Friday, February 27, 2009

The Parchwitz Address

Frederick the Great delivers his famous Parchwitz Address to his officers prior to the battle of Leuthen in 1757. Click all pix to enlarge the view.

Tomorrow morning we will convene in Brown Deer, WI to refight Frederick's signature victory at Leuthen in 1757. To commemorate the pre-battle activities, I painted a few dismounted officers and posed them in a semi-circle around King Frederick, in a manner similar to the famous Menzel painting.

The battle has its fair share of high drama, starting with Frederick's famous Parchwitz Address in which he collected his officer corps together and told them what he expected from them in the coming battle:

The enemy hold the same entrenched camp at Breslau which my troops defended so honorably. I am marching to attack this position. I have no need to explain my conduct or why I am set on this measure. I fully recognize the dangers attached to this enterprise, but in my present situation I must conquer or die. If we go under, all is lost. Bear in mind, gentlemen, that we shall be fighting for our glory, the preservation of our homes, and for our wives and children. Those who think as I do can rest assured that, if they are killed, I will look after their families. If anybody prefers to take his leave, he can have it now, but he will cease to have any claim on my benevolence.

A view of the Leuthen battlefield prior to the fight. The Austrians are marching from Breslau and taking postitions across the Schweidnitzerwasser in the fields about Leuthen. A battalion of Wurttemburgers can be seen posted at Sagchutz, on the left wing of the Austrian army.

I drove to the home of Monsieur Chevert this evening in order to set up the terrain for tomorrow's game. It is a good thing that we did so, as it took us a good hour to set up the table and deploy some of the Austrians that I brought with me. The rest of the Austrians will be deployed on the table tomorrow morning, prior to the game.

Christopher Duffy cites an interesting story about the Austrian activities on the day before the battle. Daun rode along the length of the Austrian army to inspect the ground, asking peasants the names of the towns or various terrain features (few that they were) on the field. Daun noticed a church tower that was rising above a certain hill. "What is that" he asked the peasant. The man assumed that Daun was talking about the hill and replied, "Your Excellency, that is the hill from where our king drives the Austrians every year." Daun turned to his entourage and said, "Gentlemen, I don't like the sound of that!" Leuthen was, in fact, the training ground where the Prussian army held its annual maneuvers before the start of the Seven Years War. (from Prussia's Glory, by Christopher Duffy, page 139-140).

Some new additions to the Austrian staff (left to right): General of Cavalrie Nadasti, Graf Colloredo, Andlau and Starhemberg.

Austrian Regiment "Lacy" comprised of RSM figures, officer from Front Rank.

I recently added another battalion of Austrians to the army to use in this game. This is the Regiment Lacy comprised of RSM figures that I painted a couple of years ago. I was planning on using the sixty figures for a different project, wherein the battalions are only 20 figures, but I decided that the particular project was on deep hold, and that I might as well use the figures for my BAR Austrian army. So here they are, as seen in the picture above. The flag bearers are simply the advancing pose, with the back foot cut off of the base, and then the raised back leg is pushed until it is touching the ground. I then cut the musket out of the figure's hands and replaced it with a wire flag pole.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Leuthen 2009

The village of Leuthen, as reconstructed by the talented Herb Gundt, for a game at the SYW Association convention in March 2007. Click the picture to enlarge.

We are inching ever closer to our game this coming Saturday February 28th and it appears that we will have 13 participants playing in the game. The game will feature 8 Austrian commands (3 cavalry and 5 infantry) and 5 Prussian commands (2 cavalry and 3 infantry). I plan to drive the hour or so to the Milwaukee suburbs tomorrow evening so that we can set up the terrain several days in advance of the game.

The picture above shows a small portion of the Leuthen winter terrain that Herb Gundt made for me a couple of years ago. The rest of the collection includes many more buildings, winter trees (sans shrubbery), frozen streams and snow covered roads. I have set up just the village for several skirmish games, so this will be the first time that I will have a table large enough to put everything on the table. That is something to look forward to, and it will be well photographed, no doubt.

