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Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Battle of Windy Pass - Part 1

My good friend, JC, aka "The Fendalton Fusilier", has been watching my progress on The Hinton Spieler with amused tolerance for a couple of years. Shortly before Christmas he expressed a desire to see the troops "in the lead". The price of admission, however, was a battle, so last Sunday we met to fight it out.

It is 1813 and Napoleon has set forth to teach the perfidious Prussians another lesson in good manners and humility. Battle is joined in the foothills of Thuringia, where a small Prussian Corps under Blucher has been charged with the defence of a border pass while the Prussian Army completes its mobilisation.

Although the French had a slight numerical and qualitative advantage, JC elected to be Blucher and defend the pass. The room for the French to manoeuvre was strictly limited, and through the deft use of firepower and counter-attacks he felt sure to win the day!

Opening Moves

The French massed against the pass. However, Murat's position on the far right suggested that the Emperor was planning something...


Blucher initial deployment was equally deceptive. Would he occupy the hills or concentrate in the valley between them?

Blucher: Zey shall not pass!!!!

Napoleon: Tell me Marbot, would you want your little son to be with you today?
Marbot: Yes, so he could see you, Sire.
Napoleon: See me, eh?....Well alright, just so long as he doesn't touch anything!

The Emperor's plan started to take shape immediately as Marshal Soult led the 3rd Swiss around to the south, bypassing the farm and the orchard. Murat's lancers also advanced while the combined voltigeurs swarmed in front.

Soult: Suivez-moi, mes enfants. We shall take them by surprise!

The Prussians immediately marched to occupy the heights, preceded by a screen of Silesian riflemen.

Blucher: On to ze hills, meine kinder! Ve vill sweep away zis rabble!
As two Prussian battalions ascended the hill, a company of Silesian Riflemen entered the woods to their left, intent on harrying the flanks of any French advance.

Blucher: We've got the drop on them, boys!

Meanwhile the French masse de manoeuvre, led by Marshal Ney,began its ponderous march towards the pass along the main road.

Napoleon: Tell them to beat their drums louder, Marbot!
As the tension increased, the 2nd/21st were ordered into the pass, while the artillery manoeuvred in support.


General Zieten was confident that with a battery on either flank, and the Foot Guards and Garde du Corps in support, nothing could penetrate the 21st, who stood firm if somewhat self-consciously in their curious British uniforms.

Zieten: Don't worry lads, nothing will get through this lot!
Blucher's plan was obviously to use the massed firepower of the Prussian line to stop the French assault in its tracks.

Clausewitz (commanding the 2nd Neumark Landwehr): Remember men, the defensive is the strongest form of war!


The Battle is Joined

Napoleon's foremost troops burned with impatience as the Emperor's ponderous masse de manoeuvre slowly plodded its way towards the front line.

Napoleon: For goodness sake, Marbot, tell Ney to get a move on, it's nearly lunchtime.
Contemptuous of the Prussian landwehr on the hill, Murat ordered the 7th Lancers to charge, intending to ride down the impertinent Silesian riflemen. Ornano took similar action with the Guard Dragoons from the northern flank. Both cavalry regiments were immediately raked with a hail of Prussian lead while the Silesians easily evaded behind their infantry.

Napoleon: And he wants me to make him the King of Poland!
 Prussian spirits soared as both French regiments were thrown back in confusion with heavy losses.

Blucher: Ha ha ha! Did you see that, boys? Zey are already on the run!
Wearily resigned to the recklessness of his cavalry, the Emperor let out a deep sigh and ordered forward his voltiguers. With four companies concentrating their fire against only two companies of the Silesians, the voltiguers swiftly began to dominate their Prussian opponents.

Napoleon: "Sigh". Why do I still have to do everything myself!
Protected by the skirmishes, the two batteries accompanying the masse de manoeuvre finally deployed for action. A frisson of anxiety rippled through the Prussian ranks.


Napoleon: Now we'll see what those Prussians are really made of!
Firing at medium range into the closely-packed files of the 21st, the French guns tore gaping holes in the Prussian line. Zieten steadied the ranks, trusting that his two supporting batteries would silence the French ordnance.

Zieten: Close ranks, 21st. Our guns will soon deal with them!
To be continued....

WM

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

And behold, a pale horse....

....and he who sat on it had the name...Napoleon.

Well I couldn't fight my first battle without him. The battle was fought last Sunday, but before setting it all up I had just enough time to photograph him.

Hinton Hunt FN 350: Napoleon
The Emperor surveyed the stricken field...

Hinton Hunt FN 350: Napoleon
....mounted on his famous steed, Marengo.
Hinton Hunt FN 350: Napoleon
"How different history would have been", he thought,

Hinton Hunt FN 350: Napoleon
"if only I had been allowed....
Hinton Hunt FN 350: Napoleon
...to run away....

Hinton Hunt FN 350: Napoleon
....and join the circus".

Hinton Hunt FN 350: Napoleon

The figure, of course, is Hinton Hunt FN 350: Napoleon, in hat and riding coat, on horse FNH 10. He was that rare and special thing - a vintage Hinton Hunt casting which had never been painted before.  He is now firmly glued to his horse!

He is dedicated to Wellington Girl, who showed me how to make him perform circus tricks.

WM

A Vintage War Games Table
The battlefield awaits!

