Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Napoleonic Russian Foot Artillery - 1805-07 project

With jaegers skirmishing on the flank this battery defends the wood line with some genuine menace!

There is no doubt that anybody who has ever played with or against Russian armies in almost any set of Napoleonic rules walks away with the utmost respect and awe for the mighty 12 gun batteries that survey any table top...and so they should.

There is no doubt that the field and weight of fire they can bring to bear in a game can be a blessing for the Russian player and certainly a tactical conundrum for his opponent.

Now that's what I call a gun.

As part of my ongoing project to fight campaigns in the "Glory Years" of 1805-07, I have been building up these monsters for battling the French.  The figures are all wonderful Elite Miniatures purchased from the ever-reliable Nathan Vinson at Elite Miniatures Australia in Townsville many years ago.  The guns are also from Elite Miniatures and are massive, just perfect to represent a Russian battery.

Bicorne wearing Staff Captain yelling out orders on the edge of this battery - Tushin perhaps?

As an aside, one of my desires many years ago was to read the epic novel "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy from cover to cover.  This I achieved between young sons being born, numerous interstate and overseas flights etc.  Those who travel for work know what I mean when I say you can lose eight hours of flight time in a great book with a great story.

It is a great, great story!

Every time I look at the Russian batteries, especially this one, I cannot help but think of the wonderful character of Staff Captain Tushin who commands a battery of guns at the Battle of Schongrabern during the 1805 campaign.

Captain Tushin is an artillery officer who fought bravely at the Battle of Schöngrabern. One of the novels main characters, Prince Andrei Bolkonski witnesses the heroic efforts of Captain Tushin who commands his artillery battery.  Although other battery commanders withdrew their cannons and men when the attacks intensified Captain Tushin’s cannons are constantly sending deadly messages to the French forces. Eventually his battery ends up alone and unsupported.

However Captain Tushin’s counter attacks delay the enemy advance. This allows the Russian troops to withdraw successfully evading a major loss. Captain Tushin’s effort becomes one of the decisive factors of successful withdrawal.

After the battle, the Russian commanders gather together and discuss the events which occurred that day.

No one praises Captain Tushin’s heroic efforts and in fact some staff officers who left the battle field cowardly blame Captain Tushin for abandoning some of his cannons - no wonder they get such poor staff ratings in our rules!  Prince Andrei Bolkonsky listens to the staff officers and finding he can stand no more innuendoes cast at the brave man, tells General Bagration that Captain Tushin and his men delayed the French advance saving the rest of the Army.
All were silent. Tushin appeared at the threshold and made his way timidly from behind the backs of the generals. As he stepped past the generals in the crowded hut, feeling embarrassed as he always was by the sight of his superiors, he did not notice the staff of the banner and stumbled over it. Several of those present laughed. 
“How was it a gun was abandoned?” asked Bagration, frowning, not so much at the captain as at those who were laughing, among whom Zherkov laughed loudest.  Only now, when he was confronted by the stern authorities, did his guilt and the disgrace of having lost two guns and yet remaining alive present themselves to Tushin in all their horror. He had been so excited that he had not thought about it until that moment. The officers’ laughter confused him still more. He stood before Bagration with his lower jaw trembling and was hardly able to mutter: “I don’t know… your excellency… I had no men… your excellency.” 
“You might have taken some from the covering troops.” 
Tushin did not say that there were no covering troops, though that was perfectly true. He was afraid of getting some other officer into trouble, and silently fixed his eyes on Bagration as a schoolboy who has blundered looks at an examiner.  The silence lasted some time. Prince Bagration, apparently not wishing to be severe, found nothing to say; the others did not venture to intervene. Prince Andrei looked at Tushin from under his brows and his fingers twitched nervously. 
“Your excellency!” Prince Andrei broke the silence with his abrupt voice,” you were pleased to send me to Captain Tushin’s battery. I went there and found two thirds of the men and horses knocked out, two guns smashed, and no supports at all.”
 Prince Bagration and Tushin looked with equal intentness at Bolkonski, who spoke with suppressed agitation. “And, if your excellency will allow me to express my opinion,” he continued, “we owe today’s success chiefly to the action of that battery and the heroic endurance of Captain Tushin and his company,” and without awaiting a reply, Prince Andrew rose and left the table.
Prince Bagration looked at Tushin, evidently reluctant to show distrust in Bolkonski’s emphatic opinion yet not feeling able fully to credit it, bent his head, and told Tushin that he could go. Prince Andrei went out with him.
“Thank you; you saved me, my dear fellow!” said Tushin. (War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy).

Wonderfully animated figures - Peter Moreby continues to gain worthy plaudits for his sculpting.

I have another battery to base, 24 gunners plus six guns which will then give me three full size foot batteries to deploy.  I intend to base the next one though slightly differently having been inspired by the wonderful modelling skills of Mr John Ray of the inspirational " A Military Gentlemen" forum.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Marshall Murat - Part two

The Block undercoating is taking place - note the bright yellow of the Dragoon Officers horse!

As mentioned in the last post, the wonderfully talented Doug Mason very kindly agreed to recreate the superb command stand that I have often admired that graced many a page and cover in the famous wargaming publications of the world.

The transformation is starting to take shape

The undercoating of the base colours continues on.

Now that looks fantastic - not a hint of canary yellow horse flesh to be seen.

Side by side and you can start to see how the final command stand is going to look.

A view once again highlighting the intricate soldering and converting work that Doug has completed on the reins
and the other "flying" horse furniture!

The next post will piece together the final painting touches from the master and the finished stand as well.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

A Commission from the finest - "Murat at Eylau" - part one

A blast from the past - what a wonderful magazine this was.

One of the great advantages to having the opportunity to join John Ray's "A Military Gentlemen" Forum has been the wonderful people I have been able to correspond with.  Stating that they are "legends" of the hobby would not be understating the fact and I am so pleased to walking at the feet of so many gaming "Demi-gods", getting such wonderful advice, images of the most spectacular of figures and an insight into a group of truly inspiring gentlemen gamers.

One such fine fellow is the world famous Doug Mason.  For those wargamers of a certain vintage Doug needs no introduction.

For the rest of you, he is a famous wargamer, painter and converter of figures whose amazing work graced the pages of Miniature Wargames, Wargames World, Wargames Illustrated and any other magazine worth its salt over the past four decades.  So much of his work was seen at the Wargames Holiday Centre in the days of Peter Gilder where he was also an active participant.

I had a cunning plan as part of my ongoing Napoleonic 1805-07 project.

The picture that leads this post depicts one of my favourite Command vignettes of all time.  The keen eyed amongst you will recognise the work based upon Murat charging at the head of a mass of French cavalry at the Russians at Eylau in 1807.  I believe today that the original resides with the very entertaining and clever Mr Mark Freeth, owner of the current WHC in Basingstoke.

My idea was to ask Doug to make me another one for my own collection.  Being the fine fellow he is, he very happily said yes and set the wheels in motion.

The castings which are soon to be modified beyond all recognition

Starting to look like Doug is well on track

Such fine details go into the hand soldered stirrups and metal sheet beaten to be the shabraques

Pretty clever fellow is our Doug!

As you can see, this is getting very good.  I will post some more details shortly and then the finished item in front of his new command here in Australia however if you cannot wait to  see how Doug continues his wonderful work, simply visit his site here.

You will definitely not be disappointed.