Sunday, 16 January 2022

Even More Husaria!

This blog post looks at my latest unit of miniature Husaria.

Polish Hussars from Warlord Games, 28mm

Long term readers of the blog may remember that when I started the Hussars for my Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army I looked at three different manufacturers (see https://theviaregia.blogspot.com/2020/05/husaria.html). I decided at this point that the Warlord figures looked a bit later than 1620s period that I was aiming for, and were perhaps more suitable for the 1670s onwards. The units I’ve used so far have been from Foundry and TAG. Well, the thought of that box of Warlord Hussars sitting in my lead mountain had been a niggle in the back of my mind. Then the box was inexplicably joined by another! (Thanks, Phil!) This was too much to bear, and so I decided that I had to paint up a unit with the Warlord figures.

So here is a quick run down of the Warlord Games, Polish Winged Hussars box set. You get eight metal riders and eight metal horse figures in a box. As I form my cavalry in units of 12 figures I needed two boxes to make a unit, and of course three boxes will allow me to make two units! 

As I noted before, the Warlord figures are in very dynamic poses. There are four different horses, all in different states of galloping forward. One of the horse poses looks a little odd to me, but once ranked up with the others it is fine. The horses all have nice ‘fancy’ horse furniture, befitting these noble units, and have pistol holsters and the long koncerz type sword  on the left side of the saddle. 

There are six poses of hussars with lance, two at the charge, and the rest in various more ‘lance upright’ poses. There is also an officer figure, with two options for his right hand; either a sabre or a bulawa (a ceremonial mace). Finally there is a trumpeter. One of the lancer models can be used a standard bearer. 

The figures come with a nice selection of separate wings, also in metal. There are three different designs, all of which are probably of the later types of design in which they curve forward. The hussar figures have been sculpted to allow one or two wings to be added either to the riders back, or to rear of the saddle. Wings attached to the rider’s back seem to be later and final design for carrying wings. I chose to use the wings mounted to the rear of the saddles, that are moulded as part of the riders. I avoided using the most curved wings, and also used some shorter, straighter wings that I had in my stash for a bit of variety. By using the less curved wings, and by saddle mounting them, I was in my mind at least, giving the hussars an earlier look. The hussars armour still gives them a look that suggests to me, later than the 1620s. 

Warlord provided nice brass 80mm long spears for the lances. Hussar lances included a ball shaped hand guard. To represent this Warlord provide some small metal ball shaped hand grips in the set. These come with holes drilled through them which allow them to be mounted on the brass spears. This is a lovely touch and I have used this approach for all of my previous units of hussars. 

With the variety of horses and riders, all in dynamic poses, fitting everything together took a bit of time. This allowed for some experimentation and a small bit of filing and filling to get riders and mounts to fit neatly, with wings added to the saddles. As I wasn’t using the back mounting points for the wings these needed to be filled with some green stuff. I also made sure that the riders who would be carrying lances had their right hands drilled out, although I would fit the lances later after painting. 

Despite having the riders and mounts matched, I painted them separately. This requires a numbering system on the paint ‘handles’ to help match the correct riders to the correct mounts after painting. The figures were really nice to paint with lots of crisp detail. The horse tack is suitably fancy, and the hussars’ armour is also covered in a lot of detail. My humble skills could only go so far with this, but there is plenty of detail there to satisfy a really keen painter.

My attempts at tiger and leopard pelts.

There are loads of details to paint on the horses and riders.

An extra exotic snow-leopard.

I glued the riders to the horses after they were painted. Before adding the lances I painted the lances and added the lance pennants. These are from Flags of War and the cavalry standard is from a set of free downloads on Jose Manuel Chasco’s site (see here https://www.anotherminiaturespainter.com/wargames/28mm-polish-renaissance-cossack-flags/). Warlord provide pennants and a flag as part of the information leaflet in the box, but I had already used the design they provide on a previous unit and I wanted these to look different.  With the lances on the figures it was time for my regular basing. (See https://theviaregia.blogspot.com/2021/04/husaria-from-ground-up.html.)






I am really pleased with the finished unit. Despite the button-counter part of me knowing these look a little late for my 1620s army, they may sneak on to the tabletop to join their earlier comrades; they’re just too nice not to use! 

The finished unit placed into its Really Useful Box for storage.

Until next time!

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig (FOGH). 




 

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

“Bring on the Empty Horses!”

This blog post looks at providing riderless horses for the dismounted dragoons that I covered in my previous post. 

