Thursday, January 31, 2008

January Painting Production

It has been a "moderate" month in terms of my painting activity in January. The total number of Olley Painting Points was 93 points. This was actually more than I thought I had done - perhaps the fact that I did not paint full regiments made me think that I hadn't accomplished much. January was designated as "1806 Month" and my goal was to bring my 3 1806 Prussian battalions up to 60 figures and hopefully add a 60 figure grenadier battalion to my forces. As you can see from the list below, I fell a little bit short of my goal, but the total number of painting points was close to the sweet spot of "not too many, not too few" that is needed to maintain a balance in life between work, family and hobby and just plain relaxing. I decided that 60 to 72 points per month is a good target to shoot for.

I also played in one wargame during January, the small SYW action at Muhlenberg, which resulted in a French (Gallian) victory over the Prussians (Germania). I want to keep working on some smaller game scenarios throughout the year and I will share these with you as they occur.

Here is a list of what Der Alte Fritz painted in January:

1806 Project
IR13 von Arnim (white facings) - 21
IR19 Prinz von Oranien (orange facings) - 16
Osten Grenadiers (from IR22 - red) - 30
1er Chasseurs a Cheval - 1 mounted figure = 2 points

Seven Years War
RSM command stand dioramas - 12 figures in total
RSM Austrian Generals - 2 figures = 4 points
Coach driver and passenger - 2 figures
Riesengarde (Staddens) - 4 figures
Mounted Prussian officer - Prinz Moritz von Anhalt Dessau = 2 points

On The Painting Table
30 more 1806 Prussian Grenadiers
2 gun battery of 6-pounders for the 1806 Prussians
10 French Chasseurs a Cheval
15 SYW Stadden grenadierss which will become part of the Riesengarde
12 Crusader SYW Austrian cuirassiers

February is supposed to be SYW Austrian Cavalry Month, but I have a hankering to get those 1806 grenadiers completed. This will give me 4 battalions of Prussians and 3 battalions of French, which should be enough to start play testing a BAR variant for the 1806 campaign.

Eureka 100 Club SYW Saxon Cavalry
Nic Robison sent me an e-mail advising me that it was time to place orders for figures as he is ready to get these into production. Eureka will have a substantial range of Saxon cavalry which will include cuirassiers, light dragoons, von Bruhl dragoons and hussars in both mirliton and colpacks. The chevaulegers and hussars will also have horseholders and dismounted skirmishers. So Bill, Randy and I all ordered tons of hussars and dismounts so that we can use them in some Kleine Krieg scenarios. I envision painting my hussars as Milady de Winter's personal retinue of black hussars with the appropriate number of dismounts. The black uniforms will be modeled after one of the freikorps units that were in Prussian service during the SYW. I ordered some extra horse holders and kettle drummers to use for other units. I am really looking forward to seeing how these figures will turn out.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Some Thoughts About Croats

RSM Croats skirmishing out in front of the Austrian battle line, taking advantage of the cover provided by the trees and the village. Terrain boards and figures by Der Alte Fritz. Buildings by Herb Gundt.

There was some recent discussion on the Old School Wargamers Yahoo group about the use of Croats in Seven Years War battles. Did the Croats engage only in kleine krieg style actions, or were they trained to fight as formed infantry during the SYW?

The Croats were a force of light infantry recruited from the border areas of the Habsburg Empire. During the War of the Austrian Succession, they excelled in the small wars and skirmishes and neither the Prussians in the Silesian theatre of operations, nor the combined Franco-Bavarian armies operating in the Danube, had any effective means of countering the wild and aggressive Croat light infantry. As Frederick said to his generals:

"But it is a different question in the woods and mountains. In that kind of terrain the Croats throw themselves to the ground and hide behind rocks and trees. This means that you cannot see where they are firing from, and you have no means of repaying them for the casualties that they inflict on you." [Duffy, "Army of Maria Theresa", pg 82].

The Croats were transformed from roving bands of freebooters, in the manner of the infamous Baron von Trenck, into an organized establishment of regiments under the direction of Prince Joseph Saxe-Hildburghausen: two Warasdiner regiments, four of Carlstadter, and three of Slavonians. At the outbreak of the SYW, the Croats could field 34,000 infantry and 6,000 hussars. Duffy states that altogether 88,000 Croats saw service over the course of the SYW. They played major roles at Prague and Kolin, especially in the latter battle where they served as the tripwire against the Prussian attack. Over 7,000 Croats screened the Austrian columns of attack at Hochkirch in 1758, provided the blocking force at Maxen in 1758 and they were the first to storm into the fortress of Schweidnitz in 1761.

Perhaps the one major problem with respect to the Croats was the tendency of Austrian commanders to disperse them in penny packets throughout the army. This reduced their effectiveness and also made them more vulnerable to Prussian attacks, especially as the Prussian freikorps regiments began to master kleine krieg tactics. Loudon recognized this problem and proposed adding grenadier companies to the Croat regiments. Taking this idea a step further, Loudon proposed the formation of Austrian freikorps regiments to counter the Prussian ascendency in the kleine krieg, thus nearly dispensing with the Croats altogether.

"No general believed he could exist away from the main army unless he had several hundred or upwards of a thousand of the redcloaks scattered about him to see to his safety. Hence we had some of these brave men almost everywhere, but never had them in a united corps." [Cognazzo, per Christopher Duffy]


My belief is that the Croats were not used as formed infantry on the battlefield, but rather, they stuck with their natural inclination to fight from cover where they had protection from the Prussian formed infantry and cavalry units. Croat infantry can be used in two manners: first, as small parties of raiders causing havoc in the little conflicts and skirmishes that occured frequently along the supply routes and rear areas of the enemy lines; and secondly, on the perifery of the battlefield in areas where they could seek cover.

As evidence of this claim, I would point to their use at Kolin, where they were deployed in a number of small villages in front of the Austrian lines, as well as in the tall cereal grass near the Kaiser-strasse. From these vantage points, the Croats were able to pepper the Prussian march and distract them into losing sight of their battle plan and turning the attack into a frontal assault of the high ground at Kolin. At Lobositz in 1756, the Croats occupy the Lobosch Hill and provide considerable discomfort to the Prussian infantry which had the unenviable task of rooting them out of this difficult terrain. Again at Hochkirch and Maxen in 1758, the Croats operated in the covered wooded areas of the battlefield.

