Thursday, June 25, 2015

Assault and Batteries - Prussian Style!

The major expansion of my Prussian Napoleonic army has added nearly 200 Infantry and 40 cavalry. That much of an increase naturally needs a corresponding increase in the Prussian Artillery arm. This post concerns the new Foot Artillery batteries - four in all.

First up are three new six pounder Foot Batteries. Old Glory figures with Sash and Saber guns. The only thing I haven't done yet is to apply the Magic Wash to the guns, which will tone down the blue of the carriages a bit (paint color is Delta CC "Bluejay"). 

I added some "Large"Silflor tufts to the bases, which looks OK, but I think these "Summer" tufts may be a bit too green, so I am considering dry bushing them with a grey-green color to tone them down somewhat to a shade more in keeping with the early Autumn flocking theme. 

When Foot Artillery officers wore the "schirmutze" cap, it was grey with a black band, piped in red. 

One of the Batteries is from each of the three "brigades" that the artillery were assigned to administratively, with the shoulder strap colors varying accordingly  - Preussisches (white), Brandenburgisches (scarlet), and Schleische (yellow). 

Also joining the Army of der Koenig is a new 12 pounder foot battery as well. By my usual convention, 12 pounder batteries get 4 crew figures per base, as opposed to the three figures per base of lighter batteries. This makes them easier to pick out on the wargames table. 

Foot Artillerymen wore dark blue coats with the collars and cuffs in black, trimmed with red. The turnbacks were red. Shoulder straps as previously cited - this unit has yellow straps, placing them in the Silesian Artillery Brigade. In 1815, all batteries changed to red shoulder straps. Boring!  All; leather work was black for the Foot Artillery.

The somewhat old fashioned looking Bicorn was an option for Artillery officers as well, and we can see this battery's commander has opted for same.

The Prussian Artillery arm underwent an enormous expansion in 1813. Some of the new batteries were designated as "Landwehr" batteries,. but even the nominal "regular" batteries suffered from dilution of trained personnel, so their performance sometimes left something to be desired during the earlier parts of the 1813 campaign. Like their infantry and cavalry counterparts, though, field experience (and the break in fighting for the Armistice) resulted in steady improvement over the course of the Befreiungskrieg, and certainly by Leipzig the Prussian generals had few complaints  about their artillery support. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Roll out the Barrel(s)

I got a pack of these Renedra assorted barrels at Historicon back about 3 years ago, and finally got around to painting them up this week...

The set has 5 large and 5 medium barrels - they were dark brown plastic, so after gluing the halves together. I just dry brushed then with a light tan color., painted the hoops black, and applied a generous coat of "magic wash" all over. 

This Silesian infantry men seems to making a beeline for the barrels, doubtless hoping at least one of them is full of some good beer!  Well, actually, a lot of beer, if still full  - 117+ liters per barrel! For comparison a full size keg of beer is only 50 liters!

The motivation for painting them now is to use some of them as props on the bases of the windmills I'm building, which are nearing completion.

The Beer Barrel Polka
The music was written by the Czech musician Jaromir Vejvoda 1927, and later arranged by Eduard Ingris. The English Lyrics were written 1939. It became popular with soldiers of many nations during World War 2, with varied lyrics (and titles) existing in many languages. The Andrews sisters recorded a version in 1939, and it was a staple (played with amazing dramatic flair and energy) of Liberace. Elton John was even said to play it in his pub. Perhaps the best known version in the US is this recording by Bobby Vinton, a.k.a. "The Polish Prince", from 1975. It is also an unofficial theme song of my sister's alma mater, The University of Wisconsin, and almost a mandatory song at a Polish-American wedding reception.  Finally, it became a standard item in the repertoire of our drinking songs when I was playing in the Band in college. I don't think it is possible to listen to this song without smiling... and I don't even particularly care for beer myself. The only problem is that after listening to several versions last night, I have the darned thing stuck in my head!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Last of the Line head from Ligny to Waterloo

As the last few hours drain away on this, the 200th Anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, I post the last of the Prussian Infantry that will appear at Ligny (and then, late in the day, at Waterloo itself, if history repeats itself half as much as the Abba song!)

