A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Home Brewed Flags - Joseph Napoleon's Spanish Troops

There is very little information about these flags. Here are examples of the flags I developed for my own wargame armies; from top to bottom they are the 2nd Line Regt (Toledo), 1st Light Infantry (Castilla) and Royal-Etranger (which I think, was technically a French army unit). The white flags would be carried on a blackened pole with a gilt spearhead finial and red cravat.

If they are of any use or interest, please feel free to copy them. The Toledo flag is based on the regulations, and on a reconstruction of the standard for the 6th Regt.

The green borders are not part of the design - they are just to make it easier to cut out a white flag!

Monday, 28 March 2011

More Newbies - these are Scrubies...

This new unit represents two firsts for me.

(1) Though I have a couple of Jack Scruby command figures and the odd cannon in my armies, and though I have bags of the little blighters, unpainted, in my spares department, this is the first full unit I've ever had painted up for service. I have to say that they painted up much better than I expected, though I really didn't expect a great deal. All in all, they're not bad at all - though they look a bit undernourished, they are indisputably Old School.

(2) This is the first unit of my mooted Vorpommern Brigade to come into service. Students of the period who are surprised to learn that there was a member state of the Confederation of the Rhine of which they have never heard will be interested to know that this is the company of foot artillery Stadt Stralsund in the service of the Duchy of Stralsund-Ruegen. The unit is commanded by Major P Nyudrev, formerly of the Swedish service (which is only fair, since it's partly his fault for encouraging me to invent a Napoleonic nation - as if things weren't confused enough already). The French-made Gribeauval cannon are finished in the official Pommeranian shade of garden shed green, and are NapoleoN castings.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Folderols - the back of the Painting Queue

There are some nice little side projects which crop up from time to time which seem a great idea to add variety to the wargames soldier collection, but I regret that my track record of getting them finished is not good. In particular, the less closely they conform to the basic definition of "combat unit", the more they will be constantly pushed to the back of the painting queue.

The chaps illustrated above - well, almost all of them - have been in my spares box for upwards of 30 years - maybe nearer 40 - which means they must have moved house with me on 4 occasions. S-Range Minifigs, all bought new from The Toytub. To prove that every dog has his day, and denote one small victory for the folderols from the back of the queue, please may I introduce the band of the Grenadiers of King Joseph's Royal Spanish Guard.

No, they will probably never set foot on a battlefield - for one thing, this would draw attention to the fact that they have the same footprint as one of my fighting battalions, which is silly - but I am pleased to have them. They can play quietly in The Cupboard to motivate the rest of the troops, and it is, after all, some kind of a triumph over something or other.

Paintwork is by David Young, who does most of my painting these days.

Any requests? They do a very funky version of La Marche Consulaire.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

CCN - thoughts on a Grand Tactical Variant

I find myself most of the way through a 7-day Cabbage Soup de-tox. For the uninitiated, or the non-believer, this is a no-coffee, no-tea, no-booze, hardly-any-carbohydrate, very-little-fat regime which will leave me feeling terrific and ready for a large coffee, a big steak with fries and onions and half a bottle of Montepulciano on Day Eight. In the meantime, I am existing on what feels like a single figure allowance of Kcals per day, which is disorienting. This has no relevance at all to the subject matter, but it may help to explain things if I suddenly lose the plot, or end a sentence with the wrong artichoke.

It must be the time of the year or something, but everyone seems to be writing or revising wargame rules. Not wishing to be left out, and (temporarily) not having the mental resources to think of anything more original, I am joining in with the trend. My particular angle on this came after my recent stocktake of in-hand projects (and I forgot to mention the translation of Max Foy's "Vie Militaire", which is making rather halting progress). The particular food for thought came from comparing my recently tested, home brewed MEP rules for Grand Tactical Napoleonic battles, with my experiences with Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (hence CCN) to date.

