Thursday, 22 July 2021

Last of the Portuguese

Stage one of my Peninsular project is rapidly drawing to a close, and not a year too soon. Today I've managed to base up a couple of guns and clear the last of the Portuguese from the lead pile.

This three instalment batch comprised two units of line infantry; two guns and a limber; five skirmish stands of Cacadores. 

All figures are by Front Rank.

12th Line (Chaves). This unit was in 6th Division.

I already know what we'll call these lads! Boys will be boys.
I do like painting Portuguese infantry. The uniform is very simple.

I've done these in white 'summer' trousers. I've done the previous units in blue trousers. These look rather more interesting.
All are painted by yours truly using enamels.

8th Line (Evora). 

This is the only unit I have with the red flag of the Southern Region. 
It was brigaded with the 12th, in 6th Division.
The flags for both line infantry units are by GMB Designs.

Two pieces of Portuguese artillery. 
The uniforms are so simple they were very easy and quick to paint.
A Portuguese limber. This piece needs some explaining. Front Rank don't make a Portuguese limber.
I had to convert a British one. Here the two are pictured side by side. The conversion was a simple one. 

After removing the figures head, the outer rows of buttons had to be cut off and scraped smooth with a scalpel. Then a new head in a Portuguese stovepipe shako was pinned and glued into place.

Shoulder wings were added with Milliput. This was applied as a thin sheet and smoothed out before being cut to shape with a scalpel. I could have gone the paper or thick foil route but the putty solution was quicker and easier.
Lastly, swords were added. The ones I used were a fudge because they are all I had. These are plastic French dragoon swords, with sword knots cut away, from a two figure sprue I had to hand - they should be sabres. Sword belts were added using Milliput in a similar way to how the shoulder wings were done.
And there you have it: A Portuguese limber!
Last up, five skirmish stands of Cacadores to bolster a Divisions skirmish factors when a battalion of Cacadores is present. 

Round stands are by War Bases. Other stands are home cut from MDF sheet.
These are the 6th, The yellow cuffs and collars make them stand out a bit.
So, that's it for now. 

I now only have three batches of figures to do (four units) and stage one of the project will be finished.

Stage two, or at least 80% of it, has arrived from Front Rank, one parcel a week for the last four weeks. What I have to do is ignore it by telling myself it's on another planet until stage one is done and dusted, hopefully by the end of the summer.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Encuentro Casual en Pueblo Aserradero

This quickly written post is for the boys to read before they come to play at my house but, shared with all.

This scenario is loosely based on scenario 41, Chance Encounter, in Scenarios for Wargames by Mr. C.S. Grant. Once again, I have to say that this book is well worth buying - I go back to it time and time again. Highly Recommended!

The original, original was a first game introductory scenario for C.S.Grant himself. I presume it was written by his dad (C. Grant - not to be confused) back in 1958. Consequently, I've noted some of the changes I've made for anyone wishing to use this scenario for its original purpose. 

Victory conditions are simple. To quote from the scenario book "Two small advance guards, neither expecting the other, approach from opposite diagonals of the table. Each has been sent to take 'Sawmill Village'. He who holds the village wins."

The main differences between my scenario and that of Charles, are the addition of the river (mostly for aesthetics and narrative), a few more walls are in evidence, and the size of the forces is greatly increased. I've actually more than doubled the forces and allowed no choice in what they can be. 

In the book, each side has six units, chosen by each player from a similar list of 14 units (comprising infantry, light infantry, light and heavy cavalry, and guns), all entering via the road in a pre-arranged order of march. Because my forces are much larger, I've had to change the way the units can enter the combat area. 

Because this is a small game, I'm doing it at brigade command level (not the more usual divisional level). Each side has an infantry division with an attached cavalry brigade to play with.

The river is impassable except at the bridge and is probably why Pueblo Aserradero is important. The hills are neither high or steep, nor do they provide cover but, they are rugged and count as rough terrain. The wood is very rough terrain to infantry and impassable to cavalry; it provides heavy cover. Buildings count as stone built town sections treated in the usual manner. Walls only provide cover to troops immediately behind them; they are rough terrain to infantry crossing them, and very rough to cavalry.

I have pre-rolled for the quality of all commanders and units. I've also assigned all but the foot artillery to commands. Commands are regiments for the French division, brigades for the British division. 

Foot artillery - one battery per side - must be assigned to commands before the start of play. If both guns (troops) are assigned to one command, they can be deployed as a full battery with both guns capable of firing at the same target for one initiative point ('Grand Battery' rule); otherwise they can be assigned and fire as single troops.