I would direct everyone to take a close look at Christopher Duffy's book Instrument of War (Emperor's Press, 2000), which provides an excellent study of the Austrian army organization and its tactics on the battlefield. Pages 394 to 398 provide some valuable insights into how the Croats fought during the SYW.

"The honour of the army resides in our 60,000 Croats. They never desert. They are sober, obedient, easy to lead, tireless, and as splendid-looking as they are proficient" -- Prince de Ligne,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Austrians Are Mobilizing

Front Rank Austrians fend off an attack of the Kliest (HR1) and Gelbe (HR7) Foundry Hussars. Crusader grenadiers in the background. Figures from the collection of Der Alte Fritz. Photo by Bob Pavlik (from the Historicon website).

Those poor Austrians of mine deserve a better fate than they have received, so far, on this blog. I mean afterall, this is Der Alte Fritz Journal, not the Maria Theresa Journal. Part of this is due to the fact that I have had to build up my own Prussian army in order to keep up with the painting of a cadre of Francophiles centered around Brown Deer, Wisconsin. While I firmly believe that I can paint anyone under the table if I set my mind to it, keeping up with three French painters means that I'm virtually painting nothing but Prussians.

Over the past year, I have been slowly accumulating Austrian infantry to the point where I now have 8 battalions of line infantry, 1 converged battalion of Croats (3 by 24 = 72) and three 24-figure regiments of Austrian cavalry (one each of dragoons, cuirassiers and horse grenadiers). Considering the fact that I have nearly double that amount of Prussians, one can see that I have a long way to go before the Austrians can achieve parity with the Prussians. Fear not you Habsburg Afficionados, the Austrians are mobilizing and help is on the way.

My old wargaming buddy, Dennis Smail of Lexington, Kentucky, has been helping me out by painting a few battalions of Austrians for me. He painted the grenadier battalion that I featured on these pages back in November 2007. He also added the Hungarian Regiment Joseph Esterhazy and the German regiment Gaisruck. The latter two battalions need to be based and terrained, but I will get to that soon and hopefully post some pictures of Dennis' fine brushwork.

My plan is to get the Austrians to a state of parity with the Prussians in time for a big battalion game at Historicon this year (July 2008). By the way, the theme for this year's Historicon convenion is the Seven Years War. That's pretty cool, don't you think? The infantry is coming along nicely, but I am going to need something on the order of 240 cavalry figures, of which only 72 have been painted so far. In a pinch, I can put a couple of my old 20-figure RSM Austrian cuirassiers and dragoons together to form one BAR-styled regiment, so I'm not all that worried about meeting my goal. Still, that said, I'd like to get all new regiments onto the table before Historicon.

I am using the Crusader range of 28mm SYW figures for the bulk of my Austrian forces. These actually measure closer to 30-32mm in height from the ground to the top of the head. As such, they fit in nicely with all of my other Surens, Staddens, Potsdamers and other "officiall 30mm figures". Thank God for scale creep, is all I have to say. The Crusader figures are well sculpted, nicely cast, and easy to paint. So virtually all of the cavalry will be Crusader figures. On the infantry side, I am using a mix of RSM, Front Rank, Warrior (British painted as Austrians - hey, I got a bargain at a flea market) and Crusader.

February 2008 will be Austrian Month at Der Alte Fritz's Painting Emporium. I have some Crusader cuirassiers primed and ready for the brush and several boxes of dragoons at the ready. Wish me luck, that's a lot of horses to paint.

Finally, I want to thank Bob Pavlik for taking some exquisite pictures of my SYW collection for use in the Historicon promotional website and event brochure. It is fascinating watching how Bob sets up a shot and I've learned a little bit about taking pictures and picture composition from him. Bob is a master and I appreciate him bringing my collection to life. If you want to see more pictures, take a visit to the Historicon web site at:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Prussian Cavalry Review - King's Birthday

The royal party at the review stand. The Queen consort in green and Frederick are both Surens, the ADC is a Front Rank figure, and the second has two Staddens with drawn sword and one Elite Miniatures ADC on the review stand. Note the victory columns in the background with plaques denoting the names of battles won.

Today was the anniversary celebration of Frederick II of Prussia's birthday, having been born on January 24, 1712. In honor of Der Alte Fritz, I decided to conduct a grand review of all of my 30mm Prussian cavalry on the parade ground. A total of 19 squadrons (12 sqds of cuirassiers, 3 sqds of dragoons, and 4 sqds of hussars) donned their dress uniforms and paraded past the royal review stand. They approached the stand in a grand column of squadrons and then did a left face towards the King.

A view of all 19 squadrons as they march down the parade ground in a column of squadrons, led by the cuirassiers, then the dragoons, and finally the hussars.

The grand column was led by the two-squadron Garde du Corps (CR13) cuirassier regiment that was brigaded with the Prinz von Preussen (Gelbe Kuraisier) CR2 regiment. These are comprised of Elite Miniatures Prussian SYW cavalry figures and are nicely animated.

Elite Miniatures are used to form the CR13 (right) and the CR2 (left) cuirassier regiments. Each line of figures in single rank represents a squadron of 12 figures.

The next regiment in the parade column was the famous Seydlitz Cuirassiers (CR8) - Suren figures. This regiment was recently increased from 3 sqds to 5 sqds.

CR8 Seydlitz Cuirassiers - Suren figures - 5 squadrons.

The next group in the parade was the dragoon regiment Jung Krakow (DR2) - also Suren figures. Their famous charge at Little Wars 2007 rode down three Austrian battalions to nail down the Prussian victory.

DR2 Jung Krakow Dragoons - Surens - 3 sqds.

And finally, bringing up the rear of the parade column, were those magnificent hussars. First came the Zieten Hussars (HR2) in blue pelises and fur busbies and all riding white stallions. These are Stadden 30mm figures. They were followed by the elite regiment of the von Reusch or Black Hussars (HR5), decked out in their fearsome all black uniforms and mirliton hats bearing the dreaded death's head on the front of the cap. The Black Hussars recorded their second battle honor in 2007 and thus were elevated to "elite" status. They seem to continually befuddle that eminent French cavalier, Monsieur Chevert, in many of our wargames.

