Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

No cool pics or battle report, just a Merry Christmas to all of the wargamers and miniature aficionados out there.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bolt Action Review

The Baron welcomed the group to his zuhause for a night of WWII tactics.  This would be our maiden voyage into the world of Bolt Action. Scott L. and I got to sample these rules at the last Recruits con in Lee's Summit, MO.  It was a watered-down version, but nevertheless a lot of fun.  Bolt Action rules feature unique dice that are randomly drawn to mark turns and give the drawn die's player the option of one of six actions.  As with any new ruleset, there were some growing pains as the evening wound down, however with some gained experience I believe this will be a ruleset that will offer simplicity and some exciting evenings of skirmish play.

Our scenario featured a few platoon-size forces squaring off.  The Germans would begin with a couple of SS squads, a Fallschirmjager squad, an MG42 and mortar team, a Panzer IV, and PaK 40.  The Americans would go to battle with a few paratrooper squads, three 2nd Ranger squads, a mortar team and .30 cal team, and a pair of Shermans. the object of the game was for the Americans to get a unit across a river. In order to achieve this, they would have to move through a German-fortified hamlet. One thing I believe we would change the next go would be to separate the MG teams from the mortar teams (they were set up together as heavy weapons squads). The necessity to leave the mortar teams to the rear rendered the MG teams all but useless as squads must remain intact.

 The Americans deploy.

The huns prior to taking their positions within the town.

 2nd Ranger and 101st squads move up behind a Sherman.

 German armor moves into position to cover the German right flank.

 A German anti-tank gun covers the southern entrence to the town.

SS infantry take up position within the town.

 Fallschirmjager support a heavy MG team on the left flank.

 The second Sherman moves up to a hedgerow.

 The Panzer and PaK40 attempt to bracket the approaching Americans.

 The Rangers get off a bazooka round that hits the mark.

 An airborne squad moves into a structure.

 More Fallschirmjager move up.

 Paratroopers finish off the PaK40.

 A second paratrooper squad is ambushed while attempting a flanking maneuver.

Shermans roll down mainstreet.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Perry 14th Brooklyn

I have been able to get quite a bit of work done of late, as we've gotten settled into our new home quicker than I though we would and the cold weather has kept me indoors.  Last night I put the finishing touches on a unit of Brooklyn Chaussures.  Early on I hadn't planned on having the 14th in my collection (I already had two U.S. zouave units and didn't want too many of the flamboyant uniforms that petered out as the war ground on).  To get the most bang for my shipping dollars, I decided to throw them into my shopping cart when buying some bases from Architects of War - I'm glad I did.  These are probably the nicest minis I've ever painted.  The poses are extremely lifelike and the sculpts are detailed and clean.  I just wish the Perry metals weren't so expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for.  These will work nicely for some Gettysburg - day 1 scenarios I'd like to run.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

2 Year Mark

I am creating this post a few months late, so I'm actually at 26 months into my 25mm ACW (and this hobby in a broader sense) project.  With the lion's share of my minis being ACW with about a hundred 25mm World War 2 and about 100 15mm ancient Rome thrown in, my count is at about a thousand completed minis including horses, artillery, and cassions/limbers.  I have also painted a few WW2 vehicles.  In addition to the minis, I have completed a pretty nice collection of terrain pieces as well.

I figure about another 18 months before my ACW project is completed, but so far it has been a fun go at it. My future plans are to have five Iron Brigade regiments,  four Irish Brigade regiments, and the 54th MA completed. That will leave me with about 175 Federal infantry stands broken up into about 20 regiments. That gives me about five more regiments worth of work. I will plan for another four or five reb infantry stands for a total of about 15 regiments.  I still have some gun/cassion stands to complete with a pair of supply wagons. I anticipate work beginning on a table later in the year and hopefully a hosted game by late summer/early fall.

