Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Review: French Infantry Flags

Today's mail brought a package from Dennis at On Military Matters.  This is an Histoire et Collections book entitled French Infantry Flags: From 1786 to the End of the Empire.  It was written by Ludovic Letrunand translated from the French by Alan McKay.

The first 20 pages consist of historical background on French flags, which went through at least nine redesigns in 29 years.  I have many Histoire et Collections books on Napoleonic battles, and while they include excellent uniform plates, the English translation is almost unreadable.  Alan McKay has provided a much more fluent translation.  It's not brilliant text, and some of the sentences do seem to go on forever, but the book is readable, which is more than I can say about the earlier books.

The heart of the book, though, are the 145 pages of color plates, depicting all of the French infantry flags of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.

The book begins with the flags before the revolution.  All the flags are presented in this half style, where one side of each flag is shown.

Starting with the French Revolutionary flags, some flags are presented with both sides.  This format should look familiar to anyone who has used paper flags for their figures.

By the time the book gets to the third design, EVERY single flag gets the double sided treatment.

I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer variety of French flags during the revolution.  This book will certainly make it easier for me to equip my armies.  A quick scan and some resizing should allow me to field flags for either 15mm or 28mm troops.

The book goes on to reproduce, in two sides, every flag in the diamond pattern.  If you game the Napoleonic Wars, these are most likely the flags you want.  They are all here--line, legere, even obscure foreign regiments.  Everything.

The 1812 pattern is less useful for me personally, but if you game anything from 1813-4, these should come in handy.

Finally the restored royal army flags are followed by the 1815 pattern.  You will need these to fight the hundred days.

Here are some of the book's flags next to some GMB flags.  You can see that the book's flags are just slightly too large for 28mm figures, so you will not be able to make a straight color copy from the book, but some quick resizing should give you any French infantry flag you need from 1794 to 1815.

You can find the book at On Military Matters.  I highly recommend it to anyone building a French army.  I love GMB flags and will continue to use them when I can, but this book has everything.  Everything.  OMM has the best price I have seen on it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

18mm Blue Moon ACW Union Personalities

Russ at Old Glory sent me both new packs of Civil War personalities to review.  Each contains ten named generals.  I finished the Union figures last night.

Back L-R: McClellan, Hooker, Burnside, Custer, Meade, Sheridan, Sherman
Front L-R: Thomas, Grant, Howard

Of these ten generals, eight commanded a Union army during the war.  I just do not need that many army commanders, so I based most of these as brigade commanders for Regimental Fire and Fury.  If I decide to play a scenario where I really need a command base with one of these figures, I can always rebase.

George Armstrong Custer 

This may be my favorite figure of the bunch.  It could be no one BUT Custer.  Every time I look at this figure I think, "someone is going to die!"  See?  Custer.  I imagine this figure will get on the table whenever I field any cavalry.  I was tempted to give him a light colored hat, but I stuck with regulation black.

Ambrose Burnside

I think this is my third Burnside.  He is very distinctive looking.  That hat and those whiskers do all the work. This is a very undramatic pose, perfect for Burnside.  Now does he look like a London cop from the 1880s, or did London cops in the 1880s look like Burnside?

Ulysses Grant 

Grant sits very firmly, very erect.  He has a cigar in his teeth.  He looks very determined.  He looks, in fact, like the boss.  This is the best lead depiction of Grant that I have ever seen.  The body language is perfect.  I picked out a horse that matched Grant's attitude.  So far as I can tell, Cincinnati had no blaze and no socks.

Joseph Hooker 

Here is Hooker, riding back over the U.S. Ford.  He already looks beaten, doesn't he?  I like the slouched shoulders, the drooping head, and the slack hand on his thigh.  I picked out the horse that most looked like it was retreating.