One squadron of Zieten Hussars (right) followed by 3 sqds of Black Hussars. Both are from the Stadden range.

The regiments then did a left face turn so that they were all facing the royal party, assembled near the victory columns. Each brigade commander then rode towards the review stand and saluted King Frederick II with a sword salute, and then doffing their tricorns, they bowed in front of the King.

The column executes a left face and aligns itself facing the royal party at the review stand and victory columns.

The brigade commanders ride up to the review stand and offer their compliments and good wishes to King Frederick on his birthday.

It was a glorious ceremony full of color , precision drill and festive music. While setting up the parade, I played a CD of 18th Century Prussian military marches, including the King's favorites "The Hohenfriedberger March" and "The Old Dessauer March."

It is also nice to see the full complement of cavalry on the table at one time. It enables me to pick out some small items that need changing, such as adding a few more squadron flags for particular regiments, or the need to add a couple more cuirassier commanders here and there. Also, having 19 squadrons seems a little bit odd to my ordered and symetrical 18th Century mind. Methinks an even 20 squadrons would be nicer. So I will probably add one more squadron of dragoons or hussars in the near future in order to bring everything back into balance.

And somewhere, off in the distance, there lurked a black coach and its sinister passenger, but it went unnoticed by all eyes, as far as I know.

Milady de Winter's black coach and escort provided by a troop of the Black Hussars. Coach by Redoubt and assembled by Herb Gundt, driver sculpted by the talented John Ray for this project, Suren Milady de Winter (??) on horseback and various other attendants.

The King's Birthday January 24, 1712

Frederick the Great (Suren 30mm) depicted receiving a message from an aide de camp (Front Rank figure). The ADC was painted by Patrick Lewis while yours truly painted Frederick.

A Little Background MaterialFrederick II, the king of Prussia, was born on January 24, 1712 to Frederick William and Princess Sophia Dorothea. The name Frederick means "rich in peace" for what it is worth and author Christopher Duffy suggests that this gives a hint of what his reign might have been like "had he been allowed more of that blessing." The story of his youth and upbringing are well known by 18th Century afficionadoes and undoubtedly shaped him into the military general who made the oblique order famous and turned mid-18th Century politics on its head.

From his mother and his elder sister, Wilhelmine, he received his interest in music and the arts. Frederick was an accomplished flutist and composer of music - his Hohenfriedberger Marsche being one of his more notable works (this is the tune that is used throughout the film Barry Lyndon whenever the Prussian army appears on the screen).

This sensitive, intelligent and slightly built young man drew the scorn and anger of his father, Frederick William, according to Duffy, and subjected him to an endless stream of indignities and humiliations in public. This led to Frederick's famous attempt to flee the country with his boyhood friend, Hans Hermann von Katte in 1730. The scheme was discovered and young Frederick was forced to witness the execution of his friend von Katte. There is speculation that Frederick William had the same fate in mind for Frederick, but that he came to his senses and consigned his son to virtual house arrest at Custrin. Gradually, Frederick came back into the good graces of his father and was allowed to set up his own home at the castle of Rheinsbug in 1736.

When Frederick William died in 1740, young Frederick's military training was complete. He was now ready to put his study of military history and training to good practice, with the sudden demise of the Emperor Charles VI of Austria. Frederick seized the opportunity to invade Silesia during the winter of 1740 and would continue fighting the Austrians through 1748, in order to consolidate his territorial gains.

His practical military education began with the battles of Mollwitz (April 10, 1741), Chotusitz (May 17, 1742), the capture of Prague in 1744, the crushing defeat of the Austrians and Saxons at Hohenfriedberg (June 4, 1745), and finally Soor (September 30, 1745. Another Prussian victory under the leadership of The Old Dessauer at Kesselsdorf (December 15, 1745) effectively ended the Austrian-Prussian conflict in the War of the Austrian Succession. One can imagine that this endless string of victories over the Austrians created a sense of hubris that would nearly bring an end to the House of Hohenzollern in the subsequent Seven Years War (1756-1763).

A Little Anecdote
Frederick was well known for his quick with and verbal repartee, a facit of him that I find interesting. So I thought that I'd provide a little anecdote that demonstrates this best:

The king had a great regard for the English ambassador, Mr. Mitchell. During the Second Silesian War, Mr. Mitchell informed him that the English had gained a very considerable advantage over the French, and made use of the expression: "by the help of God" we have entirely defeated the French."

"So," said the king, "is God one of your allies?"

"Certainly Sire," replied Mitchell, " and he is the only one who demands no subsidies of us."

"And he often serves you accordingly," returned the king.

Another little story nicely conveys the sense of humanity and gentlemanly conduct that seems to be the trade mark of the 18th Century:

In the year 1757, a party of Prussian hussars took the courier prisoner, who was entrusted with the Imperial diploma, by which general Loudon was created field marshal. The king immediately sent it to him by a trumpeter, and congratulated him politely upon his promotion.

And this one conveys a bit of Frederick's sense of humor:

The king of Prussia had very strict rules that no officer should wear any dress but his uniform. Notwithstanding this, a young officer dressed himself in a plain coat, and walked with a lady in the royal gardens of Sans Souci, as he supposed that the king was gone to Potsdam. But suddenly, as he turned at the end of a vista, he met the king, who immediately asked, "who are you, sir?" The officer, not having even taken the precaution to change his sword, found himself at once betrayed, but still had the presence of mind enough to say, "I am an officer, but am here incognito. [the 18th Century version of "splunge" one would suppose] ." The king was pleased with the answer, and said, "then take care the king doesn't see you" and walked on.

Celebrations Today
I typically set out all of my Prussian army figures and hold a grand review of the troops on the King's Birthday. However, since this has been done recently, I may clear off the wargame table this evening and hold a review of just the cavalry. Should I do so, then I will take pictures of course and post them on this site.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Feu de Joie For Les Francaises

Les Gardes Francaises - 30mm Suren figures and GMB Designs flags with Front Rank finials - painted by Der Alte Fritz (or should that be Le Vieux Frederic?)

