Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hastenbeck Battlefield Pictures

The Obensberg viewed from the French approach. Chevert would march through the gap on the far right and attack the mountain from the rear.

A few of us were discussing the Battle of Hastenbeck in 1757. So I dug out some of my old photos that I took in 1994, after the conclusion of the Christopher Duffy Tour of Fredrician battlefields.

A closer view of the Hanoverian left flank. Again we can see the gap in the hills through which Chevert marched.

Here is a view of the backside of the Obensberg. Chevert attacked the Hanoverian left-rear from here. The ascent does not look as difficult from this side of the mountain.

A closer view of where Chevert launched his attack into the Hanoverian left rear.

Hastenbeck town. The Obensberg is visible in the background.

Walking up a farm road from Hastenbeck towards the Hanoverian center.

The ascent in the center gets steeper.

A view of the top of the ridge after the ascent. Mike Becker is seen atop the hill for perspective.

Looking back towards the town of Hastenbeck. You can see the Hanoverian right flank off in the distance on the right near where the thicker group of trees are.

The only monument on the battlefield.

Here are a few pictures that I took at the  battlefield of Hastenbeck in Germany, circa 1994.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hosting BIG Multi-Player Games

One of the most anticipated types of wargame experiences is a BIG multi-player wargame with lots of players and many miniatures. Often they are played on very large table surfaces and last an entire day. I've had the opportunity to organize or help with many of these over forty years. Each game taught me something new and vital to make these opportunities better and better -- for the players.

Are you hosting a BIG or even medium-sized wargame in 2015? Are you playing in one? Do you want to host one of these terrific experiences some day? Do you think someone might benefit with useful tips? May I therefore take the liberty to suggest buying....

Charles S. Grant's, The Wargamers' Annual 2015 published by Caliver Books last month. Go to or inquire with wargame book vendors with whom you give your trade.

Above please note the lower right-hand corner photo showing Mr. Playfair explaining his BIG wargame to eager players. One isn't so eager though. He has another disreputable agenda.

The mistakes I caused and lessons learned are codified in the article I wrote titled above, The Case Of Mr. Playfair's Woeful Big Participation Games. It begins with Mrs. Playfair speaking with a celebrated consulting detective and his loyal associate. She fears her husband, Mr. Playfair, is becoming disillusioned about the big games he loves to host. She is right. Apparently there is a presence ruining them.

I wrote the article for you - to help you - not repeat my mistakes and errors of others I've witnessed. A BIG wargame is a singularly different activity. Effort to produce one is enormous for everyone. It is also a fragile thing, easily ruined, without corrective procedures.

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The 2015 Annual has an appealing variety of other articles. These will make for good easy reading and are chock full of insight, lovely images and more.
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Enlarge the second photo to read a small portion of the article.

Monday, December 29, 2014

British Heavy Cavalry Wearing A Cuirass

Frankly I am unconvinced the topic of who did and did not wear a cuirass in the British or French cavalry service during the Seven Years' War has been adequately researched. We've had a collective hive mind view they did not going back to the late 1960s. This has been based on very little first person evidence or citations. 

I've had  Cecil C. P. Lawsons, A History Of The Uniforms Of The British Army for forty years. When rereading some of it in the spring of 2009, I found this in Volume II on p. 145.

British Heavy Cavalry Cuirass
 “5th July 1758. The Royal Regiment of Horse Guards being ordered on immediate Foreign Service and it being necessary they should immediately be provided with a complete set of cuirasses and skull caps, which they have not time to provide in the ordinary way, I desire you will acquaint the Board of Ordinance that it will greatly facilitate the service if they will give directions for them being furnished with complete sets of cuirasses and skull caps from H M stores, on their being replaced by others or paid for by the Royal regiment of Horse Guards as the Board of Ordinance shall think fit.” Barrington

“In 1760 the 3rd. Horse (6th Dragoon Guards) and 4th Horse (7th Dragoon Guards) were also provided with cuirasses and skulls.”

Today (December 29, 2014) while reading Brent Nosworthy's, The Anatomy of Victory Battle Tactics 1689-1763 this appeared on p 132. “Initially, the British cavalry had no body armor, but in 1707 Marlborough gave his cavalry a cuirass in front.” Yes this is fifty years before the Seven Years' War. It is still an eye-opener.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Date: 6 December 1756/2014
Location: Gildershaven, Germania
Situation: Welcome to Prosperous Germania!
Was? (What?) Our Annual Lt. Troop BAR Game

Rules: Batailles de l'Ancien Régime 1740-1763 BAR
To obtain a copy for Christmas, see
BAR is for BIG Battalion and small sized units too.

