Thursday, 27 November 2014

88th Foot (Connaught Rangers) - The Devil's Own

Fusilier Company Sergeant of the 88th Foot

British Units at Casa de Salinas
Division Lieutenant General Sir Alexander McKenzie

McKenzie's Brigade
2/24th Foot (Warwickshire Regt.)
2/31st Foot (Huntingdonshire Regt.)
1/45th Foot (Nottinghamshire Regt.)
McKenzie's Brigade Light Battalion

Donkin's Brigade
2/87th Foot (Prince of Wales Own Irish Regt.)
1/88th Foot (Connaught Rangers Regt.)
Donkin's Brigade Light Battalion

Anson's Brigade
23rd Light Dragoon's
1st KGL Hussars

Progress on the order of battle for Casa de Salinas continues with the addition of arguably the most famous British infantry battalion in the peninsula army and certainly one that features in the thickest of the fighting from 1810 onwards, the 88th Regiment of Foot, The Connaught Rangers.

Colonel de Burgh
The 88th Foot was raised in Ireland on the 25th September 1793, by Colonel, the Honourable, Thomas de Burgh as one of the new regiments raised in response to the outbreak of war with France. Raised in the province of Connaught, it soon became known as the Connaught Rangers. Most of the officers were Irishmen and all had raised men for rank, that is receiving their commissions based on the number of men they recruited.

From 1794, the battalion saw extensive service, starting with the disastrous campaign in Flanders and taking in the West Indies, Jersey, India, Egypt and South America, before returning to England in 1807. After the Flanders campaign the battalion was commanded by the Anglo Irish Lt. Colonel William Carr Beresford, who after moving on into higher command postings, would meet the 88th again in the Peninsula.

In 1804 a second battalion was raised under Lt Colonel John Alexander Wallace, who would later go on to command the first battalion and be responsible for its development as one of Wellington's crack assault units

Colonel Wallace 1835
The 1/88th arrived in the Peninsula with it's sister Irish battalion the 2/87th in March 1809 and were brigaded together during the Talavera campaign. Their first meeting with the enemy was an inauspicious start to what would turn out to be a glorious battle record as failing to post pickets, whilst forming the rearguard to the allied army as it fell back to Talavera, it was caught unprepared. Both Irish battalions were broken in the attack and fell back in disorder and were both heavily citicised by Wellesley after the action.

In September 1809 the first battalion came under the command of Colonel Wallace with a draft of replacements from the second battalion, and he immediately set about improving drill and discipline, before the battalion came under command of their new divisional commander Sir Thomas Picton. 

The relationship between the Rangers and the new commander of the 3rd "Fighting" Division, was always a difficult one and not a lot of love was lost between the two parties. General Picton, a Welshman, declared his aversion to the 88th right from the start, declaring that they should be known as "Irish robbers and common footpads than as the Connaught Rangers", making further intemperate remarks about their country and religion. Despite their proving to be one of the best regiments in Wellington's army, Picton continued to discriminate against them and their officers.

The combat record of the 88th from 1810 onwards is a series of battle winning performances starting at Busaco and including Fuentes de Onoro, Cuidad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Nivelle Orthes and Toulouse. In the five years of fighting the 88th were in the thick of it and became a core part of the 3rd Division.

Although General Picton gave the battalion a very hard time, I think even he had a grudging respect for their combat ability, especially when close in bayonet work was required. At the Battle of Vittoria as the 88th led off the attack into the village of Arinez the General was heard to call out to the 88th,

"Rangers of Connaught, drive those French rascals into the village and out of the village - you are the lads that know how to do it".

My 88th Foot are composed of figures from the Xan range, and I really like the poses available. The Colour bearers and Colonel Wallace are from AB and the Colours are from the excellent range of flags from GMB.

You can almost hear the insolent comments from the battalion as General Picton draws near!
With such a famous unit there are a lot of sources of information. I have used the Osprey title "Wellington's Peninsula Regiments (1), The Irish, Men at Arms by Mike Chappell. Other sources are listed below including the reminiscences of William Gratton an officer in the 88th which is a great read.