Interesting. The main contrast - immediately - is the order-of-magnitude difference in ease and speed of play. CCN plays like a game, rather than a post-graduate research project. It does not suffer from being bogged down in all the convoluted extra cleverness which it has taken me years to build into my own game. Some of the things which it does not have are a source of minor regret, since I have grown to be very attached to them (skirmishing, for example), but the negative side is pretty substantially swept away by the playability and the logical flow. I find that having CCN available (and I play it as a miniatures game, remember) means that I can regard my cupboard full of soldiers and the rest of the paraphernalia as a game which I can play whenever I wish, with the certain expectation of finishing, and finishing, moreover, while still in a physical shape to appreciate it. Previously, there has always been an element of my wargames - and I have always tried to simplify them as much as possible - of having a cupboard full of equipment with which I may once again attempt to wrestle with the problem of striking an enjoyable balance between fun and my personal finicky views on military tactics.

I am, understandably, not going to scrap my MEP game, or any of my other games, but at some hungry moment or other during the last few days it occurred to me that I could produce a slight variant on CCN which would handle most of the aspects of MEP yet still move with the swing of CCN itself. If the changes were minor enough, it could almost be viewed as a kind of scenario amendment to CCN. So let's regard this as a possible new game, not as a replacement for anything, and toss some ideas around. [Bear in mind that this is not as heretical as it might seem - study of the published CCN Scenarios makes it obvious that Waterloo, for example, must use a different unit size and implied ground scale than Rolica.]

These are a first-cut list of changes to the standard CCN game:

(1) The Command Cards mechanism from CCN - in fact just about all rules from CCN - will be adopted as a starting point, and adjusted as necessary. The actual pack of Command Cards will need to be checked - some of the cards will require some new definitions, or may need to be excluded (I haven't looked at this in detail yet).

(2) The scaling and grouping from MEP will be introduced. This means that, in general, a unit will be a brigade, and the number of "blocks" (bases in a miniatures game) will indicate the numerical strength, the identity of the blocks representing the historical units present - typically, a block will be a battalion or cavalry regiment. This immediately introduces the idea of mixed units, so some commonsense rules will be required to average this out where necessary. A couple of examples here: (a) my view of French Light Infantry in the Peninsula is that they were pretty much indistinguishable from Line, so a brigade of mixed Light and Line units will be Line; (b) the Anglo/Portuguese Light Division will have brigades which are entirely Light Infantry, with some Rifles blocks present; (c) divisional artillery attached to a brigade will be present at a strength of 1 block, and will not affect the troop class of the brigade (artillery may also be formed into massed or reserve batteries of up to 3 blocks in strength); (d) a 4-block unit which has 3 Guard blocks and 1 Line will normally be taken as Guard (etc).

(3) There will be some implied change in the ground scale. Movement will be as normal, but artillery ranges will be reduced to 3 hexes for horse artillery and 4 for foot artillery. Ranged combat will not be allowed for infantry other than Rifles. Rifles will be allowed ranged combat at a range of 2 hexes. I still have to think about all this, including drawing up new Combat Dice numbers for artillery. Bonuses and deduction for Combat should remain unchanged, though the number of blocks counting for dice should be limited to 4, to stop a large, poor quality brigade becoming unstoppable.

(4) The rule whereby a single-block horse artillery unit cannot move and fire is suspended - typically, batteries will have a single-block strength.

(5) I have no idea how to decide which block in a mixed unit (brigade) is hit - maybe the owner can choose? If the dice shows an artillery symbol, the battery must go if there is one. Needs work.

(6) Leaders/Generals will normally be deployed at Divisional level and higher – it might be that a detached brigade might justify having its own Leader. This will give a higher proportion of Leaders to combat units – to compensate, there is a change to the rules: you may attach a Leader to any unit you like, but he only allows them to ignore a Retreat result if he is in their chain of command. Also, it may be necessary to add 1 to the victory flag requirements to allow for the greater number of potential Leader casualties.

That's my very first thoughts on this. My current assumption is that the rest of the CCN rules stay as unchanged as possible.

More soon. I would kill for a cheese sandwich.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Qualiticast - Some Illumination!

Following the previous post on Qualiticast, Andy Taylor was kind enough to contact me via email, and send some more information and some smashing pictures. Very many thanks, Andy.

