19 Margraf Karl (Elite Miniatures) - 60 figures
IR25 Kalckstein (Elite Miniatures) - 60 figures
(19/25) Heyden Grenadier Btn (Elite Mins.) - 60 figures
IR27 Meyerinck (forming - Elite Miniatures) - 60 figures

2 by 6-pd regimental guns - 8 crew

von Oldenburg's Brigade
IR7 Bevern (Stadden) - 60 figures
IR12 Alt Darmstadt (Stadden) - 60 figures
IR13 Itzenplitz (Stadden) - 60 figures
IR24 Schwerin (Suren) - 60 figures

2 by 6-pd regimental guns - 8 crew

Cavalry Wing - Lt. General von Seydlitz

Heavy Brigade - von Schonaich
CR2 Prinz von Preussen cuirassiers (Elite Min.) - 60 figures
CR8 von Seydlitz cuirassiers (Surens) - 60 figures
CR13 Garde du Corps (Elite Miniatures) - 36 figures

Light Brigade - von Zieten
DR2 Jung Krakow Dragoons (Surens) - 36 figures
DR5 Bayreuth Dragoons (forming - Surens) - 36 figures
HR2 von Zieten "Blue" Hussars (Staddens) - 12 figures
HR5 von Reusch "Black" Hussars - 36 figures (plus 12 more forming)

2 by 6-pound horse artillery battery with 10 crew (Hinchcliffe)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Austrians


Leopold Josef Graf Daun (photo from Wikipedia)

As the grounds of Schloss Seewald get covered in a fresh coating of Winter white, I feel compelled to retreat to the comfort of my basement and contemplate wargaming armies to come. I've been rather focused on my Prussian army over the past year, building it up to a respectable force of 16 battalions of infantry, 20 squadrons of cavalry and 10 cannon of various sizes. I suppose that I could paint more Prussians, but we are running out of table space and so any new Prussian foot or horse would only be used in one of my big games on a 30 foot table.

The snowy white blanket outside reminds me of the white-coated Austrians, who were the implacable foe of Frederick the Great. Fighting to recover the territory of Silesia for their monarch, Maria Theresa of Austria, the Austrian army led by the very capable Marshal Leopold von Daun proved to be a very strong match for the Prussian army. Marshall Daun broke a long string of Prussian victories with his victory at Kolin, on June 18, 1757. To commemorate this great victory, Maria Theresa immediately instituted a military order bearing her name, and Daun was awarded the first Grand Order of Maria Theresa in recognition of his great victory. Daun later played an important role in the successful capture of Breslau in December 1757 and he cautioned the Prince Charles of Lorraine about the hazzards of marching out from Breslau to offer battle to Frederick at Leuthen. Prince Charles resigned his command of the Austrian army after its disasterous defeat at Leuthen on December 5, 1757 and turned the command over to Marshal Daun.

Austrian fortunes were on the upswing with Daun in command as he posted significant victories over Frederick at Hochirch and Maxen in 1758. The next year proved equally as promising as Loudon led an Austro-Russian army to victory at Kunersdorf, but these gains were offset by Frederick's victories at Leignitz and Torgau in 1760. From there, the war evolved into a stalemate and eventual peace in 1763.

Well, there will be no peace unless I get busy and get to work on my Austrian army. My goal is to have enough Austrians to host a big Austrian-Prussian game at Historicon in July 2008. My Austrian forces currently consist of 8 battalions of infantry with another one, the Gaisruck regiment, organizing in its depot. I'm using a mix of Front Rank, Warrior, RSM and Crusader Austrian figures in my army. I've heard rumors that Austrians will also be produced by Frank Hammond for his "Minden Miniatures" range of figures sculpted by Richard Ansell. I will definitely want to add some Minden Austrians to my growing army.

The cavalry contingent is woefully understrength at this stage of the game. I only have 2 squadrons each (12 per squadron) of cuirassiers, horse grenadiers and dragoons. The cavalry consists entirely of Crusader Miniatures and these are very nice figures with the right amount of heft and "umph" to match up with my Suren and Elite Prussian cavalry. I don't intend to paint any Austrian hussars at this time because the Austrian light cavalry regiments were not generally deployed at battle field cavalry by the Austrians. They were strictly used for skirmishing, scouting, raiding and other elements of kleine krieg warfare.

