Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Reading List

Earlier this week I finished Robert Malcomson's A Capital in Flames.

This books is highly recommended- great details and well written.  The battle of York doesn't get a lot of attention, mostly because it was a disappointment for both sides.

The Americans took the town and got away with a bunch of stores and equipment, but failed to cripple the British lake squadron or deliver a major blow to the army.  They executed a well organized landing and defeated the defending forces, but lost 200 men and their leader in a magazine explosion.

On the British side, they prevented the capture of the warship under construction by burning it and the regulars got away to fight another day.  However, they lost the use of the warship themselves and had the town burnt and some stores.  The sight of the redcoats retiring in good order and leaving the town to the mercy of the invaders left a lot of bad blood and cost General Sheaffe his job ()even if he made the right decision militarily).

However, there's lots of potential for a good landing scenario here and it could be expanded to give the defenders the objectives of getting the stores and army away safely.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Games Night and Painting

I made it to the monthly games night again this weekend and played 3 board games.  The first was a tile/path game with a Japanese theme.  It turned out that I tied for first wince the game was constructed in a way that did not always allow for a clear winner.  If the game had 36 tiles instead of 35, there would have been a winner but the list on contents clearly showed that there were only 35 tiles to fit a 6*6 grid.  There war some interesting minutes searching through the box and around the floor looking for tile #36 before we reread the rule book!

I also played two games of 1812, both times I played the US.  I got my butt badly kicked in the first game by not protecting Pittsburg (one of my reinforcement points) and because the Brits took a wild flyer to attack it!  For the second game, we used the 1813 set up instead of the 1812 set up.  This had the brits occupy Detroit and Ogdensburg while the Yanks had Fort George and York.  There's an obvious time line problem there as the troops and ships used to take Ft George were the same ones used to sack York and then run away!  But oh well it gave a good game and it ended up as a tie.

1812 works well as a 3 or 4 person game too - there are 2 US forces (regulars and militia) that can be played separately.  On the Brit side there are 3 forces - Regulars, Canadian militia and native americans.  it worked well with 2 players taking the brits and militia and sharing the native forces.

On the painting front the 13th US Infantry is nearing completion so I'm looking ahead to figure out he next US regiment to paint.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Easy Bit Done - Now for the Hard Bit

On the final stages of the painting assembly line are 3 eight man companies of the 49th Foot and one from the Glengarry Regiment Light Infantry Fencibles (GLIF).  All of these were taken straight up from the Perry Napoleonic British Infantry plastic box set.  The 49th wear the stovepipe and white trousers (grey might be more historic but less attractive) and the GLIF are the rifles figures except that I have not tried to replace the Baker rifles with muskets.  These chaps were actually pictured in an earlier post as the 60th Rifles, but have since had their red facings traded for black.

Next up the quagmire of uniforms for Yankee regulars.  Both the official regulation shakos and the jackets changed during 1813, and worse still many regiments made do with what was available.  In most cases, simple work with Xacto and brush will convert the Perry plastic Brits to US regiments.   But which particular set of uniform pieces to go with?

After some hhhmming and hawing I decided to go with Lake Ontario and the upper St Lawrence river theatres in 1813.  This lets me take in York, Sacket's Harbour, Fort George, Stoney Creek and Crysler's Farm.  That most leaves my regulars in the old (laced) jacket and stovepipe shako, meaning Xacto work is limited.  Some units will appear with a laceless jacket and/or mock-belgic shako.

So to make life even easier I went with the 13th US Infantry in laced jacket and stovepipe (although I have at least one illustration of them in the belgic).  This unit fought well and was noted as being well equipped.  Plus who can resist unlucky 13?

Naval Warfare Blog

There's an interesting post today at naval warfare , covering the Italian Battleship Roma.  Her history is covered in full on the blog, but her most noteworthy action was being sunk by a German guided missile while trying to surrender.  There's a lot of interesting photos, including several of her last moments.

Monday, May 21, 2012

More Reading for 1812

Highly recommended, a very coherent account of a not so coherent action!

Worth the read but not in the same league as the Graves and Malcomson books.  It was a very confused action - a night attack on a camp, with both US generals captured and the British CinC gone missing!  Some good stuff on Stoney Creek and the landings at Fort George, but lacks the overall flow of the other authors (IMHO).

Next up is Malcomson's book on the burning of York (seeing Toronto get burnt - the dream of many Canadians).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

1812 Diversions

The War of 1812 is luring me with a siren call.  I'm back to painting Perry plastic Napoleonics as the 49th Foot (the Green Tigers) and working out which combination of US army uniforms to go with for the opposition.  Meanwhile, I've been raiding 3 libraries for 1812 material (mine, the Regina Public and the University of Regina).  Best pickings to date at the UofR since they teach Canadian history and I get extended borrowing privileges as a faculty member.

Recommended reading so far

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Skype's Creek Pt2

Photos taken over Skype showing the battle progressing, while Ross' cat gets bored and wanders off.  One company of the 4th Infantry landed close to the battery and managed to get in among the gunners before they could get more than 1 shot off.  Meanwhile a US Naval landing party took the stone house and destroyed the company of defenders as they ran off.