I read your recent blog entry and comments about Qualiticast with interest and was particularly surprised to learn that the company are such a mystery to many people. It’s true that there are very few images of these elegant figures on the web, so I thought you might be interested to see this selection of units from my own collection.

I’m pretty sure I bought these towards the end of the eighties. One of the early Qualiticast mission statements that appeared in all their advertising was to design a range of metal figures that would compliment the plastic ones then available and specifically to fill the gaps in the plastic market.

Amongst my first ‘buys’ were the Brunswickers, Prussians and 95th Rifles. No one was making those in plastic back then as this was long before HaT had arrived. They were also an acceptable match for Hinton Hunt figures which were next to impossible to find in the days before Tim Berners-Lee did his stuff.

I think the company was a husband and wife team who were a regular feature at SELWG on the rare occasions that I attended. I don’t recall their names but they were a delight to deal with in much the same way that I’ve read people compliment the guys at Newline and Tumbling Dice. On one occasion they sent me some British colour bearers but later declared that they hadn’t been altogether happy with the design of the figures and subsequently sent me a double load of their new mould. If there was a difference between the two excellent designs, I certainly couldn't see it.

My main interest in them had started with the Zulu War figures they produced, which I still rate as the finest in any scale of plastic or metal.

It’s a huge loss that they’ve gone. The figures were never less than perfect and I never encountered flash at any time. The last time I looked at a catalogue, their range had expanded to include Waterloo , The Peninsula, US Civil War & Plains War, Vietnam , The Crusades and Imperial Rome. I think they also dabbled in 28mm too which, given today’s developments, makes them truly visionary.

It's only right and proper to note that most of the artwork on these figures was done by GJM Figurines.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Qualiticast - just a glimpse of the unknown

I'm not sure why, but Qualiticast, the British manufacturer of 20mm wargame figures, has been a mystery to me. There is a brief summary on VINTAGE20MIL, which suggests they were sort of compatible, size-wise, with (presumably) Hinton Hunt, but there's no listing and no pictures. There is some discussion of Qualiticast on TMP, mostly about the Romans, and mostly repetition of urban myths - i.e. the figures are a little bigger than Newline, the Napoleonics are "unimpressive" and so on. Somebody produced a useful side-by-side photo of Qualiticast Napoleonics and 1/72 plastics, to give a size comparison, but that's about all the evidence I've been able to find. It seems very odd that all these years of involvement in Napoleonic wargaming have left me unaware of one of the makers I might have been very interested in, but no matter. The mystery has remained.

Well, today I received my very first Qualiticast Napoleonic figures. I am now a fan. I suggest that they are far from unimpressive. Just so there is no doubt, let me state that they are well proportioned, very nicely sculpted, and average about 23-24mm from soles to scalp. The figures I received today were part of a mixed eBay lot of Spanish guerrillas - a mixture of Qualiticast and Kennington. The Kenningtons are a very close match - the figures are about 1mm shorter (maybe less) and very slightly coarser in quality than the Qualiticast, but it's close, and it required some time poring over catalogue listings to work out which was which. They would be good with Hinton Hunts, though the castings are a little slimmer and more elegant than HH, and they would mix well with the HaT plastic guerrillas, for example. My eyes are opened - I shall watch with interest for more. They are currently out of production, and I am unaware of anyone who has stocks, but I did come up with a catalogue list, though I don't think it's complete.

Mixed guerrillas - the 3 on the left are Qualiticast (L to R NIS5, NIS1, NIS4), the rest Kennington (L to R SGA2, SGA5, SGA3) - you get the idea. The guy in the top hat is a little masterpiece, if his sword is a little long for true beauty.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Taking Stock

A lot of plates spinning at the moment. Sometimes in blogs you can witness people changing their minds, or you read of a proposed project which stalls, or of which you hear no more. That's absolutely fine - blogs should have that sort of daily journal role, with all the swings and changes which feature in our real lives, but it can also be rather a public way of failing to do something. That would worry me a bit, so I thought I’d do a personal checklist of where I’m up to. If you wish to share my checklist, then welcome aboard, but this is really for my own benefit!

