Union Artillery, Part 2

14 07 2012

In my last Union Artillery post I based and primed my artillery along with their limbers.  This time we need to paint them up!

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I begin by paint 4 out of 6 horsed on each of my limber stands a nice dark brown.  I mix up which horsed get a brown coat as much as I can so that there are no two stands alike.

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I then paint the rest of the horses a mix of gray, tan, red-brown and beige.  This is a feeble effort to make it look like a mix of different horse colors.

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I like the look of several horse colors but I have never gotten a really good feel for what the mix of colors of horses would have been common during the war. It seems like they are overwhelmingly dark brown though. 

Next I paint the “blanket” a navy blue and the leather harness and saddle a shade of brown.

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I have two different casting for horses and the easiest way to tell them apart is how what I think are the saddle blanket (6mm is small after all) pokes our from under the saddle.  You can see on the horses closet in the image above that the exposed blankets are on the flank.  On the next limber the exposed blanket pokes out behind the rolled blanket (or rather what I think is a rolled blanket).

Next I paint the rolled blankets a vermillion red ( white red as opposed to a yellow red.)

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The colored blankets actually make the mini’s pop on the table.  This is the easiest way to tell the Union limbers from the Confederate limbers.

Next I paint a whole bunch of things black.  It looks like I paint the horse collars, the wagon wheels and the tails and manes of the horses black here.

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Next I paint the caisson a shade of pine green.  This would have been a really common color for civil war wheeled equipment.

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Now the miniatures are painted.  Next I paint the dirt.

By the way… I know what you are thinking.  It would have been much easier to paint the dirt first. 

Yes.  Yes it would have.

I paint the base of the miniature brown (along with many a wheel and horse leg)

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Then I dry brush pretty much everything ankle high and lower with a red brown.

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I put the limbers aside for now and start in on the guns.

This time I paint the base brown first!

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Next I dry brush the bases a red brown

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I paint the guns a pine green (to match the caisson)

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Next I paint the wagon wheels black along with the barrels of the rifled artillery pieces.

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The barrels of the smoothbores get a coat of gold.  These cannons would be very bright given how often they were cleaned.

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Next I painted the tunics of the artillerymen a dark blue (not navy blue… that would be goofy.)

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Then some of the artillerymen get light blue pants.

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I paint one the stands with red pants and another of the stands gets a red strip on their pants.  Artillery Units of both sides would commonly have red bling on their uniforms.

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There are lots of little bits that need touching on the artillerymen at this point.  Hair gets painted brown or blond, bags and shells are painted black, and swabs are painted brown and grey.  I also give the tackle ropes on the carriages a nice yellow.

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The next big step is flesh color.  As usual, this is the “magic” step.  I also paint the sides of the guns and Caissons black and the rear bevel of the guns white.

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Next I add static grass to the bases and add another coat of black and white to the sides of the miniature stands.

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Once everything is nice and dry I apply labels to the rear bevel of the gun stands.

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Here is an action shot to give an idea of what these guys look like on the table.

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Union Artillery

25 03 2012

Artillery is a relatively small but critical part of the America Civil War battlefield.  They provided the only means of attacking units at ranges beyond a couple of hundred yards and at close ranges they could be used to mow down troops en masse.  Battles would sometimes hinge on the placement of a few pieces of artillery or the lack of these big guns at a particular place and time.

Artillery miniatures come in two parts; the gun and the limber.  A gun and limber stand combined represent a “battery” of artillery.  This was usually from 4 to 6 cannons, 50-100 men and the horses and limbers for carrying them.  (To find out more about my understanding of artillery please see my artillery blog entry)

Battery’s were further sub-organized into sections which where two guns.  Sections represent a “unit” of strength in my game and therefore are represented on the miniature itself.  A cannon stand will ether be a 2 or 3 section battery.  This is represented by the number of figures tending the gun. 

