Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Dade Battle - First Steps

Well, after many years of contemplating a Second Seminole War project, I have "pulled the trigger" and ordered up a batch (and a bunch) of the FreiKorps 15 figures for the period.  I say a bunch, because while the Dade Battle was small in size, I have decided to go 1:1 in figure to actual combatant scale, which means painting up nearly three hundred figures, along with a six-pound gun and limber, which for me is quite an undertaking!  This is the list of packs I have on the way:

Code   Description
SM01  Seminole Warriors (includes escaped slaves) – 23 packs
SM02  Seminole Command – 1 pack
SM03  Early US Regular Infantry, Jacket, Advancing – 7 packs
SM04  Early US Regular Infantry, Shirt, Charging – 7 packs
SM05  Early US Regular Infantry Command – 2 packs
SM10  Early US Artillery Crew – 1 pack
SM11  6pdr Gun – 1 pack
SM12  US Limber, 6 Horse Team and Two Men – 1 pack
SM15  US Mounted Colonels – 1 pack

For mounting the figures, for the Seminoles I plan on using the Litko horde movement trays, and for the U.S. forces the Litko rank movement trays, both styles with 20mm circles as I will be using pennies to mount the figures, seeing as I have plenty of pennies lying about, and the figures need a nice weighty base to keep them in place on the movement tray.  While the Seminoles did not operate like a horde, their irregular formations should be well represented by the horde tray.

For rules, I have some rough ideas, but nothing set.  Brother Against Brother might be a good choice, as players can run a few small groups of figures without getting bogged down (no pun intended) with too much minutia.  There is also Eric Burgess's Seminole Wars, which look interesting, but very card driven, which can mean that one player is active while the others are waiting around to get into the game.  I would be interested in hearing suggestions about rules from folks who have read this particular post.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

CincyCon - The Alamo

At the recent CincyCon convention held between Dayton and Cincinnati, Larry Reber from Gettysburg Soldiers was hosting a beautiful Alamo event.  I snapped a couple of pics for inspiration.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Smokey Roan's Buildings

The previous post about SmokeyRoan's buildings included a couple of pics taken by the man himself as I just couldn't wait to share the work he was completing for me.  But I wanted to give a mini-review and take a few snaps myself showing the size of the buildings compared to the Eureka figures so that folks could get an idea of scale and quality.

First, Smokey did come to me with the idea of making a few buildings.  Having seen comments by others on The Miniatures Page, I described to Smokey what I was looking for (small footprint but still large enough so as the figures would not dwarf the buildings).  He was extremely communicative during the process, proving process updates along the way.  And once he shipped the buildings, I had them in just a couple of days, as promised.

When I receive the box I thought there was no way there were buildings within as the box was super light!  Smokey makes these buildings using a foam board base, which is extremely light weight and I imagine fairly easy to create doors and windows with a sharp knife.  He then proceeds to add the little details that make the buildings so nice looking.

I have two dwellings, a cantina, and a church.  I would say Smokey knocked it out of the park with quality, price, and customer service.  The pictures show how nicely he captured the scale without creating gigantic playing pieces.  I HIGHLY recommend his building services.  You can contact Smokey via The Miniatures Page.

Smokey's buildings, Eureka figures, and Terrain Guy tile

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Expansion Into the Second Seminole War

Trioani - 3rd U.S. Artillery
No, I haven't run out of Mexican-American War posts already, quite the opposite actually as I start moving forward with mounting and painting figures.  But, instead of creating yet another blog, Forage Caps and Shakos will also serve as my repository and occasional rambling spot about the Second Seminole War.  Years ago I had started a Yahoo group on this very (and fairly obscure) subject, and later merged it into the Eastern Woodland Indian Warfare (better known as Moccasins) group as I could not drive enough message traffic with just a Seminole War group.  I had collected several books, and even some FreiKorps 15 figures, but like many projects I cleaned house and tried to focus on just a few periods of history, but there are certain periods that keep calling me back.  The Second Seminole War happens to be one of them.