This is the 3rd Silesian Infantry Regiment, I.R. #13, As one of the "new" 1815 Line regiments, the flag is speculative at best, but it does go well with their yellow facings. 

As the 3rd regiment of the Province, even their shoulder straps are yellow. Old Glory figures once again (from the "Prussian Militia Men" bag).

Yes James, my freind, more clogs and tattered pants for these fellows, as well as "Litewka" coats.

"Feldmarshal Blucher has given his word that we will appear to support Wellington at Waterloo... and so we shall!

Sorry, couldn't resist posting this Abba classic. 
I spent most of the month of May, 1974, performing  and on tour of Europe with the University of Connecticut Marching Band (Baritone Horn).  The itinerary included Ingolstadt, Regensburg, Lyon, Geneva, Lucerne, Zurich, Leichtenstein, and Munich. Abba had just won the Eurovision contest with this song in April, and it was on the airwaves (and our tour buses) almost constantly that month. As a result, whenevr I hear the song, it takes me back to touring the Bavarian countryside, or the alpine roads of Switzerland. Unfortunately, I haven't been back to Europe since then, but I hope to do a Rhine River Cruise - perhaps in a few more years!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Lützow Freikorps, 1813 - 1815

The Lützow Free Corps (Lützowsches Freikorps) was raised in February 1813, and was officially titled the Königlich Preußisches Freikorps von Lützow The C.O.was Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm Freiherr von Lützow, who had served under Major von Schill during his ultimately successful raid in 1809.

The following is from the Uniform Evolution site:

The Freikorps eventually consisted of three, four-company, battalions; five squadrons of cavalry and two batteries one horse and the other light foot.  Eleven of the infantry companies were Musketeer; the other, which was part of the 2nd Battalion, being "Tyrolean Jager". This unusual unit was raised by Lieutenants Riedel and Ennemoser, the latter having fought with Andreas Hofer in 1809. Their men were drawn from the Tirol and were dressed in the style of the Austrian Jagers. Of the cavalry, three squadrons were Hussars, 1st, 4th and 5th; the 2nd was mounted Jager and the 3rd were Uhlans. In June 1813, the 1st Squadron were converted to Uhlans. In the reorganization of March 1815, the Musketeer Battalions formed the new No. 25 Erstes Rheinisches Infanterie Regiment; three squadrons joined the 6th Uhlan Regiment and one squadron went to the 9th Hussars; the mounted Jager squadron was disbanded.

The Musketeers were dressed in a black Litewka, the collar, Polish cuffs and shoulder straps of which were piped in red; the buttons were brass. They had black trousers with narrow red stripes down the outside seams; they were generally worn over short black spats. The head-dress was a Fusilier shako to which could be affixed black cords and a horse-hair plume. Usually a waxed cover was worn with the shako.

The Tyroler Jager-Kompagnie were dressed in grey jackets with green Polish cuffs, collars, shoulder straps, lapels and turnbacks. Their trousers were also grey and had a wide green stripe running down the outside seams. Their head-dress was made of black felt and was modeled on the Austrian Jager pattern "Corsehut". To it was fitted a green plume, officers having a green and white feather Busch. The leather belts were blackened and a brace of pistols was carried in the waistbelt.

The Freikorps was raised and promoted as as a "Pan-German" unit, not a specifically Prussian one, and included volunteers and deserters from the other many German states. As such, the unit enlisted a number of students and intellectuals (and at least 2 women, serving in disguise). The most prominent of these was the young Prussian poet and dramatist Theodor Koerner. Koerner wrote a number of romantic poems and songs about the Lützowers, and the cause of the Befreiungskreig. He was killed during a raid on a French supply train at the age of 21, but his father  published a collection of his works from this time, which became very popular. 

The Lützowers have also been featured in (German) film far more than we non-Germans might expect, occupying a major niche in the pantheon of German nationalism, even though they had the highest desertion rate of any unit in the army - 40%!