Note: Two and Three section artillery have the same footprints in my game.  They are NOT represented by a different size of stand or limber.  This is perhaps inconsistent and not 100% accurate.  I do not believe this inconsistency crosses a realism line given that artillery tended to spread out.  There could be as much as 20 yards between guns set up to fire because artillery tended to get shot at with by other artillery and they frequently exploded for no good reason all on their own.  With this low density its easy to cram in other guns.  The problem with having different sizes for units is that the larger batteries would need to be longer stands when be moved and wider stands when they fire.  Awkward.  You can see below why this would be difficult to represent in miniatures.

A bunch of bits

Below are all the minis I need for two batteries of smoothbores and two batteries of rifles

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I look at this picture and immediately think “Wagon wheels… why did it have to be wagon wheels.”  These guys are small.

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They are roughly the same width as the word “liberty” on a penny.  Fun!

Here are the bits for a rifled artillery piece. 

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These are super glued together in a process that can only be described as haphazard.  A sort of “absence of process” if you will. I wish I could photograph this and glue at the same time but trust me I can’t.  Honestly this is hard.  Looking at this picture makes my fingertips hurt from the memory of prolonged exposure to superglue.  BTW… metal coated in super glue prefers to adhere to flesh than any other substance…. ask me how I know.   I couldn’t publish a video of me gluing these wheels on as it would get an NC-17 rating for language alone.  That reminds me… I need a beer.

Where was I?  Ah yes… miniatures.

Here is the smoothbore miniature from Baccus6mm…

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Notice that the wheels come attached!  These miniatures are my very bestest friend.

Limbers are small wagons that are used to cart the gun to and around the battlefield.  They have detached wagon wheels as well.  More Fun!

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Finally, here are the horses for the limbers.

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These guys are cleverly cast.  They come in strips of three like a string of teamed horses.  If they are not needed this way then they can be clipped apart and used individually.  This saves a ton of work for spacing when being mounted as a team.

In addition to the minis I will need two types of bases; Gun and limber.  The gun base is a 1 inch by 7/8 inch piece with a bevel on one of the narrow ends.  This looks just like my infantry basing process but with bigger pieces of metal.

My limber stands are trickier as I use two 1” by 7/8” pieces of cut sheet metal to produce the right size.  It’s a bit of a pain to order 2” by 7/8” metal as they would need to be custom cut and I only need a few of them.  1’” by 7/8” is a standard size for me; I use it for my officers, my guns and and mounted Cav.  More importantly I can also order this size as a standard from Wargame Accessories who sell me my bases.

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Here I have glued the bases to create a 2” by 7/8” stand.

Unlike my infantry projects, I mount my artillery BEFORE I prime them.  There is plenty or room to get a paintbrush between the minis and the artillery pieces and limbers will be just as difficult to attach to a popsicle stick as they will the final miniature stand so I just mount them up front.

To get the limbers and guns good and attached I will need to pin them to the stand using piano wire.  As you can imagine, given the wheels came detached, these guys are not sturdy enough for me to glue directly to the base.  To do this I will need to use a pen drill to drive a small hole into the bottoms of these pieces.

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Once I’ve successfully drilled a hole on each of the wheeled bits I then attach a piano wire to it and clip it off at the desired height.

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Before I attach the guns I need to glue the figures that will be servicing the gun.

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Two figures are used for a two section gun, three figures are used for a three section gun.

The dudes manning the gun are cast with a “ground” surface.  The guns don’t.  This means that I will need to put my ballast (sand) on the stand before I attach the gun to get it to look like everyone is standing on the same surface.

To create a ground surface to my artillery stand glue is applied using my handy dandy nifty neeto one of a kind glue applicator (regrettably not pictured).

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The stand is then dunked in fine ballast.

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I clean up the edges of the stand with my finger and let the result dry.

Next I spot and drill a hole using my pen drill for attaching the artillery.

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I then super glue the artillery piece to the stand.

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I perform a similar process on the limber stands.  The first step is to get two sets of horses on the stand making sure to leave enough room on the end to hold the limber itself.

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I then add glue and ballast.

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Oddly enough, the horse stands I have are not quite flat.  The tend to be leaners so I deal with this by gluing some ballast directly to the stand and then using the horses to a bed of this glue ballast mix and then pressing it into a level disposition.

Once the ballast has had a chance to dry I then add a the limber.

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Now that this is done I prime everything!

