Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pony Wars

Overlooking the North Fork of the Big Hole River
Some months ago I became ill with the the Pony Wars bug.  I think I caught it from a post on The Miniatures Page, and went Googling to find figures and terrain.  I didn't want to replicate some of the more commonly known battles, like the overdone (and really not that important - gasp) Little Big Horn, and I did not want to paint loads of mounted troops (But Darryl, you say, they are called Pony Wars for a reason!), so I went for a battle that I have read about a few times, that involves the noble Nez Perce, has that chap of Iron Brigade fame named Gibbon, and was mostly fought on foot.  What is is you ask?  The Battle of Big Hole that took place in August, 1877, in Montana.

I am not going to try to recreate the wheel here and cover all the details of the Nez Perce War.  There are plenty of books and websites that do that already.  I am going to say that my source for information is a book by Aubrey Haines entitled An Elusive Victory (later released as The Battle of the Big Hole).  There is enough detail and decent maps to replicate this small battle on the tabletop somewhat realistically, even though the terrain for the second phase of the battle may be problematic as it took place on the lower slopes of a mountain.  The first phase occurred in the flat area near the North Fork of the Big Hole River, where the foot soldiers of the Seventh Infantry and a company of the dismounted Second Cavalry (along with some citizens that one might call militia) stormed a quiet village of the Nez Perce.  The first phase did not go well as the startled Indians regrouped from their initial confusion and forced the United States forces back to what was later called Battle Mountain where the Nez Perce warriors kept up a small siege until the rest of the village could get away.

The forces engaged were relatively small, a few hundred Americans against a smaller force of Indians.  For this I needed dismounted Indians, Civil War Union troops wearing floppy hats, Indian villagers, and some tepees.  To take care of the Indians and tepees I turned to Hovels' Pony Wars range of 15mm figures.  While the pictures on their website are a bit gaudy, which make the figures look cartoonish, I had some feedback from one of the Yahoo groups that the Hovels figures actually were fairly nice, being smaller 15mm, and quite affordable castings.  The affordable part is certainly correct.  A mounted figure runs .69 cents (mounted command a bit more), and a dismounted figure is only .35 cents.  You will have a difficult time finding any other 15mm range out there for these prices (the old Ral Partha Napoleonic range, now made by Monday Knight Productions, is the least expensive 15mm range I have yet to find).  The Hovels tepees come two to a pack, cost only $1.44 each, and stand nearly 40mm in height.  The foot figures run about 14mm from the bottom of the base to the top of the head, making them old school 15s.

I picked up five packs of tepees (giving me ten) and some assorted Indian packs, including mounted command, dismounted warriors with and without chiefs, dead Indians, a smoke signal set (the fire will work nicely within the village setting), a village set with various non-combatants and accessories, and a travois set.  I did not want to order all the Indians that I will actually want for this project as I was not certain what the figures would look like, but I am pleased with these diminutive castings and will be ordering more tepees, warriors, and probably another village set.  Placing an order with Hovels is easy using their online order form.  Just enter your details, type in your items, enter your credit card info (they also accept PayPal), and in a few weeks (they can be a bit slow on getting your order to you) you will have your goodies in the post.

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