Wednesday, October 29, 2014

British 85th Regiment - Buck's Volunteers Light Infantry

The original 85th Regiment was raised as “The Royal Volontiers” by Col. John Crawford in Shrewsbury Castle in 1759; it was the first actual regiment of Light Infantry to be raised in the British army.  Its first active service came during the Seven Years’ War (1756 -63) when it took part in operations against the island of Belle-Ile off Brittany in 1761 and in Portugal in 1763. Its never fulfilled its originally intended function - service in the woodlands of North America!  The 85th was disbanded on the conclusion of the war in 1763 amidst a general reduction of the army.

The 85th Infantry Regiment was re-raised in 1778. The early years of its existence were not happy ones, as it performed extended service in the Caribbean, never a popular station due to the losses from tropical diseases. Upon it's return to the British Isles, so many of its officers and men were lost in storms at sea that it was disbanded (1783). It was reformed in 1794 on the lands of the Duke of Buckingham, and then saw service with the "Grand Old Duke of York" (of up hill and down hill fame in song) in Flanders that year, then on Gibraltar, then back to Holland again in 1799.  the 85th was stationed at Madiera in 1800 - 1801, and then returned to the Caribbean, garrisoning Jamaica until 1808.

When the regiment then returned to the United Kingdom, it was trained and re designated as a Light Infantry regiment. It then saw further unhappy and disease ridden service, participating in the Walcheren landing sideshow of 1809. From there it was sent to Portugal, where it  fought at the Battle of Fuentes de OƱoro (3–5 May 1811). Having suffered severe losses, it was returned home later in 1811. After returning to the Peninsula in 1813 (and fighting at the battle of Vittoria), following Napoleon's abdication in 1814, the 85th took ship to the Americas once again, and fought at Bladensburg and Washington. It suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of New Orleans before returning to Europe in May, 1815. It missed the Waterloo campaign.

In token of its service during the French Wars, the 85th was re-designated “the Duke of York’s Light Infantry”later in 1815, with the motto “Aucto Splendore Resurgo” (“I rise again in increased splendour”) in token of its numerous re-formations. In 1821, after its officers defended King George IV during riots in Brighton, the 85th was yet again re-designated, now as “The King’s Light Infantry”.


The 85th Infantry Regiment, "Buck's Volunteers Light Infantry" (28mm Old Glory figures), fresh off the painting table. In keeping with the Light Infantry fashion of the era, the command stand has a bugler instead of a drummer. 


Following my own personal scheme for British Light Infantry regiments, it wears red-brown pants of the kind commonly seen on field service in the Peninsula, and carries a King's color (Union flag based pattern, although being cheap I've co-opted the GMB flag of another regiment!). 


Being a Light Infantry regiment, all of the companies have red "shoulder wings" on their jackets, and green plumes  and silver hunting horn plaques on their shakos. 


The 85th had yellow facings, with silver lace for its officers. I have adopted the facing colored discs that were often painted onto on the back of the backpacks, but have not attempted to paint the regimental number or badge upon it. My sanity is more important than that!


Red and yellow are also the colors of Fall in New England, so the following pictures are of the center of "Our Town", Bridgewater, Connecticut, taken on a cloudy mid October day. Originally a part of the Town of New Milford, it began the process of separation in 1812. At that time, in order for the State Legislature to approve the formation of a new municipality, it had to have an established congregation of the approved sort (i.e., a church descended from the Puritan tradition). Seen through the trees is my church, The Bridgewater Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, officially established in 1803. Parts of the Meetinghouse date back to 1807. The Town was not formally incorporated until 1856, however.


Diagonally across the very small Town Green is the Bridgewater Village Store, constructed in 1898. It is the only retail business of significance in the town; the post office occupies the right side of the building. Among other Gourmet items, the store sells Bridgewater Chocolates; these are pricey but easily the best chocolate I have ever had, anywhere in the world... period!  If you have a true Chocoholic in your life, order them a box. Seriously!

