Thursday 29 July 2021

Peninsular Project: Stage 2, part 1: The Spanish Infantry

The last of the five orders I placed with Front Rank Miniatures arrived this morning. Everything has been checked and everything seems to be there: 26 units of infantry, 8 units of cavalry, 5 guns, 3 limbers.

Stage 2 of the project chiefly concerns the Spanish (pictured above) but, amongst the lead pile (not shown), I have taken the opportunity to add five more units to the British and French forces. 

For the Anglo Portuguese there is a unit Portuguese cavalry (the 10th) that was originally planned for stage 1 (I didn't have enough spare cash at the time), and a unit of British light infantry (51st West Riding) that will enable me to field both Light Division and 7th Division at the same time.


For the French, I've bought another unit of Chasseurs a Cheval (11th) and two more units of Legere (25th). 

The former because I think I'm short a unit, the latter to increase my Legere numbers, or enable me to use my Du Midi and Hannovrienne light battalions as line infantry without reducing my numbers of Legere below 8 units - a double bubble purchase for collection flexibility. 

These five units are simply 'nice to haves' rather than being 'required'. Another 'nice to have', that I didn't go for, was a couple more units of Portuguese line infantry - you have to stop somewhere! Anyway, I don't think I'm going to paint any of these up straight away - I'm more likely to do them as and when they are required. It's the Spanish army that is my chief concern for the moment.

So, onto the Spanish. 

Firstly, after doing some reading, web searching and thinking, I have had second thoughts about my approach. Initially I had planned to do a Spanish army 'for all seasons'. I was going to do the infantry in white coats and bicornes, in coatees with top hats and bell topped shakos, and in the British supplied uniform with stovepipe shakos. However, I've now decided to drop the white coats completely. My reason is pretty simple. By 1809 they had, pretty much, all gone: they had simply worn out, or the units in them had been destroyed or captured during the first year of fighting: For example, Hibernia (actually in light blue coats but, the context is still valid) was fighting in civilian garb by November 1808. It's a crying shame because the white coat uniform is the one uniform there is a lot of definite information about: it's probably why early war Spanish armies are so popular with gamers and manufacturers. 

For the mid war years, uniform information - definite uniform information - is quite sparse. Even where contemporary artwork on the subject is available, the caption often reads 'unidentified unit'. Of course, one has to remember that the Spanish central authority and bureaucracy evaporated in 1808 and jurisdiction was maintained by local Juntas not best known for their organisational skills or record keeping. There is plenty of information about the uniforms supplied by Britain and to which regions they were delivered, because the British did keep records but, on arrival in Spain they were given to whatever Spanish authority pertained in the area and the paper trail generally comes to end at disembarkation. 

Two things we can be sure of are: Firstly, most 'regular' units from 1810 were uniformed and secondly, an awful lot of uniforms were supplied by Britain. All told, Britain supplied the Spanish with more than 180,000 uniforms, chiefly between 1810 - 13.

Anyone looking into the Spanish of the mid war period soon realises that definite information is sparse, and what there is gets repeated a lot. In the end, I fell back on two sources. I have noted the book used for my uniform decisions. Codes are:  

PH: Haythornthwaite and Chappel: Uniforms of the Peninsular Wars 1807 - 1814

O1-3: Osprey Man-at-arms series: Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars, volumes 1-3.

All of the infantry units will carry a single flag (except guerillas, with none) as per the regulations of 1806 (from memory) when battalions, previously having two, retired their spare flags into churches for storage. After the French arrived, many newly raised and reconstituted units often took these flags out of churches to use as their own without a thought being given to their regional affiliation or previous owners. Consequently, I'm no longer that bothered by the lack of information on flags. Mostly, I will simply take whatever flags I think are the best fit for my units.

I've sourced my flags from GMB Designs (GMB) and Adolfo Ramos (AR). Little things please little minds, and my mind being little and easily pleased, I've taken to saying Adolfo Ramos, in my best rounding the 'R' Spanish, at every given opportunity. It tickles me pink.

When you read what units I'm doing for this collection you will come to the speedy realisation that I'm not collecting for a specific Spanish army: Units are an eclectic mix of anything in theatre between 1809 and 1813. This is how I did my French, and that seemed to work well enough.

Before I finally get down to brass tacks, there is one last fudge I am going to use and I think it is worth mentioning. Although some units are definite units, most won't be - most will be guesswork. Because of this I will use a very simplified name plate for all units: 6th Malaga will simply read Malaga; Voluntarios de Navarra will simply read Navarra. I don't want anyone, who comes across pictures of these units in the future, to mistakenly think that everything is brilliantly researched because I've given things very specific names, and by using me as source material repeat my blunders. When the situation is confused, it's a good idea to keep the backdoor open.

Note on infantry unit sizes: Unless otherwise stated, all infantry units comprise 24 close order figures plus 4 skirmishers, for a total of 28 figures each. This is slightly more skirmishers than they will often field but I want to make the collection as flexible as I can. 

First up, are nine units dressed in the so called 'British uniform' that started to be delivered in 1810 and was the predominant uniform export by 1812.

The coat came in dark blue, or sky blue, with cuffs and collars most commonly red but sometimes other colours, including light blue. One source I've seen on line says that all of the dark uniforms were issued in the north whilst light blue uniforms went to the south (through Cadiz). This is probably not the case, though a majority may have done so.