My current projects which have started and which I've mentioned, but are currently somewhere in flight (or not) include the following.

Army Complete

Well, yes - I've arrived at the supposed destination, with some tidying up to be done, but during the journey it occurred to me that I could extend the line a bit. Some existing units are to be replaced (mostly for aesthetic reasons), I'm still working gently on an Allied siege train, and I have decided to add two further brigades to the armies - the French are to get the (fictitious) Vorpommern brigade, and the Allies are to get some Spanish militia and guerrillas to fight alongside the line troops. And then, of course, there is the small matter of providing more limbers for the artillery.

My Spanish Troops

The post on the Nationalist forces has appeared – I intend to do another two, one on King Joseph’s troops (and that one is waiting only for a couple of command figures to be painted for one of the units, so as not to spoil the team photo), and one on my new/proposed militia and irregulars, which will be a little while since there is much fettling and painting to be done to get them finished.


This project has not disappeared. The first unit – the foot artillery company Stadt Stralsund – is at the painter as I write this, and should be back soon. I have figures reserved for the grenadiers, the jaegers and the 2 line battalions, though they are Scruby 25mm, and I spend alternate days worrying about how they can be painted effectively, given the almost complete lack of detail on the castings. I had cavalry put aside for them – also Scruby – but I really have decided that they are too awful to use, so the Vorpommern cavalry will be extra regiments of French-style chasseurs a cheval, which gives the slightly pathetic advantage that I can also use them as Frenchmen if required. Painting will proceed in due course.

The Grand Tactical Game (MEP)

Well, it exists, and I got through the Los Arapiles test with ideas for some changes. Further progress has been shelved while I get more experience with the Commands & Colors rules. Apart from anything else, there are mechanisms in CCN which are similar to, but simpler than, those in MEP, so there may be a little judicious cross-pollination coming up.

The Band of the Old Guard

This Minifigs S-range item has been sitting about for many years, waiting to be finished. Like all non-combat units, it keeps getting pushed down the painting queue. I finally got an official-issue drum major, and have bravely sent them off to the painter to be prepared as the band of King Joseph’s Spanish Royal Guard. No, I don’t know how they were uniformed, but I doubt if anyone else does either, so they are going to look very like the French Guard band out of Funcken! They will exist primarily for parades and other ceremonial fol-de-rols. I have abandoned the idea of a special morale bonus for neighbouring friendly troops.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The George F Nafziger Collection of OOBs

George F Nafziger

I had a very pleasant exchange of emails recently with Rasmus, from Portugal, on the subject of Spanish OOBs, and it reminded me that I do get occasional queries from various enthusiasts wondering about where to find good, detailed information about the various armies of history. My Salamanca OOB article for the Grand Tactical Game raised a number of requests for sources, for example.

I always direct people to the George F Nafziger collection, which - incredibly - is now freely available to the public online. I say incredibly because previously these things were available only by applying to Mr Nafziger himself, and cost a few dollars a page.

Anyway, the place to look is on the website of the US Army Combined Arms Center, which sets out an enormous list of files, in pdf form, which you can read or download.

The names of the files are coded, and to make sense of them you need the index. The index itself is rather hard to follow - the Napoleonic period, for example, appears in several different places. The best way to use this index is to download the complete thing (it's another pdf) and do automated searches on it for key words (e.g. "Prussian") to find the various relevant entries. Thus, for example, the index will tell you that 808GSAH is the Spanish Army at Baylen, which you can find in the main list and open up. 

This is a real treasure house. Mr Nafziger is to be heartily complimented, not only on his achievement in collating the information in the first place, but also on his magnificent generosity in donating the information for public view. To those who are familiar with this resource, and its whereabouts online, I apologise for the old news, but to anyone else I have to say that I cannot recommend this library highly enough.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Gotcha! - retail therapy for nerds

In the last two weeks, some very unexpected things have happened here.