Divisional Morale Points
These will be rolled for by the players before commencement of play.

Initial deployment and entry points
At the start of play both sides can deploy their cavalry units anywhere, in any formation, up to 36" from their road entry point. One infantry command can be deployed up to 24" on table, marching in column, up the road.
On the first move card turned: A further command can enter the battlefield via the road; it is marching in column. 
On the second move card turned: A further command can enter the battlefield anywhere up to 18" along the deployment zone line (as though they have fanned out from the road whilst off-table), with units in any formation.
On the third move card turned: Any further commands can enter the battlefield anywhere up to 36" along the deployment line, with units in any formation.

The British division:
Two three battalion brigades of British line infantry; a four battalion brigade of Portuguese infantry; a battery of guns (2 sections); a two regiment brigade of light cavalry (attached). 

Unbaptised units: 88th Foot (Connaught Rangers).

Qualitatively, this division is much better than the larger French division described below.
The French division:
One four battalion regiment if line infantry; one three battalion regiment of light infantry; one two battalion regiment of line infantry with a battalion of light infantry (attached); one two battalion regiment of line infantry (Polish); a battery of guns (2 sections); one two regiment cavalry brigade with a section of horse artillery (attached).

Monday, 5 July 2021

The thin red line gets a bit longer


Three more units in red coats, finishing that part of the lead pile, and two more commanders, which finishes another part.

The end of stage one of the Peninsular project is in sight. Just six more batches (seven units) of Anglo-Portuguese to go. Stage two of the project is well in hand - another thirty odd new units have been ordered from Front Rank and are gradually being processed for delivery but, I'll save the details for a future post. 

On with what's new. All figures are Front Rank. All were painted by myself using Humbrol (in the main) enamels over the past two weeks. Flags are either GMB Designs or Flags for the Lads. The square and command bases are home cut 2mm MDF; the round bases for skirmishers and the dice holders are by War Bases.

88th Foot (Connaught Rangers). Pale yellow facings.
As with a lot of my British units, this one was chosen because a blog follower sent me the flags that he had spare after doing his own Peninsular project.

For some reason, it seems spare British flags are a bit of thing amongst you. Three blog followers have sent me their spares whilst I've been doing this project. They have sent me so many I now have spares of my own. These gifted flags are part of the reason for my rather eclectic choice of British units.

11th Foot (North Devonshire). Green Facings.
I couldn't disagree more with the statement that red and green should never be seen. As a uniform combination, I think it is splendid. It's possibly why I enjoyed painting my SYW Russians so much.

Finally, the last unit in red isn't actually British. I give you the Chasseurs Britanniques. Pale blue facings.

This unit is essential for representing 7th Division, though I dare say it will turn up as a filler in other divisions when it is required to make up the numbers.

Although this was the last unit I painted in red, it was one of the first ones I bought. I know that for a fact because I wish I hadn't bought any units in firing line - after painting and basing the first one, I didn't purchase any more (I have three British, 2 French, all from that first 28kg project order).
I didn't go with the blue wings for flank companies. The popular plate that shows blue wings is probably (definitely?) wrong. 

I've got to say, the blue used for the GMB flag is awesome - recommended.

A British infantry unit I had to buy flags for. Now there's a novelty!
Finally, for this post, the last two British command stands (9 total).

These will take some explaining! 

Firstly, you will note that I've changed the way I base my commanders. From initially basing them on 60mm rounds, I've gone to 60mm x 75mm bullets. This has allowed me to add a dice holder at the back of the base. These will be used to hold dice that show divisional morale points. Because reserves are so important in Napoleonic games, I feel that divisional morale point pools are much better than a single army morale point pool.
Now to explain the rather strange choice of figures.

It is almost certainly the case that Thomas Picton never wore a long coat, a top hat, or carry an umbrella (as he did at Waterloo) during the Peninsular War; his portraits prior to 1815 show him in fully braided scarlet uniform. However, I can't think of Picton dressed in any other way. Come to think of it, I can't think of Thomas Picton as anyone other than Jack Hawkins. Consequently, the Jack Hawkins figure has been used and I'm surprised they don't call it that in the Front Rank catalogue.