Why?  Obscure of course is one reason.  I was the guy who had fifty books on Harmar, St. Clair, and Wayne!  Another is the visual appeal of the sky blue uniform and "pig-sticker" leather shako of the early U.S. Regulars.  Of course, being an Indian conflict, there HAS to be a "massacre", and the Dade battle covers that.  (When the Indians win it is called a massacre, when the whites win it is called a battle, strange yes?)  Small forces can be easily fielded in a few figure scales, and the challenge of creating realistic terrain should result in a gorgeous looking table top, if done right.  There is enough information in print to whet the appetite and organize a project.  I even have retyped and updated the old Frontier Miniatures booklet for those needing a basic guide.  (leave a comment with your email address if you would like a copy in MS Publisher format)  And some soldiers and officers who fought in Florida were later involved in the Mexican-American War.  Easy for me to justify adding this period to the blog!  Who knows, I may even add the Black Hawk War one day!

Figure Choices

FreiKorps 15 has a fairly complete range in 15mm (15 packs), recently expanded upon by adding in appropriate codes from their Mexican-American and Texas War of Independence ranges, an idea I had suggested to Geoff at QRF some time ago.  One can field U.S. Regular forces in early or later uniforms (basically a change of headgear), along with state militias and other supporting assets.  There are only two Seminole packs in the FreiKorps range, but unlike many of FreiKorps' offerings, these two packs have multiple poses, so while I would like to see another pack or two of Seminoles added, there already exists some decent variety.  Bear in mind these are older, smaller 15mm figures, so the quality of sculpting isn't quite on par with today's standards.  But it is a fairly complete range, far more cost effective than 28mm, and not terrible sculpts, especially if you like a bit of old school style in your figures.

Both Conquest Miniatures and Old Glory Miniatures make ranges in 28mm, which should work well together.  Conquest has some exquisite Seminoles and had promised U.S. troops, but as of this posting only some of their Seminoles are for sale on their website.  Old Glory has eight packs of Seminoles and U.S. troops, and militias can be found by using War of 1812 figures.  Apparently Frontier made a 25mm range, but they have long been defunct.

Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company had been making a range of 40mm figures, but they have been removed from the HLBSC website for some time now.

The Dade Battle

My foray into the Second Seminole War will be recreating the Dade Battle or either 1:1 or 1:2 figure to man scale.  It is a small battle, with 180 Seminoles and 108 U.S. forces.  The Americans were moving from Fort Brooke to Fort King when they were ambushed, leaving only three survivors.  A company each from the 2nd and 3rd U.S. Artillery, along with a smattering of men from the 4th U.S. Infantry, along with a 6pdr gun, could not keep the Seminoles at bay.  Doesn't sound like a good game from the American viewpoint, and any rules I may use will need an element of clear and simple ambush rules, while also allowing for some restrictive aspects to keep the Americans confused and difficult to organize into a cohesive defense.  More on rules in a later post. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Project - Buildings Redux

In a previous post I had mentioned the possibility of buying a few buildings from Musket Miniatures as they make a small range of Mexican village type structures.  TMP (The Miniatures Page) member SmokeyRoan reached out to me about some commission work and offered to build a nice set of buildings to my taste (small footprint but still scaled with the figures).  A few messages later, he has completed a fine looking group of buildings.  I just couldn't wait to receive the buildings before posting these progress pictures Smokey sent to me.

I will wait before making an official recommendation on Smokey's buildings, but based on the feedback from others on TMP, the communication between us, and these pictures, I am certain I will be more than pleased with the final result!  Regardless, I will not be needing to purchase any buildings from Musket.

If you need your own buildings custom built, you can easily find Smokey on TMP.

The Church

Village homes and a cantina

Sunday, April 19, 2015

First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

For those who may know me from The Miniatures Page or my other blogs (Gaming the German Colonial Wars, Ohio at Perryville, Gaming the Forgotten War, and Ambushed in the Alley), you may know that I am a native Ohioan.  And being a native Ohioan, if there is an Ohio presence in whatever I may be reading or gaming, there is a chance I might find a way to represent an Ohio unit on the gaming table.  For the Mexican War, this can be achieved with the Battle of Monterrey, in which the 1st Ohio Volunteer Infantry was present with 524 men.  This regiment was by far the most involved (in terms of combat) of all the Ohio units serving in the war, and had companies recruited in Portsmouth, Dayton, Lower Sandusky, and Cincinnati, being organized at Camp Washington near Cincinnati.  Company H, one of six companies raised near Cincinnati, was primarily a German company.  There are a few names on the rolls that will become more known due to their later service during the Civil War, including Ferdinand Vandeveer.  The regiment also saw action at Ceralvo in March, 1847.  The regiment was mustered out at New Orleans in June, 1847.  At Monterrey the Buckeyes were part of Butler's Division that assaulted the northeastern part of the city, being moved in when the initial thrust was in danger of falling apart.  At Monterrey they had several killed and wounded.