Horses for my dismounted dragoons, with horse holders from Bloody miniatures - 28mm

[Note. The title of this blog post is taken from David Niven’s autobiography. During the filming of the 1936 version of The Charge of the Light Brigade, starring Errol Flynn and David Niven, the director shouted this memorable phrase when he wanted the riderless horses brought in to the scene of the charge itself.  Ever since learning about this, our club has always referred to the riderless horses, used to represent dismounted dragoons and cavalry, in this way. ]

Errol Flynn in the 1936 version of Charge of the Light Brigade

An “empty horse” from the film.

My previous post covered James Butler’s dragoons, a unit in my Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth army for the 1620s (see https://theviaregia.blogspot.com/2021/12/what-butler-recruited.html). These were foot figures and I needed something to help represent them as dragoons. While dragoons typically fought on foot, I think it looks better to have something on the table top to show that they have mounts as well. 

The most fool proof approach would be to have a mounted version of the unit, a dismounted version, and set of riderless horses.  I have done this for previous units of dragoons but I have found that swapping the mounted unit off and back on to the table, as the dragoons dismount and remount, is a complete faff.   Typically, after doing this for the first time in a game, the mounted unit gets left off the table and some other convention is used to indicate if the unit is mounted or dismounted. Adding to this, I struggle to think of a game in which my dragoons have remounted during the action.

On this basis, for Butler’s dragoons, I have decided to just provide riderless horses to indicate the unit of dragoons. These riderless horses are from Avanpost (https://www.mezzersminis.co.uk/product-page/21-081-dismounted-dragoon-horse-holder).  They are sold in packs of two horses with a dismounted horse holder.  

Contents of the Avanpost 28mm resin Dismounted Dragoon pack.

I have chosen not to use the Avanpost horse holder minis, but instead used figures from the Bloody Miniatures range; the same used for the rest of the dismounted dragoon unit. For my riderless horses I have decided to use 8 horses and 2 horse holders. This is enough to give the impression of a set of riderless horses, held ready for the dragoons to remount at a moment’s notice.

Swappable horse holders.

I gave myself two additional challenges.  First, I wanted to be able to swap out the horse holder minis, and so be able to use the riderless horses in other situations. Secondly, I wanted to model how the horses were tethered. 

The top of a Warbases 2 x 2p base ‘tray’, cut in half, and the two 8cm square bases.

I used two 8cm square bases (2mm MDF from Warbases) for the horses, with 4 on each.  On each base I added part of a top piece from a Warbases basing tray, the same dimensions as my dismounted dragoon figures’ bases (UK 2 pence piece / 2p). Using one of the Warbases’ 2p  sized MDF bases with magnet holes I marked where a matching magnet hold would need to be in the 8cm square base and drilled a 5mm hole there. I then added a magnet (checking that the polarity would match the figures’ bases, of course!) to the square base. This provides a single figure base tray / sabot for a suitable horse holder figure that is also magnetised to stop the figure accidentally falling off the base.

The top of a base tray glued to the 8cm square base.

A Warbases 2p sized base, with a 5mm magnet hole, used as a template to mark where the magnet hole needs to go in the 8cm square base.

I realise that this is an entirely unnecessary step as I could have just permanently stuck a generic horse holder figure to each base, but is was relatively straightforward to do, and it satisfied my desire to get the most use out of painted figures. 

A metal tree stump with 4 tethers attached, from the Warlord Dragoon set, used to tether four of the Avanpost horses. Note the single base tray, with magnet, ready for the horse holder.

Scratch built tree stump and tethers made with twig, plastic card and green stuff bits.

For the tethers I had two solutions. When 17th century dragoons dismounted the horses’ reins would be passed to the men designated to stay with the horses, and so the horses in all likelihood would be tethered using their reins. The Avanpost figures are modelled with their reins loose, in front of them, but these were too short for my purposes and, being very thin resin, incredibly delicate. I therefore removed them and replaced them in two ways.

The first was to use a white metal piece that comes with the Warlord Dragoon set.  This has four sets of reins, all tied to a tree stump.  I only had one of these in my spare parts box, and so for the other four horses I made the stump from a garden twig, and the reins from thin pieces of plastic packaging.   Once the stumps, with reins attached, were glued to the bases the other ends of the reins were glued to each horse’s bridle. 


Extract illustrations from Wagner’s European Weapons & Warfare 1618-1648, published by Winged Hussar Publishing. 

[Historical note. Looking at Wagner’s European Weapons & Warfare 1618-1648, it’s possible that the loose horses’ reins were looped through the next horses reins in a daisy chain effect with the last set being held by the dismounted horse holder.  Wagner notes that this made separating the horses a laborious process as each horse could only be separated one at a time. I decided this would be tricky to model and so I have used an approach with each horse’s reins tied to a handily placed tree stump.]

