Thursday, December 31, 2020

Bye Bye 2020!

I suppose that I should use the phrase “ in these uncertain times” somewhere in this post, but it’s become trite and I am tired of hearing it. 2020 had some of the obvious lows related to the pandemic. We also lost our beloved hound, Tiberius, to cancer, but that was quickly offset with the new member to our family: Augustus (“Augie the Doggie) in February and the later addition of Bella in October. It is a joy (well, it has its moments) to have dogs around the house and I’m proud of Augie for stepping up and taking Bella under his wing. The two animals are the closest of friends.

Lelia had a bit of difficulty adjusting to virtual school, but in the end, she passed with flying colors by earning an A in Music and a B in an extremely hard US History course. Even I, the household’s history expert, was taken aback by how hard some of the history class assignments were at Oakton Community. College.


Looking back, there was a lot of good stuff happening that made it easier to get through 2020.

1) Phil Olley’s Virtual Wargames Club was a much needed tonic for the spirits as people from all corners of the world met every Saturday to talk wargaming and painting projects for a couple of hours. I already knew some of the members via their blogs and presence on the internet, so it was great to meet them sort of face to face, which made getting to know them even better. It was also great making new friends in the VWC. All in all, a big plus.

2) The 54mm Sudan Project.: my “COVID Project” entailed doing something completely different as I ventured outside of the 18th Century and went on an expedition in the Sudan to fight The Mahdi. I must have painted nearly 500 to 600 plastic toy soldier figures for the project. Perhaps the most satisfying part of the project was the need to build my own 54mm buildings to create the walls and city of Khartoum. I hadn’t attempted to scratch build my own buildings since the 1980s, so there was a bit of a learning curve required to ramp up the production. I must give a big Thank You to the members of the VWC for their suggestions and ideas for the buildings. I’m particularly indebted to Tidders ( Kingdom of Wittenberg blog) for his many tips that enabled me to “crack the code” in building construction techniques. Then we capped off the project by actually playing a Wargame featuring the Dervish attack on Khartoum. This was one of only two in person Wargames that I played during the COVID-19 era this year. Boy oh boy, did we have some fun there!

3) Fife and Drum Miniaturess rolled it its Saratoga figure range in late 2019 to early 2020 as RichardAnsell continued to churn out an impressive number of new figures over the past year. The Mohawk Indians, Morgan’s Rifles, and personality figures for Washington, Greene, Cornwallis and Howem(;sounds like the name of a law firm, doesn’t it?) were added to the range during 2020. There will be some interesting surprises that I will roll out in 2021, but I can’t let you in on the secret just yet. 😈

4) The aforementioned addition of the two hounds this year was fun and loving, and occasionally difficult, but well worth the time invested and the return of love from our dogs. As I type this blog, little Bella, the Golden Retriever, is sleeping at my feet. Actually, she is sleeping on my feet.

5) Mrs. Fritz has continued to build on her stand up story telling performances via Zoom and she has started a related business venture which is getting its legs in 2021. I am so proud of her and her fearless ability to stand up in front of a crowd and tell a person story.

6) We are all healthy and Covid-19 free. The introduction of three new vaccines, as of today, give all of us hope that we will defeat this virus and return to a normal life by the end of the 2021 year.

7) I had lots and lots of free painting time to help me get through the mental part of the pandemic; at least I did until Bella the Puppy came along and turned me into a dog sitter instead of a figure painter.

So on the balance, the good outweighs the bad, but like everyone these days, I say good riddance to 2020 and am confident that we will have a great 2021. ( oh, and I hit my goal of writing 100 blog posts this year).

Here’s to a happy New Year in 2021.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Prussian Artillery of the SYW


Prussian 12-pound Brummers from Fife & Drum Miniatures.

 Prussian battery of 12-pounders, shown with limber teams and supply wagons.

