Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last day (evening really) of the old year.

    Today is my first day off in three weeks.  Flight loads have been 99%, which means each of our flights are sold out.  That is great for our airline (Jetblue) and potentially great for my profit sharing check!  Which comes out mid March just in time for Cold Wars.  But it is heavy work loads and little time off for our little station in Worcester.  As a surprise to me I was given a award by Jetblue for outstanding customer service yesterday. This is a really big deal, as it means I have had a number of customers who wrote to the company about me in a positive way.   So I end the year work wise on a very happy note.

  Today has been a quiet day, spent relaxing, walking our Yorkie Fritz and of course painting figures!

Since Thanksgiving, I have painted and based a bunch of figures.
The British 1st Regiment of Foot
8th Regiment of Foot,
100th Regiment of Foot

 Militia battalion
 24 Indians
and six gunners.
In all 126 figures.  I still have to static grass some of the bases.  And I am still awaiting regimental colors which are on order.  On the painting table is the half finished Glengarry Light Infantry and then I start the the wonderfully named Volunteer Battalion of Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada.  Once done I will finally be able to have a game.

 Lastly, I would like to thank each of you who have visited my blog.  It has been great fun to share my hobby with you.  And I greatly enjoy reading your comments.  I wish all of you a very happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Battle of Trenton

December 18, 1776
Washington to his cousin,

"I think the game is nearly up...."

December 23, 1776

These are the times that try men's souls.  The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and women.

Thomas Paine, The Crisis.

Merry Chrismas

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.  Thank you all who have followed my blog.   I have enjoyed writing the blog, and I enjoy hearing from all of you so much more.  And thank you to those who drop by.  I hope you enjoy it or find it fun.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Trenton and Princeton Humor

Just a little humor for the season and to go with my upcoming theme of the battles of Trenton and Princeton.

Monday, December 19, 2016


  Busy time of the year.  Not just with Christmas  and the holidays  but especially here at work.  We are bringing the planes in then sending them out.  We are dealing with irregular weather operations.  Our flight loads (passengers) are at 90% capacity which is outstanding.

  But I am still getting some painting done!  I finished up a Canadian militia battalion.  Nice mix of un
iforms (red and older green coats) and civilian clothing.

  The 1st Regiment of Foot (Royal Scots) is painted but waiting  on flags.  The next regiment, 100th Foot is block painted and now detailing.  Also finishing up some Royal Artillery crews and a hand full of Indians.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

On a roll....

  Here is the first of my new British battalions for the Niagara 1814 campaign. The 1st Regiment of Foot.   Still have to add colors but it is exciting to finally see my opponent taking shape.

Next up, Canadian militia (mixed uniforms and civilian clothing) and 100th Regiment of Foot are block painted.  Then finnish up the details of equipment and such.

  I am hopping to fight out my first action in January 2017.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

  Two very nice surprises in the last couple weeks. The figure is from Knuckleduster miniatures and is painted with coat d'arms paints.

   As I have mentioned before I am a great fan of the Knuckleduster Miniatures War of 1812 miniatures.  They are very nice figures, and a pleasure to paint.  I know from reading his blog that Forrest Harris put a great deal of research and thought into each figure.  Best of all it is a complete line for 1812.  They finally got me motivated to do my long desired Niagara 1814 project.  Also, Forrest is a gem to deal with.  Outstanding customer service.

  On Friday, as I mentioned I ran into trouble with my paints.  Lots of dried out bottles, and a generally unhappiness with them.  So I decided to try the coat d'arms paint.  I placed a order to Mark Severin at Scale Creep Miniatures for the military colors set.  Imagine my surprise when on getting home from work on Monday here was the set of paints waiting for me!  That is great service and next time I need something I will check his site first.  Also tried the pants out this morning.  They are great and I am most pleased with them.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Works in Progess

  Here it is December.  Back from Florida after helping Janine to take care of her mother and I am now planning out the rest of the year.  It's a very busy time of the year for me both holiday wise but especially work wise.   So here is hoping I can get a little painting time in!

  When I arrived home I had a nice box of goodies from the good people at Knuckleduster Miniatures waiting.  Finally I can start my British/Canadian forces.

