Sunday, September 23, 2018

Russian Musketeers in Coats - Newly Painted


The new Minden Russian Musketeers in regular coats plus GMB Designs flags.



CLICK PICTURES TO ENLARGE THE VIEW

The other day I completed the basing and flagging of a new regiment of Minden Russian musketeers wearing their regular green coats.

The product codes used to make this musketeer battalion of 32 figures include:

MR-001 Russian Musketeer Command (officer, drummer, std bearer and NCO)

MR-002 Russian Musketeers in regular coats (pack of 8 figures)

MR-003 Russian Musketeer Standard Bearer pack (2 figures)


Minden Russian Musketeers

For my own wargame army organization I use 32-figure battalions based on four stands, with 8 figures per stand. The two end stands have the drummer set out further from the rest of the battalion and there is an NCO on each flank base. My command stands consist of 2 standard bearers, one officer and 5 rank and file musketeers. In my Prussian battalions I replace one of the musketeers with a Zimmerman figure (wearing grenadier mitre and leather apron and carrying an axe).

So my units have two each of officers, standard bearers, drummers and NCOs for a total of 8 figures. There are also 24 rank and file musketeers (or grenadiers or fusiliers as required). Thus in the case of my Russians, the following packs of figures are needed:

2 packs of MR-001 Musketeer Command (4 figures per pack x 2 packs = 8 figures)

3 packs of MR-002 Musketeers


I really like the way that the Russian musketeers in coats turned out once I had painted them. I am sure that I will be painting more of them. Next in the painting queue: a battalion of Russian grenadiers in regular coats.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Best von Zieten Ever Made


Prussian Lt. General Hans Joachim von Zieten - Minden Miniatures - by Richard Ansell

One of the strengths of the Minden and Fife & Drum figure ranges are the individual "personality" figures that Richard Ansell has sculpted over the years. Each figure is different and they demonstrate Richard's master sculpting skills at their finest.

Afew years ago Richard Ansell sculpted a special figure as a commission for one of our Minden customers and that figure was of the Prussian cavalry general Hans Joachim von Zieten.

The customer provided us with the following piece of artwork for Richard to create his version of von Zieten:



From there, Richard sculpted the following Zieten figure and a special one-off horse for the rider:

Zieten green by Richard Ansell
I think that Richard did a superb job of rendering a model that is faithful to the portrait that provided the inspiration for the commission. The animation of both the rider and horse are second to none. The detail on the horse furniture (reins, shabraque, etc.) are amazing to behold and the pictures pale in comparison to holding the actual figures in your hands.

I know that I am biased, but I truly believe that nobody is better at sculpting horses than Richard Ansell. I get inquiries from other companies about the Minden horses all the time as they aspire to have similar horse models in their product ranges.


The figure is one of the most fun, most enjoyable figures that I have ever painted:


Front View

Rear View
I drill a hole in the underside of the rearing horse and placed a metal pin between the belly of the horse and the base in order to give the model more stability. This is an easy procedure to perform and is well worth the extra time spent. I then hid the pin with some tufts of long grass - I defy you to find the pin in the photo.

I am grateful that one of our customers provided the inspiration for such a nifty looking model of a Prussian personality figure. Von Zieten has become one of the most popular models in the Minden figure range, and rightly so.

I like all of Richard's sculpts, of course, but he really goes the extra mile and shines on his personality figures. Guess what? There are a lot more personality figures in the pipeline for both our AWI and SYW figure ranges. Stay tuned to this blog for more information.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting about the various personality figures that we have and put the spotlight on them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Over the Khyber Pass - Shalalabad




The 72nd Seaforth Highlanders capture the summit of Haggis Hill.


This past weekend I had the pleasure to travel north to Brown Deer, WI and visit the country estate of Major General William Augustus Pettygree. The good general elected to host a wargame set somewhere in Afghanistan circa 1903.


Overhead view of the battlefield. The British relief column was to march from the
 near end of the table to the hill fort in the distance, and rescue the British garrison on the hill.