Was Steine erzählen (“What the Stones Tell”) (Germany 1925
Lützows wilde verwegene Jagd ("Lutzow's Wild Hunt") (Germany 1927, based on a poem by Koerner of the same name, later set to music by the famous German romantic composer, Carl Maria von Weber - see later in this post )
Theodor Körner (Germany 1932)
Lützower (GDR 1972)

The dramatic black uniforms - even the facings are black, piped in red), have made them a favorite tabletop unit for wargamers. It has even been suggested that the colors of the uniform - Black - Red-Gold (brass buttons) inspired the national flag of the German Republic!  They evidently retained some or all of these uniforms during the Hundred Days in 1815. The flag chosen here (for 1815) is again purely decorative and unlikely  - I chose it from among the pre 1807 Prussian standards.

I used Delta Ceramcoat "Charcoal" for their black Litwekas (a very dark grey color, almost black), with highlights in CC Hippo Grey, and shading with "pure" black; I used CC Paynes Grey for the pants for some contrast - a very dark, slightly bluish grey color. With the red stripe down the seams, they look more than a bit like modern  track pants! From a painting of the Korps (and Koerner), it seems that perhaps the "wings" of the musicians might have been black with white lace instead of red. Since these Old Glory figures ("Militiamen") have clogs and tattered pants, I did without the black spats, etc!

Overall, the Freikorp's raiding activities were an annoyance to the French, but not of any great military consequence. During the Armistice of 1813, the Korps marched to join the main Allied army under the safe passage terms of the agreement. They were intercepted by French cavalry. The Lutzowers nationalism and guerrilla tactics had made them particularly hated by the French in general, and Napoleon in particular, and were told the terms of the Armistice did not apply to "brigands" like themselves. The infantry was largely wiped out, although most of the Cavalry escaped. The Korps was re-raised during the winter of 1813-14, and fought with the main army thereafter.

At Ligny in 1815, it was officers from former Lützower formations who saved Feldmarschal Blucher when he was trapped beneath his horse and nearly captured by the French. For more information on this famous unit, try:

As a testament to their role in German history, there is a German Lutzow re-enactor group, a Lutzow facebook page, and many more German language sites dedicated to them.

"Lützow's Wild Hunt", Körner's poem, set to music by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)