I spent a good part of the evening doing the drudgery work of cutting out foam core bases for some of the new infantry battalions for the Austrians: Baden Durlach (Warrior Miniatures) and Lacy (RSM95 figures). I also terrained the individual bases for the RSM regiment this evening. It takes about one minute per base to spackle and flock each figure, so a battalion takes me about an hour to complete.

Some other news of note, this day my one hundred thousandth page hit was recorded, sometime this morning. That is quite an acheivement and I want to thank all of my visitors for taking a few minutes to stop in and see what is going on in the world of SYW gaming. Again, thank you all. On to the next 100,000 hits.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's Leuthen Week!

Austrian Horse Grenadiers - Regiment Althann (Crusader Miniatures). Click all pictures to enlarge the view.

We will be recreating the battle of Leuthen next Saturday February 28, 2009 at the Chez Chevert in Brown Deer, WI. I needed to have some pending game deadlines as incentive to get more Austrians painted and ready for table top action. Fortunately, my colleagues Graf von Frye and General Chevert agreed to this idea and so we fought Lobositz earlier this month and will conclude February with Leuthen. I really needed these game deadlines in order to get off of my duff and start painting Austrians. As you might have guessed, I would much rather be painting Prussians.

The picture above depicts a squadron of the horse grenadiers from the Austrian dragoon regiment "Althann". This has the distinction of being the only dragoon regiment to wear a white coat. All of the other regiments sport blue or red coats. So Althann is truely unique. The figures are from the wonderful Crusader Miniatures range of SYW Austrians. The squadron was largely done last week, save for the horses, which I put off painting so that I could tackle some other items for our Leuthen game. I now have 4 squadrons of horse grenadiers, with each squadron representing a different Austrian dragoon regiment. This creates a rather colorful unit with squadrons decked out in green, blue, red and white uniforms.

Austrian Cuirassier Regiment De Ville (Hinchcliffe figures).

The picture above presents the three squadrons of the De Ville cuirassiers that I have painted during the month of February. I had previously completed the first squadron in January, so I have been clipping these guys out at a pace of approximately one per week. The fourth squadron (shown above without the terraining on the bases) was done in two days, yesterday and today. Hinchcliffe figures are nice, but they are rather old school and lack the details that today's miniatures all seem to have. As such, I don't spend as much time on them as I would on say the Crusader horse grenadiers. Nevertheless, they look rather nice and the proportions look good.

Fritz's work bench - Regt. Baden Durlach in the foreground and some Minden Austrians, unpainted, in the back ground.

Graf von Frye could not participate in our Leuthen game due to family commitments, and so we were to be without his brigade of three battalions of infantry, 3 squadrons of cuirassiers, and 2 squadrons of hussars. My initial thought was to merely substitute white-coated French for the Austrians. Afterall, the Family Grant did this in their original refight of Lobositz many years ago, so I considered substitution to be an honorable and acceptable answer.

Then I recalled that I had two 30-figure battalions of Warrior Miniatures '45 British that someone had painted as Austrians. I bought these at the Historicon flea market (bring & buy for those of you in the UK) circa 1990. With a moderate amount of touch up painting, I figured that I could easily create on BAR sized 60-figure battalion. One battalion was already painted as the Baden Durlach regiment, with light blue facings and turnbacks. The other battalion was painted as a Hungarian battalion. So I converted the Hungarians to Baden Durlach by repainting the trousers white, the gaitors black, and adding light blue facings and turnbacks. I left everything else the same because time was of the essence. The end result is shown in the picture above, with Baden Durlach waiting to get their bases terrained with spackle compound and flock.

You can see the start of my next Austrian regiment, Moltke, sitting behind Baden Durlach in its unpainted state. These are the wonderful Minden Miniatures. I mount each figure on a penny in order to give it a few extra millimeters of height. This way, their height is equivalent to some of the taller figures (Crusader, Suren and Stadden) that we use in our armies. I painted one sample figure the other day and was pleased with the way it turned out. So I am definitely looking foreward to tackling the rest of the battalion. The Moltke regiment will be my main project for March 2009.

