Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Singin' the Prussian Blues...

    As regular readers of my blog will know, I am currently engaged in a major expansion of my Napoleonic Prussian (18113-15 era) army.  My Prussian army is definitely the "Johann come lately" of my major continental armies; my first French (and British) were 25mm pre-painted KILIA grade Flats from Aloys Ochel of Kiel, West Germany, which I started acquiring circa 1966. By 1969, I decided I anted to be able to choose my own regiments, and was finally ready to tackle painting my own troops. The Flats were sold off and I started building new armies using Jack Scruby's 25mm figures (with a few Hinton Hunt figures mixed in). The French were first (large) army I built; I later added some Austrian and Russians, switching to Minifuigs for most newer additions to my forces by the mid 1970's. Another fellow in the group raised a few British units, and another a moderately large Prussian Army. I started to switch out my veteran Scruby figures for Wargames Foundry in the early 1990's (before their prices went crazy). First I did the French (of course!), and then added more Austrians and Russians (of various manufacturers, but especially Old Glory) to my still very much in use Minifigs.

In a way, it is a bit remarkable that I didn't really give the Prussians much thought; I probably have more German ancestry than anything else, and learned German in college (it was recommended for Chemistry majors, and I also wanted to be able to read Knoetel, then available only in German). However, their post 1807 uniforms are, well, kind of drab. The Pre-1808 uniforms are much nicer but they didn't fight very well, and the availability of casting in uniforms of that era in 25/28mm was very limited. Then, at Historicon  in 2001, I ran a set of three simultaneous Piquet: Les Grognards Napoleonic games. One of the games, the famed Mohrungen 1807 "Pine Suppository" scenario had Jamie Williamson and his friend Brett playing in it. We had a great time with them as players, and then after the game Jamie produced about 100 very nice, neatly painted 1813 Prussian Minifigs that he offered to sell me. It seems that he had painted them back in the day, when his group was doing 25mm Napoleonics, but they had since moved on to 15mm (or even smaller), and he had no use for them. I hesitated a bit, as Prussians really weren't in my long range plan, but at $1/figure for troops painted at least as well as I could... it was a deal!  Of course, having them as a core meant that I needed more troops to expand the army to a reasonable size. I bought some Old Glory Prussians (while Jamie took his new cash and bought a ton of smaller scale figures, I'm sure), and it turned out Joe had a sizable remnant of his own 25mm Prussian Minifigs army that he no longer really had any use for, so they were added to the collection after some touch up and facing color changes.

   I later added a few Calpe figures - gorgeous, but they are really a bit big to comfortably share the table with my exiting Minifigs/OG/Foundry figures, and it seemed they were too nice for my painting to really do them justice as well, LOL!. The lot of them were used in my 2002 Dresden game using Grand Piquet. At the same time, I began to covet some 1812 and beyond era Prussian Guard Infantry wearing the tall white Busch plumes. It is doubtful whether these were ever worn in combat, but they are marvelous bits of uniform "bling", and like the Rusians, without the plumes all you have to tell the Guard from the Line is the Guard Stars on their equipment, and the subtle Litzen lace ornamentation on the collars and cuffs. Be still my pounding heart... not , LOL!. Anyway, Minifigs was one of the few manufacturers to make such figures at that time, but they had pretty much ceased doing business in the US by then, and it wasn't clear that the parent company in the UK was still selling them. I made  Joe aware of my lust for these figures, and he managed to find a bag of 16 unpainted figures of them in the flea market that year for $10 (Joe has much ore patience scrounging around in Flea markets than I do!).

    I used my Prussians again for Dennewitz, 1813 at Historicon in 2003. That year, Joe couldn't attend (although he helped me playtest it at home(), but my old wargames friend Paul, who had moved to Arizona, wound up flying out and staying with me for the convention, as well as playing in the Dennewitz game. That game was also notable for the use of the new Les Grognard's, 2nd edition Grand Tactical scale and Horizon Movement, as well as my first GM award for a Historicon game.

  With two 1813 games planned for Historicon this year (Dresden and Mockern), and possibly others next year (or for Ellis Con and/or Havoc), and Ligny for 2015, doing my Prussian expansion made sense. The last of my Old Glory orders (so far) were cleaned and primed earlier in the month.  I came down with a nasty 24 hr stomache bug on Friday AM, enough to cancel a day in the office due to illness for the first time ion 30 years. By Saturday I was feeling fair, but not great... so I started painting the horde of Prussians I had prepped - 20 Foot Artillery Crew, 20 Horse Artillery Crew, 16 Guard Infantry, and 30 Reserve Infantry in "British" uniforms.

    I started with painting all those jackets with slightly thinned Delta Ceramcoat "Prussian Blue"...and quite a horde it was.

Yep, I do use tongue depressors to glue my figures to while they are being painted - just not used ones!

(not shown,,, another 18 figures with "Rifle Green" [Vallejo Green-Black] coats!)

