Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Relaxing Hussarette - more on Countess Natasha, 1758

September 1758 

.........The bedroom in Schloss Grunburg was surprisingly warm considering the late hour. Countess Natasha Gruzinskaya slipped off her pelisse and settled into the large buttoned sofa so thoughtfully placed by the servants near the fire. Her skin glowed with the arousal of personal combat enhanced by the firelight.  She was quite relaxed.....what could have been an arduous duel with Count Gregorius' fencing master, Captain Metternich, had ended quickly. She reflected on her deft movements and smirked.  Gregorius had asked her why she was naked and she told him "Better to fight" ....but her only garment, the yellow Gruzinsky Hussars pelisse, was actually the key to victory for she had whipped it off and thwarted Metternich's first strike.....his blade slashed through the sleeve and got tangled in the loops and cords. She pulled it aside and delivered a disabling blow to his sword arm. He would live but the Count would be needing a new fencing master, or mistress... 

Although she was a prisoner, the Count and the assembled guards from the Grunburg Dragoons stepped back in awe and respect, for Metternich was known to be a formidable opponent, and yet here he lay bleeding and looking helpless. 

There was not a scratch on Natasha but now she only had on her hat and her boots and her pelisse was in tatters so Gregorius instructed one of his aides to give her his own blue pelisse. To imply that she needed clothing to recover her dignity would be far from the truth for she stood erect and elegant, the Croat's oriental sabre poised delicately but purposefully in her hand, as if to imply "Any one else want the same?"

"Countess......", Gregorius sounded friendly...." you have done well, and as my prisoner I put you on your officer's parole not to try to escape. Now please give me back the beautiful weapon I lent you and we shall return yours to you. Then you may have a guest room and I will see you shortly."

So, in that guest room, Natasha contemplates her fate. Will she ever return to the Russian Army again? Maybe Grunburg could provide a new home and new adventures throughout Europe in the Count's service, who knows?


But we, dear readers, know better, don't we?

This story, and new painting, is just continuing the saga of the reckless and semi-naked Natasha through the Seven Years War. Here is a link to my original painting and first photoshoot with my Russian model. And as a reminder, the first time she came to be painted chronologically in 1755 plus links to the other incidents concerning her and Grunburg.

Once again an oil painting on canvas, 16 inches x 12 inches and available for sale at around my usual very affordable price for this size. Please take a look at my art website for more detailed photos and a link through to a whole series of photos showing how the painting was created, I hope you enjoy it.

As I have said before, I am open to commissions for military subjects or  your own fantasy Hussarette/Chasseurette/Lancerette etc, just get in touch via the website or direct email and we can discuss.

A skirmish between Prussian infantry and cossacks at Zorndorf, 1758. By Emil Hunten (1829-1862) painted 1862.  No, not the Gruzinsky Hussars, but Natasha was captured near Zorndorf by Grunburg Dragoons fighting for the Prussians

Monday, 11 October 2021

Cotswold Wargaming Day 2021 - Better than ever

I was lucky enough once again to get an invitation from Keith Flint for the third Cotswold Wargaming Day, which was held 15 miles from my home, at Northleach in the mid Cotswolds.  Around 30 wargamers came from far and wide but mainly in the South of England. There were seven games on offer and I won't hold back on the photos as I know many supporters particularly value a good view of "shows" vicariously. (As always click to enlarge). This isn't a show in the normal sense it's just a friendly and casual gathering of gamers who want to show what they do and let others participate.

We had the very minimum of COVID precautions and there was plenty of space and air. I had invited myself onto JP's 28mm Napoleonic game along with two of my usual buddies Kevin East and Ken Marshall and I will give you a glimpse of that first but much more later!  It is a relaxed day and JP was very tolerant of me as I had visits at his table by Cheltenham friends Paul B and Glenn L as well as new acquaintance, Eliseo, who would you believe has recently moved into my own little village of Oakridge. Apart from the Cirencester Club game on the next table others came from farther afield like Bristol, Swindon, Newbury and Farnborough. JP is himself a Cotswold resident and you may have seem some of his many super VLOGs on YouTube such as The Road to Waterloo, so with now famous wargame author Keith organising it did feel to me like a "local" show, but very special.

