Friday, 6 November 2009

First Galloping Major figures ordered

Friends under fire by Robert Griffing

Well, although the last thing I need is another wargames period I have just given in and ordered a couple of packs from Galloping Major's French Indian War range. Some Canadian Militia and some Mohawks (or, rather, Kanienkehaka, as my Canadian First Nations Aboriginal contacts would no doubt prefer).

I have also just discovered the wonderful paintings of Robert Griffing, an artist from Pennsylvania who concentrates on painting scenes featuring the Eastern Woodland Indian in the eighteenth century. His paintings will help a great deal on colour schemes for the figures. Looking forward to them already!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Flintlock and Tomahawk Blog

More Ronald Embleton marvellousness!

Lance Cawkwell from Galloping Major Wargames has just made me aware of Ralphus' excellent blog Flintlock and Tomahawk, which I hadn't seen before. Trully excellent stuff.

The greens of the new Galloping Major Rangers are really enticing! I'm not going to be able to resist these. I'm on my seventh day in Canada and coming here always makes me want to get some figures onto a board full of evergreen trees!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Rogers' Rangers and the French Indian War

Rogers' Rangers by Ronald Embleton

A year or two ago I bought from someone at Guildford all of Conquest Miniatures superb French and Indian War figures, although new releases for this range seem to have, sadly, dried up. I am very pleased to see, therefore, that a new company called Galloping Major Wargames is looking to do the French and Indian War in depth. I don't have any of the GMW figures yet so can't compare them to Conquest but they look pretty good whilst perhaps not reaching Conquest's standard (which really are superb). All I want from a firm doing this period are Indians, regulars and irregulars but no one out there has achieved this yet in an acceptable (to me) style.

It's interesting to note that my interest in the period originated from the same two influences as noted on the Galloping Major website.

Firstly, the BBC series the Last of the Mohicans (1971) which is now out on DVD and was shown Sauturday evenings.

More fake tan than Girls Aloud!

Reviews tend to comment that the sets and battles are rather poor and that the Indians are all played by British actors in make-up. Well, that is because that there really aren't that many Native Americans in Britain! Given that there are a lot more Native Americans in America then Hollywood was even more guilty in continually using white people to play Indians (for example, the otherwise excellent The Mountain Men (1980) with Charlton Heston and Brian Keith).

Philip Madoc: as scary as a Dalek!

The two things I remember about the show were Philip Madoc's brooding Magua the Huron: one of the great villains of 1970s British TV (up there with Anthony Valentine's Major Horst Mohn in Colditz (1972)) and the title music; which, nearly forty years later I can still sing and always comes into my head if I am walking in forests in Canada!

The other influence was the Look and Learn magazine series Rogers' Rangers which ran in 1970 and had wonderful art by Ronald Embleton. This 15 part picture series was on the back of the magazine and was beautifully illustrated with wonderfully evocative renditions of the North American wilderness and gorgeously composed action scenes.

The third influence, which the Galloping Major site didn't mention was seeing the excellent Spencer Tracy film North West Passage (1940) on colour TV for the first time back in about 1970. Sadly, the latter is not available on DVD (and the book is out of print too) so I am very glad I managed to tape it off the TV a few years ago. In fact, the film's full title was North West Passage Book 1: Rogers Rangers but the sequel based on the second part of Kenneth Roberts 1937 novel was never made. Largely, I suspect, this was becuase the tone of the latter part of the book becomes increasingly critcal of Britain as Rogers, as a loyalist, and his friends disagree on the way the colony is run.

Recently I bought some model spruce trees and it has got me thinking about painting some FIW figures again. Maybe now could be the time to complete my half finished Conquest figure!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

What's going on..

Cavalryman from Essex's army

I'm being distracted by many things at present; most specifically Colonials and some Warhammer for my little boy. However, I started work on a small group of Renegade ECW cavalryman at the weekend. I have a unit of cuirassiers painted but need some units of "regular" cavalry for my Parliamentarian force as I now have two units of infantry finished. I have also got an artillery piece which I am just filing and trimming so hope to post something in the next few weeks...

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Languedoc Regiment: Musketman and Pikeman

I started these just over a month ago but, due to being in Canada for two weeks and my daughter monopolising my desk for the last fortnight for her revision, I have only just finished them. They came out OK although it makes me realise that pale grey is a tricky colour to shade correctly. I based the uniform on a plate from Wargamnes Illustrated (I think -it was kindly sent to me by Dave from the Guildford Club).

