Napoleonic, WSS & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Saturday 31 August 2013

Summer Prize Competition 2013

I’ve been meaning to do something about this for a while, but kept getting distracted. Now the fact that the Summer is starting to look a bit tired here has prompted me to get on with it.

I’ve given up on my previous “place the photo” system – it was fun, but mostly just for me.

Here’s a simpler idea. The overgrown ECW mortar from my previous post looks as if it could do with a name. I know they liked to name their artillery pieces in those days – give them personalities. So let’s go with that.

Here’s what to do – please send me a comment, or email to the address in my Blogger profile, setting out what you think the gunners might have called their mortar, why you think it’s a good name (any personal stories explaining associations are likely to give extra credits), how you think history should record the reason it was given this name and anything else you think might be relevant – or of interest, even if not relevant. Gratuitous profanity (beyond a realistic measure of historically-authentic colour) will lose you marks.

I thank you.

I’ll score any responses entirely subjectively and unfairly, bringing to bear the full weight of my customary, unreasoning prejudice. The sender of the entry which pleases me most will win a prize, plus – of course – a little measure of immortality in the lasting name of the mortar.

Oh yes – the prize. I happen to have an extra, unread copy of Stephen Bull’s most excellent A General Plague of Madness – The Civil Wars in Lancashire 1640-1660 – paperback, 500pp, with maps and illustrations. Highly recommended if, like me, you are interested in the “backwater” areas of the ECW.

Entries will be accepted up until 10th September, or September 10th if you prefer your dates the wrong way round. If there’s anything else I’ve forgotten to stipulate, please just make it up.

Friday 30 August 2013

More ECW Odd-Bods

I've been doing a little more painting - specifically last night, while not watching the Tottenham game. Just a few odd figures which have been waiting around and were beginning to irritate me.

Here's some young chaps proposing to take out Lady Derby's chimney pots once and for all...

...and here's a Royalist general of Foot, with his horse and a minder. The general himself is one of the original Warrior ECW range - definitely not the current ones. Some of these earlier figures are small enough to fit with my 20mm armies.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Danube Trip - Napoleon was never this organised

And still I continue to be amazed.

Now that the first and the third days of our visit to Regensburg are nicely organized (Ingolstadt museum and Abensberg battlefield on Thursday, courtesy of the Director of the town museum, plus a guided tour of the historical sites – and hostelries – of Regensburg itself on the Saturday), I’ve been working on seeing if I could arrange some kind of guided visit to the battlefield at Eggmühl on the Friday.

This is not critical – I have a couple of good guidebooks to the field, and I understand it is laid out in such a way that a knowledgeable visitor can find his way around it. However, our success and good fortune thus far in finding people prepared to go to astonishing lengths to help with our mad trip encouraged me to see if I could just come up with someone prepared to take two total strangers – Anglophones at that – around our battlefield of choice on the single day we have available.


In fact, no credit is due to me at all. The gentleman recommended by the tourist board at Schierling turned out to be unavailable on the date we wanted (imagine – the chap must actually have a life), but he was good enough to email me and say that he had passed the message on, and someone would be in touch shortly. Sure enough, a couple of days ago I got a delightful note from Georg, who does battlefield tours of Eggmühl, asking would we prefer to start at 10:00 or 14:00. We have to meet him at the Gastätte Napoleon, in the centre of the village, and everything will be taken care of.

Georg, it seems, has been doing this for 20 years now, and he will be wearing the uniform of a fusilier of the regiment Graf Preysing. Yes – that’s right. For a brief instant, the imp of perversity whispered to me that I should email Georg and ask how we would recognize him, but some jokes do not translate well, so I thought better of it.

Georg, in uniform, with some French visitors
So Regensburg is organized. I have never come across such helpful people, nor such enthusiastic, humbling kindness. Just astonishing.

We have agreed that the Vienna leg of our trip will be rather less regimented, but we are working on a wish list of things we would like to see.

I’m getting nervous. Things are going too well – you know the feeling?

