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.