Friday, 6 January 2017

Guard Gunners

Gunmen on the grassy knoll
War is about to break out chez Wellington Man and so I have been rushing to finish my last phase-one French battery. They will be receiving a newly painted gun in due course and a gun team and limber, which are all sitting on the painting table but couldn't be completed in time. What has been achieved, on the other hand, is a basic war games table and terrain. All will be revealed in the next post.

For the record, the figures are all vintage Hinton Hunts, and are described in the Hinton Hunt catalogue as follows:

Hinton Hunt, French Foot Artillery of the Guard 1808-15:

FN 172: Gunner ramming home
FN 173: Gunner holding cannon ball
FN 175: Gunner - ammunition carrier, running
FN 170: Officer looking through telescope.

The enemy is in sight....
The last has got to qualify as one the most attractive HH figures of all time. What a magnificent and really rather sinister looking uniform!

à bientôt

WM

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Old Chestnuts

Christmas came early in the Wellington Man household, heralded by the arrival at astonishing speed of the Archduke's guard dragoon reinforcements. I am at a loss to explain how this happened. Wasn't there supposed to be a postal strike going on or something? Whatever the case, it means I've been able to squeeze in one more post for 2016.

Thanks to the Archduke my Guard Dragoons are now over 80% Hinton Hunts and what would otherwise have been a rather weedy Der Kriegspieler squadron is now something altogether more intimidating. The best chestnuts are the old chestnuts, ladies and gentlemen.

So, without further ado, here are the results:





To recap, the figures are:

Hinton Hunt FN 60 Empresses Dragoons x 10, with various repairs and conversions; and
Der Kriegspielers 48: Guard Dragoons x 2

The DKs are not actually all that bad. The main differences are in the position of their swords, the left forelegs on their horses and, weirdly, the details of their pistol holsters. These are already rather strangely modelled on the Hinton Hunts. On the nearside of the Hinton Hunts there are three overlapping holster covers, but on the offside there appear to be only two, or perhaps three rather oversized versions. The DKs, on the other hand, have only two on the nearside and three on the offside. It was doing my head in for a while, I can tell you. The pictures below should show what I mean a little more clearly:


Left: Der Kriegspieler 48
Right: Hinton Hunt FN 60

Left: Der Kriegspieler 48
Right: Hinton Hunt FN 60


My first French cavalry brigade is finally complete!

Happy New Year everyone. I have to stay that mine has got off to a flying start, and it hasn't even started yet.

WM

Thank you Archduke. *Cough*.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Hintonstein's Monster

Er....there's been a slight delay to the Empress Dragoons due to the wrong kind of figures on the production line. Painting will resume with the arrival of yet more Hinton Hunt replacements. These are even now winging their way across the globe, courtesy of the Archduke!

This should have been the perfect opportunity to crack on with my final French battery, but what I ended up doing instead was obsessing about something else entirely. This was: what to you do when you're one figure short of a regiment of Chasseurs and all you've got is a ropy old Lamming French hussar officer, a spare Hinton Hunt horse and box full of unwanted Scruby, Hinchliffe and Minifigs bits and bobs?



And the answer, two very nervous weeks later, was:


an officer of the Chasseurs à Cheval de la Garde Impériale. 


Mrs WM, on the other hand, refers to him as the "Essex Hussar", but then she's like that.


It was the horse, of course, which was the really nerve-wracking bit as I had to detach him from his base and reposition one of the hind legs in order to get him to rear up properly, as well as more or less completely reconstruct his left foreleg. I had to resort to a bit of Scruby assistance for the last part.

The hat is a Hinchliffe creation with the original Lamming French officer's plume grafted onto it.

He's not quite the Théodore Géricault masterpiece I had in my mind's eye, but he'll definitely fill the gap.

As this is likely to be the last Hintonspieler post for 2016, it only remains for me to say Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

WM







With sincere apologies to Géricault .
Note to self: don't try to get a job as a Photoshop artist.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Here be Dragons

My first squadron of Hinton Hunt Dragons de l'Imperatrice are ready for their photo session.

They required a lot of preparation as they were covered in a thick coat of house paint which took a week in the dettol jar to get off, only to reveal some very flashy and bashed-about castings underneath. They made my heart sink a bit when I first saw them. The swords, muskets and aiguillettes on all but one of the troopers had been either cut away or otherwise damaged, but in a way this was an advantage as I could take my drill and soldering iron to them without too many qualms! The results are quite pleasing, I think, as no two are completely alike.

First up are the officer and the standard bearer. Both have had their muskets removed and been given new aiguillettes on their right shoulders and fringed epaullettes on their left. I also contemplated removing their portmanteaus, but my nerve failed at that point!


The standard bearer's original arm had been severed at the elbow and replaced with a bit of scrap lead, so the only thing to do was to replace it altogether with another one of John Cunnigham's very useful recast lancer arms. The flag is made from another bit of that wonderfully thin piece of brass donated by my neighbour, Richard. The eagle comes from an old Minifigs guardsman that I found in a local junk shop.


In the next photo the troopers on the left and in the centre were also missing their aiguillettes, so I replaced these too. I rather like the effect of seeing them flying about in different directions.



The second squadron are on the painting table and I'm very pleased to report will now be a mixture of Der Kriegspielers and Hinton Hunts. This is thanks to a very generous donation by the Archduke.

His Royal Highness also sent me this beautifully realised self portrait. It commemorates the moment, he tells me, when he personally seized the colour of a faltering infantry regiment at the Battle of Aspern-Essling and ran forwards with it to great morale boosting effect. Now that is classy!

The Archduke himself!
Until the next time,

WM