Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nassau-Ringgworm auf dem Skree

Just click on map to enlarge
The Marquis needs an arch-nemesis to threaten his holdings on the Rhine. And after mulling over the options for a while, here it is. 

The Principality of Nassau-Ringgworm auf dem Skree, led by its ageing but wily ruler, His Excellency Matthias St. Hubertus von Loseth-Pfaffenhofen, Duke of Avenberg-Pfaffenhofen and Landgrave of Nassau Ringworm-auf-dem-Skree. 

More to follow once I work out how to introduce him into the story!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dragooned into service... this old Wargames Foundry Marlburian dragoon that I came across in the bottom of my "spares" box, and which I quickly decided would be attached to l'Armée de l'Oise.

I must have bought him back in 1987 or so, from my friend Dave Morgan who ran the late-and-lamented
Sentry Box West Hobbies in Vancouver.

Now, while he was intended for Marlburian armies ca. 1709, he has his hair tied back in a queue, so that he can easily pass muster for service 35 years later.

What's more, he looks a lot like this gentleman who features on my blog header;

So seeing that M. le Marquis must of course have a mounted escort on his command stand, what better choice than brigadier Jean-Claude Boulet, battle-hardened veteran of the Bauffremont Dragoon Regiment?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Je suis revenu...

Just got back late last night from that marathon training session, and allowed myself the luxury of sleeping in this morning. Work will still occupy a lot of my time over the next few weeks, but this weekend I want to get in some hobby "quality time".

On the workbench is this monstrosity which is just about completed, so that will be my first priority. But in between working on drybrushing stone (which kills brushes like you wouldn't believe), I shall continue to work on my French infantry and on M. le Marquis himself.

Here is a close-up shot of Fusilier Pierre la Pierre, simple soldat of the Regt. de Condé.

Note the absence of "eyes". While I am perfectly capable of painting in the eyes, I usually only do this for my command figures, which tend to be the ones that people pick up to look at. This is partly to speed up painting, but also because I feel that at a distance the figures look better with the eye sockets painted in as dark shadows.

The French justeaucorps was left a natural wool colour, so was an off-white hue rather than the mid-grey that is so common in many illustrations. I was originally going to go with an very pale ivory colour shaded with a dark cream. But it somehow just didn't look right, coming out too yellowish.

So I decided to use a grey basecoat which would provide a strong shading, but highlighted with Ceramcoat's Soft Grey as it is as close to an off-white that one can get. I tend to avoid pure whites and blacks anyway, and my blacks are highlighted with the Ceramcoat Charcoal which gives a "scale black" appearance.

The result is a fair approximation of the actual coat colour, if this near-contemporary Hermand plate is anything to go by;

A fusilier of the Regt. Orleans from 1757.
From the Hermand manuscript.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Notes from the campaign carriage...

I'm writing this post from a convention centre where I'm in the middle of running a week-long training course. So no pictures to post and no progress to report, seeing as my miniatures are over 100 kilometres away.

However, I did bring my copy of Reed Browning's The War of the Austrian Succession with me to read over again, and I am once again struck by just how good a book this is.

Lots of ideas for the l'armee de l'Oise. Having placed it just south of Flanders and near the Rhine, I can have it strike at the Austrians under Prince Charles of Lorraine, come to the rescue of the hapless (and temporary!) Holy Roman Emperor Charles VII and his Bavarians in the Palatinate, or have the Marquis pull M. de Saxe's chesnuts out of the fire in the Low Countries in an attempt to wrest the Austrian Netherlands from the Queen of Hungary.

Alternatively, he can send the army south to help the Spanish and the Duc de Conti teach the devious and wily Charles-Emmanuel III of Piedmont-Savoy a lesson.

1744 is a fascinating year from a gaming standpoint, with just about every corner of Europe seeing some kind of campaigning going on. Plenty of opportunity for the Marquis to build on his fine reputation as a warrior, man of letters and bon vivant.