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That is it for today.  Next time we will get these guys painted up.

Note:  I like taking my hobby pics with the data stamp turned on.  Sometimes the date chronology gets a bit mixed up because I forget a pic and go back to retroactively change the continuity of my project documentation (called a RetCon for those of you that are serious geeks) as needed to document what I am doing. Other times I get large breaks in my project because I get distracted so you can see the gaps.  This blog may be the high water mark for both of these phenomenon.  I have photos in this blog from April and September of 2011 and March of 2012.  I am pretty sure I did the basing of the minis last year while waiting for paint to dry on something else. 

In going back to my photo’s I can see that last summer I was really desperate to get pictures of me moving figures on the table so we could talk about rules such as fire and movement.  I got these guys based and realized that I didn’t need artillery for my blog just yet.  I needed confederate infantry and officers so I put the artillery (way back) on the back burner.





The fine art of running away

29 01 2012

Last time we talked rules, I mentioned the distinct possibility that troops getting shot at could eventually get sick of it and start running for their lives.  This occurs when a unit that had previously been ok with standing their ground fails what is known as a morale check due to enemy fire.  This brings up an interesting notion.  When running for one’s life, is it really possible to run far enough?  When do you stop?  Nearest ditch?  When you get back home to Ohio?  Never?

Troops in battle would run towards the rear (ideally behind their own troops so they would be screened) putting real distance between them and danger.  Distance is the best cover after all.  At the battle of First Manassas (First Bull Run if you are a closet southerner) the union troops fled from the battlefield all the way back to Washington D.C.  The retreat took several days and was a national disgrace known as the “the Great Skedaddle”. Much was learned from that fiasco including the necessity  keeping reserves on hand to provide a position that could be used to rally troops while  still on the battlefield.

From a game perspective fleeing is an odd notion.  It’s compulsive movement that occurs despite unit/officer skill.  Up till now moving troops is a very deliberate act requiring an officer to employ skill to issue orders.  Furthermore, we have already stated that routing units can’t be issued orders, the exception being the ever popular “stop being routed you knuckleheads” order… (which I’m not explaining yet!).    We need fleeing to occur at random times and we need fleeing to happen despite the units will.

Is now a good time to panic?

The bag o’ destiny is the keeper of all things timing.  It dictates the order in which game events occur and it might as well tell us when we should do our running.  To this end I have created some Flight Check markers that are the same shape and size as the generals activation chits.

Flight Check Chit

I figure that units probably run for their life faster than they march, or even quick time, into battle so I put two of these bad boys into the bag o’ destiny along with the general markers.  That way each turn units will have to check for flight twice and therefore will move twice as fast as regular units not running for their lives.  Play testing may reveal that I am an idiot and this is too much or not enough.

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During the game, whenever a Flight Check token is drawn, all routing units will check to see if they flee.  There is not mechanic for delaying this check.  It occurs immediately and simultaneously.

Flights are also triggered if an enemy unit gets within 4” of a routing unit or is shot at at any range.  When triggered by movement, flight will be checked  before the moving unit gets to shoot.

Flight checks

Once a flight check token is drawn, all routing units make skill checks to see if they must flee.  To make a flight check, units make a skill roll using the following modifiers:

  • -1 shaken (negative morale is negative morale modifier. FUN!)
  • -2 if routed (More FUN!)
  • -1 per stand lost
  • -1 if flanked (any of the shooting units can not be shot at)
  • +1 partial cover (fence or tress)
  • +2 full cover (building or works)
  • -1 if disordered (Which it is… its routing.  Sorry)
  • + 1 for each foot the unit is away from the nearest enemy unit

Two fun things about the list above. 

  1. Being disordered is a –1 modifier.  This makes since as far as it goes BUT there is NO WAY for a routing unit to NOT be disordered.  I could restate this rule to say that being disorded is NOT a –1 but you need a ‘5’ instead of a ‘4’.  I could also leave it out all together and make it easier to not run away.  I choose to state it this way because it that makes this list of modifiers REALLY similar to the morale check modifiers.  That leads us to thing #2.
  2. This list is IDENTICAL to the morale check list with one teensy exception; I get a +1 for every foot I am from an enemy.  This means that units become less likely to run the further they are from the enemy.