Poor Hooker.  I have always thought he was a great general.  He took an army demoralized by Fredericksburg and the Mud March, sick from poor administration, suffering from mass desertion, and he gave it new spirit and new professionalism.  He concentrated the cavalry into a corps.  He moved artillery away from brigade and division commanders and gave professional gunners more of a role in its deployment.  He reformed the signal corps, systematizing telegraphy and intelligence gathering.  He came up with a superb plan to turn Lee from his position on the Rappahannock and crush him.

Then it all fell apart.  I feel for the guy.  He was at times a superb general, fearless and aggressive, but when he most needed his keen killer instinct, something just happened, or didn't happen.

See, now this must be a great sculpt, because it has obviously communicated something about Hooker's story to me.

Oliver Otis Howard

Howard's right sleeve is pinned to his chest.  This is another undramatic figure, perfect for Howard of course, but also well suited to be a generic one armed general.

George Brinton McClellan 

"That gunboat right THERE.  That's where I'll be.  Good luck men!"  There is nothing about this figure that screams "McClellan" to me, but then McClellan's face shouldn't jump out at you.  He had a nice, normal looking face.  A nice, normal looking mustache.  A nice, normal looking build.  Maybe it could have looked more like McClellan if he were removing his hat to acknowledge some cheers, or maybe he could have had a more fearful pose, looking back over his shoulder to make sure his line of retreat was still open.  This pose is a little too decisive looking to capture McClellan's personality.

George Meade 

This one is a pretty good likeness.  The upper eyelids are even a little over-sized, something which I am not painter enough to bring out.  He looks competent, if a little plain.  Perfect for Meade.  I imagine him saying, "no, General Sickles, I wanted your corps over there, with the rest of the army.  Idiot."

William Tecumseh Sherman

I went back and forth on whether this figure was supposed to be Sherman or Thomas.  Only after I finished painting it did I see that the sculptor has done a great job with Sherman's facial features.  So his hair should be red, or light brown with some red.  Instead I painted Thomas's gray beard.  I have always thought Sherman looked like Clint Eastwood, and this face looks just right.

Phil Sheridan 

This is another great likeness.  True, most of the work is done by that hat, but the face is right on.  I mounted Sheridan on Rienzi, of course.  It might have been nice to have Sheridan galloping, carrying his headquarters flag, rallying the troops at Third Winchester.  Still, this is a more useful pose, as it could be Sheridan at Pea Ridge, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, The Overland Campaign, or Appomattox.  The little man sure saw a lot of action.

I imagine I will use this figure to command forlorn hopes.  Sheridan seems to me to have been an awful human being, so I will not be too broken hearted if he dies in battle.  Yes, I am one of those who thinks Sheridan should be exhumed and buried in Laredo, so he can be in Texas and Hell at the same time.

George H. Thomas

Thomas was a pretty plain looking man, but a big one.  This figure is, in fact, the tallest of the lot.  I painted his hair thinking he was Sherman.  His beard should be shot through with gray.  This is another figure that will work well either as Thomas or as a generic general.  The only thing I did not like about this sculpt is that the binocular case strap just sort of ends on his chest.  Still, this sculptor seems to know what he is doing, so maybe it disappears under a lapel or something, and my eyes are just not good enough to make it out.  I love horses that act like horses, rather than equestrian statues, so this horse, grazing a little, is my favorite of the bunch.

So there we are.  Not just a competent pack, but a brilliant one, with some of the best sculpting I have seen in 15mm.  Not everyone can be Anthony Barton, and these figures lack the clean elegance of some of AB's better sculpts.  But they capture the look, and even better the personalities, of some of the Union's top commanders.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

18mm Blue Moon Caesar's Legions, Part II

Here is another legion from Blue Moon.  Last time I painted legionaries advancing with gladii.  These are advancing with pila.  The pila are held close to the body, so it's unlikely that they will bend much in gaming.

Blue Moon also makes a pack of legionaries throwing pila, but I have given them a pass for two reasons.  I am afraid they will not fit comfortably on 15mm deep bases, and I am afraid that the cast pila will bend or break.