The French, Austrians and other assorted "bad guys" have not gotten the attention that they deserve on the pages of The Alte Fritz Journal, so I thought that I would post a few pictures of the victors of the recent Battle of Muhlenberg. Bill and Randy have been adding to their collections of French, so my painting of the same has ground to a complete halt over the past year. I have a French brigade of 4 battalions that consists of single battalions of the Regiment d'Eu, the Irish regiment Bulkeley in French service, Les Gardes Francaises, and a battalion of the Arquebusiers de Grassin.

The Gardes, shown in the picture above, are those wonderful 30mm Suren figures (also known as The Willie Range). I like the slenderness of the figures and animation is very lifelike. If you peruse the picture up close (please click the picture to enlarge it for a better view), you just might spy the Gardes officer doffing his tricorn and bowing at the waist to honor his opponent or perhaps to honor Lady Pettygree or one of her comrades. The Suren range also includes a nice selection of line infantry poses that include marching, firing and running poses. I would recommend against using the running pose as only one foot is affixed to the lead base, posing potential breakage problems. Bill has a battalion of such figures, and I do admit that they look very nice and so I'm tempted to paint the castings that I bought.

Regt. d'Eu (Capitulations Figures) and Les Gardes Francaises (Surens)

Above you will see a picture of the Regiment d'Eu, using Capitulations Figures from France. I like these castings very much because they are lifelike, their coats do not have the turnbacks fastened, and the faces are very well rendered. In most cases, you have to glue the right arm onto the figure and it can get a little dodgy at times, but it is well worth the extra effort. I also have a second battalion of Capitulations figures painted as the Irish regiment Bulkeley (shown below). Regiment d'Eu is famous for its defense of the redoubt d'Eu that it defended at the battle of Fontenoy in 1745. It seems to have performed well during its service under Monsieur le general de Chevert in our little campaign. It was a mere 30 figures for over a year, but last summer I finally boosted d'Eu up to 60 figures so that it could stand up in a prolonged firefight with the 60 figure British and Prussians that we have in our collections.

Closeup shot of the Capitulations command figures, painted as the Irish Bulkeley Regiment - by Der Alte Fritz.

The above picture provides a close up of some of the command figures from the Capitulations range, painted as the Irish regiment Bulkeley. Don't they look rather grand in their red uniforms and green cuffs. And I really like the Irish regiment flags for some reason. GMB Designs does an excellent rendition of these colorful Irish flags.

Regiment Bulkeley - an Irish 'foreign' unit in French service.

And above, here is a picture of 45 members of Bulkeley ( I was having problems fitting the fourth stand into the picture, but I do have 60 figures in the battalion). One of the nice things about the French army during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740 to 1748) and the Seven Years War (1756 to 1763) is the variety of infantry types fighting under the fleur-de-lys for King Louis XV. You can field the basic French regiments in their white coats and various colored cuffs (red, white, black, blue, purple, yellow, green). The for variety, you could add some Swiss and Irish foreign regiments in their red coats and some German regiments in their light blue coats, and there is some speculation that an Italian regiment wore brown coats. Then add into that, the veritable potpouri of light infantry legions that were raised to fight in French service. One of the most famous of these are the Arquebusiers de Grassin, shown below.

Arquebusiers de Grassin - 28mm Eureka Miniatures - by Der Alte Fritz.

The Arquebusiers de Grassin were formed in 1744, under an ordinance authorizing Simon Claude, Chevalier de Grassin, a captaine in the Picardie regiment, to raise a corps of light troops. This grant was in recognition for the zeal and distinguished action of the Chevalier during the Bohemian and Bavarian campaigns in 1742 and 1743. The regiment was formed in Metz with an initial strength of 1,200 men, including 900 fantasins and 300 cavaliers. The corps was organized into 9 companies (100 men and 3 officers) of infantry and 6 companies of cavalry (4 officers and 50 men each. In the field, the cavalry operated as 2 squadrons. In the infantry companies, the grenadiers were amalgamated with the grenadiers of the other companies to form one grenadier company. Eventually, two permanent grenadier companies were formed so that the line companies would always be near full strength.

The Arquebusiers achieved fame at Fontenoy in 1745, where they were deployed in the Bois de Barri and caused fits and havoc among the British infantry given the unpleasant task of routing them out of the woods. After Fontenoy, the cavalry component was increased by 200 troopers, thus giving them 8 cavalry companies. The corps was disbanded in 1749, after the conclusion of the War of the Austrian Succession, with its men amalgamated into the Volunteers de Flandre.

By the way, I want to thank Greg Horne for coming up with the idea to have these figure made by Eureka Miniatures under the auspices of their Eureka 100 club. I also am grateful to Nic Robison of Eureka for putting them into production. Greg and I flogged the idea of getting these figures into production by rounding up a total of 10 people who collectively would be willing to buy 150 figures. That averages out to a mere 15 figures per person - something that should be manageable under most people's budgets. Using this marketing model, we were subsequently successful in getting Eureka to produce SYW Saxon infantry and cavalry as well as Dutch WAS infantry, cavalry and artillery. There are similar efforts to get the WAS French and British infantry into production via the Eureka 100 Club.

Comparison photo of (left to right) Stadden, Suren, Capitulations and Eureka figures in the collection of Der Alte Fritz. Click picture to enlarge.

The picture above shows a comparison of Staddens, Surens, Capitulations and Eureka figures that we use in our SYW armies for Gallia and Hesse Seewald. While each figure has its own style, you can see that they are all compatible ranges and therefore fit well on the tabletop.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Battle of Muhlenberg - January 19, 1758

Those mischievous French ladies were the cause of the fight at the Muhlenberg. Coach by Redoubt, the lady in pink was sculpted by the talented John Ray in the UK, while the rest of the ladies are from the Suren range, and the ADC from Front Rank. All from the collection of Bill Protz and painted by himself. Coach painted and assembled by Herb Gundt for Der Alte Fritz's collection.

