Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Standard Has Been Raised

Have you ever embarked on a wargaming project and later wondered "what was I thinking?".

Well, I hate to say it, but this has happened to me. My bete noir is the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. I have always had a keen interest in the topic, as Scotland and its history are one of my favorites. It probably goes back to the days when my father used to read me stories from Sir Walter Scott's Tales of a Grandfather which is Scott's history of Scotland from the tenth century up through the Forty Five. I especially liked the chapters about the War of Independence in the 1300s with Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and James Douglas (the Black Douglas). But I digress, let's get back to 1745 and the Raising of the Stuart king's Standard.

OK, so I like everything about Scotland, from kilts and pipes to whiskey and salmon fishing. That is a given. Let me also say that I have no particular leanings to either the Jacobites or the Hanoverians. I like them both. I have the 42nd Black Watch Highlander regiment in nearly all of my horse and musket armies: Fontenoy, Minden, Brandywine and the Napoleonic Wars. So the prospect of painting a kilt or two doesn't deter me. But then again, we were only talking 30 or 40 of them, with regard to the Black Watch. With the Forty Five, I am looking at the prospect of painting 300 or more Highlanders with nearly all of them having unique paint jobs. It is one thing to assembly line 40 Black Watch figures off the painting table, and quite another to do 300 Jacobite clansmen for the Forty Five.

As I said earlier, "what the heck was I thinking?"

The most recent push into this madness was provided by the "Elector vs Empire" blog (see the link on the left hand side of this page). One of the running stories on EvE is that the Tradgardlanders (from some Baltic country that is similar to Norway) have invaded the Shetland Islands in the middle of the winter. Now as the prime minister of the fictional 18th Century nation of Britannia, my first inclination was to say, "let them have it - the elements will finish them off, if not the Royal Navy in the Springtime." Concurrenlty, the Tradgardlanders also arranged for the Duke of Albany, one Charles Edward Stuart, to land in Scotland with a small band of supporters. This is all done via free kriegspeiling.

However, those perfidious Gallians (French) decided to lend aid, comfort and troops to the Jacobite cause in order to create some distraction for the Britannian army currently holed up in Minden. Well, push came to shove, and after way too many Diet Lime Cokes, Bill Protz and I were ginning up a sort of informal Jacobite Rebellion campaign for us to play over the next couple of months.

The campaign is very simple. The Jacobites have landed in Scotland and they have to win three consecutive battles in order to effect a Stuart Restoration. Conveniently, there were three principal battles during the Forty Five: Prestonpans, Falkirk and Culloden. The Jacobites will start out with a small force of about 6 clans and a half regiment of French trained troops. If they win the first battle, then they get more clan and French reinforcements in the second game, and even more for a third game, should they win those. Any single loss of a battle means that the Rebellion has been put down.

The immediate problem at hand is that neither myself nor my regular wargaming Pards, Bill and Randy, have any Jacobites. What we do have though are a lot of 18th Century Black Watch Highlanders. Bill has 118, Randy has 72 and I have 50. They are all wearing kilts. Hmm, what would you do?

So we decided that we could fill out the Jacobite army using red-coated, kilt-wearing Highlanders with a small sprinkling of American Provincial blue coats as Lowland regiments. And the French Fitzjames Horse cavalry regiment could be recruited from Bill's SYW French army. Thus, assuming around 30 figures per clan regiment, we can generate 8 Jacobite clans from the 240 Black Watch figures, 1 regiment of Irish Piquets using French troops, and 2 Lowland regiments using the New Jersey Blues from America. There you have it, instant Jacobite army!

Only a madman would even think of adding more "genuine" Jacobite units, right? Oh no. Oh yes, Fritz got a bee under his bonnet to start painting Front Rank Jacobites for this campaign. The fact that he was able to buy some 300 figures at a nice discount only added fuel to the fire. So now I am busy at Ye Olde Painting Tableaux applying plaid paint to the first 20 Jacobites. I chose the Stewarts of Appin only because their flag is easy to paint free hand (a gold saltire on a blue background).

So I have committed myself to painting at least one clan for now, maybe two, before our first battle on May 3, 2008. I also have some figures to use for Prince Charles and Lord George Murray and some standard bearers to paint (this will be inserted into the various Black Watch ersatz Highlander regiments for our campaign). So I have my work cut out for me over the next three weeks.

As for the Hanoverian or government troops, we will use existing British regiments. We have 8 of these on hand, collectively, so nothing more is required to get the red coats up to snuff.

For rules, we intend to use, what else, Batailles de l'Ancien Regime ("BAR") with some minor modifications to give the Jacobites some hitting power in the melees. Jacobite units will be around 20 to 30 figures, while the British Government forces will be 40 to 45 figures. Same troops that we already have, it's just a matter of removing the unneeded figures from their movement trays. This is one of the advantages of the movement tray system of basing that we use in our BAR games. It is easy to resize the units to the desired strengths.