I managed to win a lot on eBay which includes enough NapoleoN Miniatures British light dragoons - in authentic Peninsula-style Tarleton helmet - to make up a full unit when added to what I already have in my spares box. Very pleased with this - they can join the painting queue, and will eventually become the 14 LD, replacing my present late Phoenix Model Developments unit, which is splendid (Tim Richards mastered the figures, and I painted these back in the days when my eyesight was up to the job), but dressed for Waterloo. Also (sadly) they come from the days when scale creep was starting to make PMD a bit overscale. It doesn't matter a lot for most of the range, but the Light Dragoon figure (BN25) is definitely a whopper.

Whoppers. The soon-to-be-replaced 14th Light Dragoons - PMD figures. Their brigadier, Viktor von Alten, looks rather puny in comparison in the foreground.

Then, of course, I somehow managed to achieve the trick of accidentally buying back my own book - again on eBay - after it had been in orbit for a dozen years or more. I was hoping to dine out on this tale for some time, but, strangely, people I have told the story to in the pub invariably respond with an even more astounding story about how their Auntie Jean once met herself while on holiday in Tibet, so I have to assume that the impossible is, in fact, commonplace.

Now I have another unexpected triumph to relish. Somehow, my worldwide network of dodgy contacts has managed to trace two boxes of the out-of-production and unobtainable Falcata Spanish Lancers, and these have now arrived safely in the post from Vigo. If this event appears underwhelming, bear in mind that I have never seen any evidence that this set ever made it into production, so I never expected to see such a thing. They also will join the painting queue. There are two "uniforms" in the set, thus - if I ignore the falling man in each box - I should be able to form two units of lancers (one will be Julian Sanchez' Lanceros de Castilla, the other is a much more irregular unit in sombreros). With the leftovers, if I arm them with swords and blunderbusses and generally paint them all the shades of brown in the rainbow, I have the option of producing some mounted guerrilleros. The lancers, by the way, come without lances, so I will have to provide brass wire ones.

Naturally, being a miserable person, I am not tempted to rush out and buy a lottery ticket on the strength of this unaccustomed run of luck, and I am only casually keeping an eye open for meteorites or falling pianos, but it does make you wonder. If someone now comes up with 4 packs of NapoleoN Miniatures British heavy dragoons (in bicorns), plus maybe a couple of their Spanish generals, I will be as near to a happy bunny as makes no difference.

Calloo, callay.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Custom Wargame Dice

Here's an early preview of my new Two-in-One custom dice for wargamers. To be honest, we're still having some teething problems with them.

They are very comfortable in the hand, and are specially designed for those gamers who don't like to get results too quickly. They also have obvious appeal for devotees of Little Wars-style games, since they are ideal for throwing at the enemy's troops.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics - More On-the-Job Training

Russians & Prussians down the right hand side. Terrain is based on the Rolica scenario. I wouldn't drink from that river.

This weekend I finally played my first CCN games with an opponent. Clive - the Old Metal Detector himself - kindly came up to the Land of Mud to help with the action. I even got to see his umbrella, which he brought along.

The CCN game is now sufficiently well established for there to be a good number of players with more experience and better understanding than I have, so there is not a great deal of point in my revealing my findings in great detail, but we did learn a few things.

We fought three battles which were closely based on the first 2 scenarios in the CCN book. I say closely based because:

(1) My hex table has the hexes rotated 60 degrees from the CCN board, and has slightly different proportions. None of this is a big problem, but I am now giving some serious thought to painting CCN-oriented hexes on the reverse side of my war boards, complete with painted-out part-hexes on the edges of the table (don't hold your breath).

(2) Clive brought some lovely vintage Russians and Prussians - mostly Hinton Hunt and Der Kriegspieler - to fight my French army. In the absence of an official GMT national chart for these armies, we defaulted to making their characteristics the same as those for the French.

To finish 3 battles in a day, still able to speak and walk about, is a rare event indeed at my house. We learned a lot, almost all of which is certainly well known to many other players already. The main things were:

(1) The game makes a whole lot more sense with two players. It is an excellent game, though I do not think it is the only game I will ever wish to play.

