Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Rectangles Win! See the Results


Morgan's Rifles
Fife and Drum Miniatures

After weighing the pros and cons of the circle versus rectangle basing scheme for my AWI American riflemen, I settled on using rectangular bases. The bases used are 60mm by 80mm. My original plan was to put five figures on the base with the longer 80mm frontage and 60mm depth. However, this did not provide what I deemed to be needed depth of the base, so I simply flipped the base around 90-degrees so that the frontage is the 60mm side and the depth is now 80mm.

This solution provides enough room to space out the deployment of the individual figures to give them a more "open order" appearance. The added depth enables me to place the figures on three different tiers within the base.

The added depth enabled me to make little dioramas on each stand, adding some rocks here and some cut up trees there. The stand was finished off with plenty of tufts and static grass. It is important to use the smallest rocks and twigs that you can find to decorate the stands, otherwise they will look out of proportion to the size of the 1/56 scale figures (~30mm).

Ground level view of the American riflemen.

The figures were glued to the stands in a sort of random and informal manner so as to convey the idea that these are skirmish/open order troop rather than formed troops. Since the riflemen do not have bayonets, they had best stay away from formed British soldiers with leveled bayonets. I also placed some of the firing figures aiming off to the side or front corner of the stand to avoid the appearance of any kind of formation.

I couldn't place all six stands in a single row within my photographic light box,
so  two of the stands are placed behind the front four stands.

Close up view of Morgan's Rifles.

Next up on the painting table: von Barner's light infantry in Brunswick service. After that I will probably start working on Dearborn's light infantry battalion, the musket-armed chosen men whose job was to provide support to the rifle-armed soldiers who lacked bayonets.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Round or Rectangular Bases - Help Me Decide


Round (left) versus Rectangle (right) bases.

I am working on a regiment of 30 American riflemen to represent Morgan's Rifles at the battles of Saratoga in 1777. The regiment did not fight in close order formation like other Continental regulars, so I am considering using a round base for the unformed riflemen and a rectangular base for formed troops. Thus Indians and Jagers would also be placed on round bases. 

Note that I plan on placing five figures on six stands for a total of 30 riflemen in the regiment.

Five riflemen placed on an 80mm diameter round base.

I have found some rounds that are 80mm in diameter, which is similar to the 80mm frontage that I am using for the formed troops.

I have not yet decided which form of basing to use for the riflemen, so I thought that my regular blog followers could help me decide by offering up comments and suggestions in the Comments section at the end of this blog post. This is sort of like a poll, except that I don't have the ability to use a poll in Blogger, so your votes will have to be made in the comment section.

Simply type in Round or Rectangle in the Comments to record your vote. Of course, feel free to add any other comments or state your reason for liking one shape of base over the other.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Limber Day


The AE-005 British Limber set shown with civilian train drivers.

No, Limber Day is not a jazz saxophonist, but rather, my focus on adding limber teams to all of my horse and musket armies saw recent additions to my AWI armies. Last week I added two Hessian artillery teams manning British 6-pound cannon, so I needed to give them limbers too.

Hessian Artillery 6-pounder battery.

The Hessian artillerists are conversions of the Continental Artillery crews with the simple conversion of a pom pon on the top of their cocked hats. I needed a pair of Hesse Hanau 6-pounder, commanded by Captain Pausch, for my Saratoga game. The Minden Prussian artillery crew would also work as Hessian artillery crew (these could have the gaiters filed down to look like one-piece overalls, or could be left as is with gaiters).

Side view of the three limbers. The two grey limbers will support the Hessian guns 
and the wood brown limber will go to the American army.

I had to give some thought to adding reins and traces to the limbers and I settled on fine wire to represent the traces that connect the horse to the limber. My initial idea was to wrap the wire around the arm of the limber, but later versions employed my pin vise drill.

I found that there is enough metal in the limber to drill a small hole through the limber pole and then insert the wire through the resulting hole. Next, I drilled a small hole through the back of the limber horse, placing the hole just below the piece of leather that runs from the neck of the animal and back to its tail. This proved easier to do than I first thought so I will use this method on all of my horse drawn vehicles in the future.

I could have added wire traces from the first limber horse to the lead horse (with the rider) but didn't feel like spending the extra time required to pull off this bit of modelling.

Civilian train driver wearing waistcoat and brimmed hat.

Civilian train driver wearing coat and tricorn hat.

Another view of the limber and train driver wearing waistcoat and hat.

I also assembled and painted a two-wheel munitions wagon for my British army. I can use this vehicle for all of my British armies: Philadelphia Campaign, Southern Campaign and Saratoga Campaign. The cart is from Perry Miniatures, but the limber horse that came with that model seemed too large relative to the size of the wagon and the horse holder. My own Fife and Drum limber horse selection does not include a standing at the halt pose, so I used a spare RSM limber horse from my lead pile; the horse holder is a Minden Miniatures figure. The three pieces go together quite nicely and illustrates how sometimes we need to pick and choose parts from multiple product ranges to get the look that we seek.

Two-wheel munitions wagon consisting of a Perry wagon, an RSM limber horse,
and a Minden  horse holder. 

I have one more American limber team, this one painted an iron pigment red, to finish and add to my army. Adding limbers to your artillery teams may seem like a time investment, but it really is easy to do and the visual payback is well worth the effort. An artillery piece looks so much better when there is a limber parked behind it.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

What Sun Fading Really Looks Like


Following up on my previous post about the color of British uniforms on campaign, I thought it would be a good idea to see actual examples of sun-faded red cloth taking on a pinkish hue. At the end of this article I have posted a picture of an actual Prussian Guard uniform.

The baseball cap shown in the picture above, is one that I wore for many years before realizing how much the color had faded. I turned out the inside of the cap so that you can see what the original red color looked like. The difference is rather startling.

Also, here is a picture of one of my blue caps that shows how the sun has faded the cloth.

Now it might be that the type and quality of the cloth makes a difference in the amount of fading. Also, the type of color dye can make a huge difference. Searching through my memory (something that is increasingly hard to do these days), I recall that the type of dye used makes a huge difference.

Some examples of actual Prussian uniforms and their sun damage. The IR15 Guards regiment waistcoat shows sun damage in the abdomen area which corresponds to the part of the garment that is exposed to sunlight when it is worn. You can see where the waist belt protected the cloth in the abdomen area. The rest of the waistcoat was covered by the coat when it was worn.

The blue coat shows the orignial blue color in the rear, compared to the fading on the front and sleeves.

IR15 Guard Uniform - Coat on the left and waistcoat on the right.

This provides a little bit of food for thought with respect to painting your wargame figures with a sun faded campaign appearance.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Painting A Campaign Appearance On You Miniature


Fife & Drum Miniatures Saratoga British Flank Company Figures
Faded coats on the right, normal red coats on the left.


In the past I have painted several units to look like they have been “in the field” for a long campaign season. Basically this involves painting the coats in a washed out color to reflect the sun fading of the cloth and painting some patches on the knees and elbows. A little bit of dirt around the ankles works too. I haven’t figured out out how to paint unshaven faces, like Barry Hilton carries off with fine effect.

The other day I was painting a company of British Light Infantry for the Saratoga campaign and by happenstance my first coat of red on the uniform coat looked a bit washed out. The undercoat of white-Grey primer made it kind of bleed through the red. Hmm, thinks I, their coats will look sun faded if I don’t add another coat of red and then do the usual highlights bits on the coat.

Faded Campaign uniforms on the righthand stand. 
Normal red coats on the lefthand stand.

Rear view: campaign figures on the right, normal figures on the left.

Instead I went in reverse, starting with a washed out red and then highlighting with a pinkish red color. For this I took the base red color and mixed in a tiny bit of white to perfect the sun faded look. Next, I used a creamy tan color on the overalls rather than my usual grey and white combination. 

The final step was to paint patches on the areas of the uniform that are likely to wear out from hard usage on the campaign. We are talking knees, elbow and the seat of the pants. This starts with a tiny square of black painted on the knee, for example, and then painting a color such as brown cut from local spun cloth, or some red that might have been cut from excess material on the coat. You can experiment with other color schemes such as a white patch with some polka dots or stripes that contrast with the knee patch color.

I need to experiment with mud and dirt effects on the ankles, but this would really enhance the campaign look of the figure. Oh, and I dress the officer in brighter, non faded red on the assumption that the officer would have the financial means to purchase better quality cloth for his uniform.

At any rate, I thought that the faded red coats looked kind of cool and I will definitely consider painting a full regiment in a like manner.

What do you think? Comments appreciated.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

4Ground Log Cabin Construction


Yesterday, I finished building a two-story log cabin from a company called 4Ground (in the UK) and I have to say that I like the look of the finished model. The second floor and the roof are removable so that you can place figures inside for skirmish style games. The model comes with a "difficulty rating" of "4" ("1" being the easiest) which means that it takes a bit of modeling skill to assemble it. However, I think that most war gamers will be up to the task. It's just that it will take you awhile to build it. I worked on the model over the course of two days. 