JPs Battle of Dolitz. Part of the first day of Leipzig 1813. Three taster shots much more later.

JP gives Kevin some initial instructions regarding deploying the French army

The French defensive lines - villages of Meusdorf and Probstheyde in the foreground. The Prussians have yet to march on.

Chuckling Kevin and Ken? This is supposed to be a serious Napoleonic refight!

American Civil War in 15mm by Keith McWilliam from Wargames Association of Reading (and Newbury). Their own made up scenario but extremely photogenic in my view.

15th Century Turks versus Poles and Imperial troops, using Tercio rules. Put on by Stuart and the Cirencester club. The first photo is the impressive start lines. I went back at lunchtime and it looked much the same but I was informed the cavalry wings had smashed each other up and both withdrawn to leave the infantry to fight in the centre!

The Battle of Sentinum 295 BC . An impressive game staged by Farnborough Wargames Society with a very professional and informative handout packed with history and wargame info. Evidently a hind and a wolf crossed the battlefield and had a tussle, giving a mystical portent of the outcome....and being modellers these chaps had to include them!

spot the wolf....

A neat "imagi-nations" Napoleonic using 6mm figures in MDF and Keith Flint's new rules (for any scale).  Shadow of the Eagles

Not something you see often - The 1967 Arab-Israeli War in 10/12mm using Cold War Commander rules. Put on by a father and son team from Bristol and Swindon

There were two games in the side room too. One was an interesting looking 28mm skirmish game set in the French and Indian War (1755-63) using Sharp Practice rules. The other, I understand, was a 15mm WW2 but both times I was there nothing was happening and no one in attendance so I did not photograph the table, sorry.

Just after lunch there were speeches and prizes, judged and awarded by the late Stuart Asquith's son (Stuart had been a driving force behind the first two CWDs before he died). Premium prizes were given for Best Game, Best Terrain, and Best Figures, and because CWD is that kind of event (and as if to prove the Cotswolds is the nicest place in England to live) all the game organisers got a prize and round of applause in thanks.

Now another look in a bit more depth at JP's 28mm Napoleonic, Battle of Dolitz.

Below is an extract from a map of the first day from my copy of Osprey's "The Campaign of Leipzig 1813" by Jeff Parker and Peter Gilder (published 1979!).  Kevin had Augereau's Corps and I had Victor's Corps and we were backed up by Guards and heavy cavalry which were only released when Napoleon (JP) decided it was appropriate. You know what a fanatic I am about battlefield scale but I kept quiet and just enjoyed going with the flow; we were fighting on a historical two mile frontage roughly from Connewitz to Dosen; around 9 x 36 figure battalions represented each of the two weak French Corps. Cavalry Divisions were each two large "regiments". So we were fighting with roughly brigade sized units but using battalion scale rules - the ever popular General d'Armee.

At this point a word on my motivation. Kevin has been a long term friend and many readers will be familiar with the wonderful figure showing he made possible for our Waterloos at one to three scale in 2015 and Quatre Bras in 2017/18 (see many, many blog posts on them). JP had bought many of Kevin's French Perry Miniatures and Kevin, as a professional figure painter, continually keeps JP's collection topped up. I was both keen to meet JP and try one of his games as well as be reunited with some of Kev's fabulous figures for a day. I should add that most of the Prussians are Calpe figures and very nicely painted by JP himself.  Also, many eminent wargamers I know are keen on General D'Armee so I got the rulebook for my birthday and resolved to have a go some time. I must say (and I'm not the only one) I find the rule book hard to digest with it's great detail and many exceptions and additions, so with my ageing brain I was not going to tackle it alone. Happily JP and his highly capable 10 year old son, Charlie, have them down to a T and it proved a great demo game for Kevin, Ken and me.

We played from 1000  till 1630 with about 30 minutes for lunch and got through what seemed like about 8 or 9 moves. Bear in mind this was all done pretty much by JP's adjudication to us learners, and with adept players it would have been much quicker. Not much point me giving a full narrative but I hope you will get the  drift from my simple captions, and just enjoy the photos (apologies that I did not make an exact note of which village is which).

