Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Napoleon Collection

My collection of various Napoleons

More of the collection
For a few years now I have been collecting busts and statues of Napoleon. I have 15 of them that I have acquired over the years and it is fun to watch the collection grow. The thing about collections is that the more of the items that you have, the better the collection will look if it displayed together. In this case, I display all of them in my library room.

I do not include wargaming Napoleon figures in the collection and have largely excluded toy soldier Napoleona, with a couple of exceptions. Probably my favorite Napoleon is the bobble head le petit tondu.

Napoleon seeks world domination.

I am always on the look out for more Napoleons. You never know where and when they will turn up. 

I also have a similar collection of Frederick the Great pieces that I will show on this blog in another post one day. Most of the Fritz figures were acquired on trips to Germany - a vist to the book store at Sans Souci in Potsdam is a treasure trove of Fredericks.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The new Minden Russian Observation Corps Grenadiers.

My first battalion of Russian Observation Corps grenadiers is completed and I am really impressed with how they turned out. Kudos to Steve Barber for sculpting some gorgeous models in his first go at sculpting in the Minden style. I'm going to let Steve work on the Russian horse grenadiers next, in both regulation uniform and Summer waistcoats.

Click on the link to the Fife and Drum web store if you are interested in purchasing Russians for your own armies.

The first picture above shows only three stands with 24 total figures. This was done in order to fit enough figures into the photo shot while still being able to see the close up details. The second photo below, depicts my now-standard 32-figure battalion. A battalion gun with two crewmen will be added  to visually balance the appearance of the line.

Here is the 4-stand version of the grenadiers that I will regularly use in my games. T
he  battalion gun still needs to be added to the grouop.

The Observation Corps grenadier flags are from the Kronoskaf site, as detailed in my previous blog post. They were embellished with some hand painting of the details by me.

In one of my earlier blog posts, I mentioned that after years and years of trying to figure out how to represent battalion guns and to use them in a game, I came up with a workable system.

The battalion gun will operate as a regular cannon that uses the artillery tables in my Der Alte Fritz rules. This will only apply to "long range" firing. Once the battalion moves within musket range, the cannon ceases to use the artillery tables and instead, simply adds one more D10 die to the musket firing. My rules give each battalion 1 x D10 for every four figures that are firing. So for example, if the grenadier battalion had 24 figures left from its original 32-figure strength, then it would get 6 x D10 for musketry. However, it would also gain an extra D10 for having the battalion gun. Once the battalion loses a whole stand of 8 figures, then the battalion cannon will be removed from the table for the remainder of the game.

I like that the battalion gun adds a sense of symetry to my 4 stands of 8 figures. This arrangement makes it difficult to place the colours in the center of the battalion, but adding the extra stand for the battalion gun moves the colours to the center of the battalion. Fritz likes symetry!

The next unit in my painting queue is a battalion of the Observation Corps musketeers. 

I am back to painting Russians for these two units so that people can see what a battalion of the figures look like once they are painted. After the musketeers are painted, then it is back to painting Prussians for my Pomeranian Army.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Quartermaster Saturday at Schloss Fritz

Schloss Fritz Game Room. An AWI battle is set up on the 6ft x 12ft game table.


Yesterday I finished the first battalion of the new Minden Observation Corps Grenadiers and so I had nothing to paint today, even though I had a lot of free time. Ouch! So I decided to go down into the man cave and tinker around with basing already-painted units and getting new ones ready for the primer spray booth. 

So there was no figure painting today, but catching up on some of the behind the scenes things that I needed to do in order to get my castings turned into painted figures ready for their first tabletop battle. So in effect, I was the quartermaster today working on uniforms, supplies and other logistics for my little metal men.

I based the Russian Observation Corps grenadier battalion  and several Prussian 3-pound battalion guns, then I glued castings to cardboard in preparation for priming and painting, and made some custom flags using the Kronoskaf flags as a template.

Getting the figures ready to paint

Since I have nothing to paint, it was time to get a new regiment ready for the paint table. So this afternoon I picked out 32 of the new Minden SYW Russian Observation Corps Musketeers and glued each figure onto a piece of card using white glue (Elmer's or PVA). Having already painted the OC grenadiers, I want to have a battalion of musketeers for gaming and for marketing purposes.