Uniforms for the 1st Ohio would have consisted of a dark blue jacket, with cuffs having loops of white tape trim.  The jacket would have had nine buttons and shoulder boards (tabs).  Pants were the light blue worn by the Regulars.  Officers had silver embroidered badges on their forage caps.  In all other aspects they would have been outfitted like the Regulars.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Resaca de la Palma Order of Battle

Based on fifty men or two guns per stand and using the Across the Rio Grande rules, this is the order of battle I will be using for Resaca de la Palma, which took place the day after Palo Alto.  The War in Mexico book is thin on leaders for the various sub-units so where a leader is not mentioned use an Average rated leader for the sub-unit.

Mexicans - Maj. Gen. Mariano Arista (A)
1st Line - Right Flank
                1st Line Infantry (254) - 5 stands (A)
                2nd Light Infantry (226) - 5 stands (G)
                Zapadores (286) - 6 stands (G)
                10th Line Infantry (274) - 5 stands (A)
                6th Line Infantry (230) - 5 stands (A)
2nd Line - Left Flank
                Tampico Coast Guard Battalion (191) - 4 stands (R)
                                with the Veteran Coast Guard Company of Tampico attached
                4th Line Infantry (457) - 9 stands (A)
                Artillery - 4 4 lb. guns - 2 guns (A)
Flank Guard & Reserves
                Artillery - 4 4 lb. guns - 2 guns (A)
                Mounted Auxiliary of las Villas del Norte (306) - 6 stands (P) 
                Light Mounted Regiment of Mexico (191) - 4 stands (A)
                7th Cavalry (188) - 3 stands (R)
                8th Cavalry (276) - 6 stands (A)
                                with one squadron of the 1st Cavalry attached
                Presidial Cavalry (143) - 3 stands (P)

39 infantry stands
22 cavalry stands   
4 guns

Americans - Brig. Gen. Zachary Taylor (E)
1st Brigade - Lt. Col. William G. Belknap (R)
                4th Infantry (291) - 6 stands (G)
                8th Infantry (254)  - 5 stands (G)
2nd Brigade
                3rd Infantry (304) - 6 stands (G)
                5th Infantry (326) - 7 stands (G)
                2nd Dragoons (1 squadron) (71) - 1 stand (G)
                Company C, 3rd Artillery - 4 6 lb. guns - 2 guns (E)
                Company A, 2nd Artillery - 4 6 lb. guns - 2 guns (E)
                Artillery Regiment (“Redlegged Infantry”) (444) - 9 stands (E)

33 infantry stands
1 cavalry stand
4 guns

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Palo Alto Order of Battle

Based on my modified version of Across the Rio Grande, and using a scale of one stand equaling fifty men or two guns, here is my order of battle for Palo Alto.  One may notice that this is a bit different than the Regimental Fire and Fury order of battle that appeared in Wargames Illustrated (Issue 295 - May, 2012).  I am taking my information from Anton Adam's The War in Mexico book.  Leader and unit ratings are as follows: E - Excellent, G - Good, A - Average, R - Regular, F - Fair, P - Poor

Mexicans - Maj. Gen. Mariano Arista (A)
Right Flank Forces - Gen. Noriega (F)
                Light Mounted Regiment of Mexico (201) - 4 stands (A)
                Artillery - 4 lb. gun - 1 gun (A)
                Zapadores (304) - 6 stands (G)
                2nd Light Infantry (240) - 5 stands (G)
                Tampico Coast Guard Battalion (201) - 4 stands (R)
                                with the Veteran Coast Guard Company of Tampico attached
Right Flank Brigade - Brig. Gen. Romulo Diaz de la Vega (P)
                Artillery - 5 4 lb. guns - 2 guns (A)
                1st Line Infantry (270) - 5 stands (A)
                6th Line Infantry (245) - 5 stands (A)
Left Flank Brigade - Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Garcia (F)
                10th Line Infantry (292) - 6 stands (A)
                Artillery - 2 8 lb. guns - 1 gun (A)
                4th Line Infantry (481) - 10 stands (A)
Cavalry Brigade - Brig. Gen. Anastasio Torrejon (F)                                                               
                Artillery - 2 4 lb. guns - 1 gun (A)
                7th Cavalry (198) - 4 stands (R)
                8th Cavalry (290) - 6 stands (A)
                                with one squadron of the 1st Cavalry attached
                Presidial Cavalry (150) - 3 stands (P)
Reserve Cavalry
                Mounted Auxiliary of las Villas del Norte (322) - 6 stands (P)