Finally, I sent off payment for the new Koenig Krieg rules, so when things get back to normal by the middle of next week, I'll be checking my mailbox for its arrival, along with my copy of Savory's His Britannic Majesty's Army in Germany in the Seven Years' War.

An 18th Century summer ahead, it seems!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

M. le Marquis...

I have had a fruitful day's painting. I've been working steadily away on the Regt. de Condé, and moreover have finally begun work on painting "Our Hero" himself!

I've had the miniature for a while-the Marquis de Montcalm figure from Front Rank's French and Indian War range- but was in no hurry to get him done until I decided on a paint scheme.

Well, in the end I've decided to give him a mulberry red coat with gold lace, this being the uniform of the hereditary Princes Ecclesiastical of the Bishopric of St. Vignobles.

I was going to give him a brown horse, but in the end I thought that a dappled grey would set off the uniform better. The only hitch was that painting horseflesh has always been tricky for me, and a dappled grey doubly so, and it took me a lot of courage- and a few glasses of red wine- before I got around to checking out online articles about painting horses, and then to actually getting down to work.

It's turning out quite decently, actually. You can see the results so far below.

I've pretty well finished the horse except for the tack and hooves, and I have blocked in the Marquis' coat and face. I tend to start by painting in deeper shades, and then progressivley lighten the top coat so that the final result gives a rich, opaque finish.

The coat was given a base of
Ceramcoat's mulberry, highlighted with an ancient pot of Ral Partha light reddish brown that I've had hanging around so long that the name on the label has faded away!

I really miss the Ral Partha paints; the selection was vast, and I always found them easy to work with.
Iron Wind Metals in the US carries some now, but the selection is a very, very pale shadow of what was once available.

I also worked on one of the standards for the second battalion of the Regt.
Condé. I made the flag myself on PowerPoint, printed it out with a laser printer, and after wrapping it around the pole and gluing the two sides together, I touched up the edges and highlights. I will slip it off the flagpole while I paint the standard bearer, and I still have to prime and paint the final with its cords and cravattes.

Photo's a bit washed out in the artificial light, but lookin' good, I think!

This last week has been pretty hectic. One of my colleagues has had to return home for as spell due to a family bereavement, and tomorrow I'll be heading up country to teach an intensive course for a pharmaceutical company all next week, so I'll be off the radar for a while.

When I get back next Friday I'll try to finish the good Marquis on the weekend, along with his escort from les Dragons du Beauffremont, and a scout from the Hussards de Sarkozy reporting on the enemy's movements. They'll all be mounted on a hexagonal base for Koenig Krieg.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Je suis retourné- the Regt. de Condé and some KK counters

Those of you who check any of my blogs from time to time undoubtedly realize by now that I have the attention span of an inebriated moth with a memory disorder.

For good or ill I have always had an interest in many different eras in both wargaming and in history in general, and it often happens that I drift off to some new or continuing project or another. In this case, I have been working on a WW1 project set in Italy, and have been working on a large terrain piece as well as a selection of French and Austro-Hungarians.

But this prodigal son always seems to return, sooner or later, to the eighteenth century and the spectacle of lace, tricorns, and the dandified elegance of the French army. So here is a lengthy post to mark the return of the Marquis to my attentions.

Aside from wanting a change from painting field grey and mud, two events are lurking on the horizon that indicate a return to the War of the Austrian Succession is in order. The first is the imminent, if now once-delayed, release of the latest edition of the
Koenig Krieg rules. And very nice they are too, if the teasers on the website's forum are anything to go by.

The other is the impending publication of a reprint of Sir Reginald Savory's
His Britannic Majesty's Army in the Seven Years' War, a project masterminded by Nigel Billington. While postdating the War of the Austrian Succession, it is well within my sphere of interest, and I am really excited to be able to get my hands on a copy. The last time I read it was back in university, and there is no other comparable work out there on the western theatre of the war.

