Wednesday, 25 May 2011

More 'Yanks' + new painting service!

I have been asked several times recently if I would accept commissions for painting miniatures. Having given this a lot of thought, (and finding myself with a fair bit of spare time on my hands), I have decided to offer a painting service. It will be limited only to the periods that I personally enjoy painting, mainly American Civil War, English Civil War and Napoleonics. I'm going to offer an excellent value price on 15mm ACW's as I love painting them! For full details please visit my new painting service blog (link at right), where you will see many examples of my work.

For ACW gamers I'm going to offer my services at the following rates:

15mm American Civil War.
Infantry figure .... £1.00 per figure.
Cavalry figure ......£1.75 per figure.
Gun + 4 crew........£ 5.00.

28mm ACW.
infantry figure .....£2.00 per figure.
Cavalry figure ......£3.00 per figure.
Gun + 4 crew .......£10.00.

High quality basing +10%.

Figures to be supplied please, price is for painting only.

The quality of the work will be as seen here and on my other blogs. I will only accept commissions that I can realistically deliver upon in an agreed time frame, I want to offer you excellent quality plus reliability of service. I am based in the Uk, down on the Kent coast. For further details please visit my new 'The War Artist' blog. For examples of my 28mm Napoleonic work please visit my'Napoleonic Wargames Project' blog.

I can be contacted initially at:

Thank you.

Here is my latest ACW unit, 500 men (25 figures) Union advancing/charging. Peter Pig figures of course!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

More terrain.

Been busy making some more fields and road sections, plus I made a surrounded area for my cornfield and I'm finally happy with it, no more tweaking! I really enjoy this aspect of the hobby and I want to try to achieve 'model railway' standard scenics overall. I do prefer this type of 'lay on' terrain and I want to keep everything modular on matching bases. The main baseboard has yet to be painted/flocked so I laid a few bits out on a green cloth, apologies for the poor lighting.

Everything is made from thick card bases then painted with a thick mix of PVA/paint then flocked in a variety of shades. Fences from cocktail sticks. The light green flock finishes everything nicely I think.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Cornfield, take 3 !

I'm preparing a longer post discussing the various sets of ACW rules that I have used over the last 20 years or so, but in the meantime I'm still painting and getting started on building fence sections etc. I made a fence to surround my cornfield, and I trimmed down all the 'corn' bases so that they could fit closer together, I THINK it now looks acceptable, but I'd love an opinion or two on this? Should the corn be more yellow? Should I just bin it and find something closer to stands of corn?

I have on order a fair bit of scenic materials, various flocks, clump flock etc including some really good dry straw/ wheat flock to make a couple of wheatfields, this is an aspect of the hobby I really enjoy and I will shortly be making my road and stream sections, again using various flocks/grits/static grasses etc. Makes a change from endless painting of Blue and Grey/Butternut.

Pics: A battery of Union guns being urged on by the brigade commander deployed on the edge of THAT cornfield!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Skirmishers & that cornfield again!

I like to paint at least one 'firing line' unit per brigade as they look better when in skirmish formation. JR2 allows any unit to skirmish or to deploy detached skirmishers of up to 2 stands. I prefer to use an entire unit as it simplifies play slightly. Skirmish formation is between 1 & 2 stands width apart. Regiments may also form 'extended line' formation when they need to 'shake down' slightly to cover an area wider than their frontage.

Here's the latest 300 man (15figures) regiment loading and firing. You can see I have placed some of the corn sections that I made earlier on my photo board in order to try and convince myself that it is actually useable, but I'm still not happy with it. It still looks too much like a forest of xmas trees to me! Its worth noting that US agricultural practice at that time was to plant corn/maize in clumps rather than neat rows as we see today. (Amazing what you can learn on TMP forum!).

Next week I will be ordering some Hovels buildings, a Games Workshop mat and more scenic materials for building fences etc. I'm now painting another 25 figure Union regiment.

All figures from 'Peter Pig' & painted by myself.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Cornfield (take1) & more Union infantry.