As always, when making a skill role, a unit uses 3 dice modified by –1 dice if the unit is green and +1 if the unit is elite.

Units can elect to automatically flee when a check occurs.  This can be done either because the unit would be better off moved or because the units controller dislikes math.  Either way, Flight is always an option.

What happens when a unit flees

Two things happen when a unit flees; It gets smaller and it gets closer to safety.  Let’s do smaller first.

Each unit that flees takes two straggler hits.  These are the groovy yellow inner tube hits that a unit picks up when it quick times or routes.  A straggler check (a roll for effect using the table above minus the distance modifier) may be made to see if these can be avoided (each success reduces stragglers by 1) or you could just take the two hits like a man and avoid doing some math here because by this point the unit is pretty screwed.  A routing unit that is missing one stand and has no cover will need to roll ‘8’ with its skill check (base of 4, -2 routing, –1 disordered, –1 for one stand)

Remember, when a brigade is activated, each unit in the brigade loses one straggler hit automatically.  This models soldiers that are separated from their unit with the serious intent of rejoining it.

The unit next moves 150% of its regular move “to the rear”.  Infantry in disorder have an 8” move so they would flee 12”.  This move should be toward something that would look like a good place to hide, would provide cover, is not towards enemy units, already has friendly fleeing units, has formed friendly units, or in general looks like a road back to Washington D.C.  There really is a role playing element here that you can’t capture in a rule.  The flee-er should pick a spot he can reach and his opponent should say “Yeah… I would totes hide in that barn too”.  Either that or he should point out a better barn.  The thing to avoid is using flight to redeploy units.

Oh… in addition to running and taking straggler hits, its customary amongst seasoned wargamers to quote Bill Paxton while running away.

Bill Paxton reflecting on his situation

Units that flee off the table, by convention, are removed from the game.  The stands lost are counted as casualties for scenario victory point purposes.  Another reasonable outcome is that they count as half casualties (given that they aren’t really dead.)  I would probably do the latter.  It is also OK to keep track of the number of inches the unit flees of the table keep track of it elsewhere.

Units that lose all their soldiers to straggling aren’t eliminated.  They are tracked like there are still units on the table but the do NOT collect extra straggler hits.  The regiment on the table doesn’t so much represent the mass of soldiers on the table but rather the point at which they will eventually begin to reform.

Example of fleeing

Consider the following example…

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The 47th Indiana has been blown up.  They have already routed and are now hiding in the woods pretty close to one of their artillery units.  They were once a 4 stand regiment and now down the the last figure on their command stand.  A Flight Check chit has been drawn and its now time to see if time to run for our lives.

Let’s see 47th needs a modified 4…

4 + 3 = 7 for lost stands

7 + 2 = 9 for routing

9 + 1 = 10 for being disordered

10 – 1 = 9 for being in the woods (partial cover).

You can’t see the confederates in the picture but they are less than a foot away.  Bummer. 

A 9 is a big number to reach fro with a six sided die.  Let’s see how that turned out!

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So…. 47th Indiana is a Veteran unit… so they get 3 dice.  Their general must have been about to through away a dice because it looks like he lent then one of this command dice (for a bonus fourth dice).  We roll and we get a 1, 1, 3, 6!.  That six has a 50% of actually being a 7.  We roll a 4… bingo… it’s a 7.  Now we have a 50% chance of that 7 being an 8.  We roll a 5 and its now an 8.  Now we have a 50/50 of being 9.  We roll another 5 so we get 9!

Ok.  Reality check.  The odds of me getting a die to roll a ’6’ is 16%.  The odds of rolling a ‘6’ and winning 3 coin tosses is 2%.  Nice long odds but not relevant given we rolled 4 dice.  Let’s flip the scenario so we can work out the odds of failing this roll with all four dice.

The odds of NOT rolling a ‘9’ is 98%.  The odds of me NOT rolling a ‘9’ on 4 dice is  92% (98% x 98% x 98% x 98%).  That means the odds of me succeeding is 8%.

