Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Some time to reflect

Plenty of space to let my mind wander here....24.8062° N, 56.1254° E

Being somewhat averse to the sun I have used much of my time this last week to catch up on written projects safely indoors and away from it. I realized that I have a lot of these projects.

This bizarre battlefield duel did take place between two allies at 18.0193° N, 76.9758° W

I spent a good chunk of the week organizing the October gaming weekender and sorting out all of the details and plot twists. The narrative of this campaign is pretty extensive and the fact that our players assume the characters allows the whole thing to take off in a way that makes putting the pieces together into a coherent story much easier.

Compagnies Franche de la Marine will make an appearance in October at 20.0549° N, 72.7925° W

The collateral varies from the objective, statistic based  OOBs, casualty stats, routs and triumphs to the more subjective perspectives of what actually happened. Over the piece, which has so far involved eighteen people, eleven tabletop battles and much behind the scenes activity, many details have had to be created.

Building the story around the Nieuw Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie was fun!

There is a very fine line between fact and fantasy and my extension of the facts is I hope, mostly grounded in logical hypothesis and projections rather than an alternative universe. In creating these additional data it has become clear that much of it could be used by other gamers who wish to explore the possibilities of the period beyond the historical battles which are easy to find on Wikipedia.

English and Dutch forts in Ghana in the 1700s - Komenda Wars

My own need to enhance the detail of the Caribbean theatre operations has lead me to find information on the Komenda Wars in Ghana between the British and the Dutch at a time when the countries were combined under William III! This nugget merits automatic inclusion in the next but one iteration of our expanding world of Jacobite v Williamite!

Jean Baptiste du Casse - will appear in October in Dumfries!

I discovered Jean Baptiste Du Casse - French Governor of Saint Dominique - how could I have missed this guy before? Another immediate inclusion. Add that to colonial struggles in Brazil, Madagascar, Pondicherry and Bangkok and my head is exploding with painting projects and scenarios.

This island features prominently in our October weekend

Team Harrison & Hilton are ideas rich but time poor. We have more output than we can cope with and this inevitably leads to delays in our material surfacing. The balance is creative control versus volume and at the moment we are losing the fight.

Jacobites and Williamites fight over near 54.8274° N, 7.4633° W

We are very conscious of the numerous requests for publication of things that we have mentioned on blogs and fora but currently cannot meet the demand.

We are trying to find compromises to unblock the log jam. Apart from BLB3/WTK we have the regimental level version of the same rules finished. We have texts for 12 new uniform pdfs, we have a Crimean and and ACW version of Republic to Empire finished, there is the Donnybrook Dark material which could pretty much go now, there is the Billy Bunteresque Victory without Quarter and a further regimental set of rules which I penned for the GNW but which now may be superseded by BLB3 Regimental level.

How to get all this stuff out there? Cloning? Hiring? Giving up what we do currently to concentrate on the hobby(attractive but not commercially viable).

In October there is trouble brewing near 56.6826° N, 5.1023° W. I know, I've been there!

My own thoughts are to  plough on, keep creating and work towards a system that allows us to get more out there quicker.

I have decided that the collateral from the campaign is meaty enough to be compiled into a wargaming guide for like minded should who want a bit of a dip into the period. I am working on that right now.

I have enjoyed my Busman's Break at the laptop. It has been fun and creative. More to come....

Amongst other places, we'll make it here in 2018.. 15.2993° N, 74.1240° E

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Guest post: On the trail of the Jacobite War in Ireland Part 3 - The Fort

Friend of the blog Peter A shares his some of his Irish campaign experiences from Kinsale 1690....

The Fort – Kinsale
Kinsale at 7.30am on a Sunday morning. Clear, bright, cold. Sun rising over the remains of the old James Fort. The harbour still and quiet – waiting for the day.