Bridgewater has been a "dry town" since the Temperance movement days, and is presently the only remaining such town in the State of Connecticut. , However on the ballot this November is a proposal to allow restaurant liquor sales, with an eye towards allowing the Store (which survives economically only courtesy of local resident Peter May, whose family owns the Macy's department store group) to open a restaurant in the adjacent building off to the left. I personally support allowing "Demon Rum" a foothold in our town once again, LOL!


As you might recall my post on new Milford, any old New England town pretty much has to have two churches in the center of town, one Congregational, one Episcopal (ex Church of England). This is our local den of ex-loyalists, St Mark's Episcopal Church. The present building was completed in 1859, and is unusual for an Episcopal church of that era in being constructed entirely of wood instead of stone. It originally also boasted a tall spire, which was destroyed decades ago and not replaced. 



Closer view of the Congregational Church and its octagonal spire. The Bridgewater area has truly abysmal cell phone reception. Some years ago, a proposal to disguise a cell phone tower within the steeple was declined, IMHO unwisely; as well as greatly improving cell phone service without the visible signs of a cell tower, it would have been a major buttress to the church's budget!


A view to the Northwest shows two of the twenty three private residences that are within the Bridgewater Town Center, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Most were constructed after 1820 and before the Civil War. 


A view of the Congregational Church from the side. I served as a Deacon of the Church for six years back in the 1990's. The walls and ceiling of the interior are entirely clad in intricately patterned stamped tin, painted light blue or white. 


Another  19th century private residence, featuring a huge front porch (probably added  later) , situated across from the Church. 


Bridgewater Town Hall, built in 1904. "Czar Barry's" historic home is almost across the street. 
Our First Selectmen, aka "King Billy", reigned from here for over 30 years before finally stepping down about a year ago. In one of the few seriously contested elections of his long term in office, he famously called up the opposing candidate, haranguing him for daring to oppose him, and concluding by proclaiming:  "This is MY town!"     (It's our town too, Billy!)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saxon Heavy Cavalry - Napoleonic Wars

Organization of the Saxon Heavy Cavalry

In 1763, the Cavalry arm of the Electorate of Saxony was composed of eight regiments of Cuirassiers and one of Dragoons. The oldest of these, the Garde du Corps, dated back to before the Thirty Years War, with the Kurfurst regiment tracing its origins back to 1680, and the von Zastrow regiment back to 1696. By 1799, there were three Heavy Cavalry Regiments in the army, plus the Garde du Corps. They all rode excellent, expensive Holstein horses, with those of the Garde du Corps being black (except that for officers of that regiment riding golden bays).

The Garde du Corps had 4 squadrons with a theoretical strength of 429 men; the other Heavy regiments had 4 squadrons totaling up to 734 men each. Most of the fine horseflesh of these regiments was appropriated by the French in the aftermath of the debacle of 1806, and it was not until war with Austria became imminent in early 1809 that the bulk of the horses were replaced.  The Kurfust regiment became the Koenig regiment when Saxony became a Kingdom within the Confederation of the Rhine, and then the Leib regiment in 1809.

Uniforms of the Saxon Heavy Caavlry


Prior to 1810, the Saxon Heavy Cavalry regiments wore single breasted, buff colored tunics with the facing colors on the cuffs, turnbacks, and collar. The regimental lace appeared as edging on the collar, cuffs, shoulder straps, turnbacks, and down the front seam of the tunic. Vests were in the facing color, again trimmed with the regimental lace. Buff colored breeches were worn. Belts were white. Headwear was a black bicorn with a loop, and button, corner tassels, and a tall white plume. Trumpeters are said to have worn reversed colors, with red plumes on their hats. The plumes of Officers had a black base, while those of the NCO's had a black tip.

The shabraques were in the facing color, trimmed with the regimental lace, with the monarch's "FA" cipher in the corners. Saddle covers were of white or black sheepskin. Horse furniture was of black leather.

Saxon Heavy Cavalry, Regimental Distinctions, 1800 - 1809

Regiment
Facing Color
Regimental Lace
Garde du Corps
Dark Blue
Yellow w/ 2 red stripes
Karabiniers*
Red
Yellow w/ red & black stripes
Kurfurst, later Koenig, then  Leib
Red
Yellow w/ red edges
Kochtsky, later Zastrow
Yellow
Yellow w/ black and white edges
* The Karabiniers were disbanded in 1810, with the men and horses distributed to the other three heavy regiments, increasing their strength to 768 men each.