(2) For players with little experience of CCN, defending is far easier. We decided that attacking needs very good co-ordination of troops (and thus shepherding of suitable cards). In particular, bringing artillery up to support attacks needs a lot of skill.

(3) The limited activation of units, about which I had misgivings, works well. Luck with the fall of the cards helps a lot, but the turns are crisp and logical, and the game seems inherently sensible as you play it through.

(4) It does matter where you place your generals - if you are sloppy about this, a leader may get in the way of one of your fighting units, and he might even be eliminated by enemy attack.

(5) The game works well with miniatures - we had no problems with the rules, though inexperience required us to do a lot of reading of the fine detail of Bonus Combats and so forth. It is vital to make best use of the terrain, and to use troop types to their strengths.

Retrospective edit: Clive now has a couple of very nice slideshows of his photos of these games posted here or here.

Friday, 4 March 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Probability Well

Following comments on a recent posting, I decided to obtain a copy of David Gates' The Spanish Ulcer to replace the one which I sold some years ago, before I had had a chance to read it. I guess I don't really need any more books on the Peninsular War, but this one is well thought of.

I had a scratch around online - there were some used paperbacks for sale here and there, and it was obvious from the price of good hardback copies that the book is in some demand. I was delighted to obtain a decent hardback copy on eBay at a very reasonable price. It arrived this morning, posted from Wigtown, in the bottom left corner of Scotland.

It is an excellent copy - it smells faintly of cigarette smoke, but not upsettingly so. On the front endpaper is my name, dated August 1986.

I sold a large part of my book collection - in the days before eBay - to a dealer in Kelso, in the Scottish Borders. The seller who sold it to me this week says it came from a military collection in East Kilbride, so it has circulated around southern and central Scotland for over a decade. Scotland is not a heavily populated country, but when you consider the events that led up to my decision to purchase, this is still a fairly long shot.

Anyway, it's back, and I am pleased to see it. Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion which brought this about.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Falcata - if you blinked you missed them

My earlier post on Falcata Miniaturas, the Madrid based manufacturer of 1/72 scale white metal Napoleonic figures, has attracted a lot of interest since it appeared - I think it's currently at No.2 in my all time hit list!

I've also had a number of enquiries asking for details of the range, and their current availability. I have to say that I don't really know very much about them. They started production in September 2004 - I am reliably informed that the original intention had been to make the figures in plastic (which makes sense when you see the range of poses), but they opted for white metal - and they seem to have closed the business sometime in 2008. The date is uncertain - supplies to retail outlets stopped, and stock was gradually cleared. Remainder items are hard to find now, though they turn up on eBay from time to time.

The range, sold in packs of 34 castings, was:

FE-01 Spanish Line Infantry

FE-02 Spanish Grenadiers

FE-03 French Infantry

FE-04 British Infantry

FE-05 Spanish Garrocheros & Lanceros de Carmona

FE-06 KGL Heavy Dragoons

and that was as far as they got. Subsequent releases were planned thus:

FE-07 Spanish Guerrilleros
FE-08 Spanish Line Artillery
FE-09 Spanish Hussars
FE-10 British Rifles
FE-11 French Guard Marines [for Baylen?]
FE-12 Polish Guard Lancers [for Somosierra?]
FE-13 British Highlanders

but, sadly, they never appeared.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

My Peninsular War Spanish Armies (1) - Nationalists

If you study a modern English-language history of the Peninsular War - and Charles Esdaile's book is a particularly good example - you get an impression of that conflict which would have been barely recognisable 50 years ago.