   On the painting table I have three regular British battalions, one militia battalion and some artillery crews primed and set to go.
 In addition I have 24 Indians mounted on individual stands also ready to start painting.

Here is how I approach painting.   After cleaning the figures I glue 8 figures  to paint stirring sticks and prime them.  I use black gesso for priming.  Water it down and slop it on with a brush.  I wait for it to dry and then touch up where I missed.  The gesso dries skin tight and does not obscure the figure
details.  Before painting I dry brush each figure white;  so highlights are white and recessed areas stay dark.  Works out nice and helps with shading.  Not as fast as spray priming but more economical in the long run.

  One of the first and major decisions I had recently to make was on my brand of paints.  Due to age (the paint, not me) and the cold I have found most of my hobby paints dried up.  I use acrylics, and have bounced from cheep hobby paints to Vallejo.  Problem is the local craft store is not stocking the craft paints and Vallejo is getting too expensive.  I plan on trying the Coat d'arm paints.  They are the old citadel paints which I liked very much.  Ordered some and  will let you all know how it works out.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Playing wings of war with my son

   Typical game with my son, Nathaniel.  Sort of explains our approach to the game.

Me:  Ok, see this plane.  It was flown by the famous ace Voss.  This is how he painted his plane, and this was a special insignia he used...

Nathan:  Hey Dad, my plane is behind you, and here are my cards shooting at you.

Me:  Oh!  Well down I go, let's play again.  This time this plane was flown by the ace David Putnam.   I painted his plane based on a photo and....

Nathan: Dad, I am behind you again....

Me: Oh drat!

This weekend was Nathaniel's 21st birthday. He very seldom asks for anything, but he wanted to see a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game (his second favorite NFL team). Since we would be down in Orlando to visit with her mother Janine got two tickets to the game.  On the fifty yard yard, row six from the front for Nathan and I.    We just got back and it was a outstanding  game.  Thank you Janine and  Happy Birthday Nathaniel!

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Narrative of a Light Company Soldier's Service in the Forty-First Regiment of Foot (1807-1814)

   Shadrack Byfield (sometimes Shadrach) was a British soldierwho served in the Light Infantry company of the  41st Regiment during the War of 1812. He the author of a memoir of his wartime experiences, A Narrative of a Light Company Soldier's Service, published in 1840. This work is notable as one of the only accounts of the war written by a common British soldier.

Born in Bradford on Avon to a family of weavers in 1789, Byfield enlisted in the Wiltshire Militia in 1807, aged eighteen. Two years later, he volunteered into the 41st Regiment and was sent to join the regiment in North America, serving in Lower Canada and at Fort George in modern-day Niagara-on-the-Lake prior to the outbreak of war.

    He saw much service during the War of 1812;   the Siege of Detroit, the  Battle of Frenchtown (where he was wounded in the shoulder), the Siege of Fort Meggs, and the Battle of Fort Stephenson.  Byfield narrowly escaped capture after the British defeat at the Battle of the Thames and later rejoining elements of his regiment in the Niagara area. He participated in the Capture of Fort Niagara and was at the Battle of Lundy's Lane.  At the Battle of Conjocta Creek, an unsuccessful British raid on 3 August 1814 his left arm was shattered by musket ball. Byfield's forearm was subsequently amputated and he was invalided back to England, where he was awarded a pension from the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1815.

Byfield returned to Bradford on Avon and married but was prevented from working at his trade as a weaver because he required use of both hands to operate a loom. However, according to his memoirs, a design for an 'instrument' came to him one night in a dream; this contraption enabled him to work at a loom with just one arm, allowing him to provide for his family.

   Byfield published a memoir of his wartime experiences in 1840. Although some sources speculate that he died in 1850 more recent research suggests that Byfield actually died on 17 January 1874 in Bradford, aged 84.

   Shadrack Byfield's Narrative provides a common soldier's perspective of the War of 1812.  Because of this his humble account has  been republished numerous times in many editions.  Byfield has often been portrayed as the archetypical 1812-era British soldier by modern historians.  John Gellner, who edited Byfield's memoirs in 1963, asserted that his story "could have been told by any one of those humble, patient, iron-hard British regulars who more than made up in discipline, training and bravery for their lack of numbers."  Byfield is also the protagonist in a 1985 children's novel, Redcoat, by Canadian author Gregory Sass, which presents a heavily fictionalized account of his military experiences.

