Tuesday 30 December 2008

4th Grenadier Battalion

Another more unusual unit that I had to prepare for the Long Island game was the 4th combined grenadier battalion. This was comprised of highlanders from the 42nd Foot and the 71st Foot. Given the 3 battalions of the latter regiment, the strength of the regiment was some 320 men in 4 companies. Although brigaded historically with the other grenadier battalions, in the Long Island game this unit was detached and added to the main British attack (I forget in which brigade). It was the Perry charging highlander figures that first tweaked my interest in this period; I think the faces have some of the finest expressions that Alan Perry has made. Whilst I know some readers will wince at the full plaid (hi Bob!), you can't deny that a full battalion of charging jocks in highland dress is a stirring sight.

I originally painted a 6-figure base of 42nd grenadiers in 2004 and then added a couple more 4-figure bases a year or so later, another 42nd and one for the 71st. For this unit I rebased them all and generally smartened them up a bit. Noting that I had too many Black Watch and insufficient Fraser's, I repainted the facings of 4 figures to bring them within the 71st. I then had to paint a further 2 figures from scratch. As a result, one base contains the earliest Brits I ever painted for the AWI from 4 years ago and the most recent from October (see the close-ups below)! The difference in painting style is most apparent in the faces - back in 2004 I was using the "black eyeliner" method for painting eyes. I changed from that a year later, as it seemed to me that all my figures looked as if they'd just had a make-up trial at Selfridges. Since then I paint eyes by painting the whole face in the flesh base colour, adding a dark brown wash to pick out the eye sockets, painting white eyeballs and finally adding black pupils and, if appropriate, top eyelids; I think this looks a bit more natural that painting the eyes in black and then adding white etc. Half the figures have a black stripe in their tartan and the others have red - this is an attempt to divide the figures into the first and second battalions of their respective regiments. I have no idea if this is in any way correct - some references I have seen to AWI/government sett tartan state that grenadiers had a red stripe whilst others say they had black.

These chaps did well at the Long Island game, making it into the Brooklyn lines before being thrown out shortly thereafter. For the "British Grenadier!" later Monmouth scenario, which requires two grenadier units of a staggering 32-figures each, this unit will be combined with the 16-figure 3rd Grenadiers. My "1st Grenadiers" is only 24 figures strong (see here), so at some stage I will need to add 8 more figures to it. As I've noted before, you don't need so many grenadiers for most AWI scenarios; one unit of 20-24 figures will suffice for most engagements. Still, you can't quite beat a full battalion of highlanders in full plaid....

16 figures. Painted various times from 2004-October 2008.

Friday 19 December 2008

British Light Infantry (2)

I actually have three battalions of light infantry, two of which are "doubled-up" in both close and skirmish order. I have found with practical gaming experience, however, that one usually uses light infantry as elite "shock" troops and that units tend to remain in close order on the tabletop. This battalion was painted up for the Long Island game as the 3rd battalion in Brigadier General Alexander Leslie's light infantry brigade (which at 1:20 has 3 units of 20, 20 and 16 figures respectively). The 3rd battalion comprised the light infantry companies from the following regiments: 15th, 28th, 33rd, 37th, 46th, 54th and 57th.

The battalion had taken part in Clinton's unsuccessful attack on Charleston. It was commanded by Major The Hon. John Maitland, who seems to have been either from the 71st Foot or the Marines. This in fact makes no difference as both regiments had white facings. So the commanding officer is painted as Maitland in the white facings of whatever regiment he belonged to! The rank and file are in campaign dress of roundabouts and slouch hats rather than Royal Warrant uniform because I thought the former more appropriate to a unit that had just arrived from the Carolinas. Another reason is that this campaign outfit is much quicker to paint....

Many thanks again to Brendan Morrissey for his help with information on this battalion, in particular its commanding officer.

16 figures. Painted October 2008.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

72nd Ligne (1)

I have fallen behind in posting photos of the units I painted in October for the Long Island game, largely because of work but also a lack of decent photos! So whilst I had hoped to maintain chronological integrity in my postings, I am leaping forward to November, leaving behind for later use three lots of pics of AWI stuff I painted in October. After the Long Island game I decided to see how many Perry Napoleonic French, both plastic and metal, I could paint in a month. The result was "34", a little down on what I might reasonably have expected, but enough for just over a battalion's worth. I chose the 72nd Ligne (of Campi's brigade) because I have always been drawn to the Quatre Bras orbat and I wanted battalions that in 1:20 ratio equated to 24 figures (I can't face units of 36 figures, plus skirmishers). So here they are, the second battalion of the 72nd Ligne.