From 1810 the uniforms of the Heavy cavalry underwent major changes. The Bicorn gave way to a brass helmet in 1810. The helmet had a brass comb with a black crest and a white plume, with a black fur turban (with a gold oak leaf pattern overlaid for officers). Black Cuirasses (front plates only)were officially part of the equipment for the Leib (lined red) and von Zastrow (lined yellow) regiments , but seem to have been seldom worn; none of the regiments brought theirs with them on the Russian campaign in 1812, for example. Officers of the Garde du Corps had gold belts, white for everyone else.


Officer, Saxon Garde du Corps, 1810 - 1813 (Knoetel)

From 1810, the Leib and von Zastrow Cuirassiers changed to white tunics and pants (one source says much earlier, in the later 18th century), whilst retaining their former red  and yellow facings respectively. The patterns of the regimental lace also changed. Knoetel shows yellow lace (gold for officers) for The Garde du Corps and Leib Cuirassiers,  white lace (silver for officers) for von Zastrow. However, far more complex lace designs, yet different form the earlier ones listed under pre 1810, are shown (possibly only for use with full dress uniforms) in detail on this site:

http://www.histunif.com/confederation/Saxe/saxe_jpp_cavlourde.htm

From 1810, the Trumpeters wore helmets with red crests and plumes.Trumpeter's tunics from 1810 were red faced dark blue for the Garde du Corps, red faced white for the Leib-regiment, and yellow faced white for the von Zastrow regiment. Trumpets were silver with gold cords (Osprey says blue and white cords) for the Garde du Corps, brass with gold cords for ther Leib Cuirassiers,, and black mixed with yellow for the von Zastrow Cuirassiers.


Here are some of my vintage Minifigs again, depicting the Leib-Kurassiere Garde regiment. For field wear, dark grey pants with a red stripe down the outside seam might also be worn. 
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Note the red tunic, crest, and plume of the Trumpeter, whose uniform also best shows the placemnent of the regimental lace. For whatever reason, this particular unit is the Saxon Cuirassier regiment least commonly seen on our tabletops!


The portmanteau of the heavy cavalry regiments were in the facing colors:  in 1813, dark blue for the Garde du Corps, yellow for von Zastrow, and red, as seen here, for the Leib regiment. The unique Saxon style standards with distinct borders by regiment were carried by the heavy cavalry regiments as well. 


Arms of Saxony, as seen on the standards


There are a great many conflicting versions of the details of the uniforms of the Saxon army, and none more so than with regard to these heavy cavalry regiments. See the multiple sources listed in the first post of the series on Saxony for many additional images and references, including details of the patterns for the standards, lace, etc. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Indian Summer: 25mm Minifigs Mauryan Indian Army

Ellis Con in Danielson, CT (link to Facebook Event Page) is only a little over 4 weeks away now (Saturday, November 15th  so if I am going to run my games of Legio Quaternarius successfully, it is past time to get on with shaking the preparations out!  As part of that process, I dug out my vintage 25mm Minifigs Mauryan Indian army, which will be one of the four armies to be played.


 
Shot of the entire Indian army deployed; 24 units plus the General. I hope to give these veteran troops (painted back in Medical school circa 1979) an application of Magic Wash before the convention. 


A more general overview shot of the army from behind...


and one from the front (note the vintage "bookcase" games in the background!) 


Right flank of the Army from the right side


Next the center


Then the left flank of the army.


Left Flank from the rear.


and the center


and the right flank.


Left flank from the front


and the center


and finally the Left flank.