1. Was glänzt dort im Walde im Sonnenschein?
Hör’s näher und näher brausen.
Es zieht sich herunter in düsteren Reihn
Und gellende Hörner schallen darein,
Erfüllen die Seele mit Grausen.
Und wenn ihr die schwarzen Gesellen fragt:
Das ist Lützows wilde, verwegene Jagd!
1. What glistens there in the forest sunshine?
Hear it roaring nearer and nearer.
It comes down this way in dark rows,
And blaring horns sound in it,
And fill the soul with terror.
And if you ask the black fellows:
That is Lützow’s wild daredevil hunt.
2. Was zieht dort rasch durch den finsteren Wald
Und streifet von Bergen zu Bergen?
Es legt sich in nächtlichen Hinterhalt,
Das Hurra jauchzt, die Büchse knallt,
Es fallen die fränkischen Schergen.
Und wenn ihr die schwarzen Jäger fragt
Das ist Lützows wilde, verwegene Jagd!
2. What moves quickly there through the dark forest
And streaks from mountains to mountains?
It settles down for a night ambush,
The Hurrah rejoices and the gun bangs,
The French bloodhounds fall.
And if you ask the black hunters:
That is Lützow’s wild daredevil hunt.
3. Wo die Reben dort glühen, dort braust der Rhein,
Der Wütrich geborgen sich meinte.
Da naht es schnell mit Gewitterschein
Und wirft sich mit rüstigen Armen hinein
Und springt an das Ufer der Feinde.
Und wenn ihr die schwarzen Schwimmer fragt:
Das ist Lützows wilde, verwegene Jagd!
3. Where the grapes glisten there, there roars the Rhine,
The scoundrel thought himself hidden.
Then it approaches quickly, looking like a thunderstorm,
And throws itself in with vigorous arms,
And springs onto the enemy’s riverbank.
And if you ask the black swimmers:
That is Lützow’s wild daredevil hunt.
4. Was braust dort im Tale die laute Schlacht,
Was schlagen die Schwerter zusammen?
Wildherzige Reiter schlagen die Schlacht,
Und der Funke der Freiheit ist glühend erwacht
Und lodert in blutigen Flammen.
Und wenn ihr die schwarzen Reiter fragt:
Das ist Lützows wilde, verwegene Jagd!
4. Why roars there in the valley the loud battle,
Why do the swords strike one another?
Wild-hearted riders attack the fight,
And the spark of freedom has awakened, glowing,
And smolders in bloody flames.
And if you ask the black riders:
That is Lützow’s wild daredevil hunt.
5. Was scheidet dort röchelnd vom Sonnenlicht
Unter winselnde Feinde gebettet?
Es zucket der Tod auf dem Angesicht,
Doch die wackeren Herzen erzittern nicht,
Das Vaterland ist ja gerettet!
Und wenn ihr die schwarzen Gefall’nen fragt:
Das ist Lützows wilde, verwegene Jagd.
6. What departs there, rattling, from the sunlight,
Put to bed among whimpering enemies?
Death twitches across the face;
Yet bold hearts do not waver,
For the fatherland is indeed saved!
And if you ask the black fallen ones:
That was Lützow’s wild daredevil hunt.
7. Die wilde Jagd und die deutsche Jagd
Auf Henkersblut und Tyrannen!
D’rum, die ihr uns liebt, nicht geweint und geklagt!
Das Land ist ja frei, und der Morgen tagt,
Wenn wir’s auch nur sterbend gewannen.
Und von Enkel zu Enkel sei es nachgesagt:
Das war Lützows wilde, verwegene Jagd.
7. The wild hunt, and the German hunt,
Upon hangmen’s blood and tyrants!
Therefore, those who love us, no weeping and lamenting;
For the land is free, and morning dawns,
Even if we only won this by dying!
And from grandchildren to grandchildren be it said:
That was Lützow’s wild daredevil hunt.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Still more new Prussian Landwehr - 1813

With Historicon a little over 5 weeks away, still more Prussians have marched off the Painting Table on their way to Ligny!

This is the 2nd Brandenburg Landwehr Regiment. As the 2nd regiment of the Province, I have given them red shoulder straps, which conveniently match the red facings of Brandenburg Province. 

Nash says that while the regulation was for white or dark blue pants, in 1813 beige and grey were often seen (as well as Litewkas in Grey or even brown cloth). I've given this unit ragged red-brown pants (and clogs). 

I saw a unit of old school Prussian Landwehr on the "La Bricole" forum earlier this year, and they had a flag like the one above, bearing a large white "Landwehr Cross", but with red replacing the usual black background. There is probably no historical justification for it (and of course the Landwehr weren't even supposed to have flags, at least officially), Still I think it's very attractive. It was easy enough to change the black to red on a Napflag Prussian Landwehr flag using MS Paint. As usual, the printed out flag was enhanced with some dark red (CC Morocco Red) actual paint, giving the color much more intensity. 

These are of course 28mm Old Glory Figures - from the "Silesian Landwehr" pack.

First Pomeranian Landwehr Regiment; drawn from the same Old Glory pack as the Brandeburgers above. 

White facings for Pomerania province, and I have given them matching white shoulder straps as the first Regiment of the province. They carry a more typical Landwehr flag. 

Beige/tan pants for this outfit, somewhat tattered again, and clogs. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tilting at Windmills

(With apologies to Miguel Cervantes [and Gordon Lightfoot])

This is the tale of my own Quest to construct some central European windmills, for use in my Ligny games at Historicon next month, and beyond. I got the first materials (and inspiration) for this project back the beginning of April, as I detailed in a post then - 1/4" thick foamboard, 7/8" round wood dowel. I already had a bunch of Craft sticks (Popsicle sticks) which I planned to use to make the "boards" of the windmill.

