Monday, August 22, 2016

Guards Hatt Caps

 I have gotten a number of questions off line concerning the Guards flank company hart caps.  Here is some additional research.

   It is not certain when the Grenadier and Light Infantry companies received the hat caps. An order of 11 March required that the detachment's 1776 new clothing be packed up and delivered to the regimental Quarter Masters with the exception of "the Hatt caps of the Grenadier & Light Infantry Companys which are to be delivered Separately."  The delivery was probably prior to 26 March, since the Middlesex Journal announced that at that time part of the detachment had marched out: "The men had felt caps with black feathers delivered to them before they set off, to wear instead of hats."  Since there is no record of any hats or caps with feathers being worn by the battalion companies of the detachment while in England, this possibly refers to the hat caps of the Grenadiers and Light Infantry companies.

Light infantry hat cap based on Andre's 1777 drawing.

In addition to the newspaper reports a rather intriguing hint was left behind by Major John Andre on his map of a skirmish which was part of the Battle of Whitemarsh on 6 December 1777.  On one side of the title he drew a cap, and on the other side he drew a light infantry horn and bayonet. The cap has no brim other than a small visor in front. There is a turban around the base of the crown with a bow at the back. Feathers arch over the top. A frontlet with a white edge and the letters "L.I." on it complete the cap. The engagement depicted is one which involved only the Queen's Rangers, the e Light Infantry of the Guards, and a company of Jaegers. The cap is not associated with the Jaegers or Rangers, nor is it the standard light infantry cap of the period. Did Andre drew the hat cap worn by the Guards Light Infantry Company in 1776-1777?  The Grenadiers' hat caps were based on the same pattern; but they would not have carried the "L.I." on the frontlet, perhaps a grenade.

   The hat caps were almost certainly felt rather than leather, as indicated by the inclusion of the word "hatt" in the name. The report in the Middlesex Journal reinforces that conclusion, since it mentions that the caps with feathers were made of felt.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Brigade of Guards on American Service 1781

   In early 1776 a composite battalion was formed of detachments from each of the three Guards regiments for service in America.  Each company of the three Guards regiments  were to send 15 privates. Officers volunteered for service.  Although a Grenadier company already existed with each regiment none had a light infantry company, so one was  organised.  These various detachments were organised into regiment of eight battalion, one Grenadier and one Light Infantry companies and fielded a little over one thousand men.

   On arrival in New York on12 August 1776 the Guards were trained in Sir William Howe's light infantry discipline.  Due to command and control problems with such a large regiment the Guards were reorganized into two battalions;  the Grenadiers and four battalion companies were assigned to the first battalion while the Light company and the remaining four battalion companies were assigned to the second battalion.  In addition the Guards were now designated a brigade under the command of General Matthew.

In addition to this reorganization, the uniform of the Guards underwent a transformation.  Instead of the London parade ground appearance and more practical campaign look was acquired.  Regimental coats were shortened, shoulder straps replaced with blue cloth.  The
distinctive regimental lace was removed.  Trousers and short gainers issued.  The cocked hat was uncocked, lace removed, brim cut short and recocked on one side only.  The waistbelt was placed in storage and the bayonet standard attached to the
cartridge box belt.  Haversacks and a water tub issued.  The Grenadiers and Light Infantry were issued a curious hat-cap.  This appears to be a visor cap with a bearskin crest.  A possible drawing of this was done by Major John Andre on his map of Brandywine. To distinguish the two battalions the first were to leave strips of lace on their shoulder straps.

As the was progressed it appears that the regimental lace was placed back on the coats, and bayonets may have regained their separate belts.  At least by the time of the southern campaigns.

   The Guards fought extensively throughout the American war.  In fact few units saw more service throughout the war then the Guards.  In 1776 notably at Long Island and  Fort Washington.  The brigade also participated in the 1777 campaign at the battles of Short Hills and later in the invasion of Pennsylvania and the 1778 retreat through New Jersey.  The last major battle in which the brigade served in the northern theater was Springfield, New Jersey in  1780.

 The following year, the brigade was sent south and served with the Lord Cornwallis field force, most notably at Catawba Ford, Guilford Courthouse and Yorktown in October 1781. They were commanded by the colorful brigadier Charles O'Hara.  Due to losses the Brigade was reduced to two battalions of two battalion companies and one flank company each.  Often the flank companies, especially the Light company were detached.   By the time of Yorktown the Guards were reduced in  numbers to a single battalion.