Our annual BAR Light Troop Game is held the first Saturday in December. On this occasion each player had mission orders specific to the soldiers under his command. Some were hungry. Others desired to increase the 100 Marks each actually held in small USA coinage; pennies $.01, nickels $.05, dimes $.10 and quarters $.25. One penny equalled one mark. You'll see why in a moment.

The following pre-game photos show picturesque environs around the Port of Gildershaven especially for our ten participants and all viewers too. 

Looking east across a huge Miniature Building Authority Bridge. A little to the east, guards are posted to collect tolls for use of the bridge whether east or westbound. In the far distance is Gildershaven.

Guards in the previous photo are off image to the left. Additional guards are posted in the tower.

Aerial view of the tower and intersection. The officer there thinks something is approaching the bridge from west (left). However, he is unsure. Perhaps it is nothing.

The port of Gildershaven. 

Far to the east of the harbor enclosed fields, animals and homes are at peace. Idyllic isn't it?

To the right (south) of the homes you just viewed is the Gildershaven Inn. It is from Miniature Building Authority and often appears in our BAR games.


Late in the forenoon, the toll gate guard was being relieved when...

Cossacks began crossing the bridge into Germania from the west. 
(Cossacks commanded by and from the collection of Michael M.)

Suspicious of mischief, the original and the relief guards formed up to support one of their officers who halted the riders. He demanded to know their identity, reason for travel in Germania and 1/2 Mark per man. Happily for everyone, the toll was paid.

The commanding officer, (Dan W.) was delighted by the 19 Marks collected ($.19 if I recall correctly) not only for The Duke of Germania but also for himself. He felt minimal relief that an incident did not occur.

After paying the toll, the Cossacks rode quietly eastwards. Some appeared to be very hungry as they cast eyes left and right.

It was difficult to ascertain, but some thought a few Cossacks dismounted to quickly dart behind these buildings to steal geese.

Michael had orders to feed all his starving men before 2:00 p.m. real time or lose men that would run off foraging on their own. Fortunately none did.

Others thought it odd a band of Cossacks were promenading within Germania so far from home. These included a body of Gallian Bercheney Hussars guarding the flank of Lanciers de Saxe. The latter were escorting important female members of the Gallian court.

Eventually the Lanciers de Saxe turned to the flank to protect their V.I.P.s. The toll gate guard formed up to assist the party as well.

The V.I.P.s were Colonel Enigma, Lady Diana Pettygree to his left on the grey flanked by Lady Belle Silhouette a la Hussar. Following in pink is Lady Cherish Masquerade and a lady's maid. Everyone was in haste to cross the bridge off image to the right.

Even the tower and toll gate guards were worried as they followed in the wake of the Cossacks. The Gallians (Curt B.) successfully got the ladies across the bridge with the Lanciers de Saxe galloping behind them. Not shown: the Cossacks turned about to attack the Bercheney Hussars who died almost to a man protecting the Gallian courtiers escape. 

In so doing the Cossacks looted each Bercheney casualty. Michael and Curt threw D6s versus each other. If Michael won, he looted one mark ($.01) from the casualty.  

Sometime later the Cossacks reversed course and galloped over the bridge to escape a vortex of trouble that began swirling about them.


Another body of roving Cossacks arrived. These trotted west and then south at the bend in the road. Farmers and animals appear unconcerned. (Cossacks commanded by and from the collection of John M.)

As they approached the Gildershaven Inn they heard.... 

Casual hoof beats of the previously mentioned party of Gallians escorted close behind by none other than....

The Duke of Germania, (Chris K.) The surprised Duke stopped the Cossacks demanding to know the reason for their appearance within his domain. Sufficient reasons were offered and marks were paid to the Duke. Then each body went on their way.

However, things went wrong. These Cossacks were starving similarly to their brothers miles away to the west. Once the Duke was out of sight, the Cossacks plundered the Inn. Three D6s were thrown for marks. Another three D6s were thrown for food.

Unknown to the Cossacks and The Duke, a body of Germanian Light Horsemen had been shadowing the former raiders. Their mission (Keith L.) was to pursue and attack the Cossacks. When it became apparent the Cossacks were looting the Inn, the Germanian Light cavalry dismounted and moved forward.

Learning about and hearing the mayhem, The Duke returned with his own light horsemen, dismounted them and began a close investment.