Some googling turned up a great site about windmills and their preservation from Estonia. This type of mill is a Post mill, and was common well into the 20th century. The earlier blog post I cited in April was also a major inspiration and partial guide. 

I laid out the plans for the main building of the windmill on stiff card. I decided on the main frame being 120 x 60mm. This proved to be rather large, so a second was constructed only 90 x 60mm.  

I cut the card out to make templates for the windmill construction. Those parts were then traced out onto the foam board, and cut out with an Xacto knife. 

My first try I went for a corner/angle construction, figuring it would be stronger and hold square better. I allowed for the thickness of the foam board properly with the base...

but forgot that it would skew the eaves of the roof unacceptably.

The pieces were held together with white glue and pins.  After this quick trial assembly I decided that the skew was too great (I might reuse the structure for something else), 

and re- did it with the pieces all squared off symmetrically, and at the same time did the second, shorter version as well. 

A standard home drill was used to make a 3/8" hole for the windshaft - I use the drill to also partially drill through the opposite side panel to make a place for the 3/8" dowel to seat as well. 

At this point, it became clear I needed some additional pieces, so back to Michael's (with 40% off coupon - they have amazing online coupons all the time) and the local hardware store for some 3/8" Fender washers, 3/8" hardwood dowel, and some assorted Balsa pieces. 

Also some 6" x 6" clear pine from Michael's to use as the base for the Windmills

Windmill buildings, with test positioning of the 3/8" dowel and washer.

The 7/8' dowel was sawed off (rather crudely using a saber saw and vice) at 60mm, sanded, and mounted in the center of the base board with epoxy. This will form the "post" of the that the postmill will sit upon. 

The Craft sticks were cut into 60 and 30mm lengths and glued on "bricklay" pattern, plus some custom cut pieces for the eaves. I used wire cutting pliers to to this cutting, which worked very well. Door is thin balsa wood, and the door frame and window frames were added with more craft stick wood.

View showing the windshafts added. 

Dilute white (PVA) glue was brushed all over the project after it had dried for added strength. 

The supports for the post were added to the bases using the 1/2" balsa (cut with saber saw), and glued on with epoxy. I did this with 45 degree cuts.

 Here I made an error by not ensuring the foot print of the supports would be inside the footprint of the shed's base. Oh well, too late now! The sheds were epoxied to the post and supports. 

Prior to assembly, everything was sprayed with black primer, followed by Walmart economy black spray paint. (Walmart check out dude to me; "Wow, I don't think I've ever seen can of spray paint for 99 cents before!")

While at Wally-Mart I picked up two more items. I had been pondering how to make the arms and vanes of the windmill itself. Above are two packs of assorted square hardwood dowels (about $1 each), and the tough nylon lattice used for rug hooking projects. 

The sheds, posts, and supports were dry brushed with first a yellow brown craft paint, then CC  Cadet Grey.

The base will be finished last. 

I wound up making the arms of the windmill by using epoxy to attack 4 x 1/4" square wood dowels to the 3/8" fender washers. This was both less strong than I wanted for the long haul, and wobbly on the wind shaft, so a second washer was epoxied to the other side of the 4 dowels - much better! The arms were 120mm long for the tall windmill

and 90 mm for the shorter one. 

The vanes were cut out of the nylon rug hooking lattice, spray painted black,  and attached to the arms with epoxy. The lattice of the vanes was then dry brushed with Cadet Grey ( a very flat light grey with no blue tone at all). 

I painted the arms (and washers) of the windmill a light red brown for contrast to the shed.

I am going to leave the arms of the windmill unglued  to the wind shaft to allow easier transport. They are pretty sturdy, and when they are inevitably struck by the "Hands of God" during play, I'd rather have the arms knocked off the shed (and easily put back on) than knock over the hole structure!

At this point, they are still a bit of a WIP (windmill in process). I need to add a small porch and ladder on the door side of the mill using balsa wood, and then terrain and finish the bases. That shouldn't take more than a day when I have a chance, and then I'll post some more pictures of the completed project!

A little Gordon Lightfoot - perhaps my favorite of his songs!