OK.  So… given that the enemy is so close still and I’ve got no figures left to shoot with, I had no business trying to not flee.  I need to get the hell back to D.C.  Doubly so given that I can’t take more straggler hits!  Let’s say we just forget I rolled those dice and I run for the hills.

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I am supposed to be running 12” to the rear.  I have some latitude on where I can run so I check to see if I can make it to some cover.  I see a patch of woods that looks perfect for running into and hiding.  I will have to cross two fences (each with a 1” movement penalty) and about 1” of woods to go through which costs me 2” inches of movement.  That means I move 9” linear inches.  There.  Much better.

By the way…  I took these picks in my first ever play test so the situation above was not so hypothetical.  The unit above got itself into a proper pickle prior to breaking and I managed to get a good photo.  This is the unit just before deciding to leave.

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I love the casualty markers!





Orchards and their Necessity to Society.

25 09 2011

Ok… I don’t know that orchards really are such a necessity but I was at a loss for a title  this week and Abigail seemed to think this would work.  Go Ab.

Orchards play a recurring role on the civil war battlefield (The Peach orchard at Gettysburg for instance).  Orchards provide opportunities for cover which soldiers like without all that nasty underbrush which makes movement such a chore.  And… if the battle wears on, and it’s the right time of year (or you don’t mind green fruit) you could have an apple or two during the fight.

In McPherson and Revenge, an orchard:

  • Provides +1 cover modifier for morale checks and being shot at.  Yeah! 
  • Has no impact on movement.
  • Is a a source for material used to create improvised cover

Creating Orchards

To make my life easier (and this blog entry shorter) I start with completed trees

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Single tree stands of both the light and dark green variety are used to create peach and apple trees.

To create an apple tree I put drops of thinned glue onto the true using my glue applicator.

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I then dunk the tree into a container of scenic forest’s “apples”.  This stuff is basically just tiny round pellets covered in (sadly) water soluble red paint.

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This does not work well.  There is just enough a static charge to make the apples stick without actually being glued.  Really… this is a pain.  Please try a different method and let me know how it works.  Pretty please.

I “coated” my light green trees with apples and my dark green trees with peaches

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There is a slight scale problem here as you can see.  As small as the fruit is, it looks like the tree is being pulled up by its roots by colorful helium filled balloons.  It looks better on the table than it does in a close up photo so I can live with it.

Next step… I spray matte finish on the trees in a vain effort to get the fruit to stay on the tree.

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This doesn’t work of course but it makes me feel better and after an afternoon of mucking with tiny fruit spraying things with glue is very relaxing.

Here are some of these orchards in action!

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Most projects I present in this blog are pretty much all successful.  I rarely feel like I finish with a compromised result.  This project is a sort of exception.  It was more work than it should have been and there was one really disappointing “gothcha” I ran across that I never found a work around for.

The fruit is covered is a really water soluble paint and the glue is water based.  This caused me no end of trouble as the red and orange paint came off the fruit and stained the trees.  A number of orchard tress had to be thrown out as I learned how to work with this material.  Were I to do this over again I would likely use the spray matte to attach the fruit.  I have doubts this would work but the fruit would at least not run onto the tree.

The final result is “good enough” but this is my least favorite project to date mostly because neither the process nor the finished result matched my expectation.  boo.





Blowing stuff up Pt. II: Running away

28 08 2011

Getting shot at is unpleasant.  I have no first hand knowledge of this but I’ve seen Saving Private Ryan a bunch a times and it just seems like it sucks.  I seriously doubt that soldiers, even tough soldiers who have seen Saving Private Ryan, could do this overlong.  To model this we need some system to handle units getting fed up with being shot at and doing something about it.

I imagine that staying in position while being shot at requires tremendous discipline.  Discipline is a commodity that soldiers enter the battle field with a ready supply of.  When in this controlled state the unit can be described as being in “good shape”.  It mostly wants to do what it’s told.

As the battle wears on though this discipline is torn away by fatigue, disorganization and shock.  At a critical point in time a unit reaches a tipping point and functionality degrades.  Units become less likely to react, and follow orders.  In this state a unit can be described as “shaken”.