Well, wish me luck in my plaid paint party. In truth, I fear that it is a sinister Gallian plot devised by le Marquis de Silhouette to deter Der Alte Fritz from adding to his Prussian forces. We shall see.


  1. Being another lover of Scotland, I look forward to seeing the end product!

  2. My Jacobite army hasn't seen daylight for several years now. 400 Highlanders from a wide variety of makers.

    the problem I found was it was harder to paint the Jacobites because there were no uniform tartans worn. Clan tartan only came into effect after the '45 with the British army giving uniform to the Highland regiments.

    But still they are among my favourites. Must get them out and give them an airing.

  3. I have always thought the Jacobite rebellion might work with rules somewhat like the Gilder Sudan rules ie with all the players being on the government side and with the clans being operated by the umpire. However I have always been put off by the idea of painting all those scots.


  4. Guy: I was having similar thoughts about the rules. one advantage would be that I could borrow the Gilder basing scheme and put 7 or 8 figures on the stand and just say that the stand represents 10 figures. Thus, that would reduce the number of figures to paint.

    Yes, the lack of uniformity makes the Jacobites harder to paint, as I am finding out now.

  5. ...I have no specific research to back this up but I'd always assumed that given the concept of specific clan tartans were a later idea, that the original plaid would have been considerably simpler in design...??? I'd always assumed that they would have mostly looked plain muddy brown or sludge green what with availability of dyes, dirt and general mis-use... :o)

  6. Best wishes indeed!
    Hopefully talented artist(s) will record the apperance of your new troops -of the whole Jacobite force, actually, and follow it to the May battlefield.. .

  7. As a descendent (in the maternal line) from a Clan Campbell sept, I can only give best wishes to the Government side, but to both I wish, "Scotland forever!"

    Looks like you will be having some fun and I look forward to viewing your efforts.


  8. Exciting times Jim! I watch developmnts with interest. I am sure all will have fantastic time .The painting will be worth it in the end I am sure. You can also use figs for 1689, 1715 and 1719 ( with spanish allies!!) perhaps might have been battles with Swedes too.
    Maybe you might be tempted to go back to the campaigns of Montrose- one of the best generals who ever lived I feel!
    More power to your brush1

  9. [in a sloppy french accent]

    "But of course! Anything to distract that nasty Prussien from gaining superior force!"

    Best of luck with the multi-tartan plans.

    At least they are on 25mm figs, not 15's!

  10. Hi Jim,

    Don't worry too much about the appearance of your Highlanders. The secret to fielding any Scottish units in any era is to have a significant amount of the "Water of Life" to dole out to your fellow gamers during the game. Not only does it befuddle them, making your victory an easy one; but after a shot or two, they'll swear those are the finest figures man ever set brush to.

  11. But it must be a single malt, none of that blended swill!


  12. I wish you well, the problem of painting irregulars is even worse if they wear tartan even though as Steve says they weren't all that contrasting/distinctive in the period.

    The Peter Gilder approach is the way to go if you can cope with it. The lower numbers of figures on a base isn't so noticeable with more active figures.


  13. I shall also be following this campaign with relish (and haggis!).

    Col. Stanley MacLaurel of the Saxe-Urquhart 86th Hihlanders

  14. I'll dig out my bagpipes (yes, I really have a set) and play a skirl or two for you.

    As for tartans, I agree with keeping them simple . . . the "hunting tartans" of today are probably the closest to what they really were colorwise.

    What I would try to do if I were painting them from scratch would be to decide on a particular tartan for each clan, do somewhere between a third and half of them like that, then blend in a wide mix of others.

    What this would do would be to give each unit its own "character" while maintaining a good irregular look.

    But then I'm not painting them, am I?

    I certainly DO suggest that you have some bagpipe CDs playing in the background as you paint them.

    -- Jeff

  15. Jim,
    With you modelling skills, I was thinking of a jacobite set-up along the lines of the picture in the League of Augsburg web site in the LOGW Napoleonic gallery.

    Following the Gilder Sudan campaign idea, there would be a coastline where the Pretender could be landed (which would allow a ship model possibly from a pirate range) and at the far end of the table the town to be seized. As the Pretender progressed along the table, further clans could join him and Government forces would try and nip the rebellion in the bud. The clansmen could be recycled and based on large bases with 6/7 figures on each which is an excellent idea and would cut down the painting. You could throw in all sorts of twists and turns eg clans defecting, French units arriving, the intervention of the Royal Navy, government re-inforcements arriving eratically etc.


  16. Der Alte Fritz,
    I noticed you seem to have a old portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie. In his new portrait he sports his Order of the Goblet.
    Best regards,

  17. I don't think the "Peter Gilder" approach is correct for this period. The Jacobites tried hard to become a disciplined army - drilling, order books, drummers, Grenadier companies etc. When painting tartans use plenty of red, and cut down on dearer dyes like blue and purple. About 50% of the infantry should be non clan units, although these may sport some tartan items. When buying clansmen you should mainly go for figures with musket and bayonet.
    Really klooking forward to seeing some photograps of your project!
    Ian (Aberdeen, Scotland)