In case you missed the news, Minden Miniatures recently added SYW Russian Observation Corps grenadiers and musketeers.

Minden Observation Corps Musketeers line up for their new uniforms.

Making New Flags for the Observation Corps

GMB Designs is my go-to supplier of flags for my SYW armies, but alas, they do not make the flags for the Russian Observation Corps troops. So the next best thing was to go to the Kronoskaf web site for SYW information and copy/download a set of OC Grenadier flags.

Kronoskaf Observation Corps Flags

 So the process is to click on the flag image and select "download" if you have an iMac computer (I don't know how the Windows PC system does this function, but it is probably similar.

The next step is to open the downloaded image in Preview, which allows you to futz around with the image a little bit (light exposure, color etc.). Then save the image to one of your files.

Next, open up a new Word document and insert the flag image into Word. Click on the flag image and a sort of square appears around the outer perimeter of the image. Move your cursor to the corner of the image and start pushing inwards to change the size (height and width) of the flag image. Once this is done, then click on the Edit pull-down menu and select "Copy". Finally, move your cursor next to the flag image and click to complete the copy-move function. Now you should have both sides of the flag next to each other, thus forming a single two-sided flag.

Once you are satisfied with the size of the flag, then print it out and cut it out like you would any other paper flag. Swab the backside with white glue and then fold the halves around your flag staff. While the glue is still wet, take old paint brush or pencil (something round) and curl the flag around it to create furls and bends in the flag. (see example below).

Someone once told me that flags flap in the breeze in a diagonal pattern to the flag staff. So never have your flags furled perpendicular to the flag staff.

Tricking out your new flags

The Kronoskaf flags will look to shiny and ordinary and without any depth, shadows or highlights. So my next step is to customize the flags by painting over them with acrylic paint. If you want to keep it simple, using the existing color as your highlight for a white flag, or your shadow for a dark colored regimental flag.

In the colonel's white flag below, I painted over the surface with white paint and then added shading by using a light grey color. This gives you instant depth and dimension and looks much better than using the flag straight off your printer.

For the red regimental flag I used the printer red as my shade color and added lighter reds to achieve the highlights that you see in the photos.

Front view of the Kronoskaf flags after some paint embellishment.

Rear view of the customized Kronoskaf flags.
I decided to take the alterations another step further and add shading and highlights to the decorations that are on the flag. So the sun rays were over painted with a dark yellow and then the sun rays were painted back onto the flag with a brighter yellow paint. The black double-headed eagle received a middle coloring of black mixed with some flesh colored paint = painting the wings in this new color. I decided that the first highlight of black was not distinctive enough, so I mixed up a new highlight color using the black/flesh combination and then adding a small bit of white paint to the mix. This new color is light enough that one can paint lines on the eagle's wings to give the impression of feathers. You can touch up some or all of the decorations in the flag to whatever level you fancy. The two flags above had everything repainted except for the red heraldric shield on the breast of the eagle.

By the time you are finished with all of this, it almost looks like you have a hand-painted flag. My freehand painting of flags is very ordinary to average, but having the actual design on the flag as your guide, you can create what is basically a custom painted flag for your unit.

By the way, I did all of the paint customization once the flags were glued onto the flag pole.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Russian Observation Corps Grenadiers - Painted

New Minden Russian Observation Corps Grenadiers.

I have finished painting the two packs of the new Minden Miniatures SYW Russian Observation Corps Grenadiers: MR-015 Grenadier Command Pack (5 figures) and MR-016 Grenadier Pack (8 figures). Obviously the pictures of painted figures give a better indication of how the figures look as compared to pictures of black washed figures.

I plan to use these figures in a 32-figure grenadier regiment. After that, I will paint some sample Observation Corps Musketeers.

MR-015 Command Pack (5 figures)

MR-015 Command Pack - rear view

MR-016 Grenadier Pack (8 figures)

MR-016 Grenadier Pack - rear view


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Notes on Zorndorf & Kunersdorf - Duffy Tour of 2016

Battlefield marker at Zorndorf

I found the notebook that I carried with me when I was visiting Frederician battlefields in October 2016 with Christopher Duffy and a group of 20 other battlefield trekkers. I thought that some of my readers would find my notes of small interest, given that they are my own first hand account, if you will.