These two units exhaust my supply of Blue Moon Romans, but I think the next time I order from Old Glory, I will tack a few more packs on.  I like these a lot.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Painting Summary, 2013 Painting Goals


I spent the first seven months of the year painting that huge Punic Wars commission, then returned to my teaching career two weeks later.  Figure in that I have a four year old and a one year old, and it shouldn't surprise anyone that I do not get much time to paint.

Still, I am happy with how much I did get done this year.  Here are the totals by category.

28mm Foot: 679
434 of those were for Glenn's Carthaginian and Roman armies.  The remaining 235 were for me.  My total includes 68 of Eureka's Wars of the French Revolution range, 168 Old Glory American Revolution figures, and 9 Front Rank Napoleonic French legere skirmishers.

28mm Mounted: 94
Again, the bulk (79) were for Glenn's armies.  Another 12 were figures I painted in trade for a board game.  I only painted three large mounted figures for myself this year, all from Eureka's Wars of the French Revolution.

28mm Elephants: 4
All four were for Glenn's Carthaginians.  I think I already have all the elephants I need.  I have three.

28mm Guns: 4
These were all for me: two French Napoleonic eight pounders from Eureka and two American six pounders from Old Glory.

15mm Foot: 540
I painted an entire Field of Glory Macedonian army, all of Old Glory figures.  There were 152 foot figures in that army.  I spent much of the Fall painting Blue Moon Napoleonic figures, including 192 French and 74 Austrians.  I tried Blue Moon's Romans, painting 32 of them.  Finally I painted 90 Blue Moon Union infantry.

15mm Mounted: 68
I painted 12 AB French cuirassiers while taking a little break from Glenn's elephants.  That Macedonian army contained 38 horse.  I also painted 18 Union cavalry from Old Glory.

So in raw numbers, I painted 1389 castings this year.  On his Palouse Wargaming Journal, my buddy Jon links to Analogue Hobbies' scoring system.  Under that system, I painted 3395 points worth of 28mm foot, 940 points worth of 28mm mounted; 60 points of 28mm vehicle (I assume elephants count as vehicles); 40 points of 28mm guns; 1080 points of 15mm foot; and 272 points of 15mm mounted, for a total of 5787 points.


Traditionally, I spend some time at the turn of the calendar setting goals for the coming year.  This is convenient for me, as it gives me something to ignore for the next twelve months.  Well, tradition is tradition, so here goes.

1.  Add British and American regiments to my American Revolution armies

I have a few regiments of Fife and Drum and Old Glory Second Edition ready to prime.  These figures will give me enough British and Continentals to game any small or mid sized scenario.  I love the history of the period, so this should be a natural period for me to game, but I think I have only played two Revolutionary War wargames in my life.  That must change!

2.  Add 15mm Napoleonics

Blue Moon is cranking out beautiful figures that are sturdy enough for wargaming.  I have enough British and French to keep me busy for a while.  I have over 100 artillery limbers in the lead pile.  I also have a few hundred AB figures, mostly French, but including some British, Austrians, and Poles.

3.  Add to my French Revolutionary Wars armies

I find that I have to address this project in spurts, because I just cannot afford to buy all the Eureka figures I want all at once!  I have some good reading material on the period that should help inspire me.

4.  Finish some 15mm ancients armies

I have enough 28mm ancients to keep me gaming for years.  I still have not found that perfect rules set, but I know I would like to game larger actions in 15mm.  I have a good sized Macedonian army done.  Now I will add Greeks and Persians.  I may tackle some armies for Caesar's Gallic wars.  The nice thing about 15mm ancients gaming is that all the rules sets use the same basing.  By building the armies first, I can start trying out some different rules.

5.  Add to my 15mm ACW armies

This is my lowest priority, because I already have thousands of painted figures.  Still, I always seem to need something new for specific scenarios.  I will continue to work on a few more units this year.