Welcome to The Alte Fritz Journal, a compendium of thoughts, opinions and information on all things germane to the mid-18th Century during the reign of King Frederick II of Prussia. While the focus of this blog will be on wargaming the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and the Seven Years War (1756-1763), I expect to touch on other related topics from time to time.
I am first and foremost a history buff. I probably get my interest in history from my father, who had a keen interest in the American Civil War (hereafter called simply, the Civil War). During the Civil War centennial in the 1960s, we would often go on battlefield tours in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi. My father would lead our family on a tour of a particular battlefield and he would impart some stories that he had read in one of the Bruce Catton books on the period. My father was able to make history come alive with his stories and this had an impressionable effect on his 10 year old son.
At the same time, I also developed an interest in toy soldiers, which seemed natural given my interest in history. It started with a couple of red boxes of 54mm William Britain's British Guards under the Christmas tree, followed by Swoppets Medievil Knights and a 30mm Elastolin castle and Prince Valiant set that I received on a subsequent Christmas morning. I was forever hooked on toy soldiers.
I drifted away from the hobby of toy soldiers during my college years and early twenties and gave the little fellows nary a thought. Then one day, in 1982, I was visiting London and happened to follow a little winding alley off of Oxford Street that led me to a magical toy soldier shop called Under Two Flags. There in the window was a square of British soldiers in the Sudan fighting off a swarm of Mahdists. I went into the store and bought the whole display, thereby reviving my interest in toy soldiers. I became a collector of 54mm toy soldiers again and this somehow led me to the Little Wars wargaming convention in 1986.
I had never seen a wargame before, nor was I aware that the hobby even existed. Everywhere I looked, there were tables and tables of miniature wargames covering every possible era of military history from Ancients to the World War II. The one game that really caught my eye though, was a demonstration put on by RSM Ltd, featuring the Seven Years War with 25mm figures. I was vaguely familiar with the Seven Years War, but didn't know very much about it. Yet there was something about those tricorn hats, the long tailed coats, the leg gaitors and the color uniforms and flags that told me that I had finally found "IT".
Over the succeeding 20 or so years, I collected hundreds of books about the Seven Years War, painted several thousand 25mm Prussians, Austrians, Russians, British and French soldiers and had the time of my life wargaming the battles of Frederick the Great. I did a short stint (seven years to be exact) as editor of the Seven Years War Association Journal and joined two tours of the Frederician battlefield sites with noted author and scholar Christopher Duffy in 1994 and 1998. The highlights of these two tours had to be walking the fields of Kolin, Rossbach and Leuthen.
As you might guess from the title of this blog, that I have a strong interest in Frederick the Great and the Prussian army of the 18th Century. I plan to post many more bits and pieces of information about this period and my latest wargaming projects and interests.