The Crown Forces were tasked with rescuing a beleagured British hill fort that was surrounded by angry Pathans who would likely give no quarter. I had the honor, once again, of commanding the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders taking the role of Colonel Archibald ("Archie") Sinclair. I also had the 1st Sikh regiment and a pair of 15-pound rifled cannon under my command. My colleague, Major Benson, commanded the famous 66th (Berkshires) Regiment, two squadrons of British hussars, and the 2nd Sikh regiment.


The 72nd Seaforth Highlanders form up into battle line.

The British garrison in the hill fort appeared to have one regiment of Sikhs and one regiment of red coats. Since the hill fort was far away from where the Seaforths fought, I have no certainty of what happened there on the day of battle.

The property in question - British hill fort commands the Shalalabad Pass.
Major General Pettygree left Colonel Sinclair in charge of the relief expedition. Pettygree gave Sinclair his assurances that he would arrive with the cavalry, the famous Bengal Lancers, at some point during the day. Sinclair was further instructed to watch the flanks and rear areas of the battlefield, as Pathans could suddenly appear at any point on the table.

British wagon laager.

The Seaforths prepare to cross the bridge. They will screen the march of
the Berkshires and 2nd Sikh regiments, which will  make a left turn behind
the Seaforths and march around the flank of the Pathan defenses.

The Pathan defensive positions:

The Pathans occuppied three significant hills across the battlefield and these presented difficult obstacles to the British relief column. The main body of Pathans were located on Hill Number 1 and they would soon be scrambling and screaming their way to the Hill Fort, to slaughted the infidels that garrisoned the fort.

Pathans mill around Hill Number 1. They will attack the Hill Fort.
A smaller group of Pathans defended Hill Number 2. If this landmark could be captured then the road to the Hill Fort would be opened  up.


Pathans atop Hill Number 2, which guards the right hand approach to the fort.
Finally, a large group of Pathan riflemen occuppied Hill Number 3, which was later called Haggis Hill because it was such a grind to capture the summit.


Pathan riflemen occuppy the summit of Hill Number 3, soon to known as Haggis Hill.

A ground level view of the foreboding Haggis Hill.
The Battle for the Hill Fort.


The British hill fort on the left, Hill Number 1 on the right.
The Hill Fort looked to be impregnable from the distance of the British relief force's encampment, but that did not disuade the Pathans, commanded by the notorius Amrahn Khan, from surging up the hill in a frenzy. There was one regiment of Red Coats whose name escaped me, and one regiment of Sikhs plus a couple of Mountain Screw Guns. The garrison had but a little time to erect a shaky wall of mealie bags that formed the defensive perimeter.

From what I could tell, the Pathans never made it over the mealie bags, but I will let the picture captions tell the rest of the story.

Here they come!

The Red Coats defend the mealie bag walls that were erected in the nick of time.

The desperate fight for the Hill Fort. Against all odds, the Red Coats held the fort.
 The Battle for Haggis Hill

Colonel Archie Sinclair was a long time friend of William Augustus Pettygree and a fellow classmate at Sandhurst. It seemed that where ever Pettygree went across the Empire, Archie Sinclair was sure to follow. The two soldiers had shared adventures in the Sudan, in the Raj and across the Khyber Pass and into Afghanistan, their current location.

Colonel Sinclair observed the several hills in front of him, all crammed full of Pathans, and reasoned that he could pin down a large number of them with one of his brigades and march around their flank with his second brigade and some cavalry. At some point during the afternoon Sinclair expected the arrival of Pettygree at the head of a column of the Bengal Lancers.

The first brigade, comprised of the Seaforth Highlanders and the 1st Sikh regiment, would advance towards Hills Number 2 and 3 with the intention of drawing all of the Pathans fire on them. While this fighting was going on, Major Benson would lead the second brigade comprised of the 66th (Berkshires) Regiment, the 2nd Sikh Regiment, and two squadrons of the 10th Hussars, across the open plain to their left. Sinclair hoped that they might get lucky and sneak through the back door into the Hill Fort and relieve the garrison.