That peace – an enchanted moment – the sea and the shape of the hills is a view untouched for a thousand years – any modern intrusions fade away - what we see today is what they saw in 1690.
And the memories of that time flood back… the old Fort was taken by the Dane General Tettau at the head of 800 men. The garrison was far more numerous than had been reported by deserters – suggesting only 150 men. In fact, there were 450 but as the assault went in an explosion amongst the barrels of powder killed many of the defenders and the Fort was quickly carried – 220 Irish were killed and the rest made prisoners… some tried to escape across the water in boats to the New Fort. But the tide was against them and shot from the shore despatched most of them.

And so to Charles Fort. The new Fort. One of the best-preserved star Forts in Europe. It followed the principles of Vauban in terms of the ramparts, the bastions and the covered way. However, it was adapted to the uneven topography of the site and its principal role was seen as a coastal defence Fortification to prevent foreign naval forces entering Kinsale harbour. Since sieges rather than field battles were by far the most common form of conflict in our period, it is exciting to visit a place that witnessed a real siege in 1690. History seeps out from the massive walls…

The best way to appreciate the shape and scale of a Vauban-style Fort is from the sky. This photo hangs in the gatehouse – which now serves as the entrance to the museum. The white gravel walkway from the carpark across the bridge to the main gate is at the bottom of the image. The huge bastions and grassed walkways look strong and not to be easily conquered…

Once inside there are stunning views out to sea. What a vantage point! Head straight south and you would eventually hit Brest on the Brittany peninsula and then the Bay of Biscay and Spain. From beyond that horizon, James first arrived in Ireland here in Kinsale - full of hope and expectation of the recovery of his English throne.

The sheltered nature of the wonderful deep harbour is clear – an attractive anchorage for an enemy fleet. When the Fort was built, the threat was anticipated to come from this sea – essentially from France…! It was constructed in the early 1680s, and Charles Fort was the most expensive Fortification in Ireland. William Robinson, Superintendent of Fortifications was the designer. The Earl of Orrery laid the first stone and when the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Duke of Ormond visited the site in August 1681, for obvious diplomatic and sycophantic reasons, he named it after King Charles II.

The key weakness of the place - as is seen in these pictures beyond the scaffolding and the close-up view -  is the rising high ground where a besieger could look down on the Fort, bombard it with cannon and mortars and chose his point of attack. Despite its seemingly massive strength, the new Fort was in fact vulnerable to attack from land-based forces.
The sheer labour, the danger and difficulty of besieging a Fortification is brought to life in these models in a display in one of the garrison buildings.

This siege map of the order of battle of the Williamites forces – attributed to Thomas Philips who did many drawings of Irish harbours and Fortifications - though frustratingly faint - is a great illustration of where the troops were camped and where their trenches ran.  Philips felt the new Fort was badly-sited being overlooked by the high ground inland. The English and the Danes prepared to make two attacks. As we look we see the Danes under the Prince of Württemberg positioned on the right or East– and the English on the left or West.
After his first success with the taking of James Fort, my Lord Marlborough now sent a summons to the Governor of the substantial New Fort. Sir Edward Scott was no pushover. He answered coolly that ‘it would be time enough to capitulate a month hence…’. Marlborough lacked the necessary siege equipment and artillery which was on its ponderous way from Cork. Once the batteries were in place however, the Allies expected to effect a breach in a few short days…
Trenches were opened and the saps which can be seen in the jagged red lines - headed steadily towards the counterscarp - while the heavy cannons were hourly anticipated.

The Danish high ground, the covered way and the Cockpit bastion

A guerite – a sentry box – one of my favourite Vaubanesque architectural features!
Here is the high ground where the Danes were encamped. They sapped from this ground towards the Cockpit or East bastion – aiming to make a breach in ‘the long wall’ that ran from here to the seaward Charles bastion on the cliff edge.

The Irish tricolour – it is April 2016 and memories and notices referring to the centenary of the Easter Rising are everywhere. Here is another brick sentry box on the outermost point of the Flagstaff bastion. Also note the musket firing platforms. The Flagstaff is the largest bastion and designed to be used as a citadel if needed as a last refuge.

A good view of the gun platform, with the grass ramp up to the firing position. The area alongside the ramp was used as a parade ground. The platform has commanding views and just like the casemated seaward facing Devil’s and Charles bastions, its job was to defend the harbour from enemy intrusion.

