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

Saturday 25 February 2023

Battle Research - A Meeting with an Old Friend

 In my studies to put together a scenario for my forthcoming Battle of Orthez, I was recommended to have a look at a book by Major-General FC Beatson, published in 1925.

Now, as it happens, this book was one of a number of old hardbound volumes I once had, all previously the property of the library at Wellington School. They were pretty dirty, and they smelled of cigarette smoke and mildew and were generally unappetising. There came a time when I had to unload a lot of books - the collection had got out of hand, partly as a result of my working for a while just around the corner from the legendary MacNaughton's Book Shop, in Leith Walk, Edinburgh. The Beatson books didn't look particularly inspiring, and they went out in the clearance.

Well, I found that some of Beatson's back catalogue is now available on Kindle, so I bought this one for about £4.

You know what? - it's bloody good. It is deliberately aimed at officer trainees, and Beatson's rather eccentric use of punctuation takes a little getting used to, but it contains just the sort of nuts and bolts stuff about the organisation and narrative of a campaign that I thrive on, though it is definitely a product of its time and would probably chase most sensible readers away very quickly.

There is excellent material on routing the supply trains as the army moved north into France, and a lot of detail on the political difficulties caused by the confrontation between British officials and the Spanish Cortes. Being a Kindle edition, of course, the photos and maps have disappeared, but I can cover for that. 

It seems that Naval & Military stock a complete Beatson trilogy of Wellington's 1814 adventures, so you can still get them. I'm sure I had another volume, on Waterloo, but my personal legacy of Wellington School's military section included Fuller and a few others, so I may be mistaken about this.


With all due apologies to the Major-General for not being sufficiently respectful last time round, I am enjoying my new Kindle book.

Friday 24 February 2023

Rumblings: Forthcoming Game - Orthez

I have a face-to-face wargame scheduled here for 8th March, which will be my first live 4-handed game for a couple of years, so I'm working on the scenario and the game details in preparation for that. It is to be the Battle of Orthez (27 Feb 1814), and I'm looking forward to it. Orthez, right at the tail end of the Peninsular War, is not quite my usual period, so I've been doing a lot of reading to get up to speed, and have enjoyed this. Should be a very decent game, I think. 

This blog has been quiet lately, and I've had a few kind emails from friends wondering whether I have, in fact, died, so I am pleased to announce that I am still around. I regret to say I've been struggling with depression since the New Year - not an unfamiliar companion - and have been deliberately keeping a low profile, but I like to think things are improving, and today's sunshine does no harm at all. I've been sort of waiting until I have something to say!

Sunday 5 February 2023

Hooptedoodle #438 - Balloon of the Month?


I promised myself I would not get involved in any further political noises here, but I am sufficiently shaken by a recent article in the Sunday Telegraph to break my own ruling. Just this once, mind.

The person in the second photo may seem familiar to you. If you can't quite remember the name, or if it seems now like some fleeting practical joke which lost news value very quickly, I must (reluctantly) remind you that this person was - unbelievably - the shortest-lived UK Prime Minister in history. That's right - the one whose primary mission, as far as I can detect, was to make her immediate predecessor look rather less stupid in comparison.

Let us not dwell on the impact her brief stardom had on markets and the cost of borrowing. Although she seems intent on establishing a career as a public speaker (I hope she's very cheap), she has been pretty quiet since her dismissal, but she has now gone into print to claim that she was right, after all, and the world was too dumb to understand.

In particular, she has coined a bogey-man term which is new to me - she has blamed her failure on "the left-wing economic establishment". This is heavy stuff - something new for her readers to tremble at. I suspect that her use of "left-wing" in this context is a rather specialised one, meaning "having a shred of decency", but I hasten to add that I do not wish to know what it is intended to mean, and that I don't want anyone to damage what is left of their mental health by trying to make sense of it.

I am reluctant to post this, and will probably not publish any comments, but I feel obliged to make the point that, if I had a recent history as spectacularly embarrassing as hers, I would be hiding somewhere very obscure. I would not be waiting for Mr Sunak's downfall as an opportunity to leap back into the limelight.

I hope she keeps very quiet and just goes away. If the good citizens of Norwich are happy to keep her as their elected MP, then God bless them. If not, they know what to do about it.