Monday 22 June 2009

55 Days at Sea: War Times Journal Ships

Yes, I finally gave in, having more or less topped off the collection of Navwar ships for the 55 Days project, I couldn't shake the feeling of being bereft of certain key ships. I'd originally sworn off buying vessels from the excellent War Times Journal Miniatures due to the exchange rate between the £ and the $, but just a handful of ships wouldn't hurt - would it?

I can therefore, having received a large box from the good ole US of A the other day, wax lyrical for the first time about a comparison between the two manufacturers, and detail the ships that will be filling the gaps in my collection so far.

My order from the U.S. arrived promptly, around ten days or so after despatch, and came in a large box with plenty of cushioning material inside; in fact this more or less filled the whole box, given that I had only ordered eight ships! Each vessel was individually placed in a small plastic baggie, although with none of the information/specs that you receive with a Navwar purchase. On first examination, the casts were extremely clean, and flash was minimal to non-existent, unlike the models of some other manufacturers!

You can see all the vessels in their natural, untouched state here. Of course, WTJ has done the wargamer/collector the great service of having some close up, detailed photos of their products on their website, so I don't intend to duplicate their efforts here, rather merely relate what I bought to the 55 Days project.

First up we have a view of the Chinese Torpedo Gunboat Fei Ting, (WTJ 0012302) a very nice sculpt with her unusual twin-funneled layout; what is immediately apparent is the clean detailed lines of the model, and the detail visible on the ship's boats, a feature of all of WTJ's products.
I simply couldn't resist augmenting my Chinese Navy, and as I discussed in a previous post, short of buying the special, large scale packs from Navwar, I couldn't source these vessels from anywhere else. Only the funnels themselves might need a bit of shaping up with a small file; significantly, the base is entirely clear of flash, and has a deeply inscribed and therefore easily legible code number on the bottom.

Next we see the Torpedo Boat Destroyer Fei Ying, (WTJ 0012304) which was present in the Pei-Ho river during the capture of the Taku Forts. Another nice model with good details; the indented funnel tops are a nice touch, and the forward gun is clearly visible, if a little slight.

Moving over to the Russians, we have the Grozyashchi Class Gunboat, (WTJ 0022602) a number of which were present in 1900; beautiful detail on the ship's boats here, and great proportions overall; I'm actually going to use this as the Bobre, which took part in the assault on the Taku Forts. She was of a different class, but the Navwar version from the Khabry/Abrek pack has an unhistorical bow section, and is better suited as a model of the Mandjur class, so this model will be used to take advantage of the better depiction of the instantly recognisable revetted gun above the bow, a characteristic of many of these Russian boats.

The Chinese riposte with a contender of their own, augmenting the various TBDs with an actual Protected Cruiser, the Hai Yung (WTJ 0012211), which was recorded as being in attendance on the Allied Flotilla off the Taku Bar in 1900. No belligerent action on her part was historically recorded, but her anchor point, at the sternmost area of the fleet there, suggests intriguing possibilities for any surprise attack!

I must now confess that we are suffering from 'mission creep' somewhat on this project, in that having picked up the Don Juan de Austria to use in her American re-incarnation, I was attracted by the Reina Regente Class of Protected Cruiser (WTJ 0033230), with a view to allying her, in the form of the Lepanto, to Navwar's version of the Battleship Pelayo as a mini-squadron that might represent the fictional interests of Spain in the Far East.
With the Philippines lost after the Span-Am War, I was 'imagineering' that a good scenario would see the Spanish try to take advantage of the focus on China, and independence agitations in the Philippines themselves, to retake a measure of control: the Battle of Manila Bay Part II perhaps?
I had been disciplined in not widening the net too much with my Navwar purchases, but couldn't resist the detail and proportion of this excellent sculpt:

Next we visit Germany, and the sleekly designed Protected Cruiser the Gefion, (WTJ 0077215),
a notable absence from the Navwar catalogue, especially given her unique nature and long service in the Far Eastern theatre:

Hopping back to the Chinese once more, we introduce the 'big guns', which will make their fleet more competitive in any scenarios involving conflict with Allied Powers. Below we see the Protected Cruiser Hai Tien (WTJ 0012210), a sculpt noticeable for the visible deck planking, a characteristic of the WTJ minis, and the lack of any casting line, which can often disfigure the foredecks of some Navwar ships:

Sailing under the U.S. stars and bars, we have the war prize Don Juan de Austria (WTJ 0033231) an Unarmoured Cruiser that has a likeable 'tubby' look to her amidships:

Finally, a group of comparison shots that will go some way to represent the differences between the two manufacturers; overall, the WTJ examples are crisper and cleaner than Navwar, if perhaps a bit more delicate looking, the actual castings are definitely lighter.

The Grozyyashchi up against Navwar's U.S. 'Gunboat' Helena; note the casting/mould line so visible on the latter:

Navwar's Cissoi Veliki dwarfs the greyhound-like proportions of the Hai Yung, are perhaps WTJ's minis, although looking a nicely accurate and balanced 1/3000th scale, a tad larger than similar ones from Navwar? the Battleship was historically 106 metres overall in length, with the Chinese cruiser at 99 metres, so perhaps it is just to my eyes; certainly, on the tabletop, there will be no trouble mixing the two manufacturer's output.

Navwar's Navarin next to WTJ's Reina Regente class; although the former has great character, the mould line along her length is immediately apparent, and the detailing on the latter is obviously much clearer:

Finally, we see the Navarin straddled by the Chinese Cruisers; the detailed deck planking on WTJ's vessels jumps right out at you here, and of note are the dimples or nipples which the sculptor has added to indicate the proper position for masts, should you wish to scratch-build and include them.

Overall, I was very impressed with the WTJ ships, a lot of care and attention to detail has gone into their manufacture, although it might be said that in their unpainted state, they look perhaps a little to clean and sterile, lacking the gusto of some of Navwar's 'broad brush' approach. Being UK based, cost is a factor in deciding to invest in these ships, and of course no-one can yet compete with the sheer width and breadth of the British company's catalogue.

Yet if you are looking for those hard to get ships, or want a particular, special model, then I cannot recommend them highly enough; efficient, internet based purchasing, and quick service coupled with excellent little models is a hard to beat combination.
Certainly, I was very glad to have had the choice available to augment my variety of vessels for this somewhat under-exposed historical period (at least in Naval terms), and I understand that WTJ are looking to expand and update their ranges in the near future, alongside the "Battlefleet 1900" rules system that they have developed; furthermore, their website is a mine of useful information, research, tips and advice, which therefore offers you the whole package.

I'm looking forward to painting up these new additions, and adding them to my 'characterful' Navwar flotillas, and then finally getting down to the serious business of playing out my 'What-If?' campaigns, so stay tuned!

She Who Must Be Obeyed

So, my Significant Other has deigned to take a look at my workbench, cluttered as it is with the plastic 'Silent Death' fighters from EM-4, mounted on 1" flight stands.

"What are those?" she declares haughtily. I launch into an explanation of the use of these fighters as alien aircraft for the Land Dreadnoughts project, only to be cut short.

"I know that  - what are those things?" "Erm, oh, you mean the flight stands?"
"Yeah, what are those black things - I thought they were flying saucers or something stuck underneath...."

I bluster in reply, "Well, these are black plastic, but you can get see-thru ones...."

"Why go to all the trouble of making that green surface, and then plonk those on them? Don't people think they look weird?"

"Well, we, er, kind of ignore them when playing, you know, they're something to get hold of instead of touching the mini..."

"You should cover them up - you know, with that green stuff that always seems to get everywhere!"

I splutter, "Well, I....", but with that she has turned on her heel, and gone, interview over.

After sighing long and deep, I turned to look at the stands. In a way, she had a point - they were kind of obvious - but how to disguise them? 
Flocking directly onto them probably wouldn't take too well, and would get rubbed off in play, mmm, other work forgotten, the wheels started to go round. "Cover them up", she'd said - I'd often used a medium grade sand paper as a basing material, how about a cone of that to act as a cover?
You could even dye or paint it to represent different surfaces, earth, grass, desert, whatever; some double-sided sticky tape along one edge, and you have a removable, re-usable cover, at least on the face of it.

Of course, as an imperfect being, of questionable ancestry regarding mathematics and geometry, I had not realised that the wider you have the circumference of base of the cone, enough to cover the plastic hexagon, the taller it is in height, or something like that, so the efficient cover rather turned into something clunky and horrible.

I was about to turn back to the drawing board when I heard a dismissive sniff behind me:

"What are you making now.....tents?"

I didn't have the heart to admit my failure to the harshest critic in the world, so grinned cheesily in reply.

Whatever their input or influence, this is a salute to those Significant Others who inspire and indulge our hobby, treat us to helpful suggestions, or little surprises that have to be gently put right........"No love, the Giant Bunny is not appropriate for the Russo-Japanese War...."

Long may they be our guides!  :-).  

Sunday 14 June 2009

2mm English Civil War: The King's Army at Naseby

Today, on the anniversary of the Battle of Naseby in 1645, I hope to present an examination in photos of how the Royalist line may have arrayed itself, ready for that fateful encounter with the New Model Army. 
The photos above and immediately below give some idea as to how a regiment of Horse would have looked like, along with some accompanying dragoons, in near enough 1:1 figure to man ratio; of course, as with tackling all historical periods before the 20th Century, the wargamer never has enough horse, and I am no exception! I suppose if Prince Rupert himself could only muster eight troops, I guess I can get away with reproducing the whole army at a somewhat weaker ratio. Given the basing ideas that I outlined in my previous post, there is necessarily a bit of fudging of numbers going on, although again I can plead clemency in that even the most eminent historians disagree on the actual numbers deployed on the day. Roughly, I suppose, the infantry ratio might be at 1 figure to 3 men, with, for instance,  the King's Life Guard of Foot having 219 figures for 657 real-world troops, whereas the cavalry might be closer to 1:4, with a small base depicting, say, 200 Horse.

Turning then, to the Royalist right wing of Horse, we see the Regiments of Prince Rupert, of Prince Maurice, the Queen's, the Earl of Northampton' two under-strength regiments, and finally that of Sir William Vaughn. Bringing up the rear you might espy some Dragoons; merely a token presence of around 23 figures for 90-odd men:

Moving to the centre, we begin with Lord Astley's Tertia of Foot, here, in my version of the order of battle, comprising from the far left, the regiment of the Duke of York, red coated with black colours sporting a red gyrony, then Sir Edward Hopton's, that had previously been Sir Alan Apsley's, here updated to an all musket formation, and they are flanked by the bluecoats of Sir Richard Page, who now commanded what had been Sir William Pennyman's Regiment of Foot. These units are supported by the yellow coated contingents of Sir John Paulet and Sir Matthew Appleyard, and finally the amalgamated small groups of musketeers under Sir Bernard, and Jacob Astley himself :

The Centre is held by the red-coated Queen's Lifeguard of Foot, the weakened regiment of Sir Henry Bard, with the blue coats of Radcliffe Gerard by their side. Here we also see the smallest guns of the Royalist artillery, that had managed to keep pace with the advancing line, represented by Irregular Miniature's RBG26 light guns:

Sir George Lisle commands the leftmost Tertia of Foot, somewhat in reduced numbers, comprising his own red coats, the weakened regiment of William Murray, that had been Lord Percy's Foot, the garrison regiment commanded by William St. George, and the brigaded units making up the Shrewsbury Foot; Broughton's Tillier's, Hunck's, Warren's and Gibson's:

Sir Marmaduke Langdale musters his Northern Horse on the Royalist left, comprising as many as what had originally been 18 regiments, and were now perhaps only 1500 in number all told. He is joined by the independent regiment of Colonel Horatio Carey, and a few of those elusive Royalist Dragoons:

Next we see the smorgasbord of troops forming Colonel Thomas Howard's Brigade, both Horse and Foot, forming the second line, and beyond them, the Reserve, comprising the King, the Lifeguard of both Foot and Horse, and finally Prince Rupert's blue coats:

Traditionally, the King's army is depicted in two lines, with Howard's Brigade being the hindmost, but in my totally unscientific reproduction here, I feel that the frontage between the Clipston parish boundary and the Sulby hedges would not allow all of the Foot and Horse to deploy across the full width; given that the Horse might jealously protect their frontage to allow for maximum impact in the charge, the first line of Foot was probably deployed in depth, to some extent, therefore,  giving three visible lines, four including the reserve:  

Seen from an invisible time-traveling surveillance drone, then, we have the line ready for battle. It is perhaps ten o'clock in the morning on the 14th of June 1645. King Charles has taken the decision to turn and face the army commanded by Fairfax that has been dogging is heels since he had left Leicester, prompted perhaps by the belief that the untried formations of the New Model Army might not stand a frontal assault. 
The order is to fall on in short order after the opening salvo, and try to negate the numerical advantage on the Parliamentarian side. In the far distance, Prince Rupert, squashing whatever misgivings he has for taking on the enemy at this time and place, prepares to begin his usual dashing charge. Already, to his immediate right, Colonel Okey's Dragoons are exchanging shots with some encroaching Royalist ones:

So there we have it, the King's army made up of 2mm miniatures, which for this period, I believe give the best possible chance of depicting en masse, a realistic-looking army that is ready for battle, rather than merely a table-top skirmish.
The line itself extended some 95 centimetres in width, with an approximate depth of 25cm. This rather made photography somewhat difficult, as you can see in the following wargamer's eye-view that reveals the prosaic reality behind the 'magic' ! :-).

Finally, let's have a look at how Streeter's famous engraving of the battle might look in 1/900th 3D scale; the line along its length:
and then the centre, with neatly balanced tertia of Foot flanked by the guns of the artillery:

Given the likely make-up of the Royalist army, with any number of amalgamated and brigaded units, some likely devoid of pike, this representation is necessarily an idealised one, and therefore to me an unlikely deployment, but this does nothing to undermine the inspiring nature of what was a contemporary artistic rendering. 
Hope you've enjoyed this week of posts as much as I have in putting them together, and I hope that they will go some small way in showing that 2mm miniatures can hold their own amongst their gigantic cousins in forming your armies of choice.

I would thoroughly recommend, for any that might be interested, the Naseby Battle website, which has a photographic and topographic breakdown of the key events, along with a truly fascinating archeological survey of where clusters of musket balls have been discovered, and how this relates to the likely narrative of battle. I might have some reservations about their idea of the Order of Battle, but overall an excellent and inspiring place to visit:

Dedicated to the memory of all those who fought on this day, in whichever cause.....