The next command group is my second cavalry commander. Whilst scanning about for inspiration, I came across a pencil drawing of General John Le Marchant. It shows him wearing an overcoat and what looks like a white crested tarleton helmet. I'm really unsure of this portrait because it's possibly an artist's working sketch for a painting. Here's what I think: I think that the crest might be black but, the artist has done it white because he is more interested in its shape and form than its colour - something hard to show in black - for easier translation when he came to do a full portrait in oils. However, it looks jolly striking white, so that is how I've done it.

The figure is actually a converted Front Rank General Paget. I've added a new hand to his empty sleeve (he was one armed) and given him a head change (bicorn to tarleton).

NOTE: The dice holders are double depth. I don't think 2mm depth is enough to hold a 10mm dice firmly in position, so I glued two together, one on top of the other, to get 4mm of depth. I also have a tip for finishing these in a 'professional' looking way: Before gluing them to the base, line the top of the base with a square of coloured paper (I used black paper), just a bit bigger than the dice holders, before gluing the dice holder on top - it gives a much better finish than paint (I tried paint first).

Next up, Two Portuguese Line infantry units, two Portuguese guns, and a Portuguese limber with converted drivers.

EDIT: I need to link one or two of these pics onto one of my groups (LAF), so I need to get them on the web, and this is as good a place as any. They are photos I took for Shadow of the Eagles by Keith Flint.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

A Light Snack: My Light Division for the Peninsular

In preparation for my first post lockdowns face to face game next week, I've made a push on finishing what's left of my British lead pile. I still have ten units and a clutch of command stands to paint (after the stuff shown in this post) but, I've recently done the hard part: Namely, my version of the Light Division. 

It is, without doubt, the prospect of painting this division that has put me off getting the British finished. Commercially, I paint a lot of riflemen and, along with Cacadores, I don't ever enjoy doing them: Painting the dark shades of black equipment on dark green and brown clothing is always hard on the eyes; doing them two or three times is fair enough but, I've painted tens of units of them over the years and now my heart sinks at the prospect.

Anyway, I bit the bullet and eight days later the pain was over. My Light Division is done and ready for service. Huzzah!

The composition of my Light Division follows the way that I have decided to scale everything. That is, divide the number of men in the division by 1000 to give the number of units the division will have then, looking at division unit composition, decide which particular units will be painted up to make up the number. 

I don't represent command elements below division, so I don't bother with 'brigade structures' and, although this is a somewhat heretical approach, it makes life very simple because I have some discretion to paint the units with most interesting facings, flags, etc.

In the case of the Light Division, typically around 4000 men, I decided to paint the following four units: 52nd Oxfordshire Light Infantry; 43rd Monmouthshire Light Infantry; 3rd Cacadores; 95th Rifles. 

52nd Foot, Oxfordshire Light Infantry.

Possibly the best unit in the Peninsular. Two battalions were fielded in the Light Division, I've chosen to paint just one.

My British Light Infantry Battalions have a skirmish factor of four - hence four skirmish stands.

Note: Line battalions typically have a SK factor of 2, Legere 3.
Buff facings means buff accoutrements. I can never decide if I like it or not but, it makes a change from from everything white.

Figures are Front Rank. 

Flags are Flags for the Lads.
43rd Foot, Monmouthshire Light Infantry.

White facings and a regimental flag with the Cross of St. George makes this a nice bright unit.
Figures are Front Rank. 

Flags are Flags for the Lads.
3rd Cacadores. 

Two battalions were fielded in the Light Division (1st and 3rd Cacadores) but both were usually well understrength. My scaling means they are represented by a single battalion. 
Figures are Front Rank. 

Note that Front Rank don't make Cacadores armed with muskets and consequently this unit is a 100% rifle armed fudge. It's a fudge I can live with. N.B. The unit, under my definition, counts as equipped with muskets, not rifles.

Note that the unit only has 5 figures on each close order stand: I found 6 to a stand  looked very overcrowded (see 95th below).

95th Rifles (x3 skirmish units)

The 95th Rifles, as is their way, cause a bit of a problem because they shouldn't fight as a formed unit. Even within the division, half of 1/95th fought with one brigade and the rest with the other. 1/95th didn't even combine when a third half battalion was added later in the war. Consequently, I decided to paint and base them as three small skirmish units proper.

Note that this close order stand has six figures and looks overcrowded (see comment above). The other two units have five to a stand, and I used the two extra figures to make a single skirmish stand to add to the skirmish potential in another division. These units were painted as a single batch before the Cacadores.

Each unit has three skirmish stands and one close order stand. The latter is used to determine facing, measure ranges and, in the face of cavalry (with skirmish stands removed), represent the unit 'clumped'. 