So, with all this in mind I was happy to have had the time this week to take out some of my Front Rank French, clean then up and give them a coat of primer, and then get to work. I've stared on the 2nd Battalion of the
Regt. de Condé.

Twelve figures strong, Koenig Krieg battalions are piddlingly small when compared to this, but given space restrictions and the excruciating time it takes me to paint, units of twelve miniatures are more manageable for me.

Anyhow it is the brigade that is the focus of KK, and a brigade or three of these on the table will still look impressive.

The mini standing on the left is completed. I always do a "test" figure first as that way I can find out what I shouldn't do before I have to end up repainting a whole unit, or realizing that I could have saved time and tears if I had painted some parts of the mini in reversed order.

With these figures I found out that it really is easier to start with a black undercoat for all but the justeaucorp, which is undercoated in Ceramcoat's Bridgeport Grey before being highlighted in Soft Grey.

And it really helps to do the face first. I've always left it close to last before, and realize now that this was a
big mistake.

Part of the Auvergne brigade in my semi-fictional l'
Armée de l'Oise, the Regt. de Condé was unique for having it's drummers wear chamois coats with red facings and carmine lace that was the livery of the Condé family, rather than being dressed in the more familiar blue of the Kings' livery.  They were a very powerful family of great repute, so no doubt they could get away with it!

The guy in black skulking around the rear of the photo is a dismounted hussar, to be painted as one of the
Hussards de Sarkozy who will be part of a command stand. My miniatures when in the middle of painting always tend to look so demoralizingly messed up, and these are no exception. I'm a slow painter, but I have to say that these are proving very enjoyable to paint- at least once they begin looking like the one on the left!

It has become very obvious that it will take a long time indeed to finish even a brigade. I have decided that I will need either to outsource the lion's share of the painting, or to purchase some painted minis from eBay and touch them up rather than start from scratch. Considering that I need to work on the Pragmatic Army as well, this is really the only way to go.

Not a cheap option, and this will all have to be done in increments, but the problem is that I want to get gaming soon. The answer is to do what the old rule set The Complete Brigadier did. The rules, from way back in 1985 or earlier, came in an attractive box complete with cardboard counters that one could use while the army was being built up.

Yeah, I know, why not just play boardgames then? But I am a miniatures gamer at heart, and the idea of attractively coloured counters is as least as appealing visually as is a table full of unpainted minis, so I sat down at the computer and created some sets of counters using PowerPoint.

Here are some examples. Click on them for a larger view.

Brigade de St. Vignobles

Brigade d'Auvergne

I made a set of counters for each brigade of l'Armée de l'Oise. Next I'll work on the units for the Allies. The counters are actual-sized, and just need to be printed out, mounted on card, cut out and laminated. They can also be used as blinds for the game later once they are taken "out of the line" to be replaced with miniatures.  

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Missing Mouillard

Late 19th C. manuscript displaying a montage of regiments and uniforms including that of the Brigade de Bouillon-Cantinat, along with a miniature of its commander, The Chevalier de St. Estampie-Galliard, when the brigade formed part of the French Army of the L'Oise in 1743.

This immaculately-preserved artifact was brought to our attention by the noted expert on 18th C. French military uniforms, M. Lucien Rossignol.

Discovered amongst the Sangfroid papers in the collection of
La Bibliothèque Nationale de la Lorraine, it is remarkable for being the only example extant showing the uniform for the cavalry regiment Bouillon-Cantinat, and is the sole surviving fragment of plates from the 1892 limited edition of the Lucien Mouillard work, all copies of which were believed to have been destroyed in the shelling of L'Abbe de St. Vignobles during the campaign for Verdun in 1916.

It represents a very notable addition to our current knowledge of the French army of the War of the Austrian Succession.

The continuing tale of the Chevalier de St. Estampie-Galliard from the pen of his commanding officer, M. le Marquis de Sangfroid himself;


"After a few more fortifying glasses of claret, I felt myself able to explain to my confidant M. de Brouillier the reason that lay behind my apparent change of mood, and told him of what I knew of M. le Chevalier de St. Estampie-Galliard, the relating of which would certainly enlighten him to the source of my present distress.