These are two of my favorite pictures of my Prussian artillery.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Austrian Artillery in the SYW


Austrian battery of 12-pounders

I like this series of photos that I took awhile back showing a battery of Fife and Drum Miniatures Austrian 12-pounders plus limber teams. The vignette shows the depth of an artillery battery with its supporting limbers, horse teams and ammo wagons (well, no ammo wagons in these pictures.

Note the use of the Minden pioneer figures as Austrian artillery crewmen.

Limber horses and drivers are from RSM.

Monday, December 28, 2020

French Artillery of the SYW


Minden Miniatures SYW French 12-pounder artillery battery.

Here is a diorama that I made a few years ago of a French artillery battery circa the Seven Years War. All figures are Minden Miniatures and all equipment is from the Fife and Drum artillery equipment range. The French 12-pound Valliere System cannon (AE-010) is a beautiful model with lots of intricate barrel detail “bling” on it.

In the diorama I had to make the ram rods longer to account for the longer barrel length. This is done easily with a piece of wire and some green epoxy putty to make the swab and push ends of the ram rod.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Battle of Trenton


Night March of the Continentals on Trenton, by Don Troiani.

Fife and Drum Continentals on the March to Trenton 

I am writing this blog post at 12:08AM on the morning of December 26th. On the same day and time in 1776 the Continental Army commanded by George Washington was crossing the Delaware River and marching on the town of Trenton, New Jersey. The Americans hoped to surprise the Hessian garrison in Trenton by crossing the river and launching an early morning attack.

In December 2016 I played a Wargame of Trenton as a solo game. In fact I played it twice and the Americans won both times. Here are several pictures of the game.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas Everyone


Der Alte Fritz, Mrs. Fritz and Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe wish all of our blog followers and friends a Merry Christmas . Like most families, we are staying home this year and seeing our relatives via Zoom, rather than in person.

On Christmas Day we will open presents in the morning, after which, I will cook my traditional Christmas breakfast of waffles with maple syrup, turkey bacon and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Undoubtedly we will walk the royal hounds, Augie and Bella and then get to work preparing the afternoon dinner. This year it’s turkey with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and asparagus followed by a Yule Log cake for desert.

Who knows, there might even be some time for a Teddy Bear wargame.

Merry Christmas 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

This Will Lift Your Spirit in 2020

 In 2012 an orchestral flashmob gathered in a Spanish town and staged this wonderful street performance. Please click the YouTube link and spend the 5:19 minutes to watch and listen. Some of my readers may have seen this in the past, but it is new to me and it really left me with a feeling of hope for the world as it struggles with the Covid-19 pandemic as well as with a sense of joy that better days are ahead of us all.

Ode to Joy flashmob

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to us all.


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

She Wore A Yellow Ribbon


One of my favorite films of any genre is John Ford’s 1949 film “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”. This is one of John Wayne’s best acting performances IMHO. The film has a great supporting cast from the usual John Ford stable of character actors including Ben Johnson, Harry Cary Jr., and Victor McLaughlin; and of course Joanna Dru in a cavalry uniform was eye pleasing.

This would be a fun period to wargame.

From Wikipedia:

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is a 1949 Technicolor Western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. The Oscar-winning film was the second of Ford's Cavalry trilogy films, along with Fort Apache (1948) and Rio Grande (1950). With a budget of $1.6 million, the film was one of the most expensive Westerns made up to that time. It was a major hit for RKO. The film takes its name from "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon", a popular US military song that is used to keep marching cadence.

The film was shot on location in Monument Valley utilizing large areas of the Navajo reservationalong the Arizona-Utah state border. Ford and cinematographer Winton Hoch based much of the film's imagery on the paintings and sculptures of Frederic Remington. The film won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color in 1950. It was also nominated as 1950's Best Written American Western (which the Writers Guild of America awarded to Yellow Sky).