Saturday 13 June 2009

2mm English Civil War: Depicting the Units

Turning, now, to have a look at how I go about depicting the various units that might make up a Renaissance-Era army using 2mm miniatures. Being a firm believer in the phrase 'more is more', I have always seen the cost and relative ease of painting as an excuse to deploy 2mm in large numbers, and if I had to define it, tend toward the regimental end of the scale of things in terms of the units and their bases. 
Now if you wanted to look at later periods in history, particularly the Napoleonic, you could of course use single blocks as regiments and combine them on bases as divisions, corps or even armies, but I feel for the ECW, it is better to put together a number of blocks to act as the constituents of what tended to be relatively modest units, that were then grouped into Tertia or Batallia.

You can see above then, on 50x30mm sized bases, eight troops of Horse, (3 ranks of eight 'figures' representing each one), with some command figures, which might be used to depict the eight troops of Rupert's Regiment present at Naseby.  Irregular do combined blocks of Horse in multiples of close order ranks (RBG 17,19,21), which are nice sculpts, and obviously quick to paint, but I like the visual oomph that is provided by the individual RBG 16, 18 and 20 blocks.

This brings me on to the subject of figure to man ratios. Unlike the owners of those giant 28mm minis, these ratios tend to be a bit more of an abstraction for us dabblers in 2mm, as often a block from Irregular on the tabletop looks like a large group of men, rather than necessarily being a specific number. 
That is not to say, however, that individual figures are not well depicted in the blocks, to the contrary, the company is particular in cataloguing the exact number of figures per rank or file, and on close inspection, they are immediately obvious as individuals within a line. Furthermore, some blocks, particularly the RBG 11, dismounted Dragoons, is quite plainly a single rank of five distinct individuals. You are quite capable therefore, of turning to the actual number of men per base, and due to the cost savings on such small figures, produce some very decent figure ratios; not for us the classic 1:33 of so many wargames, here we can go down as far as 1:6, or even 1:3. Take the example of the Horse in the photo above; 50 visible figures per base, 4 bases, that's 200 men - Symond's diary records Rupert's Horse at the time of the storming of Leicester at 400, so that's  a figure ratio of 1:2 - now that really looks like the real thing on the tabletop! 

That's not to say, however, that I'm a real stickler for producing the exact amount of men as such; it is, after all, a game we are playing, rather than producing some historical model, so it is easy enough to 'abstract' somewhat without losing the desired visual impact. A good example is the Dragoon units, being too lazy to produce bases of mounted, deploying and deployed, I use a combined base to represent the whole, with a single mounted Dragoon block, RBG22, 3 blocks of Horse Holders, RBG35, and three RBG11 dismounted blocks as the firing line:

It is this combination of the various blocks on a base which gives you more flexibility in depicting particular units, after all, no manufacturer is going to produce everything us wargamers need.... so next we see a pair of late or weak Royalist ECW regiments, naturally with few pikes on show, and the tactical formation favouring the use of the musket or firelock. RBG7, a combined block of 15 pike and 30 shot figures is flanked by a pair of three rank, twenty four figure blocks borrowed from the Horse and Musket range, i.e. BG2. Some dismounted Dragoons step forward at the front to represent 'firing by extraduction', and the base is topped off by a three horse BG7 block to act as officers. 
(I realise that probably officers of Foot at this period were almost always dismounted amongst their regiments, and it is possible to clip individual figures from an RBG11 block to do this, but I just prefer the aesthetic of the mounted commanders.)

This use of various multiple blocks reaches its zenith in a regiment or brigade of commanded shot, where the pikes have been left twiddling their fingers back at the garrison, and those sprightly musketeers have put their best foot forward, again intending to fire by extraduction on a 60x30mm base as below:

Not forgetting that rather depressingly titled and characteristic formation of the ECW, Ye Forlorn Hope (never volunteer son, never volunteer!) on a 50x30mm sized base, showing groups detailed from different regiments, hence the varying coat colours:

Moving on to the actual Foot regiments themselves, I favour two sizes, in order to differentiate weaker and stronger units; no regiment was ever likely at full strength in this Civil War, and also in order to give the opportunity to say that one has a larger shot to pike ratio than the other. The smaller unit has an RBG9 stand-alone pike block flanked by four BG15 30 man, three rank blocks, whilst the larger blue-coated regiment has musket sleeves made up of the 39 man three rank BG16.

In terms of figure ratios, we might therefore see 120 musketeers against the Pike, which is ostensibly 40 figures, but the sculpt definitely seems to suggest more pikes, so if we posit 60 in the block, we have 2:1 Shot to Pike, or in the larger regiment 156 firearms to give something resembling nearer  to 3:1, whilst giving a nice en masse feel. 
These are always topped of with the excellent RBG24 command block, which is very well sculpted, and balances well with the large foot blocks.