A distinctive stovepipe shako was supplied with this uniform. Equipment was generally British with white or black belts and trousers were usually supplied in the same colour as the coats, though some pictures I've seen show grey (replacements?). 

There were an awful lot of these uniforms kicking about: Britain supplied 80,000 in dark blue alone.

Most sources seem to agree that Cacadores wore the 'British uniform' in sky blue coats with sky blue collar and cuffs. There is some disagreement about company distinctions - some say they were uniformed as per line units, others that they all wore light company distinctions. 

Line regiments, could wear either base colour and had grenadier and cacadores companies with red or green fringed padded wings (like those shown opposite) and similarly coloured shako 'ties' and plume distinctions.

Two units of cacadores (each x 24 with 6 skirmishers) will be in sky blue with sky blue collar and cuffs. I've bought all of the rank and file figures with the cacadores distinctions (green fringed padded wings and bugle cap badges, see pic above) - this may be wrong but they will stand out from other units in light blue. They will be Navara and Victoria. The flag for Navara has been sourced (AR), the flag for Victoria will be fudged.  (PH. Plate 33)

Two line units will be in dark blue British uniform, faced red. I'm going to use this uniform for some regiments from the Aragon region, with flags of Aragon (AR) and Zaragoza (GMB). I've seen pictures of these specific units, from an older style Osprey that I don't have, on the web. (PH. Plate 35)

Two line units will be in dark blue British uniform, faced light blue. 3000 were delivered for use by regiments serving with Wellington (from 1812). I'm going to go for Leon and Jaen (flags AR). (O3 Plate C)

One line unit in light blue British uniform, faced red. 20,000 uniforms, mostly faced red, were delivered to Cadiz in 1812, so a regiment from Grenada (flagged by AR) seems as likely as any to have got some. (O3 Plate C)

Two line units in light blue British uniform faced black. Definite info here: Two battalions of the Castropol Regiment (1812 - 13) with flags (AR) of Asturias. (O3 Plate B)

Note: All of my units in the British uniform are posed marching with shouldered musket.

I have five units in simple coats and round (top) hats. Three are posed marching, two are posed advancing.

Two units will be dressed in brown coats with yellow collars, cuffs, turnbacks and brown trousers.  I'm really not sure what unit names I'll give these troops. Flags and names will be fudged. (O3 Plate A)

Two units will be dressed in blue coats, one with red cuffs and collar, and one with yellow. Turnbacks will be white, trousers dark blue. A shipment of uniforms like this was sent to Andalucia in 1811 for an unnamed corps of Spanish patriots. I'm going to give them to two battalions of Seville (GMB flags). (O2 Plate G) 

One unit will be converted into a unit with lapels. Coat will be brown faced red and trousers will be brown. It will be the Almeria Regiment (1808 - 11), even though I'll need to fudge a flag. (O2 Plate B)

I have six units in simple coats and bell topped shako. Four are posed marching, two are posed advancing.

One unit will be converted so that it can be the Toledo Regiment (1811 - 13). The figures will require the addition of tufted shoulder straps and coat lapels. The uniform was a brown coat, yellow lapels, collar, cuffs and turnbacks, and large white shoulder straps tufted white. Trousers were white; and I'm going to have to fudge the trousers because the regiment was actually issued with tight pantaloons. (O2 Plate H) (Flag AR)

Two units will have simple shoulder straps added. The uniform will be brown coats with brown collar and shoulder straps, with red cuffs, turnbacks and piping. Trousers and gaiters will be white. Definite info here, both will be battalions of the 6th Malaga (1810 - 12). (O3 Plate H) (Flags GMB)

Two units will be very simply dressed as per the (20,000) uniforms supplied to northern Spain in 1810 for use by troops in Galicia, and Castille & Leon. The uniform was supplied in two colours, all dark blue coat or all light grey coat. Both uniforms were supplied with grey trousers and black accoutrements. I'm unsure which specific units to dress in this uniform - I'll probably call them Burgos and Castille. (O2 Plate D) (Flags GMB & AR)

The last unit to be dressed in this uniform will a battalion of the Hibernia Regiment dressed in a uniform that was definitely ordered for them in 1809. It comprised a "scarlet jacket, green facings and yellow buttons". Caps would have been shakos. Although there is no evidence that this uniform arrived or was worn, I quite fancy a unit in red coats - that the uniform was ordered is enough for me. I'll do them with grey trousers. (O2 Page 17, description only). (flag AR)

No Spanish army is complete without a few units of guerillas. However, they don't tend to figure very much in field battles so I'm only going to have three small 9 man skirmish units. (PH Plate 39)

So there you have the 23 units of Spanish infantry: Mostly, it has to be said, organised using smoke, mirrors and a huge dollop of fudge. 

I'm sorry if you were hoping for more detail and something more solid but, my efforts on that front have been in vain. 

The restriction of only using Front Rank figures has also limited my choices a little. I'm sure that if I mixed and matched I'd be able to field one or two more definite units but, I'm not sure I'd have that many more 'sure things'. And I really like Front Rank Miniatures.

Having said this army is a fiction, and I may well cock up with a few names and flags, if I ever take it to a show I very much doubt I'll be hauled up by the button counters. For the most part, even the button counters don't have a clue about most Spanish uniforms: Sad for them, sad for us all, but true. If I ever needed a 'know it all button counter' it was for these boys.

Next up, the cavalry and artillery, and things start to get very interesting.

Thanks to Alec and Angela for giving me permission to use photographs from the Front Rank online catalogue. 

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.