This was too much for the Cossacks. Several parties mounted up behind the Inn moving on diverse courses to flee. One body (above) was caught by some of the Dukes Chasseurs a Cheval and cut down.

Another party was cut down by Keith L's men. The raiders were unable to find an exit out of an enclosed field. The celebrated Bosnian Lancers took no prisoners.


We see the same party of Gallians arriving at The Port of Gildershaven.  In the upper right of the image are The Duke's Chasseurs A Cheval before these turned about to attack the Cossacks then looting the Inn.

The dock and supporting buildings at the Port of Gildershaven.

Harbormaster (John B.) stands beside the log building with a guard as riders come in under a parlay flag.

Their troop of Hussars wait a little distance away.

Then the Hussars fan out. This caused the Gallians to leave the road and head overland to the west for adventures described at the beginning of this narrative. Black coated infantry follow the Hussars. Who are they?

The mysterious body spread out around the port as a black and red coach maneuvers to the dock.

Another view.

Sometime later after marks are paid to the Harbormaster, black coated men and apparently a disguised woman of importance departed the harbor for parts unknown. Soldiers associated with this enigmatic group then....

Dispersed to the winds near the harbor and....

To the eastern bridge far away. These were all from the collection of Der Alte Fritz, Jim P. who with Earl K. commanded them all.

To no doubt distress Germanians at the abandoned Toll Gate. The Hussars are in the upper right of the image supported by a rough looking group of Black Hussars. None of this mysterious force fired a shot. We surmise their mission was to get the disguised woman out of the area. Her identity remains a mystery.


(1) Everyone was present for duty by 10:00 a.m. Chris K. brought a bottle of wine to share. I took the occasion to toast ourselves as a very companionable group and stated how much I appreciated all of them and for all they've contributed over the years. A second toast was offered for the celebrated miniatures designer and entrepreneur, the late Peter Gilder, for his classic miniatures, personal style and indeed his teaching about the marketing of selling toy soldiers to one member present.

(2) Written orders and various other important details were distributed to each player. No one knew anything other than what was then on the table and within their orders. Fog of War was essential.

(3) Movement was by card draw. Five sets of four cards each were assembled and shuffled multiple times. Each set had one Heart, Diamond, Club and Spade. Cossacks and the mysterious black uniformed brigade moved on a Club or Spade. Germanians moved only on a Diamond. Lady Pettygree and the Umpire activated on either a Heart or Diamond. This is not routine for BAR but it worked to give flexibility to those who most needed it.

(4) Cards were not used for Fire. Instead, players threw a D6 versus each other. The winner fired first; the loser second. A tie caused simultaneous fire. This is also not routine for BAR. I instituted it to make turns go faster.

(5) Also to help turns move faster, a kitchen timer was used. If someone was not finished at the end of five minutes, unmoved miniatures were frozen. It happened only once.

(6) The game started at 10:40 a.m. and concluded around 3:00 p.m. including a break for lunch. My wife brought down a sandwich tray, cole slaw and to this was added other scrumptious items brought by participants. Thank you everyone!

(7) Miniatures to real men ratio: 1:1.

(8) Who won? Everyone! How? Every participant achieved individual mission goals. Those who profited the most were The Duke and Toll Gate Commander.

(9) After the game we feasted on a delicious birthday cake to celebrate Michael's imminent birthday.

(10) Chuck and Todd unfortunately could not be present. However, they received compliments through me about vegetation placed around the harbor. It all came from aquarium departments in pet stores. Hedges were from Chuck's collection of scratch-built Normandy bocage.

(11) The harbor was made as follows. The top of 1/2" thick Homasote fiber boards was painted with a very thick house white primer paint. Really thick. After drying, Liquitex Professional Acrylic Artist Color, Soft Body, Phthalocyanine Blue (Green Shade) was spread on top. I worked at it to so it appeared shallow and deep in various places. White showing through gives the illusion of a sandy bottom. The whiter it is the shallower it appears.

(12) Not very many shots or hand to hand combats occurred. Players were busy trying to avoid conflict while adding to their wealth, avoiding starvation or trying to get away. There was constant negotiation. Afterwards someone said it was more like a role playing game.

Seated left to right: Harbormaster John B., Gallian Troupe Curt B., Germanian Light Cavalry Keith L. and Black Legion Earl K.

Standing left to right: The Duke of Germania Chris K., Eastern Area Cossacks John M., Black Legion Jim P., Tower & Toll Gate Commander Dan W., Western Area Cossacks Michael M. and yours truly the Umpire Bill P.

