Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ottoman Limbers, Miners & Engineers

As I begin finishing up the Ottoman army for Lasalle, there are some odds and ends that needed to be done. One thing that held me up was the limbers for the Ottoman army. Next to nothing seems to be written about this with the exception of noting the Ottomans used European horses or oxen for pulling guns. Not having any oxen on hand, horses would have to work.

Knowing that little nugget of information was useful in determining that the Ottomans likely did not ride the draft animals. Since no one makes any figures to represent Ottoman limber drivers, all I could do was some conversions with the Old Glory artillerymen. The crewmen with the shafts used to lift the trail were modified and green stuff used to model a rope to the horse harness.

I think it worked out well. Museum Miniature horses and some old Minifigs limbers filled out the rest and best of all, these were odds and ends I had laying around already. I kept everything a painted wood/brown color, as I don't think the French reforms in using green were common from what little I have read.

Alternative Armies seems to be the only company making 15mm Ottoman figures suitable for sapper or engineers. The ones in red are miners and the blue are engineers. Oddly enough, I found a nice color plate of their uniform with absolutely no problem. It would appear these figures were designed for the siege of Vienna in the 15-1600's. I'll wager the uniform plate didn't change much and if anyone has contrary information, please let me know.

These figures are closer to true 15's than the Old Glory, but not too wildly different. The details on the figure are clear and no moulding lines cutting across the face or anything silly.

Auxiliary troop information on the Ottomans is hard to find. How they were organized or distributed doesn't seem to be accounted for around the time of the Russo-Turkish War. Given the influence of Russian and French on the Ottoman army, I think it highly likely that they were distributed into units and then collected when the need came.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ottoman Turk Cavalry

So with moving behind me, I've had time to finish the basing and other details for the two cavalry brigades that are finished. Up first, is there "heavy cavalry brigade" as per Sam Mustafa's list for Lasalle. These are large units in the game and will probably be the most effective in the army.

What I'm using for the Household Cavalry as these two large armored units. There was some decent uniform information on these guys, but conflicting information as to whether the shields were bare metal or painted. As with all Ottoman troop information, you have bitz and pieces to put together.

For the Kapikulu Sipahis units in the brigade, there are numerous uniforms to use for the various regions these units were drawn from and the time period in particular. They are the equivalent to the Jannisaries and considered to be of better quality men. Some appear armored and some not. I went with both styles.

For the other brigade, we have the four regiments of Sipahis. It appears later in the Ottoman Empire's reforms, armor seems to drop off as weapons become more lethal. Various internet searches reveal some regional differences in head gear.

The Old Glory figures for this range are above average for the company. With that said, they did not appear to sculpt lance pennants even though they ought to be present. I used Mircosoft Excel to create the pennants, cut them out and glued them on to all of the lances. After they dried, I used a fine pair of scissors to cut the V shape off the end. Seemed to work well and adds a bit of needed detail.

I'm pleased with the way they turned out and the variance of colors to give the units character. There is one last Sipahis brigade to go and hopefully it will be completed in May.

I also decided to have one more militia unit painted up. This will bring the army up to four units of militia. The only good thing I can see about these guys is that being irregular, they can take advantage of rough terrain and use it as cover.

On uniform plates, it is hard to determine exactly what uniform regional units were given. I suspect it was a hasty affair in many cases and so they were haphazardly dressed in civilian clothes. In any case, the other three units are much more varied and this one is in a uniform found on a uniform plate. Just adds more color to the army.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: Wellington Against Massena: The Third Invasion of Portugal

Having been away for a while due to time constraints of moving, I thought a book review might be a good blog post. This book came to my attention a while back through the great blog I follow It was with great anticipation that I dove right into reading this book hoping to learn something new. I was unaware of the author, David Buttery, but knowing there was a prelude book of Wellington Against Junot, I was curious to see what the author found.

It was all for nothing as it turned out. As the name would suggest, the focus should be on Wellington and Massena and who they were as men and commanders. What the book largely is about, is telling the narrative of the Peninsular War from the British perspective. A chapter deals with Wellington's early life and career and then a less detailed chapter goes into Massena's life and career. Having been well acquainted with Wellington's background, nothing new was really to be revealed. With Massena, his personal life is presented in passing and it appears the author made no real attempt to find new information to present to the reader. Massena's career is well covered and this was a jewel in the mud.