The family of St. Estampie-Galliard is an ancient one from the lands of Roussilon, and while, of course, not of such august a lineage as that of the Bouillon-Cantinats, their service goes back many generations to the time of the Angevins.

The chevalier's father was of a man of some renown in the late wars in Spain alongside the great Marshal Berwick, in the course of which he met his future wife, the present chevalier's mother. She was a lady of ancient noble Spanish blood, who was renowned in her youth for her passionate nature and great beauty- as well as, it is said, for her somewhat lax moral character; a trait which, it must be noted, has evidently been passed on down to her son.

The chevalier is reputed to be quite handsome, and to his merit he is a fine rider and judge of horseflesh. Of his courage there is no doubt. Alas, the same cannot be said of his providence, perseverance nor especially of his judgement as it pertains to matters of a non-equine nature.

I had the opportunity once to conduct mass wherein the good chevalier was in attendance. The occasion remains in my remembrance on account of noting his frequent lack of concentration, consistent and loud yawning, and his insistence of taking up of conversation with the more attractive ladies of the congregation during my remonstrance against the evils of indolence and gluttony.

His good looks, athletic prowess, and considerable charm have served to further him in his career where otherwise his lack of mental agility and self-discipline would have disbarred him. Of late he had been serving in the Maison du Roi, with the Gendarmes Bourguignons du Roi. But evidently he has been showing fealty more to the Goddess Venus than to warlike Mars, which seems to have been the root cause for his current lack of employment.

It is reported, amongst those who have a taste for such snippets of knowledge and rumours, that the aged but most revered and influential of chancellors, M. le Duc du Cressé-Armagnac, had a very young and beautiful ward who was known to be a favourite of our King Louis.

Mlle. Hortense-Desirée de la Cloche-Rohan enjoyed a reputation throughout the court at Versailles for being a gentlewoman of singular beauty of complexion and fullness of figure, and she was much admired by the men of court, young and old. Thus when the opportunity arose, during the course of a dinner given in honour of the Conte d'Arles, it was upon this young enchantress who had evidently captured his attentions that our chevalier was to ply all the considerable talents for wooing and of charm that he had at his disposal."

"It appears that the chevalier's first real campaign was crowned with success and that the object of his besiegement surrendered the citadel- and all its more intimate chambers- without demur. Unfortunately for M. Le Chevalier, he was discovered engrossed in the act of intense exploration of his newly-conquered possessions by the Duke himself, who had descended into the wine cellar in company along with his companions, M. l'Abbe d'Eu and M. le Marquis de Feltres- who also happened to be the commanding officer of the Gendarmes Bourguignons du Roi-, intending to surprise these respected gentlemen with a cache of fine wines, which he had had the fortune to acquire in the course of a recent journey to Dijon.

That it was indeed a surprise to all involved is not in dispute.

The resulting fracas saw the benevolence and serenity of His Majesty sorely tested to the fullest, and it is rumoured that were it not for the timely intervention of the Queen- who had taken a liking to our now somewhat compromised hero- the worthy chevalier may by now have found himself in the service of the Ministry of Marine in New France. Instead, it was determined that he would be sent far from the centre of court to the armies currently serving on the frontiers either of the Rhine or of Piedmont-Savoy, in order that he may have to chance to redeem himself with his monarch through some act of heroism or other.

So it can be seen that Lady Chance is a fickle mistress, and thus it had fallen to my lot to provide a station in life for this unfortunate wastrel.

As the day went on, the thought of entrusting such a fine brigade of horse to a man of so little proven ability in matters of administration and tactics troubled my staff and I immeasurably. While no doubt ultimately having to accept the appointment, I determined that I would lever certain advantages from the arrangement.