And so it was that the Seaforth Highlanders were the first to cross the bridge over the stream in front of Hill Number 3. To their right, the 1st Sikh Regiment would entertain whatever Pathans that they could stir up around Hill Number 2. The Sikh's orders were to protect the right flank of the Seaforths as they attacked Hill Number 3.

While these events were taking place, Major Benson formed his brigade into march column and moved out sharply behind the Seaforths. As Benson approached the stream he ordered the head of his column to make a left turn and march towards the open plain to the left of Hill Number 3. The Seaforths provided a screen that kept the Pathans from shooting into the flank of Benson's column as it marched off to the left.

The Berkshires march onto the open plain to outflank the Pathan defenders of Hill No. 3.



Now you see 'em -- Pathans atop of Hill Number 3.

...and now you don't. Berkshires on the left, and Seaforths on the right make a joint assault on Hill No. 3

The Pathans dropped a surprisingly large number of Highlanders during the early stages of the assault on Hill No. 3. Colonel Sinclair quickly realized that his rifles had little effect on the Pathans, who were ensconced in hard cover. They could be hit by rifle fire, but on their saving throws all they needed was "anything but a 1" on a six-sided dice.

"Well then, let's soften them up with some artillery fire," said Colonel Sinclair to his commander of the Royal Artillery 15-pound rifled cannon. Long range artillery fire proved to be more effective than small arms firing (noting that the saving throws were "anything but a 1 or a 2" on the D6 dice. ) Pathans began to drop in droves as they scattered for cover.

The Highlanders held back for a couple of turns and let the artillery do the damage. Everytime the Pathans lost 10% of their unit strength in a turn, they had to fall back 8-inches. This happened a number of times and the Seaforths eagerly awaited the opportunity to rush to the summit of Hill No. 3. However, the Pathans seemed to win the first movement advantage on numerous turns. Thus they would take casualties, fall back 8-inches, and then return to the hill to fire at the Highlanders. It seemed that no matter what they did, the Pathans would return before they could rush up the hill. It was such a hard grind that the Highlanders began to call the hill "Haggis Hill".

Eventually, Major Benson detached two companies of the Berkshires to assist in the taking of Hill No. 3. They fought in open order, which made them harder to hit. The Highlanders would have used the same tactic but for the fact that they were constantly under the threat of being attacked by Pathan melee soldiers - the Seaforths stood a better chance of winning melees if they fought in close order.

Indeed, a mob of unruly Pathans charged down the hill and into the bayonets of the Highlanders. Then the rest of the companies in the regiment swung around both flanks of the charging Pathans, who were soon despatched to their deity.

Success! Colonel Sinclair leads his men to the summit of Haggis Hill, with support from the Berkshires.
The Pathans continued to fall back and then reoccuppy the hill before the Seaforths could crest the summit. However, attrition from the cannon fire and close range rifle fire whittled the Pathans down enough so that they finally ran away for good.

Out on the right flank of the Seaforths, the 1st Sikh Regiment was having its hands full with the local Pathan tribes. It seems that the Pathans kept finding fire arms, even though they were not so armed. With this handicap, the 1st Sikhs could not hope to capture Hill No. 2, so they held their position on the rear slope of a ridge and kept the Pathans at bay with fire arms. This had the effect of also protecting the right flank of the Seaforths from attack by the Pathans.

The Finale or End Game

Colonel Sinclair was too involved with the action at Haggis Hill to follow what was happening elsewhere on the battlefield. General Pettygree finally arrived on the open plain and drove off the Pathan cavalry, thus opeing the road to the Hill Fort. The fort garrison saw their chance and they scurried down the slopes of the hill to greet their comrades in khaki. Seeing this, the Pathans broke off the fight and disappeared into the foothills surrounding the fort.