This battalion is a mix of plastic and metal figures. The plastic figures require minimal assembly; in most cases, i.e. for all the attack march poses, you just need to affix the backpack/cartridge case - you need to ensure that you choose the correct ones for figures wearing greatcoats and the flank companies (the former don't require the rolled-up greatcoat, whilst the latter need the short sword). The drummer, officer and skirmishers need more work. The only figure I had difficulty with was the firing voltiguer - it's difficult to get him to fire level, and instead looks as if he's shooting at something in the sky (or a mounted officer?). You can then do head swaps - there are plenty of spare heads with different headgear, battered shakos, "enthusiastic" expressions etc. These include the collars are very easy to affix to the figures, although again you have to ensure that you don't put a greatcoated head on a habit-veste figure etc (I'm sure there is a difference - the greatcoat collars are larger, and this can be seen on the spare heads). The generic nature of the backpack items leads to a couple of anomolies. All the cartridge cases have a pokalem attached - which makes no sense if you use the heads that are wearing pokalems. The cartridge cases do not have any company distinctions, but you can paint those on.

As for the sculpting, there is a slight loss of definition along the sides and the detail is not as crisp as with metals (as you'd expect). I had an undercoat disaster on my first batch of figures, in which I oversprayed and the paint erased much of the detail. But even with the loss of detail suffered as a result I was still pleased with how the figures looked. Occasionally I had to guess where a cross belt should have gone, but generally these figures paint up very well. The faces, in particular, are very well sculpted. The metal figures are pretty easy to spot once you notice the things they have that plastics don't! The mud effect on the trousers was applied largely with pastels, which have the advantage of "running" when varnish is applied, so resulting in quite a pleasing effect.

Aside from the fact that the metal figures have far larger bayonets and are a bit thinner across the front, the only significant uniform difference between the metals and the plastics is that the former have "2nd/3rd battalion" disc pompons on their shakos whilst the latter have "1st battalion" solid pompons. This is my main quandary - do you just paint everything in a solid colour and forget about the battalion distinctions? I suspect that's easier, although you could of course use the plastics for first battalions and metals for other battalions.

But all in all, these are lovely figures. They paint like a dream, cost about 35 pence each and have just the right amount of detail. The speed with which you can paint them means that units can be built up double-quick, which, frankly, is what counts most when building up Napoleon's armies . So why buy anything else? And as for the all-important question of whether I preferred painting the plastic Frenchies to the metal ones.....it's no contest - I preferred the plastics, and I never thought I'd ever say that. The second battalion is progressing nicely, with half completed now. Any readers who despair that I have been seduced by the Dark Side of Naps may like to know that the 9th Foot, in its Saratoga uniform, is well under way as well...

28 figures. Painted November 2008. Flag by GMB.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Smallwood's Marylanders

The Maryland Battalion was formed in January 1776 as the state's contribution to the Continental Army; it consisted of 3 companies from Baltimore and 6 from Annapolis. It was commanded by William Smallwood (1732-92), a prominent local politician and F&IW veteran who ran a tobacco plantation on the Potomac. In December 1776 a further 6 battalions of Maryland troops were raised and Smallwood's unit was redesignated the 1st Maryland Regiment. The regiment fought at Long Island, White Plains (at which Smallwood was wounded), Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, and then campaigned in the south until it was disbanded in 1783. Smallwood ended the war as a Major General, apparently the highest promoted Marylander in the army. He went on to be the fourth governor of Maryland and a senator. The regiment distinguished itself at Long Island in August 1776. Itwas assigned to the brigade of William Alexander, Lord Sterling, along with the Delaware Battalion of John Haslet, and was instrumental in holding up the British advance to allow the rest of the American army to escape.

I painted a "1st Maryland" a few years ago, in blue faced red coats. However, that seems to be the regiment's 1777 uniform and in 1776 Smallwood's men were recorded as wearing tan hunting shirts over buff breeches, with officers in red coats faced buff. Given the unit's distinctive uniform, I decided to paint it up for the Long Island game. The orbat required 24 figures but by using the rank and file I had already painted for the 1st and 2nd North Carolina I only needed a further 8 hunting shirt types and then the command figures in their red faced buff coats. There is an excellent painting of the regiment fighting at Gowanus in the "New York 1776" Osprey Campaign book, and this was the look I wanted to capture. So I added a casualty and used officer figures who look as if they are trying to calm down and reassure the men. The chap with the spontoon is in fact a Foundry British officer. The flag is home made and is based on the family arms of Lord Baltimore. There is evidence that this flag was used for the state from the 1600s until the AWI (see here). There were other options, but this black and yellow lozenge design is very distinctive and certainly stood out on the table! Many thanks to Brendan Morrissey for his help with the uniform and flag details of this unit.

So, given the "1st Maryland" I painted a while ago, these 12 figures represent the first AWI regiment that I have painted twice, in its 1776 and 1777 incarnations. I noted a few posts ago that the range of 25mm figures now available means that you can model reasonably accurate armies for specific years of the war; a Continental Army of 1776 will look rather different to its 1777/78 equivalent and you can, if you want, use a different mix of figures for each army (and if you want a summer 1778 Continental Army you should probably have them all in shirt sleeves!) . So I may have to revisit the notion that I have "enough" American regiments...

12 figures. Painted October 2008.