As  I painted over 100 coats, I started thinking about the color itself, which I really like, but never use with my French troops. I recalled reading somewhere that Prussian Blue was one of the very first synthetic, non organic pigments created. A little searching found the quite good Wikipedia article on the subject:


    In short, the color was first produced accidentally circa 1706 (the chemist was trying to make a red pigment, but impurities in the reagents priduced a blue product instead!). As it turned out to be light fast (relatively stable to light exposure), and much less expensive than the only other blue pigment useful for painting blue (made of a fine suspension of crushed blue stone imported from Afghanistan), its commercial value was readily appreciated, and it became widely used first in art, and then for creating dark blue clothing... the dunkelblau of the Prussian uniforms was created using Prussian Blue (the pigment is insoluable, but is used as a fine solid suspended as as a colloid). The chemistry of the (inorganic)compound turns out to be quite complex but also very fascinating (see the wiki article for those with an interest in Chemistry - like myself!), including at its heart both Ferrous and Ferric states of Iron cations complexed to six cyanide groups each. Indeed, when the Cyanide group was finally isolated( from Prussian Blue preparation)s, the very name given to it was a Latinized version of the Greek word for "blue". We use that term extensively in Medicine as well - a patient who is "turning blue" (due to lack of oxygen and thus excessive amounts of the purplish deoxy-hemoglobin as opposed to the bright red oxygenated version) is said to be "cyanotic". Many of us with color computer printers will also be familiar with the term "cyan" applied to the blue pigment in our cartridges. Prussian Blue is also the traditional blue color used in "blueprints". There's another interesting and shorter reference to the history and chemistry of the compound here as well:


It is also useful for treating certain kinds of heavy metal exposures, as well as a histo-chemical stain for iron stores on Bone Marrow biopsy and other tissue specimens.



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Battle of Dresden, Day 2 (August 22, 1813); Scenario Development

    The Battle of Dresden was probably Napoleon's last large scale success, although the words of his old friend, Marshal Marmont proved to be all too prophetic:“I fear greatly, sire, lest on the day upon which Your Majesty has gained a victory and believe you have won a decisive battle, you may learn that you have lost two.” Dresden was a very large battle, involving over 350,00 men total between the two sides. I had previously run Dresden 10 years ago using Grand Piquet, and look forward to running it using Field of Battle. Based upon my last time out, as well as practical matters, I have decided not to attempt exact reproduction of the Order of Battle and command structure, but rather a more impressionistic, "based upon Dresden" approach, while keeping the overall ratio of the forces involved as close to correct as possible. 

    The combat front at Dresden was roughly 12 kilometers long. Field of Battle in normal scale uses 1" = 25 yards/meters, so that would require a table 12,000 meters/25m per inch = 480 inches long, or 40 feet! It would also require something on the order of 300,000 men/50 men per figure = 7,000 castings. Well, if the entire group pooled our figures, after doing Wagram and Borodino we might actually be able to come up with that many, but the logistics would be a nightmare in many ways. Doubling the ground scale and figure ratio (to 1' = 50m and 1 figure = 100 men) reduces the table size to 20 feet, which is big but doable, and reduces the figures needed to about 3,500. From past experience, less troops on the table is definitely better than more, so I decided to increase the scaling factor for the troops up to triple the normal, roughly 1 figure = 150 men. Thus, 1 infantry unit of 12 figures will represent about 1800 men, a cavalry unit of 8 figures will represent about 1200 men, and an artillery unit of 6-8 crew and 2 guns will represent about 24 guns. Bath-tubbing at its finest!

I have taken some liberties with the Gross Garten, positioning it a bit further to the left and down than it would otherwise be... otherwise it wouldn't appear on the able at all! The Weisseritz River was in full flood, and is only crossaale at the bridge at Pirna fior the Allies; the French can send their reserves from Dresden to either side(s) of the raging river (via bridges closer to the city). 

Here's how the (unaltered) OOB for Dresden (2nd day) would then look at that ratio:


Left Wing (Austrians): Hessen Homburg

Light Division - Moritz Liechtenstein
1 Jager
1 Grenz
1 Cheavu Leger
1 6# Cavalry Battery