I will try to post something each day this week as we get closer and closer to the battle of Leuthen.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Horse Grenadiers

Today was Presidents' Day in the United States and so that meant that I had a long three day weekend; and that usually means lots of painting time. So over the weekend, I completed the third squadron of the Hinchcliffe Austrians, cleaned and glued 60 Minden Austrians to penny bases, and started on a squadron of 12 Althann horse grenadiers (Crusader figures). I estimate that I logged nearly six hours of painting today and nearly completed the horse grenadiers today, save for finishing their horses. That's not too shabby.

I started the day around 11 AM and painted for two and a half hours until 1:30PM. Then I ran some errands, walked the dogs to stretch my legs and did some reading with my daughter in the afternoon. Around 4PM, it was back to the painting table for another hour's work before dinner. Then I did another hour from 6:30 to 7:30PM, helped put the Princess to bed, and painted some more until 9PM, when I took another break to watch some television with the Missus. Walked the dogs again, and then finished off the day with another hour of painting from 11PM to Midnight. Whew! That's enough for today.

I expect that I have another evening's worth of work to complete the horses and then the Althann Horse Grenadiers will be finished. Althann is the only Austrian dragoon regiment to wear white coats. I plan to have four squadrons of horse grenadiers and each squadron will have a different uniform color: green, dark blue, red and white.

It looks like I am going to have enough time to do one more squadron (the fourth) of the Hinchcliffe De Ville cuirassiers before our big Leuthen game on February 28th.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Austrian Cavalry

Hinchcliffe SYW Austrian cuirassiers representing the De Ville Regiment. These are the "repaints" that I did last month, but they look just like the other two squadrons that are done.

I am making decent progress on expanding my Austrian forces, what with a painting production rate of about one 12-figure squadron per week. At this speed, I can paint 48 figures in 4 squadrons of 12 figures in a month. On the infantry side, I am probably able to paint one 60-figure battalion in a month. Now there have been times when I have painted considerably more than this, but these are good basic production estimates of what I can do without killing myself by cramming too much painting into an unrealistic amount of time. Using 48 cavalry and 60 infantry figures as my standard painting speed, it becomes easy to plan out the production time for a new army or additions to an old army.

I also use a little spread sheet to chart my progress. As shown below, the Quantity depicts the final size of the regiment, Completed is obvious as to its meaning, Needs indicates the number of figures that are needed to complete the unit, and Order represents the number of castings that I will need to order for that particular unit. At the end of each line, I have listed the manufacturer of the figures that will be used for that unit of cavalry. Darn it all, I had everything set up in a nice table format, but the formatting gets wiped out when I publish the post. So the first number is the unit size, the second number is figures completed, the third number is figures needed to complete, and the fourth number is the number of figures on order).

1st Brigade - O'Donnell (Qty. / Figs. Completed/ Figs. Needed/ To Order)

Birkenfeld Cuirassiers (60 /60 /0 /0 ) -- Crusader
DeVille Cuirassiers (60/ 36 /24 /12 ) -- Hinchcliffe
de Ligne Dragoons (60/ 48 /12/ 0 ) -- Crusader

2nd Brigade - Buccow

Alt Modena Cuirassiers (60/ 0/ 60/ 60) -- Minden
Sachsen Gotha Dragoons (60 /0/ 60 /12) -- Crusader
Horse Grenadiers (48/ 36 /12/ 0 ) -- Crusader

3rd Light Brigade - Hadik

Esterhazy Hussars (48 /24 /24 /8) -- Crusader
Splenyi Hussars (48 /0/ 48 /48 ) -- To Be Determined

The above table depicts where my Austrian cavalry is as of today. It also indicates units for which I already have figures on hand, ready to paint. The only exception is the Alt Modena cuirassiers, which will use the pending Minden Miniatures Austrian cuirassiers when they become available. I may also add another dragoon regiment in the future if Minden adds the dragoons to their range. I also have an opening in my hussar brigade for a potential Minden figure, but since light hussars are last on my list of things to paint, I figure that time will sort out the decision for me.

