Saturday, 20 May 2017

Careful with that modelling knife Eugene

I can’t remember exactly how I came by this casting of FN/352 Eugene De Beauharnais but he has languished at the bottom of my lead pile for some time as I assumed from his rather hideous appearance that he was a poor copy of the Hinton Hunt figure. However when Tony asked me if I had a Eugene available to command the Franco-Italian army in our forthcoming game I thought I’d dig him out and see what, if anything, could be done with him.

The figure had been painted with a thick coat of gloss paint which hid most of the detail and I was pleasantly surprised to see this reappear as the casting emerged from its overnight bleach bath. Far from being a copy it turns out that the figure is almost certainly a Clayton one whilst the horse is a vintage casting of BNH/11.

The rider had been ‘welded’ to his saddle with copious amounts of Araldite so I didn’t want to try to remove him to put him on a more appropriate mount. Instead I have added to the horses docked tail to make it look more French (if a horse can look French that is) and also given poor Eugene some feet as these were missing. I’m now looking forward to painting this one.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The hills are alive…again

I am amazed to see that it is ten years since I painted my unit of Tyrolean Jagers (click here). They haven’t featured very heavily on the blog since and this is mainly due to them being an 18 figure strong individually based skirmish unit. As I’ve noted before we haven’t used the individual skirmishers in the large games played of late.

So in line with my new policy of making my 18 figure units up to 24 figures the Jagers are about to be expanded. The advancing figures are actually DK101 but they are a perfect fit with their Hinton Hunt brothers. The marching officer is a genuine vintage Hinton Hunt casting and a very nice one too.

There is a bit of a sense of urgency about this as I want to get the unit ready for a game to be hosted by the famous Goya. It will be another C&C game featuring Austrians against Tony’s French forces on an expanded board. Let’s hope my beginners luck with the dice holds out.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

The men from Ucles

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be able to take a trip to chateau Foy to take part in a refight of the battle of Ucles. I was on the Spanish side under the tutelage of the great man himself whilst the French were ably led by General Goya.

A general view of the table from behind the Spanish right flank.
The centre of the field - that's Ucles in the middle, an objective for the French but almost impossible to take due to sheer cliffs on most of the hex sides. Tony uses 15mm buildings with his 20mm troops and it works really well.
Now, call me old fashioned if you will, but I’ve never really liked the idea of hexes for miniatures games believing that the best place for them is board games, campaign maps and beehives. That said however, I’ve always admired the photos on Tony’s blog of his neat set up of miniatures and terrain for use with the Command & Colours rule set and it was great to be able to see all this for real.

The Spanish light cavalry shown here are all Hinton Hunt although Tony's armies have troops from just about every 20mm figure maker. Tony and I were eager to throw away our cavalry needlessly (we're both that sort of general) but we had to wait several turns before we could achieve this.
Spanish militia in the woods on the far right of our line. These militia boys put up a splendid fight, clearly Bruce Quarrie's rules were never translated into Spanish.
Those of you who follow Tony’s blog will know that he primarily wargames the Peninsular War and he has a truly stunning collection of 20mm figures for the period. It looked to me as if he has every single battalion of British, Portuguese, Spanish and French troops that ever took part but if not he can’t be far off that total.

The French cavalry were mostly comprised of Dragoons. I think these are Les Higgins (Tony, put me right).
The game started with a French assault on our outpost at Tribaldos. Our defending grenadiers made a great fight of it with an action that resembled La Haye Sainte or Hougoumont. Although the Spanish were eventually ejected we ground down the French so much that no further serious action occurred on this flank.
There can’t be many wargamers who have a Spanish Napoleonic army but Tony’s is well researched and spectacular to look at. My own prejudice against having one stems I think from Bruce Quarrie’s rules in the 70s which incorporated rather biased national characteristics that made a Spanish army pretty much unusable. Why waste time collecting one when you could have a division of British regulars instead?

A view of the Spanish left flank - the fighting around Tribaldos continues in the distance.
And here's a view of the right flank - French reinforcements are arriving on the far table edge.
As it turned out the game was highly enjoyable and provided a realistic ebb and flow that is hard to find with most conventional miniatures rules. Once you get away from worries about unit facings and formations (although there is a cunning rule for squares) and focus instead on the tricky command decisions you have to make C&C becomes a very gripping game.