Next up: 14th Brooklyn and some more gun and cassion stands.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Antietam 2013

The last 12 months has presented several opportunities to see some pretty cool stuff, including four battlefields. Last week I wrapped up the year with a visit to Antietam while back east for business. This was my second trip to the park in about 6 years and it afforded me a better appreciation for how the battle was fought and the logistical nightmare that must have been present in moving units around the field. The first time I visited I was in awe, therefore not paying attention to the details. The topography of the field changes so much that entire regiments would appear to be swallowed up by the earth only to reappear moments later. This happened across the entire battlefield. Regiments would become lost and end up separated from their brigade.

Without time to really walk the field, I hope to return and spend more time walking around the park.

The southern edge of the cornfield. While he photo bombed me, our guide was outstanding. If the time and budget allows, get the guide.

 Bloody Lane. This is the approximate position of the 2nd North Carolina where they took fire from Weber's brigade. To my east you can see an observation tower at the end of the Sunken Road. Next to it rests the mortuary monument erected in memory of Union General Israel Richardson. Richardson was a rising star in the Army of the Potomac and it was speculated he would have eventually taken over command of the AoP.

The bluff above the lower bridge (Burnside's Bridge). The bridge was defended from this position by two CSA regiments from Robert Toombs' brigade. About 400 rebs held this position for over two hours before the 51st NY (along with the 51st PA) under command of Gen. Edward Fererro took the bridge under the promise they would get their whiskey back (look it up).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

25mm Infantry Tutorial Completed

A few nights back I put the finishing touches on the last 10 stands of infantry involved in this project. 120 based minis ended up taking just under 5 months to complete -minus summer activities and now in the middle of a move, I think I could have shaved off a month and a half. Anyway, they are now boxed and ready to move on to a new campaign. Next up: Perry Union Chasseurs.

Friday, October 4, 2013

25mm Infantry Tutorial Pt. 5

Well, I've nearly completed this very large batch of infantry. I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that I will not attempt a batch this large again as I get too bored. However, when all said and done I will have knocked out about 35 bases of infantry (or 70 for RF&F if I halve them).

Reb coats and trousers get a hap-hazard mix of grays, blues, grey-blues, grey-browns, and even some grey-greens, tans, and butternuts. Most of these except officers and color bearers are washed. Blanket rolls are primarily varied shades of tan and gray, and blue with a few reds and patterns thrown in for good measure. Most are two-shaded. Haversacks are a mix of the tarred black and off-white to dark tan canvas. Canteens are a mix of blues, tans, grays, and browns. Some packs and leather are left black, some are shades of brown. Paints are varied but primarily Ceramcoat and Vallejo. Flags are GMBs (the best in my opinion - I can't wait to get my hands on a set for the 14th Brooklyn I have on the way).  Stay tuned for a final installment.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Weekend Trip to Gettysburg

     Over the weekend my father and I got to check a biggie off of our bucket lists - a trip to Gettysburg.  The first thing I'll say is this trip is a must for Civil War nuts as well as the casual history buff.  The town of Gettysburg itself has a ton of character with many nice shops to visit.  The area around the square offers everything from Jenny Wade's home, tattoo shops, ghost tours, antiques, and yes, toy soldier shops.

By chance we planned our trip for the busiest weekend since the 150th weekend due to a large WWII re-enactment on the Eisenhower Farm (it was rumored that actor Frank John Hughes who played Sgt. Bill Guarnere in Band of Brothers spoke).  There were a lot of very nicely restored vehicles at the park and we even had a group of German Wehrmacht sitting next to us at dinner one evening.

For the toy soldier and miniature aficionado, I strongly recommend Gettysburg Toy Soldiers and the Antique Center of Gettysburg.  The Antique Center is an interesting little shop that offers an eclectic mix of antiques, Civil War relics, and books.  As I made my way towards the back of the shop I stumbled upon case after case of 1/32 scale figures including Britain and John Jenkins Designs. There are literally thousands of figures and vehicles on display - quite a sight. I was able to pick up some nice 25mm painted WWII minis at Gettysburg Toy Soldiers. The following are a few pics of Gettysburg Toy Soldiers:

As for the battlefield and visitors center; absolutely amazing. Our first day was mainly spent in the visitors center taking in the A New Birth of Freedom film, the Cyclorama, and museum (all musts). A little money was spent in the bookstore as well.

