Friday, April 9, 2021

Cornwallis' Southern Army 1781


  Cornwallis' Field force is something of a wargamers dream.  You get all the bells and whistles and the really neat stuff with little or no fluff.  It is built for that gamer who loves to have the elite regiments.  Only the best is good enough! There are Guard regiments, elite line regiments, light infantry, cavalry , artillety, Jagers and Hessian. Due to the small numbers involved you can build this army at a 1:10 ratio without breaking the bank.


Most British regiments will be dressed similar.  Red coats with regimental facings on the lapels, collar and cuffs were often cut short.  Winter overalls of brown wool were worn in place of breeches.  The westkit or vest was of white wool or linen material.  The cocked hat or tricon was usually cut down into a round or slouch hat. Belting was whiten buff leather for most regiments except the Highlander.  On the right hip was a black cartridge box, sometimes with a brass regimental badge and a bayonet on the left hip.  Water bottles or canteens were usualy tin although the Guards had their unusual tubs.  A linen haversack held rations and there were a variety of knapsack. Exceptions to this will be listed with each regiment.

17th Light Dragoons

A small troop of about 40 to 50  men were attached to the British Legion.  They kept their regulation uniforms.  When offered new British Legion uniforms as replacements after their uniforms were worn out refused.

Brigade of Guards:

Arrived in December 1780 and served throughout the campaign.   The Brigade was drawn from all three Guard's regiments and their uniform was very heavily modified for service in America.   After arriving in South Carolina in January 1781 the Guards were reorganized into six oversized companies of about 140 rank and file each.  The first battalion was made up of two battalion companies and the Grenadier company.  The second battalion had two battalion companies and the Light Infantry company.  The light company was often detached and saw service with Tarleton's British Legion cavalry during the campaign.  

Regimental coats were shortened, shoulder straps replaced with blue cloth.  The distinctive regimental lace was removed in 1776 but may have been replaced by 1780.  Trousers and short gaiters were issued to replace breeches.  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 War progressed it appears that the regimental lace was placed back on the coats, and bayonets placed on  separate belts.  The Guards were also in 1780 issued brown overalls like the rest of Cornwallis' army for the winter. 

Light Infantry battalion:

The Light battalion fought at Camden and was destroyed at Cowpens.  It often was attached to the British Region and flight with them in many of their actions. It was composed of 2 companies of  the 71st Highland Regiment (35+34 ), 1 company of the 16th Regiment of Foot (41), & 1 company of the Prince of Wales’ American Volunteers (40).  

 Uniforms are a bit of a mystery and since there is little documentation they are a best guess.  Presently I field them as British light infantry in short coats, overalls and round hats with black equipment.  The 71st had white facings, the 16th yellow and the Prince of Wales possibly blue.  If you want more variety you could field them in their regimental uniforms.  

7th Regiment of Foot:

The eight battalion companies of about 200 men served until captured at Cowpens in January 1781.   By 1780 the regiment was a veteran battalion of long service and were not recruits.  The regiment wore red coats faced blue.  Although it was very common for most British regiments to wear their hats cut down the 7th may not have done this according to the present reenactment group.  If so it would be one way to make the regiment look different from the 23rd.  Colors captured at Cowpens.

23rd Regiment of Foot:

This famous regiment numbered about 250 to 300 men and served together with the 33rd throughout Cornwallis' campaign.  They took part in most important actions

The regimental coat with blue facings was shortened and brown winter overalls issued.  By 1779 the Regiment had placed the expensive Fusiliers cap in storage and wore a cocked, probably cut down like the Brigade of Guards hat.   The cartridge box had a badge in brass of the three feathers of the Prince of Wales. The regimental and Kings colors were carried in the south.

33rd Regiment of Foot:

Served throughout the campaign with about 240 to 300 men.The regimental coat with red facings were shortened and a hat similar to the Guards worn.  Otherwise same uniform information as for the 23rd who they served together with in most actions throughout the campaign.

71st Highland Regiment:

By 1781 this hard fighting regiment had been campaigning in the south since 1779.  The regiment was made up of two battalions.  The light infantry company served with the compbined ad hoc light battalion.  Both the light company and first battalion captured at Cowpens.

The regiment wore a shortened red coat with white facings.  The belting was black and probably A cartridge box rather then a belly box.  Overalls were brown wool for winter.  The highland bonnet was worn.