I finished the second squadron of De Ville cuirassiers earlier in the week and nearly have the third squadron completed as of Sunday evening. With a day off for Presidents Day tomorrow, I am certain that the 3rd squadron will be completed by tomorrow, so I have taken the liberty of adding it to the completed column for now. I have one more Hinchcliffe squadron's worth of unpainted lead in my inventory and a few remainders, so I will have to place a small order to boost the DeVilles up to 60 figures.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Martin Tomczak SYW Link Added

I found a new website devoted to the Austrian vs. Prussian portion of the Seven Years War. The website owner is Martin Tomczak and I have added a link to this information on the left hand side of the page. There are many useful articles in English and in German to be found on the website, so do take a minute and click on the link and see for yourself.

On the painting front, I am working on the second squadron of Hinchcliffe Austrian cuirassiers for the De Ville Regiment. I hope to have at least 3 squadrons done in time to use in our upcoming Leuthen wargame on February 28, 2009. If I really crank things up, there is an outside chance of adding a fourth squadron this month.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Battle of Lobositz - Feb. 8, 2009

Prussian Cuirassier Regt Prinz von Preussen (CR2) breaks through the Austrian centre in pursuit of the Esterhazy Hussars . Croats defend wolf pits in the foreground.

[Note: please click on all pictures to enlarge the spectacular view]

The team of Protz, Frye and Der Alte Fritz staged a refight of the SYW battle of Lobositz, today at the Little Wars Convention in Lincolnshire, Illinois. The game featured two five-player teams representing the Prussians of Frederick the Great and the Austrian army of Marshal Ulysseus von Browne, fought in October 1756. Allegedly after the historical battle, a number of Prussian officers commented that "these are not the same old Austrians that we are used to", meaning that the Austrians were more tenacious than in the last war. Today's Austrians proved to be no less determined to defend Bohemia from the Prussian invasion.

We used the Lobositz scenario from Charles S. Grant's The Wargame Companion for our inspiration. Each side had 10 battalions of infantry, 6 artillery pieces and between 225 and 290 cavalry figures. The Prussians had a smaller cavalry force, but it consisted entirely of cuirassiers, while the Austrians had an assortment of every type of cavalry.

Austrian Deployement

The Austrian left wing was protected by the marshy Morellenbach stream, and here we placed 3 battalions of infantry and two dragoon regiments (48 figures each). This represented von Browne's deployment of his main army.

Austrian left wing deployed behind the marshy Morellenbach.

The center of the Austrian position was manned by two regiments of cuirassiers: Birkenfeld (60 figures) and Ansbach (48 figures), some converged horse grenadiers (36) and two small regiments of hussars -- Baranyay (30 figures) and Esterhazy (24 figures). Behind the cavalry, there were two sets of "wolf pits" in which some Croat light infantry deployed, and finally, behind the Croats, were three infantry battalions.

The Austrian right wing was anchored by the Lobosch Hill, on which more Croats were deployed, and the village of Welhota (3 btns of Austrian infantry.

Croats (background) and Hungarians (foreground) deployed on the Lobosch Hill and held it throughout the entire game.

Prussian Deployment
The Prussians were basically advancing out of a valley that opened up onto the Bohemian Plain of the Elbe, near the town of Lobositz. The valley entrance was bordered by the Lobosch Hill on the Prussian left, and the Homolka Mound on the Prussian right. The Prussians sent a brigade of three battalions to capture the Lobosch and threaten the Austrian right wing at Welhotta.

The Prussians placed all of their cavalry in the center, supported by a battery of 12 pounders on the Homolka Mound.