Moving up the Learning Curve - the Campaigns of 1757 and 1758

The source of Russian resentment towards Frederick II and Prussia lie in two things; first that Frederick had penned a number of "rude poems" about the Empress Elizabeth of Russia, which earned him the ire of the Russian Tsarina; and second that Elizabeth recognized the threat that Prussian aggrandisement would pose to Russia in the future. 

Duffy cites several factors that put the Russian army at a disadvantage to that of the Prussian army:

  1. The Russian army had not fought a modern European army in a number of years. Its familiarity was more with how to fight against the Turks.
  2. The Russians adopted clumsy tactical formations, particularly the large "army square" that was protected on all sides - front, flanks and rear - against an enemy attack.
  3. The long supply tail that the Russians had to endure. Since they lacked forward bases close to Prussia, the Russian army had to begin every campaign in Russia or eastern Poland and move men, material and supplies hundreds of miles towards the theater of war astride the Oder River. As a result, it took the Russians a long time to wind up their war machine at the start of the campaign year and it usually did not come into contact with the Russians until late Summer, thereby shortening the campaign season and giving them a small window to win the campaign.
  4. The senior Russian army commanders, Apraxin in 1757 and Fermor in 1758, were not particularly enterprising (probably for a variety of good reasons relative to the politics around the court back in St. Petersburg)

Given all of the above considerations, it really took the Russians two campaigning seasons to move up the learning curve with respect to fighting a war with the Prussians. Thus by 1759 (the third campaign of the war), the Russians were finally able to solve many of the problems that had hindered their performance over the first two years of the war.

  1. By the start of the 1759 campaign, the Russian military had become familiar with the tactics of Frederick the Great and they had begun to fashion effective counter-measures to the Oblique Order system of attack. General Willum Fermor (leader of the army at Zorndorf) had written a training manual for the Russian army, one that recognized that they could not expect to out maneuver the Prussians prior to the start of the battle.
  2. Russian counter-measures to Frederick's tactics built on their familiarity and strong suit in being able to quickly construct field works. So rather than out march the Prussians, they would dig in and wait for the inevitable Prussian attack on their flank or rear. Artillery batteries were now sited at key  points to break up the Prussian attack as it developed. The use of the Shuvulov (Secret Howitzer) Howitzer provided the Russians with effective short range infantry support that could offset the Prussian prowess in musketry.
  3. Starting in 1759, the Russians now deployed in formations of depth with adequate reserves that were ready to move to where the attack was developing.
  4. Logistics: the Russian quartermasters were now required to carry out orderly requistions of supplies from the local civilian populace, including payment for the requisitioned supplies. Forward supply depots were now set up in Poland (Thorn and Posen) as well as in East Prussia, which significantly shortened the supply tail of the Russian army, moving the supplies and the starting point of the campaign ever closer to the Prussian homeland.
  5. The Russians broke their army down into smaller, self-sufficient columns that were more flexible instead of marching towards the Oder River in one large column of march.
  6. More capable leaders were rising to the top of the Russian army by 1759 - its commander, Saltykov, was a very reliable general that got along very well with the Austrians, and more importantly, he got along well with his own generals. During the 1758 Zorndorf campaign, the Russian army commander, Fermor, did not get along very well with his own generals.

Notes on Zorndorf

Frederick marched north of Kustrin to find a place to cross the Oder River and interpose his army between Fermor's main army and the detached corps of Rumynatsev down river at Schwedt. Thus neither segment of the Russian army were in a position to help the other.

Frederick does a reconnaissance of the Russian position near Zicher and decides on his usual tactic of marching around the flank of the Russian army. He had an opportunity to destroy the Russian baggage train ("wagonburg") at Kamien and had he done so then the Russians would have had to retire back into Poland without so much as a fight. Frederick had no experience fighting the Russians and so he had no idea what it was like to fight them - in hindsight, Frederick might have done things different and focused on cutting off the Russian lines of supply and communications.

Frederick decides to attack the Russians with his left wing and refuse his right wing. He thought that he was attacking the rear of the Russian position, but the Russian army was used to being attacked from any direction as a result of having fought the Turks in the past. So it was an easy matter for Fermor to turn his army around and face the new line of attack of the Prussians.