Monday 26 August 2013

Bethell's Horse

Another new Parliamentarian regiment of Horse - this one is Colonel Hugh Bethell's Regiment. I painted these myself, so they are probably not up to the usual standard. Thanks to Lee for consultancy and spare pots of buff paint(!).

They don't have a flag yet - there are another 3 units of horse coming shortly, so they can all get their flags together. This is not just for time management purposes - it is so hard to get single-coated (i.e. coated on one side) lightweight, photo quality inkjet paper these days that I am now reduced to printing around the edges of old sheets bearing extra copies of Napoleonic flags I've done previously. Thus all at the same time will save paper as well. [Another useful environment-saving and penny-scrounging tip from MSF]

All I know about Bethell is that he came from Rise, in Yorkshire. The family home, Rise Hall, is still standing, though not in its 17th Century form, and is owned by Sarah Beeny - property developer and TV celeb. I read (with interest, naturally, since I am a great follower of celebs) that she and her husband found it a bit large for a weekend retreat (97 rooms), so they have had it smartened up and it is now available for wedding hire.

Rise Hall
How lovely. Please form an orderly queue.

I think I may have digressed a bit there.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Sappers & Miners

I’ve been having another good rummage in the spares boxes, to see what I should be doing when the ECW calms down a bit. I found the plastic box labeled Sappers & Engineers, and this reminded me of some holes in my Peninsular OOB. [I’ve already sounded out a few friends on this topic already, so if this post looks familiar you must be one of these friends…]

For the French, I have a natty little provisional unit of infantry sapeurs, who are a mixture of Falcata and Kennington, and some interesting little companies of fellows in full siege gear, with cuirasses and helmets and wheelbarrows and all sorts. This latter group is a mixture of LW and Strelets plastics, very kindly painted and donated by Clive when he came up here to try out my siege game a couple of years ago. You will notice that my engineering figures are individually based, and based on a handsome shade of two-tone mud, which seemed a good idea at the time.

[I had a look, and found Clive's excellent slideshow of that siege play test here - really enjoyed the nostalgia trip. Recommended.] 

I also have a team of pontonniers, from the mysterious Finescale Factory (also given to me by Clive), but I have never got around to assembling and painting them yet – I will, though…

The British are not in good shape, in comparison. I have a number of half naked labourers in plastic, who started life as British sailors, and I have collected enough infantry pioneers to make a unit similar to the French sappers, though they need painting and finishing. My original plan was to use the Minifigs S-Range BN55s for the pioneers, but that is such a weedy figure that, though I have enough, I have decided instead to use the later, intermediate-range Minifig, who is appropriately burly and rather more pleasing.

That’s it. I have no diggers or tunnellers or anything for the Brits. No-one, as far as I know, makes suitable RSM figures in 1/72 or 20mm scale. Old John has suggested a uniformed British infantryman without weapons which he can supply, which could be converted to carry picks, axes, shovels etc, and I have some packs of HO model railway workmen’s tools which could provide a barrow, so that is very interesting, but proper RSM chaps in short-tail jackets and silly hats would be a real find. I’m surprised that there is nothing of the sort available in plastic.

Anyone been down this road before? Are there 20mm engineering figures for a different period which would fit the bill, or which could be converted?

I know that the current Minifigs range includes a nice little working party of British engineers, but they are well out of scale, and I understand the S-Range never had an equivalent set.

Not a problem, but an interesting little itch that needs scratching. I am also reminded that I really must dust off the siege game and have another bash at it.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Hooptedoodle #94 - Art, Big Sticks & The French Revolution

Last night I went  with some old friends for my annual token evening of culture at the Edinburgh Festival. This year's extravaganza was a remarkable Chinese performance of Coriolanus, featuring some of China's greatest actors and two of their top heavy metal bands. Yes - that's right.

It was not one of our great choices. The first half consisted mostly of crowd scenes, with a surprising number of people charging about, banging big sticks on the ground and shouting. Chinese acting seems to involve a lot of shouting. There were English subtitles, but they did not run very evenly, they involved enough typing errors to distract my feeble attention, and the screens were smallish, and deployed far enough from the action to require an uncomfortable amount of head rotation.

About halfway through the first act, I began to wonder whether it would spoil everyone's evening if I committed suicide. However, I stuck with it, and the second act was much better. It was still bloody heavy going, but it was better. I felt somehow stronger and cleaner for the experience when it was all over.

The bands were rubbish, by the way.

We had a very good dinner beforehand, and our conversation involved reference to some great favourites of mine from previous years at the Fringe - the National Theatre of Brent. This splendid company had (has?) a full company of two people, and they used to be noted for spectacular productions - for example "Zulu", with a cast of two. They occasionally performed their works in a taxi, and for a while they experimented with putting on shows in people's homes - you could invite them to your house and they would act out your film of choice, in their trademark style. Legend has it that their repertoire included "Tora Tora Tora" and "Gone with the Wind" - I wish I'd seen some of this.

Anyway, if you are not familiar with the National Theatre of Brent, here is one of their more ambitious projects - The French Revolution - a TV production dating from 1989, for some anniversary or other. I hope you enjoy it, but if you find it too long (at 53 minutes), too British (which can't be helped) or insufficiently funny (which may, in fact, be the whole point), please do feel free to switch it off and spend the time doing something more useful.

If you have never been confident about the true story of the Revolution, this is strongly recommended. This blog must be getting close to being a resource - awesome.

Monday 19 August 2013

More on Spanish Cavalry Standards

Following comments and emails received as a result of my little post on Spanish cavalry flags, here's a little more evidence. These are taken from Jose-Maria Bueno's Uniformes Militares Espanoles - El Exercito y la Armada en 1808.

I reproduce these without any permission - I own the book, and they are offered here for purposes of private study(!) - if anyone is offended or compromised please shout and I'll delete the post.

With apologies for my rather approximate grasp of Spanish, I translate part of the second excerpt thus:

By a Royal Ordnance of 1768 the regiments of cavalry of the guard, of dragoons and of line and light cavalry were to employ banners of damask or velvet of colour blue, red or white according to the regiment, with the royal arms embroidered in relief in gold or silver on the obverse, and the insignia of each regiment on the reverse. In the 4 corners, embroidered in gold or silver, fleurs-de-lys [Bourbon symbol].

Cravats for all standards and flags to be red, for this is the national symbol.

Spearheads, fringes, cords and braid of the pole were also to be gold and silver, according to the lace of each regiment. The lance or pole to be covered with crimson fabric or velvet.

These regulations lasted until 1833, so were still in force in the period of our study.

Bueno's book is obviously not the Bible, but he is regarded as a serious authority - especially by me. His work was published in 1982, which is a year or two after Terry and I were scratching around in the dark!

The text for Fig.156 suggests that the various squadrons of this regiment had different coloured flags - white for the first squadron, red for the remainder. All just clues, remember. Sadly, the passing years, countless generations of moths and the occasional political upheaval have removed most of the actual evidence.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Home Brewed Flags - Spanish Cavalry

Since my newly arrived Spanish light cavalry units have standard bearers - which is extremely unusual for my Napoleonic cavalry - I've had to make an effort to find out a bit more about the subject.

After an amusing afternoon playing around with PaintShop Pro, I've produced a couple of original efforts. I am not overly thrilled by the quality, but I believe that the real things were about 85cm high - you may include or exclude the fringes as you wish - so at approximately 1/72 scale they should print up OK. If they are of interest, please feel free to download and use them, but bear in mind that they are pretty much guesswork. The first one bears the arms of Merida (a town in Estremadura) and the second the royal seal of Ferdinand VII.

If anyone wishes to come up with the genuine regimental standard of the Husares de Estremadura and the Cazadores Voluntarios de Espana then I'll be delighted to use those instead!

Saturday 17 August 2013

Hooptedoodle #93 - Trending with Bernard

I am quite a fan of Spotify, the online music service – so much so that I actually pay for it, and I don’t know many people who do that. Thus I find it a little disappointing that Spotify is trying to condition me. I almost feel a bit betrayed.

See what your friends have been listening to, it urges.