The dénouement came with the arrival of the cannon from Cork and the establishment of the batteries. A breach capable of being assaulted was soon made by the Danes in the long East wall in front of them. The saps there were now in pistol range of the covered way and the troops were ready to attack. The siege had lasted 13 days and the last 5 days had witnessed continual cannon fire. Sir Edward now felt that the honours of war had been satisfied and he opened negotiations with the Earl of Marlborough on surrender. The white flag was raised and the chamade was beaten.  Good terms were agreed and the Governor and his feisty wife Lady Scott led the garrison out through the breach – she in her coach - with drums beating and flags waving. Twelve hundred survivors marched out from Fort Charles and headed for Limerick.

                                             the Cockpit bastion. They exited here.

Final views of the Fort, the covered way

Kinsale in the background. Beyond the bridge and entrance point across the dry ditch. After the surrender, Brigadier General Churchill, Marlborough’s brother, became Governor of the Fort.
James Fort is visible on the brown promontory in the middle distance and the port of Kinsale and its landlocked, deep safe harbour is on the horizon.

These defeats closed the access to the south of Ireland for French shipping and support. It was the beginning of the end. James had landed here in Kinsale in 1689. And now also from here he scuttled away down these steps and into his lonely boat. ‘ Will ye no come back again…?’

James leaving Ireland

Friday, July 14, 2017

Battle for Britain - inside the Caribbean forces

Creole infantry in action!

The Caribbean theatre started as a one off idea but the more I researched it the more I got hooked by the scope, scale and generally bizarre nature of what the European superpowers got up to there.

Our first outing centres on Jamaica - previously Spanish, now English and very recently declared for King James and not King William.  Challenging possession of the island is an unholy alliance between the displaced Spaniards, now operating from the much larger territory of Cuba and their Protestant allies - the Huguenots and a distinctly commercial concern the NGWIC (new Dutch West India Company)

This post is about the forces and not the action so here they are with a little explanation of each on the way:

General Dominic Sheldon's Irish Expeditionary Regiment of Foot

Sheldon's Irish Regiment is a composite force of ten companies drawn from the regiments in England and Ireland. There are three pike companies (how useful this weapon would be in the Indies remains to be seen), five musketeer companies, one oversized grenadier company and an independent fuzileer company. Two light guns accompanied the force. The commander is Englishman, devout Catholic and loyal servant of King James - Dominic Sheldon. Total compliment 650 men.

General Torres Spanish Force from Cuba

The Spaniards want Jamaica back. King Carlos has agreed to support the Williamite invasion in order to win a chance of regaining the island )although how this is to be achieved is not certain). The Spanish force is composed of experienced Tropical service soldiers from the Cartagena Tercio.  Six musketeer companies and one pike company are drawn from this regular formation. In addition, Torres has brought a body of 60 cuirassiers under Don Ramon and a further 60 volunteer Horse. Since Jamaica was Spanish until relatively recently many Spanish born men on the island have rallied to a secret call to arms producing two large units of Spanish- Jamaican militia amounting to over 200 men. The Spaniards also have two large field cannons. The total Spanish force exceeds 740 men.

NGWIC Forces - Dutch West India Company troops out of Sint Maarten.

I looked into the Dutch West India Company a little. I did not find definitive military organizational information but I assumed a military presence and put together seven companies of musketeers, one of Grenadiers, two volunteer companies of Protestant Irish Planters who will not swear fealty to King James and two light guns. In command of the force is the Scottish aristocrat Lord George Hamilton, recently commander of Enniskillen forces in England. The destruction of his command at Ripon was rewarded with a large shareholding in the Dutch India Company and an immediate posting to supervise military operations in the Caribbean where King William wished to open a new front. Clarence kindly created the flags which are the genuine design. I had high hopes for these Dutchmen.

Governor Kirke's Lambs - used to the heat after Tangier

General Piercy Kirke, controversial, blunt, combative, corrupt, brutal, coarse (and these are only some of the complementary adjectives used to describe him!) has escaped two murder attempts to be promoted to Governor of Jamaica. He has been able to take with him most of his veteran regiment, The Lambs. His force contains four companies of musketeers one of grenadiers and two of pikemen. These are supported by two volunteer companies of Irish Catholic Planters from Jamaica, one troop of volunteer gentlemen planter cavalry and a very large field piece called 'Long Sal'.

Colonel Hylton's Creole Regiment and Jamaican volunteers

The English had Creole regiments in the Caribbean. One such is led by Bartholomew Hylton. The regiment has six companies of matchlock armed musketeers. In addition, Jamaica has raised the militias of Port Royal and Spanish Town together with citizen volunteers from both settlements. The army had sent selected grenadiers to form a composite company of English elite troops. Further support came from three troops of volunteer Horse drawn from plantation owners and workers. Local fortifications had several naval guns available. There were nearly 800 men in the Jamaican force.

Le Marquis de Ruvigny's Huguenot and Native force

The French Huguenot Marquis de Ruvigny has been sent to the Caribees by King William but the motivation is not totally clear. a core of Huguenot regulars is the heart of the force but there are several unusual elements including Huguenot planters from Martinique and Gualdeloupe, Haitian Freemen who belong to some sort of cult known as Kil nan lanmò (Haitian Creole), several groups of Maroons( freed or escape English slaves) known as the Warria and Smuggla and small bands of Tainu natives from Jamaica and surrounding islands. This force created some of the most interesting, weird and comic incidents of the invasion. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Clarence Harrison - Since Barry has started posting his new Donnybrook stuff I figured it was time I put in a bit of work on mine since I have yet to assemble a Donnybrook collection for our period (having tricked Mr. Hilton into painting several hundred models for the project, what was the hurry?). Actually, I've been developing a force for a few months now, but I've been waiting until I had a decent sized force to roll out the images.

Wait - is that a TROLL?

Well, yeah. This is for Donnybrook Dark as we've been calling it. Take the Cultist list from Donnybrook and throw out all of the stuff about the supernatural elements playing on the superstitions of the time - monsters are real...

The Mourne Vale lies between the kingdoms of Scandavia and Rusland. This fell region is a  land of brooding forests, lonely hills, and haunted ruins, but amid it's desolation lies treasures of a forgotten empire.

The king of Scandavia is wedded to a Fey Queen (some claim ensorceled). The men of Scandavia do not practice magic, but have an alliance with the folk of the Queen and may call on creatures of the forest and darker places when called to war.

The shadowed realm of Rusland is ruled by a dread necromancer. Warlocks and sorcerers march in the armies along side mortal soldiers and they may call on dark powers, marshaling spirits, undead, and other wicked creatures to their banners.

...or something like that. I REALLY wanted to paint some of the GNW stuff, but I didn't want to commit to battalions and regiments as I have my hands full with my Ireland project on that front. Donnybrook seemed like the perfect answer.

I started with the Swedes... err... Scandavians! The captain is an easy conversion, replacing his right arm with a pistol arm from a cavalry trooper. Currently my force consists of the following:

Captain (Hero d12)

Officer (Veteran d10)

Sergeant (Veteran d10)

Drummer (Drilled d8)

8 Line Infantry (Veteran d10, 2 force points)

8 Garrison Infantry (Drilled d8)

6 Winter Wolves (Drilled d8)

1 Troll (Brute d12)

I still need to make cool names for my characters. I'm actually missing my Pack Master (Drilled d8) which is the only type of character you can attach to a unit of beasts (wolves, bears, etc.), but he is sitting on the painting table and I'll get to him later this week. I also want to add a second unit of Garrison Infantry (with a Standard Bearer) and a mounted element of mercenary Teutonic (German) Horse.

I have sketchy rules for the monsters. Basically the wolves are treated as Horse for the time being. They don't cause fear like the Hellhounds because, well, this is Donnybrook Dark - wolves are just not scary.

The Troll is a different story. This is Örjan. You may have noticed rather than Drilled d8 or Veteran d10 he is labeled as a 'Brute d12'. This isn't meant to refer to his etiquette or table manners. Slavic trolls come in all shapes and sizes, but some could actually be quite erudite. The Brute tag simply means that the d12 is used only for physical actions - attacks, breaking down doors, etc. If Örjan wanted to attempt to climb a tree (who knows why) or any other special action that doesn't require strength, the troll uses a d6 to resolve other actions. A troll DOES cause fear (enemy models must throw a 6+ on their Ability die to shoot at, charge, or fight) and is also hard to kill (gets to roll on the Wound table like a character with a d12).  Also, Brutes don't generate special character slots. I haven't decided if one force point buys one or two trolls as it needs more playtesting to determine what's fair - I have a second troll named Hugo on the table as well.

The terrain is a work in progress, but far enough along to serve for a couple of pics. The Mourne Vale isn't always wreathed in snow, but I decided to really make this entire project something different. I've had a set of the Citadel Realm of Battle boards ever since they were first released and decided it was finally time to paint them (more on that later, but essentially a set of six 2x2' terrain tiles that are wildly expensive and covered in skulls).

I'll certainly have more in the future. After I paint my Pack Master, I'm going to turn my attention to the sons of Rusland - stern infantry, dashing Cossacks, witches, and zombies...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Battle for Britain 1693 The fighting begins...

Kirke's arrival at Santa Marta  - The Creole Regiment was already in position

Of course I have already blogged briefly on the topic of our 1693 Battle for Britain adventures but not really given any detailed insight into the battles. The reason was simple. I had a mass of data to sift through and organize and my time between the beginning of April (when we did it) and now has been filled with tiresome travel, work, Warfare Miniatures technical stuff and getting WTK to a stage where Clarence could do something with it.

The forward position - English officers marshal their Creole soldiers

Now that I am sitting in 45+ centigrade (well not sitting in it actually.. sitting as far indoors as possible away from it), I have had time to write the narrative and process the stats. The weekend was missing several important characters - Berwick in Rome, Tollemache in the trenches somewhere in Flanders, Marlborough at King Louis pleasure in Versailles, Sarsfield back in Ireland, Wauchope mad in a monastery.

The Santa Marta table before the arrival of both forces. Looking from the south west

Notwithstanding the absence of these glitterati, there were plenty of characters left to create the necessary mayhem. There were five battles in total; A dour Scots affair which saw Dundee breaking up a conventicle in Lanarkshire, an encounter battle between Lord Galmoy's Flying Column and General Mackay's Northern Williamites, a raid on Jamaica by Dutch and Huguenots, a large battle between the Jacobite Irish and Mackay in Yorkshire and finally a full blown battle to throw the English out of Jamaica.

The Dutch NGWIC troops approach through the jungle - Clarence made the flags especially

Obviously we have lots to share on based on the outputs from this weekend but lets start with something completely different.

Here are some extracts from the narrative which explain why Piercy Kirke found himself Governor of Jamaica and having to defend a Spanish slaving post in the centre of the island with English-Creoles against invading Huguenot and Dutch West India Company troops.

The Dutch had to cross the crocodile infested river which really slowed them down

Piercy Kirke, having survived two proximate attempts on his life had been packed off as Governor of Jamaica by King James just after the turn of the year. Kirke, a dexterous and combative man despite his years had drowned one assailant in a quart of boiling coffee whilst braining two others with a hot skillet during what was to become known as the Oxford Coffee Break.

I will do a feature on the organization of my Creole companies - 1:5 model to man ratio this represents 60 men

Moving on to supposedly quieter circumstances the General found himself tied to a bed which was promptly set ablaze during the Frolic at Faggots. The two wenches accused of this dalliance gone wrong waited tables at the Faggot’s Inn, Finchley but were never traced. Kirke insisted that whilst availing himself of some well-earned rest he dosed off only to be awakened by smoke. 

The Huguenots companies press into Santa Marta with Dutch racing away on the left

Finding himself lashed to the bed he used his battlefield voice to raise the alarm and was freed by a stable boy. The general was sorely blistered and remained in danger of his life for two weeks having suffered excruciatingly in the nether regions of his body. Kirke’s dispatch to the Tropics prompted the King to be persuaded by advisers such as Sarsfield and Hamilton to have the rascal kept eye upon. 

Kirke rode inland accompanied only by his servant and Sheldon to take command of a few companies of Creole infantry from the garrison regiment of Colonel Hylton bolstered by some 40 English grenadiers lately arrived from Port Royal. This officer lay sick with ague and his native troops were scattered in outposts across the island. Kirke’s arrival was indeed timely. 

The Dutch captured the redoubt in the foreground but then came under flanking fire

Within two hours of taking command at Santa Marta advanced parties of both de Ruvigny’s and Hamilton’s forces began emerging from the jungle. The latter were somewhat hampered by having to cross a deep stream inhabited by numerous and aggressive crocodiles. At least five men are known to have been taken by the beasts as recorded in the journal of Captain Collaert of the NGWIC.

The Dutch made modest progress over running an outpost but presented no real threat to the position. De Ruvigny’s motley command however succeeded in penetrating Santa Marta and setting some of the huts on fire. A group of diminutive natives stormed the front-line barricades and the situation appeared parlous until a troop of mounted plantation workers charged into the fray and disrupted the Huguenot attack.

Kirke directs the defence against a rabid tribe of diminutive natives and Huguenot Privateers

One company under Captain Samuel Tyler had every one of its 54 men killed or wounded. The English composed themselves and the attackers withdrew back into the bush to lick their wounds. Kirke reported 120 men killed wounded or missing during the action. He grudgingly praised the intervention of Squire Tregarren and his workers likening their charge to that of ‘Berber blackbeards giving chase to Tangier’s English whores’.

Creoles defend English colonial possessions loyally and bravely.

Losses amongst the Williamite forces are difficult to determine as the French did not record native casualties. Estimates place combined Dutch and French losses near 200. Despite his success Kirke abandoned Santa Marta at dusk and fell back on Spanish Town. 

The journey to the Caribbean opened so many doors for us and we had great fun with the whole native tribes dimension. This was a company level action using BLB3 WTK and worked very well.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Solidifying the Ghost Army Part 5 - How far can you get in a week?

A selection of the Ghost Army in the field

Something I am frequently asked is "how do you manage to be so productive?". The answer is quite simple. I don't have any spare time.

Lukas Strom takes an aimed shot

My day job keeps me away from home about 180 days per year on average. I long ago abandoned my portable painting kit which included about two dozen little Vallejo bottles carried around with my brushes, files, glue, scalpels and a portable lamp.

When once at Riyadh airport two soldiers made me unwrap a dozen painted horses and asked
"What are these?" I realized the game was up. I tried to explain. I showed them some unpainted ones. I showed them the paint bottles. When they started sniffing the painted horses I thought to myself... jail here I come.  At that point, I decided to confine my hobby work during travel to writing.

Some of the tricorned chaps

This means when I am home I lock myself in the man cave and pump it out to endless re-runs of Jonathan Creek, Morse,Lewis the IT Crowd, Bergerac et al. Having no spare time really focuses the brain. You use every single minute. I do not piss about in bed or surfing the net. I work to internally set deadlines and so.. to the subject of the Ghost Army.

A wide variety of head wear (or not)

Idea conceived on a night flight from JFK to LHR on June 17.  Conversions done on June 18 and 19. By June 24 I had used my evenings to paint fifteen of the thirty models having converted about two thirds of those.

Some of the distinctive Character models

Departure on the June 25 for DXB and not home for three weeks, I wanted to break the back of this project before I got distracted on the inbound. Three weeks without a paint brush in hand to think of new ways to waste my time at home is dangerous. I had to get most of it done!

The conversions were simple and fun - even Clib like 'em!

Proof of concept here and I must admit I really enjoyed taking the photos.

I hope to finish all of the remaining models on my return including the five cavalry and the all important force leader.

Here are the remaining nine Foot models waiting for me at home.

Putting it all together for an article for WI. Onwards.. I can smell my dinner cooking... chilli tonight.

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