An online edition of his narrative is available here:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Loose Files and American Scramble rules

   For my Rev War gaming I have been using these rules since they came out in the 1980's.  Written by Andy Callen they appeared in the first issue of Wargamers Illustrated and are now available throughout the internet on various sites for free.

   What attracted me to the rules when they came out were the at that time ground breaking use of disorganization points or DP.  This represented temporary problems with the battalion or regiment.  The number of DP's effect combat and firing and too many would cause your unit to disappear from the board.  Better trained units could remove DP's quicker, while poor units needed brigade or higher commanders to help out.  DP's cause you to loose a die for firing, and negative for combat.  Get too many (maximum of five per unit) and additional DP's cause casualties which means you remove whole stands.  I like this since units stay on the table longer, and you can pull back a unit and redress ranks and return it to the fight.

   Games run like this.  Start of the turn you have retreats and rallies from end of last turn.  You adjust morale for units effected. Again better trained units weather misfortune, lower grade units can fall apart. Commanders ride about trying to help out regiments in trouble (remove DP or inspire by adding +1 to die roll).

   Next is small arm and artillery firing.  Units can either fire or move but not both, unless they are skirmishes.  So you have to plan accordingly.  Infantry throw a d6 per stand of three figures.  Hits are a 6 on your die roll, which cause a DP.  Fire at skirmishers or troops  undercover and you half your total of dice thrown.  Remember this is long range musket and rifle fire.   Artillery is a little harder with plus and minus to roll for a hit.

   Next is movement.  Units throw  average dice to move.  A house rule I use is regiments must move full die roll, unless you point out a terrain objective like a hill or fence to stop at.  In addition another house rule let's units within a brigade roll once for each unit.  Skirmishes can fire and move, regular infantry either fire or move.  Slippery fellows those skirmishers.

   If regiments move to within 4 inches of an enemy they are in close combat.  This represents close range fire and closing to melee.  Both units roll die, add modifiers and compare difference in scores.  Close combat can be deadly.  Evan combats grind up units, while better regiments rout poorer regiments with disastrous results for friends around them.

   One part of close combat that confused players is the British getting +2 for bayonet charge while Americans do not get this.  This represents the British standard tactic of charging Americans without firing first.  For a better explanation please read With Zeal and Bayonets by Matthew Spring.  I like this as it represents the British standard operating procedure.  But, if not carefully managed you get no better then a stand off result which causes a second round of fighting and the British now get two DP's so are fighting at a disadvantage.  Basically the Americans were not impressed, stood their ground and shot you up as you came in.  Lesson to learn is use this against a wavering line.

   I have recently modified the rules for use with 25mms figures and also for the War of 1812.  There is also a link to bring you to one of the many sites where you can down load an original set of the rules

Friday, November 11, 2016

Armistice Day November 11

My grandfather, Edward McNamara from Lexington Massachusetts served with the 101st Regiment (Medical company), 26th Yankee Division in the first world war.  He seldom talked about it, and when he did it was a terrible memory which haunted him.  But  I will always remember his smile when he told me how at 11:00 A.M. on 11th November the guns stopped and he and his friends knew they would live, knew they had survived.  

And as this date is now called Veterans Day I say thank you to my father in law, Aldrich Stevens  who served in the  3rd Ranger Battalion (Darby's Rangers) in the Second World War.  Like my grandfather he too was haunted by the memories of what he saw, experienced and especialy those he lost.   

I remember their sacrifices and hope both have found peace.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

General Porter's 3rd Brigade

   If Ripley was cautious with the lives of his men, Porter was the opposite.  He was a war hawk before the war and championed its execution there after.  Yet his actions seldom met his desire for fame and fortune.

  He was angered over his disgrace at Black Rock, where during the raid he was chased by the enemy from his house in his night shirt.  After Chippewa he felt his militiamen had not received proper credit for their part in the battle.  There he felt they have been treated as “the tools and drudges of the regular troops.”  After Lundy's Lane he would write the Governor of New York, that because his casualties are so low “it will seem that we were cowardly and did not do our duty.”  Ahh, political generals.

