Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Fife & Drum Black Friday Sale Begins Today


Sale starting date:   November 22, 2023

Sale ending date:    December 1, 2023

Discount Amount:  20%

Coupon Code:        Grenadier23

Hello everyone. I hope that you are all having a great time getting together with family and friends for this Thanksgiving Day holiday. Or maybe you are just enjoying a quiet day off from work and a long holiday weekend and you are looking forward to some time painting miniatures (that's what I do on my holiday).

I thought that I would  get a head start on our annual Black Friday 20% Discount Sale by kicking off the sale starting today rather than making you wait until Friday.

Just click on the link to the Fife and Drum Miniatures web store 

Fife & Drum Web Store Link

and scroll through the drop down menus at the top of the page. When you are finished with your order then proceed to check out and enter the coupon code Grenadier23 and your 20% discount will automatically be applied to your order.

Happy Thanksgiving holiday everyone. Don't eat too much turkey or else you might fall asleep and miss Fife and Drum Miniatures' Black Friday sale.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

My Pickett's Charge Project Video

This is not a picture of my game table. It was made by a fellow in the UK named Chris.
It is a spectacular diorama of the battle of Antietam.

I created a short video that provides and introduction to my Gettysburg Pickett's Charge project and posted it on You Tube. The video is approximately 4 minutes. Please feel free to leave a comment on the You Tube page and/or click the Like button and subscribe to my You Tube page. I will be loading more content over the course of the next twelve months and hopefully improve the quality of my videos, with more practice.

Confederate battery of 3-inch ordnance rifled cannon.
William Britains figures

Here is the link to the video on You Tube:

Pickett's Charge Project Video

As I increase the number of painted Union and Confederate soldiers that I have I will create some movie trailers for Pickett's Charge at Historicon 2024 in the same manner as the ones that I made for my Khartoum game this past year's Historicon 2023.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Update on my Pickett's Charge Project

North Carolina regiment of Confederates from Scales' Brigade.
Note the conversion of the figure on the left into a flag bearer on the right.
Figures from CTS (Classic Toy Soldiers)

I want to provide a brief update on my 54mm Pickett's Charge Project for Historicon 2024. As of the end of October 31, 2023 I have painted 8 Union regiments and 11 Confederate regiments. At 30 figures per regiment that is a total of 570 figures painted since August 1, 2023 and an average of 190 figures painted per month.

Brigade Organization for the game
My brigades for both armies are currently organized with three regiments of 30 figures each, or 90 figures total for a brigade. The plan is to have five brigades per side plus one artillery command per side, for a total of 12 players in the game.

The size of the units at 30 figures per regiment equates to roughly 300 soldiers using a 1:10 figure to man ratio. This seems like a reasonable regimental strength for ACW regiments during the mid-war period of 1863. Some of the Confederate regiments in Heth's Division of A.P. Hill's III Corps had upwards of 500 to 600 men, largely due to the fact that they had been stationed out of the active theaters of war (guarding Richmond and North Carolina) and thus retained more of their original strength prior to the start of the Gettysburg campaign. I consider these to be outliers. 

You might ask why I am only having three regiments in my brigades when in fact the brigades were likely to have four or five regiments at Gettysburg. The answer is: the unit frontage takes up a lot of space on the game table. Each five stand regiment of figures has a frontage of approximately 15-inches. Allowing for some space between the regiments when they are deployed in a regimental line (all 3 regiments deployed in one battle line), I need a table frontage of about 48-inches (or four feet). Assuming the need for a minimum of 12-inches between brigades for spacing purposes, let's assign an extra foot or 12-inches to each brigade frontage. Now we are looking at five feet of frontage for each brigade or 15 feet of tabletop space to deploy Pickett's Division of three brigades.

Armistead's Brigade deployed with a brigade frontage of two regiments
and a supporting third regiment forming a second line.

Now assuming that the good folks at Historicon would allow me to have a table that is 20 feet in length, the entire division with a brigade frontage would take up 15 feet and have 2-1/2 feet of open space on the flanks. That is fairly tight. It also only allows for three brigades or three players on the Confederate side and maybe a fourth command if one player commands all of the artillery in each army. I need 5 to 6 commands per side.
Alternative Tabletop Plan
An alternate idea is to deploy each brigade in a two regiment frontage (30-inches plus 6-inches of space between the regiments, or 36-inches of frontage ) with the third regiment deployed behind the front two regiments. This reduces the brigade frontage by 12-inches (one foot). Now I can potentially add a fourth brigade to the Confederate battle line which now takes up 12 feet of frontage on the table. Let's add another foot per brigade for spacing (or 4 more feet) which brings the Confederate battle line to 16 feet of total tabletop space. This allows for 2 more feet of open space on each flank to use up the entire 20 feet length of the table surface. 

Were I to scoot the Confederate right flank to the righthand edge of the table, that gains an additional two feet that could increase the left flank open are from two feet to four feet. I could compensate for the lack of flank space on the right hand side of the Confederate line by allowing off table firing from the Union side. This would simulate the flanking fire that Kemper's brigade was taking on the right flank of Pickett's division during the assault on Cemetery Ridge.

Still Missing a Sixth Confederate Command
The scheme outlined above allows for four Confederate brigade players plus a fifth player commanding all of the Confederate artillery (Porter Alexander). I still need one more player command in the game. After scratching my head for awhile and humming a few bars of "When Johny Comes Marching Home Again" I hit on the idea of deploying a second battle line behind Pickett's division that provides support to the main attack. This would represent elements of Scales' brigade and/or Pettygrew's Division. This might work.