I spent quite a bit of time working on a 'Christmas tree' cornfield as seen over on the TMP forum. very fiddly and I'm afraid to say that the result is far from convincing. I wanted individual clumps that could be removed as troops move inside the field, but I simply cannot see it as representing corn/maize at all! So, after hours of work its back to the drawing board. I will re-use the bases for trees and markers and probably look into using a plastic front door mat for the corn (see pic below from the 'Lardies' site, looks more convincing does it not? Shame I wasted so much time on it).

On a more positive note I have finished a 25 figure Union regiment advancing, and am starting next on a 15 figure Reb unit in firing line poses. These units look better as skirmishers. I'm close to finishing my first 2 brigades and soon hope to have them in action. The quality of the peter pig casting is superb, crisp and clean with no need at all to clean up or remove flash, a real pleasure to paint.

Here's a link to some 'Lardie' ACW pics, some great painting on this page, scroll down for the 'doormat' cornfield pics! Actually, all of the terrain shots are pretty inspiring.

Back soon with that Confederate firing line unit plus (hopefully) a more convincing cornfield.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

More Rebs and Brigade command stands.

I have completed the 25 figure (500 man) Reb unit. 5 bases of 5 figures, I like the way JR2 uses a standard 5 bases with different numbers of figures, but it does rule out using other rule sets. I then decided to improve my command stands for brigades as you can see. I doubt that I will take this project beyond the Division per side stage as I want to follow up with Peter Pigs excellent AWI range.

Following up with a 25 figure Union regiment next but I'm also working on terrain items, more of that later. 150 figures painted so far so its going well.

(Note: the terrain tile is 25mm scale, I use it for my photographs which are taken in my 'light box' under a mixture of warm white and daylight 'blue' bulbs).

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Breechloaders in JR II.

I have quickly finished my 15 figure unit of 'Berdans Sharpshooters'. I painted these as a change from painting blue and grey, but also to add some variation into my planned games. Johnny Reb II are regimental level rules of course and as such feature a lot of detail at this level. Breechloaders are given the following advantages in the rules:

  • When firing prone, they fire at full effect (not quarter effect as for muzzle loaders)
  • They always receive an 'up 1 row shift' on the small arms firing chart to reflect increased rate of fire.
  • Their 'cover save roll' for fences and low walls is increased by 1 (to reflect the fact that they did not have to stand to reload).
  • When in skirmish order or 'extended line' the save throw is also increased by 1.
In addition units that are designated 'sharpshooters' also get advantages even if not armed with breechloaders. (A number of Confederate units were also designated 'sharpshooters' although armed with the standard rifle-musket):
  • When skirmishing their fire multiplier is x1 not x 1/2.
  • Units fired on by sharpshooters have their final save roll number reduced by 1.

Having been lucky enough to handle and fire a repro Sharps breechloader I know that its possible to stay much lower when loading compared with my trusty old .58 Enfield. To load the Enfield when kneeling required sliding the butt way behind you in order to reach the muzzle, then dragging it forward again to fit the cap etc. Although my Enfield was sold on a few years ago and I no longer hold the required shotgun certificate, the handling and firing of black powder weapons gives a useful insight into understanding wargame rules mechanisms I feel.

Pictures show the completed sharpshooters and an 1859 model Sharps rifle. I am now working on a 25 figure Confederate regiment, 5 bases of 5 figures.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Next up .... 1st US Sharpshooters.

I have now completed 2 Confederate infantry regiments and a 2 section 12lb smoothbore battery, plus a mounted general (brigade commander). So I only need to paint a couple more units per side to have 2 full brigades with which to run through a small Johnny Reb scenario. The first JRII game I ever played was the 'Pitzers Run' scenario included with the rules, just a couple of units per side but enough to get me hooked on the rules back then.