The completed bases with horse holders/guards and some scenic scatter added to the bases.




The final bases are now ready to follow Bulter’s dragoons on the battlefield. I shall use them facing forward to represent the dragoons mounted, and facing to the rear to represent the dragoons dismounted. I am sure the bases will also come in handy for other occasions when the cry of “Bring on the empty horses!” is heard across the miniature battlefield. 

Until next time,

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig.


Thursday, 16 December 2021

What The Butler Recruited

This blog entry looks at a new unit for my 1620s Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth army, a unit of dragoons.

Butler’s Dragoons, dismounted. 28mm from Bloody Miniatures.

Background

European armies in the early 17th century were experimenting with mounting units of infantry to improve their mobility and therefore their ability to support their army’s cavalry. The experiments were successful, where the mounted infantry were equipped with muskets, and the dragoon as a troop type was born. They were able to dismount and provide fire support to the real cavalry and, off the battlefield, they were well suited to the typical activities of the ‘small war’; raiding, scouting and garrisoning outposts.

Assault on a Convoy, by Sebastiaen Vrancx with Jan Breughel the Elder.  A typical action of the ‘small war’.

Polish armies were no exception and in the 1620s they were forming units of dragoons, typically recruited from foreign troops (see my previous entry on the Foreign Infantry here: https://theviaregia.blogspot.com/2021/03/polish-lithuanian-foreign-infantry.html ), and sometimes converted from existing infantry units into dragoons. Dragoons use on and off the battlefield required smaller, flexible sizes of units, and so just a few companies of infantry may be converted to dragoons rather than larger formations.  

James Butler

The unit of dragoons I decided to collect was that belonging to James Butler, as it is likely that they were at Dirschau/Tczew in 1627. James Butler was an Irish noble who had been fighting in Polish service since at least 1617. He seems a fascinating character. (Short bio here: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/ssne/item.php?id=6450 .)  He was an experienced, and successful, officer who was well connected in England and Ireland, as well as in the Commonwealth, and it appears he recruited at least some of his men from England and Ireland.  His dragoons were formed from some of his existing ‘foreign’ infantry companies.

(While looking in to James Butler I discovered there were several James Butlers from Ireland serving in Polish and Imperial armies in this period.  This makes things a bit confusing, but the Butlers were obviously a family whose sons were often seeking employment abroad.)

A company being ambushed in the Thirty Year War by Peeter Snayers.  An opportunity for plunder!

Dragoons seem to have had a reputation, at least among the more puritanical in England, as being too often tempted in to ‘plundering and ungodliness’. I suspect this reputation may be a result of dragoons often being quartered away from the main army with its commanders, and also due to their function often being the disruption of the enemies supplies. 

Based on this I wanted my unit of Butler’s dragoons to look like they have been living off the land and what ever they can ‘acquire’.  Also to look like they are following their own whims of personal comfort, rather than being uniformed. As they are treated as skirmishers in the Pike & Shotte rules, a good variety of poses would also be required to represent the dragoons defending some outpost or attacking the enemy rear areas.

All of these requirements fitted neatly with the latest release of figures from Bloody Miniatures.  This second release includes a couple of sets with muskets (Game Keepers and Sentinels) and also a set of desperate and dangerous looking Mossers (Moss Troopers). With the addition of a few figures from the original release, I had my 12 figures, including command, as well as a couple of horse holders (more of them in the future).

The Halt of the Cavalry by Peeter Snayers.  I like the dishevelled and ragtag appearance of this unit that Snayers has chosen to represent.

I also decided to do some head swaps to add a Polish feel to the unit. Although these men would have been recruited from foreigners I rationalised that a few items of Polish headgear could have made their way in to use in a unit that sometimes had to operate, and fend for themselves, away from the main army.

Three figures with head swaps to give a flavour of troops fighting in Poland.

As desperado dragoons were certainly not going to be uniformed and so I was able to fully explore my paint racks in deciding on colours in which to clothe each figure. They’ve also been given a fairly grubby appearance to suggest they’ve been on campaign for a while.

Cornet, Officer and Drummer.

The command figures for the unit include a Cornet (flag bearer) carrying a dragoon guidon. Sadly Butler’s foot and dragoons don’t have any known flag designs. I’ve used an example that is possibly from an unknown Polish dragoon unit (see  https://www.helion.co.uk/military-history-books/despite-destruction-misery-and-privations-the-polish-army-in-prussia-during-the-war-against-sweden-1626-1629.php?sid=d20622fac8e2f6ae07608fbfa93e14e3 ).  I’ve also included a drummer, with a handily slung drum, that will help him get about when mounted. 