The battle commences with the attack of Manteuffel's Advance Guard on the Russian right wing. Kanitz was to support this attack with his left wing, while Dohna's right wing became the refused wing of the army. Things quickly go astray as Kanitz's troops veer off towards the right and away from Manteuffel and the battle devolves into a frontal assault much like at Kolin.

Zorndorf: the Zabern-Grund hollow.

Zorndorf village

Zorndorf - the site where Manteuffel's Advance Guard attacked.

What made the Russian soldier such a stalwart fighter?
  1. the peasant stock of the common soldier made them readily adaptable to militiary discipline. because they were used to being beaten.
  2. peasant structure - help each other, self-sufficient characteristics.
  3. Orthodox religion - made it a battle/war of ideology to the soldiers

Seydlitz's cavalry wing is deployed on the Prussian left. He waits until he senses a weakness in the Russian line and then feeds his horses across the Zabern-Grund in small groups.

Dohna commits the refused right wing of the Prussian army and the battle now becomes a general battle that proves to be bloody and indecisive.

Fermor withdraws towards his supply routes and thus the campaign of 1758 is effectively over.

Duffy mentions that the East Prussian regiments in the army were no good for the remainder of the war because they had been through a most horrible battle.

Notes on Kunersdorf

Since this post is getting rather long, I will continue my Kunersdorf notes and information about Kunersdorf battlefield archeology in my next post.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

My Next Big Project: Kunersdorf

My Pomeranian Army, so far. Four of the 15 battalions have been painted.

For the rest of 2018, I plan on working on a new wargame project that is centered around the battle of Kunersdorf in 1759. The goal is to have the game ready for the 2019 SYW Association Convention at the end of March 2019.

The Kunersdorf Project (there, it is official now that it has a name) will require the building of a Prussian Pomeranian theater army and adding the Russian Observation Corps to my existing Russian army. Fortunately, Minden Miniatures has recently added the Observation Corps musketeers and grenadiers to its range of SYW Russians, so I have the correct figures to use for that part of the project.

The Prussians, on the otherhand, require a bit of an overhaul in order to field an army that is appropriate for the battles of Paltzig and Kunersdorf in 1759. The same army could also be used for Zieten's raid into Poland in 1760 and Platen's raid into Poland in 1761.

Prussian Army of Pomerania
This will be an entirely new army of Minden figures consisting of regiments that fought in the Kunersdorf campaign. It will allow me to use my new basing system of 32 figures for the Prussians. My existing Prussian army of 30-figure battalions will continue to fight the Austrians in Silesia. However, going forward, all new regiments of infantry will be based in the new manner. I can't pry the old figures off of their wood bases because I used cyanoacrylate (Super Glue/Krazy Glue) glue and metal to glue bonds just don't separate.

Front to back: IR46 von Bulow, next two battalions are IR35 Prinz Heinrich, GAR V  Jung Sydow.

My Prussian Pomeranian army will be comprised of the following:

Garrison Regt. V (Jung Sydow) - 2 btns
IR2  Kanitz (2 btns)
IR14  Lehwaldt  (2btns)
IR16  Dohna (2btns)
IR35  Prinz Heinrich Fusiliers (2 btns)
IR46  von Bulow Fusiliers (2 btns)
2/G-II Nesse Grenadier Battalion (1 btn)
Standing Grenadier Btn von Lossow (1 btn)
11/14 Bayer Grenadier Battalion (1 btn)

Total Battalions = 15

In general, the infantry will be divided into three brigades of 5 battalions each.

I do not have to change the basing for my Prussian cavalry (2 per stand and 6 stands per squadron) so there is no additional work involved in the cavalry component of the Pomeranian army.

Russian Army
I already have 12 battalions of Russians that I used in my Zorndorf game this year, so I am in fairly good shape with respect to the Russians I need for Paltzig and Kunersdorf. I need to paint at least four Observation Corps battalions, 3 Musketeers and 1 Grenadier.

New Basing Scheme
I will follow up in a future post about the new basing system that I am using for the Russians and Prussians. So stay tuned for later this week.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Maps of Silesia

Silesia map - circa 1561

I was doing a search for some maps of Silesia, circa the 18th Century, to use as the basis for a campaign map of this theater of war. I thought that my readers would enjoy looking at them and considering how they might use these maps for their own purposes.