On the left flank the 19th US landed up river of the bridge.  One company took the redoubt (in the second attempt) while the second took a defensive position to block the expected reaction.  BY the time this shot was taken, redcoats are advancing down the road while Indians in the centre and cleverly taking advantage of cover provided by the Cat's tail!

Over on the right the 4th US has one company in the battery (about to be seen off by Canadian militia) and a second in the stone house.  The naval landing party is looting bodies, drinking run and celebrating their adventures in the enclosure.  Meanwhile the 17th US and 5th New York are in the process of landing.

Having lost their cover the Indians advance to fire at close range on the US Infantry working at dismantling the bridge.  The redcoats are getting close to our left and a few die hard grenadiers can be seen in the woods on the shore.

The US left flank collapses as the 19th US is done in by a charge from the red coats.  The NY militia is advancing to reinforce the flank but will be late.

Action at Skype's Creek pt 1

A better shot of the battlefield prior to the American landing in support of their oppressed brethren in Upper Canada.  Two companies of regulars plus one landing party of sailors were allocated to land on the beach in front of the stone house, while two more companies of regulars ware to land upstream (to the left) of the bridge.  Defenders included a company of Kings foot in the stone house, a half company in a redoubt by the bridge and a siege gun in the battery.  reinforcements could be expected to arrive from he north (along the road to the right of the house) and south (along the road to the bridge) with Indians rumoured be in the woods.  I had two more companies of regulars plus three of militia on the home shores ready to cross when the battery was silenced.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Frenchman's Creek - Recon

I received the following sketch of the Canadian shore of the Niagara River in the area of Frenchman's Creek.  The road follows the shore from Chippewa, Queenston and Ft George (to the north off the bottom of the picture) over the creek at the bridge (just visible) and then to Fort Erie to the south.  The river flows towards the camera angle from south to north.

 My orders are to burn the bridge over the creek and capture the redoubt.  We'll see how this plays out.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Mea Cupla

I don't know about the rest of the planet, but it's mother's day here in North America.  Now I know that most of the people who will read this aren't mothers, but I suspect that most have mothers and many are married with kids of some age.  Therefore do your manly bit and enjoy the day giving your mum or spouse the royal treatment.   Or at least don't do what I did!

My daughter plays in youth orchestra that uses Bingo fund raising to pay for some costs (the parents out there are rolling their eyes knowingly).  Back in the winter, our bingo coordinator asked if I could run the bingo on May 13th so that he could spend his anniversary with his wife.  At the time May was a long way off, and it was way too early to even know what our calendar would look like in  May.  But, it was after the end of term and I could afford to be groggy on a Monday morning - so I said "sure".  Fast forward to the first of May and we flip the calendar page over and write down the commitments for the month - and hey look dad has us working late night bingo on Mother's day!

Just to be clear, the orchestra bingo's are almost always Sunday nights and almost always the late night program.  So yes we start coating bingo cards at 7:30, start selling them at 9:30 and the last card will be played around 12:30 or 1am.  So you ask who in their right mind plays bingo at 1 am on a Sunday night and on Mother's day of all day.  Well I let you know tomorrow, but my guess is that I'll know most of them by sight (from past bingo nights) and that many of them will bring their mums.

Meanwhile, I'll be out in the dog house wit jsmilesr !

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bloggers in Print

I got my electronic copy of Battle Games yesterday, and found a very well written article on figure painting.  I found myself alternating between thoughts of "hey this guy does what I do" and "dang those figures and bottle cap thingies look familiar".  When I got to the bottom of the article I found out why everything looked so familiar - the author and painter was Stokes from

Well done Stokes, lots of good advice.  I follow some of the same rules - a white base coat, thinned down acrylics and washes.  I employ the two feet rule - if needs to look good from 2 feet away.  Things have been silent from the Duchy of late, I suspect it's end of term crunch for him but I'm looking forward to more.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Attention Spans - I Should Get Me One of Those

Ok I know I've been hopping about like a hamster that's been nibbling chocolate covered espresso beans, but this time there's a better reason than most....

Following up on my 1812 game last week, I've been contact with an urgent request (his words not mine) for plastic figure suppliers to refight 1812 battles.  So I did my research and sent him a list of alternatives (in 3 scales of course).  But it got me thinking (and I'm sure you know where that trail of thought led).....

Ok I have some Perry Napoleonics painted and unpainted, and one could do pretty much any infantry unit in uniforms with the contents of a Perry box of brit infantry.  Victrix does Brit artillery which will do for Yanks as well (once I borrow SYW cannons for them to crew) and I figure that I can convert the Perry french dragoons into both sides light dragoons (with the Xacto for the Yanks and with a Victrix French shako for the Brits).  And hey the frontiersmen and Indians transfer over from FIW, and Victrix makes heads in round hats for marines and US militia, and...

Ok somebody hit me now!