41 infantry stands
23 cavalry stands   
5 guns

Americans - Brig. Gen. Zachary Taylor (E)
Right Wing - Col. David E. Twiggs (G)
                           5th Infantry (398) - 8 stands (G)
                           Company C, 3rd Artillery - 4 6 lb. guns - 2 guns (E)
                Garland’s Brigade - Lt. Col. John Garland (G)
                           3rd Infantry (371) - 7 stands (G)
                           Artillery - 1 18 lb. guns - 1 gun (E)
                           4th Infantry (355) - 7 stands (G)
                           Companies B, C, D, E, F, H & K, 2nd Dragoons (250) - 5 stands (G)
Left Wing
                1st Brigade - Lt. Col. William G. Belknap (R)
                           Artillery Regiment (“Redlegged Infantry”) (541) - 11 stands (E)
                           Company A, 2nd Artillery - 3 6 lb. guns and 1 12 lb. howitzer - 2 guns (E)
                           8th Infantry (310) - 6 stands (G)

39 infantry stands
5 cavalry stands
5 guns

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Project - Figures and Battles

Initial area of operations for the Army of Observation
As eluded to in a previous post, I am working on the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma as the starting points for my foray into the Mexican-American War.  I have added a couple of pages to the blog (more forthcoming), one on the figures I have and the other on the Palo Alto order of battle for Across the Rio Grande.  Using Taylor's Army of Observation as the foundation for the American side of things, and then of course the Mexican Army under Arista as their counterparts, I am able to look long term at not only the Palo Alto and Resaca battles, but then expand the forces to Monterrey as well. 

Monterrey will involve adding to the core of what I have now, as the state volunteers made their battlefield debut there.  Then, by adding more volunteers and weeding out the U.S. regular infantry, I can push to Buena Vista, although that means painting a slew of Mexicans!  What I will most likely do, instead of painting up more U.S. volunteers beyond what is needed for Monterrey, I will create state command stands and use the regulars as many of the uniforms were the same or similar.

For figures, as mentioned previously, I am using the fantastic Eureka range.  They make everything I need for Taylor's campaign, except for U.S. Flying Artillery crews and heavy guns, but I will substitute normal crews and field guns until Eureka comes out with these missing and much needed items.  The Eureka range is in a unique figure size, 18mm to be exact, so too large to use with other 15mm ranges on the market, except perhaps Blue Moon, although I have yet to see the two ranges side by side, and the Blue Moon range is very limited in scope at the moment.  

To date I have 495 figures for both sides...damn, that is far more than I thought I would need for such a small battle as Palo Alto!  That includes infantry and cavalry with command, artillery and crews, mounted command, and some of the markers that Eureka produced for Fire and Fury.  I may take another look at my figure scale and perhaps slide it a bit higher.  Before I modified Across the Rio Grande for 18mm, the rules used three infantry on a stand, with each figure being thirty-three men.  I am not certain if I want to go that high as it waters down the look I want on the tabletop, but it would make getting Palo Alto on the board in a more timely fashion, and I could always go back and add in more stands later.  I'll have to take a more thorough look into how many figures I truly want to paint for this project!

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Project - Bases and Buildings

Eureka American standard bearer, drummer, officer, and NCO
Well, as noted in my last post, I need bases!  I used to use sheet styrene for my figure bases as most hobby shops carry stock, and buying the tile version allows easy scoring with an X-acto knife, giving perfect bases for minimal cost, but lately I have been using bases from Litko for my skirmish gaming, and really like the feel and look of their plywood offerings.  Regimental Fire and Fury calls for bases of one inch in width, but trying to mount three Eureka infantry figures on a one inch wide base just won't cut it.  So, I will be using three figures on a 1.25" wide by .75" deep base, four on a command stand.  The command stand will look something like the picture, although I have enough standard bearers to place two on each command stand, giving the American infantry both a national and a regimental flag (I can just mix the NCO figure in with the base infantry stands).  The command stand will definitely pop out on the game table, by having a flag (or two) and by the number of figures each infantry command stand will have.