The map at the top of the page, circa 1561, is particularly colorful. Breslau and the Oder River are at the bottom of the map and Bohemia, trans mountains in white, is at the top of the map. This is kind of backwards from how we normally view such maps.

The second map is a really good one of Silesia, but alas, I could not make it very large  and it is a bit out of focus, making it difficult to read.

Silesia Map
The third map, below, is one that I intend to use as a photo background for when I take pictures of newly painted battalions for my Prussian armies. It can be printed either in color, as a sepia or in black and white. The sepia version has a good "old" look to it. You can download the map and play around with the coloring in your picture application (iPhotos if you have a Mac computer).

Theater Map of the Seven Years War showing the main domains of Brandenburg, Silesia, and Bohemia.
This map makes for a good background for photographs of units, especially if printed in black and white.

I have always been intrigued with maps and enjoy looking at them and analyzing them in greater detail. I will be posting more maps in the future. I'm looking for a good local map of the Kunersdorf-Paltzig area and one of Poland around the town of Posen. The latter map will provide some context for a raid into Poland to destroy Russian magazines at Posen.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

IR46 von Bulow Fusiliers

IR46 von Bulow Fusiliers


The first battalion of IR46 von Bulow went into service in my Pomeranian Army yesterday. The actual painting was completed two days ago, but battalions and cavalry regiments do not enter service until they are flagged and based with terrain, tufts and static grass.

The first picture, above, depicts the new basing and organization system that I am using for my Russians and Prussian Pomeranian Corps. The figures are now on four stands with 32 figures instead of five stands and 30 figures and they are placed closer together. I am now going to add a stand of regimental guns with each battalion. The 3-pounder fires as a cannon at long range, but once it comes within musket range, the stand adds a single D10 die to the musket firing. After one stand of infantry is removed from casualties, then the battalion gun is also removed from the table.

The von Bulow fusilier regiment fought at Zorndorf and it was made rather famous in the 19th Century through the Carl Rochling painting of Frederick II grabbing the regiment's flag and trying to personally lead the regiment into an attack against the Russians at Zorndorf.

Frederick the Great leads the von Bulow regiment against the Russians at Zorndorf.

The regiment was initially stationed in Far Pomerania, but the first battalion fought at Prague in the King's army, and then was transferred to the Duk of Bevern's army at Breslau, where it took part in the loss outside of Breslau. It rejoined the King's Army in time to participate in Leuthen.

In 1758, the regiment participated in the sieges of Schweidnitz and Olmutz and then had the misfortune to be at Domstadtl, where it escorted the massive supply train that was captured by the Austrians. It joined Dohna's army at Frankfort on the Oder and fought at Zorndorf. It was attacked in the flank at Zorndorf and Frederick tried to rally the regiment by grabbing its flag and attempting to lead them forward. Frederick held the regiment in good regard.

In 1759, the regiment was attached to Prince Henry's army in Saxony, but then was sent to Kunersdorf, where it suffered in the attack on the Gross Spitzberg.

In 1760, the regiment had the misfortune of being in Fouque's Corps at Landshut and fought "with the greatest of bravery" before being virtually wiped out through casualties and prisoners. Thereafter, the reconstituted regiment remained out of the main theaters of war, being stationed at Breslau from 1761-1763.

It was a hard fighting regiment, but an unlucky one. 

Three of the four stands are show in this picture so that
I could provide a close up photo of the regiment (battalion)

Same as the previous picture, but with a background added.

I now have four battalions of Prussians painted under the new organization in my Pomeranian Corps.

The figures are Minden Miniatures, of course, and the flags are made by GMB Designs.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Minden SYW Russian Observation Corps Figures Have Arrived

The new Minden SYW Russian Observation Corps ("OC") figures arrived from Griffin Moulds yesterday. The figures include OC musketeers and grenadiers, both in their summer kit of sleeved waistcoats. The officers wear the regulation coat. Both groups of figures have a command pack of 5 figures and a rank & file pack of 8 soldiers. There will also be packs of two extra standard bearers for both musketeers and grenadiers.