Here's my own "Army List" for this army for Legio Quaternarius:

#3 Mauryan India     (350 - 200 BC)

QTY
Unit Description
Unit Type
Cost
Subtotal
3
Indian Elephants
El*B
16
48
2
Heavy Chariots
HCh*B
15
30
2
Light Cavalry
LC*J,Sh
9
18
2
Medium Cavalry
MC*J,Sh
10
20
7
Indian Archers
MI*2H,B, No Sh
9
63
2
Indian Javelinmen
MI*J, 2H, Sh
9.5
19
2
Indian Spearmen
MI*SS,2H,Sh
9.5
19
2
Skirmishers
LI*B,2H, No Sh
5
10
2
Light Bolt Throwers
ENG
12.5
25
1
General
General
25
25
25
TOTALS
277
Special Rules:
All Indian Elephants are+15 on Morale and +10 in Combat
All Indian Infantry is -10 on Morale
Indian Cavalry and Chariots never suffer disorganization due to the proximity of Elephants

The Army has a total of 96 Infantry, 20 Cavalry, 2 Four-horse Chariots, 6 Elephants (I've borrowed two from my Sassanid army), 2 bolt throwers with 4 crew figures, plus the General; 



Years ago, I had made a square grid using 2 x 3 foot sheets of Masonite, painted green, and then drew on a 3" grid with a wide black  magic marker. That worked well but was heavy to store, and over time, the boards gradually warped in storage (a flood or two in the basement didn't help - we now have a sump pump and a generator! 


A number of years ago, while we were driving back from a Historicon in Lancaster, Joe and I were shooting the war games breeze as usual. We had seen the gorgeous little terrain layout for the National Flames of War Tournament laid out in the auditorium. Although he disavows any recollection of these events "Mission; Impossible!" style, as I was thinking out loud about lightweight grids for use in tabletop gaming, Joe gave me the idea of using the heavy duty brown paper that can be purchased in large rolls for very little at Home Depot and similar DIY stores. A trip thereto revealed that it came in 30" wide rolls - so I cut two equal lengths, and used wide masking tape to join them together. That yielded a surface almost 72 inches across and 64 inches deep. 


I sprayed a mottled light green pattern on top of the already light brown paper, and it actually looked pretty good. I then drew a 4" grid onto it using a black ball point pen and a yardstick. The resultant grid was 14 x 14 squares, with some space to spare on all sides. For this game, I think I am going to use that extra space to add another row of squares to all four sides, increasing the grid to 16 x 16 (256 squares), so as to not have the flanks  be too secure; no unit may start more than three squares on to the table, and units may not start in the 2 rows of squares to either flank, either.



We had a light frost overnight on Sunday morning of Columbus Day weekend, followed by a gloriously bright, clear and warm day with many more that followed, thus meeting at least some of the definitions for Indian Summer. That inspired me to take some Fall pictures of our area, a bit before the elusive "peak color" for this year. This shot was taken on the border between Bridgewater, where I live, and New Milford where my office and Hospital are located. This is looking more or lees South from CT Route 67. The tall mound in the midground is Lover's Leap, now a State Park. Apropos to my last musings about the role of population density, it can be seen that although I live in the Northeast of the US, in my area, the population density is not that high@!  In fairness, there are actually quiet a lot of houses that are obscured by all the trees of our area, but still, you get the idea!


Lover's Leap (in true summer), overlooks the e gorge on the Housantonic River where the daughter of Chief Waramaug, Princess Lillinonah, is said to have met her death in the (then) treacherous rapids, along with her lover who leaped into the water in an attempt to save her, but tragically drowned in the attempt himself. Such at least is the legend!  Bald Eagles nest in this area, and are often seen gliding in the skies above. We'll continue of a brief Fall Tour of New Milford, the largest town geographically in the state of Connecticut. 


New Milford Hospital, where I have admitted and treated patients for 30 years. It is located less than 100 yards from the Green..


Located on the tall hill overlooking the center of  the Town of New Milford, is this unusual Masonic Hall, St. Peter's Masonic Temple. 


The interior of the Hall is notable for the stained glass windows and checkered linoleum floor, without much other ornamentation being seen when it is used for non Masonic events.

Interior of the Temple, from the Lodge's website



Hiking further up the rather steep Hill (which continues up to the private Canterbury School located atop it) gives a nice view down upon the center of Town. Little wonder our area sees heavy motor vehicle traffic "leaf peeping" in mid October!