   The militia command figure for the 3rd Brigade is from knuckleduster miniatures incredible War of 1812 line.  Although not a portrait figure of Porter it has the feel of the militia General about it.

Monday, November 7, 2016

General Ripley's 2nd Brigade

   Commanded by General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley the 2nd Brigade was composed of the 21st and 23rd U.S. Infantry Regiments. Later, in time for the battle of Lundy's Lane they were joined by the 1st U.S. Infantry regiment. The first two regiments had taken part in Scott's camp of instruction and were exceptionally well trained and had had hard service prior to this.

   While Scott's 1st Brigade gained the lions share of the credit for the campaign, Ripley's brigade fought well.  The 21st Regiment, which he had previously commanded saw sterling service at Lundy's Lane.  Perhaps Ripley being from New Hampshire, one of the New England states against the war worked against him.  He also felt the campaign had insufficient troops for the task at hand and no pool of trained replacements for battle casualties.  For all this he was viewed negatively by both Scott and especially by General
Brown.  This is sad as he fought very well and was much more protective of his men's lives then the other commanders. An interesting "what if" is if Ripley had been in Scott's place at the opening of Lundy's Lane.  How would the battle have developed?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Lady Butlers painting "The Return from Inkerman"  showing the Guard's and 20th regiment after the battle on November 5, 1854.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

British organization 1814

Proposed Organization of the British Right Division. Summer 1814
(Based on historical O.B.)

1st Brigade: (Colonel Scott)
8th (King’s) Regiment
100th Regiment
103rd Regiment
 Royal Artillery

2nd "Light" Brigade (Lieutenant Colonel Pearson)
Glengarry Light Infantry Regiment
Volunteer Battalion of Incorporated Militia
 Royal Artillery

3rd Brigade: (Lt. Col. Morrison)
1st (Royal Scots) Regiment
41st Regiment
89th Regiment
Royal Artillery

Unattached :
1st Militia Brigade (Lieutenant Colonel Perry)
1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th / 5th Lincon militia regiments

2nd Militia Brigade (Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton)
 1st / 2nd Norfolk Militia Regiments 2nd York Militia Regiments

19th Light Dragoons
Rocket battery
Native Warriors

My order of battle is based on the British/Canadians who fought at Chippewa and Lundy's Lane.  In addition I have added the 41st regiment which was available in the area but only its light company took part historically.  I blame private Shadrack Byfield's account of his service for this.  The first account I read of a soldier in this war and it's always stuck with me so I had to have the 41st.

  On the other hand the 2nd Light Brigade is historically accurate and one of my favorite due to books on the Incorporated Militia (great name!) and Pearson's biography.  So I had to have them. Since many British units were at the battles in bits and pieces I have brought all regiments up to a table top standard strength. Like the American regiments I use a standard number of stand, which I can reconfigure if fighting a historical battle.

 This command also gives a lot of colorful and fun units like Indians and rockets.  Both of which I will have to create new rules for to reflex their eccentricity on the table.  For the cavalry I will inflate their numbers like I have with the Americans to give gamers something to led in glorious charges;   Or not as is usually the case.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

General Winfield Scott's 1st Brigade

  My 1st Brigade consist of the wonderful figures from Knuckleduster miniatures.  Parading are the 9th, 11th, 22nd and 25th U.S. regiments.  Additional firepower is provided by Captain Nathan Towson's artillery company.  Leading the brigade is Scott himself.  This portrait figures is based on the painting "Those are Regulars" by
Charles McBarron.  It certainly captures the spirit of the man.  Each regiment is made up of 24 figures which gives a very nice table top appearance.  Regimental flags are from Flags of War.

 General Winfield Scott's 1st Brigade of General Brown's army in 1814 is the stuff of legend.  Evan today, regiments in the United States army trace their lineage to these regiment and soldiers know the motto "Those are Regulars, By God" earned at the battle of Chippewa.