The British had won the day, but General Pettygree knew that it was hopeless to try to hold the fort, so he retrieved the garrison and the column returned to their base in Khandahar.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

AWI Campaign Battle - Hobkirk's Hill

Annotated view of the initial set up of troops at Hobkirk's Hill.
(CLICK ALL PICTURES TO ENLARGE)

Turn Eleven of the South Carolina Campaign produced a significant battle near the British base at Camden. With one more game turn left in the campaign (Turn Twelve), the Americans decided to take a large risk and attack the British stronghold at Camden. Baron DeKalb commanded the American army of 6SPs and decided to go for it, knowing that General Cornwallis' army was too far away to come to the assistance of Lord Rawdon, who defended Camden, also with 6SPs.

The Americans had the opportunity to add from zero to three militia regiments, based on a D6 die roll. DeKalb rolled his dice well and added two militia regiments, giving him a total of 8SPs to 6SPs for the British team.
A sort of "Devil's Den" on the flanks of Hobkirk's Hill.

The British commander, Lord Rawdon, was not aware of the militia reinforcements for DeKalb's army, so figuring that he had better quality troops, he decided to attack the Americans, who were deploying for battle just outside of Camden on a small rise of ground known by the locals as Hobkirk's Hill.

DeKalb deploys his American army on Hobkirk's Hill.


British Order of Battle - Lord Rawdon commanding
Left Wing - Major John Hamilton
Queen's Rangers (provincials)
North Carolina Loyalists (provincials)
55th Regiment of Foot

Right Wing - Lt. Colonel Nisbet Balfour
4th (King's) Regiment
5th Regiment
27th (Inniskilling) Regiment

Reserve Forces -Lord Rawdon
2 x 3-pound cannon
1 squadron of 17th Light Dragoons/British Legion Dragoons
Ferguson's Rifles (provincials)

American Order of Battle - Baron DeKalb commanding

Right Flank - Smallwood
1st Maryland Continental Regiment
6th Maryland Continental Regiment

Center - Lt. Colonel Huger
1st South Carolina State Regiment
2nd South Carolina State Regiment

Reserve Forces - Baron DeKalb
1st Virginia (held in reserve)
1 x 6-pound cannon

Left Flank - Major Caswell
Winnsboro Militia

Additional Raised Militia
Caswell's Mounted Infantry
Spartanburg Militia

The battle commenced with some long range artillery fire from the Continental 6-pounder, which took a bead on the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment, inflicting 4 casualties over the the first two turns. Some minor skirmish fire (from individual stands of figures) created some smoke but few casualties.

By Turn Three both sides had shaken out into parallel battle lines and were marching into musket range. Balfour's right wing advanced quickly towards Hobkirk's Hill, hoping to catch the Americans in a tangle before they could form battle lines. His right flank was covered by Ferguson's Rifle, however, they were pushed back by Caswell's large militia regiment from Winnsboro. His left flank was hanging in the air because he had advanced faster than his supports in Hamilton's brigade.

Annotated positions of each regiment as the battle lines come into close range.


The American artillery and skirmishers continued to prey on the Inniskillings, who had taken 5 cumulative casualties and routed on Turn Three. Since they ran through the 5th Regiment, located directly behind them, that regiment's morale was downgraded to "Shaken".

On Turn Four things started to go south for Hamilton's brigade on the British right flank as the Spartanburg militia emerged from the woods and delivered a point blank volley into the face of the Queen's Rangers, which went "Shaken". Back with Balfour, the Rifles fired at the Winnsboro militia and made them go "Shaken", but the Inniskillings continued their rout and were removed from the game. Well, that was not a good turn for the British side.


The Spartanburg militia advance to the edge of Gill's Field.
Turn Five: The Americans won the first fire initiative on this turn, so the Queen's Rangers (with bayonets) decided that it would make sense to charge the Spartanburg militia (no bayonets) and dig them out of the woods, which would secure the left flank of the British battle line, commanded by Hamilton.

Queen's Rangers try to charge the Spartanburg militia (left) but are repulsed
and fall back through the North Carolina Loyalist regiment, resulting in both units in Shaken status.