What started out as a little joy ride in the countryside for Ladies Cherise, Silhouette and Pettigree led to a sharp little battle to open the new year on a bitter cold day in Germany, circa 1758. Our little gaggle of ladies of the Gallian Court found themselves trapped behind the enemies lines when a Germanian reconaissance in force (3 btns musketeers, 1 btn grenadiers, 4 jager companies, 6 squadrons of hussars, 3 squadrons of dragoons, and two 6 pounders) led by Major General von Hacke, occupied the little village of Muhlenberg, situated a few miles west of the Fulda Gap. Unbeknownst to von Hacke was the fact that the delightful little party of ladies staying at the local gasthaus, were in fact the notorious Gallian spy, Lady Diana Pettygree and her entourage.

Lady Pettygree realized that she and her friends were in a bit of a pickle when she saw the Germanian forces marching into Muhlenberg. She ordered two of her servents to ride quickly to the fortress town of Gemunden, some 10 miles away, in order to secure help from the Gallian garrison. The Gallian general Chevert, led a hand-picked force (6 btns of infantry, including Les Gardes Francaises, 4 sets of 4 pounders, 6 squadrons of heavy horse, 4 squadrons of Saxon cheveu-legers, and les Uhlans de Saxe, who had been acting as the bodyguard for Lady Pettigree.

The picture below provides an overview of the battlefield as it appeared to General Chevert.

Opening set up for the Battle of Muhlenberg. The town is in the lower left corner. It extends north along a low ridge where the road can be seen. At the top of the picture is the Muhlenberg and the wind mill that gives the hill and the town its name. My aplogies for the overall darkness of the picture. It was a dark and snowy day, afterall.

Henceforth, I will go back to refering to the Gallians as "the French" and the Germanians as "the Prussians". This even confuses me.

The French plan for the battle appears to have been to overwhelm the Prussian garrison in the town with a quick head-on attack (5 French btns vs an apparent 3 Prussian btns in the town). While the Prussian attentions were thus focused on the frontal attack, Chevert would swing his cavalry brigade up the center and wheel left behind the ridge that protected the Prussian infantry. Meanwhile, a flanking force of Arquebusiers de Grassin would screen the cavalry's right flank by occupying the Muhlenberg heights.

The Prussian plan was to hunker down in the town with two battalions, leaving a third battalion in reserve. The Prussian cavalry brigade, commanded by Colonel Warner, was posted in the middle, thereby protecting the left flank of the town garrison. To provide further mischief, Colonel Warner also posted a squadron of hussars and four companies of jagers up on the heights were you see the windmill. Finally, a battalion of grenadiers was posted off board behind the wind mill hill. It would move onto the heights and then swing right into the flank of any attacking French force.

View of the French assault on the Muhlenberg, with Grassins advancing into the woods against the Prussian jagers. Gallian cavalry advances into contact with the Prussian cavalry.

The French fell upon the Prussian positions very quickly and thus Colonel Warner did not have much time to implement his plans. In fact, he rather forgot that he had a battalion of grenadiers lurking behind the hill. The Prussian Black Hussars fell into the grey-coated Mestre-de-Camp cavalry regiment of the French. At the same time, a single squadron of the Zieten Hussars came barreling down the Muhlenberg hill and into the flank of the Mestre-de-Camp. This helped to even out the odds or slightly favor the Prussians. In our BAR rules, hussars can only melee in two ranks whereas heavy cavalry can melee in three ranks. Thus, a head to head encounter of hussars versus cavalry should always favor the heavy cavalry. However, hussars hitting cavalry in the flank, like Warner did, can be enough to turn the tide. And thus the Mestre de Camp regiment went tumbling back to its own lines. The Prussian hussars rolled to determine pursuit, and off they went after the retreating French cavalry. They ran into a second line of French cavalry reserves (Uhlans de Saxe and the Saxon Rutowsky Cheveauleger cavalry).

Uhlans de Saxe (left) and the Zieten Hussars (right) battle it out in the snow. The uhlans are Suren figures and the hussars are Stadden figures. In the background one can see the Black Hussars' pursuit being stopped by the red-coated Saxon cavalry.

The other part of the mass cavalry scrum found the Prussian dragoon regiment DR2 fighting against the French Royal heavy cavalry regiment. The Prussians initially prevailed here as well, but the French passed their morale and only retired 6 inches back and fought a second round of melee with the Prussian dragoons.

Overview of the grand cavalry melee. The pursuing Prussian hussars tumble into the second line of French cavalry, while the dragoons continue their melee at the top.

Now here, things get a little bit complicated. Remember the victorious Black Hussars and their pursuit of the Mestre de Camp? Well, they ran into the French second line, as noted above, and got decimated by the overwhelming numbers of French cavalry. The remains of the Black and Zieten hussars came tumbling back towards the Prussian lines. Now the Chevealegers joined the dragoon melee and their added weight of numbers proved to be the difference in that action. The end result was that nearly all of the Prussian cavalry was either hors de combat or routing away. Colonel Warner had one more card up his sleeve, the 20 figure Yellow Hussars, which he pitched into the mass of French cavalry. It was a bit of a forlorn hope with no prospects of success, but Warner had no choice, for once the Yellow Hussars were gone, the French cavalry had a wide open path into the Prussian lines behind the Muhlenberg ridge and village.

The Yellow Hussars (Foundry Figures) are overwhelmed by the Rutowsky Cheveauleger cavalry (Elite Miniatures French SYW). Note that Colonel Warner has not attached himself to his cavalry. He rolled a "charisma" die roll of "1" which means that he adds a -1 to morale of any unit to which he is attached. Thus, his services were not required for the rest of the day.

Colonel Warner wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to events in the village of Muhlenberg, and he had also forgotten about the battalion of grenadiers in his reserve (which is a good reason why one should not command a mixed force of infantry and cavalry). The French infantry attacked the village in grand style, with the front line of the Bulkeley, Royal Deux Ponts and the Royal Roussillon regiments, from the French right to left, moving in on the village.

French attack on the town (coming from the right with the Prussians on the left).

The Prussians got into a brisk fire fight with the French, who were in on the Prussian cannons before they could inflict too much damage. The Prussian regiment IR24 - Schwerin spent the whole game in a firefight with the French (Irish) regiment Bulkeley for the remainder of the game, while the Royal Deux Ponts regiment pushed its way through IR20 - Bornstedt in the centre. The Prussians would have been better served occuppying some of the town buildings, but still they managed to hold back the French tide for nearly five game turns. By then end of the fifth turn, the French had already won the cavalry battle which rendered the defense of the town meaningless.