Namely, I wanted a trusted second-in-command for the brigade, so I petitioned the Minister that I have the Regt. de Bouillon-Cantinat take precedence over the other regiments of the brigade, by recognizing it as a legitimate successor to its forbears in 1688.

Thus the brigade would bear it's name, and the major of the Regt. de Bouillon-Cantinat- my trusted and experienced subordinate from St. Vignobles itself, M. le Chevalier Eduard Duchamps de Botte-en-Selle- would through his position as brigade chief-of-staff prevent the Chevalier d'Estampie-Galliard from ruining the brigade through either neglect or excess.

The minister was only too glad to oblige to such terms, being thankful of having such a tedious conundrum removed from his hands. As for the chefs of the regiments of Clermont and of Conti, they showed themselves quite understanding of the situation, and in exchange for a few barrels of the choicest reserve cognacs from the wineries of St. Vignobles as well as the writing off of certain debts they had owing to me in the course of some ill-fated games of chance, they were content to acquiesce to such an extraordinary departure from the rules of precedence for the sake of the betterment and security of the Service."

Vexations from Versailles...

"As the summer turned into autumn in that eventful year of 1743, we laboured ceaselessly on forging l'armee de l'Oise, seeking through our efforts to sharpen it into a finely-honed foil with which to lunge at the King's enemies.

To that end, I was ever involved in seemingly endless cycles of correspondence with Versailles concerning the outfitting, victualling, and financing of the army, and furthermore found myself deep in a constant inundation of letters of introduction and and recommendations. We were subject to a veritable tide of candidates, great and humble, all hoping to be selected for posts of honour and responsibility as general and regimental officers.

I was determined to officer my corps with men that had shown aptitude & talent in the Profession of Mars, and who were well-versed in the social graces and of good family. In short, such gentlemen who would bring us honour and help to eradicate the shame that was Dettingen.

But we live in a world in which power, politics, and influence are unbounded. While I was on many occasion able to secure the services of worthy and dedicated individuals that would do us credit on the field, in other circumstances I was not always as fortunate. Oft was I compelled to walk a fine line and to broker agreements or compromises. And at times, composing myself with the resignation necessary in one who frequents the gaming table, I had just to accept the inevitable hand that fate (in the person of His Majesty) had dealt me.

Such a one was
M. Le Chevalier Raymond Boniface de St. Estampie-Galliard.

One morning as I was in the company of my comrade-in-arms, M. de Debrouillier, and with whom I was sharing a half-bottle of claret and quiche as a quick breakfast before making our customary inspections, we were disturbed from our deliberations by the arrival of a
post-chaise bearing a hefty packet of correspondence from Versailles.

Steadily going through the voluminous pile of envelopes contained within- being for the most part a collection of requests for receipts, notices of accounts payable, & provisioning letters-of-credit along with other such sundry matters of administration- I was dismayed to discover a missive closed with the heavy and ornate seal which marked the sender as being the esteemed- and most influential- Minister of War,
M. Marc-Pierre de Voyer de Paulmy, Comte d'Argenson.

I opened and read the letter with some apprehension. The essential contents of which, thereof, the Good Count- after proffering the best of wishes for my welfare and for my continued robust health- was pleased to inform me that His Majesty had tendered the "suggestion" that I take on the services of the said knight,
M. Le Chevalier Raymond Boniface de St. Estampie-Galliard. Who, I was assured, would render me honourable and energetic service if given the opportunity to command a brigade of horse.

Now such a recommendation carried with it the weight of Mighty Jove, and, having already used up considerable credit with the authorities in Versailles in my efforts to obtain the services of my new Quartermaster-General, M.
le chevalier Gouvrement de la Taille, I quickly calculated with sinking hope that this would be one appointment for which I would have to graciously submit to the benevolence and will of His Majesty.

Well able to ascertain my sudden and considerable feelings of vexation, M. de Debrouiller at once poured me another glass of claret, and inquired solicitously of the source of my evident and wholly unexpected chagrin."