Looking from the top of the Green; if it was earlier in the day there would have been a busy farmer's Market on the green, selling local produce, most of it organically grown. New Milford has the longest Town Green in the state; at least that's our claim, and we're sticking to it!


The First Congregational Church of New Milford, established circa 1716 (the present building on the Green was dedicated in 1833). The church's carillon plays every half hour during the day; as I was taking this shot, it was the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's wonderful 9th Symphony. Entirely fitting!


St. John's Episcopal Church, also on the Green. Established in 1746. Most New England towns of any size have a Congregational Church (descended from the original Puritan churches, although now very progressive, in colonial times and for decades thereafter, it was required to establish such a church before an application for incorporation as a town could be approved), and an Episcopal church (aka the Church of England prior to the Revolution) right in the center of town. 


Further South on the Green, the red brick building is Town Hall, and was built on the site of Roger Sherman's homestead. He lived bin New Milford from 1743 to 1760, and was an active member of the Congregational Church. He later moved to New Haven, where he later became the city's first Mayor. Roger Sherman (b. 1721 , d 1793) "served on the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and was also a representative and senator in the new republic. He was the only person to sign all four great state papers of the U.S.: the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson said of him: "That is Mr. Sherman, of Connecticut, a man who never said a foolish thing in his life." [citation from Wikipedia]. Mr. Sherman was the originator of the "Connecticut Compromise", which resulted in the representation of each State being according to its population  in the House, but equal in the Senate. The neighboring town of Sherman, Connecticut (originally a part of New Milford itself, as indeed was Bridgewater as well) is named in his honor. 


View from New Milford Hospital towards East street. The ridge in the background is known as Second Hill. 


Another view of Second hill, this one being from the parking lot of my office. 


I hope you haven't found this limited Autumn tour of my area too boring! Let me conclude by celebrating a gorgeous Fall day with the words of the Hymn to Joy, words by Henry van Dyke and set to Beethoven's music:

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!


Peter

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Henry Hyde, Haiku and Hobby Hubris

Last month, Jonathan Freitag ran his second anniversary blog contest, and as part of that several generous prizes were offered. The contestants were asked to submit one or more haiku addressing two themes put for by Jon, as out lined in in the preceding link. The "grand prize" was a hard copy of Henry Hyde's recently published tome, The Wargaming Compendium.


Image from http://thewargamingcompendium.com/

As it turned out, in a hard fought, amiable contest of words, my offering came in first by a broken bayonet. This is actually the second time I have been a beneficiary of Jon's largess, receiving a copy of  the excellent"Eagles over the Alps" in last year's contest.  Thanks again, Jon! My copy arrived on time direct form Amazon a few days ago. I had considered purchasing this book several times in the past on my own, but concluded that the needs of the lead arms race took priority! The was good timing as my wife was away for a few days to assist my daughter. I have thus read the first 3 chapters already, which form a very agreeable introduction to wargaming as a hobby. Nothing too much I didn't know already, which is hardly surprising nor indeed a flaw in any way. This is a massive, beautifully and heavily illustrated book, that is obviously a true labor of love!

My only minor quibble thus far is with the chapter on the history of wargaming. As Mr. Hyde himself points out, it is far from exhaustive, and limited by the space available. Still, I found the degree to which it was focused on the British scene, while entirely understandable, becoming mildly annoying by the end of the chapter. Only Jack Scruby and Joe Morschauser come in for brief mention among Americans. Even Gary Gygax is referred to in passing with regard to Dungeons and Dragons (only), and many other major American contributors and contributions to the field such as Bob Coggins, Jim Getz, Scotty Bowden, Duke Siegfried, Bob Jones, Arty Conliffe, Sam Mustafa, Terry Gore, Buck Surdu, Frank Chadwick, Old Glory (among manufacturers),  Napoleon's Battles, Tactica, Fire and Fury, The Courier (hands down my vote for the best wargames magazine of all time - thanks, Dick Bryant!), The Midwest Wargamer's Association Newsletter (MWAN - thanks likewise to Hal Thinglum)), and so on. Of course, our European friends come off even worse, with Impetus, Dadi e Piombo, and Vae Victus being rather glaring omissions. In fairness to the author once again, he acknowledges that there are as many omissions as inclusions, and that some are bound to be annoyed by same, for which he offers an apology in advance.