I chose the Languedoc regiment purely because we used to holiday in the region when I was small. Our house was very old and I remember being very excited by the fact that the stairs to the top floor were on the outside, like the biblical houses we had studied at school.

One thing I also remember was how dreadful the wine was. Yes, I am afraid that even at the age of seven or eight I used to drink wine, at least when we were at our holiday home there. I remember that my father bought a plastic litre bottle of wine (I think it cost 50 centimes) and it was horrible. The wine from the Corbieres was particularly nasty and so was the Cotes du Roussillion. The only decent wine was the fortified stuff from Banyuls which was just up the coast from our house. I am afraid that I used to drink it with lemonade! The wines have improved hugely since then (the late 1960s) and wines like Minervois have gone from being cheap party wine in the seventies to £8.00 a bottle stuff now.  Languedoc is now the biggest wine region in the world.

Castelnaudray with the Canal du Midi, which was started during our period in 1681. The world's first Public Private Partnership Project! (one for Giles!)

The food was always good, however, and the region is famous for Cassoulet, of which we used to eat enormous quantities when we were down there as my father strove to discover the best Cassoulet in the region. We found it, eventually, in a little restaurant in Castelnaudary. The town is now famous for the dish to the extent that TV chef Rick Stein did a programme from there. We would spend the summer there and we never saw any other British people and it's still less popular with British tourists than the Dordogne or the Cote D'Azur.  I must go back sometime.

I was thinking about finishing these two figures a couple of weeks ago whilst wandering through Vielle Montreal one evening when, lo and behold, I came across a restaurant called Les Pyrenees. It turned out to be a Catalan restaurant and I had one of the best Cassoulets I have had for years. Well worth going to if you are ever in Montreal.

So I imagine my troops fortified with sausage and confit d'oie and swigging nasty, thin wine as they march to whatever battle I have in store for them. I think they need a few more troops for their happy band!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Blue Regiment of Foot completed

The 48 men of my Blue Regiment of Foot for Parliament (yes I know all the ensigns should be in the pike block but I think they look better scattered about!)

At last, despite my daughter having been sat at my desk for weeks "revising" (i.e: looking at the Britain's Got Talent website) I have finished the four musketmen that complete my second ECW Foot Regiment. They are a generic Blue Regiment; probably also a London Trained Band. These regiments are from the early war period when tassets were still worn. There are several factors that have made me go for an early look for my armies.

Firstly, the influence of my first wargame book, The Wargame, edited by Peter Young, which had a piece on Edgehill in it, written by Young. As with the whole book there were evocative photographs by Philip O Stearns of Peter Gilder figures and scenery.

One of the excellent pages from The War Game featuring Edgehill

Stearns was also a member of the Sealed Knot as well as being a photograper and Art Director for Penthouse magazine when it started in 1965! He also took this photograph of Amber Dean Smith, Penthouse's first ever Pet of the Year, for Mayfair Magazine in the August 1969 edition. I am sure the 17th Century costume and background was not an accident (not that she kept the costume on very long).

Amber does 17th Century

My second influence was the Nicholas Carter novels about the ECW from the late nineties. He wrote five and then the series abruptly stopped for some reason. He wrote a couple of novels set at the time of Henry VIII and then disappeared. A shame, as his Shadow in the Crown ECW series was really enjoyable and focussed (at least initially) on the Hopton and Waller clashes in the West featuring battles like Roundway Down and Landsdown. One of my best friends lives in Bath and you have to drive across the Landsdown battlefield to get there. Carter's description of the different groups wandering around in the dark before Landsdown and taking pot shots at the glow from burning matches gives a great feeling of what warfare must have been like at ground level. Like Stearns he was also a member of the Sealed Knot so had some feeling for being involved in a big push of pike.

The flag is by Body's Banners

I have a few figures painted for my next two regiments: the Earl of Essex's and Hampden's Regiment who wore orange and green respectively. I then ought to paint some smaller (than the 48 figures of my first two) units who look a bit tattier. The units at the recent Loseley Park re-enactment were very much on the scruffy side. Coat colours seldom matched and breeches were usually a different colour from jackets. My units by contrast are very smart. This is justifiable as they are early war Parliamentarians and, thus, better equipped. Also I can't help thinking that there are many examples of Colonels buying large amounts of a particular coloured cloth for their men. Surely it is likely that at least in some cases this would have been sourced from the same place and therfore jackets and trousers would have been the same colour and there would have been considerable uniformity. Later in the war you would expect more of a patchwork, perhaps.

