Friday, April 27, 2012

Planning the 1815 Campaign - maps

Quatre Bras
I am working towards is doing the 1815 campaign in 10mm for the 200th anniversary. Obviously there is recreating the battles that took place, but there is also the option of a "what if" campaign to play with.

Looking for a suitable campaign map was a bit of a challenge. I decide to look for some old board games that covered the campaign. The bonus would be getting the unit counters to plot the movement. I was not interested in playing out the combat in the board game, just using it to track movement and to work out the OOB's of the battles that took place.

Wonderfully detailed map of  "L'Armee Du Nord"
I found two suitable board games, both by Clash of Arms Games, - "The Emperor Returns" (1986)  and "L'Armee Du Nord"(1993). They were both a bit difficult to get, but some patient watching on eBay and paid off. I got both sets unpunched and BNIB!

Both move divisions around and cover the Belgian campaign. The artwork on the maps is the same, done by the talented Rick Barber,  but the scale differs. "The Emperor Returns" is 1 hex = 3200 metres using one 34" x 22" map. "L'Armee Du Nord" is 1 hex = 700 metres using three 34" x 22" maps. They are both fantastic maps.

I think the "L'Armee Du Nord" is the map I will use as the detail makes setting up a table of terrain a breeze.

Board template to translate to tabletop
To help translate the hexes to my game board I made up a clear plastic template the size my game boards would represent using 1 mm = 1 yard. This allows me to move the template over different parts of the map to see how this would translate into the terrain I have.

One option to consider in the future is mounting the boards on a metal backing and magnetise a set of counters. This would allow the campaign to be safely stored on the wall of the War Room saving some space.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Belgian Militia and Jaegers

Belgian Militia and 27th Jaegers
The last part of Bylandt's Brigade infantry is done - three battalions of Belgian Militia - 5th, 7th  and 8th as well as the 27th Jaegers. They now join the 7th Belgian line. I also painted up some Skirmishers for the 2nd Brigade.

I used greatcoated British in Stovepipes from Redline for the Militia. There were some minor conversions in some figures for the field caps to give a more Militia look. I cut the shako off above the brim and flattened a small ball of greenstuff to make the cap. Painted them blue with an orange band. Works for a few in the battalion, wouldn't want to do a few hundred of them. I also used the Nassau officer for the command.

The skirmishers were using French skirmishers from the Redline range, with the badges cut off and painted in the green uniforms.

I only have some Dutch and Belgian Artillery and Van Merlen's Light Cavalry to complete the Brigade.

Militia command with MG Bylandt
Detail of command with converted drummer
Skirmishers for Saxe-Weimar's Brigade

Skirmish command
Dutch Jaegers made from French line skirmishers 
Saxe-Weimar's Brigade
Bylandt's Brigade 
Perponcher's 2nd Netherlands Division

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brigade in a chocolate box

Recovering from Easter's chocolate induced diabetic coma, I happened on this little idea - Lindt chocolate boxes for storing 10mm figures.

The low metal tins are a perfect hight for 10mm figures. The box is big enough to fit at least a brigade. The magnetic bases stick nicely to the metal box, not too strong, but enough to reduce movement inside. They stack well as a bonus, making it easy to organise the armies. Disadvantage is you can't see what is inside.

It may be considered psychological warfare if I turn up to a game with boxes of chocolates only to reveal my armies within.

Now all I have to do is eat 30 more boxes of these to fit all the figures in! Another long term project.

Magnetic bases stick to the metal tin
Heavy cavalry brigade with some artillery 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Flags for the war room

I was looking for some life sized Napoleonic flags to provide some suitable atmosphere to the war room . After asking the collective wisdom of at this post  - I was put on to this German Flag site . Google translate was essential to work out which is which, since my German is not real good.

Having a look through the many options I opted for a French 1st Line Flag and two British Flags from the 1st Foot Guards - a King's Colour and a Regimental Colour.

The price seemed very reasonable 70 euros each for the larger British flags and 50 euros for the French flag. Postage was a flat 3 euro to Australia! This was cheap compared to the $1000's asked by the re-enactor groups for embroided flags. And for a wall decoration, I thought it was worth a go.

Nicely folded in the package
A few weeks later, after almost forgetting about them,  a small package arrived with the flags. Opening it up I saw them neatly wrapped up - WOW! They are life sized - so the French was 80cm square and the British 180 x 190cm. You can see how a standard in battle was important., even these replica's were stirring.

They are screen printed on a synthetic material with a nice clear resolution. The same material as other flags. The material has an open weave which make it slightly transparent. The colours a bright clear and uniform, The French had a gold fringe, and able to be mounted on a pole. The British had eyelets rather than a sleeve for the pole. The edging was all hemmed and well finished with nice straight stitching. The writing was edged in black, helping it to really stand out. There is a nice bulk to the material without being too heavy.

One small disadvantage on the screen print is that there is no reverse of the flag, which is not a big issue as I am covering the wall with them.

Overall I am very impressed and will definitely order some more. Once I start my Prussian 1815 army I can see a Prussian flag joining them (after I work out which flag is which).  I'll be renovating the war room over the next few weeks and hanging these on the wall.

