Saturday, 17 April 2021

Lancers for the King

 I have an interest in the fascinating Cuera Soldiers who protected Spanish settlements from the Gulf of California to the Gulf of Mexico for around a hundred years. These men wore thick leather coats and carried lances and shields, riding horses with leather trappers to protect them from the arrows of the Apache, Comanche and other Indian tribes. 

I think only the London War Room range from RSM makes them in miniature which is a great pity as these men were every bit as colourful and brave as the American cavalry who followed them. 

The picture below is from a hide painting sent to Europe from New Mexico in 1758 and shows what is thought to be the defeat of the Villasur expedition - a column sent by Spain in 1720 to gather intelligence on French movement around the river Platte and to exert control and influence on the region. The expedition including Cuera Soldiers and the Indian allies was ambushed by Pawnee and Otoe tribesmen at dawn, and suffered heavy loss. The survivors made it back to Spanish territory  having penetrated further north and east than any other land based force at that time. The French were delighted to hear of its defeat,  but did not form any links with the region either. 

The Lancers of the King is a book I picked up on EBay and is a translation of the King of Spain's instructions on the organisation and structure of the Cuera Soldiers, their equipment, uniforms, garrison locations and details of the Indian scouts who supported them. It also has background on the history of the region as well as several excellent drawings, photographs and maps. Written in 1965 it's not a common book and probably very scarce on this side of the Atlantic, so I was lucky to find it. It's been a very interesting read. 

I think I might have to try and get my hands on the LWR figs or possibly try converting some Spanish garrochista guerillas by giving them a long coat and ardaga shield. Eagle Figures do some nice figs. Boot Hill and 1st Corps do later presidial cav, but the cross belts etc are probably too much to carve away.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

A Jacobite Game

 It's the 275th anniversary Culloden on the 16th and now that I have care of some jacobites I organised an online zoom game with mates from Oldmeldrum Wargames Club. 

Scenario notes and background were issued to the players before hand and the game itself was based on Prestonpans. A slight comms hiccup meant the Hanoverian commander didn't get orders back in time and one of his colleagues had the men deploy facing Edinburgh rather than the Jacobites who had listened to advice, looked at at the map and decided to march round the back of the redcoats. 

The battle was confusing, bloody and broke down into individual scraps and firefights. The melee capabilities of the clansmen were ferocious and the raw redcoats suffered from being wrong footed, struggling to turn and prepare and being poor shots. Not all went for the Jacobites - they lost control over their men once the clans got close enough to charge and at times fluffed activation rolls and had units retire whilst the action was still in full swing. However it went badly for the Hanoverians and they couldn't get organised to get their raw troops from causing anything other than minor damage to the highlanders. Their formation broke up and around half were cut down or fled by the games end.

A historical result and nice getting some toys on the tabletop

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Against Spain - update time !

 I received an email from Graham at Crann Tara yesterday with some good news. The first of the figures to accompany "Against Spain", the sequel to Wargaming the Sugar Islands have been sculpted by Andy Stadden.

These Indian labourers will be able to serve the British as labourers, "lascars", without whom no European army in India could operate. But with the addition of muskets they'll become early Sepoys, "peons" as they were known, who were only just becoming more regimented and equipped with uniforms in the 1750's. The Madras residency were to supply trained soldiers to serve in Drapers expedition to Manila, but instead he was given fresh recruits and men straight of the streets. Many disappeared in the the countryside once in the Philippines, some turned their coat and fought for the Spanish. Some settled and built a new life and their descendants are still there to this day. 

A versatile set of figures, excellently sculpted by Andy, soon to be joined by a more steadfast force....the Cuban Militia. Watch this space for more info!

The book itself is almost complete. The last couple of sections have to be written, summarising the end of the campaign on both islands and of the conclusion of the war. The maps for the scenarios are done and but the notes for the scenarios have to written, but everything else is in place.

Wargaming the Sugar Islands is still available, from myself using the link on the left, from Crann Tara, and Caliver Books here in the UK or On Military Matters in North America . 
There's a review here if you want to know a little bit more

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Back to the 18th....again....!

The other week I had some time on my hands and started surfing the Amazon prime lists for a good film. Up popped The Emperor of Paris...period drama, European, Napoleonic, Vincent Cassell... hmm....oh but what's this..."The Conquest of Siberia" - 18thC, nice costumes, Russians...Swedes...oooh I'm in! 

A god awful film that seems to be hacked together rather than edited and whose plot meanders and twists more than the river they sail down, but which is based on two true events. One was the Russian expedition from Tobolsk up the river Irtysh towards the Tien Shan and the the Silk Road. They bumped into a Steppe Tribe - the Dzungar - and were promptly sent packing. 

But the Russians took with them Swedish prisoners who had been sent to Siberia following the Battle of Poltava and the people of Tobolsk included some Baltic Germans including women. One of the Swedes and one of the German women eventually made it back to Sweden. 

The film is awful and only worth watching (if that!) for the setting, the costumes and some of the battle scenes. But it did provide an inspiration. I've been discussing Kalmyk, Kazakh and other steppe tribes on a forum I'm a member of. I've also got some GNW Russians and Swedes but I've never gotten "into" them properly, probably because they are Wee Wolf Miniatures (ex Footsore, ex Musketeer) and now only available from the states. The are big robust figs, tall and chunky and so somewhat outsize compared to the excellent Ebor and Warfare ranges. Now however I didn't need lots of them (I have painted some myself, and have some painted by friends (Hi Paul) and some more from Ebay), and didn't even need more Swedes. 

Russian foot - Ex Musketeer

A Casting Room Miniatures Grenadier joins them.

But what about the Dzungar? These were a remnant of one of the Mongol Hordes and dominated the central steppe covering north eastern Kazakhstan down into the Tarim basin. They are portrayed in the film as very mongol looking horse archers and heavy armoured lancers. This seems to be borne out by some cursory research I've done into the backstory to the film - The Bukhholtz Expedition. So which figs do I get to represent them? 

Dzungar Tribesmen

Fireforge Mongol Cavalry! 

Relatively inexpensive, well sculpted and similarly sized to those chunky Russians...perfect.

This will be a skirmish game pitching some Russians and some Swedish foot with Cossack Allies against the Dzungar. I will use Pikeman's Lament or possibly Donnybrook, keeping it small and playable solo on the kitchen table. 

And so another lockdown project is born....hopefully the last. 




Oh...and I bought more Swedes...đŸ€Ł