Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Roman Legionaries - 2nd Cohort

So, as promised the next unit off the paint desk is my third unit in the Dacian War collection and my second legionary cohort.

I'm still trying out stuff as I go with this collection and with this third unit I was interested in using different shades for doing the flesh. This will develop my technique for when I get really challenged by half naked Dacian and German warriors. Here I was trying to get a more gradual change in shade than with the previous legionary and auxiliary cohorts.

In addition I wanted to make the white tunics more subtle in the highlighting of the creases. I think I prefer this look to the previous work

As I am becoming more familiar with these figures the faces are becoming easier to work with and I hope I am capturing the many expressions on these figures.

The grizzled bearded veteran has my first attempts at added sword cuts to the shield. I particularly like the chap on the end who really looks up for it.

I am starting to like the Warlord legionaries despite their slight stature, especially next to the auxiliaries. I have decided to mix in a few cohorts from Wargames Foundry to add some variation and lessen the contrast.

One final piece of learning gleaned from doing this unit is that the waterslide shield decals supplied, although prepared with the boss centres removed, still need to be trimmed with the knife before soaking, as the film overlaps on to the boss and can cause crinkles. Hopefully you can't see them!

Next up Baden infantry, and hopefully a legionary cohort painted by the next generation at JJ's Wargames.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Hessen-Darmstadt Foot Batterie

The next unit completed for the German Division is the artillery contribution from Hesse Darmstadt, a half battery, eventually rearmed with French 4lbr guns.

2nd [German] Infantry Division 
GdD Jean-Francois, Baron Leval,

OB Heinrich, Freiherr von Porbeck,
Baden Infantry Regiment Gross-Herzog Nr. 4: OB Heinrich, Freiherr von Porbeck, 2 battalions
Nassau Infantry Regiment Nr. 2: OB August von Kruse, 1st Battalion
Nassau Infantry Regiment Nr. 2: OB August von Kruse. 2nd Battalion
Baden Foot Battery: 2 – 7pdr howitzers, MAJ Franz-Friedrich-Christian von Steinmetz

GM David-Hendrik Chasse,
Hessen-Darmstadt Foot Batterie: 4 – 6pdrs, LT Ludwig Venator

Again as with the Dutch artillery, I am forced to mix and match and so a bit of scratch work to get suitable figures to recreate Lieutenant Venator's command.

So for the gunners I went for the "Warmodelling" French Horse Gunners, removing their chords and sabrateche. The sabres aren't correct as these chaps should really have a sabre briquet, but I think they work pretty well.

The artillery train are AB Austrian with an Austrian limber that does a good impersonation of a French light limber suitable for towing the 4lbr gun. Again the pompom should really be mounted on the side of the hats (Corshut), but if you can live with them being on the front then so can I.

As with the Dutch guns, I have chosen to use the Blue Moon French 4lbr which seems to look well on the table

So it just leaves OB von Porbeck, the Baden infantry and Baden guns to do to finish the division. The good news is that the Baden Fusiliers have arrived so I can press on to the get this project finished.

Next up though is another Roman cohort. More anon

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Wellington's Wars - Huw J. Davies

I have been doing a bit of multi task reading since my last book review, taking in a bit of Roman History research amongst other things.

On the last roll out of the Oporto Scenario back in July, a friend of mine, Martin, who played the roll of Soult on the day, loaned me his copy of "Wellington's Wars" by Huw J. Davies.This book is now on my Amazon wish list to go in my Napoleonic library, and I thought I would share my thoughts on it and why I am keen to get my own copy.

As you can probably guess, I really enjoyed reading this title, and as a self confessed admirer of the great man, I have always found him difficult to like, being a confirmed snob and eternally suspicious of any officer who treated his career as a profession, fearing another budding Bonaparte in the ranks from the middle classes. However like his opposite Great Captain, Napoleon, you have to see the man complete with his strengths and his faults to really gauge the measure of the man and better appreciate his accomplishments. This book gave me a better insight into the development of the young Sir Arthur Wellesley and the influences that directed his later accomplishments as the greatest British general since Marlborough.