Adventures of the Connaught Rangers-William Gratton

Next up the 87th (Prince of Wales Own Irish) Regiment of Foot, the real unit (not the South Essex) that took the first Eagle in the Peninsular War

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Imperial War Museum - facing cuts

It appears that part of the government strategy to address the national deficit is to now look at plans to cut the central funding the Imperial War Museum receives leaving it facing an annual deficit of £4 million.

This massive hole in the IWM budget may well lead to the closure of its unique library and disposal of the majority of its collection, not to mention 60-80 jobs.

I realise in these times of fiscal austerity that difficult decisions have to be made when it comes to deciding on spending priorities. We have major institutions like the National Health Service facing similar spending cut challenges but on a much larger scale. However government is all about priorities and if enough people feel that this great institution should be higher up that list then there is an opportunity to force them by public opinion to review their plans.

It seems to me highly ironic that as the country has just shown its respect and admiration for the sacrifice of the previous generations in two World Wars by the emotional response to the poppy display at the Tower of London in this 100th anniversary of the start of WWI this amazing monument to those generations suffering and sacrifice should be facing this kind of threat.

I cannot believe that there is not a financial compromise that could be agreed where the museum is able to develop other income streams to manage what is, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively inconsequential amount; an admission charge would seem one of the most obvious options.

The one way we can "bang heads together" and force more creative thinking to apply is to support the petition to reconsider current plans, and I would urge your support.

Monday, 17 November 2014

1st Regiment, King's German Legion Hussars

Officer of the 1st KGL Hussars - see the link
for more information on the KGL cavalry

Probably one of the finest and well known regiment's that served in Wellington's Peninsula Army is the 1st King's German Legion Hussars. Their quality in terms of knowing their role as a light cavalry regiment to act as "eyes and ears" for the army whilst performing their picket work as well as being a reliable and formidable opponent on the field of battle was noted right from the start of their posting to the peninsula.

King George III of Great Britain and Elector of Hanover
The King's German Legion was formed within months of Napoleon's takeover and dissolution of the Electorate of Hanover in 1803, the Elector being King George III of Great Britain. Many officers and men of the Hanoverian army responded to this takeover by immediately heading for Britain where they were quickly formed into a mixed corps of infantry, cavalry and artillery units under the command of Sir Colin Halkett and Colonel Johann Friedrich von der Decken.'s_German_Legion

The KGL 1st Light Dragoons/Hussars landed at Lisbon in May of 1809 providing a small contingent of about 80 men to the force that marched on Oporto that month. It was in the summer of that year that the regiment made its proper debut in the Talavera campaign under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich von Artenschilde, brigaded with the 23rd Light Dragoons under the command of Brigade Major General George Anson and will make it's table top appearance in the Casa de Salinas scenario.

See below for the British order of battle to be completed

Division Lieutenant General Sir Alexander McKenzie

McKenzie's Brigade
2/24th Foot (Warwickshire Regt.)
2/31st Foot (Huntingdonshire Regt.)
1/45th Foot (Nottinghamshire Regt.)
McKenzie's Brigade Light Battalion

Donkin's Brigade
2/87th Foot (Prince of Wales Own Irish Regt.)
1/88th Foot (Connaught Rangers Regt.)
Donkin's Brigade Light Battalion

Anson's Brigade
23rd Light Dragoon's
1st KGL Hussars'sCavalry/c_1stKGLLightDragoons.html

The 1st Hussars provided a core of veteran light cavalry to the British army and was eventually attached on a semi permanent basis to the famous Light Division. During their advanced picket duties on the Portuguese/Spanish border they gained a reputation for being a reliable early warning of any French aggressive intent and General Craufurd's Light Bobs would rarely take notice of a galloping British light dragoon approaching their positions, but a KGL hussar was good reason to sound the stand to.

A notable battle honour for the 1st Hussars is their contribution at the Battle of El Bodon in September 1811.