Royal Artillery:

Served throughout the campaign with three and six pound guns.  Wire a blue coat faced and lined red and yellow lace.  Gun carriages were gray with metal parts painted black.  May have worn cocked hats trimmed yellow or cut down caps.


Jager Company:

A oversized company of about 90 men.  Green coats faced and lined red.  Probably overalls.

Musketeer Regiment von Bose:

Arrived in December 1780. A large regiment of over 300 men.  Dressed in blue coats faced white and lined red.  Issued The British brown winter overalls.  Cocked hat had white lace and a Red pompom.  


British Legion Dragoons:

The most famous of loyalist regiments. Tarleton's dragoons served throughout the campaign and acquired a reputation for ruthlessness.  Organized into three troops they numbered between 120 and 240 men.  Before Cowpens they took in  very large numbers of  Continentals captured at Camden.  This could account for their poor performance at that battle as many took the opportunity to desert back afterwards.  Dressed in short green jackets with black collar and cuffs, buff breeches and the famous Tarleton cap.  In summer may gave been dressed in white socks.

British Legion Infantry:

The poor step child if the British legion. Served until captured at Cowpens in 1781.  In addition a light three pounder usually operated with the Legion.

Wore a green coat with black cuffs and collar.  Waistcoat was also green and possibly laced and overalls.  Possible leather helmet or cap or campaign modified cocked hat.  Documentation is lacking.

Royal North Carolina Regiment:

Although they marched with Cornwallis' they were usually assigned to guard the baggage.  Possible wore red coat faced blue with no lace. There is no documentation for white hats.  Although if you want them who am I to say no!

Monday, April 5, 2021

Nathaniel Greene's Southern Army December 1780 to September 1781


 One of my favorite articles in the Old Courier magazine was by Stephen Haller on building Greene's army 1780-81.  I have returned to it again and again and always found it inspiring.  Having used it to build my own armies I thought I might update and expand it.  Here is my take on building Greene's, Cornwallis' and Rawdon's armies.

Wargames like to talk about building an army.  Often, our miniature collections are really bits and pieces.  Few gamers can afford to build a actual historical army.  But America Rev War gamers can build an actual army due to the limited number who fought in the war.  The campaigns of American General Nathaniel Greene in 1780 to 1781 offer the wargamer a chance to build an actual historical army at an reasonable price.  Because of the variety of regiments within his army it is also a interesting force to field on the table top.  It includes Continentals and militia as well as light infantry, rifle armed units and cavalry.   A very nice variety of troops and a very nice collection.

Continental Line:

Lt. Col. William Washington's Horse:

Made up of the 1st and 3rd Continental Light Dragoons.  They served Greene throughout his campaigns and played decisive roles at Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse.  They number between 80 and 100 men.  The old uniform of the 3rd with white coats faced light blue is one of the most attractive uniforms from the period and a shame not to paint.  I have included the red demask guidon alleged to have been made for Washington.

Lt. Col. Henry Lee's Legion:

The 2nd Partisan Corp or as it's better known name,  Lee's Legion was formed in April 1778 when it was detached from the 1st Continental Light Dragoons.  Through its commander, "Light Horse" Harry Lee and his memoir the Legion's service is one of the better known regiments during the American Revolution.  As to if it was an elite unit, that is up to the reader to decide. But what is not debatable is it could be, at times as ruthless as the British Legion with whom it fought. It was a very active part of Greene's army and played a prominent role in his campaign. Incidentally, Lee's  memoir was written partly to adress the controversy over Lee's action at Eutaw Springs.  His son, Robert E. Lee would continue the defense of his father in later editions of the book.

Legion Dragoons:

  I understand that suggesting Lee's Legion were not dressed in green coats might go against current  practice.  This color combination  is usually suggested by Lee's ambush of Pyle's loyalists.  Lee himself in his memoir says they were dressed similar to the British Legion in green.  (Please note the memoirs were published long after events and have been questioned in numerous details).  When I painted them up I bucked tradition and used the painting of Lee himself in a tan/brown faced green coat. I feel thus might be a more accurate presentation.  Again, my opinion only and I wouldn't criticize another interpretation.

In addition I also used the following quote from private Shaw of the 33rd regiment of foot. He was captured just prior to Guilford Courthouse and wrote later:

"Scarcely had we gone half way up the lane, when seven of Lee's light horse made their appearance: my companion swore there was Tarleton's light horse coming, and, says he, ‘we shall be taken up on suspicion of plundering, and get 500 lashes a piece.' ‘No;' said I, upon observing their brown coats, and white cockades, ‘no, friend, you are deceived; these must be the rebels.' Having therefore discovered his mistake, he began to cry;--but for my part, I thought it very good fortune.—As they were advancing towards us, we concluded to go and meet them; which we accordingly did, and falling on our knees begged for quarter; which they granted ….