1st Line Division - Colloredo
7 Austrian Line
1 6# Foot Battery

2nd Line Division - Bianchi
6 Hungarian Line
1 6# Foot Battery

3rd Line Division - Civalart
6 Austrian Line
1 6# Foot Battery

1st Reserve Division - Chasteler
3 Austrian Grenadiers

1st (Heavy) Cavalry Division - Nostitz
2 Austrian Cuirassier

3rd (Light) Cavalry Division - Schneller
1 Chevauleger
1 Hussar

Left Wing (Austrians) Ignatz Gyulai

Light Division - Crenneville
3 Grenz
1 Cheavuleger

1st Line Division - Weissenwolf
7 Austrian Line
1 6# Battery

2nd Line Division - A. Liechtenstein
7 Austrian Line
1 6# Battery

2nd (Heavy) Cavalry Division - Lederer
2 Austrian Dragoons

Army Corps Klenau

Light Division - Mesko
1 Grenz
2 Line
1 Hussar

1st Line Division - Mayer
7 Line

2nd Line Division - Hohenohe-Bartenstein
5 Line
1 6# Battery

(Heavy) Cavalry Division - Kuttalek
1 Cuirassier

Artillery Reserve
1 12# Battery

Russian/Prussian forces

Army HQ
1 Cossack
1 Opolochenie

Right Wing - Wittgenstein

Advanced Guard - Roth
4 Russian Jager

1st Corps - Gotcachov
4 Russian Line
1 6# Battery

Left Wing - Kleist (2nd Prussian Corps)

9th/10th Brigades - Von Klux/Pirch I
2 Prussian Line
2 Prussian Reserve
2 Prussian Landwehr
1 Schutzen
1 6# Foot Artillery
1 Landwehr Cavalry

11th/12th Brigades Ziethen/Pr. August von Preussen
3 Prussian Line
3 Prussian Reserve
3 Prussian Landwehr
1 6# Foot Battery
1 Hussar

Cavalry Reserve - Von Roder
2 Prussian Cuirassier
1 Uhlan
1 Landwehr Cavalry
6# Horse Battery

Reserve Artillery 

12# Foot Battery

Russian/Prussian Reserves

Infantry:  Miloradovich

3rd (Grenadier) Corps - Raevsky
4 Russian Grenadiers
1 Russian 6# Battery

5th (Guard) Corps - Udom-I
4 Russian Guards
2 Prussian Guards
1 Russian Guard Jager

Cavalry: Grand Duke Constatine

1st Cuirassier Division - Depreradovich
2 Guard Cuirassier
1 Guard HOrse Artillery

2nd/3rd Cuirassier Division Kretov/Duka
3 Cuirassiers

Guard Light Cavalry Division - Chevich
1 Guard Hussar
1 Guard Dragoon

Prussian Guard Cavalry
1 Guard Cuirassier
1 Guard Horse Artillery

Army Artillery Reserve
1 Guard 12 # (Russian)
1 12# Battery (Russian)
2 6# Horse Batteries (Russian)



Imperial Guard - Mortier

1st (Old Guard) Division - Friant
2 Grenadiers a Pied
2  Chasseurs a Pied
Guard 6# Foot Battery

1st Young Guard Division - Dumostier
Fusiliers- Grenadierts
3 Voltigeurs
Young Guard 6# Battery

2nd Young Guard Division - Barrois
2 Flanquers
3 Voltigeurs
1 6# Young Guard Battery

3rd Young Guard Division - Delaborde
3 Voltigeurs
1 6# Young Guard Battery

4th Young Guard Division - Rouget
3 Tirailleurs
1 6# Young Guard Battery

Guard Cavalry - Nansouty

1st Division - Ornano
1 Berg Lancers
1 Dutch Lancers

2nd Division - Lefebvre-Desounettes
1 Polish Lancers
2 Guard Chasseurs a Cheval/Mamelukes

3rd Division - Walther
Grenadiers A Cheval
Guard Dragoons
Guards d' Honneur

Guard 6# Horse Artillery

Guard Artillery Reserve - 

Guard 12# Battery
Guard 6# Horse Battery
Young Guard 6# Foot Battery

II Corps - Victor

4th Division - Dubreton
1 Legere
3 Line
1 6# Foot Battery

5th Division - Dufour
1 Legere, 3 Line
6# Foot Battery

6th Division - Vial
1 Legere
3 Line
1 6# Foot Battery

IV Corps - Marmont

20th Division - Compans
1 Legere
1 Line
2 Infanterie de la Marine
1 6# Battery

22nd Division - Frederichs
1 Legere
3 Line

21st Division - Lagrange
1 Legere
2 Infanterie de la Marin
1 Regt Joseph-Napoleon

25th Light Cavalry Brigade
Wurttemburg Chevau-Legers

Corps Artillery Reserve
1 12# Foot Battery

XIV Corps - St. Cyr

43rd Division - Claparede
1 Legere
3 Line
1 6# Foot Battery

44th Division - Bertheneze
1 Legere
3 Line
1 6# Foot Battery

45th Division - Razout

1 Legere
3 Line
1 6# Foot Battery

Corps Reserve
1 Hussar
1 Italian Chasseur
1 6# Horse Artillery

I Cavalry Corps - Latour - Mauborg

3rd Light Cavalry Division - Chastel
3 Chasseurs a Chjeval

1st Heavy Cavalry Division - Bordesoule
3 French Cuirassier
1 Saxon Cuirassier

3rd Heavy Cavalry Division - Doumerc
1 Cuirassier
1 Italian Dragoon
3 French Dragoon