My regiment is composed of the excellent AB figures which offer two styles of British hussar, the first wearing peakless busbies and using shabraques (saddle cloths) as seen more often used by British hussar regiments; and these the second option of peaked busbies and saddle blankets which were more practical on campaign and depicted being used by the KGL.

These chaps will be featuring in a lot of games to come, so I hope you like them.

Next up - here come the Irish!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Warfare 2014

Yesterday was spent having a very pleasant day attending Warfare, the Reading Wargamers show, in Reading in Royal Berkshire.


Wargames Association of Reading

Reading is about a five hour drive in the car there and back so it was nice to travel up with my son Tom, and two friends from club, Nathan and Vince. In addition we were meeting other club friends up at the show Mr Steve and Steve M, so a lot of opportunity for immersing oneself in everything wargaming.

I should say that my typical year for many years has been interspersed with wargame shows throughout the South of England usually starting in February with Plymouth, May with Legionary, Exeter and then September with Colours at Newbury. Occasionally we would make the effort to do Salute in London, which had been a regular venue until the move to East London adding more time to travel and with an ever increasing cost to attend, particularly in parking.

This year with the demise of Colours we were looking to plug the gap towards the end of the year and to vary the circuit a bit, so we went to Attack in Devizes in the summer,
and our trip yesterday to Warfare.

I have to say it was busy yesterday, with the main traders hall jam packed in the morning and with traders seemingly doing a roaring business when punters could get anywhere near them. We arrived at 10.45 am and Tom and I wondered round the venue just getting a feel for what was going on, picking up some Roman cavalry at the Warlords stand and a few Warmodelling Spanish from Stonewall. On our wander round we met up with and chatted to Henry Hyde and Guy Bowers, checked out the bring and buy stall and then it was 12.30 pm and time for a bite of lunch.

In the afternoon, Tom wanted to get a look at the new Jugula game, which he is tempted to dabble with, but he resisted and is focusing on getting the Roman collection together, hence the Roman cavalry. I purchased some paints for both of us and not being able to get all the Spanish I was hoping to pick up, treated myself to a couple of books.

As you know, when I wander round a show I like to take pictures of games that caught my attention and I found two that kept me standing watching the action and chatting to the organisers. The first up was this lovely reconstruction of the Battle of Falkirk from the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, presented by the Border Warlords and using the rule set featured in a new book on the war from author and wargamer Mr Martin Hackett.

I love this period of the Seven Years War era that saw the last battle fought in Britain, at Culloden. and I have travelled to Scotland a few times to visit sites from that period. Martin's passion for the subject is obvious when you speak to him and as a wargamer he brings a wargamers eye to recreating the battles that took place and are detailed with all the information you would need to set them up on the table, together with ideas about running a campaign. Not only that but the book is a great reference and guide to walking the sites and getting a feel for the terrain and that ticks another box of mine.

Needless to say after seeing those beautiful Front Rank figures, I was looking forward to reading this book last night when I got home and my comments are based on that. It has definitely reinvigorated my interest in the period and if you are interested in it to, then I would get hold of a copy of Martin's book.

Front Rank Jacobite-Rebellion-1745

Next up was a lovely English Civil War demonstration game featuring the new rule set specifically for the period "To Defy a King". my mate Mr Steve (left) can be seen below finding out more about them from the author Keith Johnson, before purchasing a copy. So I am looking forward to messing about with these in the near future courtesy of Steve.

I have never really found a rule set for the English Civil War that I like and seems to capture the feel for the period for me. The sight of this beautiful game yesterday using a very nice Teddy Bear fur mat certainly fired my imagination.

And last but by no means least. I have been eyeing up this little book since it's recent release this year and as it meets a particular interest of mine, thought I would wait until I could flick through a copy to see if I would add it to the library. Needless to say I decided to buy it and on first impression find it an interesting little read. The book follows the time line of the Peninsular War illustrating key battles as it goes using scenarios set up for the Grand Battery Rules from Jon Sutherland and Diane Canwell. However, as the text makes clear, the battle orbats also have battalion detail to enable other rule sets to be used.