French attack (left to right) shows the Bulkeley Irish (red) regiment - Capitulations figures, the Royal Deux Ponts (blue) regiment - Front Rank figures, and the Royal Roussillon (white) - RSM figure. The Prussian units (l-r) are Schwerin (green flag) - Surens, Foot Artillery - Foundry, Bornstedt regiment - Potsdam figures. All buildings and roads were constructed by Herb Gundt of H.G.Walls.

The game lasted five turns and the outcome was not in doubt. It was a French victory. The purpose of the battle was to fight a smaller action on my 6ft by 12ft wargame table and demonstrate that one does not have to have massive Big Battles on 30ft long tables in order to have some fun. We had four players (Bill Protz, Randy Frye on the French side; and Kieth Leidy and Der Alte Fritz on the Prussian side). The French had a larger army on purpose, given that the Prussians were holding some readily defensible ground and I wanted to see how an asymetrical, or uneven pair of armies, would work as a game scenario.

I might tweak the scenario somewhat and give the Prussians more heavy dragoon cavalry, rather than a substantially hussar mounted force, because the hussars are at a distinct disadvantage fighting melees with only 2 ranks versus 3 ranks for the French heavy cavalry. Although the Black Hussars did have some initial success winning the first melee, it was the uncontrolled pursuit that got them into severe trouble. So maybe that is the way that it should be.

My Prussian grenadiers would have come in handy either holding in reserve behind the Muhlenberg Ridge near the town, where they could have helped push back the French infantry. Or, they should have advanced onto the Muhlenberg heights, pushed back the Grassins, and then posed a threat to the flank of the French cavalry. That was my original intention, but I got all caught up into the mechanics of the big cavalry melee and forgot to move the grenadiers onto the battlefield until it was too late. C' es la vie!

Terrain Notes: Herb Gundt made all of the trees, road segments, river segments and winter buildings. For the ground cloth, I used a grey felt cloth and spritzed some white spray paint on it in splotches. Then I dusted the cloth with Woodland Scenics Snow flock.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

RSM Command Stands

Regiment Salm-Salm (left) and Garnison Rgt Nr. III (right). RSM figures painted by Der Alte Fritz. Please click the picture to enlarge the view.

I just had to get back to painting some SYW figures after doing a fair number of 1806 Napoleonics, or else I was going to develop a severe case of burn out. Seven Years War ("SYW") is more wargaming core and passion and I find that painting these figures helps me regain my enthusiasm for painting, while avoiding burnout.

Luckily, I had a friend who needed some command stands for the SYW era as he had a particular interest in certain Austrian and Prussian regiments. I happened to have plenty of spare RSM figures laying around (and who doesn't?) so I knew that I could whip them out over the weekend

We discussed the project briefly and it was decided to place four or five figures on a single stand (60mm by 80mm) of MDF board and create a little diorama. The choice of regiments made the project easier: the Austrian regiment Prinz zu Salm-Salm which sports black facings; and the Prussian Garnison Regiment Nr III, a garrison regiment wearing an all-blue uniform with no lapels and no fancy lace. It took me about 3 hours per command stand. Here are some close up pictures below:

Garnison Regt. Nr. III - von Grolman (1757)

The picture above depicts the "Garnison" or Garrison (in English) regiment GRIII, which was stationed in Colberg, in Pommerania. As you can see, it is relatively easy to slosh on a lot of blue paint for the coat, breeches and waiscoat; and a little bit of black for the gaitors, hat and equipment and one white cross belt. I could paint these fellows all day!

The Colberg Garrison Regiment was created in 1718 with an initial strength of three companies. It was increased to five companies in 1721 and was charged with manning the Peenemunde battlements, the Anklam ferry and Swinemunde, thus being responsible for defending both sides of the Oder River. In 1740, it supplied a large contingent to the newly formed IR39 fusilier regiment. The battalion was enlarged to a two-battalion regiment in 1756, at which time, its inhaber was Colonel Georg Arnold von Grolman, who would command the regiment throughout the SYW. During the SYW, the regiment was part of Prince Henry's Saxon Corps, the first battalion being stationed in Torgau and the second battalion in Dresden (nice place to spend the war, don't you think?). The first battalion was captured by the Austrians at Torgau, when the occuppied the city ahead of the arrival of the King's army (which set off the subsequent battle of Torgau in 1760. The second battalion was captured at nearby Wittenburg in the same campaign. Since the Austrians were not of a mind to exchange prisoners, at this point in the SYW, GRIII sat out the remainder of the war.

Austrian Regiment No. 14 Prinz zu Salm-Salm

The Austrian regiment Salm-Salm has the unique distinction in the Austrian army of having black facings (the lapels and cuffs). I don't have much information on this regiment, but they always seemed to be a part of Daun's army during the SYW. In the above picture, I used the RSM British mounted officer, which explains why his inhaber's sash is being worn over the shoulder rather than around the waist. I decided that there was no reason why he couldn't wear the sash over the shoulder. Black facing are easy to paint. For the highlight color, I mixed a little bit of flesh colored-paint into a pot of black paint and the effect seems to work rather well, although you may not be able to tell in the photograph.

I painted the Austrians (6 figures including the horse) on Saturday and finished off the Prussians on Sunday afternoon. RSM figures are a joy to paint because of their fine proportions make them look like real people. They are also stripped down on the equipment side to just the cartridge box and hanger sword, so one doesn' t have to spend a lot of extra time painting back packs and water bottles, etc. These figures fit very well with the newer Minden Miniatures designed by Richard Ansell and Frank Hammond.

To finish off the project, I glued the figures onto the wood base and then glued a piece of mahogany across the back side of the base. I will later glue a name tag onto the strip of wood, but first I want to let the spackle compound (which I use to create the ground effect) dry overnight. You may notice some tall grass stuck into the base. This is nothing more than bits of sisal cut from a scrub brush and plunged into the spackle while it is still wet. Then I sprinkle some fine gravel from Gale Force Nine and a bit of Woodland Scenics fine grass to finish off the stand.