Corps Artillery
1 6# Horse Battery

V Cavalry Corps - L'Hertier
2 French Dragoon
1 Chasseur a Cheval
1 6# Horse Battery

Dresden Garrison

1 Westphalian Light Infantry
2 Westphal;ian Line Infantry
1 Saxon Footguards
1 Saxon 6# Battery


   For game purposes, I will probably redistribute the troops of Klenau's (Austrian) Corps to become Russians (adding them to Wittgenstein's pathetically under strength Corps). This will give me 2 Austrian Corps, 1 Russian Corps, and 1 Prussian Corps on the Allied side, plus the Reserves, allowing 5-6 players.  On the French side, The Commands will be The Young Guard Divisions (with at least one of the Guard cavalry Divisions),  Marmont, Victor, St Cyr, and Latour-Mauborg, with the Old Guard and remaining Guard Cavalry and Artillery as a possible 6th command. The troops of the Dresden Garrison, or at least their numbers, will be used to bolster the numbers of the French Infantry Corps a bit.

  The second day of Dresden featured very heavy rain, often making musket fire almost impossible. I think the way that I will handle this is to put a couple of Weather cards in each side's sequence deck.  The game will start with Light Rain. Upon each appearance of a Weather Card, the side turning the car rolls a D6.  On na roll of 1 or 2, the rain decreases a step. On a rol or 4, 5, or 6, the rain increases a step. The levels and effects are as follows:

Overcast - use the usual rules

Light Rain - all Infantry Fire is Down 1

Heavy Rain - all Infantry Fire is Down 2, Infantry and cavalry are Down 1 in melee.

Downpour - No infantry fire allowed, all Infantry and Artillery are Down 2 in melee.

Infantry in buildings (but not the Gross Garten) are exempt from the above penalties,

Next time I'll cover the "fudged" OOB and the deployment for the game.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Prussian Landwehr Cavalry, 1813

    The formation of the Prussian Landwehr Cavalry was decreed in March, 1813. At more or less the same time, many of the Prussian provinces also raised a National Cavalry Regiment; these last were ultimately taken into the line Cavalry in 1815. These national Cavalry regiments included the Prussian, Pomeranian, Silesian, and Elbe  National Kavallerie Regiments. Each of the National regiments had its own unique uniform and coloration. The uniforms of the National Cavalry Regiments is well covered in David Nash's The Prussian Army, 18098-1813 by Almark Publications (London, September 1972); the text and line drawing are reproduced verbatim here.

    It is stated that during the autumn campaign in 181 there were 113 squadrons of Landwehr Cavalry in 30 regiments (squadrons typically having only 72 - 100 men each), numbering 10.952 men, while the Line and National Cavalry regiments combined  had 89 squadrons with  a total of 13.375 men. According to Peter Hofshroer's Osprey (Prussian Cavalry of the Napoleonic Wars (2): 1807-15), there were another 22 depot or replacement squadrons totaling 3,389 men, and another 23 squadrons of Volunteers and Foreign cavalry totaling an additional 3,064 men . By 1815, the Prussian Landwehr Cavalry stood as follows:

# of Rgts
Lance Pennons
East Prussia
Poppy Red
Poppy Red
West Prussia
Black *
Light Blue
0/3 #
Madder Red
* Brick Red (Orange-Red) was usually substituted for black (presumably because black didn't show well on   the dark blue coats, and the Landwehr infantry from West Prussia used this color.
# 3 Regiments, but all were raised after November 1815

The regulation dress for the Landwehr Cavalry was a dark blue coat, with the collar and the piping on the cuffs in the Provincial colors as above. The Litewka wa a long rather plain coat without tails or turnbacks. All leather work was black, and the trouser were generally grey, with or without piping on the outside seam, either in red (like the Regular cavalry wore) or the provincial color. A sword and lance (with pennons in the provincial patterns listed above) were carried. The regulation head dress was a black cavalry shako with a white Landwehr cross, worn uncovered (although it was often worn covered ).  The shoulder straps were colored according to the seniority of the regiment within the province (some say bu the squadron, and Hofschroer states that the regimental number was embroidered on the strap in yellow (red on yellow straps). One strongly suspects the embroidery was observed largely in the breach! In either case, the straps were 1st - white, 2nd - red, 3rd - yellow, and 4th - light blue The saddle blankets were usually black sheepskin with scalloped edging in the Provincial color.

Although it has been estimated that about 75% of the Landwehr cavalry wore uniforms essentially as above, there were of course numerous exceptions. These are well described in David Nash's book cited previously, and the relevant sections reproduced at the link above.  The two units that I did both have non regulation uniforms (of course!).  In part, that's because the two catalog numbers of Old Glory 25mm figures offered specifically as Landwehr cavalry wear such (Prussian Line Dragoon castings would actually work fine as Landwehr cavalry wearing covered shakos and with their swords out).