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Picture Worth A Second Look

I’ve been sorting some of my photos and I liked this one enough to post on the blog. All of the elements come together quite nicely: Herb Gundt buildings, Richard Ansell’s sculpts, and Cigar Box Battle Mats.

Here we have some American militia gathering to meet a nearby threat.

Friday, December 18, 2020

A New Birthday Prezzie?


2020 Ford Mustang Convertible

It looks fast even when it is parked in my driveway.

As the Beatles would say, "they say it's your birthday!"

Yes, it's true. I turned 68 years old today and so I went on down to the Ford dealership and decided that it was high time for me to realize one of Life's ambitions, i.e. own a superfast Ford Mustang convertible. I mean, we don't live forever, so why not?

OK, here is the more mundane and true story.

My big old clunky 2016 Ford Explorer truck needed to pay a visit with the mechanic's shop to fix a couple of things and do some regular maintenance. The garage will be keeping the truck for a few days and so I decided that it would be a good idea to rent a car for several days.

So I ordered me up a plain ole vanilla mid-sized Chevy Impala. Nothing fancy, just a set of wheels to get me around. I arrived at the rental store and the following happened:

...and action!

Rental Agent: 

Mr. Purky, I am so sorry that we do not have the car that you ordered on the lot today. Would it be ok if we gave you a brand new 2020 Ford Mustang convertible with only 2,000 miles on it, at the same price as the Impala?"


"Hmm, well, um, ah SURE!" (I had to think about it for a nanosecond).

CUT! End of scene.

So that is how I ended up with a black sportscar on my driveway on my birthday.

The pluses: It's a fun car to drive, very fast off the blocks. It has a rumble to the engine that makes you feel like you are about to start the LeMans or something similar. You can be speeding in ticket territory with just the slightest tap on the gas pedal, so I have to be mindful of that when I drive.

The downside?   It is way to tight of a fit for me, it is low to the ground (not good for the snowy weather that we are sure to get very soon), and it has a rear window that is only a little larger than a sheet of notebook paper. The back seats are a joke - no one is really meant to be sitting in the two back seats - there is zero leg room so you would have to sit sideways. The amount of trunk space is inversely proportionate to the speed of the vehicle .

But then, you don't buy one of these cars for making trips to the grocery store and the bank etc., nor do you buy one if you want to carry boxes of wargame troops and terrain in the boot when you drive to the opponent's home pitch.

Bottom line: it's a fun car to drive and I'm glad to have this unexpected opportunity to give the Mustang an extensive test drive, but I don't see myself ever buying one. (now if it were an original 1966-68 version, then I'd be all in). Nevertheless, driving it is a fun little birthday present.




Sunday, December 13, 2020

One of My Favorite Things


Battle of Wiesenfels in 2016

I was sifting through the 20,000 or so photos that I have on my iPad and found this picture of a massive cavalry melee between French and Prussian cavalry from our 2016 big battalion game. The French and Austrians were winning on the flanks and all that remained for them was to take out the massed Prussian cavalry in the center.

The numbers are greatly reduced after two rounds of melee and the Prussians fall back toward the river crossing.

The retreat turned into a rout and the French pursuit crashed into the Prussian cavalry reserves trying to deploy after crossing the pontoon bridge.

While the outcome wasn’t the one that I would have preferred ( I commanded the Prussian army, no surprise) it was one of the most fun games that I have ever played. The scenario was a disguised battle from another historical era that I adapted for a Seven Years War battle. Can you guess which battle this really is?

Prussian cavalry crossing the pontoon bridge earlier in the game.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Battle of Sagschutz, A Different Leuthen Scenario


Prussian cavalry, in the foreground, face off against the Austrian cavalry, in the background.

This weekend on the Virtual Wargames Club I was presenting photos of a Leuthen solo game that I played in 2016. Someone suggested that it might make an interesting game to focus on the attack of the Prussian Advance Guard on the Austrian left flank at Sagschutz. Agreeing that this sounds like a good scenario, I cleared off my game table and set up my winter terrain for the game.