1806 Project - My One Figure

1er Regt de Chasseurs a Cheval - Elite Miniatures (the old version that I'm looking for)

I did one Napoleonic figure over the weekend. This is one of the old discontinued Elite Miniatures 1805-1807 French figures that I have been looking for. I have ten chasseur figures so far, thanks to Old School Wargaming friend, Steven Gill (thank you Steven). All this talk of these figure got me hankering to paint a couple of samples, so I primed the ten chasseurs and concentrated on painting one figure from start to finish. You can see the result above. The figure is wearing the Habit Longue which was "officially" worn until 1808, when the shorter tailed kinsky tunic was introduced.

The 1st Chasseurs a Cheval are known to have worn the Dolman tunic, as worn by hussars. The dolman was not manufactured for chasseur regiments during the time of the First Empire, so the regiments wearing the dolman acquired them during the days of the Republic and were "unofficially" wearing them during the 1805-1807 period. Knowing how easily uniforms wore out on campaign, I think that it is reasonable to assume that some of the dolmans, from the pre-1804 period, would have been wearing out and needing replacement by the time of the Jena-Auerstadt campaign in 1806. Thus the replacement tunic would be an Habit Longue in 1806 rather than the Dolman. It seems reasonable to assume that one could have a mix of Dolmans and Habit Longue in the same regiment. At least that is my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Early Elite Miniatures - I Want These Figures

I am looking for a large quantity of the Elite Miniatures 1805-07 French infantry in bicornes that were originally produced by Peter Morbey back in 1990. Peter has since redesigned the figures so that they are larger and a bit more animated. The sad story though is that the original Elite French are no longer available. I have been posting requests for some of these figures on various Yahoo Group boards as well as on TMP. Save for one modest purchase from some one on the Old School Wargamers group, I have had no success. So I thought that it would be a good idea to post my urgent request on this web site, along with some pictures, so that you could see what I am talking about.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing (particularly the last picture which shows six of the original figures). I am looking for French infantry, painted or unpainted, as well as some chasseurs a cheval. I hope that some one can help me out. If you have any of these older Elite figures in your army, and maybe you are not using them as much as you used to, then consider selling them to me or trading for some of your wants and needs.

Elite Voltigeur and Line Officer - painted by Dennis Smail, circa 1990.

This is a nice picture of the voltigeur loading his musket in what I consider to be a realistic and dynamic pose. This is one of my favorite figures in the range and looks great standing next to the firing voltigeur pictured below.

Grouping of 4 different voltigeurs painted by Dennis Smail. Click picture to enlarge.

Older fusilier (centre) company men painted by Der Alte Fritz.

The fellow on the left (above) was a more recent painting, while the one on the right was painted over 15 years ago. You can see the changes in my painting style. I wasn't using much in the way of shading back then and everything was grey primed underneath. I can also see that I never finished painting the musket barrel on the figure on the right.

Elite Grenadier and Fusilier painted by Der Alte Fritz.

I don't know why, but I really like this At The Ready pose a lot. The fellow in the bearskin looks particularly imposing. Again, the grenadier is a more recent vintage painting from a couple of years ago, while the fusilier is an old veteran of at least 17 years.

Comparison of the old Elite (left) and the new version (right) showing the difference in size and style between the old and the current versions. These were painted by me more recently.

I like both versions of the fusilier company man advancing. The size differential is rather amazing when you stop to consider that they are from the same sculptor. There is a certain elegance about the smaller figure that appeals to me.

Original Elite Chasseur a Cheval on a current horse. I really, really need a lot of these chasseurs. The horse casting is still available, but alas, the shouldered sword pose is not.

I have 10 of these figures and need another 30 or 40 to build up the 1er Chasseurs a Cheval in Davout's III Corps in 1806.

Six different poses of the old Elite French. Click on the picture for a better view.

Well, there you have it. I hope that pictures will jog some memories and a few of you will dig into your storage boxes or closets and pull out a few of your extra or unwanted older vintage Elite French figures. I like both ranges, but I would like to put together at least two battalions of the vintage figures for my 1805-1807 French army. I would also like to find around 30 to 40 of the Chasseurs a Cheval as well. There are also artillery crew figures, light infantry in shakos and bearskins that were part of the old range. I would consider buying some of these figures as well.

1806 Prussian Preview
Someone asked me to post some pictures of the new Elite 1806 Prussian march attack pose and the two firing line poses (kneeling and standing firing). So I have done so, as you can see below. I like all of the new poses, and isn't it nice that Peter Morbey is adding new figures to an old range.

New Elite Prussian March Attack pose (left) and older Grenadier at the ready (right).

The march attack figure is painted as a musketeer in IR23 von Winning regiment. I like the distinctive pink (or is it rose) facings. Initially, I want each of my Prussian battalions to have a distinctive facing color. This is the only one that I have painted so far. On the right, you can see one of the first of 15 grenadiers that I am currently working on. There is also a musketeer in the same pose that would look good as the third rank standing behind the two figures shown below in a firing line. I have to work on making the skin tones much lighter and eliminating the red brown undercoat that shows through too much and darkens the face too much.

New Elite Prussian firing line poses

I am looking forward to tackling some of these figures soon. The standing figure seems to be based on the doll for the Prussian fusilier figure. I'm wondering if he could be painted as a jaeger since Elite doesn't have a standing jaeger figure yet. I also like the kneeling firing pose. My recollection is that I bought two 60 figure battalions like this last summer.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

On The Work Bench

1806 Project Update
I have been chipping away at the 1806 Project over the past two weeks as I try to keep to my commitment to spend the month of January adding new figures for this project. I added 20 or so figures each to battalions IR24 von Zenge and IR13 von Arnim in order to bring them up to 60 figures plus 5 scheutzen. The next unit on my painting table is the grenadier battalion Osten (22/36). Half of the battalion will be painted as IR22 (von Pirch) grenadiers with red facings, while the other half will be painted as IR36 (Puttkamer) grenadiers with white facings. The grenadiers wear a leather cap & mitre with the hat band in the regimental facing color, unless the facing color is white - and then the band color is blue.

By the end of this month then, I should have four battalions of Prussians ready for service. This should provide me with enough of a core of troops to start play-testing some rules ideas for a BAR Napoleonic variant. The French have two line battalions and one legere battalion that are ready to go. So the forces should be adequate for the play-testing.

