Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"Martial Bliss"; a Memoir About a Bookstore for Military Buffs

    A memoirs about a book store?  Certainly you jest!  But no!  This is a book about a very unusual and very special store.  Open from 1976 to 2003 the Military Bookman was the location to stop in when visiting New York city if you loved military history and books.  Located in a brownstone which frequently had leaks and heating issues it was a treasure trove of hard to find and unusual books on military history.  The only thing better then a visit was the red catalog which would arrive in the mail. 

  This was a fun, entertaining travel down memory lane. But for a better review and more details i suggest the New York Times book review which was itself a joy to read.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

New York Provincial Company of Artillery 1776

    On 6 January 1776 the Committee of Safety of New York ,  “took into consideration the defenceless state of this Colony and the capital thereof, and that they have not any proper persons to use and manage the field artillery of the Colony…”  They resolved “That it will be useful and necessary for the general defence of the Colony to raise and employ an artillery company."  General Alexander McDougall recommended Alexander Hamilton for a commission to command this new company.   On 14 March the Committee read a letter from Stephen Badlam, a captain of artillery, testifying that Hamilton was fit for duty as an artillery officer. The Committee appointed Hamilton captain with James Gilleland as his second lieutenant.  Hamilton was just 21 years old at the time he was commissioned.

   Hamilton’s interest in military service first took form in 1775, when he joined a group of volunteers in a pro-Patriot militia company at King's College (Columbia University today)  called the "Corsicans"        ( incorrectly called the "Hearts of Oak" in many second hand accounts).    In August 1775,  Hamilton  took part in a raid led by Captain John Lamb on the Battery in New York City,  stealing some two dozen British cannons while under heavy fire from the HMS Asia.  Hamilton ’s coolness under fire was later remembered by his friend Hercules Mulligan: “I was engaged in hauling off one of the cannons, when Mister Hamilton came up and gave me his musket to hold and he took hold of the rope. . . . Hamilton [got] away with the cannon. I left his musket in the Battery and retreated. As he was returning, I met him and he asked for his piece. I told him where I had left it and he went for it, notwithstanding the firing continued, with as much concern as if the [Asia] had not been there.”

  Once appointed captain of the company Hamilton spent his time drilling and training his recruits;  and pestering the Congress for funds to provide equipment and uniforms for his men.  The uniform of the company was a blue Regimental coat faced buff.  Cocked hats were trimmed in artillery yellow.   It is also possible that frocks were issued for fatigue duties.

   Under Hamilton, the New York Provincial Company of Artillery took part in the Battles around New York city and later at White Plains, Trenton, and Princeton.  They played an important role at Trenton, breaking up a counter attack and driving off  the Hessian battalion guns.  According to Princeton University lore, Hamilton’s gunners shot a cannonball through a window of the university’s main building, Nassau Hall, and decapitated a portrait of King George II.

  When Hamilton accepted a position on George Washington’s staff in March 1777, command was turned over to Lt. Thomas Thompson, a former sergeant in the unit whom Hamilton had commissioned.

  The U.S. Army’s Center of Military History traces the lineage of the New York Provincial Company of Artillery down to the 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery, making it one of the oldest active unit in the regular U.S. Army.

  Figures for the battery are from Fife and Drum miniatures.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fusilier 23rd Regiment Boston 1775

    Concerning the question did Grenadiers wear their bearskin caps on April 19, 1775?  There is no evidence either way that I could find.  But  here is a watercolor of a fusilier of the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers on guard duty in Boston in 1775.  It is part of a multi plate watercolor  panorama of Boston done by Lieutenant Richard Williams of the 23rd.  He mentioned in his journal sitting stop a hill in Boston to paint this.  In one plate there is a fusilier on guard duty.  He is identified by his cap, the blue facings on his coat, no shoulder wings and the three feathers of the Prince of Wales in his cartridge box and rear of his cap.  All of which are very clear in the original works.

 A full size copy of the entire panorama is on display at the Battle Road Visitor Center, Minute Man National Historical Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts.  For additional information please see;

Nichipor, Mark A. "Richard Williams and the Cartridge box badge of the Royal Welch Fusiliers."
 Military Color for and Historian, 37 (summer 1985), pp. 93-94.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Lost and broken equipment 19 April 1775

  From the Public Record Office, War Department records (WO 36/3) Listing of lost and broken equipment in 19April 1775.

 Recently in one of the miniature forums there was a question about if Grenadier companies wore their Bearskin caps on the Lexington and Concord March on April 19, 1775.   Although grenadier caps are not mentioned here I thought some might be interested in this return of lost and broken equipment for that day.  Lots of broken muskets and missing musket slings.  Some standards and cartridge boxes.  Interesting how the Grenadier company of the 38th regiment was the only company to lose any match cases.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Royal Artillery 1776

  I have added two more guns and two more artillery crews for my Crown Forces.  So four stands of artillery.  Figures are from Fife and Drum miniatures.

  In addition I have re based my stands as they looked far too crowded.  I think they look better now with more room to pose the gun crews.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

British Flank companies 1814

Flank companies as battalion.

