Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: 'Into The Valley of Death' by Mollo, Mollo & Fosten

Any wargamer wishing to build either the British Light or Heavy cavalry brigades really must access this work. Researched and written by Borris and John Mollo, with illustrations by Bryan Foster, this work covers the organisation, drills, history, uniforms and equipment of the British cavalry division for the Crimean expedition of 1854.

Published in 1991, this work is a completion of research undertaken by the Mollos done in the mid-1960's, financed by Tony Richardson for his feature film The Charge of the Light Brigade (see previous posting). Previously published as Uniforms and Equipment of the Light Brigade, the Mollos expanded their research to complete this work which includes accompanying brief histories to contextualise the technical content which the real value of this work. Those already familiar with other more comprehensive accounts of Balaclava will find the included campaign narratives repetitive and of little value. Nevertheless, those narratives do round this volume out, allowing it to stand alone as more than a technical accompaniment.

None of the deficiencies to be found in the Osprey Balaclava or Crimean additions affect this work. Whilst concentrated on the cavalry, it is comprehensive in every detail and the colour plates by Fosten are superb. My only yearning with this work would have been the inclusion of the Staff for the Cavalry Divisional and Brigade levels for protocols, structure and uniform. A minor quibble to be sure.

Again, this is a highly recommended, in fact 'must have' for anyone wishing to approach Balaclava in anything but a cursory manner. It is rare that a subject is covered in as much specific detail as the British cavalry are in this work. This is a gem. I purchased my 1994 reprint in hard cover through Amazon.com and it remains available. It runs to 127 glossy pages with eight pages of colour plates and a multitude of black and white reprints and photographs (both contemporary and current) to accompany.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review: Hell Riders by Terry Bighton

First published in 2004, Terry Brighton's considered volume Hell Riders "The truth about the Charge of the Light Brigade' approaches the Charge of the Light Brigade with a concentration on first person accounts recorded from or written by combatants and onlookers. This is simply a 'must have' for any wargamer's or enthusiast's collection and is an essential companion to Cecil Woodham-Smith's The Reason Why.

The socio-political context to the Crimean War and the Balaclava campaign itself is referred to only minimally; such background detailed only insofar as it relates to the Charge itself. Hell Riders is very much about the Charge and the Light Brigade and consequently I found much additional detail for modelling, characters and units surrounding the events at Balaclava - which will feature in my detailed project 'Allied Army Order of Battle' to follow.

The key feature of this volume is Brighton's approach to the Charge in part two - in my volume, pages 81-204. Taking excerpts from the accounts of the men who charged or witnessed the attack, the author takes us through the murderous approach stage by stage, lacing his narrative with the survivors commentary and synchronising their experiences. The chapter gathers its own momentum and by the time the reader hits the gun-line one fairly re-lives the seven minute disaster as it unfolds along. With the constant interjections from the cavalrymen's accounts, you feel you are riding in with them.

Brighton takes us from the point of decision, through the charge to the wild skirmish at the guns (and beyond) then back again up the valley of death. More than this, part four of his work discusses who was to blame, he describes the disgraceful wasting of the Brigade the following winter (part three) and delves into every dynamic of the legend from 'the bugle controversy' to awarding of the Victoria Cross.

This work includes a very handy roll call for the entire Brigade as well as handy tips for researching the Charge of the Light Brigade. If you are after greater detail concerning the battle of Balaclava; however, you will need to read further afield than Hell Riders. Nevertheless, anyone wishing to 'know' about the Charge must simply include this work in their reading list if they want to be even close to authoritative on the subject.

I highly recommend this to those who have not as yet had the pleasure and it can be purchased readily through Amazon.com as I did. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Odessa Regiment: Planning & Purchase

For a while now I have been approaching a miniature wargames unit as a whole model - a collection of figures be they a squadron or a battalion as a single representation. For me, each unit might convey an action, demonstrate a particular tactical doctrine or represent their historical counter-part at a particular moment in battle.

Such considerations help me determine which figures to purchase, how I might convert some and how to pose them. By way of example, my Odessa Regiment of Russian Infantry will have four battalions on the field or tabletop but I don't want them looking like orderly ranks of chocolate soldiers on parade. The terrain their real life counter-parts fought over will affect my choices in basing materials. If I were modelling a battalion of Coldstream Guards at Waterloo for instance, I might have their bases covered in tall grass or wheat or whatever it was that they were shooting out of at the end of the day. This is particularly the case when I know I will have them moving across especially designed wargames table-tops - modelling my terrain as I would the miniatures who manoeuvre across it.

This definitely requires a degree of forethought and imagination on my part for how I envisage a unit even before the first figures are purchased. As the Odessa Regiment's battalions advanced on the redoubts at Balaclava, I want them either engaging the enemy with small arms fire or thrusting up the slope. As I have four battalions of 36 figures to model, variety for me is also an issue as I'll be painting quite a few uniformed infantrymen.