The battles covered are Valls, Vimeiro, Corunna, Talavera, Almonacid, Tamames, Ocana, Coa, Bussaco, Sabugal, Barrosa, Albuera, Fuentes de Onoro, Saguntum, Salamanca, Vitoria, Castalla, Sorauren, Orthez, Tarbes.

It also has chapters looking at the armies involved, and a view of the war as a whole, considering things that are useful to wargamers such as campaign rules, seasonal weather, setting up one off scenarios and tabletop terrain. As an experienced gamer in this period, there is content that I will not use, but there is information that I will and it is handy having it all put together in one book.

We really enjoyed the show yesterday. The guys organising Warfare are very friendly and helpful and obviously put in a lot of work getting a show like this together. The only problem I could see was the venue. The show is in a sports centre using the centre's car park which on a Saturday morning is near impossible to park in given all the people who are just using the sports centre. The turnout was very high particularly in the morning and the hall was too small to cater for the number of people trying to thread their way between the stands. This was less of a problem in the afternoon as people left the show. I know getting suitable venues can be problem particularly the nearer you get to London, but if Warfare continues to be as well attended as yesterday, the Reading guys may well have to consider other options.

A very nice day, spent with interesting like minded people and I got a few toys - living the dream!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Operation Cerberus - The Channel Dash 1942

Yesterday I set up and ran a mini campaign at the Devon Wargames Group monthly meeting covering the Channel Dash in 1942, using the ShipBase III computer rules to handle the combat action, and Cyberboard to run the map movement and admin.

If you would like to see how things went then follow the link to the club blog
Devon Wargames Operation Cerberus Channel Dash-1942

One thing that occurred to me after I had written the game report, was that we didn't get all the toys out in the game, no Swordfish planes on the table, no British ships other than MTB counters, and yet the result was pleasing from an historical sense and the game was interesting with some great moments of drama and tension as the occasional unexpected event occurred.

The combat with the MTB's was particularly interesting as the little ships ploughed on in the face of withering fire and losing half their number to get in range to launch their torpedoes. At extreme range with only eight fish in the water neither I or the German commander was expecting much. As we were playing through this little scenario I was reminded of the TBD squadron in the Midway movie having a similar experience with all of them ending up in the drink vainly hoping that one of the torpedoes would avenge their casualties.

There is a peculiar pleasure to be had from a game that gives a sense of the actual events in history, without necessarily having all the hardware on show.

Perhaps this is something that is lost when wargames businesses, in their drive to sell us more models, backed up by rule sets that encourage and often require players to have lots of kit on table that would have amazed veterans who took part in the actual events, pursue more game than simulation.

Don't get me wrong, if having lots of models on the table blazing away, floats your boat, then why not. I am a strong believer in the independence of the gamer to play what ever and in what manner of game he/she and the other players want to play. In addition I benefit from all these great models being produced to feed this market. I can remember the days of scratch building just about everything and I certainly wouldn't want those times to return soon.

My simple point is that when looked at from the game/simulation, fun/tiresome aspects, I can definitely recommend the simulation/fun combination every time.

As always thoughts on a postcard to JJ's Wargames..........

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Galloping at Everything - Ian Fletcher

Every now and then, you read a book that really challenges your previous views on a given subject and really marshals a compelling alternative narrative. Ian Fletcher's "Galloping at Everything" is just such a book and moved up my reading list following reading "Wellington's Wars" where reference to Fletcher's book was made.

Wellington's Wars

I am of the generation of 70's Napoleonic gamers that were brought up on British infantry being able to defeat French columns simply by shooting them to destruction with their two deep lines, as described so mathematically by the likes of Oman, Weller and BP Hughes. This fable later being deconstructed in the late 80's early 90's by a rereading of the accounts and realisation that the small matter of an immediate charge with fixed bayonets following a British volley seemed to be the critical morale busting effect on wavering French columns. This is now the accepted explanation of the line vs column combat and that when this simple process was not followed, Albuera a case in point, then the line was forced into a musketry battle of attrition that was to be avoided by a small army such as the British possessed.