Legion Infantry:

The Infantry of the Legion are much more of an mystery.  I think the evidence suggests the Legion infantry had a different uniform from the mounted element. There was an issue of enough cloth to three officers to make coats of blue faced red and lined white (see p40 Katcher Uniforms of the Continental Army). This was from the clothier general of Maryland in 1782.  There is also a portrait of an officer of the Legion Infantry,  Lieutenant Laurence Manning who was shown in a blue coat faced red with silver lace.

 Delaware Continentals:

After the Battle of Camden the once proud Delaware regiment is reduced to 175 rank and file plus officers.  They are reorganised into two companies of about 90 men each.  One company, under Captain Jaquett is assigned to the 2nd Maryland battalion as a line company.  The other company under Captain Kirkwood serves as a light infantry company.  They served as part of the famous Maryland-Delaware light battalion and later were often assigned to Washington's cavalry as infantry support.  Regimental coats were blue faced red and lined white.  Both companies had been issued cocked hats with yellow lace trim.

Maryland Continental line:

Maryland Brigade: Colonel Otho Williams

1st Maryland Battalion (later regiment)

2nd Maryland Battalion (later regiment)

Greene had two veteran battalions or regiments of Maryland Continentals with him throughout his campaigns. Their strength ranged from a high if about 300/350 men at Guilford Courthouse to 200 or less at Hibkirk Hill and Eutaw Springs.

 The actual composition of these two groups has caused much confusion.  Following the disaster at Camden Gates reorganised the Marylanders at Hillsboro North Carolina from two brigades of  eight regiments into the Maryland Regiment of two battalions and the light infantry companies assigned to the new light battalion.  The September  returns list  42 field officers, 30 company  officers and 797 rank and file present.  When Greene arrived in December the Marylanders and an additional one hundred recruits (from the so called Additional Maryland battalion) were organized into three battalions;  the new 1st Maryland  battalion was formed from the survivors of the old 1st Maryland brigade, the 2nd Maryland battalion made up of survivors from the 2nd Maryland brigade and the Light companies assigned to the Light Battalion.  In January 1781 each battalion is listed with 300 or 350 men. By the time of Hobkirk Hill and Eutaw Springs they were down to 240 - 200 men. The Additional battalion men were distributed between the two line battalions.  

The uniform of the Maryland line were blue coats faced red and lined white.  Recruits from the Additional Maryland battalion were reported to have brown coats faced red and lined white.  Cocked hats were trimmed in white lace. Belting were either white or black leather.  Linen or wool overalls were off white or tan material.  In the hot months linen hunting shirts were issued to replace the wool coats.  

Virginia Continental line:

Virginia Brigade: Brigadier Issac Huger

4th Virginia Regiment

5th Virginia Regiment

Greene had two Virginia Continentals with him for most if his campaign.  One Regiment or battalion was organized from the survivors of Buford's 3rd Virginia Detachment (made up if the old 6th, 8th and Gist's Virginia regiments ), Porterfield's light infantry and recruits.  It is commanded by Colonel Hawes.  These be one the 4th Virginia Regiment.  An newly organized 5th Virginia Regiment arrives in time to join Greene's army retreat into Virginia.  Both are large regiments of over 300-350 men at Guilford Courthouse but by Hoboken Hill they are down to 240 men.

Both regiments were supposed to wear blue coat faced red.  It is possible other regimental coats were  issued and sleeved jackets are mentioned for the 5th.  Hunting shirts were issued for hit weather.

Maryland - Delaware Light Infantry battalion:

Was in existence from November 1780 to February 1781.  Its actual organization is open to question.   It appears to have had three companies from the Maryland Regiment ( two line and one light), plus Kirkwood's Delaware company and a Virginia company.  This battalion was disbanded and the companies returned to their patent units after crossing the Dan river.  Once Greene returned to North Carolina he reformed the light battalion.  This time it was made up of four companies and was slightly smaller then the original battalion. The men of this elite battalion would be wearing the uniform of their the parent regiment.  