So now I am envisioning Pickett's Division deployed on the table with 12 feet of frontage on a 20 foot long table. Then Pettygrew's Division of three brigades would be deployed "en echelon" slightly behind Pickett's Division. This results in 6 infantry brigades plus an artillery brigade for a total of seven Confederate player commands! 

What About the Union Player Commands?
I would have to run through the similar calculations for the Union army player commands, but without going through the math in my head (I hate it when that happens) I envision five Union brigades with each brigade commander having a battery of artillery attached to his/her brigade.  So 7 Confederate plus 5 Union player commands gets us to 12 player commands in the game. Perfect. 

Basing All of these figure stands
After painting all of these figures, now comes the hard part of putting them on bases and organizing them into regiments. As of October 31st I have based 5 Confederate and 1 Union regiment(s) out of 11 regiments, so I have some serious work to do! I will have to take a break from my painting and pitch into the task of basing what I have so as to not let the backlog of units and figures pile up. If I were to wait much longer I would be faced with the tedious task of basing way too many figures. It can be very daunting.

Here are some of the unbased Confederate regiments that are on my work bench:

Confederate regiments from Kemper's Brigade awaiting the application of ground terrain.
Armistead's Brigade at Gettysburg as organized for my Pickett's Charge game.

Ground level view of one of the Confederate regiments.

What's Next?

So after basing the remaining 7 Union and 5 Confederate regiments, then I will go back to painting Union regiments. I want to increase the Union army from 8 regiments to 12 regiments. That will give me 12 regiments per side all ready to go and play on the tabletop. That means that I have 3 to 6 regiments per side that I need to paint going forward after the Union side reaches 12 regiments.

I am well ahead of schedule in terms of my painting so I might take a little break and start working on some of the terrain that I will need for the game. I'm looking at about 36 feet of post and rail turnpike fencing to cover the 18 foot long Emmitsburg Road in my game. Yikes!

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Pictures of the Day - Battle of Minden Big Battalion Game

The horde of French cavalry on their left flank.

Here are several pictures of the Battle of Minden that we played back in 2019 at the home of Kieth L. The game was played over three 6ft by 32ft tables so there was a lot of room for all of that cavalry seen in these pictures. Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick held on for a very close victory.

French Carabiniers

French infantry defending Minden



Tuesday, October 24, 2023

On this day in Dice History


I purchased these casino dice on October 24, 2010, having been told that perfectly square corners of the dice generate a truer dice roll. I suppose that I took that to mean that I’d roll fewer Snake Eyes and more Box Cars when I used these dice. Of course the math of probability tells us that one has a 1/6th chance of hitting on any particular number.

I have to say that these large square cornered dice performed well in their first two matches, but after that, not so well.

At least they look nice.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

ACW Picture of the Day - McPherson's Ridge


In June 2021, my daughter and I went on a tour of Civil War battlefields in the Eastern Theater of the war (Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania ). Our first tour stop was at Gettysburg and we arrived at the city from the western approach via the Chambersburg Pike. It was around 5PM in the evening when we reached the battlefield and I took this picture on McPherson's Ridge, looking east towards the town of Gettysburg.

You can see the iconic McPherson's Barn and some of the church spires of Gettysburg in the background. I was taken by the dramatic and foreboding black clouds in the sky and the contrast with the sunlight shining on McPherson's Barn. This is probably one of the best battlefield pictures that I have ever taken. As such, it deserves to be posted on this blog as one of my Pictures of the Day.

1/32 scale model of a Pennsylvania barn the could be McPherson's Barn.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Time to base the ACW figures


General Lewis Armistead's Confederate brigade at Gettysburg. All based in the past couple of weeks.

Click on all pictures to enlarge

My painting pace has slowed down a little bit so far in October, largely due to tackling the task of basing the figures. Basing consists of gluing the figures to an 80mm x 120mm MDF base and then troweling on the ground (wall board paste mixed with brown paint), and finishing off with static grass and tufts. Past experience has taught me that it is a bad idea to let hundreds of painted figures accumulate and then base them en masse at one time. Basing can be a bit tedious and so it is better to base a group of 30 to 60 figures rather 100 to 200 figures.

Here are some pictures of five Confederate regiments that I have based so far. These represents the Confederate brigades of Armistead and Garnett of Pickett's Division of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The unbiased collection of figures is starting to grow as I have two more regiments of Confederates to base. The regiment in the front uses CTS plastic figures while the regiment in the back is comprised largely of Armies In Plastic Confederates.

Close up view of some of the CTS brand of plastic 54mm (1/32 scale) ACW figures.
Note the flag bearer conversion, using the casualty figure on the left, now holding a flag on the right.

My October painting output, so far, has been limited to one 30-figure regiment of Confederates and about 20 of the required 30 figures for another regiment. There have also been about a dozen "one offs" painted simply for the reason that I liked the pose and wanted to give a particular figure a try with my brushes. I need to paint at a pace of 90 to 120 figures per month in order to hit my target one thousand figures for my Pickett's Charge game at Historicon in July 2023. That's about nine months to go and I have finished 15 regiments (8 Union and 7 Confederate) of 30 figures, or 450 figures. This does not include some of the one off mounted officers and various other single figures that aren't sufficient in quantity to make up a new 30 figure regiment.

Now 9 months sounds like a lot of time, but I have to consider the time needed to build the terrain. I have all of the buildings (farm houses and barns) that I need, but it is the number of turnpike fences that I will need for the Emmitsburg Road. Eighteen feet of road, with fences on both sides of the road, adds up to 36 feet of fences that I need to build. Yikes!

The other day I primed 60 figures, enough to make two more Confederate regiments. If I finish these this month then I would have painted 90 figures in October. The time spent on basing the figures has the effect of stealing time from my painting table. Oh well.