In my humble opinion, the best president the United States has ever known.

Day two started with a three-hour guided tour.  Since I had hired a guide at Antietam about 6 years ago, we knew what we were in for.  The gentleman who took us around the field contained a wealth of knowledge on the battle and really got into laying out what took place in July 1863. I have heard the smartphone apps available can add to the experience of a self-guided tour, but if it's in your budget, go with the contracted guide.

This is from McPherson's Ridge next to the Chambersburg Rd. Ordinance rifle #233.  First shot fired came from this piece. This sits next to the monument to Gen. John Buford.  A monument to Gen. John Reynolds can be seen in the background. 

After our tour we had some fantastic cheesesteaks for lunch at Hunt's. It's located just a few businesses northeast of the Dobbin House on Steinwehr Avenue. We bumped into these fellas outside:

The rest of the afternoon was spent just making our way around the field.

North Carolina Monument on Seminary Ridge.

 Looking towards Cemetery Ridge from the N.C. monument. The Round Tops can be seen at center-right.

What Col. Vincent did on Little Round Top and how he kept his brigade together is nothing short of extraordinary heroism.
 Looking southwest from Little Round Top. Devil's Den and the Slaughter Pen can be seen in the upper right.

 The Angle is approximately 50 - 60 yards beyond this tablet. General Lee's monument can be seen in the upper-left corner, or approximately the position of the center of the Confederate line at the beginning of their fateful march on day 3 of the battle.

 Woods on McPherson's Ridge where the Iron Brigade (1st Brigade, 1st Division, I Corp) was engaged in heavy fighting with Tennessee and Alabama regiments from Heath's division, A.P. Hill's Corp. Beyond the timber to the right is a monument marking where General Reynolds fell.

 Monument to General Lee on Seminary Ridge.

 Unfortunate that this tablet had to be placed in front of General Lee's monument. The bugler's saber has been broken off.

 Monument to General James Longstreet towards the southern end of Seminary Ridge.

 Monument to the Pennsylvania Bucktails (Near the Rose Woods near the Wheat Field and just west of Devil's Den).

 The Slaughter Pen

 Devil's Den

Spot on the high side of Devil's Den where Timothy O'Sullivan's (assistant to Alexander Gardner) famous photograph of a dead Rebel soldier was taken.

We got to catch a group of CS reenactors.

On our final day we spent a little time in the cemetery.

Many Union men were not laid to rest in the cemetery. Many are buried in various areas of the battlefield where they fell. Others were taken home to be laid to rest by family. No Confederates are  buried at Gettysburg.

Markers for men from the 20th ME. Not to diminish any unit that fought at Gettysburg, north or south, but I am, for lack of a better term, a fan of the 20th ME. What Joshua L. Chamberlain (as well as Col. Strong Vincent and his 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Corps) and his regiment accomplished on Little Round Top was amazing. There is much debate as to what would have happened at Gettysburg had certain events happened or not happened. Looking at the terrain and the situation on the afternoon of July 2, it is hard to believe things would not have turned very sour had the 20th (and the 83rd PA, 44th NY, and the 16 MI) not held.

 New York suffered the most casualties. Remember, this number does not reflect all NY deaths. 

I decided to take this pic since my wife is from Indiana.

I am very grateful I was able to make this trip with my parents and walk the battlefield with my dad.He is responsible for my interest in the American Civil War so many years ago.  It was a special experience, but sobering experience. To walk through the fields, hills, and woods of Gettysburg and know what took place there 150 years ago makes me all the more grateful for the country I call home.