They are based individually so that they can act as skirmishers in Pike & Shotte and this will also give me the opportunity to use them in skirmish games like En Garde or Pikeman’s Lament (both by Osprey Games).  I used to use 2 pence pieces for individual bases, but I don’t seem to get much loose change anymore, and so I’m switching to 2 pence size bases in MDF, produced by Warbases, which have a hole in them for a magnet that will help with storage.  I’ve also bought some movement trays from Warbases to make it easier to move the Dragoons around the battlefield. These also include magnet holes which should help keep the figures on the trays.

2 pence piece bases and base trays from Warbases, all with 5mm magnets added.

Figures on this movement trays from Warbases.

At this point I suspect some people might be saying “This is just a unit of infantry, where are the horses?”. Good point.  You’ll have to wait to next time for my cunning plan to be revealed!


Until next time,

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig


Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Polish Haiduks

In this blog post I cover a new addition to my Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army, a unit of Polish Haiduks.

Polish Haiduks - 28mm from Wargames Foundry & TAG

My painting progress over the summer and autumn has been almost nonexistent and so I am really pleased to be back in the saddle, so to speak!

Haiduk (or Hajduk) was a term used in this period for native Polish and Hungarian infantry. They were armed with muskets and provided fire support to the cavalry arm in open battles, as well as providing the ability to hold fortifications, or indeed assault enemy fortifications. Along with their firearms they were equipped with sabres and hand axes, which they used when involved in hand to hand melee.  They were typically uniformed, and their coats (called a zupan) were usually lined in contrasting colours. The Haiduks therefore provide a distinctive and iconic part of any Polish force, and I have been looking forward to getting some of these on the painting table since I started my Polish army.

Contemporary picture showing a Polish noble escorted by his Haiduk bodyguard.

The Polish infantry were recruited, like the cavalry, through the issuing of a commission to a Rotmistrz.  The Rotmistrz had to recruit the required number of  men as instructed in their commission, and they typically did this in their own home region, looking for volunteers amongst the townsfolk and peasants. The infantry were formed in to banners (companies) with a set of officers, and each tenth man was armed with a long axe or halberd. These tenth men acted as NCOs, directing the rank and file, and were also meant to act as a defence against cavalry with their pole-arms.  

My 28mm miniature Haiduks have been recruited from Wargames Foundry and The Assault Group (TAG).  Like their Hussars, the Foundry Haiduks are a very old range, and so a little on the short side being closer to 25mm than 28mm, but they fit in ok with TAG to my eye. The details on the Foundry figures hold up well; all part of the Perry sculpting genius! 

As well as a tenth-man with his halberd, I have also added a drummer to the unit. Various types of musicians are shown in Haiduk units including fifers, pipers and drummers. 

Contemporary colour picture of a Polish Haiduk

This first unit is painted up in one of the most common colour combinations shown for Haiduks in this period; a lightish blue coat with deep red lining. I want to acknowledge the fabulous painting tutorial by Sonic Sledgehammer that I used as inspiration for this unit, after I saw Troy painting a TYW Bavarian musketeer in just the shade of blue I wanted to use (see the tutorial here: https://youtu.be/ZqpHAV_A1U0). 

I plan to add a few more units like this to the army, and also some separate command bases. The Stockholm Scroll (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Stockholm_Roll) shows a number of Haiduk units, with a variety of uniform colours and I hope to represent these with the future units. 

Until next time!

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig 

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Adventures With Fur

In this blog post I walk through updating my Killing Fields ‘Classic Teddy Battle Mats’.

A Highland Charge across the final mat.

My first experience of making a fur based terrain mat is shown on the blog here https://theviaregia.blogspot.com/2019/03/fun-with-fur.html .  

Since then I have acquired two of the 7’ x 5’ ‘Classic Teddy Battle Mats’ from Killing fields (https://www.killingfieldsterrain.com/store/p14/Killing_Fields_Classic_Teddy_BattleMat_7x5%27.html). These are great as they are pre-dyed in a multi tone effect to simulate grass land.  

The Material 

The mats are fine just to use as you receive them, but I wanted to ‘upgrade’ mine. First, I wanted to permanently attach them together.   The tables in our club hall can easily be set up for 10’ x 6’ games, and I wanted something able to take advantage of this and cover the whole area. Two  7’ x 5’ joined along the 7’ edge make a great 10’ x 7’ matt.   Secondly I wanted to change the colour and look of the matt a bit. Especially with such a big area, now two mats are joined together, having only one colour theme didn’t look so good to my eye. 