Eventually the action on the right flank developed into a serious clash of arms. At the end of play each side had 7VP's which was a very good result for the Spanish. If we had played on my suspicion is that the French would have picked up the required 10VP's for a victory before we did.
I came away very impressed with both Tony’s fantastic figure collection and the C&C rules and am looking forward to another game at some point in the future. My thanks to Tony and Mrs Foy for their hospitality (we had lunch in the garden – in Scotland in April!) and to my travelling companion and opponent General Goya. A grand day out.

For a full battle report hop on over to Tony's blog here.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Walking Waterloo (Off Topic #25)

As part of my ongoing special birthday celebrations my daughter paid for me to spend last weekend staying in Hougoumont on the Waterloo battlefield. The farm has recently been renovated and the Landmark Trust has created a self-catering apartment on the top two floors of what was once the gardener’s cottage.

My companions on the trip were Andy and our respective wives and we arrived in the dark after a fairly gruelling drive from Scotland. I immediately perked up however on parking the car by the famous south gate of Hougoumont and taking in the atmosphere. We were the only people there (the caretaker was on holiday) which added to the magic as I set about exploring the courtyard by torchlight.

All I can say is I had a fantastic time and Andy and I managed to complete a short circular tour of the battlefield next day taking in La Haye Sainte and La Belle Alliance. I took quite a few photos and here is a selection of the most interesting ones.

Me outside the south gate of Hougoumont. This is the door used to get to the self-catering accommodation in the apartment above in what was the gardener's cottage.
The same place on a slightly busier day.

The living room in the Landmark Trust apartment. The standard of accommodation was surprisingly good although in common with all Landmark Trust properties there was no TV or Wi-Fi
The view from our bedroom window in the gardener's cottage looking more or less southeast towards the French lines. You can almost hear the drummers beating the pas-de-charge.
The view from the first floor (kitchen) looking down on the courtyard of Hougoumont. The white building on the right is the chapel.
The gardener's cottage from the courtyard. The guest accommodation covers the whole top floor and attic.
The north gate from the courtyard. The famous gate where the French managed to break in briefly before the gates were heroically shut and the intruders wiped out by the garrison.
The monument to the British defenders of Hougoumont.
This is the chapel - the only remaining part of the Chateau that must have dwarfed the courtyard before its destruction on 18 June. What surprised me the most about Hougoumont is how small an area it actually occupied.
The memorial to the Guards on the chapel wall.
This is a view to the south of Hougoumont looking from the direction of the allied lines. It struck me just how isolated the garrison was from the rest of the army and they must have really felt it when the place was surrounded by smoke, noise and the French.
A few hundred yards to the northeast of Hougoumont there is a foot path that leads towards the Lion's Mound and the visitor's centre. This path follows the crest of the ridge marking the front of the allied line. To my companions this was just a muddy field but to me this was an amazing place to be - the same ground walked on by men like Mercer and Maitland, the ground that 1,000's of cuirassiers rode over, the ground that the Imperial Guard attacked but failed to take.
To the left of the path the reverse slope of the ridge falls away quite steeply (it doesn't really show up in a photo) and would have provided relative safety to troops deployed behind it. It must have been a huge shock to the front ranks of French cuirassiers to have crested the ridge and seen the allied squares waiting on this ground.
A boyhood dream come true - Mercer's battery once stood here, I first read of his exploits in 1970!
A plaque dedecated to Mercer's troop of the RHA.