Well at least it seemed like a good idea because the Queen's Rangers should have been able to  slaughter the militia due to the bayonets versus no bayonets situation and all they had to do was pass their morale test. The Spartanburg militia passed its morale and decided to hold its ground and fire another volley into the green-coated QR lads, inflicting 2 more hits. The Rangers went "Shaken" on their morale test, which required them to fall back 8-inches rather than to close and fight with the militia. Hamilton's 55th Foot took a volley from the 1st Maryland Continentals and took two hits. They licked their chops as they were finally able to fire back at the enemy and mowed down 4 of the Marylanders, who went "Shaken" from the effect.


In the center of the battlefield, both sides were in musket range now and the veteran 6th Maryland Continentals advanced down Hobkirk's Hill and fired into the 4th (King's) Foot (of Balfour's brigade). To the left of the 6th Maryland, the 1st South Carolina state regiment also fired at the 4th Foot, which took a total of 2 hits combined from the two American regiments, but still became "Shaken" as a result. Fire not so good, mate. The 4th levelled their muskets and made the Americans pay by receiving back 6 hits!

Smallwood's Maryland brigade atop Hobkirk's Hill. The 6th Maryland, in grey hunting shirts,
 is shown in the foreground, the 1st Maryland, in blue, is in the background.


The 2nd South Carolina state regiment fared no better than its sister regiment, receiving 5 withering hits from the British 5th Foot, resulting in a "Shaken" dice roll. Thus in one turn of close range fire, the British inflicted 17 hits on the Americans, receiving back only 6 hits, and causing two American regiments to go "Shaken".



South Carolina brigade (right) and Balfour's brigade (left) close within close range.
Turn Six: good fortune seemed to favor the Crown Forces, for they won the first fire initiative on Turn Six so they were well-positioned to follow up on the success in the previous turn. Rallies come first in my rules and the 6th Maryland and 1st South Carolina recovered their morale from "Shaken" to "Good". The Queen's Rangers, the North Carolina Provincials and the 4th (King's) Regiment were all restored to "Good" morale status.

The Americans decided that charging would be a better idea rather than standing their ground and getting shot down by British close range musketry. The 4th (King's) Regiment probably thought that it was a bad idea because they were charged in the front (1st Maryland) and flank (2nd SC) by the Americans. The King's Regiment passed its morale test, despite their bad situation and so it was now time to rumble into melee.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. The 4th Regt. is hit front and flank and rout.

Caswell's Mounted Militia mounted up and began a concealed move through the woods to support the right flank of the 6th Maryland. The Spartanburg militia continued to hold its ground along the fenceline facing the Queen's Rangers. The QR regiment decided that they had seen enough of the Spartanburgers and so they fell back in good order so as to support the 55th Foot. 


The Mounted Militia sneak through the woods looking for an opportunity to charge.



The North Carolina Loyalists decided to try their hand at dealing with the Spartanburg boys by firing at them with a large handful of 6 dice. They whiffed! Old Sparty fired back and knocked off two of the Tarheels, who were confused and "Shaken" by the whole affair and probably a bit embarrassed at being bested by mere militia troops.

Spartanburg militia repulse the North Carolina Loyalists for the second time.

Now it was time to resolve the melee between the two American regiments and the 4th King's Regt. As expected under such long odds, the 4th routed after taking 6 hits in the flank from the 2nd South Carolina regiment. Lord Rawdon now had two routed regiments of British regulars and he had a sour taste in his mouth from the whole business of this fight.

Turn Seven: This looked like it could be the pivotal turn of the game because the the rout of the 4th King's regiment created a gaping whole in the center of the British battle line. Aren't all holes of the gaping variety? Dang nabit, the Americans won the first fire initiative again and so the Spartanburg militia continued to make a name for themselves by firing into the flank of the 55th Foot, hitting 3 figures and adding a fouth hit on the nearby North Carolina Loyalist regiment. The 55th took two more hits from the two Maryland Continental regiments, for a total of 5 hits on the turn. The 55th passed their morale. Huzzah, huzzah for the bully 55th!
The Maryland brigade overlaps the right flank of the 55th Regt.
Back in the center of the field, the 1st South Carolina sought to exploit the gap created by the 4th Foot, but they failed to take notice of Ferguson's riflemen who picked off two of the gamecocks, causing THEM to rout. Now it was the American battle line that had a yawning gap, which is more severe than a gaping hole, from what I understand. 