Picture from Musket Miniatures website
When it comes to buildings I really need none for either Palo Alto or Reseca de la Palma, but it will be good to have a few buildings on hand for future battles or just to add a bit of something to the table.  To that end I believe I will be using Musket Miniatures 15mm Mexican buildings.  I had considered using HO (1/72nd scale) buildings as they would be closer to the 18mm Eureka figure scale, but I like the smaller footprint a 15mm building will have.  Musket offers a small handful of what I consider to be village or outlying buildings, as evidenced by the picture.  These will be great to use simply as visual fluff, or outlying buildings for places like Monterrey.

Picture from Hovels website
There are also a few other companies making buildings that would be suitable.  Just about any middle eastern village building would probably be suitable for rural Mexico, and perhaps adding in some Spanish inspired buildings would add to more of a town or city flavor.  Hovels happens to make both Spanish and middle eastern buildings.  I've ordered from Hovels before and they offer decent shipping times and not outrageous shipping costs for orders coming to the States.  And they sell a very neat fountain, the center of any small Mexican village (other than the church of course).

SmokeyRoan from TMP has offered to make a handful of buildings for me, so I am going to go that route for now.  I have seen pictures of his work, and read favorable comments about same, so I am looking forward to seeing his very reasonable offerings.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Project - Background

Picture from 1st Corps website
It started some years ago at Cold Wars, must have been 1994 or so.  Elite Miniatures out of Illinois (I believe) was carrying the 1st Corps range of Mexican-American War figures at a reduced price.  I hadn't done any gaming in 25mm, with mostly micro-armor and 15mm Civil War and Napoleonics leading the charge.  But the figures were so darn nice looking and my buddy Matt was agreeable to the idea and hell, the prices were great, so we started buying figures.

Forward a year or two to another Cold Wars.  I had the chance to play in John McConnell's 25mm Palo Alto game, using his homegrown rules, Across the Rio Grande.  John allowed the players to keep a set of his simple yet effective rules, and I thought that would get me started on collecting more figures, and even perhaps applying paint to 
Picture from Musket Miniatures website
some!  I even started the Mexican-American War Yahoo group, and watched that little group grow.  But time goes by, other projects come along, old projects fall by the wayside, and I decided to give my 1st Corps figures to Matt, who I believe still has them to this day.  However, the bug bit me again, this time in 15mm, buying up a ton of Musket Miniatures for $2.00 a pack at a local hobby shop.  The Musket range isn't nearly as nice, but the prices, wow!  I got into the Yahoo group again, and this time thought about using what is now Regimental Fire and Fury, but was then called America's Wars, for the rules of choice.  But projects come and go, and I sold those figures and closed the book again on the Mexican-American War.

Picture from Eureka Miniatures website
Then those chaps in Australia came out with a range of beautiful 18mm figures for the war.  Here was an ideal compromise...the beauty of those 1st Corps figures combined with a lower price that was closer to 15mm yielded the Eureka line.  And what a range of figures it has turned out to be!  Nearly everything one needs for the war Eureka manufactures.  For me they just need United States Flying Artillery crew and 18 pounder guns and I believe I have the perfect figures for the Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma battles.

I bought my first wave of figures directly from Eureka down under, back when I could take advantage of a much better exchange rate.  My first order was mostly American infantry, with a small mix of Mexicans.  For my next order I turned to Eureka USA as the exchange rate had gone to crap, and Rob at Eureka USA has excellent service.  This order was for things like dragoons, cavalry, and artillery, but still not enough to cover both sides for Palo Alto.  I even picked up fifty painted U.S. infantry on eBay a couple of years ago, but all this buying got me as far as mounting two lousy stands of infantry.  For a few years these figures have been sitting in the closet, just waiting for the bug (malaria?) to strike again.  It did.

A couple of weeks ago I was looking to do something "different" and was spending a lot of time looking at Napoleonics and some of the European wars of the mid Nineteenth Century.  Then for some reason it hit me, I already have something different and instead of starting yet another new project I decided it was time to order the figures I needed to complete the Palo Alto order of battle and get cracking.  A quick jump over to the Eureka USA website to place an order and within two days I have everything I need to get moving forward.  Using both Regimental Fire and Fury (40 men per stand) and my adaptation of Across the Rio Grande (changing from 100 men per stand to 50 men per stand), I can use either set to recreate the opening battles of the war.  

So, I have rules, all the figures I need, the right paints...damn, need bases!
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