Shaken units that continue to suffer the effects of battle will eventually get fed up and leave, regardless of what their commander might wish.  These soldiers will run to a position of perceived safety to the rear of the fighting, preferably behind friendly troops, preferably in a barn.  In this state a unit is described as “routed”.

Units can, over the course of battle. improve their condition with time, distance and some proper coaxing but that is the subject of another blog.

Morale checks

After each fire command or reaction fire where a unit takes a hit that unit will need to make a skill check to see if its moral status degrades.  If multiple units are ordered to fire at a single unit in the same command then all fire is resolved before a morale check is made.  Morale checks are made with the following modifiers:

  • -1 shaken (negative morale is negative morale modifier.  FUN!)
  • -2 if routed (More FUN!)
  • -1 per stand lost
  • -1 if flanked (any of the shooting units can not be shot at)
  • +1 partial cover (fence or tress)
  • +2 full cover (building or works)
  • -1 if disordered

Note: all skill and rolls for effect are modified +/- a die based on the elite/green status of the acting unit.  I may sometimes forget to mention it but its always true.

Shaken

If a unit is in good shape and fails a morale check, then it is now shaken.  Shaken units immediately take two straggler hits (yellow ring) minus one for successful die on a skill roll.  This roll (a straggler roll) is made modified by the same table above.

A unit that is shaken gets a shaken counter and has the following limitations

  • -1 on all skill checks
  • no more than a quarter movement may be spent moving towards the enemy.
  • No assaults
  • No supporting an assault
  • Not thinking about assaults

Routed

If a unit is shaken or routed and fails a morale check, then its now routed.  Routed units immediately:

  • Take two straggler hits and make a straggler check as above
  • Becomes disordered
  • Flee 150% of regular move towards “the rear” (typically 12”)

“The rear” is an abstract concept and not something you can make a rule for.  When fleeing both sides should discuss where the proverbial barn would be.  Fleeing troops would likely flee not only to a place of safety behind friendlies but also towards other fleeing troops.  Also… units are unlikely to move past cover so the 12” movement is a guideline, not strictly speaking a rule.

This entire process is known as “fleeing” and may come up again in other blogs.

A unit that is routed gets a routed counter and has the following limitations.

  • Routed units must remain disordered
  • The only order that may be given to a routed unit is a rally.
  • The only reaction that a routed unit can perform is a full movement to the rear.
  • – 2 on all skill checks
  • If enemy gets within 4” then the unit automatically flees again (new straggler roll!)

Example of Morale Checks

When last we left 22nd Kentucky they had taken two hits!

Post Fire

This is a bunch of getting shot.  To make a moral check the 22nd Kentucky must get at least one success on 4 dice (3 dice +1 for being elite)

The will need at least one ‘4’.  There are no modifiers on this roll…. should be easy.

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Oops.  And I’m all out of Battle Karma too.  Bummer.

One more example… This time from the beginning! (Including shooting!)

The 22nd Kentucky decides to grab some cover to its rear and shoots ineffectively.  The Confederate unit then moves to conform and shoots again.

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Less than 4” and more than 2”… That’s medium range.  The 22snd is behind a fence (partial cover).  To hit the confederates need “6”s (4 +1 for medium range and +1 for the fence).  The 22nd should be fine here.

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Crap!  A 6!  Boo.  No Battle Karma left… dangit!  This is the third hit on the stand so its gone.  22nd Kentucky just got smaller.

This morale check is gonna be a good bit tougher.  4 dice (3 +1 for being elite) and the 22nd needs a 5 (4 +1 for being shaken +1 for being down 1 stand, –1 for being in partial cover).

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Poop!  No “5s” or “6s”!  Is that a barn over there?!?!  RUN!

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12” to the rear and now the 22nd is disordered.  Note: 2” of movement are spent crossing two fences to the 22nd’s rear so only 10” are moved.  (These rules and many others are covered in movement)

Let’s see if we take straggler hits.  The 22nd still get 4 dice but now then need “7”s! (4 + 2 for being routed, +1 for being down a stand)

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Good news/Bad news.  We got one “7”.  We rolled two “6”s and got pretty excited but we could only turn one of the “6” into a “7”.  If this makes no sense then refer back to our rolling for effect blog.