Balfour's British brigade (on the right) face nothing but open space in front
of them due to the rout of the 1st South Carolina regiment.

The Spartanburgers continued to be oblivious of their mounting casualty list and passed yet another morale test. What would it take to get rid of these pesky militia? In years ahead, historians would tell the tale of Old Sparty and opine that the bullets were flying so fierce that it seemed that they were in a veritable "hornets' nest". As the smoke began to settle a bit on the battlefield, it appeared that Lady Fortune was now flirting with the redcoats. First the Americans and now the British, can't this dame make up her mind?

Turn Eight - The Grand Finale: Things were about to get exciting my friends, and some stupendous events were about to occur. The Americans won the initiative die roll and elected to move first. What's this? thought the British. Why don't those rebels fire at us first? Do they know something that we don't know?

Indeed they did. Caswell's Mounted Militia had been taking it easy at the edge of the woods for several turns now, and nobody (including Baron DeKalb, their army commander) had taken notice of them. Colonel Caswell observed that the time was ripe for a charge into the flank of the British 55th Foot, which he now ordered.


American mounted militia charge out of the woods
and into the flank of the unsuspecting 55th Regt.

The backwoodsmen came charging out of the light woods, screaming like devils (do devils really scream and if so, has anyone actually ever heard a devil screaming?), swords drawn, and they cleaved into the delicate flank of the 55th Foot. The 55th could do nothing more than rout. 

But wait, there's more!

Caswell rode through the redcoats as an appatizer and now feasted on the main course, the Queen's Rangers, who had thought that they might get to sit out the rest of the battle in the second line. They thought wrong. The QR regiment likewise routed off into the yonder and thus served up the dessert course in the form of a pair of Royal Artillery 3-pounders that were in the path of the charge. The artillery crew were cut down to the last man. Finally, with horses heaving and blown, Caswell's glorious charge had run its full course, however, he had almost single handedly wiped out the left flank of the British army, in the form of Hamilton's brigade.

American mounted militia charge into the flank
of the Queen's Rangers, routing them too.




Let's rub a little more salt into the hyde of the redcoats and watch the Spartanburg militia run off the North Carolina Loyalists for good measure.

Turn Nine - the closing act of our little play:  the Americans won the first initiative which allowed Caswell's Mounted Militia another swat at the British piniata. Their foe this time was the 17th Light Dragoons, also known as The Adults in This Room. They had seen enough of Caswell and counter-charged the Americans. Caswell won the melee, 2 hits to none, leaving the dragoons shaking their heads in dismay as both cavalry units fell back from the fight in disorder.

American mounted militia (left) vs British 17th Light Dragoons (right)


Lord Rawdon had seen enough by now. He ordered Nisbet Balfour to fall back and form march column to get away from the American army. Balfour thought that he was winning the battle on his flank when the order to withdraw came. Lord Rawdon brought him up to speed on recent events and Balfour concurred that leaving the scene was a sound idea. As his brigade marched off into the sunset, the North Carolina Loyalists found themselves very much alone on the battlefield. With Hamilton either dead, captured or missing, they missed the order to withdraw and they wisely layed down their arms and surrendered.

Troop positions at the end of the battle.


Conclusion
What an amazing battle Hobkirk's Hill was, with Baron DeKalb's army crushing Lord Rawdon's British army and significantly boosting the American cause in South Carolina. Rawdon had lost three of his 6SPs in the fight and would lose an additional SP as the penalty for being the losing side in the battle. Conversely, the Americans gained an extra SP as a reward for winning the battle, so now DeKalb was the owner of Camden and an army of 7SPs. 

The battle was also notable for the key contributions of two militia units: the Spartanburg militia and Caswell's Mounted Militia. The Spartanburg boys refused to be routed out of their woods, despite losing nearly 40% of their effectives. Their morale was at the highest level all throughout the game and they fended off two better-trained Loyalist regiments during the battle. Caswell's Charge was just simply the silliest thing that I have seen on the tabletop in quite some time. Words fail me on this.