The Observation Corps figure packs are being offered at $10.00 for the command packs, $4.00 for the spare standard bearer packs, and $16.00 for the pack of rank and file soldiers. The Observation Corps figures will be priced at the old Minden prices for a limited time, through June 30, 2018, afterwhich they will be sold at the regular Minden prices.

The new figure packs are now added to the Fife & Drum Miniatures web store.

Click on the link HERE to go to the Fife & Drum Miniatures web store to inspect and purchase figures from our new SYW Russian range of figures.

Here are some pictures of the new figures, blackwashed to photograph better:

Observation Corps Musketeer Command (MR-013) pack with five figures.

Observation Corps Musketeers (MR-014) pack with eight figures.

Observation Corps Grenadier Command (MR-015) pack with 5 figures.

Observation Corps Grenadiers (MR-016) pack with eight figures.

Regular Line Musketeers in Summer kit (MR-005b) pack of eight figures.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Napoleon At Borodino

Wax image of Napoleon at the Grevin wax museum in Paris

Boney was a wargamer, away ay ya
A gamer and a terrier, Jean Francois.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Prinz Heinrich IR35 Regiment Joins the Ranks

Prinz Heinrich Fusiliers (IR35)


Yesterday I finished basing the second battalion of IR35 Prinz Heinrich fusiliers and so I now have a full regiment of two battalions, each having 32 figures. I had completed the first battalion about a year ago and half of the second battalion, but the Zorndorf Project grabbed all of my time. With the SYWA convention over, I have more time to free kreigspeil through the painting queue and paint whatever strikes my fancy.

So I thought that it was high time to complete the second battalion with the 16 additional figures. All of my wargame regiments have two battalions.

Two battalions of IR35 and one battalion of Garrison V Jung Sydow
All of my SYW Minden regiments have two battalions. My existing units have 30 figures per battalion on 5 stands, but the new units have been increased to 32 figures based on 4 stands. The change was made in order to move the figures a little closer together and also to place the drummer on each flank of the battalion, offset a little bit from the rest of the battalion.

The picture below illustrates the new organization of my Prussian armies:

Prinz Heinrich regiment with its battalion guns - 3pdrs.

Each battalion will have two center stands (60mm x 40mm) of 8 figures and two end stands (80mm x 40mm) also of 8 figures. However, the end stands are wider so that I can position the drummer in an offset position from the rest of the stand. This is done to conform to the Prussian drill manual in which the drummers are posted on the end of each flank.

I am thinking that four stands looks a little unbalanced from a visual standpoint. So I am toying with the idea of adding a battalion gun - 3-pounder - stand that will be placed on one of the battalion flanks. The cannon will be allowed to fire as a cannon from long range, but when the battalion draws into musket range, the cannon will no longer function as  a cannon. Instead, it will add one more D10 die to the dice used for firing in my rules. (there is one D10 for every four figures in the battalion).

The regiments/battalions in the new basing scheme will become part of my new Pomeranian Project, that is, a lower quality army than the King's army, and designed to fight the Russians on the Oder River front.

The Garrison V Regiment, Jung Sydow, fought at Paltzig and Kunersdorf, making it a rather unlucky regiment, one might think. The regiment's pictures were posted in the previous posting on my blog, but for some reason, it didn't get any love from my blog readers noting that it received one of the lowest number of visitor hits of any recent blog posts. I am not sure why this is, so here is another view of the first battalion, including the hand-painted flags that I had to make since GMB Designs does not make flags for the Garrison regiments.

Garrison Regiment V - Jung Sydow

Jung Sydow will eventually get a second battalion painted, but not for now.

My next Prussian unit will be the IR46 Bulow Fusiliers who were made famous by Carl Rochling in the familiar print below:

Frederick II dramatically grabs the colour of the von Bulow (IR46) regiment
to lead them forward during the Battle of Zorndorf.
Frederick tried the old "grab the colours to inspire the troops" gambit at Kolin and Zorndorf. In each case, the regiments involved took a powder and Fritz found himself leading the advance all by himself.

So it's back to the painting table to finish the first battalion of IR46. This will give me 4 battalions in my Pomerian Prussian army, which is starting to have enough mass to look like a brigade, if not a small army. I don't have to paint any cavalry because I am keeping the same basing system for them: 2-inch square stands with two horses and riders per stand.