Sunday, October 30, 2016


The Armies of Europe illustrated / translated & revised by Count Gleichen ; from the German of Fedor von Köppen  1890

In this post, dear reader, we take a brief pause from the "Pass in Review" project to share a mania of ours: old books, specifically, old books on military matters. The rise of the e-book has, ironically, led to a golden age of access to antiquarian tomes--texts that would otherwise be impossible to find or that would be beyond one's means to purchase. The above book, for instance, would cost roughly $300.00 USD (if you could find one). However, one can access it online for free. This brings up another point: I'm not very interested text-only re-digitized versions. Given that I collect old books, I am seeking an authentic reading experience. Therefore, I stick with e-books that have been scanned in their original form. Happily, the number of these has grown over the years. I find most on the Internet Archive Most books will have several options for downloading (if you scroll down and look to the lower right on the book's page, you will see them). You can also read them online if you don't want to download. I download the pdf to my Ipad, choosing the "Open it in iBooks" prompt when that pops up.  The pdf in that application renders a very authentic read. I sometimes double up and fetch a digital version of a book that I own so that I can have a handy traveling copy.  Enough explanation. Here are a few books of the moment (19th Century)...

The first book I'll ramble about, pictured above, is Armies of Europe.

You can find Armies of Europe here in the  Internet Archive
and here the OpenLibrary

As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX...
The book has a chapter on all of the major armies of the era, accompanied by color plates and line illustrations, all perfectly rendered in the pdf version.  As such, it is a wonderful read and resource.
 Each chapter concludes with a comment on the place of the army in Europe--a sort of speculative rumination. What makes this interesting is the time frame.  Written in 1890, only two years after Wilhelm II became Kaiser of Germany, these  present an interesting snapshot of the brief period when everyone was anticipating a major war but the trajectory of Imperial Germany was still a matter of speculation. Given the author, these snapshots also reveal an intereseting Germanic slant at times.  Here are a few passages:

On the German Army:

Although this tremendous Army of close on two million of well-trained and well- armed men may at first sight appear a menace to the peace of the world, still we must remember that Germany is absolutely obliged, for the preservation of her very existence, to keep up these huge forces, and that she has no intention of using them  except for that purpose.

As an old national proverb has it:"He who wants to come to grief in war had better try a fall with Germany."

 On the German Navy:
Although the Imperial Navy is not yet strong enough to compete successfully with those of other great naval powers on the open sea, still one great object has been gained, i.e., the protection of trade and the merchant service... Germany is also now enabled to enter into commercial and political relations with distant countries, and to make the German flag respected in all parts Of the world...It is difficult to forecast the probable development of the German Navy, for the colonies which the country has recently founded and is still founding will increase its task and may lead to the formation of a much larger fleet.

You can find Armies of Europe here in the  Internet Archive
and here the OpenLibrary


Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Danish Line Infantry are Perry ACW Union Infantry in Sack Coats
I've reached completion on the initial armies for my Chocolate Box Wars project: Danes and Prussians (with volunteers and foreign units for both).  I've posted individual pictures of some of these, now it's  time for a "pass in review." First up, the usual, clix pix for BIG PIX...
All the figures, minus volunteers and auxiliary forces 

Danish Guard are Perry British Intervention Force Scots Grenadier Guards
The artillery and gunners are the only actual "Danish" figures (from the Northstar 1864 line).  The rest are a mix from Northstar 1866, Perry (ACW, Carlist War, and British Intervention Force), and Irregular (Austrain Risorgimento Hussar).   In the meantime, playtesting will begin in the next month (hopefully), with updates and developments on the progress of that to come.

In the short term, I'll be posting a pass in review of the Prussians and the Volunteer & and Foreign troops separately, so Feldmutzekopf advises...

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Friedland by Messionier
 I rediscovered a series of photos that I took last summer during a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Battlefields and military museums are great, and I like those, but as any frequenter of museums will know, there's often much of interest to be found in non-military themed institutions, especially the larger ones. I thought I'd post a few items of interest.  The Messonier Friedland (above) is particularly stunning--I came around a corner and it jumped out at me. I had been to the Met many times, but either I missed this one or it has only recently been put on display.  As usual, Clix Pix for BIG PIX.

The arms and armor collection is extensive and well done: not to be missed if you're ever in New York:

Among the armor collections,  they have an excellent collection of 17th century artifacts that I found very useful when painting my Thirty Years War/ 17th Century figures.
Buff Coated Cuirassier and Pike armors

"White" 3/4 cuirassier armor
            The 1/2 armor on the right exhibits the eastern European zischagge style helmet
Nice examples of inlaid "black" half armors

 They have extensive accoutrements as well.

 I found the collection of powder horns (a small sampling of which are above) to be particularly instructive.
 There are also extensive examples of hand weapons (pikes, polearms, swords), muskets, pistols, and a few galleries of Samurai armor and weapons.  Atlhough this pictorial centered on the 17th Century, the Met collection includes a good number of medieval/renaissance items as well. As we conclude this virtual tour, I cannot resist taking one detour along the way towards the exit... astonishingly forward-looking piece: Jean-Francois Millet, 1875:
Maid Texting in the Pasture...


Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Another new addition: this time it's the German Legion of the Hungarian Revolution, an exercise in gray tones. These fellows were not uncharacteristic of any number of volunteers of the era. Earlier, I created a more colorful set of general purpose German volunteers, inspired by a similar volunteer uniform from the Schlewsig Holstein affair. In this case, I wanted to adhere to an actual documented historical uniform. Depending on the source, the color of the German Legion's uniform runs from more black to more gray (I believe that the sharpshooter company of this unit was actually in black). I went with dark gray uniforms and black hats. As usual, clix pix for BIG PIX... 

Here is an illustration of the unit from the excellent The Hungarian Army 1848-1849 by Ralph Weaver (Partisan Press, distributed by Caliver Books).

To represent the unit, I went with the Perry ACW Iron Brigade figures:

I turned up the hat brims on the few that didn't already have them turned up and I fabricated a feather out of lead foil, reinforced by liquid weld. I drybrushed the black hat with a bit of gray to give it texture.  I went with the gray feather as in the illustration. The results:

The cap badge wound up being a bit more impressionistic than I had hoped (the gap between what we aim for vs what we achieve being apparent), but at gaming distance it evokes the death's head better than in pictures. The shading strokes are a bit more abrupt in the photographs than with the naked eye. Another one of those effects that doesn't draw attention to itself (I hope).  Not the most colorful unit, but a distinctive one--and what black powder era gaming table isn't spruced up by a unit of Germans in dark garb wearing a totenkopf badge? I can see these fellows being referred to as the "black hats" in play.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


This Saturday our gaming club had one of its game days. The man behind the effort was Earl, who orchestrated a day consisting of two rounds of three Bloody Tomahawks games running simultaneously. Players were divided into French and British teams, and each scenario was based on a historical event. Each game contributed to the side's overall victory points, although nobody seemed overly concerned about that (aside from Early, who had to keep track!). I can't do better than to quote our club president's email to summarize:

"Earl put on a great game day. The tables and figures looked great and the scenarios were fun to play. Knowing how much work it is to put on a game day, I want to thank Earl on behalf of the club. I am sure that he is relieved it went well, happy it is over, and completely bushed...once again thank you and great job. By the way, does anyone want a donut?"
The man of the hour: Earl at his command post.

The expedition was well provisioned.
Here are some images of the day. Clix Pix for BIG PIX. 

Earl was everywhere!  How did he DO that?
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