The fate of Lord Rawdon's dwindling force is unknown, as yet. I would imagine that the road back to either Monck's Corner or Charleston would be swarming with American militia eager to take a bite out of the retreating British. The American capture of Camden also puts Lord Cornwallis' main British army in South Carolina out of supply, so he will only have one turn to find supplies again or face the attrition of 1SP per ensuing turn. However, since Turn Twelve will be the last turn of the campaign, the British supply situation is a rather moot point by now.




Thank you to my blog readers.


Our family thank all of our blog readers for their kind comments and condolences.
I want to thank all of my blog readers and Facebook friends for their support, kind comments and condolences expressed with the passing of my mother.

We held a service for her yesterday and rather than lamenting Mom's passing, we celebrated her life with family pictures and stories with friends and family.

I am not sad about my mother's passing because I have so many good memories of her that shall last me forever.

********
I will get back to regular blogging about wargaming, hopefully later this week as I still need to post a game report on the battle at Hobkirk's Hill in our AWI South Carolina campaign. Also, I am traveling north to Brown Deer, WI to play in our annual Fall Colonial Wargame.


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Friday, August 31, 2018

Rest In Peace Mom


Martha Ann Purky (April 1922 - August 2018)


My Mother, Martha Ann Purky, died this morning (August 31, 2018) at 4:40 AM from complications with kidney failure. She was an awesome 96 years old today, having been born in April 1922. She was preceded in death by my sister Janet (1948 - 2017) and my father Thomas (1922 - 1995). So I guess that this makes me Uncas, the Last of the Mohicans, in a way. She comes from a family in which all of the women live into their late 90s, which is pretty remarkable.

My Mother was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and was the oldest of the three children of Donald and Lyda Belle Shaw. She graduated from Butler University in 1943 with a degree in Home Economics and Theater Arts. She briefly was a teacher at Indiana University prior to marrying my father, after WW2 was over.

She was an excellent cook and a very skilled seamstress too. She always made her own clothes, the curtains in all of our various homes, and reupholstered furniture too. She volunteered at local theater companies as the costume designer and it seemed that she always had some project going on at her Singer sewing machine. Whenever I would move to a new apartment or house, she would whip out several sets of curtains for me in no time.

Mom loved to travel and she worked part time as a teacher in the early 1960s so that she could earn enough money to take the family on a trip to Europe in 1963. This was my first of many trips to Europe - we traveled for ten weeks through Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium and The Netherlands. This particular trip, my first time in Europe, shaped me in so many ways that are beyond listing. If you have kids, then take them on a trip to another country and watch how it changes their lives for the better.

Mom and Dad travelled all over the world, visiting countries such as China, Japan, Singapore, India, Russia, South Africa, Kenya, Columbia and Peru in South America, and practically every country in Europe at one time or another. My love of history and travel comes from an obvious source.

Perhaps Mom's favorite place to visit was Estes Park, Colorado. Her great aunt owned a little cabin in the area and to call the cabin a rustic shack would be overstating it by a large margin. It had no running hot water, no potable drinking water (we had to carry it uphill from a store's water well using plastic gallon jugs), an outhouse and an old Franklin stove to provide heat in the morning. We slept in beds on the wrap-around screened in porch, snuggling up in tons of quilts and blankets to keep us warm at night. It was a ramshackle place, but she probably loved visiting that cabin more than any other place on earth. She and I did lots of trail hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and we always looked forward to our summer trips to Colorado so that we could rack up more miles on our hiking boots.

The best way to characterize my Mom is to quote what so many people told me over the years, "your Mother doesn't have a mean bone in her body." Everyone seemed to be her friend because she could so easily connect with practically anybody. She loved her family and would do anything to help them out.

