Friday, March 31, 2017

Von Germann and Stephen Strach

Captain Friedrich von Germann served in the  Hesse-Hanau regiment during the Saratoga campaign of 1777.  One of the many German auxiliary troops hired to fight during  the American Revolution by the British he arrived in Canada in 1776 and was present at the surrender at Saratoga 1777.

During the war, he painted a series of watercolors of American, British, and German soldiers. Most students of uniforms or the Saratoga campaign are familiar with his watercolors usually through the copies which are in the New York Public Library.  But these  are most likely 19th-century copies of von Germann’s watercolors, possibly by the artists E. Sack and Kail (whose names appear on the drawings). They were commissioned by the New York historian William Leete Stone to illustrate a personal copy of his translation of “Memoirs, and letters and journals, of Major General Riedesel during his residence in America.”

The late historian Stephen G. Strach located and had copies made of many of the original watercolors.  Stephen was a amazing researcher and historian with the National Park Service.  I was honoured to work with him on the American Battlefield  Protection Program and on various details to Saratoga National Historical Park.  I learned more from him and his wealth of knowledge then any other historian I worked with.  An battlefield walk of the Freeman Farm area helped to better understand the action there and will live on in my memoires.

 The original water colors are located in the archives of the city of Brunswick in Germany.  There were more water colors done then previously though and additional views of other British regiments were available.  Stephen had been working on a history of von Germann and his water colors as well as the uniforms of the Saratoga campaign.  He was kind enough to share with me many of these water colors, and I promised to not share these until his publication.  Unfortunately his untimely death in 2005 ended the project and our friendship.

I recently found the copies of the von Germann water colors Stephen gave me.  As he will not be publishing his work I feel I can now share these wonderful and informative water colors.  I hope that they can be of use to students of the Saratoga campaign.  My only request is please give credit to Stephen G. Strach for finding and placing these in the public view.  I hope it is one small way I can help my late friend and perpetuate his memory.  Thank you.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

No time, New time....

No painting or playing with my toy soldiers....
How sad!

  Aside from Cold Wars it's been a bit quiet here on the blog.  That is because in addition to my vacation, birthday and Cold Wars my shift at work has changed.  This has given me no time in the morning to paint, or anything. Get up, walk the dog then off to work.  Due to weather and such our flights have too often been delayed inbound.   This gets me home later with no desire to do anything.  So it's walk the dog then go to bed.

  But in April shifts change slightly and I will be getting a bit more time.  So planning ahead it should be a fun month.  I have a game night with my old club which I am looking forward to.  I volunteered to put on a War of 1812 game.  In addition I have primed and ready more 1812 and also some Rev War figures for painting.  Lastly I am planning a campaign based on Greene and Cornwallis's 1781 campaign.

So please stay tuned there is more to come.

"Thirsty work ahead lads!"

Friday, March 24, 2017

Cold Wars: Till next year

  Well another Cold Wars is finished.  As is usual it was wonderful and a great time was had by all.  As mentioned before Cold Wars is my all time favorite convention.  Good friends, many vendors colorful and beautiful games.

  My favorite part of Cold Wars is meeting up with old friends.  I look forward to getting together with George and Ed.  Our conversation on gaming and history is exciting and gets me on track for that years projects and goals.  In addition it is an opportunity to met with old comrades and friends one does not see often.  I was delighted to run into Robert Mulligan (i.e. The Dread Pirate Roberts).  Always a delight to see him and a high point of my day.  Robert is most tired of hearing this but his talk years ago on "High and Low Life in the Eighteenth century" was one of the three best interpretation programs I have heard.  During my time with the National Park Service anytime I prepared a program, walk or presentation his was always in the back of my mind on how to do it right.  I also ran into Tom Vogely who I knew far too many years ago.  Tom was a member of the 43rd regiment back then, but is now with the 1st New Jersey.  Over the years (since high school?) We have run into each other.  Again it's one of my highlights to see Tom again.  And Tom if you read this drop me a line.  I owe you a buddy pass so you can fly up here and we can get together for a chat and a couple games.

 The dealers area was outstanding this year.  I stocked up on bases from the 4G people who sell bases by the bucket.  Prices range from small bucket which us expensive to really big bucket which is dirt cheep.  On Military Matters had the Charles S. Grant
 campaign books on his imagination nation games.  These are filled with great pictures, interesting text and suggestions for interrelated games which form a campaign.  Thanks to Sergeant Major Miniatures for stocking the Knuckleduster miniatures War of 1812 line.  Andy is wonderful.

I usually do not play in games conventions.  Since I do not know many commercial rules I worry I will slowdown a game.  I instead browse to get ideas for future games.  Peter Levitt put on a breathtaking Napoleonic game which looked outstanding.  Sad to say my camera was not working so no pictures.  There were also
two winter battles which looked great;  one Napoleonic the other Franco Prussian.  And although not a miniatures game I did play in Ed's card based game Nuclear War which in spite of its terrible implications was surprisingly light hearted and entertaining.  I cannot believe I am saying this but you have to try it.

There are a lot of comments on line about the location of Cold Wars.  While I do not wish to debate HMGS policy or convention location I will say this.  I like the Host, and have always had a great time there.  While the lighting could be better I think there is ample room for games.  Food service there is good.  I am not looking for five star
dinning.  But what they offer is good.  Prices are what you pay if you go to a football or baseball game or concert event.  The staff was hard working and pleasant. If you want there are hundreds of other places within walking distance.  I know we walked to them.  I did not stay in the Host but down the road so cannot comment on the rooms.  As to parking again we walked up the hill to the Host each day.  And to the two gentlemen who were in line behind me and complained the entire time about how things are not as good as they were in the past all I can say is lighten up!

So another Cold Wars is gone.  But here is looking forward to next year.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cold Wars part 2

   A wonderful time is being had at Cold war.

We check into our hotel....

and ur rooms.

The Host, the location of Cold Wars

Individuals games that look interesting*

The dealers area

Entering the dealer's area with our hard earned cash.  Planning our purchases

More to come.....

*pictures from internet as my camera not working.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cold Wars 2017

  Not the weather, but the convention!  It is almost time.  To me this is my most favorite wargame convention of all time.  Just when the winter is at its most dreary and spring is not yet here  Cold Wars arrives to cheer me up.

    This is the third of the big three conventions put on by HMGS  (Historical Miniature Gaming Society).  To me it is ideal convention and my favorite.  Attendance is slightly lower them the other two, but just as many games and vendors are there. So it has more of a smaller convention feel then the others but with everything the big conventions offer.  People seem more
relaxed and more friendly then the other high pressure conventions.  Perhaps it is that after a long winter we look forward to renewing friendships and looking up comrades.

in addition to the usual array of outstanding games Cold Wars offers two unique events.  There are lectures by military historians.  This year author Peter Panzeri will speak about the little big horn battle;  and offer a presentation where the audience is the jury in Custer's courtmarshall (if he had survived).  There is also a Hobby University which offers classes in painting and modeling.  They are outstanding and extremely knowledgeable.

So Thursday morning my old comrade George picks me up and we  drive to Lancaster Pennsylvania.
 There we will meet up with Ed (of Mr Ed's War game Meanderings) and spend the next two days at the convention.  Sadly it will end too soon and back we drive Sunday with memories for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Guilford Courthouse

Guilford Courthouse 15 March 1781
Along the first line:

  " As at Camden, the British went forward as soon as they were in line. Captain Peter led the 23rd on as acting commanding officer, with the regiment effectively in two wings under captains Saumarez and Champagne. As they went forward, one of them noticed the ‘field lately ploughed, which was wet and muddy from the rains which had recently fallen’.
On they trudged towards the fence that marked the end of Hoskins’ cornfield and the beginning of the woods to the fore, observing as they grew closer that the rails were lined with men. MacLeod’s cannon opened fire, sending their ballwhooshing into the American lines. Colonel Webster, on horseback, trotted to the front of his brigade and called out so that all could hear, ‘Charge!’ The men began jogging forward, bayonets fixed and muskets levelled towards the enemy. A crackling fire from their left, Kirkwood’s riflemen, began knocking down a redcoat here or there, but did nothing to check their impetus. When the British line was little more than 50
yards from the North Carolina militia everything seemed to stop for Serjeant Lamb: … it was perceived the whole of their force had their arms presented, and resting on a rail fence … they were taking aim with the nicest precision. At this awful period a general pause took place; both parties surveyed each other for the moment with the most anxious suspense … Colonel Webster spurred his horse to the head of the 23rd and bellowed out, ‘Come on my brave Fusiliers!’ Some of the Americans started to run, but most held on for a moment; there was a rippling crash of American musketry when the redcoats were at optimum range, 40 to 50 yards away. Dozens of Webster’s men went down as the musket balls cut legs from under them or smashed into their chests. Lieutenant Calvert worried for an instant how his men might react to such a heavy fire: ‘They instantly returned it and did not give the enemy time to repeat their fire but rushed on them with bayonets.’ Captain Saumarez noted with pride, ‘No troops could behave better than the regiment … they never returned the enemy’s fire but by word of command and marched on with the most undaunted courage.’..."
Quote from;
Fusiliers:  The saga of a British Redcoat Regiment in the American Revolution  by Mark Urban

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Battle of the Cross Roads...

  On the Fire and Drum miniatures website, Jim Purky has placed his Rev War rules.  There are one page, and contain all you need to play a game.

    The rules are a you go, I go type.  Each side rolls a dice at start of turn. High side gets to choose if they move first and fire second or move second and fire first.  Firing, melee and morale are on a matrix where you cross check troop type and situation.  The number shown is rolled for on a d10 looking for that number or less.  Morale checks flow down a chart as you take more casualties.  You roll two or more dice and have to get that number or less.    Fail on one die you become shaken.  Fail on two and you rout. You get additional dice for having a commander present or a terrain advantage.  But how ever many dice you roll you must pass on two of them.  The rules look simple enough, and people who have played them say they are fun.  I like simple rules.  They let you play the game and not the rules.  So, I wanted to give these a try.  I threw some terrain on the table, added a few regiments. The following game is not a tactical masterpiece, but a attempt to explain the rules and try them out.

  The Americans have the Cross road and the British want it.  The American commanders right flank had a woods and a small ridge behind it.  He placed his rifle regiment in the woods with a Continental line battalion backing them up on the ridge.  His center was held by two militia
battalions and two medium guns and the 3rd Light Dragoons.   The left flank was covered by the 1st and 2nd Maryland regiments.

  The British commanded advanced on the left flank with both battalions of the 71st Highlanders and the Loyalist lights against the rifles and militia.  The 23rd, 33rd and Lights advanced against the Marylanders. Cavalry was in reserve and artillery in the center.

Turn 1.  British rolled high;  they moved  second and fired first.  Americans held fast while British advanced into rifle range.  British artillery fired at long range and caused one casualty on the militia.  Because they suffered casualties the militia tested
morale.  They rolled two dice, plus a third dice because a commander was with them.  To pass they must roll there number or less on two of three dice.  They roll the number on two but not the third dice, so they pass.  American rifles missed by the wayy.

Turn 2.  British again rolled high, again picked move second fire first.  British continues the advance.  American Artillery fire and miss.  Rifles fire and hit causing two casualties on Loyalists who pass
morale.  Rules note;  casualties are removed after first fire.  So first fire is an advantage.  Also I test morale for each regiment after it suffers a casualty.