The artillery branc will be manning some of the Berlin Zinnfiguren Austrian artillery pieces that I recently purchased from Berlin. I'm currently using Elite Miniatures Napoleonic Austrian cannon models until I can get the BZ models painted and on the table. The gun crew consist of Front Rank and Crusader Miniatures. Both lines are compatible with one another. Crusader only makes 4 artillery crew poses, but I augment these with the Front Rank artillery fusilier figure if I need a 5 man or 6 man gun crew.

By July 2008, I will want to have the Austrian infantry contingent built up to at least 12 battalions. The cavalry will eventually have nearly 300 horses (currently at 72 figures), of which half will be cuirassiers and the rest will be horse grenadiers and heavy dragoons. As you can see, I have a lot of work ahead of me.

I am currently taking a little break from Prussians and Austrians by painting two little armies of Eureka SYW teddy bears for my 9-year old daughter. She has expressed an interest in wargaming with me from time to time. So the Eureka teddy bears should be just the right ticket for this. One army will be dressed in pink coats (her favorite color), green facings and white waistcoat. The other army will be decked out in either purple (another favorite color of my daughter's) with yellow or buff facings; or powder blue coats with pink facings. One army will be tawny colored bears, like Pooh Bear, while the other army will be white Polar Bears. I've painted a couple sample figures and this should be a fun project to work on. Then it is back to the Austrians.

By the way, the fine portrait shown at the top of this page is one of Marshal von Daun. He's a rather handsome gentleman and I really like the bright, vivid colors that the artist used. The picture is courtesy of wikipedia, although I suspect that the original hangs in the Austrian military museum in Vienna.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Zouave Fever


The 14th Brooklyn deploys on McPherson's Ridge at Gettysburg. Variety of figure brands, all painted by Dennis Smail of Lexington, KY. While not exactly Zouaves, they convey the look of the those classy, sassy and saucy fellows.

Well my friends, I hate to break it to you, but Der Alte Fritz also does the American Civil War. And just as Ike and Tina Turner "don't do nothin' nice and easy", Der Alte Fritz doesn't do any wargame periods in small figure to man ratios. I've been using th 1 to 10 ratio and 25/28mm figures since the 1980s, when I first started wargaming on a regular basis. My armies are organized circa 1863 and represent Henry Heth's Confederate Division (4 brigades: Archer, Davis, Brockenbrough and Pettigrew) and the Federal First Corps divisions of Wadsworth and Robinson. All that plus some miscellaneous cavalry units (3 regiments per side organized into 20 man mounted/15 dismounted per regiment plus horseholders). Pettigrew's brigade has a couple of big whompin stompin 80 figure regiments from North Carolina, and gosh darn it all if they aint a purty sight to see.

My interest in the Civil War goes back to my youth when my father, a huge Civil War buff, took the family on a Spring Break trip from Chicago to New Orleans. Along the way, we stopped at places such as Cairo, IL where US Grant was headquartered prior to his 1862 campaign into Tennesse, as well as the battlefields of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Champion Hill and Vicksburg. This was during the Civil War Centenial period of 1961 to 1965 when the whole country went nuts over the Civil War. I was hooked on history for life. My father would tell us stories of what happened at each battle site and really brought the story to life with little anecdotes about the personalities involved in the various battles.

When I became a wargamer, it was strictly SYW to begin with, but then my friends in Lexington, notably Dennis Smail, started collecting and painting ACW armies. For awhile I was happy to participate in their games and not own any figures. However, the bug caught up with me and I painted a brigade (Ector's Brigade of Texas and Arkansas foot cavalry at Stones River). Eventually, I went "all in" and started collecting my own armies at the 1 to 10 ratio and culminated this effort with a portrayal of McPherson's Ridge, the first day of Gettysburg, at Historicon in 1994. I suppose that the effort sort of burned me out, and while I still have that collection of figures, I have probably only gamed with it a couple of times over the past ten years.



Donaldsonville Artillery Battery - ANV featuring Stadden gun crew, Connoisseur cannons and limbers, and buildings by Herb Gundt. All figures painted by Dennis Smail.