The rear regiment here is made using the evocative variant of the RBG9 block, with the pikes leaning forward, and those colours flying in the wind:

Finally, on a 60x30mm base, we see a formation probably unique to the Royalist armies of the time; that is, a 'brigade of horse', in that often small units or remnants of others were combined to form a larger whole, resulting in odd shaped groupings. Note the variously coloured troop standards from all those disparate parent regiments; a right lot of rough-looking 'Reformados' if ever I saw one:

So then, in general terms, these are my weapons of choice, not perhaps, to everyone's taste, and they might give those who are committed to a particular ruleset with strict basing requirements some headaches, but to me, these are a good shot at producing the size, shape and feel of those romantic wood-block prints or engravings of the battles of this era.

Tomorrow, the fourteenth of June, look out for the King's Army at Naseby re-created!

Wednesday 10 June 2009

2mm English Civil War: Part 3: The Horse

Moving on to discuss the Royalist Horse at Naseby, the picture is made much clearer by the written record provided by the diary of a member of the King's Lifeguard, Richard Symonds; this gives detailed numbers and names up to the very eve of the battle.
In his entry for May 1645, the muster before Leicester, available in transcription at the website of Molyneuxs Regiment of re-enactors: 

we can see the following, which cross-references well with other historical sources:

The Northern Horse;
Major General Sir Marmaduke Langdale's Brigade, 3 divisions, Sir William Blakeston's Brigade, toto 1,500

(These units, along with Carey's below, formed the left wing of Horse, and have been described elsewhere as being eighteen regiments, under 100 in strength each, after Marston Moor, and due to desertions and failures in recruitment, with a surplus of officers, the personnel being mainly gentlemen and their manservants.)

Colonel Horatio Carey's Regiment, not 200, independent.

Col. Thomas Howard's Brigade, consisting of these seven regiments:

Col. Thom. Howard, 80
Col. Samuel Sandys, of Worcs, Governor of Worcester, 150
Col. Leveson, Governor of Dudley Castle, 150
Col. Bagott, Governor of Lichfield, 200
Col. Sir Robert Byron, 100
Col. Sir Henry Bard, Gov. of Campden House, commanded by __ Barker, 100
Col. Worthen (Warden), were Col. Morrowes Horse, 100
In toto 880.

(As I discussed in my previous post, I see these as forming the Horse element of the mixed Royalist second line. The right wing included the units below:)

King's Lifeguard of Horse, consisting of two troops, Kings and Queens, 130
Prince Rupert's Lifeguard of Horse, 1 troop, commanded by Sir Richard Crane, 140
Prince Maurice's Lifeguard of Horse, commanded by Lord Molyneux, 1 troop and Reformados, 120
Prince Rupert's Regiment off Horse, 8 troops, commander Col. Sir Thomas Dalyson, Lt. Col. Willaim Legge, 400
Prince Maurice's Regiment of Horse, commander Lt. Col. Guy Moulsworth, Maj. Robert Legge, 150
The Queen's Regiment, commanded by John Campsfield, 150
Each of Northampton's owne regiments, 250
Sir William Vaughn's Regiment of Horse, 7 troops, 400
Toto 1740

(The King's Lifeguard of Horse likely was in the reserve with the King and his Lifeguard of Foot, they galloped forward, led by the Sovereign, at the climax of the battle, until he was dissuaded by the Scots Earl of Carnwath - here you must affect a Highland accent: 
"Will you go upon your death?", I'm sure he finished the sentence with "Laddie!", but that part has been lost to history...)  

This information, which of course must be slightly adjusted for the passage of time, and the effects of wastage between Leicester and Naseby itself, underpins the conventional interpretation of the Horse element of the King's Army; and I am going to follow it as the likely best, and undoubtedly original, source. The only point to make is that some OOBs tend to include the 1,200 Newark Horse of Sir Richard Willys, however, most historians agree that this unit returned to the Newark area after the storming of Leicester.

A key element which appears missing from the conventional OOB for the Royalists is the presence of Dragoons. By this time in the Civil War, it is implicit that a regiment of Horse would include a troop's strength of Dragoons, and furthermore, Prince Rupert is noted as having employed mixed units of Horse and Commanded Shot on various operations, where they acted in mutual support of one another. It seems odd, therefore, that there is no obvious placement of Dragoons amongst the King's troops, either in most conventional accounts of the battle, nor in the Streeter engraving (at least as far as I can decipher). The counterpoint to this is the famous positioning of Colonel Okey's 12th Dragoon Regiment on the forward left of the Parliamentarian line in the Sulby Close and hedges.
One clue, perhaps, exists in the DeGomme plat of the planned layout of the Royalist Army made for Rupert prior to this campaign, where there appears in the rear of each cavalry unit a symbol which might represent a Dragoon element. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a decipherable or fully legible version of the written key, and so am unable to confirm this; however, it would seem a likely spot to plan to deploy a supporting element of Dragoons.