In the meantime I have started on my second unit of horse; a straight cavalry unit to join my painted cuirassiers (another early war unit).

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

First Foote Guardes

Pikeman (no armour, helmets or gloves by this period)

I actually managed to get some painting done today for the first time in a month. What with being in Canada for two weeks (and all the follow up) then having to deal with a domestic Swine Flu crisis (I spend two weeks avoiding anyone who speaks Spanish on my trip and someone on my daughter's school coach infects everyone!). This resulted in my daughter's subsequent homework/revision crisis so that she needed the internet a lot hence no access to my desk. Then the new bolier saga meant that huge amounts of stuff had to be temporarily shifted about. I feel shattered!

So, it was good to get out to Loseley Park yesterday for the Sealed Knot day and it has enthused me enough to actually pick up a paintbrush again. I got up early and did some work on four Renegade ECW Musketmen who have been on the work bench for a year. I just need to complete them to finish my second ECW Foot regiment and got well on the way today. I also did a bit on my Musketeer GNW Russians and have ordered some of the new pikemen.

Then it will be back to the Louis XIV figures from Mr Copplestone. From the same period (OK slightly later) were a Sealed Knot unit at Loseley yesterday; the 1st Foote Guards who represent a British force from the period of the Monmouth Rebellion and, therefore, the last pitched battle fought on English soil Sedgemoor (1685). I have always been interested in this battle as I used to have a girlfriend who lived in Somerset and I had to drive past the battlefield at Westonzoyland to get to her house. I have always been a fan of Pirate books and films and, of course, in Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood Dr Peter Blood is sent to the Caribbean sugar cane fields as a slave by the Bloody Assizes for tending to one of the rebel soldiers at Sedgemoor.

The grenadiers already have flintlocks and plug bayonets whilst the "hatmen" still have the old matchlocks.

These are the sort of figures I need for government troops for my pirate games so let's hope Copplestone come out with something like this as nice late 17th/early 18th century are in very short supply for this purpose (in fact I can't think of any).

Painted: Régiment de Carignan-Salières 1665

Well, I have actually finished another figure: my second in five weeks!

This is one of the new Copplestone Louis XIV range which depict figures from 1665-1680. French troops of this time had only just started being issued with uniforms and Régiment de Carignan-Salières was one of the very first we know about to have received them. Typically the coat would be one colour and the linings, which were turned back on the sleeves, would be a contrasting colour. It was about this time that many French regiments were being issued grey uniforms with coloured linings although this process took some time to complete and even by the late 1670s not every unit had uniforms.

Next I think I will do a couple of figures from a more traditionally uniformed unit. I've still no idea what to actually use these figures for and am contemplating something I don't usually do which is having a non-historical historical approach. These means the uniforms are right but the units I paint may never have engaged each other.

Régiment de Carignan-Salières 1665

New Copplestone Castings French Musketeer

Régiment de Carignan-Salières musketeer 1665

I just found this great blog with lots of stuff for the period of Louis XIV which will no doubt help me with my new Copplestone figures.

One of the many pictures on the blog shows a soldier of the régiment de Carignan-Salières by Francis Back who did the pictures for the Osprey on the armies of Louis XIV, which I will try to pick up tomorrow from Foyles (although Foyles no longer seem to keep the complete range of Ospreys as they used to).

Formed by a merger of the Carignan Regiment and the Salières Regiment in 1659 they first saw action against the Ottomans. In 1665 1200 men of the regiment were sent to Quebec City in New France (Canada) to protect settlers from the depredations of the Iroquois.

The Iroquois were the dominant nation at that time with over 2,000 warriors compared with only 3,200 French settlers in the whole of New France.

However, despite expeditions to seek out their foe the regiment found little sign of them, other than a few skirmishes, as they had been badly hit by a smallpox epidemic.

The route of the September 1666 expedition

Given a determined expedition by the regiment in September 1666 the Iroquois, rather than fight, signed a treaty with the French. The regiment was disbanded in 1794.

The regiment returned to France in 1668 but King Louis XIV encouraged soldiers to remain in New France to boost the colonial population by granting estates to the officers and land and livestock subsidies to the men.

450 of them did so and, as a result, many French Canadians of today can trace their ancestry to someone in the regiment, to the extent that Quebecois holiday agents offer holidays to trace the areas where the officers of the regiment came from.


The regiment was one of the first in the French army to wear a uniform and I think it is a very attractive one; the muted browns, grey and buffs being ideal to chase Iroqouis in the forest.