Unlike many continental powers, the army was not the principal force in British strategic warfare, being very much second place to the Royal Navy. British planning worked very much on the basis that British land forces would only operate in conjunction with allied forces and that, due to its limited availability of manpower resources,  it needed to avoid heavy losses. Indeed when Wellesley entered Portugal in 1809 he was operating under three very strict imperatives in order of priority.

1. Do not lose the army.
2. Liberate and keep the French out of Portugal.
3. Eject the French from Spain

With these imperatives in mind the future Duke of Wellington set about turning the war with France in Britain's and her allies favour, but always with a process in mind to achieve, in time, all three imperatives. This book shows how from his early experiences in the Low Countries and India and developed during the war in the Peninsula, Wellington developed his ideas of light and quick warfare, his skills in managing the expectations of others and his building an intelligence gathering network second to none.

The title of the book describes the "making of a military genius" and then sets out to present the facts that support this proposition, in a very compelling way.  

The book starts by focusing on the early military career of Wellesley, taking as its start point 1794 when, as Lieutenant Colonel Wellesley, he lead the 33rd Foot into the Low Countries as part of the ill fated expedition lead by the Duke of York. The lack of a cogent plan between the supposed allied forces of Prussia, Austria and Britain was an early lesson in how not to manage an alliance based campaign and witnessing the indiscipline of British troops towards the Dutch civilians gave him an early appreciation of the problems generated by an army out of control, due to poor administration and logistical planning. These early lessons would bear fruit in the planning of his own campaigns.

Narrowly missing a potential posting to the West Indies, and the threat to his life through disease that that posed; his regiment's ship being detained by gales en route, the 33rd were directed to India where they arrived in 1797. This turn of events was to be a pivotal moment in the career of the young Wellesley, as it was in India that he learned the military and logistical skills he was to use with such insight and ability later on, together with the awareness to manage the various stakeholders (allies and political masters) that a British General would need.

With his brother recently appointed Governor General of India, Wellesley gradually assumed more responsibility and was very much involved in the planning and preparation for the campaign in Mysore in 1799. Huw Davies goes into some detail about the challenges presented in supplying armies in India and the impact this had on operations. It was after the fall of Seringapatam that Wellesley came up with his detailed analysis of the issues faced and his prescription for change, an analytical ability that he would demonstrate throughout his military career.

His prescription was a complete move away from warfare conducted on a total dependency of supply, to one more designed to reap the benefits of speed and manoeuvre, by conducting warfare in the "Indian practice" designed to achieve an effect quickly and decisively. This "Light and Quick" method of warfare would make the best use of intelligence and analysis to allow swift decision with highly mobile and lightly laden troops taking decisive aggressive action against known enemy positions.

Here then lay the seeds of perhaps the finest demonstration of this concept, when in 1813 with a French army on the defence in Spain, and with British and allied forces in the ascendancy, Wellington conducted his "Light and Quick" campaign culminating in the decisive Battle of Vittoria.

When this perceptive awareness of how to conduct offensive warfare was coupled with an emphasis on intelligence gathering and interpretation, we can see the genius in the making. Davies takes us through Wellesley's career highlighting the key moments that show this development culminating in his crowning achievement with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.

The 74th Highlanders at Assaye by David Rowlands
David Rowlands Art

I should also add that the book shows his weaknesses as well, with the occasional moments of almost reckless behaviour in the face of contradicting intelligence. The attack at Assaye in 1803 and the march on Burgos being two classic examples where he underestimated his enemies force and potential, with an arrogant self assurance in his own assessment; but got away with it through his shear audacity at Assaye, but failed dismally at Burgos and blamed others for an error in judgement that was fundamentally his.

In addition to his recklessness he could occasionally make serious under estimations, such as his cost requirements to build and train the Portuguese army which with added costs to build the lines of Torres Vedras put serious strains on the British exchequer and put payments to the forces in serious arrears. These failures though, only emphasise for me the human frailties we all have to a lesser or greater extent. The mark of the great man was that when he got into difficulty through his own misjudgement he had the massive ability to extricate himself on all occasions.