The Lion's Mound - a controversial monument built in 1826 for the Prince of Orange. The Duke of Wellington visiting in 1828 is said to have exclaimed "They have altered my field of battle!". Well, I'm with the Duke on this as its construction wiped out the sunken lane and reduced the height of the ridge.
The recently built visitor's centre is excellent and a must on any visit. It has been cleverly constructed under ground and blends sympathetically into the landscape - unlike the Lion's Mound.
There are some great life size mannequins displaying Napoleonic uniforms - really useful for finding out what some of those odd accoutrements are that are modelled on wargame figures.
Next to the visitor's centre is the Panorama displaying a 360 degree painting of the battle completed in 1911. I've seen some of the images from this painting before but it was quite something to be able to look at the whole thing. This section shows Marshal Ney I think.
A view of La Haye Sainte from the top of the Lion's Mound (yes I did climb all the way up the bloody thing but had to stop several times and pretend to be enjoying the view -  I did wonder if Belgian paramedics refuse to attend for tourists having heart attacks at the top of the 225 steps).
The path in this picture marks the crest of the ridge we'd just walked on viewed from the mound (looking towards Braine L' Alleud). The ground to the left is where the French cavalry and later the Imperial Guard would have advanced.
This is La Haye Sainte from ground level (coming down 225 steps is easier than going up them). Interesting to see how it is in quite a dip when viewed from the allied lines.
At this point Andy and I continued on our circular walk by ourselves whilst the ladies retired to Hougoumont to prepare dinner for us. This picture shows the ground to the east of La Haye Sainte looking towards the French lines. This is the ground that D'Erlon advanced over and there is a substantial dip in the middle (again the photo does not really show it). This would have been hard going on muddy ground. This is also where the Scot's Grey's made their charge.
La Haye Sainte looking down the road (now very busy) in the direction of La Belle Alliance.
The gate of La Haye Sainte - looks just like my Airfix model.
Andy and I pressed on towards La Belle Alliance but it was raining quite hard and starting to get dark by the time we got there. It looked to me as if the place was empty although it had clearly been a restaurant quite recently. Nice business venture for someone?
We headed back across the battlefield towards Hougoumont (and dinner) but this time on the French side of the lines. From this perspective the land looks deceptively flat and I could see how the French might have thought Wellington's position was weak.
This is a close up of the the field on one side of the track. The mud is very gloopy and this combined with the gradient up towards the allied line must have been a serious problem for the attacking French. No wonder no flanking moves were attempted on 18 June.
Having sampled just a bit too much red wine apres-battle tour Andy and I decided to set out in the dark to look at a monument in the grounds of Hougoumont. We scaled the garden wall like brave grenadiers and set off through the field however we weren't expecting to see the Lion's Mound lit up like some sort of giant spaceship. It was so impressive we had to go back and get the ladies, even they were a bit impressed although they thought we were stupid scaling the wall rather than just opening the gate (we thought it was locked).
Having forced everyone to spend a day walking Waterloo it was only right that we spent the next day in Brussels - something Napoleon never managed to achieve.


If any of you want to suggest to your own daughter that they pay for a similar trip then full details can be found on the Landmark Trust website – click here.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Unit histories

Not much happening here on the painting front as all the Hinton Hunt’s, brushes, paints etc are packed away in preparation for an imminent move north of the border.

Meanwhile though, I have taken the opportunity of a spare couple of hours to update the unit histories pages on the blog. I’ve added an entry for each of my infantry units and updated those I’d already done to include their exploits at Vintage Leipzig (my two most recent unit additions are not listed as they have yet to see any action).

Follow the links from the side menu or click below.

French infantry
British infantry
Allied infantry

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Musketeer Regiment No 4 Hoch-Und Deutschmeister

It’s taken a year to finish them but here they are at last the Musketeer Regiment No 4 Hoch-Und Deutschmeister painted as per the Hinton Hunt painting instructions. My original intent had been to have these ready for Vintage Leipzig but that ship has long since sailed.


For the record the figures are:

AN.7 Musketeer, marching x 17
AN.5 Musketeer, firing x 2
AN/25 Hungarian musketeer, firing (painted as Austrian) x 1
AN.1 Officer, charging (DK) x 1
AN.6 Officer, marching x 1
AN.9 Standard bearer (Clayton) x 1
AN.2 Drummer (DK) x 1


The marching figures are all reproductions however the firing figures are very nice vintage castings. The Hungarian is hiding in the middle of the base of three firing figures (if you’ve been trying to spot him).


I haven’t altogether enjoyed painting this unit as you may have gathered by the time its taken, although I did have to break off to paint all those Prussian cavalry last year. However I’m please with the result now they are finished and based up. Next I need to paint an additional 6 Jager figures to bring my Tyrolean’s up to strength.