I have opted for two battalions advancing and two battalions engaged in a fire-fight. Even within this simple determination I have plenty of other decisions to make. For example, how will I base them? As it happens, the Russian Infantry at the time deployed in line formation three (3) deep. This will afford me a simple solution of four (4) bases of nine (9) figures at three (3) deep by three (3) figures wide.

Each battalion was divided into four (4) companies, including a grenadier company which was itself divided into two (2) platoons. Of these grenadier platoons the right were grenadiers armed with muskets but the platoon on the left were rifle armed and were in effect the light platoon of the battalion.

According to Vostochnaya Voina 1853-1856 godov, by Lieutenant General M. I. Bogdanovich (1877) Russian doctrine and practice was to screen infantry advances with dedicated rifle companies and not from a skirmish screen drawn from the battalion's riflemen. Even then, due to experiences against Turkish cavalry, rifle companies would remain in close order formations (two lines deep) except when in denser woodland.

Lieutenant General Pavel Petrovich Liprandi’s Report of the Battle of Balaklava; however, mentiones a 'chain of riflemen' or skirmishing screen being provided for Semiakine's column advance including the Azoff Regiment carabineers (grenadier rifles). It would seem, therefore, that in the field my Russian grenadier rifles do in fact need to be based as skirmishers or at least be based in such a way to allow for them to fan out before the rest of the battalion model in some fashion. In any event, my general basing convention for the Russian infantry will be as follows:

Fire methodology is also important to me for how to model my firing battalions. For example, for earlier period armies I model platoon firing armies completely differently to one which fire in ranks - it being a matter of the sequence for my reloading, ready and firing poses. Then again, I may want to represent an entire battalion first volley with all muskets brought up at once. I know that I want one of my Odessa battalions to be in a 'fire-at-will' stage with staggered or random firing and reloading poses as far as the figure range makes possible.

I very much prefer as realistic a look to my units as I can make. To this end, I will have a proportion of field caps within the units (about 30%) whilst most will be in helmets. Again, it's all about breaking up the uniformity of the model to better convey that the battalion is made up of people rather than robots. By slight variation in positioning of the same sculpt on a base, I can break up otherwise unrealistic rigidity and hope to convey an organic feel to a formation and breath a little life into it.

Again, what I can do and what I intend needs to be thought through even before I think of making that first left mouse click on the 'Buy Now' button. Once more, for me there is little choice but to proceed with Great War Miniatures through Nick Eyre's Northstar Military Figures supply. Lucky for me, as a recently developed modern range of sculpts, there is a significant variety of poses and options for the Russians within the Great War Miniatures range. So, all have to do is wait for them to arrive. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Current Limitations: Figure Availability

Presently I am in the research and purchasing phase of this project as far as resources and figure ranges allow. Whilst this campaign may have better leant itself to 15mm scale or similar, I don't seem capable of straying from my love of 28mm figures. At a 1:20 representative scale, this requires a significant financial outlay which for the first time in years I am in a position to indulge - at least to a point. The only thing holding me back (and that's a good thing) is the current limitation within this scale.

There are only four manufacturers which I am aware of who produce figures for this specific period - Great War Miniatures, Warlord Miniatures, Britania Miniatures and Wargames Foundry. As far a proportion, variety of poses and cost price is concerned, that combination of considerations for me leaves only two choices - Warlord and Great War. As at the time of posting, they are both ranges under development (at least I hope they still are) and I have hit a dead end.

Having bought or ordered the entire British Light Brigade and the 93rd Southern Highlanders and respective brigade, divisional and army command elements, the only ordnance items available to me at the moment are British 9pdr field artillery piece. The significant gaps in the allied range remain:

Heavy cavalry
24pdr howitzer (RA field artillery)
Royal Horse Artillery (6pdrs and 12pdr howitzers)
Artillery limbers - Field and Horse
12pdr naval guns and crew (for the redoubts)
Turkish Infantry

This is not a complaint. By the time I've built and painted up what I already have, it will be a long time until I'm running short or in need of more figures for the production line.

I have commenced a part purchase for some Russian opposition - namely the Northern Column under Colonel A P Skiuderi of the Odessa Regiment. For this, I will need four battalions of infantry (36 figures each), a rifle company, four units of Don Cossacks and a light field battery of 6pdrs and 9pdr licorns.

I have bought the Infantry minus rifles from Great War through North Star (as with all figures purchased thus far) but would you believe that even amongst the ranges I have rejected, no one is making my required Russian artillery?

Anyway, anyone with any influence with our supporting manufacturers might pass a couple of the above wants so collectively we can get the complete ranges 'operational'.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Unlucky General: No War Artist

'Trooper 4th Light Dragoons 1854' by GCB (aka Unlucky General)
Well, what can I say? My good mate and long time wargaming comrade Matt Williamson of the Goulburn Wargames Group is having his 40th birthday celebrated on Saturday and I will be in attendance. Not wishing to come empty handed (naturally) I decided to attempt something a bit different by way of a gift. I admit to being a fan of gifts which I might get something out of (selfishness) and on this occasion it was the chance to exercise a daemon in having a stab at depicting the 4th Light Dragoons in some form of artistic attempt.