North Carolina Continental Line:

Major Eaton's NC light infantry 

North Carolina Brigade: Colonel Jethro Summer

1st North Carolina

2nd North Carolina

3rd North Carolina

North Carolina's Continental line was destroyed at Charkeston in 1780.  It was not untill Cornwallis mar hed into Virgina that they were able to rebuild the line.  They did so by drafting milita to serve for 12 months. An advanced detachment under Major Eaton was used as light infantry and was attached to Lee's Legion.  Eventualy three battalions of about 200 men each commanded by Colonel Jethro Summer arrived in time for the battle of Eutaw Springs.

  North Carolina was one if the poorest colonies and their Continentals were amount the lest uniformed.  The 1779 regulations suggested light blue regimental coats faced and lined white with drummers in blue faces white also.  It us doubtful if anyone, other then officers wore thus uniform.  More probably they wore a mixture of hunting shirts and civilian clothing.  Because of their lack of uniforms these figures could do double duty as militia on your table top.

Continental Artillery:

Served throughout the campaign with mostly six pound guns.  Blue coats faced and lined red and yellow trimmed cocked hats.

Militia and State Forces:

The various militia, Rifle men, mounted militia and State regiments deserves a page of their own.  But because numbers and regiments varied from month to month this is almost impossible to do. I suggest painting up a number of stands for militia regiments and rifle men that can be used for various battles.  Four to eight regiments would be enough for any historical battle.  Figures should be dressed in mixtures of civilian clothing and hunting shirts.  Actual uniforms would be few but could add to the appearance if you want.  Use your imagination!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Got my Second Vacine Shot!


 I will be a shut in no longer!  Today, I got my second shot and now both Janine and I are fully vaccinated.  

  For the past year we have stayed in our bubble away from people.  We would get out for walks in the country and around the house.  In the summer we went kayaking at a local lake.  But not seeing very many people.   While it is true one should still wear a mask in public and maintain social distancing we can at least get together with the kids and friends who are likewise vaccinated.  I can also finally get together for face to face games.  I am really looking forward to club game night in May.  We are also talking about possible trips and getting out more. 

   Today, things have gotten a lot brighter.  

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

To Base, or Not To Rebase, That is The Question

As of late I have been toying with debasing my American Rev War collection.  My other two armies are based four figures (two up and two back) per stand and six bases per infantry regiment/battalion.   My rev war collection is based in six figures (three up and three back).  Neither are done this way for historical reasons.  For the War of 1812 its just because it looked good.  For Crimean war its how the rules I use suggests.  I based my Rev War stuff years ago for Loose Files and gave kept that system over the years.  I have standard sized regiments and usually do not worry about actual regimental numbers as moral evans things out.

Crimean War

War of 1812

Yet another strange thought brought about by being a shut in for too long.  In the past I have gone down this rabbitt hole with round bases for artillery stands or to mount my houses on bases.  I think these are responses to having too much time to think about things.  Now I am pondering rebasing one of my armies

Rev War basing

So my question is should I change my Rev War collection to four figure bases and six bases per regiment?  Why, because then all will be based the same (very orderly) and with the extra figures I can raise some additional regiments or skirmishers.  Or just keep them the same as they have worked well all these years.  If you can please let me know what you think.

What would Ozzy do?

Oh no!  If I do rebase everything do I go with thick stands or thin stands?  And where will I get the bases from?  See, too much time in my hands.  Madness!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

What have I been reading during the Pandemic


Hard Boiled Detective Stories:

Nothing better here, in my opinion then Robert Parker's Spenser series.  They take place in the Boston area and feature Spencer a private detective in the Philip Marlowe cast.  He is a ex boxer and ex policeman who is now a private detective.  He has a code of honour which he adhears to and an incredible cast of extras.  Love the wisecracks dialogue.  Spenser is a great cook, so you will get hungry reading the books. And he loves beer so i recommend keeping a glass of your favorite brew nearby.  They are a fun read and great description of the Boston area.  If you saw the TV series or movies forget it.  They are nothing like the books and pale imitations to be avoided.   He also wrote nine novels based on the fictional character Jesse Stone, a Los Angeles police officer fighting alcaholism who moves to a small New England town, and six novels based on the fictional character Sunny Randall, a female private investigator.  Parker wrote four Westerns starring the duo Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch.  They are all great and highly recommend.

For the Spenser series I recommend reading the books in order.  The earlier books are much more meatier and better written.  And you grow to learn more about the characters.  Avoid the books written after Parker's death as they are poor substitute for the original.