A major source of disappointment is the lack of written orders and correspondence from the two commanders. The documents exist showing the orders for battles and what they thought might happen, but they are not included. Also inexplicably, correspondence between Wellington and Massena are missing. Was the author unaware of this information still existing? Why was no attempt made to find the information?

And then you have errors that reflect the author's shallow understanding of the subject matter. On page 55, Napoleon is called an "inveterate warmonger" while the author goes off topic mentioning the Danube campaign. Was he unaware the Austrians started that war in 1809? David Buttery should be and he is likely allowing his British bias to show in an uncalled for deceptive statement.

Later on page 160, David Buttery erroneously states that the French Imperial Guard Grenadiers were present at Fuentes de Onoro. The error originates from a British soldier who mistook the converged grenadier battalions with their bearskins as the Old Guard. On page 164, the author now downgrades them to Young Guard status. These two errors reflect on the author's ignorance of the order of battle and the reliance on British accounts without much investigation of the source material. I refused to keep track of all the errors, so let these stand out as some of the obvious ones in the work.

The author concludes the book somewhat abruptly dealing with Massena's request to decline presiding over Ney's trial and rather short life after the war. For Wellington's conclusion, it somehow escaped mentioning the details of The Iron Duke's loss of social standing and attempt to steal Napoleon's mistresses, chef etc. Again, is the author unaware or avoiding harmful information? Massena's love of money is mentioned in multiple places in the book, but Wellington's cold and harsh personality is really glossed over by being mentioned only in passing. Again, this is where physical correspondence letters to subordinates and even opponents would have been invaluable to turning Wellington into a human being instead of a statue with a few human traits.

The book was a major disappointment on many levels. The book does include a generous list of "references", but if an author doesn't fully understand the subject matter or has some intent on rewriting history, then the sources cannot be cited as truth when they are misused. I walk away from this experience confused over the author's motive being improper or was he simply ignorant and felt if he used enough sources, he could pull off a good book? Anyone familiar with the theater would pretty much be aware of the battles so did not need them being retold with no new information being presented. Having read all seven volumes of Charles Oman's A History of the Peninsular War, gives me a higher understanding of the events and perhaps raised my hopes.

With all of this said, I would not recommend the book. Promoting the usual bias and rehashing old material with a new cover doesn't lend itself to being very useful for anyone researching the topic. The shallowness of the two commanders presented in a book with them as the subject is misleading at best. An amateurish work I wouldn't even donate to a public library. What a shame. The author had an attempt to do real research using archived material and giving these men depth and life and he chose to cut corners by using already published works - errors and all.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ottoman Turk Artillery and Generals

In this installment, we see the Ottoman artillery and generals being shown after I got them properly based. I seemed to have forgotten to take a picture of both batteries, but they're almost identical except for the gun caliber.

I've been made aware of the French mission to assist in modernizing the Ottoman army and the eventual gun carriage color appears to be a green much like the French. Were all the guns this way? Just newer carriages? Or was this just the decree that wasn't obeyed? Doing them a deep brown allowed me to use them for an earlier period.

The Old Glory pack is interesting and each bag seems to have a fortress style carriage with four wheels, similar to deck guns. This was an older pack of Old Glory with 12 guns and crew, so there were two of these such guns. It's impossible to tell the caliber, but given the size of the barrel, it is much more like a siege gun.

Finding Ottoman general dress wasn't a real easy task. Many of the pictures seemingly are just black and white sketches which are of no real help when painting. On these, I repainted them with bright colors and more elegance with gold and red bridles, bronze stirrups etc. I felt the brighter colors made them stand out.

I could only presume the dress style was somewhat unique to the tastes of the officer wearing it. Standardized army uniforms were only in their infancy and there is likely to be regional differences and tastes present.

My only problem with these figures is that there was limited diversity. It would appear the sculptor had a similar problem finding many references and repeated the same design. The detail is there on the figures, just the imagination of the sculptor was limited or maybe under some deadline. With about 5 poses, a variety of colors is almost a requirement.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ottoman Turk Concript and Militia Units

In this third installment, we have the conscript units for Lasalle. In the army list, it asks for four conscript units as part of the core list. Like the other Old glory figures, the figure bases are wide and only six would fit per stand.

Again, the molded on metal flag was on most of the standards and so I added some details using some flags I already had. Ottoman flags are extremely simple and do not appear to have been designed to be trophies.