The other fable that I was brought up on is that British cavalry was notoriously bad at controlling itself during a successful charge and was more likely than not to pursue its beaten foe off the table never to be seen again. This again was an accepted truism based on the works of Oman, principally, but quoted by other well know historians and authors throughout the following decades, who would reference the Duke of Wellington voicing his frustration when his cavalry let him down by stating that they knew only how to "gallop at everything" and were oblivious to keeping order and having a reserve. These guardians of the accepted truth would then quote Campo Mayor, Vimeiro and Waterloo to reinforce their point, that Wellington had it correct. Needless to say wargame rule writers have duplicated this thinking with rules that penalise the British player by having cavalry that will hurtle off table at the slightest provocation.

As with most fables a little more serious research and delving into the historical record reveals a much more complex explanation of the successes and failures of British cavalry in the Napoleonic era and that the Duke was guilty, not for the first time, of doing his soldiers a disservice and seriously distorting the record of a very highly proficient arm of the British army, that was more than capable of besting the very best French troops. As with all nations cavalry, their ability to have a positive effect on the battlefield was down to good training, morale, leadership and lady luck.

The book analyses the record of British cavalry and their commanders through the Peninsular War and on to Waterloo and seemed to me to illustrate events that would be just as applicable to any of the so called "best cavalry" nations. The events outlined follow a well known film theme, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and the balance would seem to err more towards the good and consequently has changed my whole thinking about British cavalry in this period of history.

The Good: Sahagun, Benavente, Mayorga, Usagre, Villa Garcia, Miaguilla Raid, Salamanca, Orthez, Croix d'Orade, Quatre Bras Rear Guard, Waterloo (The unsung work during and after the battle)
The Bad: Vimeiro, Talavera, Maguilla, Vittoria (the disappointing pursuit).
The Ugly: Venta del Pozo, Campo Mayor, Waterloo (Charge of the Union Brigade)

The Good (where all the elements of success come together)

British cavalry throughout this period were able to demonstrate their combat superiority right from the start of their operations in the Peninsular and even when they were guilty of error it was often following a very successful charge to combat, that devastated their opposite numbers leaving them broken and shocked.

The Corunna campaign under Sir John Moore saw the British Hussars more than able at seeing off French cavalry at Sahagun and Benevente where they were able to deal very effectively with heavier opponents and, in the case of the Chasseurs of the Guard, very effective ones. Under the command of probably the finest British cavalry commander, Henry Paget, they were able to dominate their opponents and protect the rearward elements of Sir John's army.

These early actions illustrate the first of three components, good training illustrated by the success of the sword drills and ability to manoeuvre, good morale illustrated in the confidence of the units to overcome the enemy, no matter what perceived advantages they may have, and excellent leadership from their commander.

Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey
The element of leadership was also illustrated in the career of John Le Marchant, the inspiration behind the excellent light cavalry sabre. Not only that but the fact that British cavalrymen were so formidable one to one opponents was down to Le Marchant's development of British sword drill and its effectiveness was often remarked on. Then there was his inspired leadership during the finest moment for British heavy cavalry at the Battle of Salamanca where his command destroyed eight battalions of French infantry for the loss of just 105 men killed and wounded. One of the rare occasions when British cavalry performed as well as any, under the eyes of Wellington himself, causing the commander to remark to General Cotton, that the whole affair was a thing of beauty and the day was his.

Major General John Gaspard Le Marchant

John Le Marchant

Fletcher goes through these actions and others including Mayorga, Usagre, Villa Garcia and the riposte following the poor showing at Maguilla with the subsequent raid and ambush to rescue British wounded.

The description of the combat of Usagre was particularly inspiring where French cavalry were caught in a perfect ambush attempting to cross a village bridge below a ridge behind which, on a reverse slope, waited British heavy cavalry, who caught the French dragoons in a downhill charge pushing them back on the narrow bridge and causing heavy casualties at little cost to themselves.