A few faults leap out straight away. The colour of the jacket and to a lesser extent the overalls is not what it should be. I worked with what I had to hand - a set of 12 INTENSE water soluble pencils by Derwent. If I had given myself more time I might have worked a little harder on getting the shades right but as you can see, it's a shade (or two) too bright. Second is my lack of perspective or it may have been me changing my mind about what I was trying to depict to the lower front of my subject but the result is a withered forearm and small left hand. Sure, some people have smaller hands than others but it's nevertheless turned out differently than I'd have preferred. The third obvious irritation for me is the smudging under the sole of the foot where my 'watercolouring' bled through.

The subject is a private trooper of the 4th light dragoons. He is wearing a waterproof shako cover and the only other thing of note is his overalls which are regulation with the double yellow stripe running the full length of the leg. His double breasted jacket has eight pairs of brass regimental buttons (almost all of the left side can be made out. I used one of Fenton's photographs of a mounted officer as my model and then worked on what I wanted to show. I included the haversack which in this case hides the sword hilt.

This was the first time I'd used water colours or these fabulous pencils. They are a delight to work with and I think I'm going to get more of them. I may also attempt similar sketching in the near future. Whilst I await being united with the rest of my Crimean miniatures orders and continue to work away from home (overseas) this may be my only means of expression other than blogging.

Anyway, here's hoping Matt likes it. He gets the original and I get the scanned copy.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

4th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons: Part Two

4th Light Dragoon by Jack Cassin-Scott
Frustratingly, as previously discussed the 4th Light Dragoons are a regiment less attended to than its more famous brigade members at Balaclava. For instance, there is no colour plate covering either Light Dragoon regiment in Nicholson and Roffe's British Army of the Crimea War (Osprey Men-at-Arms 40) nor consequently are any taken across in Osprey's Balaclava 1854 (Campaign Series 6) or Sweetman's The Crimean War (Osprey Essential Histories). Considering that there were two Light Dragoon regiments within the Brigade, I consider this quite a gap.

Luckily, we are not limited to Osprey alone and this blind spot is filled from a couple of other quarters. Before abandoning Osprey publications; however, I do want to recognise the particularly detailed written description of Light Dragoon uniform and equipment detail provided by JBR Nicholson in the British Army of the Crimea (pages 4 and 17-20) which includes several photographic details throughout.

The top image for this posting is from colour plate number 48 of the Blandford Colour Series Cavalry Uniforms of Britain and the Commonwealth (including other mounted troops) by Robert and Christopher Wilkinson-Latham (Blanford Press1969). This illustration of a 4th Light Dragoons trooper from 1854 as with all other illustrations in this release is by Jack Cassin-Scott. I will be featuring other scanned images from this work as every regiment from the Light Brigade for 1854 is represented as well as an image of the 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys).

From Wilkinson-Latham is the accompanying detail for uniform and equipment:

Head Dress
1844-55 pattern, of black beaver 7 in. deep at the front and 7 in. deep behind. The crown, of black leather, was 8 in. in diameter. The top of the shako was bound with 1-in. yellow worsted braid and bore a brass Maltese Cross plate with regimental number and title in the centre and battle honours around the outside edges of the Cross. The plate was surmounted by a Victorian crown. A white horse hair plume of 14 in. was worn, and the cap lines were of worsted yellow cord. Brass chinchain and rosettes completed the head dress. The illustration shows a trooper in marching order during the Crimean War, wearing then black oilskin cover and no plume.
The coatee was blue and double-breasted, with 2 rows of regimental-pattern buttons, with 8 in each row. Collar, cuffs and turnbacks were of scarlet facing cloth, with 2 buttons on each cuff. The skirts were plaited, with 3 buttons on each side, together with a yellow, worted black fringe. Trousers were blue, with a double yellow stripe. The girdle was made of woven yellow webbing with 2 red stripes. Brass scale epaulets were worn, except during the Crimean War, when they were left off, leaving brass fitments on the shoulders of the coatee exposed.