The uniforms were taken from various "ortas" from the empire. Some of these units would be from Anatolia, Bulgaria, Bosnia or even from further away provinces and raised to be deployed when needed.

I forgot the name on the Old Glory bags for these varying troop types, but they are quite diverse. This front unit reminds me of the Janissaries.

Now we have the two required militia units of irregular infantry. These would be rounded up from villages and probably just as happy to kill the other militia units in some clan squabble. Being unpaid, their motivation was looting the dead (or the occasional stray traveler).

Really not a lot to go on with how these men might look like so I ended up using mix matched figures and asked they be painted in various colors. I ended up changing some of the colors myself to get the look I wanted.

Being stray militia and classified as irregular, it felt wrong to give them any sort of banner. It would be uncertain whether they would be Muslim or Christian and so it was easier to forget about it. Next up will be the Ottoman artillery.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ottoman Turk Janissaries

In my second installment of posts listing my Ottoman army as it is based and ready for the table, we have the Janissaries.

The Janissaries, like almost everything else in the Ottoman army, seems to have had no real change in uniform except maybe colors. Many plates on the net show different units all very similar yet somehow different. These figures are by Old Glory.

There seems to be two poses for these troops, firing or charging. The one thing about these figures I did not care for were the cast metal flags. This seems to be an old tradition that should have died with the advent of the home color printer. Ottoman flags are extremely simplistic, but it is more time required to paint something that instead could so easily have had a nice paper flag attached.

If they had white face paint instead of beards, they could be confused for some type of unit of clowns. I'm happy with the way they turned out.

Two of the units are in blue with yellow and two with green and yellow. This was changed from a light brown shirts and pants as it all looked a bit drab. Brighter colors are much more pleasing on the table top.

In the next post will be my four conscript units for the basic Lasalle army list.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Castalla April 13, 1813 Lasalle AAR

Doing Castalla was a bit of a chore given the general lack of information available on the internet. Being one of the larger battles in Eastern Spain, I had suspected a wargamer's map to be found somewhere. Outside of finding the general map made from sketches, I had to create one using Battle Chronicler. I must thank Phil for his inspiration on his own blog's battles using that program. Oman's A History of the Peninsular War Volume VI contained good background information of the battle plan for Murray and Suchet. It was not as in depth as I would have liked (or expected), but it had enough information to allow the scenario to go forward. If anyone is wanting a copy of the deployment map, OOB and other scenario description I created, you may email me at:

Here we see early on, the French right under Generals Harispe and Habert surging forward against Colonel Adam's Anglo-Sicilian brigade on the Anglo-Allied left. More in the center we have General Robert moving against General Mackenzie's division anchored atop the ridge. General Whittingham's Spanish division stands in reserve.

Robert's division looks to try and exploit a gap between Mackenzie's defensive line and the castle. This would turn out to be an important sector later in the battle.

General Clinton's Anglo-Sicilian division was really not engaged much during the historical battle and this would be not much different. Behind it, General Roche's Spanish division stands as a reserve force. There were certain scenario restrictions on how this force could become activated during the battle. It was one of the only forces that had elements of all arms, albeit not of much quality.

The French continue to approach and arrange themselves for the uphill assault. During the historical battle, I believe Robert's men were kept entirely in reserve. In this scenario, they were allowed to throw everything at the Anglo-Allies given the fact they were at a numerical disadvantage.

The Calabrian Free Corps and the Sicilian Light Dragoons begin to get up close and personal with Harispe's leading battalions. One of Habert's battalions can be seen inching closer, careful not to rush the twin British batteries atop the ridge line. Robert on the far end, the largest of the French commands, is still positioning itself. Having eight battalions, it had some punch against the opposing battalions of Mackenzie.

A much better view of the advance. Have to thank fellow group gamer Tim for the quick production of specific hills for the scenario.

After some cannon fire, the British battalion falls back behind an Italian unit (we had to use Portuguese as stand ins). The attempts to weaken each other's leading battalions had only a minor impact on the upcoming assault.

Slightly out of focus, but Clinton and Roche stand and await General Boussart's cavalry brigade. Clinton's force manhandles the guns to help bring them into range and goad the French from their distant position. It eventually works.

Robert's men finally make the climb. Disruptions begin to mount for the French, but not enough to halt the advance. To the extreme upper right, Habert's men do the same.