Zouave Fever
So let's cut to the chase and talk about the onset of Zouave Fever that seems to have struck me of late. It goes like this: I have a one hour train commute to work, each way. So this gives me time to get a lot of reading in, so I usually bring a history book along with me and read a few chapters each day. Over the past several months, I've been reading the Gordon Rhea series of four books covering Grant's Overland Campaign of 1864. The books follow the various battles with the first one covering The Wilderness, the second one Spotsylvania and the Road to Yellow Tavern, followed by To The North Anna, and finally ending with Cold Harbor. I haven't read the books in their chronological order though. I started with North Anna, then Cold Harbor and then I bounced back to the Wilderness, and now I'm finishing up with Spotsylvania. Mr. Rhea is an excellent writer and the words seem to flow effortlessly, yet succinctly, from his keyboard in a manner that is easy to understand and enjoyable to read. I strongly recommend the four volume series to anyone interested in the 1864 campaign.

At any rate, Dennis had a few extra ACW cavalry (Redoubt figures) that I bought off of him recently, and this, combined with my current reading, seems to have rekindled my interest in gaming the American Civil War. I am daydreaming over the possibility of wargaming the ACW on Bill Protz's 24 foot long table with these big ACW battalions.

This got me thinking about an old project that has been gathering dust since 1994 - the Zouave Brigade. If you are gaming with the Army of the Potomac, you've got to have two things: (1) more cowbell, and (2) lots of Zouaves. Now there weren't too many Zouaves left by the time Gettysburg rolled around, although there were a few. However, interestingly enough, there was a brigade formed in 1864 (Roman Ayres' brigade in the 5th Corps) and they had a rather rough time of it in the Wilderness (at Saunders Field) and again at Spotsylvania (Laurel Hill/Spindle Farm). Whether the Zouaves were at Gettysburg or not, I''ve decided to create a quasi-fictionall Zouave Brigade that will include the 5th New York (Duryee's) and some of the units that were more prominent during the 1862 campaign.

I checked out the box of figures that are still stored in the basement. I have 125 Connoisseur figures primed and partially painted as the 5th New York, the 140th New York and the 76th Pennsylvania. Then I found a box of 60 Foundry Zouaves and another box of 63 Old Glory Zouaves, both unprimed at this point. So I've got enough figures to build up the brigade to four or five regiments and mix in a number of different figure brands to give my Zouaves even more individuality and personality. Zouave Fever: Catch It!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

250th Anniversary of Leuthen - Dec. 5, 1757


Leuthen skirmish game featuring the attack on the churchyard, hosted by Der Alte Fritz at the March 2007 Seven Years War Association Convention.

December 5, 2007 marks the 250th anniversary of Frederick the Great's signature victory over the Austrians at the Battle of Leuthen, just a few miles outside of Breslau, in Silesia. To mark the occaision I thought that it would be appropriate to post some pictures of the marvelous Leuthen village that Herb Gundt made for me. Every building, road, tree and "accoutrement" pieces depicted in these pictures were made by Herb. Each building has a lift off roof to accomodate the placement of miniatures. The Leuthen Project, as I envisioned it, was for a skirmish style of game featuring the assault of the second and third battalions of the Guard Regiment (IR15). The churchyard would be defended by the Reichsarmee contingent from Wurzburg, the famed "Rot Wurzburg" regiment.

I visited Leuthen (or Lutinya, as it is now named) in 1998 as part of the second Christopher Duffy tour of Frederician battlefield sites in Silesia (which is now a part of Poland). We stayed in the large town of Wroclaw (formerly known as Breslau) during our entire stay, and from there we made day trips to such Silesian sites as Hohenfriedburg, Mollwitz, Schweidnitz, Glatz, Reichenbach, Burkersdorf and of course, Leuthen itself. I knew that one day I would commission Herb to construct the church for me, so while I was there, I started at the main gate and walked the circumference of the churchyard, taking photographs of the church every few feet. This provided Herb with the pictorial data necessary for model building. Some of the other building ideas came from the Karl Rochling paintings depicting the assault on the churchyard. I also took pictures of the diorama of the battle at the Bavarian Army Museum in Ingolstadt, Germany (which features a very impressive reconstruction of the battle using 3D buildings and 2D flat figures).