Highly recommended.
Vive l'Empereur

A little picture of the enclosed flag

1st Foot Guards Regimental Colours

British 1st Foot Guards Kings Colours
Detail of the French printing

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Making Rivers

I cut the river shapes out of 3mm MDF, making sure the ends were about the same size - 30mm. I used a bandsaw, but a jigsaw works fine as well.

I then bevelled the sides with some sand paper, so they blend into the table. I then undercoated the MDF with some primer spray to seal the MDF.

Using some blue house paint, a sample pot I got at the local hardware store, I painted the blue middles of the pieces. Don't worry about the brush stokes, it looks like water flow. You could do more colours on top if you like.

I ran some white glue down each edge and sprinkled on the coloured ballast I use for basing figures. When that dries. I stuck on some long grass tufts for reeds, then some more white glue dabbed along the sides and put some flock on.

Lastly I stuck a bit of clump foliage for bushes.

Pretty quick to do and looks not too bad for 10mm. They will represent rivers 30mm wide in my games. I need to make up some junctions and maybe a ford or two. I will also make some narrower strips for creeks, maybe 15mm.
Painting the middle blue
Edges with coloured ballast
Some tufts for variety
Finished rivers showing flocking
Some of the different shapes

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"The Battle - A New History of Waterloo" Book Review

Allessandro Barbero's "The Battle - A New History of Waterloo" describes Waterloo though the eyes of the soldiers that fought it. Drawing on many first hand accounts, Barbero carefully describes the incidents though 70 short chapters. The original book was written in Italian in 2003 and translated by John Cullen in 2005. The translation works very well, the style is easy to read and follows a logical flow through the battle. The use of the soldiers own voices if particularly effective in improving an understanding of the events.

The book has four parts. Part one - "We'll See Tomorrow" sets the scene in its 11 chapters- detailing the events leading up to the 18th June 1815, the armies involved and last minute preparations. Part two - "It will be as Easy as Having Breakfast" has 19 chapters looking at the initial deployments, orders, tactics, the opening attacks and counter attacks. Part three - "A stand up Fight Between Two Pugilists" in 20 chapeters goes through the long grind of the afternoon as both sides wear each other down. The arrival of the Prussians is treated with some good insights on the decisions made. The increasing desperation of the French attacks and the fragile nature of the Allied defences are well portrayed. This part ends with the attack and retreat of the Imperial Guard. The final part - "Victory! Victory!" has 8 chapters covering the final Allied advance, pursuit of the French, looting of the dead and wounded and aftermath of the battle. The conclusion is fairly brief allowing the reader to consider the devastation and loss of such a desperate battle.

The book moves at an interesting pace, picking up small details and vignettes of action, highlighting little know details. There was lots I  learnt through reading this book - how close the battle actually was, some of the limitations of the weaponry of the day, how close the soldiers got to each other in the firefights, the tightness of the battle, confusion of the smoke, importance of the skirmishers, casualties in the officer ranks, harshness of the conditions, difficulty of command and the horror of the aftermath.

Overall I was very impressed with the book, well worth the time to read.

There were a number of plates of pictures I had not seen before and some clear maps.

To find this at Amazon click on the book's picture - its around $7 USD - good value for that price. I have also listed it at the bottom of this page with some other of my favourite Waterloo books from Amazon.
On that day, the perspective of the human race was altered. Waterloo is the hinge of the Nineteenth Century - Victor Hugo

Friday, April 6, 2012

British Heavy Cavalry 1st and 2nd Brigades

On to Paris!
There were two British heavy cavalry Brigades at Waterloo - Somerset's Household Brigade and Ponsonby's Union Brigade. Both served with distinction on the day, repulsing the French attack in the centre.

While mounted on exceptional horses, most of these units hadn't see a battle since 1794. The 1st Dragoons had fought in Fuentes D'Onor in 1811, and the Household had been in the Peninsular (but not in any battles). They were keen for a fight.

Somerset's 1st British Cavalry Brigade
  • Household Cavalry
    • 1st Life Guards - "the Cheeses"
    • 2nd Life Guards - "the Cheesemongers"
    • Royal Horse Guards - "the Blues"
  • 1st Dragoon Guards
Ponsonby's 2nd British Cavalry Brigade
  • 1st Dragoons - "Royals"
  • 2nd Dragoons - "Scots Grey"
  • 1st and 2nd British Cavalry Brigades 
  • 6th Dragoons - Inskilling

Lead by Lord Uxbridge, Somerset's brigade destroyed Delort's Cuirassiers on d'Erlon's left flank. Posonby scattered some of d'Erlon's infantry divisions before crashing onto the French Grand Battery. Two lancer regiments from Jacquinot's Division hit both heavy brigades after they were spent from the charge and caused heavy casualties. Both brigades lost almost have its men and horses. Many of their commanding officers were killed - one the Colonel of the 1st Dragoon Guards died after yelling "On to Paris!" before being shot by a skirmisher. Ponsonby also lost his life to a French Lancer in the muddy field of Mont St Jean.

The figures are all Redline 10mm. Fenando Enterprises painting services did the 1st Brigade and the Royal Dragoons. I did the Scot's Grey and Inskillings. This is the majority of the Allied heavy cavalry of the campaign. There is another division of Dutch Belgian heavy cavalry I am waiting for Si at Bend Sinister to release the figures for.
Scots Greys and Royal Dragoons
The Blues, followed by the Cheese and the Cheese mongers
1st Dragoon Guards
1st Brigade
The last we saw of them.