Prussian battery on the Homolka Mound supports the CR10 Gendarmes in the center. The CR13 Garde du Corps can be seen on the far left. Two other cuirassier regiments can be seen debouching from the valley on the right of the picture.

Prussian right wing prepares to attack the Austrians across the Morellenbach.

Another view of the Prussian cuirassiers emerging from the valley and onto the Elbe Plain in order to attack the Austrian center.

The Battle Begins With the Cavalry

Big cavalry scrum meets in the center early in the game (Austrians on the left side, Prussians on the right).

The troops were set up so that there would be no choice but for the cavalry of both sides to spur their horses and charge. The first melee, involving the Ansbach cuirassiers and the Baranyay hussars for the Austrians, very nearly broke through two regiments of 60 figure Prussian cuirassiers (CR2 in the front, and supported by CR8 in the second line). The CR2 Prinz von Preussen (in yellow coats) lost the first round of melee and just barely passed their morale with a "6", exactly what they needed. Had they failed, they would have routed through the supporting CR8 Seydlitz cuirassiers and likely the follow up Austrian attack would have run both Prussian units off the table. Alas, luck was with the Prussians (thank goodness, but it would have been a spectacular thing to see).

Eventually though, the weight of Prussian numbers told the tale (see break through picture at the top of this blog page) and they pushed or routed all of the Austrian cavalry of the center off the table and onto the back table. Only the two Saxon dragoon regiments remained, and they were on the opposite side of the Morellanbach, and in no position to help. So the Prussian cavalry held the center, but their infantry had not moved up with them, so the survivors of the victorious charge had to fall back to the Homolka Mound or else face destruction from the musketry of the Austrian infantry in the center.

Prussians advance towards the Morellanbach, on their right, but never seriously threaten this Austrian position.

Prussian IR13 Itzenplitz attempts to capture the Lobosch Hill. They drove off the Croats, but the Hungarian reserves held the hill for the rest of the game.

Prussian infantry advance in piecemeal fashion in the center, but to no avail as the Austrians won the first fire initiative in this sector.

Once the cavalry was played out on both sides, the infantry took over to decide the contest. One Prussian brigade pushed towards the Morellanbach while the center brigade also advanced, but the traffic jam of retiring horses meant that the center could not form a continuous line of battle, so IR18 and IR15 Garde Grenadiers were stopped cold by the Austrian musketry.

By this time, both sides were played out, having gamed from 11 AM to 4:30 PM and we all agreed that neither side had the upper hand in the game. All that I can say is that there was a lot of dead horse flesh on the back casualty table, an indication of a battle hard fought.

We will convene at the House of Protz in a few more weeks to refight the battle of Leuthen on our winter terrain. The game is based on the Charles S. Grant "Flank Attack" scenario in his book on wargame scenarios.

Terrain Notes

The green-brown terrain mats featured in this game were custom made by The Terrain Guy, a US company based in Texas. These mats are easy to use and transport and they look terrific. The Lobosch Hill and the Homolka Mound were made by Der Alte Fritz using 1.5" pink insulation foam board, his trusty Hot Wire knife, spackle compound mixed with brown paint, and Woodlands Scenics flock. Buildings were provided by HG Walls and Ian Weekley.

The hand made terrain pieces look very nice atop the table mats and I plan to make many more ridges and hills for future games. It is easier than one would think. I was able to make the Homolka Mound in two evenings' work.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lobosch Hill Part II

Here is the model Lobosch Hill that I made for our Lobositz game.

Here is a picture of the actual Lobosch Hill in the Czech Republic

My Lobosch Hill model is almost complete now. The spackle dried overnight and so I gave the terrain a light dry brushing of tan paint in order to pick out the raised highlights created by the spackle paste.

The next step was to mix some white PVA glue (Elmer's Glue in the USA) with water and brush the white mix over sections of the model. You want to work in small areas so that the surface of the glue remains even. Then I sprinkled mixed turf flock from Woodlands Scenics over the sections of glue and worked my way around the model until the flocking was completed. I tried to leave some areas unflocked so that it would look like the rocks were showing through the green vegitation. As the picture of the real ground indicates above, most of the hill is green.