Turn 3.  British move first fire second.  2/71st charges rifles, who as skirmishes can retire.  But they must roll a morale check.  They pass on one dice but fail on the second so are shaken.  I let them retire shaken.  Not sure if this is correct but that is how I played it.  The Royal Artillery move into close range.  Artillery can do two actions (move and unlimited or limber and move) in addition to fire.  So they move, unlimber and fire.  The 1/71 fires at the militia who suffer six casualties from the artillery and Highlanders.  When they check morale they fail on two dice so rout!  I do not let them fire during there turn instead I
move  them back the routed distance.   The Light Infantry fire at the 1st Maryland who pass their morale test.  The 1st Maryland return fire and the Lights must test morale. They roll two dice and fail on both so they rout.

Turn 4.  Americans move second fire first.  Regiments on both sides charge.

 The 3rd Light dragons charge the 1/71st.  The 1/71st passes morale so I let them fire and they cause two hits.  The Dragoons pass so they fight!  Both sides roll one die per four figures. Dragons are looking for 6 or less (advantage charging infantry without secured flanks) while
Highlanders look for 5 or less.  I fight two rounds of melee one after the other and at end there are six dragons casualties and four dead highlander.  Dragons test morale and fail on one dice so are shaken. I have them retire.  Since  The dragoons retire I do not have the Highlanders check morale.

 The 23rd charge the 1st Maryland.  But the Marylanders were shaken by previous fire so they drop one level on the charts ( from C to D).
 After two rounds of melee the Marylanders have more casualties then the 23rd so they test morale first.  They fail on two dice so they rout.

At this point I called the game. Time to get to bed as I have work tomorrow!  What did I learn?  These are a fun set of rules.  They flow quickly.  There are serious advantages to who fires or moves first. If you fire first the other side has less figures to return fire (if you cause hits).  Moving first you can charge and pin an opponent.  Morale is interesting.  You always roll two dice and have to pass on two dice.  If you have a commander, or terrain advantage you add dice, but still must pass on two.  I need to play a few more times but what I like about these rules are you worry about tactics and not did I forget some obscure rule. Simple rules but not so simple results.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Fife and Drum forum

  I am a great fan of the Rev War figures from Fife and Drum.  They are beautifully sculpted figures and meticulously researched.  I especially like the fact they have some of the only British figures in campaign style round hats.  Prices are good and it is hard to find better service in this industry.  Thus I have lots of them in my army.  Great stuff!

  Recently I was delighted to find Fife and Drum started their own online forum.  Naturally they have lots about their figure lines.  Especially interesting is unstructured plans are and which figures you would like added to the lines.  But there is so much  more.  It's a pleasant place to stop in and converse with fellow minded 18th century wargamers.  Interesting discussion on favorite battle and general of the 18th century;  And some first class illustrations  of  French infantry of the Seven Years War.

  It is just started so who knows what is in store.  But for a start its a first class effort and a really fun place.  Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Saint David's Day, The Royal Welch Fusiliers and Me...

1st March 1775;  This being St. David's Day the officers of the 23rd Regiment, or Royal Welch Fusiliers, dinned together according to the custom.  All the General & Staff Officers, the Admiral, and several other person's were invited to dine with the Regiment...."
From the diary of Lieutenant Frederick MacKenzie.

The "custom" was on each Saint Daivid's Day following dinner the regimental goat with the drummers and fifers are led around the mess table.  The drum major has a silver plate with raw leeks and the mess sergeant carries a loving cup filled with champagne. They halt by the newest joined officer who then stands on his chair with his left foot and places his right foot on the table and eats a leek while the drummers play a continuous roll.  Once he has consumed the leek he is handed the loving cup and before drinking toasts "And Saint David!"  All present who have not eaten a leek, including guests are expected to do so. Similar ceremonies occurs in the sergeants and the other ranks mess.  This custom, described as "ancient" in 1775  is still observed in peace and during war time up to the present time.

   So to all on this day I hope a Happy Saint David's Day to the Welch, and to all Royal Welch Fusiliers both past and present!

And it is also a special day for your humble blogger who celebrates his 60th birthday today.   Which I will spend having a day off of work and a lovely dinner with my dear wife Janine.  And no Leeks for this dinner!