Close up shot showing the details of the common houses and road segments. Note the water well in the yard of the house with the blue shutters. Herb even added a stone counter-balance on the arm of the winch. The A-Frame houses in the rear and to the right are typical of those found in Silesia. These particular trees were purchased from Michael's Stores from their Christmas decorations department. Herb later added his own "winter trees" which look much better.


A view of tthe famous main gate where Captain von Mollendorf of the Guard Regiment 15/III broke into the courtyard.



My interest in the battle of Leuthen goes back to my beginnings as a wargamer of the period. In fact, I like the battle so much that I even used its name on my automobile vanity plates. There is something about this battle that really seems to intrigue me. Perhaps it is because Frederick was significantly outnumbered by his opponent. Christopher Duffy estimates that the Austrians fielded an army of around 55,000 infantry and cavalry on December 5, 1757 while Frederick mustered approximately 39,000. So far starters, the Prussians were significantly outnumbered, but this advantage was offset by a number of factors that favored the Prussians.

The greatest advantage afforded to Frederick was the fact that the Prussian army knew the terrain very well for the simple reason that they held there annual field maneuvers on this site every year. Thus, Frederick knew that a series of low, barely distinguishable hills (more like rises in the ground) would hide his army from the watchful Austrian eyes as it marched around the Austrian left flank and deployed perpendicular to the Austrian flank. In naval parlance, this would be the equivalent of "crossing the Tee". Thus Frederick was able to deliver the full weight of his army at one vulnerable point in the Austrian battle line, which if I recall correctly, stretched over four miles from end to end. The Austrians were unable to take advantage of their superior numbers as a result of Frederick's oblique attack.

The quality of the Prussian army was generally quite high, although it consisted of a number of regiments that had suffered a humiliating defeat defending Breslau, which fell to the Austrians on November 22, 1757. Frederick amalgamated these units with his victorious army of Rossbach and forged a strong bond between the two parts of the army that performed admirably at Leuthen.

The battle also has its fair share of high drama, starting with Frederick's famous Parchwitz Address in which he collected his officer corps together and told them what he expected from them in the coming battle:

The enemy hold the same entrenched camp at Breslau which my troops defended so honorably. I am marching to attack this position. I have no need to explain my conduct or why I am set on this measure. I fully recognize the dangers attached to this enterprise, but in my present situation I must conquer or die. If we go under, all is lost. Bear in mind, gentlemen, that we shall be fighting for our glory, the preservation of our homes, and for our wives and children. Those who think as I do can rest assured that, if they are killed, I will look after their families. If anybody prefers to take his leave, he can have it now, but he will cease to have any claim on my benevolence.

Needless to say, not a single officer elected to leave the army and on the next day, they inflicted one of the most crushing and lopsided defeats of an opponent as the world has ever seen. Gentlemen, I give you Leuthen and a toast to the memory of Frederick the Great and his victory on this day 250 years ago.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bits and Pieces



There were a couple of items of interest that I wanted to point out in this picture, which I posted yesterday in my after action report of Langsdorf. Here we see Bill Protz (left) and Brent Olsen (right) having a good time attacking and defending, respectively, the redoubt.

Movement Trays: Take a close look at the British regiment in the lower left corner. Brent brought these figures with him (all 400 miles from Minneapolis to Milwaukee) and wanted to use them in the game. You will note that they are mounted on round washers and affixed to a magnetized base that Bill provided. So Brent can use his British regiment for skirmish wargamers, or he can put them all together on a magnetized movement tray, as per above, and employ it as a "big battalion" in our BAR games. This is a great illustration of the flexibility that single mounted figures on magnetic movement trays provides. All that Brent has to do to play different rules sets is to change the frontage of his movement tray. It's a great system: simple but flexible.

Monument Hill: In the background, if you take a closer look (remember to click on the picture to enlarge it to full size), you will see a couple of monuments sitting atop the wooded hill. The hill basically forms a backdrop to the playing area (no troops allowed on this hill). We call it Monument Hill and we all place our own personal victory monuments atop the hill before the game commences. Bill got this idea from Peter Young's "Charge" book. In fact, the faded brass monument on the far left was Brigadier Young's personal victory monument. He presented it to Bill when he visited the Brigadier in England back in the early 1980s. Bill has been kind enough to construct victory monuments for each member of our gaming group, with the caveat that you have to win a battle in order to get your first monument. Thereafter, wins a recorded with the presentation of a little plaque that you can glue to the side of the monument.