Tomorrow I will spray diluted white glue over the surface to afix the flock even more, and then give it a spray of dull coat. The thinned down glue and dull coat should keep most of the flock on the model, from my experience. This was a relatively easy project to do and I am sort of tempted to whip out a quick Homolka Mound model to use at the other end of the table. We shall see. I have a lot of figures that need to have their bases terrained, so that comes first.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lobosch Hill

The second phase of my Lobosch Hill terrain feature for the Charles Grant Lobositz game was completed this evening. Sunday night I glued all of the foam pieces together. Monday night I tried out the hot wire carving tool and hacked away at the edges of the foam in order to make it look more like a hill and less like a wedding cake.

I should have stopped there, but I had the bee in my bonnet to start painting and spackling the darn thing, so that's what I did. I should have painted the entire foam board first, with a base coat of brown paint. But instead I pitched into smearing spackle all over everything and about an hour later, I was done with the painting and spackling phase of the project. I will let it dry overnight and perhaps dry brush some tan paint tuesday night, if the hill is sufficiently dry. It should be, my basement get so dry that all of my lichen dries up in the winter.

I will post pictures tomorrow, but it's late and I need to get to bed, and besides, the hill looks like a blancmange right now, if not a wedding cake. Its appearance will improve after the dry brushing and the flocking is completed.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Regt. Andlau Is Completed

Regiment Andlau in a double column of grand divisions (click pix to enlarge).

I finished painting the final 10 figures of the Andlau Regiment on Sunday afternoon. This represents my first full 60-figure battalion of Minden Miniatures SYW Austrian infantry that I have painted. I also have Prussian Regiment IR34 Prinz Ferdinand painted. My recollection is that I bought these Austrian figures around this time a year ago. I don't know why it took me so long (OK, I know why -- I want to paint Prussians 8^) ).

I have a second battalion of Minden Austrians that I plan to paint this month. They will be painted as one of the light blue facing regiments, von Moltke. My general plan is to have one battalion painted for each of the major facing colors in the Austrian army: red, blue, light blue, green and violet. Then I will also paint an extra company of grenadiers from each of the 5 musketeer battalions and converge them into a Minden grenadier battalion.

Regiment Andlau formed in a line of battle. (click to enlarge the picture).

Column of grand divisions (not quite a road column, which would have fewer files in the frontage).

With the completion of this unit, I now have 10 battalions of infantry in my Austrian army plus reinforcements of 3 more battalions from Graf Frey's collection. So slowly, but surely, we are building our Austrian armies up the level of Prussians (24 collectively among Bill, Randy and myself).

Lobositz Game at Little Wars - February 7, 2009
We plan on hosting a BAR Seven Years War game at next week's Little Wars convention in Lincolnshire, Illinois (near Chicago) next Saturday at 11 AM. Drop in and visit or play if you are in the area. The game will be our take on Charles Grant's "Lobositz" scenario, as outlined in his recent book, "The Wargame Companion". I went to the local Home Depot store yesterday and bought a sheet of 1.5" thick pink insulation foam board and had them cut it into 3 feet and 2.5 feet segments. This evening, I will start gluing the boards together so that I can make the Lobosch Hill, a terrain feature that plays a prominent role in this battle. It won't be an elaborate affair, more like an Old School piece of terrain with the foam boards stacked atop one another and a little bit of spackle paste and paint and flock smeared all over the boards. We shall see how this project goes over the coming week.

The only other bit of game preparation is to terrain the bases of all of the Austrian figures that I have painted since Christmas.

For the month of January I logged in 124 Olley Painting Points (37 cavalry x 2 pts = 74 pts; plus 50 Andlau infantry x 1 pt = 50 pts, total points = 124 points). I will have to count the final 10 Andlau regiment soldiers in my February totals.