The only tools that you need are maybe an Exacto blade or the end of a paint brush to detach the pieces from the sprue. In most cases, your fingers will do the job. White PVA glue is needed to attach the pieces together. All pieces use the mortar and tenon style of fixture to attach the pieces together, using white glue.

Side view of the model.

I made one major construction error, but couldn't change it because the glue had alread set. The front of the cabin should have two upstairs windows and the back of the cabin should have one window. I mistakenly switched them around.  The walls all have an outer wall and an inner wall and I had already glued all the wall pieces together before I discovered my error. However, the cabin still looks ok.

Close up view of the front. I mistakenly put the back side window in the front of the  house
and it was too late to change it after I discovered my error

Rear view of the cabin. The two second story windows should be in the front of the house.

Work in progress showing the near completion of the first floor.
You can see some of the sprues in the background.

The kit pieces are laser cut on MDF wood. You have to punch the pieces out of the MDF sprue with your fingers or the tip of a paint brush or similar tool. This is really easy to do. All the pieces are marked with a number and the kit includes a step-by-step pictorial that shows you each stage of the construction.

First and second floor sections are completed.
The chimney and roof are the final pieces to be constructed.

The finished model sits on my game table.

The finished model looks good as is, but most people will probably want to paint the model and glue it to a base.

In summary, this is a good looking model that has a couple of fiddly bits in the construction ( the front porch posts and beams that support the roof gave me a lot of trouble). It is not a kit that you will finish in one evening. I worked in a series of 2-hour sessions over the course of two days. The kit price is $36.00 for the wood model, which seems reasonable relative to other resin alternatives that are on the market.

I recommend the kit and I would purchase it again if I was making the choice. I wish that 4Ground would make a barn to go along with it. I also have a two-story block house ($79 price) to build and while it is rated a "4" level of difficulty, I'm not quite ready to give it a go because it looks more complex than the cabin.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Not Quite Saratoga - New Tabletop Setting


Battle of Freeman's Farm - September 1777


With the coming of Spring I decided that it was time to clear the Winter terrain for my SYW game off of my game table and set up a new scenario for the AWI period. Since the Fife and Drum Saratoga range figures have never crossed dice on the table top, I decided to go with some scenary near Saratoga, NY.

I looked at a number of maps for the Battle of Freeman's Farm (or First Battle of Saratoga) and could not really find one that had the close up detail that I sought. Most of the maps that I looked at were too general and really did not give me any help in seeing where the various regiments of each side fought. I finally settled on the William Wilkinson map from the US Library of Congress. This map provides the locations of the first, second, third and fourth positions of the American and British regiments over the course of the battle, fought on September 19, 1777.

The Wilkinson Map of the Battle of Freeman's Farm
(Library of Congress)

I am also consulting the maps found in the Osprey book about the Saratoga Campaign (by Brendan Morrissey). Finally, I found a close up view of the Wilkinson map in the "Campaign to Saratoga" by Don Troiani and Eric Schnitzer. This latter map is probably the best one that I have found in terms of my ability to transfer the terrain to a table top battle. I only wish that I had found this map before setting all of the terrain on my game table.

...and then I threw all caution out the window and did not use any of the maps for my Saratoga game. What I did use were several mats from Cigar Box Battles and kind of forced the battle map onto what was printed on the existing game mats.

Thus, my naming of the game as Not Quite Saratoga. Here are some of the pictures that I took today for your inspection. The American troops have not yet been placed upon the table.

Overhead view of the battlefield from the opposite direction of
the picture shown in the header picture on this post.

The Eastern End of the Battlefield

The Eastern end of the table is a mix of farm land and woods and is the area of the table that would be the closest to the Hudson River. There are two roads running through the woods. The Brunswick troops of von Riediesel's column will eventually travel down one or both of these roads.

American militia march past the local blacksmith's shop.

Backyard view of the Blacksmith Shop and some nearby farms.

The Center Area of the Battle field Depicting the Freeman Farm

American Militia deploy in the fields of the Freeman Farm.
Now you see them...

... now you don't.
The British 62nd Regiment advances and the Militia fall back into the woods.

The Western End of the Battle Field

McBride Farm

The McBride Farm. Can you spot John the OFM?

A bucolic scene at the McBride Farm as the cows are not
yet disturbed by the advancing British Light Companies.

A close up view of the British Light Company figures.
Each stand represents a company from its parent regiment.

The Light Companies take up a position along the snake rail fence line.

American Riflemen attempt to slow down the British advance.

The cows remain non-plused about the events around them.