The Allies try to angle their battalions to try and line up more shots on the leading elements of the French assault. By this point, all of the French infantry forces were engaged in either firefights or melees.

Robert's men fight to take the gap in the line. The British battalion here will be broken leaving the other battalion on the end of the ridge to fight on almost alone.

Colonel Adam's men haven't done so well here. Harispe's men have knocked out some battalions and now Whittingham's Spanish find themselves now confronted with fighting the French. The Spanish 5th Grenadier battalion, the remaining battery on the center of the ridge and some Italians now keep the line intact. The British line troops here have not done well.

Boussart's cavalry and a stray battalion of Robert (looking back, this infantry battalion might have been out of command) slowly move up. Not pictured off to the left, is the French 4th Hussars who are trying to work there way down the other side of the flooded stream. The slow artillery duel here is largely ineffective and only of nuisance value.

Robert's division now stands to take this sector unless some reserve are brought up. At this point, Roche is still unable to be activated. Since I was commanding Roche and Clinton, I had only Clinton to do something with here. I detached a British battalion to go around the castle and village to help plug the gap, but it will be another couple of turns before they can come up.

The British units from Mackenzie and Adam have essentially been all broken and it is up to the second class Spanish and various Italian units to hold on. The 20th Light Dragoons makes a charge attempt on the far flank to stem the tide. All of the close proximity musket fire is beginning to take its toll on the French battalions.

The remains of Mackenzie's command refuse their flank against Robert's men. One of Clinton's battalions can just barely be seen popping it's head around the back of the village. The artillery limbered and fell back to prevent from being overran. In the rear, the Sicilian Light Dragoons that were sent to aid the center were recalled to assist the flank. This counter order kept them out of the fighting for several turns.

Clinton's detached battalion is now on the scene just after two Allied battalions holding the edge of the ridge broke. The good thing here is that the two battalions now occupying the position are completely blown and will need to recover before trying to charge any further. Being in canister range and with a fresh battalion coming up, it doesn't look good for the French here.

It was here, that my two other fellow Allied players had to leave for the day. As it was getting late, I decided since I could stay (most of the figures on the table were mine and I made the scenario, so decided to finish it to the break point). The French needed to only break two more Allied units and the Allies would need to break four more French. During the following turn, I managed to destroy two French battalions (one from Harispe and one from Robert) through canister fire. The Sicilian Light Dragoons managed to counter charge a French battalion attacking what was left of Adam's command. The Sicilian cavalry did well and broke the French battalion. Had my Reaction phase rolling been slightly better, I would have won at this point, despite the appalling loses.

Roche's men had been activated and quickly marched to the center, but they were not fast enough. Clinton's battalions managed to repel a few French cavalry charges without any losses.

What I could not control were the Spanish battalions from being so disadvantaged in combat against French battalions with better morale and superior numbers. Two Spanish battalions broke, and that ended it. It was a French minor victory, unlike the historical battle.

In designing the scenario to fit in with the historical context of the situation, I made the Spanish and most of the Italians with Shaky morale and only minimal training (Amateur). Given the previous few skirmishes with the French that had not ended well, the Allies were not feeling very confident. Lt. Gen. Murray had been wanting to retreat but was finally talked out of it. Seeing how the Allied commander was not confident and considering the losses the Spanish had suffered during the previous skirmishes, it seemed appropriate not to make them Reliable Veterans. The Allies had the numerical advantage combined with terrain features good for defending, but the overall quality was dubious. Murray and Suchet both suspected the Spanish and melting pot of Italian troops (more properly, Neapoltian and Sicilian for the most part) would not stand. Had Suchet made a full attack, he may have had better chances as we can see here from this scenario.

I tried to keep the deployment zones as close to accurate as best could be discerned from some conflicting records. The castle was of no particular interest to Suchet, who had neither the manpower to storm it nor the time to place guns inside of it. Murray tossed in a small garrison just to hang on to it. Knowing this, I had a garrison placed in the castle, but did not permit it to take part considering the historical realities of a relic castle. Murray wanted it held to split the French attack up, which it did. I also refused to allow any command radius or any value at all on Murray due to his general shifty mind and overall incompetence. Little nuances like these are important. The scenario was fun and the work involved gave me a good understanding of this often forgotten theater of the Peninsular War.