Buff leather with brass fittings was used for pouch belt, waist belt and sword slings. The former was worn over the left shoulder, and over the white shoulder was carried a white canvas haversack and a round water-bottle of blue painted wood on a brown leather strap. The ammunition pouch was in black leather, and the carbine swivel on the pouch belt was of steel. The waist-belt under the coatee, below the girdle, had a rectangular brass plate. A small, white buff pouch on the right front contained percussion caps for the carbine.
Sword. Although in 1853 both Light and Heavy Cavalry troopers were ordered a new pattern of sword, issue of this was delayed, and in 1854 the 4th Light Dragoons troopers were still carrying the 1829 pattern. This had a 3-bar steel hilt with the grip covered in leather and bound with wire, and with an all-steel backpiece with 2 ears which fitted around the grip and were held to it by a rivet. It had a slightly curved blade, fullered on the back edge and terminating in a single spear point. It was carried in a heavy steel scabbard with a ring near the mouthpiece and another some 18 in. down the scabbard.
Carbine. In July 1836, certain regiments of cavalry were equipped with the 'Victoria' carbine, which was introduced into the service by Lovell. This weapon was of .733 in. calibre, with a barrel 2 ft 2 in. long. It was equipped with a percussion side lock and a swivel rammer designed so that it could not be lost whilst reloading on the move.
Another stroke of good fortune comes care of the internet and themilitarygentleman.com which has listed the following images of items 'not for sale' and the accompanying text:
A 4th or Queens Own Light Dragoon Officers Uniform and Shako circa 1850. An exceptionally rare and possible unique example of a "Charge of the Light Brigade" period officer`s uniform and Albert shako to the 4th or Queens Light Dragoons.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

4th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons: Part One

An officer of the 4th photographed by Fenton
I have determined to build my Light Brigade first in my Balaclava build project largely due to figure availability. I have further decided to build it from the rear, forward - the first regiment under construction being the 4th Light Dragoons. Less famous or flamboyantly uniformed than the 17th lancers or 11th Hussars, the 4th Light Dragoons are perhaps the least well depicted of the regiments who charged at Balaclava; I hope this posting and those which follow will to the smallest of degrees rectify this deficiency.

The 4th (Queen’s Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons as the regiment was named at the time, was first raised in 1685. It saw service for three centuries, before being amalgamated into the current Queen's Royal Irish Hussars in 1958.
4th Light Dragoons parade dress standard
Originally The Princess Anne of Denmark's Regiment of Dragoons in 1685, the Regiment was an amalgamation of previous independent troops from Warminster, Shaftesbury, Shepton-Mallet, Glastonbury, Frome, Wincanton, Ilchester, and Bradford and was ranked the 4th Dragoons. In 1751, it was formally titled as the 4th Regiment of Dragoons, and in 1788 named for Queen Charlotte as the 4th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Dragoons and was designated light dragoons in 1818, becoming the 4th (The Queen's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons as it was to remain by the Crimean War.
Roger Fenton - Officers of the 4th Light Dragoons, 1855

In May 1854 the Regiment moved to Dorchester where it joined the army, thence to Exeter and on to Plymouth where it mobilized, embarking on the troopship Simla on 19th July. As with the other regiments of the brigade, the 4th formed 2 squadrons of two troops each having a total of 21 officers and 299 other ranks. The Colonel of the regiment was Lieutenant General Sir George Scovell (from 18th September 1847) who remained so until his replacement by Major General Sir James Hope Grant on 18th January 1861. As had been the British military tradition for generations, the Colonel was the owner ‘proprietor’ of the regiment but rarely if ever it’s commander in the field and Scovell was not present for the campaign. That honour fell to Lieutenant Colonel Lord George Paget who had succeeded to the post on 29th September 1846 until his replacement replaced by Alexander Low on 1st May 1857.
Lieutenant King photographed by Fenton
Surviving ‘intact’ as it were to remain an effective fighting force, the 4th went on after Balaclava to join battle at Inkerman on the 5th November 1854. Previous to Balaclava, the men and mounts of the Regiment had seen action at the Alma and had, through illness and casualties been reduced along the campaign trail to 127 all ranks (12 officers and 11 sergeants) for the famous charge. It should be noted; however, that the regiment only fielded three (3) of its four (4) troops with the brigade – one being detached with the 4th Division at the time of the battle of Balaclava. If we calculate wastage evenly across all troops (an assumption) then the regiment as a whole may have been reduced by this time to 169 all ranks, or thereabouts.
Two Sergeants of the 4th photographed by Fenton

During the mad charge to the guns, the 4th commenced at the west end of the Northern Valley on the left flank of the Brigade's second line. By the time it had reached within charging distance of the guns at the eastern end; however, the 11th Hussars had veered to the left and had fallen to the rear line whilst the 4th crossed over to the centre of what was now a three regiment second wave. By the time the guns were reached, the 4th was squarely behind the 13th and hit the ensuing melee front on. One might surmise, having been positioned in the centre rear that by the close, the 4th would have enjoyed some relief from flanking and forward fire being surrounded by the rest of the Brigade. Indeed, they appear to have been shielded in part by the front line which largely dissolved under the final salvo at 80 yards.
Quartermaster Hill photographed by Fenton
Arriving at the point of melee about thirty yards behind the front, the 4th remained the most effective fighting force to reach the battery other than the 8th which had fallen behind and to the right. They charged down the Russian gunners with pistols and sabres to prevent the removal of the cannon. With about 50 troopers, Paget supported the fight with Douglas’ 11th taking command of the Brigade during the action in the absence of Lord Cardigan who had dissappeared in the gun-smoke. It was the 4th and 11th which dominated the point of contact, silenced the guns and fought a running retreat by actions end against growing numbers of enemy cavalry.
Lord George Paget photographed by Fenton
LORD GEORGE Augustus Frederick PAGET

Member of Parliament  for Beaumaris and a respected officer within the army and particularly the Cavalry Division, Paget was with Lucan during the morning reconnaissance just prior to the opening of hostilities. He was in command of the Light Brigade during Lord Cardigan’s absence earlier that day (as the Brigade’s next most senior officer) and was in command of the second line of the Brigade during the Charge (4th and  8th regiments). Paget had been with the 4th Light Dragoons since 1840, attained his Lieutenant Colonelcy in 1846 and was 36 years old at Balclava (born 16th March 1818).

Lord George Paget is famously and fondly remembered as the commander who kept a lit cheroot (cigar) clenched between his teeth throughout the action (a modelling point of interest for my officer figure). Making good his promise to Lord Cardigan to provide 'his best support', Paget kept the regiment up behind the front rank of the Brigade as best he could, arriving on top of the guns in time to achieve the assumed objective. By the time the 4th had made it down the valley level with Redoubt No:3, the fire had become so murderous that Paget found himself surrounded on either side by four to five maddened and riderless horses. He was required to fight them off with his sabre to remain seated.
Paget is also noted for being the last senior officer to leave the battle for the Russian guns. Having commanded the last 70 troopers or so within the central melee (mainly 4th and 11th regiments) Paget commanded a desperate formation which briefly stood its ground as Russian lancers blocked their retreat. Determined to make their escape, Paget led a successful breakthrough thanks to ineffectual cavalry deployments aided by persistent Russian gunnery which hampered friend and foe alike. Paget was reputedly the last man in the ‘organised’ formations to reach safety.
Lord George Paget as depicted in Vanity Fair (1877)
(Note: Paget's revised Crimean Journals were published by his son in 1881.)
Captain Thomas Hutton

Typical of many combatants, Captain Thomas Everard Hutton of the 4th rode in the Charge and was shot through the right thigh during the advance. Surviving contact, on his return down the valley he was again severely wounded through the left thigh but made it back. His horse was less fortunate, being wounded in eleven places and had to be destroyed.

At the age of 19 he joined the 4th Light Dragoons and rode in the Charge at Balaclava (his only action). His sword hand was nearly severed with a sabre cut and he also received a bullet in the left shoulder. The bullet was extracted but the wound re-opened and a piece of his service tunic was extracted from it 29 year afterwards. He was awarded the Crimean medal with three clasps, the Turkish medal and the medal for distinguished conduct in the field. He was medically discharged after Balaclava.
Samuel Parkes VC by Louis William Desanges

An 11 year veteran with the 4th and aged 40 at the time, Private Parkes was a notable 6’ 2” tall and acting Orderly to Lord George Paget at Balaclava. His time with the regiment previous to the battle indicates he was a hard-playing rogue, earning good conduct medals as well as charges for drunkenness, remaining a private trooper by the Crimean campaign.

During the Charge, having made it to the guns, Parkes formed part of the fighting retreat with Lord George Paget. Whilst fighting their way through the Russian cavalry, Parkes was unhorsed when his mount was shot from under him. Upon recovering himself, he saw his comrade Trumpet Major Hugh Crawford (also of the 4th) similarly tumble from his falling mount and losing his sword. Set upon by two Cossacks, Parkes rushed to Crawford’s aid, placing himself in front of the Russian lances and fending them off. Taking Crawford under arm, they scrambled back down the lines until beset by six pursuers whom Parkes also fought off until losing his sword after a shot to his master hand. Both men were taken prisoner and later returned at war’s end. For this action Samuel Parkes was awarded the Victoria Cross, bestowed personally by the Queen on 26th June 1857. He was the first private soldier in the British army to receive the Victoria Cross.

At the roll call following the Charge, 62 men of the 4th mustered. They had two (2) officers and 25 other ranks killed along with 40 mounts. Another two (2) officers, 25 other ranks and 19 horses were wounded 912 later destroyed) and sixteen other ranks had been taken prisoner (five later dying of wounds).


Balaclava 1854: John Sweetman (Osprey Military Campaign Series No: 6)


The Reason Why: Cecil Woodham-Smith (1953)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Great War Miniatures British Light Dragoons: Figure Review

CBC06 Trooper 1
One of the few and new lines of miniatures available for 28mm miniature wargaming in the Crimean War are those sculpted by Aly Morrison and Dave Andrews for Great War Miniatures. Together with the simultaneous release of the Crimean figures by Warlord Games, this growing range (now 61 figure packs not including unit deals) represents one of only three suppliers for this period and scale. Introducing competitive prices as well as figure ranges, like minded enthusiasts for the battle of Balaclava and the Crimean war are now capable of collecting and building for the first time in 28mm. I have recently purchased my entire British Light Brigade from Great War Miniatures through Nick Eyre's North Star Military Figures company which represents the first alternative to the long standing Wargames Foundry range of cavalry.
CBC06 Trooper 2
CBC05 and CBC06 are the figure codes for the British Light Dragoon Command and Light Dragoons Charging respectively. The first thing to notice with these figures is the integral casting of rider and mount in the one piece. I have not previously experienced this in the 28mm scale. For me, I always fix my rider and weaponry to the model prior to priming the model for painting anyway. In this respect I am unusual, most painters preferring to complete the rider separately before attaching to the painted model. If you aren't used to mounting and handling a 'whole' cavalry model in this way, this casting technique may present difficulties at first but the integrity of the model is far superior and you will never see riders coming off in a player's hand during a game.
CBC05 Trooper 3
The other potential down-side to the one-piece casting is that it limits the model builder in the ability to maximise variation within the completed unit. We shall see what is possible from the alloy used for the figures but aside from twisting the horses heads, tails and perhaps the rider's heads, the only other obvious options are provided through the separately and variably cast sword arms. Bent and straight sabre holding arms for the officer (CBC05) and the troopers (CBC06) allow for adjustable positioning necessary to breakdown unrealistic uniformity. I say 'obvious' options because a closer examination of the troopers in CBC06 reveals variation in the faces. One trooper sports a simple moustache, one has his joined to his prominent side-whiskers and the other is clean shaven. Similarly with the Command pack, two have extended moustaches and the bugler has a full beard.
CBC06 Cornet
Continuing on the variation theme, of the three (3) troopers, two different cantering mounts is offered with one at the full gallop. Whilst I have yet to take full possession of all of my Light Brigade I can say that from the two (2) packs of CBC05 which I do have, the horse positioning is consistent between the castings in each pack. In other words, there is no more variation between rider and mount - and fair enough. Even I admit that further variation would be simply too much to ask.
CBC05 Officer
I find the size of the mounts to be spot on, neither too large nor tending toward the 'pony' end of the scale which I find to be so often the case with this range's only current rival, Wargames Foundry. The horses are approximate to an Australian Galloway horse size, from 14-15 hands at the withers to a full Hack at 16 hands plus, which I expected for light cavalry mounts. On that note, it seems likely that the Light Brigade would not have progressed beyond the horses they took with them from Britain, nor resorted to much in the way of remounts by the time of Balaclava.
CBC05 Trooper
Similarly, the riders themselves are in superior proportion and certainly fall squarely within the realistic end of the figure market. They are in no way representative of those more 'toy like' figures some miniature companies have produced within some ranges. In short, for a wargamer such as myself, these are just the ticket and if you are in need of a quick comparison, then look no further than what the Perry brothers are creating these days.

The quality of the casting is all you could expect, there being little flash with these light dragoons but I must say from a cursory scan of the rest of the figures I have received, this is not consistent. Having said that, what flash is apparent looks to be easily cleaned up and in no way are the casts misaligned like you can get in some of the Old Glory packs (for instance). On that note, the alloy is what I suppose is now a more traditional white metal - as opposed to pewter. Again, this will enable some manipulation for the 'modeller'. As at the time of posting, these packs come with three figures a piece at GBP10.00 per pack, making for GBP3.33 per figure. Compared with the Wargames Foundry single unit price of GBP5.05 before deals, these better looking miniatures are a real bargain and represent in my view the best figures also at the best price.

I am looking forward immensely to painting up the first of my light dragoon regiments and I am certainly looking forward to Great War Miniatures expanding their range further and providing us with the ultimate British Heavy Brigade. When that happens, I'll be sure to contact Nick of North Star also to look after me as his service is not to be bettered in my experience. As far as I'm concerned Great War Miniatures and North Star Military Figures can have my endorsement for what it's worth - they are a winning combination.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thomas Jones Barker: War Artist

Thomas Jones Barker (self portrait) located at National Portrait Gallery (London)
An older but nevertheless contemporary of Lady Butler, Thomas Jones Barker was 39 years of age at the time of the battle of Balaclava and its Charge of the Light Brigade. Born in Bath, England in 1815, Thomas was born into art as it were, his father being a landscape artist. Young Thomas studied art under France’s Horace Vernet in Paris where he was first exhibited. Whilst renown for his portraiture, he was to specialize in war paintings within the battle painting genre, returning to England in 1845 and covering the Napoleonic, Crimean and Franco-Prussian wars. Whilst witness to the latter, it is speculated whether Thomas Barker attended the Crimea. Barker died in London on 27 March 1882 aged 67.
Charge of the Light Brigade by Thomas Jones Barker (1877)
Of specific note is that of the paintings Barker created of the Crimean War, several are concerned with Balaclava and Sebastopol. His creation 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' (alternatively referred to as 'Taking the Russian Guns at Balaclava') was finished and exhibited in Borgen's Danish Gallery in 1877. Found many years later in a garage, the painting was restored and presented to the Army Staff College, Camberley by the students of 1957 ASC where it now resides. Incidentally, it is this image which forms the backdrop of my blog.

There are regrettably no images currently available on-line of Barker’s 'The Rally' which forms part of the collection of the In & Out, Naval and Military Club, London. If anyone living or visiting London would like to take up the challenge to remedy this and flick me a digital image (photo) I’d be grateful.
'The Return through the Valley of Death' (1876) is regrettably another work for which there is nothing available to view on-line. I am not even sure if these works exist anymore or if so, where they are located but a trip to the library for its art history resources should clear this matter up. I have similarly been unable to locate an image for his 'Balaclava – One of the Six Hundred' (1874).
Death of Captain Nolan or The Charger of Captain Nolan ... by Thomas Jones Barker (1855)
The Charger of Captain Nolan bearing back his dead master to the British Lines alternatively titled Then Death of Captain Nolan is a sanitised, even romantic depiction of the demise of this key figure in history. This painting is to be found in the National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin).
'Sir Edward Cockburn and George Cockburn at Balaclava  Harbour' (1858) which hangs in the Victorian Art Gallery (Bath), whilst another image without an Internet footprint is art least accessible for viewing.
Sir Colin Campbell by Thomas Jones Barker 1860
Whilst a portrait of a man some six years after the battle, the above is Thomas Jones Barker’s rendition of 'Sir Colin Campbell', the leader and celebrated commander of the Thin Red Line (Streak) at Balaclava. Happily, this portrait can be viewed in the National Gallery of Scotland (Edinburgh).
'The Allied generals and their staffs before Sebastopol' by Thomas Jones Barker
Barker's 'Allied Generals Before Sebastapol' was commissioned by Manchester print seller Thomas Agnew and sons. Whilst this work remains in a private collection, the owner has made available prints for purchase through www.military-art.com

The Generals before Sebastapol (detail)
The Generals before Sebastapol (detail)

Note: Confirmation of art works locations has been taken from ‘British and Irish paintings in public collections: an index of British and Irish oil paintings by artists born before 1870 in Public and Institutional Collections In the United Kingdom and Ireland’ by Christopher Wright, Catherine May Gordon, Mary Peskett Smith which is available on-line courtesy of Google Books.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

BALACLAVA in the Arts

When I first embarked on this latest blogging adventure, as stated in my rationale at the start I intended this site to evolve into as valuable a resource as I could make it to assist both myself and fellow enthusiasts in wargaming the battle of Balaclava.

As an important part of my research, I have begun collecting and notating important artists including the great military painters, sketch artists caricaturists and correspondents of the era and beyond who have covered this subject. Being a visual hobby, the visual arts are also an invaluable technical resource as well as serving as a colourful inspiration as the hobbyist similarly tries to recreate past military actions.

Whilst being aware of how popular the subject of Balaclava and the Light Brigade actions were, I had nevertheless failed to realise just how well represented the Crimean War was and still is in the visual arts. Having already listed ten posting on the great artists of the age, I have but scratched at the surface of a mountain of material. I have therefore resolved to limit the scope of my examination for the time being to those artists either alive during the battle or born in the Victorian nineteenth century and thus most influenced and proximate to the event itself.

As an aid to myself as well as any follower of this blog, I therefore tender the following list of artists which fall into this category. This will be a ‘living document’ and will no doubt require amendment and re-posting in the future as the blog and my research expands. It will include painters, illustraters, caricaturists and photographers. Artists ascribed an asterisk (*) I have deemed to fall beyond the remit of this project.

 *Oswald Brierly (1817-1894) – Naval subjects
William Simpson 1823-1899 – watercolours & lithograghs
*Jerry Barrett, 1824-1906 (Crimean War after Balaclava)
Harry Payne
John Charlton
Robert Hillingford
Harry Duprey
Christopher Clark
Richard Caton Woodville
Lady Butler
John Tenniel (Caricaturist and illustrator)
John Leech (Caricaturist and illustrator)
Thomas Jones Barker

William Simpson: War Artist

William Simpson between 1855 and 1865 by Fenton, Roger
Throughout this posting are lithographs of Crimean War scenes from ‘The Campaign in the Crimea: An historical sketch’ being illustrations from forty plates from drawings taken at the scene by William Simpson. Produced by George Brackenbury, Published by Paul & Dominic Colnaghi & Longman, Brown, etc., 1855-56.  Lithographs by Day & Son, Lithographers to the Queen.
Balaclava Harbour by William Simpson
The Scottish artist and correspondent William ‘Crimean’ Simpson was born in Glasgow on 28 October 1823. He sketched events of his times including numerous military campaigns for the Illustrated London News. Apprenticed in Glasgow lithographic firm of Macfarlanehe, Simpson attended the Andersonian University and the Mechanics Institute before taking a position to create an image of the Alma to be lithographed by London publisher, Lloyd's.
'Balaclava Looking Toward the Sea' by William Simpson
Simpson would create sketches and watercolours for setting into stone for the firm of Colnaghi to be created into lithographs. Whilst finishing his fall of Sebastapol before leaving England, he arrived in the Crimea on 15 November in time for the fall of the city. William Simpson was thirty years of age. He sent his watercolours London for Day & Son who would create lithographs which were exhibited in the Graphic Society in February 1855.
Distant view of Lord Raglan's head quarters before Sebastopol by William Simpson
Rather than creating epic oil canvass works such as his contemporary war artists were to do, Simpson created a vast array of works on the entire campaign, capturing the landscapes, logistic activities and encampments as well as the battle pieces so beloved of the heroic painter.

'The Railway at Balaclava Looking East' by William Simpson 1855
Simpson's vast volume of work stretched across the entire Balaclava Campaign and the rest of the war as far as he experienced it - little wonder he earned the moniker ''Crimea'. I have included only those works which I have associated with the action we recognise as the Battle of Balaclava.

'View from the heights above Balaklava' by William Simpson
Two extensive portfolios were assembled containing over eighty lithographs entitled ‘The Seat of the War in the East’, two thousand copies of which were produced. Simpson dedicated the series to Queen Victoria whose patronage he enjoyed for the rest of his life.
'5th Dragoon Guards at Balaclava' by William Simpson also referred to as his 'Charge of the Heavy Brigade'
Simpson was married with one daughter (Penelope) who emigrated to Australia. William Simpson died at home in Willesden, North London, on 17 August 1899 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery.
'The Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava' by Williasm Simpson
There are numerous examples of Simpson's works on-line and much of his work covering the whole of the Balaclava campaign and siege of Sebastapol can be found.
'Embarkation of the Sick at Balaclava' by William Simpson

Harry Payne: Military Artist

'Telling Off a Prisoner' by Harry Payne chromolithograph 1891
Note: Im suspect the above oil by Harry Payne to be concerned with the events surrounding the presentation of a Russian deserter whose information was dismissed prior to the Russian move on Balaclava.
'The Heavy Cavalry Charge at Balaclava, 25th October 1854' by Harry Payne
Born four years after Balaclava, Henry Joseph Payne came into the world in Newington, London. An illustrator, Payne worked within the medium of oilette postcards, principally for Raphael Tuck & Sons and Gale and Polden producing illustrations for their postcard series. Whilst not limiting himself to military subjects, Payne was a prolific illustrator of events and particularly of British regiments at war and on home duties throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
'Sounding the Alarm, Crimea 1854' by Harry Payne 1891
Married to Susanna Terese Cossins at Camberwell on 16 June 1887 but not blessed with children, Payne served in the West Kent Yeomanry, reaching the rank of sergeant in the 1890s. He died in 1927.
‘Charge of the Light Brigade led by Lord Cardigan, Balaklava, October 25th, 1854’
Whilst many of his regimental subjects may fall within the uniform period of the Crimean War, there exact relevance to our subject can be uncertain. Of known interest to this blog is his ‘Charge of the Light Brigade led by Lord Cardigan, Balaklava, October 25th, 1854’ (above) painted in 1884. It is a colour lithograph of Cardigan on galloping horse in foreground leading cavalry charge with then 17th Lancers prominant.
Among the Guns - Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava Crimea October 1854 by Harry Payne
'Those Who had Fought so Well- The Survivors of the Light Brigade Returning from the Valley of Death' by Harry Payne
Note that several images are from the on-line catalogue of Cranston Fine Arts military prints which are for sale form their web-site. Numerous regimental subjects and uniform plates can be seen which relate to the British army serving in Crimea at the time or shortly afterwards.

Friday, February 24, 2012

John Charlton: War Artist

Born 28 June 1849 in Bamburgh, Northumberland, John Charlton was an illustrator of contemporary military subjects for The Graphic and more notably a military painter first exhibited in 1870. Only five years old at the time of the Charge, it was not until the age of 40 did he complete his first work on the subject of Balaclava - his 1889 ‘An Incident in the charge of the Light Brigade’ exhibited at the National Academy (not sighted by the author).
'Balaclava' by John Charlton
Charlton’s work simply titled ‘Balaclava’ depicts the 4th and13th Light Dragoons during the Charge of the Light Brigade.

In 1897 he unveiled ‘Comrades’: two troopers of the 17th Lancers lying dead on the field with one of their mounts writhing from a shot (not sighted by the author).
'Charge of the Light Brigade' by John Charlton 1905
Finally, in 1905 John Charlton painted ‘Balaclava: The Charge of the Light Brigade’ with the 17th Lancers once more in the lead as they close on the Russian guns. I suspect this work is often referred to as 'Into the Valley of Death'.

John Charlton lost two sons on the Western Front which was said to attributed to his failure to recover from illness and he died on 10 November 1917 aged 68.