 View  of the table set up.

In the back of my mind, I recalled that Charles Grant created just this scenario as part of a larger Leuthen game. I pulled my copy of Grant’s book, “Wargaming In History, Volume 4” from my bookshelf and thumbed my way through the book until I found the outline for a Sagschutz scenario.

The Austrian forces are as follows:

6 battalions of infantry (4btns start on the table, 2 btns arrive on subsequent turns)

7 squadrons of cavalry( 1 squadron starts on-table and the rest arrive on turn 4)

1 cannon

The Prussian forces are as follows:

9 battalions of infantry ( 6 btns start on table and 3 more btns are off-table, en echelon)

13.5 squadrons of cavalry

8 cannon (4 guns are on-table)

Scenario Tweaks:

I gave the Austrians 5 btns of line infantry and one btn of Croats, all deployed on the table. I also placed all of the Austrian cavalry on the table to start the game.

For the Prussians, I gave Wedel’s advance guard 3 btns and another three battalions comprised the next brigade of Prussians, deployed en echelon to the left of Wedel’s command. A third brigade of 3 battalions start the game on table, but they will probably not be used in the game. In other words, I really am focusing on the Advance Guard attack.

I reduced the number of Prussian guns to 2 light battalion guns and 2 giant 12-pound Brummers, for a total of 4 guns.

The cavalry action is largely separated from the infantry attack on Sagschutz by a screen of woods that divides the table. Thus there will be four players per side, each having one infantry and one cavalry player per side.

Here are some pictures of the table set up:

Prussian Garde du. Corps leads the Prussian cavalry attack.

Austrian cavalry.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Leuthen Day Wargame


Prussian Itzenplitz regiment (IR 13) on the March to Leuthen.

Today is the anniversary of the battle of Leuthen, fought on December 5, 1757. Leuthen was Frederick the Great’s signature battle in which his army of 33,000 men utterly defeated the larger Austrian army(65,000 men) commanded by Prince Charles of Lorraine.

Austrian battle line swings to the left to face the Prussian threat.

I have wargamed Leuthen a number of times and I thought that I would share some pictures of the battle that I played as a solo game circa 2016. The game had a central table measuring 6ft by 15ft plus a back table of 3 x 15ft on each side to provide depth for reserves. The Prussians prevailed up to the point where they were getting ready to attack the Leuthen churchyard, and then I stopped the game. Yet the Austrians made a tough fight of it, especially in the grand cavalry melee at Sagschutz between Zieten’s Prussian advance guard and Nadasdy’s Austrian cavalry of the left wing. Had the Austrians won the cavalry action they might have stopped the rest of the Prussian attack.

Here are some of the pictures of the game:

Prussian Advance Guard Cavalry of the Right Wing.

General von Zieten commands the advance guard

The Austrian left flank rests on the village of Sagschutz. Austrian cavalry regiments of Nadasdy’s cavalry deploy as a refused flank formation.

Austrian artillery support the Hungarian brigade deployed between Sagschutz and Leuthen.

One of the Austrian infantry brigades deployed between Sagschutz and Leuthen.

Nadasdy’s Austrian cavalry move forward to attack Zieten’s advance guard Prussian cavalry.

The Cavalry Melee Begins.

Some unfortunate Croats get run down by Prussian Hussars.

The cavalry melee grows bigger.

Prussian Brummer battery moves forward to support the attack.

Prussian advance guard attack Sagschutz, held by Wurttemburg infantry.

Prussian Guards brigade advances in the second line.

Sagschutz falls to the Prussians.

Austrian reinforcements deploy from column to line.

Austrian reserves deploying around Leuthen.

More Austrian regiments around Leuthen.

I would post more pictures but the new Blogger format makes it difficult to do so. I’m exhausted from all of this cutting and pasting, etc. I think that I’ve posted enough pictures for to get the general idea.