Thanks a million pards!
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(14) Participants and readers are very welcome to post remarks below at Comments. Same will appear after review due to an unwelcome spammer. However, I check the site daily so the wait won't be long.
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Sunday, October 12, 2014


Some of my historical time periods are idle. So when thoughts returned and conversations developed recently about The Grand Alliance, percolations bubbled up to the surface. My collection is not large but here are my French circa 1680-1700 with some very preliminary thoughts. Click on images to enlarge them.

Régiment Picardie's 1st and 2nd Battalions. 
Each has three divisions, one pike and two with muskets.

Uniforms were exactly copied from a striking color painting in the book Drapeaux et Étendards Du Roi. It is entitled Détachement du régiment de Picardie vers 1680. (Aquarelle Rousselot, copyright Musée de l'Armée) Rousselot's paintings spanned several French time periods. They are exquisite.

This is an era  where many flags are carried. The Rousselot painting shows three. Hence, three GMB 18th century flags were posted in each battalion. The white national flag of Louis XIV is properly carried on the right while Battalion flags are to it's left. Only the first battalion would have the white flag. The second battalion shown previously carries three red flags. The same can be said for third and fourth battalions. Miniatures are 28mm Foundry castings.

As 1700 neared the percentage of pikes reduced several times - eventually being abandoned. Here they are 1/3 of each 48 casting battalion. This way each division would at least start equally and perhaps the whole produces an attractive ensemble. One casting equals ten real soldiers.

Maison du Roi Gendarmes. Thirty-six 28mm Foundry castings. 

GMB supplied the flags for these two bodies. 

Maison du Roi Grenadiers a Cheval. Some will know the coat color eventually changed to dark blue. However, this early it was still red. Twelve 28mm Front Rank castings. The flag is from GMB. 

The above references are only a diminutive sample of Pike & Shot resources available to us. Brigadier Peter Young wrote voluminously about the English Civil War; (middle of the 17th Century). My own rules book dated from 1977 was produced as a result of his excellent research and writing style. Not shown is Robert S. Quimby's The Background of Napoleonic Warfare. It offers a gold mine of information about theory, formations and tactics for the late 17th and all of the 18th century. 

The Future:

1) My French are itching to get out of their storage box and onto the tabletop again. The contingent is not large though there may be another regiment of cavalry and a third battalion to paint in storage. Kurt and Rob can add significantly more to make games possible.

2) Organization. It could change given unknowns. However, I based my hommes so I could switch castings in and out to form different structures. Another idea I had when starting this was to paint a multi-battalion regiment of infantry. That's why Picardie has two. If I remember correctly, it could have up to four in the mid-18th Century anyway.

3) Bill. You only have guard cavalry! I know. Well, they wore gorgeous uniforms and they can always pretend to be non-guard. Anyone for the Chevalier de Protz Cavalerie Régiment - non-guard? 

4) Rules: Batailles de l'Ancien Régime 1740-1763 has been adapted to the Pike & Shot era. Movement rates were slowed somewhat from the 1750s. It had to be based on Quimby's remarks. The first fire bonus has been cut down a little. Anyone with matchlocks will fire just a wee bit less effectively than flintlocks. Cavalry versus pike blocks will be tough on the horsemen. Artillery has been slowed considerably. Mobile would not be a word to describe the 4, 8, 12 and 16 pounders found in the French Army. Even the occasional so-called light French 4 or 8 pounder that did exist at the time will not be fleet of foot. There are also 1-3 and 6 pounders available for other nations.

Anyhow, I'm suggesting we try BAR Pike & Shot for now.

5) Games: We are in the earliest stage of figuring out when some dice can be thrown in a first game using Grand Alliance units. November possibly. However, this morning it occurred to me I can test the rules during our occasional weeknight games using my collection of English Civil War Pike & Shot units. The latter want to get out of their storage boxes too! Weeknight games last about two hours. If unfinished, we return the next week to conclude them.

6) Am I abandoning other time periods? Not at all. BAR 18th Century and BAR Colonial (General Pettygree) will continue soldiering on as will occasional Blitzkrieg Commander II WWII games, BAR Napoleonic Iberia and a potpourri of many weeknight genres; Pulp, Space Combat, Battle of Britain, WWII Skirmish and Westerns. I've probably forgotten something. Yes: Lost in the South Pacific Adventure.

7) Well, there it is. I hope you enjoyed this little tour.

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Your remarks are welcome below. Feel free to chat at Comments.