It may be possible to imagine, therefore, that troops of Dragoons would have stood in attendance upon the two wings of Royalist Horse, at least until they cantered off into the attack. Also it is significant that in his own account of the action, Okey records at one point, after Prince Rupert's Regiment had passed, that his musketeers lining the hedges came under attack, suffering a virtual encirclement; this could not have been by the Royalist main Foot line, as it had run in after the Horse, following few preliminaries, to have ago at Skippon. Perhaps these 'encirclers' might have been Dragoons; a bit of a mystery, then, unless they were still employed in escorting the Baggage Train in its slow progress in the wake of the King's sudden decision to turn and engage Fairfax.
Certainly, I feel the inclusion of a couple of small units in support of each wing of Horse is well within the bounds of probability.

I think the only remaining issue to address is the availability of artillery to the Royalists on the day, certainly most historians argue for some amongst the line, supported by a quote from Symond's diary: "they shotte two pieces of cannon, wee one; one of theirs was at the King's body of Horse...". Although all have been mindful of the slow progress of the train, and so it is reasonable to say that any pieces of ordnance would have been light, falconets, drakes or minions perhaps, that could have been manhandled along and kept pace with  the Foot as it deployed.
A good reference to the main part of the Royalist artillery is Cromwell himself, who in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons after the battle wrote of "12 guns: 2 bronze cannon, 2 demi-culverins, rest falcons....many left behind them."
I think it reasonable, then, to include a pair of light guns amidst the tertia, which is reflected in the Streeter picture, although he was probably only pointing out the likely positions, and making sure that the Royalist artillery matched the Parliamentarian, which definitely was in position; attempts to bolster the number of the enemy's troops always looks good when showing how a victory was close-fought, rather than you outnumbering him in the first place.

In the next post, I will be introducing the best bit, namely putting together the above as a coherent whole using 2mm miniatures, and then will be moving on to provide some pictorial evidence of the army en masse, with a comparison between a version of Streeter's view and my very own take upon stay tuned!

Tuesday 9 June 2009

2mm English Civil War: Part 2: The Foot

Looking at the Royalist OOB for Naseby, I've been concentrating on a number of sources, which have as their starting point the Streeter pictorial map from "Anglia Rediviva' and the work of Brigadier Peter Young. It would be tempting to see the Streeter map, unique as it is, as the best authority, particularly for the actual formations, or at least the placement of units within the line. Certainly, the setting out of the seven New Model Army Foot Regiments, and the various Horse under Cromwell speaks of a detailed knowledge on the part of the compiler and artist, and vies well with written accounts of the time. Furthermore, the layout of the battlefield itself, within the limitations of perspective, is very well portrayed; see an excellent discussion of this, and the battle at a whole, here:

(note, will download as a PDF file)

When it comes to the Royalist lines, however, having looked at as much written material as I could find, the neat delineation of the various regiments and the line of battle seems to differ from the known list of participating units. This is particularly so given the the nature of most of the King's armies at that time, when numerous weak units were brigaded together.
This is not meant as a criticism of Streeter, I think it merely reflects that he was participating in a history of the New Model, written for and by the other side; again, if to a contemporary reader, 'Sir George Lisle's Tertia" serves well enough in identifying the commander as Royalist, then it is perhaps only us modern wargamer types who demand to know every detail of cloth and button of those who served under him.
From my point of view, that wonderful, evocative engraving is eloquent in speaking of the brigade level placement and organisation of King Charles' Army, but less so in speaking of what made up those brigades.

Brigadier Peter Young has his critics and detractors, and some bridle at his apparently Royalist sensibilities, but it is undeniable that his reference to first hand written accounts and contemporary records and sources mean that his insight, particularly at the time he was writing, were second to none. As a 'popular' historian, rather than solely an academic one, he forms the well-spring of what most of us armchair generals refer to in understanding this historical period in warfare.

His take on the battle has the following for the Foot of the King's Army on the day in question:
The Royalist Right:
Sir Bernard Astley
Duke of York
Sir Edward Hopton
Sir Richard Page

Sir Henry Bard
The Queen's Lifeguard of Foot
Sir John Owen

Sir George Lisle
William St. George
The Shrewsbury Foot

The King's Lifeguard of Foot
Prince Rupert's Regiment of Foot

This allotment of the various regiments is no doubt as accurate a picture as we might want to find, yet for me still lacks some detail, but luckily this can be found from other sources, particularly those who have had access to transcripts of the Royalist Ordnance Papers, in this I would highlight the work of Barry Denton in his "Naseby Fight", Stuart Reid in "Gunpowder Triumphant" and Peachy and Prince's "ECW Flags and Colours". 
It is here where the presence of small, un-ascribed units are highlighted, and tempts us into speculation as to where they might have been employed.