Next I'm going to paint a 300man (15 figure) unit of 1st US Sharpshooters (Berdans). 5 bases each of 3 figures. I must confess to having a special regard for this unit because I wore the splendid green uniform myself for a couple of years, having transferred from the 42nd Pennsylvania Vols, and already a veteran of many re enactment battles. I recall giving my measurements to the sutler and then waiting several months over winter before picking it up and trying it on. The frock coat was so comfortable to wear, not at all as I had imagined, if a little warm in summer! Great bunch of people, it was a pleasure to serve with them, and great to see that Captain Dave Parkin and his 'boys' are still going strong as members of ACWS . I have added a separate link to this regiment.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

More books & some nostalgia!

I'm halfway through my second Reb regiment now and my thoughts are beginning to turn towards terrain building already. I looked up the old scan (below) of some boards I built back in the Eighties! I was pretty pleased with that as I recall. 6 x 2 foot square boards from plywood. The trees were made from garden twigs and lichen and I thought back then looked pretty smart. My figures were all Minifigs, in 24 figure units and my games were played to 'Circa 1863' rules. We had some great games on that table.

OK, so fast forward a couple of decades and things have moved on. K&M trees are pretty much standard so I intend to use them and I will be looking for more flexibility in terms of layout from my new table. I'm also going to try my first cornfield (maize) using the 'mini Christmas tree' method, should be fun. Buildings once again will be the excellent 'Hovels' range.

I'm re-reading some of my old ACW books, and 'The Blue and The Gray' is right a the top of my list. I love this book, the cover caught my eye soon as I saw it, but it really is a goldmine of personal memoirs and accounts as seen from both sides. What I love is that you can take a small slice of action from a major battle and read both the Union and the Confederate soldiers perspective. Here's a snippet from Dawes "Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers" entitled"Wisconsin Boys Are Slaughtered in The Cornfield". It gives a vivid account of the terrain features at Antietam well as the intense fighting.

"At the edge of the cornfield was a low Virginia rail fence. Before the corn were open fields, beyond which was a strip of woods surrounding a little church, the Dunkard church. As we appeared at the edge of the corn a long line of men in butternut and gray rose up from the ground. Simultaneously, the hostile battle lines opened up a tremendous fire upon each other. Men, I can not say fell; they were knocked out of the ranks by dozens. But we jumped over the fence and pushed on, loading, firing and shouting as we advanced. There was, on the part of the men, great hysterical excitement, eagerness to go forward, and a reckless disregard of life, of everything but victory. Captain Kellogg brought his company abreast of us on the turnpike.
The Fourteenth Brooklyn Regiment, red legged zouaves, came into our line, closing the awful gaps. Now is the pinch. Men and officers of New York and Wisconsin are fused into a common mass, in the frantic struggle to shoot fast. Everybody tears cartridges, loads, passes guns or shoots. Men are falling in their places or running back into the corn. The soldier who is shooting is furious in his energy. The soldier who is shot looks a round for help with an imploring agony of death on his face. After a few rods of advance the lines stopped, and by common impulse, fell back to the edge of the corn and lay down on the ground behind the low rail fence."

Dawes later reports that of the 280 men present before the action, 150 were killed or wounded.

The Civil War Collectors Encyclopaedia is useful for information on items of uniform and equipment as well as personal items carried by Civil war soldiers. Identity discs were common and recruits made them from old coins etc, in fear of being left unidentified if killed. I find such items very moving. I'm not sure if ID discs were carried before this period?

(Double click the old scan pic go enlarge it.)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Mounted general & artillery.

I am really coming to like these Peter Pig figures, and the horses are lovely, big chunky castings with lots of muscle definition, just how I like them! Highlighting is easy. I think they would match well with the 'Essex' range too and I remain a big fan of Essex figures .

Painted the third section of Union artillery to complete my first JR battery. I went for a red shirt for one of the crew just to add a little contrast. I must admit his position may seem odd but I could not make the crew fit any other way, so I guess he's just turning to damp down his sponge in a bucket or something!

The mounted figure will be my first Brigade command figure, again a great little casting.