All this does raise a rather intriguing question, which I am certainly not the first to ask. Why is it that the United Kingdom seems to have a much higher number of Historical wargamers (and manufacturers) per capita than any other country (recognizing that our perceptions of non English speaking countries are inevitably skewed downward)?  The US has 5 times as many citizens, but I'd estimate roughly the same total number of historical wargamers, and those are spread out over a vastly greater area. We in the U.S. are also unable to support even  a single Historical Wargames magazine in the modern era, and yet the UK supports two or three! Certainly the much higher population density makes access to other nearby wargamers much more likely, but the population of France is similar, and her population density of the same general order of magnitude, and yet Historical Miniature Wargaming certainly seems  is a far less popular hobby there. Similarly, from the standpoint of exposure to history, while the UK has been the scene of recorded battles back to at least Roman times, the same can be said even more so of France.  The US leads the world in per capita income (admittedly, increasingly unevenly distributed), so lack of funds is an unlikely rationale. Discussion?

Some comparative national statistics, from Wikipedia:
Total Population, Population Density, and GDP (purchasing power adjusted) per capita::

United Kingdom:  64 Million  255/km2    $38,711

France:  66 Million, 116/km2    $36,537

United States of America:  320 Million, 34/km2   $53,000

Canada:  35.5 Million, 3.4/km2   $44,656

Australia:  23.6 Million  2.8/km2   $44,346

New Zealand:  4.5 Million, 16.5/km2 , ,  $30,493

India:   1,210 Million, 380/km2  $5,777

India would seem to be one good long term market for the growth of our hobby...

Peter

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Of Dice and (Tin) Men: The House of War

My plan all along was to return to Connecticut after I finished my Residency training. I figured that I would join an existing medical group. My wife (also from Connecticut) and I had pretty much decided that we wanted to settle either along the shore East of New Haven, or in the hills of Litchfield county. Rather unexpectedly, I wound up assuming the practice of an older physician who was relocating. Pretty much day 1 of my practice, I was admitting patients to the hospital, and using the full scope of my training (aside form obstetrics). I was also on call 24/7, seven days a week. That lead to very  little gaming or painting taking place for several years (although the condo we rented had a full basement and I had a ping pong table for gaming). One of the early viistors to the practice (on a social call, rather than medical!) was my old wargames freind from UConn and beyond, Joe Fish.


The newspaper covering the center of the ping pong table on this somewhat faded photo means that it was taken in the living room of the 4 bedroom condo I shared with three other students during my last three years of medical school; most likely in 1983 We didn't use the living room of the condo at all and had virtually no furniture in it, so I kept the table folded up in the corner, and took it down only for games. The opponent was likely either Joe Fish or Dave Sweet. 


A shot of my Minifigs Danes from circa 1983 deployed non the kitchen table of our appartment in NJ on one of the hex gridded 2 x 3 foot panels of Masonite with the self adhesive hex grid sheets (sold for use with the  Frappe! rules back in the early 1970's). 


    Within a few years we had added two daughters and moved to a house, and I finally had a call group to ease the workload some.  A full basement for gaming was of course an essential requirement for the house! My in-laws contributed a second, no longer used, ping pong table. In my down time I then constructed an unnecessarily massive tabletop to go over the ping pong tables and also raise the table height up another 5" to a more comfortable height for use while standing (I am 6'4" tall!). In  the process I also accommodated one inconveniently situated support column for the house.The final table was (and is) 20 feet long by 6 feet wide.


Probably one of the first wargames played in the basement of our new home, using the original (hex gridded) version of Legio Quarternarius. The back of the picture reads "Battle of the Adopted Dunes, March 16, 1985". Note the many red "death shrouds"!  The Adopted reference is probably to my friend Charlie and his wife having adopted their first child. Armies are Mauryan Indian and Carthage, I think.