My miniature Brigade of Guards is made up of figures from the truly outstanding Fife and Drum miniatures.  They are the only company out there to do a historically correct Guards figure for this time period.
In addition they also do the correct Grenadier and Light figure with the the curious hat-cap.  So you can field a correct Brigade of Guards.  There is no evidence that the regimental colors were sent to American so this is one of the few units I have without colors.  On the table top the Brigade fields two thirty figure battalions and two twelve figure flank companies.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hugar's Virginian Continental Line 1781

  The Virginia line at Guilford courthouse was commanded by Brigadier Isaac Hugar and made up of the 4th and 5th Virginian regiments.  The 4th were first recorded as being in existence in September 1780 and served with Greene's army during the retreat to the Dan.  They were made up from the survivors of the Virginian line captured at Charleston.  By the time of  Guilford Courthouse they had marched into south Carolina, back to Virginia then back to North Carolina and fought at Guilford Courthouse.  During that time their light infantry company had been part of Morgan's Maryland-Delaware Light battalion.  They were a very veteran battalion of long service soldiers.  While the Marylanders get mentions in most texts the Virginans fought just as doggedly.

  The 5th Virginian Regiment was the opposite. They were formed in Virginia from recruits and drafts and in January 171 were marching south, with Lee's Legion to join Greene's army.  So they were  newly formed and filled with recruits.  Both regiments fought well with Greene at Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk hill, and Eutaw Spring.

  I have painted both regiments in regulation 1779 uniforms.  Returns of issued clothing and clothing on hand reinforce this.while popular to put them into hunting shirts I did not find that many hunting shirts issued.  For the Regimental colors I could not find and period evidence.  So I based them on existing color.  I used a plain regimental color with the regimental number in a scroll in the center.  I used a division color as a brigade color for both regiments.  Again no period evidence but based on existing examples.  These were made for me by The Flag Dude.  Miniatures are from the Perry miniatures Rev War line.  Very nice figures, but on the shelf look larger then my  Fife and Drum miniatures.  On the table top things blend better and the difference is less noticeable.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Webster's Brigade

  The name of my blog is taken from an incident during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. As the 23rd advanced towards the American line they paused when faced by a long row of leveled muskets. Colonel Webster rode up and yelled "Come on ! My brave Fusiliers!"
My RevWar armies are based around the Camden- Guilford Courthouse campaign.  During that time Webster commanded the 23rd and 33rd regiments.  Both veteran units and hard campaigners, they are dressed in shortened coats,  round hats and gathered trousers.  The 23rd has blue facings while the 33rd has red.  These made up the solid core of this hard fighting command.

Miniatures for Colonel Webster's Brigade are from Fire and Drum miniatures.  These are outstanding miniatures and a must have for fans of the American Revolution period.  No parade ground soldiers here, but well researched campaign uniforms. These are really first class!

Guest appearances in the brigade were made by the 7th Royal Fusiliers and an Light Infantry battalion. Both of these were destroyed at Battle of The Cowpens.

The Lights are made up of companies from the 16th, 71st and Prince of Wales volunteers.  A bit unusual in that it is the only unit which I know of that saw British and Loyalists serving together in the same regiment. They were at Camden and Cowpens and numerous smaller skirmishes between. As there is no documentation on what they actually wore during this period I have dressed them in a light infantry sleeved waistcoat (or roundabout) which were typical of that time and available in supply returns.

The Royal Fusiliers were a hard luck group at least during their time in America.  Most of the command were captured. during the Canadian campaign of 1775.  Rebuilt, the regiment was sent down south and met a similar fate at The Cowpens. Although many popular historians say the regiment was made up of new recruits at this time returns suggest otherwise.  The 7th would be dressed similar to the 23rd for this time period.  While I have not, as yet painted them I plan on adding them to my collection.  That way I can field my fusilier brigade from the Crimean (7th, 23rd and 33rd) in its 18th century appearance.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

71st (Fraser's) Highlanders

The 71st (Fraser's) Highlanders saw extensive service throughout the American Revolution.  Raised as a multi battalion regiment for service in America they fought under Sir William Howe's army in 1776 and 1777 as their own brigade.  Service in the south started with Colonel Archabald Cambell's expedition to George in 1779.  After that they fought in almost all the major actions.  By the time of Camden the two battalions were severely reduced in numbers and could barely together field a serviceable battalion.  While the first battalion was destroyed at The Cowpens the second served with the Cornwallis field force through to Yorktown.

These outstanding figures are from Kings Mountain Miniatures and are simply the best highlanders for this time period, period.  They really capture the feel of this hard fighting unit.  All are dressed in gaitered overalls rather then kilts. Although some modern reconstruction have them wearing trewes I have yet to find a period source to confirm it. So,  I painted them in tan overalls.  Flags are by The Flag Dude.