Why on earth would I want to do that? Not so much because I don’t actually have friends, I hasten to add, but because, though I really hope my friends are enjoying their choice of music, I am not likely to be influenced one way or the other. And just a minute – what friends are these? Does it know who my friends are? I get a faint whiff of decaying spam – is it possible that Facebook is involved somewhere here?

Ah yes – social networking. How nice.

Maria Seadyke is trending near you, says Spotify.

Who? – who is doing what?

You recently listened to Mantovani, says Spotify, why don’t you have a listen to Beethoven?

Well now, I don’t believe I have heard or even thought about Mantovani in forty years, and any connection with Beethoven seems a bit – how do you say? – oblique. This is an area where Spotify really goes to town on being helpful. The links for the suggestions are certainly lateral – tenuous to the point of blatant stupidity, though it may be ungracious of me to put it like that.

You listened to Loudon Wainwright III, it says – you might like Leadbelly.

Well in fact I do like Leadbelly – in fairly short bursts  - but any possible similarity to LW3 eludes me, apart from the fact that they are/were both men who play guitar and sing. Just as mystifyingly, I find that Spotify seems to associate Otis Redding with Louis Armstrong, James Taylor with Richie Havens, Fleetwood Mac with Mud (that’s a very strange one – does anyone remember Mud?) and Thomas Newman with Samuel Barber.

My first reaction to this was that it must be some kind of expert system, something which interprets real marketing data and makes predictions based on what it has learned, but I have come to doubt it. I can’t believe that any expert system of this type would be quite so spectacularly dumb. I have decided (privately, like – for my own amusement) that these helpful suggestions for improving my quality of life are produced by a real intelligence – someone who has my best interests at heart. I find that I have attached a sort of personality to this being – I call him Bernard. No matter if he is a robot. I have come to spot signs of evidence of the presence of Bernard with something approaching affection. That he is rather a stupid robot makes him even more likeable – he even gets a sympathy vote.

Ah – there you are, Bernard, I say as I am informed that some punter named Jessie has uploaded a personal playlist which might interest me. How are you this morning? How’s the moonlighting going?

Because, you see, I have become aware that Bernard works for other online firms as well.

eBay, for a start, informs me that people who, like me, recently bought a bag of 27 broken lead soldiers from the 1960s also bought a vintage map of Leeds and a replacement exhaust pipe for a Vauxhall Astra. That has to be Bernard – you can recognize his style. Nice one, Bernard – that was good even by your high standards.

On Amazon, he has blossomed into a full email service.

Since you recently bought a book from us, says Amazon [come on, Bernard, that’s a bit broad – you can do better than that], you may be interested in the new best-selling paperback that Jeffrey Archer is about to dump on us [no – I told you it was too broad].

Or one of my favourites: We hope you enjoyed your recent purchase of “Campaigning for Napoleon” by Maurice de Tascher, and thought you might be interested in “Campaigning for Napoleon” by Maurice de Tascher.

Excellent – that’s really good, Bernard. I know you’re there – it comforts me, warms my heart, to know that you are still watching over us in this harsh, cruel world.

Mind you, there are some things that Bernard does which I haven’t quite got the hang of yet. No doubt I’ll come to appreciate these as well, but I’m still thinking about them. I just have to trust in him, I suppose. Recently I was looking in Amazon for books by Alan Bennett and by Charles J Esdaile (which makes me wonder what Bernard would make of that for a combo). As it happens, I didn’t buy anything, but within a day or two my spam filter caught emails from both of these gentlemen, asking me to be their friend on Facebook. As far as I know, Prof Esdaile is alive and well and probably writing another six books on the same topic as I sit here, but Alan Bennett is certainly as dead as the proverbial flightless bird from Mauritius, east of Madagascar (as opposed to Mauritius, Lancs).

Bernard, was that you? I’m not at all sure about that one. That maybe wasn’t in the best of taste. And while I’m thinking about it, was that you that spotted my search for the Conde de Penne Villemur on Google yesterday, and put adverts for pasta products on the screen when I visited Amazon later in the day? That was pretty clever, but please don’t do it again. And what are all these ads on my email browser for mature women in Thailand? – how am I going to explain those?

It’ll all be fine – I know it will. Bernard will sort it all out.