Friday, 25 March 2011

First Rebs completed

I completed my first Confederate regiment today, 20 figures advancing/charging. I'm pleased with the sense of movement and the overall muted colour effect that seems to blend quite well. I'm itching to play that first JR II refresher game (its been 9 years since I last played an ACW game!).

Pictures show them on a piece of 28mm terrain so the road is out of scale but I will be starting on some 15mm boards very shortly. Already got the third Union artillery section and crew undercoated, plus a Union Brigade commander, then its straight back to more Reb infantry.

My first 2 Union Regiments now have flags added.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

First Rebs -test paint.

I'm half way through my first Confederate regiment of 20 figures. I wanted to keep them down to a few basic colours so I use Foundry 'charcoal grey' as a shade highlighted with 'arctic grey' and for the butternut I use 'Tan shade' overpainted with ' spearshaft light', which I can vary by adding white. All paints are by Foundry. I'm fairly pleased with results overall and a coat of varnish will improve them.

The PP's are nice figures, easy to paint. I have also got some flagsheets now. The Confederate flags are slightly overscale I think but that's a minor niggle. They are well printed and excellent value.

I'm going to complete the 3 section Union battery (below) after this Reb unit is completed and re paint those Parrott's in a more 'grey' shade like the illustration as I'm not happy with that 'olive' colour!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Union artillery - test paint.

Have painted 2 sections of a Union Parrott battery (will add the 3rd section when my next order arrives). I really struggled to get the carriage colour correct and I still don't think I'm quite there yet, but its close enough for now. I looked at many sources and read the threads over at the TMP message boards (where the subject has been raised several times), before deciding to use the photo of a damaged 12pdr as a guide. Mine are still slightly more 'olive green' in shade though. The gunners are a pleasure to paint, well animated figures.

First 10 Rebs are now undercoated and I should have my first Confederate regiment completed before next weekend.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Basing style.

I have now based the first 2 Union regiments, all they need are flags and coat of varnish. I used a fine grit to texture the bases, followed by a white dry-brush and some Citadel (GW) static grass. This sets the standard for the project now. I'm still struggling with fingers/hands a bit but its improving gradually and the overall look I'm very happy with. Will have some Union artillery (2 stands) completed in next couple of days before starting on some Rebs.

I'm going to work on terrain pieces at the same time as painting the figures and I hope to blend everything in nicely together.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

First 2 Union regiments painted!

I'm starting to get a feel for this scale again and enjoying my painting. Have now completed 2 x 20 figure Union regiments and am just about to start on 2 Union rifled guns and crews. Still waiting for my basing material order to arrive so that I can finish them. Going to place another order with peter pig now including flagsheets. I'll make the Union guns up to a full 3 section battery before painting the first 2 Reb regiments. I'm happy with the mix of poses, mainly advancing at right shoulder shift arms & advancing with muskets up. I'm already planning terrain including cornfields (maize) as I have seen some excellent ideas for making these.

Plan initially is to paint a brigade per side plus artillery battery then get them on the table for a Johnny Reb II refresher game. As this blog develops I hope to introduce the JR game concepts and illustrate how well they recreate civil war combat.

Better photos coming soon!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Finally started!

The first unit is now completed and just awaiting basing, I'll get some pics up later. Given the time its been since I last painted a 15mm figure I don't think they look too bad. I thought about what poses to use before deciding on a mix of 'right shoulder shift arms' and 'advancing' as being the best representation of a Civil war unit at the point of getting close to the enemy, when the instinct to bring the musket down from the shoulder occurs. Officers would encourage those muskets to remain on the shoulder as long as possible to avoid firing until at close range. I think the mix looks OK and allows a wider use of figures from the Peter Pig range. I'm waiting for an order for basing materials to arrive, I want to use fairly dark but dry-brushed ground cover with GW static grass in patches.