At an early stage Kevin occupies the forward village (Dolitz?)

I was given a Hussar "Division" which I put on my left flank,
 just as well as it turned out. No Prussians in sight yet

Prussian commanders Ken and Charlie confer with the umpire
as their first line advances. My Hussars threaten at left

Kevin's French in Dolitz under attack

My Hussars attack Prussian infantry who just managed to
form square and I lost the melee!

Charlie and Kevin discuss the options round Dolitz

A splendid view of Calpe Prussians about to advance on Dosen but my line and artillery fire ("Artillery Assault" ADC allocation) is intimidating them for the moment

As my Hussars retreated from the square to rally I was faced with an impressive array of allied cavalry, so my own infantry formed square, just in case......

....here is a top down view,
I'm trying in vain to bring round more infantry to cover the shaky cavalry

Paul B and Glenn visited our table and took great interest in the action.
Paul is helpfully familiar with the GdA rules

Occasionally, when they could be a***d to get the right activation roll my reserve heavy artillery helped give covering fire

Charlie's Prussians press on beyond Dolitz

My Hussars are getting repulsed piecemeal by Ken's Light cavalry

Oops! There go the others, and the infantry!

But happily the rules seem to allow them to reform quickly
 and fight on (below)

In the centre Charlie is making an advance on Dosen
 and I am countering with a Legere unit that has
already taken casualties

On our extreme right a unit of Prussian lancers had crossed the Pleisse River
and is trying to drive French infantry away from Connewitz

About this point Napoleon issued a no-nonsense order to pull our
 fingers out and released some of the reserves to help.
I was tempted to tell JP he was bullying ,
but that would hardly have been in period!!!

Above and below: What was he complaining about?
 Victor's and Augereau's  troops have a firm grip on Dosen

Above and below: At Meusdorf Ken's attack has been made scrappy by
my concerted artillery fire and now my local counter attack has
 brought him to a standstill

Lots of movement to see now: Young Guard and Italian infantry surge forward (Infantry Forwards order) to secure Probstheyda and an artillery battery from a serious threat by Ken's cavalry (I had knocked one unit back though). In the centre the Cuirassiers "Division" has been released and advances this way.

For the moment my flank looks safe from Ken
 but Charlie can be very proud of the progress he has made against Kevin

Here is a shot of the final move in which we hastily did charges and morale but not all the rest.
From the far side: Probsheyde - secure; Meusdorf - hard to see the Prussians gaining it; Dosen - French have the upper hand but it would be a tough fight; Dolitz - very clearly in Prussian hands and will make a fine base for later progress; Connewitz - French on the back foot but in possession - the umpire claims it is contested, who am I to argue?

At the outset JP had said it was to be the best of 5 villages and at 1630 pack-up time he declared it a draw. A fantastic game, full of incident and, as the moves went on, I began to see the appeal of General d'Armee, especially for those who have mastered the finer points. Thanks JP (and Charlie) for setting it all up and for being so patient with us newbies to the rules.

A bonus-
Although there are no traders Keith always very kindly let's me display some art work for sale and I'm pleased to say one of my very recent acrylic paintings (the French Cuirassiers near the centre of the photo) went off up North to Lancashire and allowed me to meet Norm of Battlefields and Warriors blog.

If you haven't seen it yet please take a look at my Art website chrisgregg-art.co.uk/themes/military

Another Bonus
Subsequent to this hectic day I have arranged a date for JP and Charlie to come to Oakridge and for me to introduce them to the joys of 18th century Imagi-nations using Honours of War. Maybe he will do a YouTube of it?........

And finally

I said it had a local feel - here are a few choice comments from the day:

On introducing myself to JP he said " I feel as if I know you already through your blog"

On introducing Ken to Keith he said " Oh yes, I've seen you on Chris' blog so often you're like a film star!"

And finally:
Having an after action chat with Keith we noticed a small baying mob in the background waving rule books to sign and selfie sticks, he said to me "Got to go, must keep the fans happy, you know what it's like......"
Actually Keith I don't :-).

Thanks though to all concerned for a fun day, and if you haven't yet had enough see more on great blogs by others: