SPECIAL THANKS. I would like to thank Paul Watson for his sponsorship of several lead figure collections on this blog. Having decided to clear his spare/surplus figures, he generously forwarded them on with no other requirement than they deserved to be restored.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

The KING OF SPAIN ARRIVES, to inspect a FRENCH GUNBOAT

His Most Catholic Majesty, King Alfonso the XIII of Spain, of the Royal House of Bourbon (the English-speaking world will be looking on in distain at such Bourbon bravado, lol), has been invited by the French Government to view their newly constructed gunboat. It is about to see service in the current war with the United States over control of Louisiana (see Dominion War).

The Spanish King was manufactured by a Spanish company called Almirall Palou. The manufacturer made a splendid range of painted 54mm castings, that look great with traditional Britains Toy Soldiers. Unfortunately, the company has now dissolved. Picked up the figure for £8.20 delivered, so not cheap. And it needed restoration, the nose was flat, and several paint chips. But all has been sorted out. Its a shame AP always added deep bases, but for my all important dignitary, I think it looks fine!

Original state
The toy has the king in a light blue cavalry uniform. Those below are infantry staff.

The French gunboat is based on an actual French-made tin toy of about 1890, as with my previous post, I really do like the look of these old toys.
Original tin toy, made by a company called 'CR'.
MGB

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Painting some figures (Medieval, etc.)

Just a little post. A visit to my town market was worthwhile. Picked up these four figures for £1. The cheap Chinese toy is now a bannerman for some Florentine crossbowmen. Note the shield, its the coat of arms adopted by the local official employed to furnish crossbows to the civic levy. Florence was a Guelph city. Had to add and construct a new head. 

The Deetail knight thrusting with the sword is from Sienna, a Ghibelline city state. The Deetail archer has been converted into a Saracen/Turk. Milliput was used to make the baggy pantaloons and turban.

The seated tractor driver is a 1970s plastic Britains toy. Always useful to have.

I would like to thank George Mills, who recently popped over. He had picked up some figures in a car boot sale for me. They included two Deetail horses, still with saddle and shabraque! Also a useful cowboy. The horses required tails to be added, with steel rod and milliput, easy job.

MGB

Sunday, 15 May 2022

NEW GUNBOAT

Some health issues have kept me from being as active as I would like, but have just completed another gunboat. This is based on an American tin toy made in the late 19th century. I'm claiming its a small coastal/river vessel serving with the US Revenue Marine (they changed their name to the US Coast Guard in 1925).

MGB

PS. Have named the vessel USS Alligator (actually used).

Original toy, the larger is also under construction.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

NEWS FROM THE FRONT LINE (Dominion War, wargames, trains, news and maps)

MONTREAL

No sooner had the United States army arrived in the vicinity of Montreal than it became increasingly clear it was, for all practical purposes, impossible to besiege. Too many outlets were available for supplies to continue to reach the garrison. Worse still, reports were arriving (D4) that the Empire garrison in Quebec might be on the move, using the extensive 1885 rail network. This left only two options. ONE. To establish a permanent American headquarters at Longueuil. TWO. To launch a full scale assault on the city of Montreal. The advantage to the second option being, they could always revert to option ONE, and there was plenty of time to secure Longueuil for the winter. Having sent American brigades to key locations, counter-orders were now dispatched calling in most of these lesser positions. Empire commanders in Montreal looked on in some disarray, thinking (D1) all this had been carefully and correctly enacted by the Americans. This led to the Empire forces keeping some of their troops in unnecessary locations, fearful of an attack from some unexpected quarter.

QUEBEC
A Royal Navy fleet recently docked at Quebec. Onboard were several high-ranking staff officers from London. It was also noted, a merchant vessel arrived with the fleet. You might say, peculiarly protected by the fleet? It rapidly unloaded a quantity of large wooden crates. Admiral Watson and General Kitchener can be seen here in conversation, one was overheard to remark "the Empire strikes Back".
(The plasticard merchant ship, newly completed.)

SUDBURY, ONTARIO
The recent raid on Sudbury (see wargame report), in which two buildings were burnt, has caused an interesting development. The local garrison had an influx of new recruits. Local miners are demanding to be trained and issued arms and accoutrements. Fifteen (D5 x firing sections) have enlisted as volunteer-militia, and another nine (D3) have formed a local defence association. 

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
Isolated communities throughout this region are forming 'Rocky Mountain Rangers'. These are independent troops of light horse, willing to augment the Northwest Mounted Police in countering border raids. Supplied with Empire weapons, ammunition and accoutrements, they appear to be quite determined characters, and fervently loyal to the unity of the Empire.  
(Not fictional, actually existed, the RMR were recruited in 1885 by Major John Stewart. Served for one year, each member got $80 and 320 acres of land as a reward.)

BRITISH COLUMBIA and WASHINGTON STATE
In January, Empire forces had occupied Seattle, but their stay was very brief. The capture of this city was strategically a big mistake. It just stimulated the entire American west coast into action. Shortly after its capture, eight military units arrived by train in Portland, Oregon, sent by California. When Empire Command in Victoria, B.C., was informed of their arrival, all Empire troops were ordered to hastily retire to British Columbia, vacating several posts on the Columbia estuary and also Seattle. Later, six United States military units re-entered Seattle, and, as feared, another five crossed over the border and encamped to the south of Vancouver. The latter arrival, however, was considered more embarrassing for the Empire than threatening, as the Vancouver garrison also mustered five units, was well fortified, and could rely on naval support. But what a change in fortune!

DIPLOMACY
The Swiss ambassador recently requested an audience with the British Prime Minister. He apparently indicated that he was aware that the United States Government was not hostile to finding an acceptable conclusion to the unfortunate misunderstandings that have occurred between the United States and the British Empire. The PM apparently replied that he too was aggrieved that it had occurred, but the chief wrong had been committed against an integral part of the British Empire, that the loss in life and property of Her Majesty's subjects had been of a peculiarly disagreeable nature to Her Majesty, that all redress lies in the actions of others. The PM also mentioned that the present conflict between the United States and with France and Spain must also be of concern to the American President, in addition to our own misunderstandings. They parted.

AMERICAN SHIP BUILDING
The raw materials of the United States are enormous, and it is now being directed towards New York and the Chesapeake Bay area, where the shipbuilding industry is alive and well. 

THE WAR IN THE SOUTH
The recent disastrous defeat suffered by the main French army in Louisiana has forced them to reconsider their options in this war. By gathering up the survivors, and reducing their posts, they have been able to form a new army to hold New Orleans, but they need some 'good news', and a new strategy.

The Spanish in Florida are also concerned. The Americans are gathering again on the Georgia-Florida border, and look as if they intend to have another go on taking St.Augustine. The Spanish and French commanders are known to be in communication, discussing future cooperation.

MAP OF NORTH AMERICA, MAY 1st

MY ARMOURED TRAIN, painted and ready
The first 'working' steam engine to serve on rails was constructed by the Cornishman Richard Trevithick in 1804. It pulled five loaded wagons and seventy ironworkers.  The first public railway was the creation of Englishman George Stephenson in 1825, it also utilised a track gauge still used by all trains, worldwide. Here is my armoured train, painted and ready for service, and working with complete reliability!
MGB

Sunday, 1 May 2022

WARGAME (French versus USA , Louisiana)

INITIAL MOVEMENTS

The French launched several rapid expeditions in an attempt to break out of New Orleans. Their fleet disembarked five military units in Vermilion Bay, and quickly secured the town of New Iberia, four of the units then moved on to Lafayette. A small detachment was also sent to occupy Houma. 

From New Orleans, the town of Slidel, to their north, was also occupied by a single French unit. But the main army, ten military units, advanced on Baton Rouge, again. 

American forces at Lafayette, numbering five units, decided to fortify the town and make a stand (D4). The French brigade decided not to attack!

US Headquarters for the South, based in Alexandria, was kept fully informed of these movements and immediately ordered their main force to utilise the Texas & Pacific Railway to aid Baton Rouge. This plan of action had already been envisaged and fully planned for. Their speedy arrival gave the Americans thirteen military units, five already being stationed there. Their plan was to crush the French main force, and then relieve Lafayette. 

BATON ROUGE ARRIVAL TIMES 

With train travel the American main army arrived fairly fit and able, eight units. They now joined those stationed in the area. The French were much slower in their movements, humidity? The opposing armies met about two miles south of the city. Spies keeping both sides informed of their opponents main movements.

WARGAME SETUP

I confess, there has been some gamesmanship! The American units were all large and fully up to strength, they also had two units of local volunteers which furnished an extra twenty-six figures. The French had also strengthened their units, and attached a Heavy Machine Gun to several battalions, claiming they were not separate military units!

Viewed from the French side.
A local farmer is advised his property is now HQ for the United States Army, he fully understands and wishes the commander success (D4).

THE BATTLE
The first shots potentially fired were almost an accident, a local farmer appeared carrying a shotgun. To their great credit (D6) the French instructed him to drop his firearm, and depart the field with his family.
EARLY MOVES. Both sides advanced with resolution, neither side wishing to fire first, even the guns were moved forward!
MOVE THREE. They open up! Predictably, what guns were able to fire, zoned in on the roving cannon, with casualties on both. MOVE FOUR. Disaster for the French, the American RC knocked out the French RC cannon. MOVE FIVE. More rapid advancing by both sides, including the French RC! MOVE SIX. The French RC ran over two Americans, but American artillery was pounding several French units, The American RC even took out one French gun. MOVE SEVEN included some American charges on the French right, but they held fast and fired a devastating volley, six Americans going down, but they still charged on into melee! 
Below. The Americans advance on the French rightwing.
The French RC causes mischief.
The French rightwing is charged, a bloody round of melee is enacted both in and around the farm house.

MOVE EIGHT. The French on the right recovered, and successfully broke one of the American regiments. Another, which was attempting to enter the house was reduced to three figures. only a fluke dice kept them in the fight.The armed volunteers proved their worth, they also attempted to fight their way into the house, suffered two casualties, and the remaining fourteen ran away!
But in the centre, the French were facing defeat, their artillery had been largely ineffectual this day. Their RC was still causing mischief, but so was the American RC, and two French units were now routing, and a HMG had been run over.
MOVE NINE. The Americans advanced all along the line. And the French army was under stress. Even on the right, two French battalions routed, unable to fight off two fresh battalions and a gatling gun. In the centre, another French gun was destroyed, and another battalion routed. MOVE TEN, the French RC is silenced with two direct hits! The last crew member of the American RC is also taken out, a lucky shot through the viewing slit, but the damage had been done, a French battalion reduced by one third. And, about to be attacked by a fresh battalion, and a cavalry regiment. 
MOVE ELEVEN. Surprisingly, the French are having some real success on their left, but they must now face a battery of light guns, fully manned. On the French right, both sides are still fighting on.
MOVE TWELVE. The following photos say it all! 
The Zouaves came under heavy rifle and howitzer fire, at half strength they routed.
The French commander was determined to fight on. He ordered a charge in MOVE THIRTEEN, three more went down but despite being half strength, they still entered into melee (D5). Result. French inflict a casualty for charging, and another for being professional. Americans inflict a casualty for outnumbering 2-1, and another for professional. As a draw, a dice determined an extra casualty and to confirm the melee victor. French win. Americans forced to test their morale as melee loser. A D2 saw the American infantry rout!!!!! The neighbouring cavalry unit witnessed this and was obliged to also test, but stood firm. In the following MOVE FOURTEEN the cavalry charged the survivors, they still held on. But there was no complete section to fire a volley, and the cavalry charged home. Result. American cavalry inflict casualties for being professional, mounted, charging, and outnumbering 2-1. The French inflict one casualty for being professional. No need for a morale test on the losers.This French unit is wiped out, as is the CinC attached to this unit. 
Below, the French sky-blue marines routed under gatling fire.
The French navy blue marines facing the battery broke at 50% casualties, having nearly crossed the entire table, they then routed back (I threw some dice to see what the results would have been in subsequent moves) under artillery fire, only one survivor.  
While casualties were similar; 66 French to 57 American, it is the state of the French military units which means their army is destroyed, possibly seven military units worth out of the ten.
Bright green areas are considered no longer under French control, due to the Baton Rouge defeat.
MGB

Thursday, 28 April 2022

The Raid on Sudbury (Dominion Wargame)

The town of Sudbury had become a regional HQ for local Empire troops. Four small Canadian military units were based there. Unknown to them, an American commander was keen to take this position, and had five military units at his disposal. Surprise was vital to this mission, and with careful preparation, he made his move. 

The American force utilised a train to within twenty miles of their objective, they then travelled by horse. Reaching their objective undiscovered, and with several hours before dawn, their commander allowed his column to rest. The Empire garrison being totally unaware of their nearby approach (D1). However, the garrison commander had the good sense to post five (D5) sentries, and they knew their duties (D6). 

The garrison had occupied several mining buildings, and others served as barracks. They also had a warehouse serving as stables. The American commander decided to launch a single attack (D3), by advancing at double-time, but without noise. If they could not take the position, they were to destroy its effectiveness, and return to their train, which also had a guard of four soldiers (two dice).

MOVE ONE. American troops advanced, at twelve inches, dice were thrown to see if a sentry spotted their advance, D6, the Americans scored a D3, the sentry fired his rifle and started shouting out the alarm. 

MOVE TWO. The Americans moved at full pace, while the garrison stumbles out of their accommodation.
But this was not what the attackers were hoping for, even their cavalry were several moves away from the town centre.
MOVE THREE. the Canadian artillery piece opened fire, with a hit on the approaching cavalry. 

MOVE FOUR. The gallant advance by the two cavalry units had seen two taken down by the gun, and another from the Fusiliers, firing from the Miners' store. Amazingly, the 1st cavalry held their position, not advancing further, but still in the fight. This allowed the 2nd cavalry unit to charge the gun position in MOVE FIVE. The gun crew fired at point blank range, knocking them down to 50%, and their morale now broke. Two good regiments wasted!
The only positive news was the American gun had inflicted a casualty on the Fusiliers, and a light infantry unit had secured a chapel, and was now firing on the gun redoubt. 
MOVE SIX saw both artillery pieces inflict a casualty on each other. The light company in the chapel suffered a casualty from the Canadian rifles, their three firing sections (8 plus two ex-sentries) gave them a dice advantage over the two firing American sections (8 figures, you need three for a firing section). I thought it right to dice to see if the American commander wished to pursue his plan, a D5, yes!
MOVE SEVEN. and EIGHT saw some reversal of fortune for the Canadians, their gun crew was taken out by artillery and rifle fire! And a fire had broken out in the Miners' store.
MOVE NINE. Some excellent marksmanship (D6 twice) inflicted two casualties on the American light troops in the chapel. But a hit on the station not only inflicted a casualty but also started a fire (D6).
MOVE TEN. The US artillery piece was repositioned. MOVE ELEVEN and TWELVE were ineffective. MOVE THIRTEEN and FOURTEEN saw some casualties but it really was time to stop this game, the Americans being now largely dependent on their artillery piece, while their light infantry were being similarly reduced.
The garrison survivors view the scene.
The surviving attackers make a hasty withdrawal.

RESULT
EMPIRE Nine casualties, two buildings destroyed.
UNITED STATES Thirteen casualties, three routing.
Both sides claimed the victory, but I think the Canadians have a better claim, having inflicted heavier casualties and maintained their position. Also, all American forces in this region retired to Sault Ste. Marie which would not have occurred if Sudbury had been neutralised. 
MGB