This unit is the 4th Silesian Landwehr Cavalry. They wear the Schirmutz cap instead of the shako. This might have a white Landwehr cross upon it (same for the shako).

The Litewka jacket has the collar and  the piping on the cuffs in yellow, the Provincial color for Silesia. The light blue shoulder straps indicate the 4th regiment. The trumpeter has yellow shoulder wings with white lace, and the trumpet cords are yellow mixed with white; he rides a grey horse as was often the case for the line.

The Silesian units were known to often use white sheepskin saddles instead of black, and often had white overcoats; the white overcoat is sen rolled up here. The lance pennons are the specified white over yellow for Silesia. These pictures were taken outside on an overcast day - the natural, diffused light made the pictures come out better than my usual, I think!

This unit is the 1st Neumark Landwehr Cavalry. Equipped by the British. this unit has a tall. "stovepipe" type shako with a large black within white Prussian cockade on the front, and white trim on the top.  White cords could also be worn on the shako. 

The unit's saddle blanks are also unusual in being colored light blue-grey, with red heart ornaments in the corners (which should be pointed, unusually for Prussian cavalry of this era (although they are rounded on these figures). The 2nd regiment also shared these features. White over black lance pennons are carried as per the Provincial distinctions listed above. This could also bear a Landwehr cross emblem upon it

The white shoulder straps mark this as the 1st Regiment. The trumpeter once again rides a grey horse. Grey overalls with a red stripe down the outside seam completes a rather attractive uniform, especially for Militia!

 As each bag of Old Glory Cavalry has 10 figures there were some left over figures. The officers I painted to represent Colonels acting Brigade (Division) commanders. Each bag also had a mounted casualty figure. From this ankle, the trooper in white appears to be holding his nose as if to say "Phew! Those French stink of Garlic and who knows what else; I can smell them coming even from here!

In this shot the Officer in the foreground looks suitably professional, while the figure in the background appears to demonstrating the international signal for "I am Choking to Death!"  Perhaps he needs the Heinrich.... er, Heimlich maneuver?!

In this final view, the situation of our unfortunate Prussian seems rather more dire!

Well, the sculptor must have been very proud of this fellow, because here he is *again* in the other bag!

The officer in Schirmutze cap will work fine as an infantry or cavalry leader. 

A final view of the dubious duo. The flock is Scenic Express "Alpine Meadow Blend". I eally like the mixture of foam flock, static grass, and "rocks" in this blend.

Finally, a couple of markers for in game use - stacks of back packs.

Some web links for more information:

Doubtless the best source for these units would be Dr Stephen Summerfield's "Prussian Napoleonic Landwehr Infantry and Cavalry 1813-1815: Landsturm, Volunteer Cavalry and Styreifcvorps. At 380+ pages, including color illustrations. I may acquire it some day. The roughly $60 price, although hardly unreasonable for a very specialized topic, lots of  research, and new artwork, has inhibited me thus far, however!

Mit Gott für König und Vaterland!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Of Dice and (Tin) Men: Europe Way back When

   I wound up being accepted into the Family Medicine Residency at Somerset Medical Center, in Sommerville, NJ, and started there in July, 1981. I was happy to be in this program, in a medium sized hospital affiliated with Rutgers, where the Family Medicine residents were the only house staff. Having seen the way things worked in a University hospital setting, I was convinced that a program where the Family Medicine residents do *everything*, all the time was a much better experience than one with excellent teaching but a lot more watching than doing; nothing subsequent has made me change my opinion in that regard. In any event, as a first year resident, on call in the hospital (and up most of the night) at least twice a week overnight, there really wasn't much time to do much except work, eat, and sleep. By now I was dating my future wife, to whom I proposed during a trip we took together to the Shenandoah valley. Of course, stops along the way included Gettysburg, Harper's Ferry, and New Market, along with the spectacular caverns in Lurray, and of course the Blue Ridge Mountains national park for some hiking. She accepted, perhaps unwisely, LOL, and we got married in August of my 2nd year of Residency. We're still happily together after 30 years, so she has learned to put up with me... and my "Marching Men", as she calls them. Long live the Empress!

   My first year in training, I don't think I painted anything... I was just too tired!  I did get together with my original CT group about once every 3 months for a game, but even there I had to be careful - I nearly fell asleep driving to game on Saturday once, having been up all night on call the Friday before; when you're on call every 3rd night, you pretty much are either on call Friday night, or are on call and work all day on Saturday or Sunday, so there's really no good time to travel! Anyway, the only other gaming I did that first year was a play by mail game of trade, exploration and conquest based in Europe and the New World during the age of exploration, set circa 1500, "Europe Way Back When". This was at a time when personal computers were rare, and very few people indeed had email, so it was all postal. Joe Angiolillo (see the previous post in this series) had nominated me to fill a vacancy in the game, so I commenced with playing the Golden Horde (Mongols). I reorganized and revitalized the Horde, and after a few turns was nominated and promoted to assume the control of the Hapsburgs. I think that by electing an inexperienced player to fill the vacancy of a powerful state, the other players thought that I would pursue a relatively passive approach. Hah!

    Now, if you know anything of this era, the Hapsburgs were probably at about the height of their power then. In addition to their holdings in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Hungary and Italy, the Low Countries were also part of their empire. Thus, along with Vienna, Prague, Budapest, etc, my territory also included the great cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brughes, and Brussels, among others. The design of the game was such that in the early years, the focus was on European resources and conflict, but seafaring nations could also launch exploratory expeditions to progressively further areas, as nearer once became "known". These expeditions were fairly expensive to undertake, requiring several ships, troops and cash, but had a good chance of finding new colonies, which could be founded (requiring additional transport, time and expenditures of course). There were a number of different kinds of colonies that it was possible to find, the types of course depending upon the region. Each type had their own characteristics and products, ranging from timber, to furs, to tobacco, sugar, spices, silk, etc. The success of these expeditions was determined by the stock market - one selected one of a dozen or so stocks for each expedition, and looking up the numbers for that stock on the day that the expedition was slated to return determined what if anything was found, and any losses suffered by the expedition; it was always exciting waiting to see what your intrepid explorers would discover.... and of course some expeditions vanished without a trace!

    My predecessor as Holy Roman Emperor had pursued a European Military strategy, and largely neglected exploration. This had been successful in the short term, but the design of the game was such that it was clear that failure to find, establish, develop, and exploit colonies would lead to major decline in the long haul. Thus, the Low Countries became the scene of intense exploratory activity. I had to do some horse trading with other sovereigns to kick start my New World territories, but before long I was an active competitor in North America. My explorations turned up a number of colonies in the South (Richmond, Roanoke  Charleston, etc) which produced Tobacco. This particular commodity was handled in a unique way when consumed back in Europe (which is when revenue was generated from the production of luxuries). The first resource of its kind consumed in a given city was only worth 500 gold pieces (very low - the highest fixed value assets were spices, aromatics and silks from the far East., at 5,000 GP per), but each additional resource of its kind consumed in the same city was worth 500 GP more, so the second was worth 100, the third was worth 1500, and so forth. All told, the maximum possible tobacco production from all colonies was 36/ year (turn). A given city could only consume two resources per unit population (? about 50,00 citizens?) per year. At the time of my ascending the throne as Kaiser, my largest city was Brughes, with a population of "5" (250,000 souls), and that was among the largest in Europe. The population of your cities could be increased by (of course) expenditures of money and resources, especially food. Larger cities generated more income, resources (for example, the Low Countries tended to produce Alum, needed, along with wool, to make the luxury Cloth) and troops, although having more, smaller cities was easier and cheaper to do.

    Anyway, to make a long story short(er), I managed to acquire ALL of the Tobacco producing colonies, and gradually increase the population of Brughes to 18 (900,00), easily becoming the First City of Europe, so that it could consume the entire 36 units of tobacco produced each year all by itself - the 36th unit consumed was thus worth 18,000 GP, and the average value of a unit of tobacco consumed at Brughes was 9,250 GP. Thus the entire crop consumed in that fashion yielded revenue of  333,000 GP per anum, a staggering amount. I had a lot of fun with this game over the course of about 5 years, before it finally died out due to declining player participation.

    The game required a lot of careful tracking of provinces, cities, towns, ships, colonies, resources and gold, as well as verifying the moves of two other players. Initially, I did this by means of a set of color coded index cards, one for each province or colony. Later, in 1984, I got my first computer, an Apple IIe. I had taken the first course for Computer Science Majors my last semester at UConn as an undergraduate; it was probably a good thing I didn't take it until then, as I really enjoyed it a lot, and might thus have gone into Computer Science as a career. As a result, I wrote a program in BASIC for the IIe to track all the above in the form of a linked list, which worked great. My next PC was a Windows machine about 10 years later, and it is perhaps not surprising that one of my two favorite computer games of all time is Sid Meir's COLONIZATION. (the other is the Heroes of Might and Magic series, especially HOMM 3).

Sid Meir's Colonization Screenshot from Wikipedia

        When I was in my 2nd year of Residency in Family Medicine, things were much better. Call dropped to  one night in seven, although it included primary responsibility for the ICU and CCU patients. By the third month in, I was also married, and that was going great, aside from the times when I wasn't home due to work. The enjoyable distractions of a new wife aside :-), I started painting again. Doubtless in part from my EWBW exposure, the next force up was a Renaissance Spanish one, using the oddly atmospheric 25mm figures by Hinchliffe (although their clothing style is really more appropriate to the period shortly before the Armada than the era of the Great Italian Wars). Of course, I still hadn't found a set of rules for the era that I liked yet... but when did that ever stop a wargamer from collecting a new Army?

A Spanish Tercio, with skirmishing Crossbowmen to the front, with Pikemen behind, Arquebusiers on the wings, and Sword and Bucklermen behind in support.. 

All of these are 25mm Hinchliffe figures.

That's 48 Heavy Pikemen, 48 Medium Pikemen, 48 Arquebusiers, 12 Crossbowmen, and 20 Swordsmen - 176 figures in all!

A rear view of the formation. 

...and a final side view.; King Carlos would be proud!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review - "Six Frigates"

    Subtitled "The Epic History of the Founding of the US Navy", this book was published in 2006. I came across this book by way of a loan from one of my long time patients who is familiar with my interest in military history.   He was given the book himself, and enjoyed it, and thought I might as well. He  had served in the US Navy in the 1950's and 1960's, much of it in the Mediterranean, and has made some interesting notations in the book for his grandchildren, where the narrative touched places he had served; knowing the man in question fairly well, I rather enjoyed these added personal vignettes.

   I found the book quite fascinating and a very enjoyable read. It is not primarily an account of naval actions, although it includes plenty of them. The main focus is on the process of creating and developing  the Navy, including the politics of the early days of the Republic and the varying roles of the first four Presidents of the US (Washington, Jefferson,  John Adams, and Madison), the political parties, congress, the various shipyards, naval architects, naval officers and sailors. Rather than being dry, I found it very interesting, although non Americans might find it less so. The  design and construction of of the six original Frigates authorized by Congress  is covered in detail, including the difficult task of procuring the famous Southern "Live Oak" used in their construction. The Frigates in question were the  (nominally rated as ) 44 gun United States, President, Congress, and of course "Old Ironsides" herself, the USS Constitution, plus the 36 gun Constellation and Chesapeake.

    Some forty or so years ago I wrote a paper for 9th grade Government class on the evolution of the Russian Navy, starting with the hiring of Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones by Catherine the Great, and continuing through to the Soviet era, so I have a small amount of additional appreciation for the challenges of tracing the evolution of the Navy as an institution, as opposed to simply an accounting of the actions it fought. In any event, I'd heartily recommend the book to anyone with an interest in the subject. If nothing else, it was somewhat reassuring that politics were even worse back then, and somehow the nation survived and prospered despite it!

   The (paperback) book, 560 pages (of which the last 80 pages consist of index, notes, and bibliography) is in print and available from Amazon,com for a little over $13 US.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Parliamentary Dragoons and Leaders

A few more troops from my English Civil; War Parliamentarian army are up for review today:

A large unit of Parliamentary Dragoons, intended to be Sir John Okey's regiment. Note the bibles on the black guidon.

The relatively drab, brown uniforms are probably closer to the reality of every day clothing!

The orange hat bands are all that mark them as supporting Parliament.

This venerable Minifig commander is supposed to be Sir Thomas Fairfax. 

I have not really painted him as such however, as Fairfax was nicknamed "Black Tom" for his black hair and swarthy complexion!

Once again, the black lining technique is very suitable to these cleanly cast figures. 

His companion is none other than Oliver Cromwell, nicknamed "Old Ironsides" as a commander; he was eventually to become Lord Protector.

Cromwell is a highly controversial figure to this day, so I will make no attempt to address his politics, etc! The bridge he is crossing was scratch built out of artist's board and popsicle sticks.

This is a trio of Roundhead troopers given to me by Joe some years ago; I think they may be Dixon figures.

They function as sub-commanders for my Parliamentary army as needed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Kingdom of Italy pt 2: Cavalry, Artillery

Chasseurs a Cheval (Cacciatore a Cavallo):  

There were two regiments in 1806, the 1st (Real Italiano) and 2nd (Pincipe Reale). A third regiment was added in 1809, and a 4th in 1811. Their uniform was basically similar to the French Chasseurs a Cheval, with dark green single breasted coats, often with white lace bars across the chest, dark green pants with white Hungarian knots and/or piping down the outside seems, and white metal buttons. The facing color showed on the collars, cuffs,  and turnbacks. A black shako was worn with white metal plaque and chinscales; it seems that the first regiment retained a black Czapska with white piping until at least 1809, however. Plume was dark green with a tip in the facing color; Von Pivka says the third regiment wore a black colpack with a cockade at the top front center, and a red plume above it. The Elite companies of all regiments wore the colpack with a red plume and a bag (flamme) in the facing color, along with white epaulettes. Trumpeters generally wore jackets in reversed colors, and their plumes were in the facing color with a white tip. Shabraques were dark green with white edging when worn; the lambskin covered saddles were white (black for trumpeters) with "wolves teeth" edging in the facing color.

Light Yellow
Orange (or Red?)

Here is the 4th Regiment of Chasseurs a Cheval of the Army of Italy. I of course chose this unit for their rather unique violet facing color!

Note the hand painted flag of  French-inspired pattern. 

As usual, I love reversed colors on a trumpeter; don't ghet to do that in purple very often, though!. This regiment had white lace chevrons on the sides of their shakos, at least at one point. After 1812, the chest lace disappeared as funds became too tight for such frivolities!

Dragoons (Dragoni):  

The Kingdom of Italy had two regiments, converted from the earlier Hussars of the Italian Republic in 1806; the 1st Hussars became the Dragoni Regina, and the second, the Dragoni Napoleone. Their uniform was again very similar to their French counterparts, with green coats and white breeches. Buttons were white metal. Square shrabques were green edged in white, and the sheepskin saddle covers were one again white (black for trumpeters), with facing colored "wolves teeth" edging. A brass helmet with black horsehair was worn, similar to that of French Dragoons. The First (Regina) regiment's helmet had a turban of leopardskin and a green plume to the left of the helmet,; the second (Napoleone) regiment had a black fur turban, and their plume was carmine over black. The elite companies wore black bearskins with a red plume, cul-de-singe, and cords, as well as red epaulettes.

1st  (Dragoni Regina)
2nd  (Dragoni Napoleone)
Capucine red

The Dragoni Napoleone. I chose to use a dark red shade for the Capucine hue, in part because I already had a French Dragoon regiment wearing scarlet facings, so it would differentiate them more. It seems the color can refer either to a deep red brown hue like this, or a light pinkish-red with distinct orange brown tones to it. The standard is hand painted once again.

Rear view of the 2nd Italian Dragoons.

The trumpeter wears reversed colors (of course!), with a white horsehair main and tufts on his helmet, similar to French Dragoons of the era. 

Galloping forward to action!  This unit has always performed well for me on the wargames table.

Foot Artillery

The Italian foot artillery generally was dressed similarly to their French equivalents, substituting dark green jackets and pants for the dark blue color of the French. In 1806 there were some 20 companies ([6 of gunners, plus one each of  pontonniers, bombardiers (usually manned mortars in fortresses), ouvriers (literally "workers"), and one of artificiers and armuriers (smiths and gunpowder handlers) ] in a single regiment of Foot Artillery, wearing bicornes with a red pom pom. The jackets had black lapels and collars, with red cuffs (other sources say black cuffs piped red), cuff flaps, turnbacks, and red piping on the shoulder straps, pockets, lapels and collars. Buttons were white metal. Ouvriers had red lapels, Potonniers sky blue, artificiers light grey and bombardiers dark red; by 1807, all wore the same uniforms as the cannoniers (gunners). Drummers wore the same uniforms as the men; drums brass with tricolor (re-white-green) diagonal bands painted on the drum rims.

By 1809, the shako had been adopted, with red cords and short carrot plume. The uniform was otherwise essentially unchanged. The cords were abolished in 1812. By 1812, there were 20 companies of cannnoniers, 3 of pontonniers, 3 of ouviers, 1 of armuriers, and a depot company.

A battery of Foot Artillery of the Kingdom Of Italy prepares to fire!

I have given this battery guns with their carriages painted in French Artillery Green; it appears grey was the official color for Italian artillery equipment.

A final view of the battery; I have chosen the black cuffs piped in red option.

Horse Artillery

In 1806 there were six companies of Horse Artillery in a single regiment, rising to 8 companies in 1808, but decreasing to 4 in 1812. However, it appears that the companies of artillery train were included in the Horse artillery establishment until 1811, and thus there were only 2 companies of actual Horse Artillery until the train companies were split off in 1811, and then 4 companies of actual Horse Artillery starting in 1812. The uniforms of the horse artillery were similar to the foot artillery: dark green jacket and pants, black collar and cuffs piped in red, red turnbacks, red lace bars across the chest, red piping and/or Hungarian knots on the trousers, and white buttons. Black boots with red piping and tassels. Black czapaska with a brass crossed cannons plaque on the front, changing to a black shako in 1812.; both had a tricolor cockade and a red plume. Belts were white. Officers had silver epaulettes. Trumpeter's uniforms were essentially the same as the rest of the men.

A company of Italian Horse Artillery.

The sheep looks unimpressed by the guns rolling down the road!

This picture shows the horse furniture and piping on the boots and trousers well.

Artillery Train

A battalion of 10 companies of Artillery Train was first raised in 1811. They wore a medium grey jacket with white pants, black boots, and a medium grey shako with black leather reinforcing bands on the top and bottom. The jacket was faced medium green on the collars, cuffs and turn backs, and the grey shoulder straps were piped medium green. There were bands of medium green lace across the chest as well. Saddle blankets were grey edged in medium green. Brass butons and shako plate, short green carrot plume on the shako.

   The Line and Light Infantry, as well as a good listing of on line sources was already covered in Part 1 of this series. Part 3 will cover the Royal Guard and General Officers.