  Because of the small numbers of  regulars available to British commanders in Canada companies from regiments could be deployed at different locations.  At Queenston Heights the Grenadier and Light Infantry companies of the 41st Regiment fought while the rest of the battalion served elsewhete.  Battlefield commanders could deploy the regiments light company as separate battalions as happened at Chippewa.  Building the Crown Forces for my Niagara 1814 project called for adding Grenadier and Light Infantry companies for each battalion.

Grenadier in line, Lights in skirmish order.

  For my first three companies I went with the regiments that wore the belgic shako in my collection.  These are the 1st, 41st and 100th Regiments.  Figures are from  my favorite manufacturer Knuckleduster miniatures.  I placed the Light Infantry on split stands so they can form into skirmish order or fight in line.  They are distinguished by the shoulder wings on their coats and the green shako plume and cords.  Grenadier figures are distinguished by the shoulder wings on their  coats and white shako plume.  They are mounted on regular infantry stands like regular line infantry.

Flank companies 41st Regiment.

  For historical scenarios I can add the flank companies to their parent battalions to have really large (32 figure) battalions.  Or the Light Infantry stands can be converged into light battalions that can skirmish.   All in all super useful figures.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

41st Regiment of foot 1812-14

   The 41st Regiment of Foot was posted to Canada in 1800. Having been an invalid battalion for all of its history up to this point the regiment held no battle honours.  This would soon change dramatically.  During the War of 1812 the regiment saw long service at most of the important battles, both in land and sea.

  Starting with General Isaac Brock the The 41st were at the siege and surrender of Fort Detroit in August 1812;  and at Queenston Heights in October  1812.  The 41st then served under General Henry Proctor (the colonel of the 41st)  at The battle of Frenchtown in January 1813 and the siege of Fort Meigs in April 1813.  Volunteers from the regiment served aboard the British naval squadron during the battle of Lake Erie September 1813.  Following the defeat of the squadron and it's total destruction Procter retreated and was defeated at the Battle of the Thames in October 1813.  Following the battle the 41st was decimated and had to be rebuilt with drafts and recruits.  All were combined into a single battalion when the 2/41st arrived.    In December 1813 the regiment took part in the successful capture of  Fort Niagara.  The Light Infantry company fought at Lundy' s Lane in 1814.

  The 41st Regiment was a red faced regiment with originally silver lacelace for the officers.  Later in 1814 when the second battalion arrived the officers lace was changed to gold.  I have painted the officers in the silver lace.   Because they were a red faced regiment drummers uniforms were white coats faced red.  I have fielded the regiment in belgic shako as these appeared to have been worn for most of their time in Canada.  Figures are from Knuckleduster miniatures;  flags are from Flags of War.

  It is very funny to me how I become attached to certain regiments.  This might come about because a friend or I was a member of that reenactment group.   Or it is because you get attached to them through reading about a certain battle or campaign.  For The 41st Regiment of foot it was through reading Pierre Berton's Flames Across the Border.  This was not only the book which got me hooked on the War of 1812 but also to the 41st Regiment.  To me they were a good but hard luck regiment which served through the War from beginning to end.  In addition the narrative of Private Shadrack Byfield provided me with a common foot soldier to follow.  Bayfield was a weaver who enlisted in the 41st and later had his narrative of service written down for him.  He served throughout the War in numerous battles and sieges.  Unfortunately he lost his arm at the battle of Conjocta Creek in 1814 ending his military career.   I have long wanted to add them to my collection and now I have.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Militia battalion 1776-81

 One always need more Militia for your American Revolution armies.  Having finished these twenty four figure i now have a nice militia brigade of four battalions.  They can take to the field no matter which theater or year I game.  Militia are always there.

  The figures are from Fife and Drum miniatures.  They are dressed in civilian clothing and have a mix of equipment and weapons.  Painting them I tried to get as much variety as possible.  After all you do not want them to be too regular!

Monday, October 1, 2018

1st Grenadier Battalion 1776

 "Some talk of Alexander and Some of Hercules,
Of Hector and Lysander, and such great names as these,
But of all the world's great heroes,
There's none that can compare,
With a tow, row, row, row, row,
To the British Grenadiers."

   Nothing says American Revolution like a battalion of British Grenadiers! And these are beautiful figures that capture the look of these elite soldiers.

   Made up of the most veteran and best soldiers in the battalion, these companies were detached from their parent regiments and combined into special, elite battalions.  They were often used as assault troops or the van guard of attacks.  The distinctive tall bearskin cap added to their height and made them stand out.  Wings, strips of regimental lace were sewed on the shoulders to also set them apart uniform wise.

  The Fife and Drum miniatures Grenadiers  are uniformed as they might have appeared on campaign with shortened regimental coats and trousers.  Swords have been placed in storage and waistbelts worn over the shoulder or converted to shoulder belts.  At this time the grenadier cap was still being worn into battle.  These were light weight, with a tin front to give it it's shape and they could fold flat. For daily service they wore a fatigue cap, made from an old coat or a cocked hat with a white feather.  At the Battle of Brandywine the commander of the 2nd Grenadier battalion Colonel Meadows is reported to  address his soldiers by saying, "Grenadiers, put on your caps (bearskins); for fighting and drinking I'll match you against the world!"