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

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

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.

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.

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.

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