The troops left their pikes in France but carried the new bayonet. The drummers wore a much brighter uniform based on the livery of the Prince de Carignan.

The regiment's standard

So I think I will paint this figure as above ready to fight the Iroquois. Conquest miniatures make Iroquois but most of them have flintlock muskets. I suspect bows would have been more likely at this time and they do a woodlands indian pack with bows if I paint enough for a skirmish but, as others have observed, the Copplestone figures aren't really animated enough for skirmish wargaming. Nevertheless I travel to Canada a lot and may even have to go to Quebec City again in May so a few figures from this historically important unit would not go amiss I think!

The Thirty Years War

I took this picture of some model Thirty Years War Swedish Pikemen in the Army Museum in Stockholm on my last visit. The figures are 1/6th scale, hence the amazing detail.

I was initially attracted to the Great Northern War by the striking blue and yellow uniforms. Some years ago for the same reason, I bought a lot of the Revell Thirty Years War plastics. As a set they probably remain the best plastic figures ever produced. I painted quite a few and even started to buy some of the Tumbling Dice 20mm ECW metals to fill the gaps (especially as regards pike men).

I started thinking about the Thirty Years War again with the announcement of the new Warlord plastic ECW figures. They claim that they are suitable for both ECW and Thirty Years War but, in fact, there are quite a few differences in the fashions of the period not least of which is headgear, baggier trousers and the length of jackets. Recently, however, The Assault Group have released some proper Thirty Years War Swedes and I have just ordered a couple of packs to see what they are like. They are sculpted by Nick Collier who did the wonderful Renegade ECW figures. I expect them to be slightly smaller than the latter as, apparently, he wasn’t that happy in being asked to sculpt them so large. I gather that the Warlord figures will be compatible with the Perry ECW figures which are much smaller than the Renegade ones. For ECW I will stay with Renegade and Bicorne, I think. I am trying to finish some of the part-painted figures on my workbench and have four Renegade Musketeers to do to complete my second ECW Regiment.

The Battle of Farnham Castle

Parliament marches onto the field

Although I have been to one or two small (like an episode of Sharpe) Napolenic re-enactments at the local Painshill Park I haven't been to a big one so when I saw a note about The Sealed Knot being at Loseley Park this weekend (on The Wars of Louis Quatorze site-see link on the right) I decided to take my little boy Guy along.


In the morning there was a skirmish between a small Royalist and Parliamentarian force. They used the oportunity to demonstrate (rather well I thought) the roles of the different troops and weapons. One of the things that struck me straight away was how many women were in the different units. Not just wandering around in the background in 17th century frocks (although there were plenty of those) but with muskets and even pikes.

I was delighted to see that one of the units there represented The Tower Hamlets trained band with their distinctive colour bearing their motto 'Jehova Providebit' (God Will Provide). This is one of the two units of Civil War infantry I have painted so far and although they only saw action at Cropredy Bridge they can be used to represent any of the London trained bands, such as the three regiments which were present with Sir William Waller's force at Farnham Castle.

A royalist force representing Lord Hopton's army then marched down the hill (the field used for the re-enactment was a very good choice, giving good visibility).

n American reader commented on the Louis XIV site that some American Civil War re-enactors had been banned from using gunpowder as it scared the "gentle-folk", or some such politically correct nonsense. No shortage of gunpowder today, however, and Guy's grandmother didn't seem at all phased ("I lived through the Blitz this is just fireworks!").

In the afternoon, after a drill demonstation by The First Foot Guards from the Monmouth rebellion period and an enjoyable large skirmish from the Medieval Seige Society (more of which tomorrow) we had the "big battle".

By this time we were enjoying our hottest day of the year and it reached 25 degrees, meaning a lot of hard work for those members of the forces that had to supply on-field water. It started with a Royalist force marching down the hill to approach what were supposed to be the walls of Farnham Castle, Wallers HQ in 1643.

Waller's forces march out of the castle to meet the Royalists

The view from "Farnham Castle" up the hill where the Royalist army assembles

It wasn't long before there were hundreds of re-enactors on the field. Well over a thousand, I believe. Battle commenced and went on for over an hour.

A good push of pike

The man with the tabard with a cross on is one of The Sealed Knot's trained medics.

There were over a dozen artillery pieces in action

All in all a very enjoyable day although I feel a bit over-cooked tonight and feel I might need some cool Chardonnay! Guy loved it and I had to forcibly restrain him from joining the Blew Regiment of Foot there and then.