Saturday, 27 January 2018

Horsing Around

I was supposed to be painting gunners today, but it didn't quite work out that way. Before getting down to the job on hand I thought I'd do a simple conversion and things sort of escalated after that. The upshot is that no gunners were painted, but I've ended up with a couple of new Prussian generals, so it wasn't all bad.

The simple conversion was a quick head swap on another of my Der Kriegspielers #50 mounted officers. The new head I gave him was left over from the recast Hinton Hunt PN 64 I used to make General Zieten.

This didn't take very long at all and since the soldering iron was all nicely warmed up I started fossicking about in my might-do-a-conversion-but-haven't-quite-decided-yet box. What I came up with was a  Hinton Hunt PN 10: Prussian Guard Grenadier officer, charging. "I wonder if he could be made to sit on a horse", I said to myself. The answer was "yes, he can", although it took several hours to find out.

He still needs a little cleaning up, and perhaps a bit more work on his sword arm, but he's mostly complete. He is to be Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm Freiherr von Lützow, of course. The horse, by the way, is a recast Hinton Hunt FNH 13.

I should be getting back to my gunners now, but I suspect they're going to have to wait a little longer....

Yours, soldering on,

Saturday, 20 January 2018

A Swiss Confection

Well, I survived my encounter with the wild clans of the South Island and am back at my at my painting desk. To ease myself back into the painting groove I've decided to have a go at another general officer figure.

The figure I picked was another one of the Der Kriegspielers command figures (set #50) featured in a previous post. He is the generic French general figure, who is clearly based on a Hinton Hunt FN 224: French General. Interestingly the DK version has the horse's head turned slightly to the right, rather than to the left as in the HH version, and the rider's head is turned to the left rather than to the right.

My version of this figure is also painted red because he is to be Nicolas Antoine Xavier Castella de Berlens, who was the only officer in any of Napoleon's Swiss regiments to reach the rank of General de Brigade. The uniform he is wearing is based on a portrait which was probably painted in late 1815. I couldn't find a colour photo of this portrait, but an engraved copy can be seen in the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, here. He is to command the 3rd Swiss on the grounds that Marshal Soult always seemed a little too grand for that gig, and because I really fancy having a French general dressed in red!

Castella de Berlens started his military career in the Saxon Swiss Guards, but was persuaded to transfer to the French service (despite being a convinced Royalist) in 1806. He commanded the 2nd Swiss Regiment in Spain and Russia and was made a General de Brigade in 1813. It seems fairly clear, however, that he never went into in action in this capacity. Having been badly wounded in Russia, he sat out the 1813 and 1814 campaigns, and then made himself scarce (along with most of the other Swiss officers in Napoleon's service) during the Hundred Days.

To make his uniform conform to the portrait I filed off the single row of buttons running down his chest and replaced them with a double row, and also added a bit of fuse wire to represent the leather cord that he used to suspend his sabre. The only other thing required after that was a bit of filing and scoring of his pistol holsters to simulate the fur covers which can also be seen in the portrait.

I hope you like him.


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

A Bridge too Near

On Saturday morning JC arrived to take part in the annual JC-WM stoush. Still smarting from his stinging defeat of twelve months ago, JC once more took command of the Prussians and was determined to wreak his revenge.

The rules in use were Stryker's Muskets & Marshals v.5.3, although with a special amendment. The untried Prussian reserve battalions, we decided, would test for their moral class the moment they came under fire. One D6 would be thrown for each battalion: a score of 1,2 or 3 would make it C class and a 4 or a 5 would bump them up to B. Throwing a six, however, would make it A class fanatics, driven by an unquenchable hatred for their former French overlords.

The situation

A strong Franco-Bavarian advanced corps of two divisions has established a bridgehead across a river, occupying the hills and villages on the far bank. The French have to hold these positions until nightfall (10 turns). The Prussian mission is simple - to seize and hold the bridge and cut off the French.

La Debacle

To cut a long story short, it was a swift and decisive Prussian victory, which left JC feeling very pleased indeed. Almost nothing seemed to go right for the French.

Let Battle commence....
JC's plan was to throw everything he had at the bridge and the farm, while leaving a token force to delay and disrupt any counter offensives by the French left. My plan, such as it was, was to cram as many of my best troops as I could into the approaches to the bridge. The strong task force in my centre and left, I assumed, would easily deal with JC's right, which was made up of C-class troops and a single regiment of hussars. Aaah, this'll be a breeze, I said to myself.

As JC's forces straggled forwards, I prepared my riposte.
This'll teach him, I thought.....
But there was method to JC's apparent madness. His advance may have looked a bit disorganised, but is was bristling with firepower. I discovered this by rashly attempting to ride down the Neumark Landwehr with my lancers. ended Murat's ambitions.

...but the only one receiving a lesson was me.

As the lancers retreated to safety, JC's crack Silesian marksmen advanced into the woods flanking the approaches to the bridge. A deadly firefight ensued against the French Combined Voltigeurs lurking amongst the trees - deadly for the Voltigeurs, that is. The Silesians hardly suffered a scratch.

If you go into the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise...

It was my first intimation of JC's uncanny dice-throwing abilities. So much started to become clear when the Empress Dragoons were utterly annihilated after only two rounds of melee with JC's Leib Hussars. More or less the only thing I could do after that was to lob cannon balls at them until they scuttled off for cover behind some trees. The Lutzowers, by the way, spent the entire battle lurking behind that hedge.

I forgot the Leib Hussars are invincible......

Safe from any sort of cavalry menace on his flank, JC sent in his Silesian regulars and 21st Reserve Regiment against the farm. The 21st, to JC's distress, tested as C-class, and sure enough the two battalions could make no impression at all against the farm, which was valiantly held by the 13th Legere. They needn't have bothered, however, as it had absolutely no effect on the rapidly unfolding debacle going on behind them.

It was just like Rorke's Drift, which would have been fine but for the 
Isandlwana which was also starting to unfold just off camera.

I knew something was up when JC's 18th Regiment tested as A-class as soon as they came under fire. In no time at all they were carving through my Bavarians. Most remarkable of all, however, was the performance of the B-class Field Battalion Bremen. They not only stopped my Imperial Guard in their tracks but then beat them up in fine style.

JC seeing off my crack battalions armed with only Prussian reservists
and Hanoverians

With mounting panic there seemed nothing for it but to launch an attack with my Swiss, supported by the remnants of the Lancers. Amazingly, they managed to see off JC's Cuirassiers, but it was all far too little and too late.

One of my very few and entirely pyhrric victories.

The end came in the next move. With my Bavarians and voltigeurs already routed, I had only a single battalion of line infantry left to try and stop the rot. They'd barely begun to move, however, when the Guard broke and fled before the absolutely unstoppable Hanoverians. With JC's Prussian foot guards bearing down on me, half my infantry gone, and all my cavalry in tatters, there was nothing for it but to thrown in the towel.

La Garde Recule, made all the more atmospheric by me
accidentally smearing my phone's camera lens.
JC, needless to say, was absolutely delighted and so, in a way, was I. This is just the incentive I need, I thought, to crack on and paint some more Frenchmen.

Happy New Year, Everyone!