Thursday, 25 September 2014

Waterloo Project: 188 in one go!

It was the other side of Summer when I first showed the blog followers my eclectic mob of 28mm figures making up the Luneburg Battalion.  I promised myself then that I would complete the paint job by the end of August, but real life has intervened too often for me to achieve that and I did it by 19th September instead.
Foreground figures by Victrix, painting, photo and digital effects by CG
Rather than detail my methods of painting etc, which is pretty standard, I thought readers might prefer a bit of concentration on my philosophy on painting a truly massive battalion.  My mantra was always "do it in one go", and thus I felt like the fraudulent hero of The Brothers Grimm tale of The_Valiant_Little_Tailor, who inscribed "Seven in one Blow" on his belt after killing 7 flies!  What I meant by "all in one go" was not getting distracted by trying to finish a small part of the whole "just to see what they would look like".   Some painters of big battalions advocate splitting the large unit into maybe dozens or scores of figures to paint with one colour at a time and then sequence them so one finishes a batch while the later ones are at different stages. But I knew if I did that I might be absolutely ages before finishing and my 3 month target would be totally out of reach.
This sequence shows the battalion in column of companies. The
typical formation for Allied battalions waiting behind the Mont St Jean crest

In this view from above you can see that I have spaced them by eye and
not by measuring the length of companies to leave space for the next
In my rules any wargamer who makes that same mistake will get in a mess!
As the Rifle company (A) breaks out to skirmish to the front ,the rest of
the companies right wheel on their centres to form line.
Whoops! C and D companies are going to collide with the one in front.
The only solution is for B and D Companies to sidestep to fit everyone in.
My approach was not just the same colour across all 188 but break that down into the same component with the same sized brush. So, for example,  188 black shakos and hats with a wide brush, 188 back packs (less a few not wearing them) with  the same brush, all the black cartridge boxes with a slightly smaller brush, then 376 cuffs and later 376 coat turnbacks. All the black straps supporting the back packs and rolled greatcoats with a thin brush, followed by the bayonet scabbards with the same one.....and so on
These three photos show the final line formation with one company as skirmishers

In this formation the line is about 38 inches long

After the first blog about the Luneburg battalion I was going with Kevin to Waterloo and knew I'd come back fired with enthusiasm, so fully expected to get stuck in during June. But when I came back I got drawn into banter on the AMG Forum about Windmill models and got commissioned to build some. So with the fine weather making good drying conditions I deferred my Luneburg duty. But I made real progress during July and August and tried to set myself at least an hour a day, often that first hour after breakfast when I was fresh and not  tempted to divert to other things. Some days I had the time to do a couple of hours at a stretch.
Just for fun here is the whole battalion in two deep line
(foreground figures by Essex Miniatures)

It is about 54 inches long!
My one concession to the batch concept was to tackle them by company. I explained the battalion make up in the original blog, and the companies were different sizes and with slightly different character  due to the pose and manufacturer, so I got to know them intimately. But I never deviated from the "one go" philosophy. For example A Company got all its musket stocks painted, then B Company, then C and finally D, so the whole 188 marched in step throughout the long drawn out process.
Here is the battalion in line 4 figures deep. The standard formation for British line units at Waterloo

When you go through this exercise you can realise why 4 ranks was favoured
by Wellington on the restricted battlefield frontage at Mont St Jean

This is about 27 inches long, which at our 1:3 game scale is approximately 80 metres.
The frontage is about 45 or so figures (approx 135 men) and by my reckoning
135 men shoulder to shoulder is 270 feet or about 80 metres.

But then I hit "the wall".

There must be something about the paint that keeps you going for I didn't seriously falter until I was applying the transfers. I have explained about making your own transfers in previous posts, and I suppose I'm mad but I have designed some very tiny components. In this case it was the Hanoverian white horse symbol for their back packs and shako plates.  The shako plates are only a couple of millimetres square and it was tedious in the extreme to cut them out with a sharp craft knife, put them in the water dish 10 at a time and then place each one carefully with a wet paint brush. I did A, B and C, to stick at it ....see that light at the end of the tunnel....keep going can make it!
I thought Waterloo fans might like to see the 188 in two rank square.

Posssibly a bit difficult to reconcile with the scale ground area that should be
taken up but it looks good and is practical for a four company battalion

But I didn't.......    
      I  had got a batch of insulating polystrene out of the skip (dumpster) at our renovated house, and the Duchess and I were at B&Q DIY store so I bought wooden battens for my 600 mm MDF terrain tiles....and the weather was glorious....and I was reading one of my Stalingrad books...and the Duchess said I MUST use the polystyrene before we move house. So, four 1:144 scale Stalingrad terrain tiles later and D company shako plates finally got applied ....phew!!  After that the slightly larger back pack badges were easier.
A three rank square is rather more satisfying to the eye but takes a bit more organising to get balanced

Finally it was just basing and final varnishing  and adapting the rather nice Victrix flags and my big battalion was actually finished - and "all in one go".

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Another Real Hussarette

One of the more enjoyable aspects of taking part in our West Country Waterloo Project is the excuse it has given me to re-read Waterloo books already in my collection and also seek out others which are either newer, or fascinatingly, very old.  Among the latter I received earlier this year helpful notifications from Amazon that I could cheaply download the eye witness accounts penned by Captain Mercer of the RHA and "A Voice from Waterloo" by Sergeant Major Edward Cotton. Since  my boyhood introduction to Napoleonic warfare these have been names to conjure with but never read except in extract from secondary sources.

For this blog I'm focusing on a telling sentence that once again shows we who are fascinated by a beautiful woman in fabulous military costume are not just pandering to flights of testosterone driven fantasy!

Edward Cotton, apart from being a participant during the battle in a British hussar regiment, spent much of his later life as a "tour guide" to the battlefield and his "Voice from Waterloo", although often a rather jingoistic and colourful account, is laced with an air of authenticity due to his anecdotes from veterans whom he met there. It is a recommended read by me for its terrific atmosphere and detail if not necessarily for its coherency of narrative.

Here is the relevant paragraph at 22% of the way through the book (who needs page numbers when you can change the font size? :-) )  The action bit is above La Haye Sainte probably about 2pm.

Readers may recall my previous account of a-real-hussarette and like that one this too poses questions which can't be answered. Was it her own uniform, or borrowed? What did it look like? Why was she in the army at all in 1815 and particularly taking part in a charge so near the English line that she got shot.  For those not familiar here are some pictures relating to the Hanoverian monument taken on my trip in June.
The Hanoverian monument itself

The view looking due West from the monument towards the Lion Mound -
effectively along the British crest line just in front of  the "elm tree crossroads"

From the monument it is a very short distance to La Haye Sainte
These photos show that our lady hussar was shot dead in the heart of the British/KGL position and proves her bravery, along with the thousands of other French persons who died striving to wrest Mont St Jean from the Allied grasp. So warlike Hussarettes is no longer just a fantasy.

All my studies aimed at recreating the 300 metres round LHS on the tabletop next year do not show any French Hussar Regiments in this vicinity. So I conclude she was either an aide/mistress of a senior French officer (see for example my original post about Madame Leberton lady-hussars-anyone), or merely a field wife who borrowed any uniform to join the ranks because she could not bear the thought of her (possibly cuirassier) husband dying and leaving her alone. There is a risk of letting it get to you as it sort of sums up the Napoleonic cause on that fateful day - immense bravery in the face of incredibly difficult odds. Despite all the busy traffic a visit to Waterloo can be very emotive. 

Any comments very welcome.