I field them as two 30 figure battalions, and they have there own brigade commander in highland dress.  Historically they can field with Cornwallis' field force or going back a bit with Colonel Archibald Campbell's army that invaded Georgia in 1779.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Courier, Rev War and Steve Haller

I discovered The Courier magazine in the early 1970's at my local hobby store .  It opened my eyes to the wonderful world of miniature war games. Sure, I had been playing board games from Avalon Hill, but  here were real rules for playing toy soldiers.  Great looking figures, on terrained table tops and lots of research to get correct uniforms and tactics.  Most people were playing Napoleonics, especially a game called Column, Line and Square. The author wrote the most entertaining battle reports and gave great insight in to how and why he wrote his rules and how they represented his historical research.  This was great stuff and I eagerly looked forward to each new issue. When I got into reenacting I found a small group of friends who also war games.  We read and studied copies of the Courier and plotted games and figures.

One of my favorite columns was by Steve
Haller.  He was my guru for American Rev War gaming.  Now those of us who were interested in this were a very tiny smallish niche within a small niche.  But what he put out in each article was a treasure trove of information.  Battle reports, unit history and uniform research.  There were suggestions on organizing troops and discussions on realistic objectives for our games.
More importantly he backed what he wrote about with source materials.  After each article I was off to the library or used book store to find these holy grains of knowledge.  It was through these articles that I set out on a degree in history and eventually a thirty year career with the National Park Service at Rev War sites.

Two articles by Steve Haller always have stood out.  The first was a two part article on Greene's and Cornwallis armies 1780 - 81.
Here were listing of units, troop strengths and uniform information.  The second was a campaign formatted to firefight the Cowpens - Guilford courthouse campaign.  This was outstanding. One did not worry about logistics and map movement. Instead there were a series of interconnected battles who results carried over to the next fight.

 Each side started with a historical order of battles.  Each month of the campaign players were given a series of options.  So January 1781 as Morgan you started with his light Corp.  On a die roll either Picken's or Sumner's or both militia may join you.  You then had the option of either attacking Augusta, Ninety Six or fighting Cowpens.  The British rolled and might reinforce the outposts you were attacking.  While you had the historical order of battle you might get or lose reinforcements.  Once battles happened casualties were removed and you moved to next month.  Replacements and reinforcements were figured in. You had a wonderful system to set up possible battles and firefight the campaign.  Simple but neat and very playable.

When I restarted my rev war armies recently I knew I wanted to do two things.  First do the collection in 25mm.  Second was to build the Greene-Cornwallis armies and re fight the campaign that Steve Haller wrote about too many years ago.  In my next posts I will document building the armies and how the campaign worked out.

But first a word of thanks.  To Dick Bryant for his wonderful publication which started me in this hobby, and Steve Haller who started a life long fascination with (and thirty year career working in) the time period.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Russian Army of the Crimean

  The Russians were the start of my Crimean collection and have a long and curious history.  The original group were an ebay purchase.  It was a  large collection, painted in the old Peter Gilder style of very glossy varnish.  Most different from my painting style! To pay for them I sold two small 15mm napoleonic armies.

 Once I had the Russians I was able to sell
about half of them, which paid for the entire army!  So a free army (well, sort of, kinda).

 I have very seldom bought painted figures over the years.  To me one of the joys of the hobby is painting and creating your own armies.   Because of this I have never had the attachment to these figures I do to those I have painted myself.  So over the years slowly I have been replacing those figures with my own. As this is long and some what tedious effort it has taken a long time. Often I have sold or traded painted for unpainted castings. By now half the infantry, one
battery and all the column (brigade) commanders have been replaced.  Eventually I will replace the cavalry and remaining infantry.  The remaining artillery is fine and I love the army command stand which I will keep.

My Russians are based around the historical 16th Division at the Battle of the Alma.  I have 16 infantry battalions (4 regiments), 2 Heavy and 2 Light batteries, an Cossack, Lancer and Hussar regiment.  Not a bad little army that I obtained for free (sort of).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Charge of the Light Brigade rules review

I have been playing "Charge of the Light Brigade" since 2003.  These are home brewed self published rules from the author David Raybin so possibly only a few of you have tried them.   I thought I would share some of my impressions about the rules and how they play.  I will also post a battle report of a game we played with pictures to show how they work in a latter post.  They provide a fun game which captures the spirit of the period and deserve a wider audience.