After reading this book I came away with a much greater appreciation and understanding of Wellington the soldier and the way he worked within the constraints imposed upon a British Army commander of his day to become one of the Great Captains. I also came away liking the man more than I did originally and I agree with Huw Davies that the Duke of Wellington truly merits the title of military genius.

If you are interested in this period of history and the great man himself then I would really recommend this book as a great read.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Roman Auxiliaries - JJ's Dacian Wars

Roman Auxiliary Soldiers

The second unit in my Dacian Wars collection is this Auxiliary Cohort. The Auxiliary Infantry in the Imperial Roman Army were the workhorse units and formed a valuable part of its combat effectiveness. These chaps will be the first into combat when they come up against the Dacian horde.

The animation in these Warlord plastics really bring the unit alive with just enough variation to give the impression of aggressive action.

The downside with all that animation is trying to squeeze four figures onto a 40mm square base, however with a bit of trial and error it is possible to get them working alongside each other in a compact mass of spears and swords.

I'm really enjoying the challenge of capturing the expressions on my little warriors faces. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have always felt obliged to honour the work of the sculptor by bringing alive the detail he or she has managed to create.

The other key challenge I haven't enjoyed is the task of working with plastic spears. The detail is great but their fragility when being handled is exasperating and I am now committed to moving on to brass rod spears, and at some time this unit will need a re-bore of all those hand grips as I replace them with a sturdy wargame handling option. Oh well I am on the learning curve here!

The really pleasurable side to producing these two units is that my eldest lad Tom has felt inspired to declare he wants to get back into his painting by doing some 28mm Romans. So this blog is doing it's bit to bring new generations into the hobby.

Next up Hesse Darmstadt Artillery.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Tour of Britain - Stage Five, Exmouth to Exeter

Today in Exmouth saw the start of stage 5 of the Tour of Britain

Tour of Britain - Stage 5

I am partial to a bit of cycling myself, so when one of the premier cycling races comes straight past ones door, on a nice sunny September morning, I thought I would join the crowds to watch the riders setting off across Devon.

I reckon the three pictures of the peloton captures the length of time in seconds that it took them to pass our position, on a traffic island, with groups of riders passing either side.

Looking forward to getting out on my bike later this afternoon.

On wargaming matters, I'm back into the club this weekend with a Hail Caesar game Egyptians vs Sea People and The Battle of Cowpens using Muskets & Tomahawks. Also hoping to meet up with a friend who has just bought himself a 1944 vintage Jeep in 51st Highland Division markings (just put it down to a mid life crisis). The Roman Auxiliaries are finished, just need to do the bases and I'll post some pictures.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Kingdom of Holland, Horse Artillery Battery No.3

2nd [German] Infantry Division 
GdD Jean-Francois, Baron Leval,

OB Heinrich, Freiherr von Porbeck,
Baden Infantry Regiment Gross-Herzog Nr. 4: OB Heinrich, Freiherr von Porbeck, 2 battalions
Nassau Infantry Regiment Nr. 2: OB August von Kruse, 1st Battalion
Nassau Infantry Regiment Nr. 2: OB August von Kruse. 2nd Battalion
Baden Foot Battery: 2 – 7pdr howitzers, MAJ Franz-Friedrich-Christian von Steinmetz

GM David-Hendrik Chasse,

Hessen-Darmstadt Foot Batterie: 4 – 6pdrs, LT Ludwig Venator

Ok, the first thing to say, is that my battery is not quite correct as these are French horse gunners in habites, rather than hussar style jackets. They are as close as I can get it in 18mm and will do until I can get more suitable figures. Likewise, there is not a lot of information on the Dutch artillery train and so I have given these guys a French look.

The models are all Warmodelling figures except the 4lbr guns which are from Blue Moon.

With the completion of the Dutch brigade its on to the Hesse Darmstadt battery to complete Grandjean's brigade. See the above links to view other completed units in the Division.

Next up, Roman Auxiliaries.