Thursday 30 April 2020

Mustering the Guard

I am slowly (very slowly) working my way through the Old Guard Grenadiers. I’m not sure quite why they are taking me so long as the uniforms are no more complex than regular line infantry. It may be that there are just too many distractions when I come into the Hinton Hut for a painting session. This is perhaps the downside to having all my wargame stuff within easy reach.

I do normally try to be disciplined and have only one unit at a time on my desk but I am failing in this as apart from the Grenadiers I also have a Boer War British unit on the go and some ACW scenery. The Boer War infantry are much less taxing to paint than the Old Guard so it’s natural that I am tempted away to spend my time on them.

That said, I do now have 7 Grumblers painted, just 17 more to go.

Saturday 25 April 2020

Old Guard Sapper

In with the lot of Old Guard Grenadiers I bought back in 2006 was a Minifigs S-range Guard Sapper that had obviously been included in the seller’s original unit as all the figures were painted in the same style. So, it seemed wrong not to include this figure with the rest of his comrades in my re-painted unit.

Slight problem of course is that the bases of S-range figures don’t look Hinton Hunty enough for my liking. Now, let me make clear, I have nothing against S-rangers (I am a great admirer of the collections of both Goya and Clive) but the fact is that they don’t mix well with Hinton Hunts. So, I came up with a cunning plan to file down the corners of the base on this figure to match the other Guardsmen. However, in my enthusiasm, I went too far and made the base too small - doh! The solution, cut the base off a spare deformed figure, make a hole, cut the Sapper base to fit – then glue.

I’m not intending to add any further S-range figures to my collection, but I do like this one.

Thanks to Rob and Anon for their comments on the last post re the test Grenadier figure. I have made a couple of subtle amendments and hope to be starting full production soon.

Sunday 19 April 2020

Test Grumbler

This is the test figure for the 1st Regiment de Grenadiers-a-Pied de la Garde Imperiale. The figure is FN/29 Grenadier (marching).

I was trying to remember when I acquired the figures for this unit, and I think it must have been around 2006 because I know it was before I started this blog. That’s a long time for such lovely original Hinton Hunt castings to have been hanging around in the lead pile.

I think subconsciously I may have been avoiding painting them out of concern I might not do them justice. Whatever the reason, I think it is high time that they saw the light of day again although I doubt if I will risk them in battle.

Friday 10 April 2020

Marshal Massena, Duke of Rivioli, Prince of Essling

Massena was born in Nice in 1758, ran away to sea aged thirteen, enlisted in the army, retired fourteen years later and set up a profitable business smuggling contraband into Italy. For most people that would have been enough excitement for a lifetime, but not Massena as the Revolutionary Wars brought further opportunity for adventure.

Under Bonaparte, he performed exceptionally well at Rivoli and after the battle Napoleon greeted him as the “darling child of victory” and made him Duke of Rivioli. He went on to gain further glory by successfully defending France from invasion in 1799 while the main army was off in Egypt. Advancing into Italy he had a great time pursuing his two favourite hobbies – money and women, until finally forced to surrender Genoa after Napoleon left him in the lurch and headed off to Marengo.

In 1804, when Napoleon was being crowned emperor there were no seats allocated to the top fifty generals who had to stand in the nave. Massena tipped a priest off his chair and took it for himself then the other generals followed suit causing quite a commotion. Shortly after he was made marshal along with the other thirteen originally created by Napoleon. Typically, when a friend congratulated him, he was quite miffed and replied he was only “one of fourteen”. Clearly, he was expecting more. 

In 1806 his army swept into Naples to put Joseph on the throne and he resumed his life of womanising and plunder, also selling licences to trade with Britain. The emperor got wind of this and confiscated three million Francs from a secret bank account, Massena never got over it.

He had a big part in the victory at Aspern-Essling in 1809, and at Wagram, as a reward Napoleon made him Prince of Essling. Shortly after this whilst on a hunting trip, Napoleon (who was a better shot with a field-gun than a fowling-piece) managed to shoot out one of his eyes and then blamed Berthier for it – nice move. Massena forgave him about the eye but never over the three million Francs.

Massena was sent to command the Army of Portugal in 1810 and upon arrival the jaded marshal said to his staff “gentlemen I am here against my own wishes”. Interestingly Wellington was nervous of the appointment commenting “we are in the presence of one of the first soldiers in Europe”. Massena did the best he could in Spain, probably better than any other marshal could have but after the defeat at Fuentes de Orono he was dismissed. Napoleon’s rather harsh remark was “So, Prince of Essling, you are no longer Massena”.

Massena died in 1817 but did meet with Wellington at Soult’s house shortly before where the two of them discussed the finer points of strategy in the Peninsular War.

The figure is a vintage casting of FN/356 Marshal Massena in marshal’s uniform.

Thursday 2 April 2020

More rule musings

When Goya last came over to help me playtest my rules (was it only 3 weeks ago?) he asked me what I wanted to achieve through the testing. This was a good question and having thought about it since I realised that I was trying to change too many variables at the same time to come to any proper conclusions. As a result, I decided to go right back to square one and play through a scenario with the existing rules to see where any problems might actually lie on the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix’ it principle.

One other thing Goya said was that in any given situation I should look at what the likely outcome would be and see if the rules match this in play, clever fellow that Goya but then he is a scientist. So, I set up the table with a French attacking force outnumbering a defending allied force by 2:1, no hills, no buildings just a straightforward set up. All things considered this looked like a scenario that the French should win.

There were 6 French columns with 4 batteries supported by cavalry and skirmishers. The allies had 2 British line units plus the Brunswickers, 2 batteries of artillery, the light dragoons and some rifles.
The First couple of turns the French concentrated on counter-battery fire that proved very effective so that the allied gun-line was neutralised. On turn 3 the French columns advanced covered by a skirmish screen that got the upper hand over the rifles.
The columns charge forward and take fire. I allowed 2 columns to charge each unit in line as my previous restriction on this seemed unjustified.
The French succeeded in charging home everywhere and won the resulting melees.
On the right the Cambridgeshire's were routed and poor Alten was felled. As you can see the new 24th ligne had a hand in this.

So, the French did win as expected but the wider scope of the game including the use of skirmishers and the larger number of guns opened up some interesting alternatives. It occurred to me that the rules as they stand are pretty much to my liking but maybe the only thing that needs tweaking is the morale rules in relation to unit losses (another idea of Goya’s). I played the scenario again with just this change -

Strength Factors for Morale
Infantry – 21 or more figures remaining in unit +1
Cavalry – 10 or more figures remaining in unit +1
Infantry – 16 or fewer figures remaining in unit -1
Cavalry – 7 or fewer figures remaining in unit -1

This time the French had more problems closing with the lines. This was helped by the Rifles gaining ascendancy over the Voltigeurs and also by some impressive British volley fire.
On the right the Cambridgeshire's were routed again but a spirited charge by the Light Dragoons saw off the 9th legere.

The result was much closer with more of the attackers becoming disordered and the game played out nicely. It was interesting to see how the subtle change to the morale Strength factors influenced play. I need to do more playtesting but then I do seem to have some time on my hands.