Next time we will see if we can’t get these guys back in game!





Confederate Infantry, Part2

19 06 2011

Last time I had my confederates painted but un-based.  Let’s finish ‘em up.

We start by popping them off of their popsicle sticks…

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,,,and gluing them to my infantry bases.

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I glue ballast to the bases and then paint everything a dark brown.

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I then drybrush the bases a lighter shade of brown,,,

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I then paint the vertical sides of the base black and the beveled backs white…

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Then I use my handy glue applicator to apply glue in splotches to the base and then I blow static grass over the whole miniature.  This gives the appearance of clumpy grass.

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Then I print and cut unit labels for my infantry stands and glue them on the bevel.

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Next comes the flags.

About Confederate Flags

In much the same way a confederate soldier was grateful to show up to the battle wearing pants, a confederate regiment was really glad to have a flag and weren’t really bothered if it was a bit different.  Unlike their union counterparts, the confederates did not have four score and seven years to agree on what banner the bore in battle.  As a result, there were not one confederate flag used during the war but many and units would fight sometimes with either a confederate national flag (which was frequently regional in origin) or even its state flag.

Here are few I have found…

Many units from Kentucky fought with this flag …

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Units from Arkansas fought with “Van Dorn” flag

Van Dorn Flag 

Units from Polk’s Corp had their own flag.

polk flag

And there were MANY variations on the battle field of the much maligned Confederate national flag.

Homemade

The famous confederate battle flag (St. Andrews flag) began use in 1862 and were championed by Generals Joseph E Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard.  Wherever they were posted they made the effort to make the flag a standard. 

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Virginia adopted the flag quickly and began mass producing the flag for not only its own army but units in other states as well.  As you can image, many of the units fight in the war had been formed well before the arrival of these flags and did not care to set aside their colors (thank you very much).  As such, battlefields, particularly in the west, had a myriad of colors and older units maintained their esprit de corps by hanging onto their distinctive colors.

It was not until 1864 that the flag saw the near universal use that is commonly perceived today. 

Champion Hill, fought in May of 1863, far west of Virginia with troops from Kentucky, Arkansas, and even Missouri would have had a large variety of flags.  It’s possible that few if any of the more famous confederate flags saw use of during the Vicksburg campaign.  I have made an effort to use as many different flags as possible because I want as mottled a look for my confederate troops as I can get.

I made flags by either downloading them purpose built for wargaming, by finding images I liked on the internet and resizing them or by making the flags from scratch using Visio.

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Once printed I cut out the flags using a craft knife and pre fold them.  I then glued these to the flag poles on my command stands.

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While still wet, I do a good bit of twisting and folding to achieve a flapping effect.

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Once the flag dries I need to deal with the white seam where the flag halves meet.  By trial and error I get paint to match and paint along the seam.

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I then drill holes and attach map pins to various command stands to mark veteran status.  Green for green and yellow for elite (not red… that would be cruel)

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Here are some pics of a few units…

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The Road Less Traveled

24 04 2011

Roads are critical to the Civil War Battlefield.  Battles almost always occurred on terrain with road access and many famous battles were fought because of their proximity to a crossroads.  Antietam, Gettysburg and our very own Champion hill are but to name a few.

Roads had a number of notable impacts on the Civil War Battlefield:

  • Troops in column moved at a greatly accelerated speed along a road.
  • Roads were the principle means of access to the battlefield.  Once a battle was begun, troops that would join the battle would do so via a road.
  • Roads are easily navigated and orders involving roads are very easily understood.  Troops could make excellent progress on a road in part because no prior knowledge of the terrain was required to make progress.
  • Troops moving along a road are unbelievably vulnerable.  Formations for Moving are radically different than the formations for fighting.  Strategies for deploying troops often vacillate between getting the battle quickly or getting to the battle ready to fight.  Initial deployments of troops often occur not so much to engage the enemy but to provide cover for fresh troops entering the battle via a road that would otherwise be unusable because of enemy fire.
  • Roads were strategic in and of themselves.  This is particularly true of Champion hill where the two roads immediately behind the hill led to solid river crossings and had to be taken for the North to advance on Vicksburg and had to held by the South to allow for troops to withdraw to the city.