These actions clearly illustrate that these are not the mindless "view haloo fox chasers" that some authors would have us believe.

The Bad (Where a glaring deficiency is exposed)

Ok, so what about the bad stuff, surely that's not made up. Well no, but Fletcher makes a valid point that the over reaching charge at Vimeiro, was from a very inexperienced British cavalry arm, who may be forgiven for their exuberence following their breaking of the French dragoons and grenadiers that opposed them initially.

This episode left its impression on Wellington, but he seems more forgiving of his inexperienced infantry units. The Talavera campaign is a case in point. The Guards charging to far and getting caught by French reserves or the KGL infantry and Donkin's brigade getting caught without pickets. It is the cavalry that earns his rebuke with the infamous charge of the 23rd Light Dragoons into an unobserved ravine and then on against French squares in a bad state of disorder. Is it any wonder that cavalry commanders often felt constrained to act appropriately when under the gaze of the British commander in chief.

It comes to me as no great surprise that as the war went on British cavalry regiments performed their greatest feats when Wellington wasn't present.

20th Light Dragoons charge at Vimeiro
Again leadership has a big part to play in the success of cavalry and the fact that Wellington was plagued by Horse Guards inflicting on him and his army, commanders such as John "Black Jack" Slade, who is often described by his peers as being mad. This commander was the worst when it came to undermining his mens confidence, calling them to mount up at the slightest concern of the French being in motion, no matter where or at what distance..... by worrying them and distressing and disturbing them with false alarms and unnecessary retreats they were robbed of their confidence and of their superiority over the enemy. Not only that but his incompetence made him unfit for any senior command. Sadly it took a long time before the British Army were rid of him.

John "Black Jack" Slade

and The Ugly (Limited success and disappointment - just one of those days!) 

Fletcher makes a very good point, that often there is a very fine line, often determined by sheer luck, that differentiates moments of great success, from great failures, such as Le Marchant cresting the ridge at Salamanca to find disordered French infantry badly shot up from British infantry volleys, just needing the coup de grace administering. This compared to the brilliant charge by Colonel Head leading the 13th Light Dragoons at Campo Mayor, destroying the 26th French Dragoons sent to oppose them. and killing their very experienced and much respected Colonel Chamourin in the process. Then pressing their advantage, as ordered to do, in the belief that French infantry and siege guns, stripped of their cavalry escort were now at the mercy of British heavy cavalry, supported by KGL artillery and an approaching British infantry brigade. That advantage was lost when the incompetent Marshal Beresford stopped the supports to the 13th LD thus leaving them stranded and blown with fresh French reserves coming to the aid and succour of previously surrendered French troops.

Corporal Logan, 13th Light Dragoons, kills Colonel Chamourin of the 26th Dragoons, Campo Mayor 1811, "a game changer action"
Wellington was furious with the 13th Light Dragoons accusing them of an uncontrolled charge and threatening further sanctions against them. The indignant regiment became the centre of a war of words between the cavalry commander General Long and Beresford. Wellington was forced to admit his error in backing Beresford's account when he looked into the affair more thoroughly, but the damage was done, the mud stuck, and Oman and other historians quoting his account  often hold up Campo Mayor as the proof of British cavalry unable to resist hurtling off into the distance.

The other sad part of this affair is that after Campo Mayor was a "game changer" in who felt the other was superior between British and French cavalry, It was not lost on French cavalrymen that a very experienced French heavy dragoon regiment had been well and truly bested and that British sword drill had been shown to be devastatingly effective. French cavalry became very wary of taking on their British counterparts and the advantage had moved very much in the favour of the British cavalry arm for the rest of the war.

The Scots Greys charge at Waterloo
The final example considered most thoroughly in the book is the charge of the Household and Union cavalry brigades at Waterloo, a classic example of how not to conduct a cavalry charge. Interestingly the commander was our hero from the Corunna retreat General Henry Paget, Earl of Uxbridge.