Speaking of the French, I was going through boxes of figures that I have packed away in my famous (at least it is famous to me) Closet O' Lead and I came upon a box of Elite Miniatures Chasseurs a Cheval. I intend to paint these as the 1er Chasseurs a Cheval that served in Davout's III Corps as part of his light cavalry brigade. These are very nice figures and I'm looking forward to painting a few samples very soon.

Yesterday I received a large packet of GMB Designs flags from Miniature Service Center in California. MSC will no longer carry the range so I was stocking up on flags in order to fulfill my future needs and, ahem, help Doug Carroccio clear out a little bit of his inventory. So I have most of the flags that I will need for the Prussian part of my 1806 Project.

SYW Austrians
Progress is being made on my SYW Austrian army as well, although I haven't painted a single Austrian figure in several months now. Dennis Smail has been working on some Austrians for me since September of last year. He finished the 60 figure grenadier battalion shown in a previous post and recently sent me reinforcements in the form of 60 figure battalions of the Josef Esterhazy Hungarian regiment and the Gaisruck German regiment. I haven't based these figures yet, so I had better get going on this before I accumulate too many unbased figures. I hate it when a big game is coming up and I find myself basing and terraining several hundred figures during the week prior to the game. Not good.

What is good is how nice these Crusader Austrians are that Dennis has been working on. I am really impressed with the quality of the work (both the figure and the painting of the same) and look forward to putting these battalions on the gaming table. Yesterday I received a sample of one of the Crusader Croats, attired in a blue coat and all I can say is "Wow!" All of these reinforcements have me wishing that I could get back to painting SYW figures. I'm going to need around 200 Austrian cavalry for my BAR game at Historicon in July 2008 and time is a wasting.

SYW Prussians
There is not much to report on for the Prussian army. This army is largely completed and I really do not need to add a single Prussian for the rest of the year. Well, we all know that that is unlikely to happen. Here is what is in the que for the Prussian for 2008: a 12-figure squadron of the CR13 Garde du Corps cuirassiers, another 12-figure squadron of HR5 Black Hussars, a 60-figure IR18 Prinz von Preussen regiment using my Potsdam Miniatures, the Langen Kerls or Riesengarde using Stadden Prussian grenadiers, and humongous quantitites of Prussian artillery (using the Berlin Zinnfiguren models to replace some of my older, existing artillery pieces. I also need to paint a few more brigade commanders and base them on 2-inch round bases. So much to paint, so little time available to do it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Greetings from Hesse Seewald and a Happy 1758 (2008) to everyone from Der Alte Fritz. The above picture depicts the view from the front porch of Schloss Seewald this morning. As you can see, the new year greeted us with about six inches of wet puffy white snow. I am tempted to go outside and make a snowman wearing a tricorn hat... Nah! As one can see, the weather is not suitable for active campaigning and so I will probably spend some time in the barracks getting more troops ready for the Spring Campaign of 1758.

Instead, I will show you a picture of the first three recruits to the Landgraf Georg Ludwig's Riesengarde battalion of Hesse Seewald. The Landgraf has decreed that each of his 16 regiments shall furnish a complement of ten men to form the first company of the new Landgraf's Riesengarde, or a total of 160 men (16 figures). The Stadden SYW Prussian grenadier 30mm figure will be used in this regiment, along with GMB Designs flags for either the Hessian Garde of the IR6 Prussian Garde Grenadier battalion.

Riesengarde Regiment of Hesse Seewald (by Der Alte Fritz)

The grenadier and the drummer are both from the Stadden range of SYW Prussians, while the officer is one of my own Potsdam Miniatures. The uniform is based on the Lange Kerls of Frederick William I of Prussia, circa 1729. During this period, the garde wore a more traditional mid-18th century mitre (akin to the ones worn during the SYW) while the red gaitors were replaced by white gaitors. Around 1730-1736, the uniform was changed, yet again, to something closer to that worn by IR6 Grenadier Garde during the SYW. By this I mean that the breeches and waistcoat were yellow, instead of red and the cut of the coat was a little tighter. The final uniform transformation was instituted by Frederick II in 1740.

I expect that it will take awhile to fill the regiment out to a full 60 figures, given my pledge to reduce the pile of lead that has accumulated in my basement. I have enough Staddens to paint the first 16 figures for now. These will accompany der Erbprinz onto the battlefield as his personal headquarters guard, i.e. they will be "just for looks" and will not engage in battle. Once I build them up to 30 or 48 figures, then they may participate in some of our SYW battles.

1806 Taster
Below is a picture of one of my 1806 Prussian battalions (IR24 Zenge) that I have been working on. The unit was started back in December 2006 and only recently brought up to the full complement of 60 figures plus 5 extra scheutzen. They are not yet flagged or based yet, as you can see.

Elite Miniatures 1806 Prussian regiment IR24 - Zenge.

I am still working out how to base the Prussians. My initial thought is to have smaller movement trays designed to hold six figures in three ranks. Thus each stand would represent a zug, or platoon of 60 men. I may just put twelve figures on a stand (in three ranks) and call each stand 2 zuge, or platoons. This roughly corresponds to a company, although I should note that the company was only an administrative unit, rather than a tactical unit. I am still unclear as to whether or not the 1806 Prussians operated in grand divisions of two zuge, like they did during the SYW. During this period, the battalion was divided into ten zuge, or platoons. So in the picture above, the figures are divided into ten groups of six figures. There were also 50-60 scheutzen per battalion and a 6-pound regimental gun. So I will have 5 scheutzen figures per battalion and maybe a battalion gun (I don't know about this part yet).

Prussian brigades are likely to have 3 musketeer battalions and 1 grenadier battalion in my wargame setup. Again, this is still in the planning stage so nothing is set in stone yet. I am nearly done with the first three Prussian battalions and plan to spend the rest of January 2008 working on the 1806 Project.

SYW Austrian Update: After that, I will probably return to painting SYW Austrian cavalry. Dennis Smail has kindly agreed to continue working on the Austrian infantry for me. I received the Gaisruck battalion (purple facings) yesterday and they really look nice. I will endeavor to base both Gaisruck and Josef Esterhazy soon so that I can take some pictures and show you Dennis' fine brushwork.