The painted back drop is left over from the days when Bill ran his model railroad outfit in the basement. It has since been converted back to its original use as a wargame emporium. I for one, am grateful to have such a large gaming area to play on.

Winter Quarters: Langsdorf was probably the final battle of the 1757 (2007) campaign in the War of the Saxon Duchies. Now it is time for everyone to retire to winter quarters to repair their armies, replenish the existing units with new recruits, and add another regiment or two. With the onset of Winter, I rather enjoy retreating to my basement lair, turning on some period music (Bach, Mozart, various Prussian and Austrian military marches, bagpipe music if I'm painting Highlanders, or even a little bit of Old Blue Eyes/The Chairman of the Board/Frank Sinatra or a little bit of Johnny Cash. My musical interests are rather eclectic, to say the least.

All Maxed Out? It occurred to me that the amount of space in my car trunk (or boot, for those of you in the UK) is the deciding factor in determing the size of my Prussian/Hesse Seewald army. I store my figures in large plastic stackable drawers, measuring 2 feet wide by 3 feet long. I can fit about five battalions in each drawer. I can only fit 4 of these plastic cases in my car trunk. So if three of the drawers are filled with infantry (15 btns), that leaves only one drawer for the cavalry. I think that I can fit about 120 figures per drawer, or my two 60 figure cuirassier regiments. I can fiddle a little bit and put some cavalry in smaller stackable boxes (that won't tip over) and place a few of them in the back seat of the car, all trussed up in seat belts (imagine that!), but that's about it. So I guess that my Prussian army is complete, for all intents and purposes. Well, I might add a few more units here and there to use only in the annual Big Battalion game, but I really don't need any more Prussians.

So, it looks like Austrians are next on the painting table for 2008. Either that, or some more British or maybe even 1805 French and Austrians at 1:10. Wouldn't that look awesome?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Battle of Langsdorf - Dec. 1 1757 (2007)


The Pride of Gallia: the money shot of the Mestre de Camp cavalry regiment (36 figures) consisting of Elite Miniatures troopers and some Front Rank officers. From the collection of and painted by Bill Protz.

On December 1, 1757 (2007), the Erbprinz of Hesse Seewald met the invading army of Gallia at a little hamlet in Western Germany called Langsdorf. After suffereing two narrow defeats to the Gallian army at Priesserstadt in October and Dithersdorf in November, the Erbprinz was in no mood for any further retreat from the advancing Gallian tide. His army was fighting on its home ground. Now was the time for a much needed victory. It was time to stand and fight.

Fortified by the addition of two more squadrons of the Seydlitz cuirassiers and another two squadrons of the household Garde du Corps regiment, the Erbprinz believed that he could hold his own against the vaunted Gallian heavy cavalry. The quality of the Hesse Seewald infantry was not in doubt, as it included three units of grenadiers and one elite musketeer battalion in its complement of 12 battalions in this battle. The Erbprinz's army prevailed on this day by making an aggressive attack on the Gallian center, winning the cavalry action in a rather convincing manner, and delaying the Gallian attack on the Hesse Seewald redoubt on the right flank.



The above picture depicts the battlefield layout, with the Hesse Seewald (Prussian) army on the right hand side and the Gallian (French) on the left hand side. The Prussian left flank is where the cavalry field was located. Moving towards the center, one espies a wooded area and beyond that, an elevation known as the Langenridge. You can see the village of Langsdorf near the top of the picture, on the Prussian right flank. Finally, a hill dominates the town of Langsdorf, and it was here that the Erbprinz construct a log redoubt.




Here we can see the initial deployment of the Prussian center. The Erbprinz knew that he did not have enough troops to hold the whole frontage of the battlefield, so he elected to be at his strongest in the centre. A single brigade (Brent Olsen) was given the task of holding the log redoubt on the Prussian right. We can see that the French took advantage of the cover provided by the woods and the Langenridge, but alas, the Langenridge was somewhat of a trap, because deploying behind the ridge meant that the right flank of the defending unit was pointing towards the Prussian lines. Thus, the Prussians decided to focus their attack on whatever unit was defending the ridge. Both sides placed one battalion of infantry in the woods. You can see some of the cavalry action starting at the top of the pictures.