Under the Johnny Reb II rules all units consist of 5 bases (later changed to 4 under JR3, but I felt the balance was lost). A regiment of 20 figures are therefore 4 per base, a unit of 15 figures are 3 per base, and 25 figure units are 5 per base etc. The bases are slightly different widths depending on figures per base. Many gamers do not like this approach, preferring to keep all bases the same size for use with other rule sets, but I'm going to stay loyal to the second version of JR. I like being able to field regiments of different sizes. Figure scale is 1 to 20.

Back shortly with the first images of the first Union regiment.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Classic ACW books and videos.

I have been busy re-basing my Napoleonic collection but I'm now ready to dedicate more time to this project. I hope to have some painted units to show shortly but in the meantime I have been looking through my ACW book collection.

I started collecting ACW books over 25 years ago and now have some rare and out of print volumes on my shelves. Some of these I would say are a 'must' for anyone who wants to develop deeper understanding on the period. Some are now classics of course, I have both of Bell Irvin Wiley's masterpieces, originally published in 1943, 'The Life of Johnny Reb, the common soldier of the Confederacy' and 'The Life of Billy Yank, the common soldier of The Union'. My editions are Louisiana State University Press, 1992 and possibly the two best books I have ever read on the period. Both were presents from my late Sister in Law who ordered them from the States for me for my Birthday 18 years ago. The classic 4 volume set 'Battles and Leaders of the Civil War' I remember hunting for in many bookshops before I found them most unexpectedly in one of those large 'discount' book shops at the then bargain price of £35.00, about 15 years ago, I snapped them up. A little gem of a volume that I found in a second hand military book shop many years ago is 'Shenandoah Valley Campaign 1861 - 8162' by A Kearsey. My edition is 1953 and in pristine condition. Its just a slim volume with card covers, but printed on fine laid paper and features beautifully printed fold out maps that pull out from the back of the book. I will introduce more of my book collection as the blog develops.

In 1988 Classic Images Productions filmed and released the '125th Anniversary Series' of Civil War battle re enactments in video format. These featured thousands of US re-enactors and a detailed voice over with maps etc. I still have these and keep an old video player so that I can still watch them! Again these were ordered directly from the States back in the mid Eighties as hey were not available in this country at that time. Some of the footage is quite stunning in its scale, with battle lines stretching as far as the eye can see and massed artillery batteries of full size pieces. I'm not sure if they are now available on DVD, but I'd recommend them to any ACW enthusiast.

That's it for now, I'll try to get some figures painted to get the ball rolling again!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Getting started.

Well, the first order is in for 15mm Peter Pig miniatures. As I intend to build armies for both sides I have ordered a mix of Union and Confederate figures. I thought long and hard about what pose to buy before settling on the 'advancing' pose. Now of course the advancing at 'Right shoulder shift' pose would be the most accurate to use as Civil War regiments marched and attacked in this position, the muskets only being ordered down from the shoulder at the last possible minute to stop any spontaneous firing, but this would limit my choice of figures considerably so I have gone for the more general advancing post. For anybody who has not seen the quality of the PP figures here is a link to some beautiful Civil War figures on the website as painted by Phil Robinson and Andy Rands. Please click on the images to enlarge these amazing images. ........ this is certainly what finally sold me on the PP range!

ACW using PP figures by Hull wargamers. Pics by Andy Rands & Phil Robinson

No doubt as this blog develops it will feature a certain amount of nostalgia as it brings back memories of Civil war 'stuff'. I actually found myself whistling 'The Bonnie Blue Flag' today for instance! I did once have quite a large collection of CW songs and music. One of the first recreations I saw on film was from the film 'GLORY' made back in 1989 . The opening sequence was amazing and the Antietam sequence spared no detail in recreating the horror of the combat. Just watched it again after what must be 12 years and it is still very stirring stuff indeed. The Antietam attack sequence is about 3 minutes in but I think it also portrays well the the high level of literacy amongst soldiers who have left us so many fascinating accounts of life during the war.

Next post I will discuss my choice of Johnny Reb rules with some details on basing etc as hopefully painting gets underway.