King Philip's War 1675 - 1676:  America's Deadliest Colonial Conflict. 

This new Osprey book by Gabriele Esposito is a great history of a forgotten conflict.  The war between the New England colonies and the Native Peoples was the single most destructive war in our countries short history.  Nearly half of all European settlements were destroyed.  The Narragansett, Wampanoag and many smaller tribes were destroyed.  Yet for all its harshness and destruction its a fascinating topic and part of the history of the area where I live.  And its causing me to reconsider starting yet another new period for gaming.

US Regular vs British Regular War of 1812

I received the Kindle edition of this Osprey series book.  There is not much out there on the North American War of 1812 in wargame circles. So when something comes out it is met with great rejoicing.  I saw this originally on the Osprey publishing website and pre ordered it right away.  I then spent the morning reading, and rereading it.  As someone who has limited dollars to spend on his hobby I have to say I was most happy with the book and think it well worth adding it to your library.

First off, what the book is not.  It is not a uniform guide.  It is not a history of the war.  There are other better books for those subjects.  Nor is it about the various Militia, Volunteer or Fencibels regiments.   

What it is is a comparison if the United States Regular soldier and his British counterpart.  It details their training, organization and background.  It goes into the drill manuals and how regiments formed up for battle.  There is some information about uniforms but just basics.  And there are three workman like accounts comparing the two armies at three major actions:  Queenstown Heights 1812, Chrysler's Farm 1813 and Chippewa 1814.  

The heart of the book is how the US regular army grew and developed during the war.  At the start the regular army was often the poor step child compared to the state militia.  Officers were often political appointed and ignorant of their duties.  There was no solid non commissioned ranks to train and maintain discipline and to be an example like in the British army.  Drill manuals?  Take your pick! Because there was no standard it was each regiment on its own.  As the war progress the incompetents are weeded out and a solid officer and non commissioned officer corp evolves.  A group of talented and dedicated officers rose to command positions.  The difference between the army at Queenstown and Chippewa was as light is to darkness.  

The book is not biased or one sided.  The British regular was a professional who maintained that reputation throughout the war.  The US regular evolved and developed throughout the war.  So yes, there is much more about him in the text and how this development came about.  Again the book is a comparison of the two regular soldiers from the start of the war to the end.  I think it is important to understand this before you buy the book.    I enjoyed it very much and found lots of good food for thought and lessons for my wargames armies.  

John Buchanan "Road" series:

"The Road to Charleston" and "The Road to Valley Forge. ". I am a great fan of Buchanan's " Road " books.  These are great, popular histories of varioys theaters of the American Revolution.  They are very well researched and well written.  His first book, "The Road to Guilford Courthouse" tells the take if the British southern theater from before the siege of Charleston to the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.  "The Road to Charleston"  takes up the tale of Nathaniel Greene's recapture of South Carolina to the British evacuation if the South.  His "Road to Valley Forge" follows Washington's learning curve as commander in chief through the New York and New Jersey operations.  Both are great reads and great history.

Nathaniel Philbrick:

Just finished his books "Mayflower" and "Heart of the Sea."  

I found the Mayflower to be dived into thirds as far as story telling and contents go.  The first third of the book is a history of not only the first fifty years of the Pilgrims settlement in Massachusetts.  The first third of the book is about who they were and why they cane to America.  The next third is how they settled and adjusted to life in the wilderness.  It alsogoes into their inter actions with the Native peoples and how both sides looked to the other to establish dominance over the area and the other people living there.  Finally the last third is a brief history of King Philips War 1675-76.  Possibly one if the most destructive wars in our history and one if the only times the Native peoples could have pushed back the invasion of Europeans.

"The Heart of the Seas" described the tragedy of the Whale ship Essex which was rammed by a sperm whale and sunk. It was thus actually story which influenced Me level in writing Moby Dick. The crew was adrift for a long time and barely survived.  The book is an excellent history of the whaling industry as it actually was and not its romantic story as its cone down to us.  

Just starting Valiant Ambition about George Washington and Benidct Arnold.  I cannot understand why authors continue to over state Arnold's ability and actions.  But that is just me.  I feel a close look at his record showed him to be as careless with men's lives as he was with money.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

St. Patrick's Day


Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all.  I thought to honour the day I would post a few pictures of the Dillon and Clare regiments I painted up a number of years ago.  These are from the Crann Tara miniatures and are most excellent figures.  To my mind they capture the feeling of the famed Irish brigade.