Now having a 20 foot long wargames table, I did a "Grand Parade" of my entire Napoleonic Collection. Sadly, the pictures came out way too dark. Digital photography is much easier - you see the shots right away and re-do them if they come out poorly! 


Lots of troops even then!


Another shot, Allies to the left, French and their satelites to the right. 


Troops stretch as far as the eye can see, and beyond!  This was circa 1988.


This was the age of GeoHex (introduced circa 1984, I believe, and produced through circa 2003), so I gradually acquired almost all of the sets, and made some awesome looking miniature battlefields - the base level of the table was painted medium blue to use with the Geohex (streams/rivers/shoreline), as well as for Naval games.

Some of the many pieces in a GeoHex set

For those of you unfamiliar with GeoHex, it is based upon large rigid Styrofoam Hexagons, 12" across parallel sides, some with roads printed onto them geographically. The slope side pieces gave 1,2,3,4,5, or 6 vertices of the hexagon shape, with an additional long thin piece. Anyway, it is possible to make some really wonderful tabletops with this stuff. It is however, rather time consuming to plan out and execute a layout, especially when also using the supplemental sets that straighten the table edges, add steep slopes, and so on. 

My original Renaissance armies on GeoHex terrain.


Swiss pikes on the hill.


Two Spanish Tercios with supporting Organ guns.


Better shot of the Swiss.

Mounted crossbowmen and Arquebusiers; walls from the Hovels "Spanish Village" set. 


Artillery and foot Arquebusiers.


    Once we had the basement and table set, my house became the site for the 3 to four games a year that I could coordinate with the other 3 guys of my original warganes group all of whom were within about an hour's drive in various directions. We played a lot of Legio Quarternarius, including some round robin very informal tournament type actions, using various early (Assyria - Republican Rome - Macedonian - Carthage - Mauryan Indian)  or late (Sassanid Persia - Palmyra - Byzantium - Teutonic Knights) army groupings. 

    We continued to play Napoleonics, and tried out some of the "new" wargames rules, including Napoleon's Battles by Bob Coggins and Craig Taylor. While I liked some of the ideas in NB, overall it wasn't my cup of tea. Charlie liked the rules a lot, however. Since the table and almost all of the figures were mine, you can guess whose opinion won out! I had the pleasure of sitting opposite Bob Coggins and alongside Jim Getz (Empire, Napoleonique) and his wife at a Chevaliers de Neptune ("Don't ask!!") dinner hosted by Bob Jones at Historicon in  (Lancaster, PA) in 2003.  Quite lively conversation, most of it having little to do with either wargaming... or the Napoleonic Wars!


The original version of Napoleon's Battles (1st edition published 1989), the first attempt at really widespread marketing of a miniature wargame, distributed by The Avalon Hill Game Company, the giant of the military board games industry.  Sadly Craig passed away in 2012, and Bob passed away suddenly a few months ago. (Image from Boardgame Geek).

Meanwhile, we continued with our ever changing house Napoleonic wargames rules, which I termed "Code Napoleon". Those reached their final evolution with two developments. One was the publication of Don Featherstone's "new" wargames book, Featherstone's Complete Wargaming in 1989, and an article by Brent Oman in the Midewst Wargamer's Association Newsletter at about the same time.


This book of Don's holds an honored place in my collection, (along with several others), also published in 1989. Those only familiar with Don's much earlier rules will be surprised to see the evolution of his ideas in this one! I also had the pleasure of meeting Don in person at Historicon ? 2008, courtesy of an intro by Jim, Getz. At age 88


 From Don's chapter on the Napoleonic Wars came the idea of replacing many of the traditional modifiers for combat with a grid based upon the formations of the attacker and defender, one each for fire and one for melee, and rolling a D10 to determine the outcome. From Brent's article came the idea of using different Polyhedral dice for different troop quality - the bigger the die type, the better the troops... so Militia types would roll a D6, Conscripts/Raw troops a D8,  Regulars a D10, Crack troops a D12 and Guards a D20!  I'll present those rules, which I named Code Napoleon, in the next post of this series.