Up until 1813, the Light Division will only field two Rifle units.

Close order stand with five figures, which looks like much better spacing IMHO.

Figures are Front Rank.
Lastly, and not as part of the Light Division, when I painted 3rd Cacadores I chucked in a few extra stands of 8th Cacadores to bolster the skirmish potential of an infantry division (8th Cacadores fought with 5th Division).

With my scaling method Cacadore battalions are too small to be generally represented (typically only around 400 - 600 strong). With this in mind, I thought it would be best to fudge Cacadore battalions and just field the occasional one. On reflection, this was muddle headed. Outside of the Light Division, which will field a full battalion, Cacadores will be fielded as skirmish stands only, one being attached to each line unit in the division to bolster its integral skirmish factor from 2 to 3.

It's such a simple concept I can't understand why it didn't occur to me as the simplest way to represent their presence within a division in the first place. That is why I've painted five stands of them - most Anglo Portuguese divisions were 5000 strong (5 units) so five stands are required.

Note: Some divisions did not have a Cacadore battalion. These will get one stand of 95th Riflemen / 60th Riflemen / Oels Jagers (for each company attached) with which to bolster the SK factor of one or two units therein. Where both Cacadores and rifle companies are present, the riflemen will be ignored - line battalions with a SK factor of 4 would be over egging the pudding.

Anyway, next up, another generic 5000 strong Anglo Portuguese infantry division.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Huerta de Pablo - Battle Report: Turn 4

 The initial deployment navigation photo so you can get your bearings:

The French of 3rd Division move on the waiting line of British and Portuguese infantry of 2nd Division - the French "in their usual fashion".

They are about to get close and personal.
At San Pablo the British decide that valour isn't everything and evacuate the town to buy time for reinforcement to come up from the south.
Except, that is, for the Gordons who decide to evacuate towards the enemy north of the town in, what would seem a suicidal charge.
It looks like the Guards are going to be in hot water, as the 20th Dragoons turn and threaten a charge.
South of Huerta de Pablo, British 3rd Division begin to deploy for action, as the French to the east of the town begin to crumble.
For the French, the next initiative domino draw is a killer. 21 initiative for the British.

They will win the turn, and end the turn, before the French can use the Melee card they turned with their last initiative point in the last phase.
When the turn ending British initiative is over, the French east of Huerta de Pablo have been put to flight; French 3rd Division has almost ceased to exist; the path north to High Farm Hill is open. 

The British have not come through the ordeal unscathed but, 2nd Division can be proud of itself, dealing a few sharp volleys into the French columns before dispatching the tattered remains with a timely bayonet charge by 97th Foot (Queen's German Regt.). 

Pressure has also been relieved on the 71st Highland Light Infantry, thanks to well aimed volleys by themselves and the timely arrival of 50th (West Kent).

For the 71st, the new granary model has been lucky.
At San Pablo, the Coldstreams have been forced into square and all but the Gordons are slowly falling back to buy time for reinforcement from the south.
The Gordons! 

The Gordons are on the rampage. They have cleared the French battery north of the town along with its supporting infantry. 

They too can now begin to fall back to join up with the Guards and Camerons. Job done nicely.
South of Huerta de Pablo, British 3rd Division is moving north to mop up what is left of French resistance in the town and, hopefully, join up with 1st Division at San Pablo. They have also cleared the French battery from Pine Hill - the honour falling to the 53rd (Shropshire).
Only in the northern sector, around San Pablo, do the French look to have the upper hand - at least in numbers. With the situation at Huerta de Pablo looking desperate, I rather suspect they will play for a draw. 

The French plan will be to take and hold San Pablo, destroy the Guards and Highlanders of 1st Division, and then hold the line between there and High Farm Hill. Possibly easier said, than done.

The main problem for the French is that their C-in-C is low on 'army morale points'.

Note: I'm not playing the classic Piquet morale system. All divisions have their own pool of morale points; the C-in-C has a small pool too. When divisions are reduced to zero morale points all of their units go shaken, all actions cost double initiative points and, more importantly, a point is deducted from the C-in-C's very limited pool (The French C-in-C started with four) and when he reaches zero the battle is lost. The French C-in-C is down to three points, 3rd Division having reached zero, and two other divisions are close to zero. A C-in-C can transfer his personal morale points (at a rate of 1 point for 3 points) to a division to 'keep it in the fight' but in doing so he seriously depletes his pool. This system seems to be working.