Fletcher points out that this charge seems to overshadow the excellent work carried out by all the British cavalry brigades covering the retreat from Quatre Bras to Waterloo and the other support given during the rest of the battle. Even the charge itself is often remembered for the fact that the Union Brigade was devastated by getting caught on blown horses without reserves to cover their withdrawal. This oft quoted fact forgetting or ignoring that 2,300 sabres scattered 15,000 of D'Erlon's infantry corps, taking 3,000 prisoners and two Eagles.

The French were unable to launch any serious attacks on Wellington's left flank for the rest of the day allowing him to pull his forces in to cover the centre and right flank of his position. Again we had two very inexperienced regiments involved in this charge, the Scots Greys and Inniskilling Dragoons. This inexperience explains how the Scots Greys moved up from their reserve position and got caught up in the initial charge. Paget was at fault for not ensuring the Greys were held further back to avoid this situation, although he managed to keep the Blues back in the Household brigade and they covered the withdrawal of the other two regiments in their brigade.

In Summary
This book gives an excellent balanced reassessment of British cavalry actions in this period. The key combats are looked at in great detail referring to eyewitnesses and contemporary reports. I found myself considering how strange that historians don't seem to hold French cavalry and their commanders failures to the same standard as their British counterparts, The charge of the Vistula Lancers at Albuera was not the battle deciding event that Le Marchant's Heavy brigade at Salamanca was and yet the former seems to draw more plaudits for its success. The disastrous over confident advance by Lefebvre Desnouettes under the eyes of his Emperor at Benevente, leading four squadrons, 600 men of Chasseur a Cheval of the Guard only to be soundly beaten by the 10th Hussars and losing about 120 of their number together with the capture of their famous commander. Do we see the Guard Chasseurs marked down as incompetent from then on? No, this action was seen as it was, a creditable performance by Paget and his cavalry and bad luck on the Chasseurs and Lefebvre Desnouettes.

The clear fact that emerges from this book is that for its size the British cavalry arm was one of the best cavalry forces in the Napoleonic wars capable of turning great battles in its favour. When the right conditions were in play, namely good cavalry terrain, efficient command and a modicum of luck the cavalry arm showed in its record that it was more than capable of giving a good account of itself and was not the  ill-disciplined mob of horsemen that it is sometimes portrayed and unfairly modelled as in many wargame rule sets.

Sir Charles Oman has left a massive impact on the way we have viewed the British army in the Napoleonic era. Ian Fletcher makes the point that it is to a contemporary of Oman's, Sir John Fortescue, whose History of the British army gives a much more balanced consideration of the points discussed here, but is often overlooked in favour of Oman's great history. It is thanks to books such as Fletcher's that we are are able to reassess that legacy and I now have Fortescue's History on my Ipad. I know I will be reconsidering the way I rate my British cavalry and its commanders from now on.

A highly reccomended read.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Roman Cohort & Scorpio - New Painter on JJ's

Legionary Cohort painted by Tom Jones
It gives me great pleasure to introduce the work of a new painter to JJ's Wargames, my eldest son Tom, who has picked up the baton of carrying on the progress with the Dacian War collection, whilst I have got stuck in to the Napoleonics.

The first unit he loosened up on was the legionary cohort which is the third in our growing little collection and imagine my delight when I saw these completed on his painting desk when I got back from Paris last weekend.

I was particularly pleased with the skin tones achieved and the highlights on the armour.

Not only that but Tom has achieved some great facial expression with these guys. I particularly love the Centurion who looks like he is snarling at the oncoming enemy.

When we went away last weekend Tom was laying down the block colours on his scorpio. This was the final model all based up and ready to go.

I think he has done a fantastic job with these models and I now feel obliged to up my game.

I think the skin tones have gone even better on these chaps, check out the delineated knee cap on the kneeling legionary above - love it.

So the future of JJ's Wargames is in the hands of the next generation. Well done Tom and no pressure on his younger brother Will, who can also work a paint brush when he is of a mind to.