It seems unbelievable now, but my original plan for my wargame armies for the Peninsular War had no Spanish troops on either side. Laughable might be a better word. There were reasons. Partly it had to do with the availability of suitable miniatures in the correct scale (20mm or old-fashioned 25mm - basically "1-inch" figures), but it is also true that the overwhelming impression I gained from my reading prior to (say) 1975 was that this was appropriate. I had read and re-read Michael Glover's "Wellington's Victories in the Peninsula", and moved on to his more substantial "The Peninsular War 1807-1814" when it appeared in 1974. Looking at it again today, it is remarkable. Considering that Glover freely acknowledges that his main source was Oman's multi-volume tome, it does make you wonder what happened to all the Spanish bits. The narrative strings together the campaigns of the British troops (with some reference to their integrated Portuguese allies) and of the French armies which were specifically engaged in opposing them. Thus there is only fleeting reference to the other French armies (virtually nothing about the crucial fighting between Suchet and the guerrilla forces in the north, for example), and the Spaniards appear only rarely, and in cartoon form. Cuesta is portrayed as a character straight out of Punch and Judy, and the performances of the Spanish field armies are mentioned only when they support the general themes of incompetence and disorganisation. The cataclysmic Spanish success at Baylen is covered in two short paragraphs, and - to restore balance - Castaños is described as "one of the few Spaniards of talent".

You get the idea. This polarised view of history was supported by Jac Weller's "Wellington in the Peninsula" and by what I had seen of the classic work by Napier. The Spanish guerrillas were effective (if distressingly given to barbaric vengeance), but the real war was between Wellesley/Wellington and the French Army of Portugal. This was the received British view of the Peninsular War.

Because of the shortage of pre-1812 wargame figures, I was pretty much committed to the later stages of the war, and I took Salamanca as my period of choice. Admittedly there were some Spanish troops in the Allied army at Salamanca, but they did not play a major part, I could find little or no reliable information about either their organisation or their dress, and the writings of Messrs Featherstone and Co suggested very strongly that no-one would actually choose to command a Spanish force anyway. So though I did pencil De España's division into my proposed OOB, I had no thoughts really on how to set about recruiting it.

Since my return to wargaming this period in recent years, I find that the histories now give a much wider view, and that it is now generally accepted that the Spaniards did much more than merely providing a location and an excuse for the British and the French to fight each other. I have done a lot of work on researching and building Spanish contingents for both sides, still taking my base year as 1812. It is a lot easier now.

The Nationalist Forces

None of this would ever have been possible if I hadn't obtained a copy of JM Bueno's fine "Uniformes Españoles de la Guerra de Independencia", which is a real reference bible. In the scales I use, only Hinton Hunt and Minifigs (I can use some S-Range figures) made Spanish infantry in the British supplied 1812 uniform. Since I was dissuaded from selling the house to raise funds to purchase HH (which, strictly speaking, are a tad small for me anyway), I managed to collect together enough Minifigs SN1s figures to put together some battalions. Partly this was achieved though some swaps which in some cases amounted almost to acts of charity - I am still very appreciative of everyone who helped. Most of my line units are SN1s, with mounted colonels converted from Art Miniaturen Belgians. The Cazadores de Castilla required a double-breasted coat with British light-infantry style shakos, so Falcata French infantry were fitted with Higgins British LI heads. Because I could not get hold of enough S-Range infantry, I also have a battalion of Warrior figures. They are OK, but I'll replace them if I can get more of the Minifigs. There's something about Warrior - if you measure them they should be reasonably compatible, but somehow they don't look quite right. Also, they always have that lunging stance which causes visitors to say, "Ah - I see you have some Warrior infantry - what unit is that?".

Regiments of Sevilla, 2nd Princesa and Jaen, with, in the foreground, the Tiradores de Castilla (left) and Cazadores de Castilla.

I have also added a battery - the gunners are uniformed in the French style - not least because the castings are NapoleoN French foot artillery. The officer is Art Miniaturen.

My generals are as yet unpainted - they are in the pipeline. I would like to add some cavalry, but am still looking for suitable figures. Warrior do make lancers, but they have a touch of Picasso’s Don Quixote about them which makes it hard for me to take them seriously, and Warrior's own horses are too like Bucephalus to fit in. There were (very briefly) some terrific Falcata lancers, available a couple of years ago, but I missed those (of course).

I'm now working on a militia brigade to add to this organisation - 4 battalions plus a battery. Castings are NapoleoN and more Minifigs S-Range, and I hope to obtain a battalion's-worth of Kennington's 1812 American militia, which look to me like a good prospect for a nation switch. I'll put some pictures up here when the militia are painted and ready for action.