For now, and I do not claim any special insight or professional knowledge in this, I've come up with the following view, upon which I intend to base my 2mm version of the Royalist troops:

Sir Jacob (Lord) Astley: commanded musketeers
Sir Bernard Astley: small musketeer unit, perhaps 300 in number
Sir Edward Hopton (had been Sir Alan Apsley's Regt):
The remnants of the Western Foot: probably Sir John Paulet, and Matthew Appleyard's commanded musketeers
Sir Richard Page: (had been William Pennyman's Regt.) likely to be one of the strongest regiments present, 2:1 ratio of shot to pike.

Sir Henry Bard: weak unit of probably firelocks
Queens' Lifeguard of Foot: under Rhys Thomas, likely 2:1 shot/pike ratio
Radcliffe Gerard; garrison unit, likely to contain musketeers only

Sir George Lisle: 2:1 shot/pike ratio
Remnants of the Reading tertio:
William Murray: (had been Lord Percy's Regt.)
Sir John Owen
William St. George: garrison unit, probably musketeers
Shrewsbury Foot: contained the following small units:
Fulk Hunck

Reserve: as above.

An outstanding issue, I have found, is the actual splitting of the above into a number of lines, and a further complication is the depiction by Streeter of Horse brigaded with Foot in the second line. This design is echoed in the DeGomme plat that can be seen online on the same page linked in my previous post on this subject. 
I feel that the main list given above probably was the make-up of the frontal dispositions of the Royalists, which may or may not, given the ground, have been split into a number of groupings or even lines; and then this was backed by a further line, before coming to the Reserve itself.
The occupants of this second line seem to come down to the fact that the Horse units correspond to those leaders brigaded under Sir Thomas Howard, whilst the Foot were probably the garrison regiments of those same commanders.
Certainly, Howard is known to have had regiments of both Horse and Foot, as did Bagot and Leveson. 
Richard Symond's Diary:

has each of the following with regiments of Horse before Naseby:

whilst at the same time, we know that all of these men were garrison commanders as follows:

Samuel Sandys: Worcester Garrison
Thomas Leveson" Dudley Castle
Richard Bagot: Lichfield
Sir Henry Bard: Campden House
Robert Byron: Chester

I think therefore, it is likely that the second line depicted by streeter's engraving was made up of this 'Howard's Brigade', which was an amalgam of the various, probably weak and musket armed garrison units, alongside the small Horse units of their commanders.

In my next post, I will look in more detail as to the dispositions and makeup of the Royalist Horse, and then go on, more importantly, to set out how I see them being depicted by the 2mm miniatures from Irregular. 
Obviously, I am no authority on these matters, and I defer to the work of all those who have gone before me, as well as saying that anyone is welcome to join in with comments or suggestions, but I hope to come up with a good looking contingent that would not shame their historical forebears, so look out for more on these subjects this week!

Sunday 7 June 2009

2mm English Civil War

With the anniversary of the Battle of Naseby almost upon us, I wanted to take the opportunity to have a look at re-creating the Royalist army that fought there using 2mm miniatures. To my mind, the English Civil War/ Renaissance is one of the historical periods best served by the teeny-tiny men from Irregular, in that the majority of the sculpts are well defined, and accurately capture the formations and 'feel' of the period. I've always been fascinated by the widely published print by Streeter that illustrated the battle in Joshua Sprigge's "Anglia Rediviva" of 1647, and the formations depicted there are echoed well by the available 2mm miniatures.

See a version here:

In my opening picture above, you can see the Royalist right wing of cavalry under Rupert shown en masse in my scale of choice; (remember, all photos on this blog are clickable for a larger, Macro view) you'll note that I'm using three RBG16 or 18 blocks to show a 'Troop' of Horse, so two troops to a 50x30mm base, as a rule, unless depicting large or composite, brigaded units, where you will see three troops on a 60x30mm base. Top left, you can see Rupert's Lifeguard of Horse, as well as the 8 troops of his Regiment, then those of Prince Maurice and then the Queen's Regiment of Horse, finally in the rear rank, the two regiments of the Earl of Northampton, as well as Sir William Vaughn's Regiment.

As I discussed in a previous post, in order to maximise the 'mass' effect of this smallest scale, I tend to put together various blocks on a base to represent the whole, rather than employing the ready made Pike and Shot blocks that are available; not that there is anything wrong with these, apart from their footprint on the ground being rather small. Highlights from Irregular's range include the Royalist and Parliamentarian Horse, the mounted  and dismounted Dragoons, and the various blocks of pike. I favour the stand-alone RBG9 Swiss/Landsknecht block, which represents a good solid bunch of pikemen, and comes in two variants, one with colours to the fore, pikes ordered vertical, and the other with the pikes ported, leaning forward somewhat, with the colours visible amongst the body of the pikeheads.

I had initially invested in this range to do a re-creation of the Battle of Cheriton in 1644, with a base per regiment for both sides. This turned out to be quite an undertaking, particularly given the amount of cavalry that Waller had available on the day. What was quite an interesting challenge was how to represent the various types of units, given that by this stage of the war, the typical 2:1 Shot to Pike ratio units so beloved of wargamers were getting to be more the exception than the rule, especially in the Royalist camp. 
There was a trend to use groups of commanded shot, or weak garrison units that fielded fewer and fewer pikes. (In this, I'm following the well researched views of Stuart Reid in his excellent "Gunpowder Triumphant" from the Partizan Press) This meant fielding small, medium and large sized pike/shot regiments, as well as other mixed units, such as forlorn hopes, etc, equipped with only muskets.

As I'm sure that anyone familiar with the period will know, accurate information about the coat/uniform colours and also the various regimental flags is very scarce, and often what is available is conflicting, or comes from making wide assumptions. See this current discussion over on TMP:

This can all be a bit frustrating if you want to be as accurate as historically possible when painting your units, but does have the positive side effect that it allows you to field generic regiments at this scale that can do double duty; a blue coat regiment with red colour might be Hopton's or Waller's, a red coated regiment might do just as well as a Royalist Oxford regiment as for a unit of the Parliamentarian New Model Army.

There are, of course, exceptions to this; the distinctive colours attributed to Prince Rupert's Regiment of Foot, or the well documented ones of the London Trained Bands, but on the whole, you can come up with a representative army of the time that gives you lots of options with regard to either political persuasion or theatre of conflict.

With this in mind, I'm looking, with a bit of re-organisation and  some small additions, to have a go at putting together King Charles' army at Naseby - wishing to do this at a relatively large figure to man ratio, so I can only afford to do one side as yet!

The first step, of course, is to pin down an accurate order of battle, so in various posts over the coming week, I'l be looking in depth at a number of sources, and coming up with an idea of how to build the formations using 2mm minis.

Hopefully, this should all lead up to a suitably 'eye candy' heavy posting with lots of pics of those 2mm men in action - keep checking back for updates!

Friday 5 June 2009

55 days at Sea: yet more painted ships!

Some more ships have today been launched from the workbench, and will form more or less the last tranche of vessels to cast off from Navwar for this project. 
Although the rather exhaustive lists I put together for the navies present during the Boxer Rebellion tempt one into doing each and every boat, I've decided to rein things in a little and stick to the major types. Some classes of ship, of course, I can't find examples of in 1/3000th, particularly the many smaller 'sloops', such as Alacrity, Algerine or Surprise, and others were only on the scene pretty much as the conflict was just about at an end, such as the German Brandenburg, or British Goliath battleships. 
So hopefully, these ships will help round out the various squadrons, without making them too unwieldy on the tabletop.

Above you can see the British Astrae class cruisers Hermione and Bonaventure, (N1357) in the company of the Apollo class Pique (N1355). Both of these types are good sculpts from Navwar, with plenty of guns visible, and fair proportions; the Astrae in particular, have a great 'boxy' look.

Below we have two more cruisers to add to the Russians, the N7311 Rurik, and N7320 Pamiat Azova, which handily come together in the same pack. Both armoured cruisers, they were certainly more capable ships in 1900 than they were during the later Russo-Japanese war, yet were still rather outdated and poorly designed. The minis themselves are a little plain, and the Pamiat, in spite of showing some prominent barbettes, has no guns visible in the sculpt itself, so is somewhat disappointing. 

Next up we have a Russian merchant vessel / volunteer steamer, the Moskva, for which I used the Navwar German Supply ship the Titania, N3706, of 1897. Again, as with the previous Japanese example, not entirely sure that she was present, but I felt it would add another level to any game play to have some floating targets! 
This is a nice sculpt from Navwar, and works as a good look-alike for the original, seen here: (Scroll down to bottom of the page)

Now an addition to the United States flotilla, namely the 'Gunboat' Helena; she was in reality a light cruiser type, but was designated a gunboat to avoid budget oversight in the rather isolationist Congress of the time. A decent sculpt here, the Helena class N6706, which captures the high, slight proportions of the funnel well.

Finally, some more fast Elswick type cruisers for the Japanese, the N5332 Naniwa and Takachiho, and the N5325 Takasago. These are all typical of the recently built Japanese ships of the time, namely fast and agile with plenty of quick firing guns preferred over a heavier armament. In fact, the Naniwa was delivered with 10.3 in. guns as principal armament fore and aft, but these were replaced with 5.9 in. upon deployment, in order to bring them in line with the standard for all the other cruisers. This is reflected well in the Navwar model, as what appears to be an underwhelming depiction of guns at bow and stern represent well the reduction in armament. 

With these vessels now on station, there are over seventy ships ready to support the Allied effort of 1900, and give me opportunities to set them all one against the other. I am still dealing with a slight case of disappointment over some of the types that were either not available from Navwar, or did not have suitable stand-ins, and I must warn you that I have been eyeing the War Times Journal Ship catalogue with envious eyes for some time. The £ is improving some against the $, so I've been getting itchy feet; keep watching this space for further updates!