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. http://warsoflouisxiv.blogspot.com/

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.

The Earl of Essex

This is my Bicorne Miniatures model of Robert Devereaux, The Third Earl of Essex, (January 11, 1591 – 14 September 1646) who acts as General of my rather small ECW Army of two units of foot and one of cuirassiers.

The Earl of Essex's father, also named Robert, had been executed for treason in 1604 and his mother, Frances Walsingham, was the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth I's head of intelligence.

Following the accession of King Charles I, Essex became a Parliamentarian and led the Roundhead army at the beginning of the English Civil War in 1642, notably at Edgehill. He then commanded the forces at Turnham Green, which blocked the far smaller Royalist army from entering London; the Earl's forces having been boosted by the presence of the London Trained Bands and the Royalist's not being prepared at this stage, to force battle on a large group of, essentially, civilian Londoners.

His campaign in Cornwall was largely disastrous and his forces were pummelled at Lostwithiel, much to Cromwell's annoyance. He resigned his position in 1646 and died the same year. So why do I have him as my army general? Firstly, because we share a birthday and secondly his colours were orange, which was my favourite colour when I was little!

The Tower Hamlets Trained band

This is my largest wargames unit: the Tower Hamlets Trained Band. Sixteen pikemen and thirty-two musketeers. I modelled this unit some years ago and chose the THTB for my first ECW unit as my first job in the City was actually in an office in Tower Hamlets (just!). The flags are from Body's Banners and the figures are all Renegade Miniatures.

I've actually used them in four games now but it is only as of this weekend, when I painted seven more, that they got up to their full strength of 48 figures; very old school!

Frankly, I think a pike block looks a bit weedy with less than 16 figures: the front rank still have tassets. There is a set of THTB pikeman's armour (with tassets) in the Royal Armouries.

Now there is, however, a fundamental flaw with my unit and that is that they are armed with normal matchlock muskets, whereas the THTB had firelocks. These they used to great effect at Cropredy Bridge (their only action) when they put lit matches on poles on the bridge for the Royalists to shoot at at night whilst they shot back from below the bridge with their firelocks. At the time I painted most of the unit you couldn't get figures with firelocks but now Bicorne do them so at some point I will replace all the musketeers with firelock men and use the musketeers as the basis of a new unit.

1644 Rules

I actually got along to the club last night for the first time since last April! We played an ECW game using 1644 rules by Wargames Foundry, which I haven't played before. They are by Rick Priestley and so some of it is familiar from Warhammer ECW but there are some differences; notably the fact that you need markers to show the status of the morale of units and also to show intention to do things like charge.

Bicorne's ECW casualty pack

Personally, I don't like little signs on the wargames board so I might think about getting some wounded and dead figures to act as morale markers. Most of my figures are Renegade, with the rest being Bicorne. Bicorne do a nice casualty pack so I will pick this up and do some casulaties in the colours of my two completed regiments. The only problem we had with the rules was that we ran out of time. We played for about three hours but probably needed another hour to bring things to a conclusion. Part of this is the fact that foot only move four inches a move and cavalry eight and so take ages to come into contact. I didn't help by deploying behind a nice hedge and staying there, making Nick trudge across what seemed like miles of fields to get into contact.

Unlike WECW, casualties are small, with only one or two figures lost per unit for each round of firing or melee. Given that we had 36 man units, and loss of figures itself does not seem to trigger morale tests, the engagements turned into slogging matches. Actually, I quite like this and if we had been more familiar with the rules we would probably have gotten along faster. Other peculiarities we found were the ineffectiveness of cavalry against infantry. Because the infantry units were so much bigger they could just pound away at the cavalry and reduce their numbers move by move (or at least until they are hit in the flank by a charging unit of Dragoons, which was the fate of my cuirassiers.

Sir Arthur Hesilrige's Cuirassiers: destroyed by some motley Dragoons. It's enough to make you jump off a cliff

Cavalry, to be effective against infantry needs to have a wide frontage and get another unit to pile in in support. The other issue was that we had quite a lot of units on the table. For Parliament, Adrian and I had seven Infantry units and four cavalry units, plus four light guns. We are going to have another go in a few weeks, which would be good. In the meantime, I might fight a few test skirmishes against my little boy to get a feel for the best size for units etc. This is important as having more figures firing makes such a small difference to the hits you might have that it may be best, for example, to have three smaller units that one big one. It was nice to play a game again and has got me keen on ECW once more, so I might try to paint another unit of cavalry in the next few months.