Two Became One


Dress making pins used to pin the fur matt to the long strip of calico material.

I used the same method to join the two mats as I had when making my large mat for Lutzen (see link above).  I cut a strip of calico material to roughly 12” wide and 7’ long. This would act as a join between the two mats. I pinned one mat to half of the calico material.  

Recommended glue.  A pair of large, sharp scissors is a help too.

Once happy that it was fairly straight I then glued the calico down. I found this fabric glue in Hobby Craft and it was a bit easier to work with, and one tube did the whole job for me.  This was left overnight to dry thoroughly. 

Glue liberally applied to calico base, then second mat neatly lined up with other mat

I then pinned the second mat to the other half of the calico so that it matched up with the first as closely as possible. (Pro Tip: Make sure the knapp of the fur lies the same way in both mats!) Once pinned, the second matt was glued and set aside overnight to dry again.

Repair tip.

During this process I came across a couple of small holes in the mat.  This must have happened while moving or storing the mats. While I had the glue and calico to hand, I glued small patches of calico underneath the holes to prevent larger gaps developing. 

The Coloured Mat


Trusty cheap, re-chargeable dog trimmer from Amazon

With the two original mats securely joined in to a single giant sized mat, I set about adding some new colours. Before slapping on the paint I gave the mat a quick once over with a dog hair trimmer. I randomly shaved areas using the 6mm, 9mm and 12 mm guides that came with my dog trimmer. The original mats are dyed with three colours in layers. The bottom layer is dark brownish, the mid level greenish, and the top level a light buff colour. This meant areas trimmed heavily look darker as the brown shows through, and areas trimmed less were greener/lighter.

Number One Daughter demonstrates fur mat shaving!

This gives a very nice effect on the original mats, and can also effects the result when more colour is added, depending on the strength/saturation of the colour added.  On my previous mat I poured paint directly on to the mat, and then spread it around with a wet brush. This resulted in areas being too saturated in paint and the fur becoming matted. A lot of combing had been required to rescue these areas. 

A generous dollop will do.

Blue gloves covered in dubious brown - not always a good look!

For this mat I decided to follow Barry Hilton’s advice from a recent one of his blog posts (http://leagueofaugsburg.blogspot.com/2021/08/no-bears-were-harmed-in-making-of.html). He’d used his hands to apply different colour paints, and so I followed suit, wearing a pair of thin plastic gloves to make the process easier to start and stop. The paints were a mixture of acrylic paints, picked up from Hobby Craft (a UK craft store). I bought bottles of kids’ paint and tubes of artist acrylics that were on sale. Yellows, buffs, browns and greens. The technique is to squirt a handful of paint on to one (gloved!) hand, then massage it across both hands, before running the paint covered hands over the mat.  Once the colour has worn off your hands, and is on the mat, then you go to work with a comb. This is essential and the only bit which is anywhere near hard work. This combing should stop the fur getting clumped together with the paint, as well as blending colour changes together.  Loose fur, gunked up with paint, will get combed out, but this is fine.

The best bit - painting by hand!

After a few trials I settled on the colours I liked. The cheap kids paint acts as more of a tint as there isn’t as much colour in the paint. The artists’ stuff is more colour saturated and will change the colour of the fur more.

The all important combing

This ‘by-hand’ approach worked like a dream and gave a better result than my earlier attempt. It is also immense fun painting with you hands. I got the kids involved, and they were naturals at it!  I ended up using a just two of three colours, trying to vary them across the mat. As one coat of the paint dries, you can apply different colours over the top to produce tonal variations.


Painting the whole mat was done in a couple of sessions, and left to dry overnight. This approach left the mat soft and furry, and I think it gives a nice look to a whole battlefield, or used as a base and backdrop for model photo shoots. 

What’s next?

For next steps, I’m considering shaving some roads and tracks into the mat. I could place modular road sections on top of the mat, but shaved in looks better. I also need some marsh and stream sections for my Dirschau battlefield, but I think I might make these modular and place them on top. More thinking time required. 

To create hills simply place things under the mat and it drapes over them nicely.

Battle of Alford 1645 set out on the new mat.

The new colour variations.

I hope this post will inspire others to have a crack at fur. This was very easy to do, and the Killing Fields mats are a great starting point. 

This new fur mat ties in nicely with #terraintober on Twitter. Also check out Alex’s Storm of Steel YouTube Channel (https://youtube.com/channel/UCNUYwNznn-ZuNMoHoF3urwQ) where he is going to feature some of the terrain made. 

Cheers,

Andy @ Friends of General Haig