  I will state right off I am a big fan of these rules. I like simple rules, but with a twist. I like regiments to look like regiments.  And it is important to me that that a group of colorful miniature soldiers represents such and such a regiment.  I want a game I can play in a evening, gives a period "feel" for the time period played, have fun with and come to a conclusion.  "Charge of the Light Brigade" does all of these.

The rules are a simple I Go U Go but with a difference.  Each side rolls for initiative with high side getting first go.  If you won the roll last time you add one to your roll.  Each of your regiments or batteries do one action (move, change formation, fire or remove a morale point).  To move roll two dice (or more depending on formation) and that is how far you can move.   After all your units have moved  you may spend a command point (CP) per unit and that unit may do a second thing.

  Here is something that sets this set of rules aside from all others. The author has taken the simple move/counter move system and twisted it. Every unit has a commander (i.e. Colonel). He has so many command points (CP). More if he and the regiment are good, less if mediocare or poor. Russians often get around 8 (sluggish, dull)  while British line get 12 and elite Guards might get as many of 16.  Better units can do more at critical times. But when your CP are gone they are gone.

OK, now it is your turn, and every unit on your side has done one free action. You may then spend a CP and do something else. Fire, remove a Morale marker or what ever. It gives you a chance to take advantage of something or react to what is happeneing on the table. BUT for every action there is a reaction and the enemy now gets to react against that unit and can either return fire at you or change position/facing.   But only against the enemy that spent that CP.   In a past game a Russian battalion removed a Morale pip by paying a CP. The British reacted by firing at the unit and puting 2 morale pips right on back (darn good shooting with the Guards who rolled four 6's). So you spends your money and takes your chaces.  This portion of the rules is what gets a lot of comments and attention from people who  have played this game for the first time. And rightly so. It is simple, inovative and fun. But I would recommend a GM to run the first few games you try to ensure you all stay on tract and not move ahead.  To track CP I put a sticky note under the command figure stand with the number of that units CP.

  Firing is simple. You throw 1D6 per stand for Infantry and 2D6 per artillery stand. Cross refinance with the firing chart for weapon vs. target and this gives you the chances for a hit. Since there is a possible saving roll you might not lose all those figures hit. Yes, the dreaded saving roll.  But here it takes the place of all those calculations you have to do with other rules.  Watch out for double 6's as they can cause a morale marker to drop onto your unit.  Each infantry stand has four figures. Once all four figures are gone you remove the stand.  Until then the stand fights on.

To me, the neat thing about this system is that you forget about calculation, tables and charts. Hits, saves and morale are all tied into each other. The save chart also brings a little of the old "national modifiers" into the mix. With Russians, who get saved on a 5 or 6 no matter how many stands are left you have to beat each one with a stick until they are all dead. You get that steady, dogged feeling you read about. The British start with a high save chance (they dodge bullets like the bat man said the rules auther) but as they loose stands save chances go way down so they wither away. A little fragile. Poor Johnny Turk never gets a save

Morale is a sneaky system that most folks don't think a lot about until it bites them! You get a morale pip for any number of things (crossing an obstacle, being fired at or having friends route past you). Since you subtract 1 pip from every die roll morale effects everything you do. Move, shot or fight it ties into morale.
In a past game a Russia commander with three morale markers on a regiment found out fast that he could not shoot, or save casualties with that unit. With morale markers, once you get into trouble it comes fast and furious. To me this is a superior system then used in many rules. The unit is effected, and everything it can do is effected.

Close Combats takes a bit getting used to since it is very different from most rules. You do not charge like in other rules. You move within 2' of the enemy. THEN, you would have to pay a Command Point or wait till next turn to close and fight. This gives the defender a chance to do something. Like blast the enemy with a close range volley that causes casualties or mabey a morale marker.  It is actually hard to close into close combat due to small arms fire.  But when you do it can be devastating.

  I really love these rules. The game feels like the Crimean to me based on my reading.  Also for a I Go U Go both sides get to do something so no sitting around. In my games Russians tend to form columns (or at least reinforced lines) and try and close with the British quickly.  (One player has nicked named them "Zulu's in overcoats.") Russian artillery is better then the allies and there is a lot of it.  Russian cavalry is, well, sluggish.  The British tend to want to shoot at things. And shoot a lot. Cavalry is small but very aggressive.  By the way small numbers of cavalry will not damage infantry who can usually shoot them down before they close. Many of my games have seen a single British battalion stopping massed charge like at Balaklva.  The French are interesting as their line have muskets while elite troops like Zouaves have rifles and  more CP.  So each army is very different from the other.  You have to work with what you have and get the best out of them.