In McPherson and revenge roads will dramatically impact movement of virtually all troop types.  Troops will have to be arranged to make the most of roads; Infantry and Cav in column and artillery limbered.

Roads will also impact command and control in McPherson and Revenge.  Standing orders for troops to continue down a road can always be assumed given how easy it is to continue marching.  So long as troops are to move their full movement along a road as a general’s initial order, a general will not have to make a skill roll activate troops for road marching.

Scenarios will be massively impacted by roads.  They will be crafted to make the most of roads such that engaging troops and reinforcements will enter the battle via a road and holding roads and crossroads will be critical to winning battles.

Making the Roads

There are a few successful strategies for putting a road on a miniatures table, namely:

  • Have the roads as separate pieces that lay on top of a table surface.  Road pieces can include different lengths and shapes including forks.  This approach can be very versatile but requires set up and may not look 100% right.
  • Build the roads directly onto the battle surface and make the battle surface polymorphic.  This is the same approach I used with my rivers.  This looks like a million bucks but is not very versatile.  The upside here is that it sets up like a breeze.
  • Build the road out of something on the day of gaming.  I have seen this done in two ways.  One, using sand poured onto the table to look like a really rough dirt road.  Another approach I saw one I thought worked pretty good was 1” wide masking tape applied to green felt.  These are not overly attractive but masking tape is cheap.

Because I made the decision to put rivers directly into a polymorphic table system it would be REALLY limiting to do the same thing with my roads even though this would look the best.  I will go with the first approach, this is, creating separate road pieces that sit on top of the gaming surface.

In my previous adventures as miniatures terrain creator I once had a road system I built out of hardwood.  It looked pretty good and fit rather tidily under my bed in a box. It was versatile and attractive. The problem with this system was that hardwood roads didn’t go up and down hills worth a darn.  I found myself steering roads around hills as every time I hit a hill I had to find just the right length piece of road.

Rather than go with something firm like wood I have decided to create roads out of something really flexible… caulk. 

As I will be painting and gluing things to caulk I make sure that I uses a “paintable” silicon caulk.  Most caulk is either white or clear but some other colors are available.  As I will have to cut the caulk and invariable the base color of the caulk will poke through, I use brown caulk

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Caulk sticks to damn near everything until its dry.  I have a couple of old pieces of silpat that I use for making the roads.  Silpat is a silicon based cookie sheet liner and is cools stuff.  On a side note, silpat is literally the only thing that I have seen with the words “Made in France” on it.

I lay a nice thin bead of caulk on the silpat

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I then smooth this into the shape of the road.  One of my roads is about 1.5” wide and 12” long.

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I also make curves and forks.

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Once these are dry, I peal them off, trim them if needed.

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I then spray them with matte finish and cover them in fine ballast.

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At this point the ballast is “sort” glued to the roads pieces.  If I mess with it overly at this point the ballast comes right off.

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Spray painting the roads, generously, with brown paint will not only provide a base color for the road but will make sure the ballast stays in place.

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Next I paint the roads burnt siena.  Rather than paint off a palette, I think the paint in a squeeze jar and pour it directly onto the road pieces.  This is a messy process and is why my table is a shade of brown.

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Once all the road pieces are painted brown, I then highlight them by dry brushing mixtures of Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna and white.  This step takes FOR. EV. ER.

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At this point these roads are still really flexible. Glue will stiffen them up a bit but they will still drape very nicely.

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Next I lay 20mm wide bases along the road to mark the area I intend to leave the painted surface exposed.

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…and paint glue on everything else.

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With the glue still wet I put Woodland Scenics Grass flocking onto the road. 100_3254

I have a box for doing this but some how I managed not to get a picture of it. 

Once this layer dries I apply another layer of thinned white glue (using may magic glue bottle!) and apply more grass.

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Once dry I then cut the edges off all the road pieces using a craft knife and a strait edge.

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To make sure I have a variety of lengths I cut some of the curves and straight pieces an number of times laterally.

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Here are some road pieces on my table…

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