My wife, Anne, told me a story this evening that kind of sums up what my Mom was all about. Quite a few years ago, my spouse and I were visiting my parents at their winter home in Savannah, Georgia and we had gone sight-seeing and window shopping. Anne was quite taken with a necklace that she had seen in a jewelry store but we did not buy it. A day later, she found a small wrapped package in her bedroom and when she opened it up, there was the very necklace that she had looked at. My Mom bought it for her. Neither of us can figure out how Mom even knew about our looking at the necklace in the store.

Whenever anyone in her family was having any difficulties, she was always there to help and support us in more ways than you could imagine. For all of the wonderful things that she did for me, my wife and my daughter, I could never do enough to repay her for all of her thoughfulness and kindness, but then, she never did anything for anyone with the expectation that she should somehow be repaid in some fashion. If you were family, then you could do no wrong in her eyes.

Her illness was not unexpected for us and she never complained or gave any indication that she was ever in any pain. Yesterday, she was admitted to hospice care. The nurse asked her if she was feeling any pain, and if so, to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the higherst. She answered "ten." I had no idea of the pain that she was dealing with because she never let on that she was hurting. Earlier this week her doctor advised us that the medications were no longer working to keep her kidneys functioning and that he was discontinuing them and that going forward his objective was to make her as comfortable as possible. 

I was expecting her death, but not so quickly and not today. She was "Gram" the Energizer Bunny who kept ticking on and on and on, so indestructable. I fortunately spent a lot of time with Mom yesterday afternoon, showing her all of the family pictures that I could find. I could tell that the pictures were bringing a spark back into her eyes, as by this time, she did very little talking anymore. I had planned to visit her this morning and to talk about all of the memories that I had of her, of us all, starting from as far back as I could remember and going forward. Of course, that was all moot by now.

I spent the rest of today working on the funeral arrangements and notifying our family and all of her friends of her passing. I am also gathering up pictures of Mom from her childhood through the present - I'm going to enlarge them and post them on foam core boards for the funeral service so that all of her friends can see the pictures and perhaps stir up some of their own memories that they can share with me.

It goes without saying that I will miss you Mom, but you did such a great job of being a parent that I am well prepared to carry on. You are my role model; you set the bar very high, but I will do my best to live up to your example.

Cheers Mom,

Jim

Friday, August 24, 2018

New Russians - Painted Samples Pix

Russian Grenadiers in Regular Coats

Russian Grenadiers and Musketeers in Summer Waistcoats
CLICK ON ALL PICTURES TO ENLARGE

I have finished painting one each of the 16 new Minden SYW Russian figures that have recently been added to the range. These were really fun figures to paint, especially the grenadiers with their finely detailed mitres and cartridge boxes. My favorite figure poses though are the two officers, one musketeer and one grenadier, that are carrying their musket rested on their left arm. Russian officers and NCOs did not use pole arms during the SYW. They were armed with fire arms.

If you are interested in building a new Russian army using Minden Miniatures, then please click on the link below to go to the web store page.

Fife & Drum / Minden Miniatures Web Store


Here are a few of the new Product Codes with pictures of the painted figures:

MR-001 Russian Musketeer Command in Regular Coats
MR-002 Russian Musketeers in Regular Coats - 8 figures per pack.


MR-003 = Russian Musketeer Standard Bearer Pack (2 figures)

MR-004 Russian Musketeer Command in Summer Waistcoats

MR-005  Russian Musketeers in Summer Waistcoats (8 per pack)
See second picture at the top of the page for the specific figure.


MR-006 Russian Mounted Colonel with Horse
MR-007 Russian Grenadier Command in Regular Coats

MR-008 Russian Grenadier in Coat - 8 per pack
(Note: mislabeled in the picture, it is not MR-007)

MR-009 Russian Grenadier Command - Waistcoats


MR-010 = Russian Grenadiers in Summer Waistcoats (pack of 8 figures)
See second picture at the top of this page for a picture of the specific figure.


Note that officers, including standard bearers, always wore their green coats, even in the Summer. The NCOs and Drummers and rank and file would shed their green coats during the summer and fight in the long sleeved waistcoat. So the Russian army in battle line looked like a very long line of red coats.