  At Buffalo in April 1814, Scott had established a camp of instruction and instituted a major training programme while they waited for Brown and the start of the campaign season.  The army of six regular U.S. regiments were all veterans of the previous campaigns.  Here Scott drilled his troops for seven to  ten hours every day.  This ranged from platoon to company to battalion dril and special field days for brigade drill.  He standardized the small arms drill using the 1791 Manual of the French Revolutionary Army.  Scott purged his regiments of any remaining inefficient officers who had gained their appointments through political influence rather than experience or merit.  He insisted on proper camp discipline including sanitary arrangements. This reduced dysentery and other enteric diseases which had been heavy in previous campaigns.

   Scott had been unable to obtain enough regulation blue uniforms for his men. Although correct uniforms had been manufactured they had been sent to Plattsburgh and Sackets Harbor. Once the error was discover over 2,000 new uniforms were made up and despatched to Buffalo for Scott's regiments. Because there was insufficient blue cloth, short jackets or roundabouts of grey cloth were sent
instead. This was a slight as gray were traditional associated with militia units.   When Scott received the grey roundabouts, he gathered up the blue coats from his brigade and gave them to the 21st US Infantry (one of the units in the Brigade of Brigadier General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley), because "the black coatees of the 21st are a disgrace to the uniform and soldier of the army of the United States." Officers of his brigade, who purchased their own uniforms wore the standard blue uniform.   Now uniformly equipped his brigade would step into legeand attitred in their gray jackets.  They were to be a match for the British regulars across the Niagara river.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

9th and 25th U.S. Infantry Regiments

  The 9th and 25th regiments were part of General Winfield Scott's 1st Brigade.  Both were long service regiments and saw action at Chippewa, Lundy's Lane and the siege of Fort Erie.  The 25th under Major Jessup were detached in a independent role at Lundy's Lane and  turned the
flank of the British/Canadian position.

  As part of Scott's brigade both regiments were issued the famous gray jackets rather then the blue regulation coat.  There are various legends why his brigade was sent gray roundabouts or jackets.  But once they arrived all blue uniform coats were gathered and given to the 21st regiment (thank you said the 21st!) while his brigade wore them with pride.  They were issued the newer shako.  I have painted both regiments with black belts.  This is a
personal preference as both black and white accoutrements were available and in inventory in equal numbers.  I think they look better with black accoutrements. Regimental colours are from Flags of War and beautifully done they are.  Nice bright color and superb details. Again Front Rank came through with their finals and tassels to make the colours look right.

Miniatures are from the wonderful Forrest Harris of Knuckleduster miniatures.  His superb sculpture of Winfield Scott leads the two regiments and captures the spirit of the man.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Volunteer Regiments 1814

   For the Niagara campaign of 1814, the US Left Division under General Brown was made up of two brigades of regulars and a brigade of volunteers.  This 3rd Brigade under General Peter R. Porter were not the usual lackadaisical militia but volunteers.  One regiment was from Pennsylvania the other from New York.

  Unlike militia they had signed on for the campaign and were to be uniformed and equipped like regulars.  While their drill may not have been up to Winfield Scott's approval the brigade nevertheless fought hard and acquired a solid reputation for dependability.

  To represent them on my table top I used figures from Forrest Harris Knuckleduster miniatures.  Since they were to have been uniformed and equipped as regulars I wanted a look between regular and militia.  Knuckleduster provided that.  These especially made figures are in bits of uniforms mixed with civilian clothing.  Round hats, shako and straw hats mix with civilian coats, regular jackets and farmer smocks.  The New Yorkers have either older militia coats in blue with red collars and cuffs or plain blue coats.  The Pennsylvanians have plain blue coats.  Officers and NCO's in both groups have fancier more regular uniform coats.  Accoutrements are standardized but varied. All have cartridge boxes and belts but some add bayonets, some knapsack and few blanket rolls.  Just the perfect look I was looking for.

  I have no documentation if these two regiments carried colors or not. It appears to be a "best guess" which I based on other period examples. For these volunteer regiments the flags I am going to use are
based on descriptions carried by Pennsylvania and New York units.   As both regiments were volunteers I wanted then to have a national flag similar to the regulars.  For the regimental flag I used a New York state Flag from the rev war period. It looks very much like one captured
by the British and still in existence today.   The Pennsylvania regiment I gave a copy of the Easton flag.  This was not a Rev War flag but a well documented war of 1812 flag carried by Pennsylvania militia.