French regiment La Reine (Redoubt Miniatures) and Prussian regiment IR7 Bevern (Staddens) fight it out in a linear manner. French from the collection of Bill Protz, and Prussians from the collection of Der Alte Fritz.

In the picture above, we can see the French attack on the log redoubt in progress. I believe that the French loaded up this flank with strength: five battalions of infantry and one heavy cavalry unit, the Mestre de Camp regiment. Brigadier Olsen deployed one of his Prussian battalions in the redoubt, and another battalion covering the open ground to his left. He placed two more battalions in a second line of reserves. The idea was for the French to batter themselves silly against the redoubt and then hit them with the second line if they were successful in occupying the redoubt.


A Big Whompin' Cavalry Melee! Around 120 figures per side.

The above picture depicts the action on the cavalry field. Two 60 figure cuirassier regiments on the Prussian side face off against the 60 figure Carabiniers (at the top), the von Bruhl cheveaulegers, and the Royal Regiment of heavy cavalry. The Prussian cavalry commander (George Rust) kept the 2-squadron (24 figures) Garde du Corps in reserve. The two sides were evenly matched during the early rounds of melee, but the weight of the Prussian reserves eventually led to the rout of the Carabiniers and the von Bruhl regiment. The Carabiniers had the further disgrace of losing one of their standards to the Prussian regiment CR2 (Prinz von Preussen cuirassiers during the melee).


The Hesse Seewald Guard (Surens) hit Languedoc in the flank at a critical juncture of the fight in the center.

In the centre, the initiative cards were falling in favor of the Prussians so they quickly gained the upper hand in this sector. The Hesse Seewald Guard regiment attacked the ridge and the two left hand grand divisions wheeled to the right and on into the flank of the French Languedoc regiment. The two righthand grand division provided fire support during the first round of melee and then pitched in to help finish off Languedoc. As you can see, the ridge line provided a false sense of security, as deployment along the ridgeline left Languedoc's right flank exposed to the Guard's attack. A second brigade of Prussians (Jim Harms) deployed to the right of the Guard and supported the attack on the ridge. Once the ridge was captured, von Harms was able to crack open the French center with his brigade. The French center was deteriorating quickly.


Bill Protz (left) and Brent Olsen (right) are shown in their hard fought battle for the redoubt.

Meanwhile, on the Prussian right, von Olsen was making the French pay dearly for their attack on his redoubt position. One battalion (Bornstadt IR20) held off three French battalions for much of the game, until high casualties forced the Bornstadt regiment to fall back. The French gained the redoubt, but you can see that von Olsen is already bringing up his second line of British (on the left) and Prussians (on the right at the table edge).


Prussian Black Hussars and Zieten Hussars (both Staddens) move up to attack, but never got involved in the action.

The Prussian hussar brigade of von Zieten moved up into the village of Langsdorf to attempt to take out the French heavy artillery brigade in front of them. Monsieur Protz, being no fool, attempted to protect his guns by countering with the Mestre de Camp regiment (seen in the very first picture at the top of this page). Undoubtedly the French cavalry would have gotten the better of the light Prussian hussars, but Brigadier von Harms had the presence of mind to advance his infantry and unleash a first fire (+5 bonus) on the French cavalry. His action reduced the Mestre de Camp by about half. Thank you Brigadier von Harms. A Pour-le-Merite goes to you for your battlefield valor today. In fact, it was von Harms who developed the Prussian battle plan for the day, so a tip of the tricorn goes to him from the Erbprinz.

The battle lasted about four hours and we stuck to our timetable of completing the game by 4pm. A rather nasty snow storm hit the midwest during the afternoon. We were oblivious to this, being comfortably ensconced in the basement of Chez Protz and suitably fortified with good food and drink, companionable players and splendid troops to look at. It was fun day for all involved and I thank all the participants, especially our host, Bill Protz.

Well, this is probably the last battle of the 1757 (2007) campaign in the War of the Saxon Duchies. All armies are now headed to winter quarters, where they will rest, rebuild and add to their armies for the campaign in 1758 (2008).