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Thursday 27 April 2023

Just a tiny bit of Shine in all the Matt.

 There has not been a great deal of shine in my life recently, regular readers may have noticed an increased use of matt varnish !

 This is because I have been painting models for my forthcoming book on Wargaming the Anglo- Sikh Wars. Most of my recent posts have shown the slow growth of this collection and it is still growing. More Ghoracharra and more Akhalis currently sit on the painting table in various states of undress.

However a lack of shine was beginning to tell so here are a few shiny Dudes I have managed to finish amongst all the matt.

Shiny Hussars 30mm Stadden. The middle chap is on a Willie horse.

Prince Blucher- wondering what he is doing in the Punjab- or on a desert cloth ! 

 Not sure what Blucher and some British 7th Hussars are doing in the Punjab but there you go.

Everyone needs a little shine every now and again!

 Right back to the Sikh wars and matt varnish! 

Tuesday 11 April 2023

Elite troops?

 In a short  FB exchange with Martin Gane recently the subject of elite troops was mentioned in passing and the idea was mooted that elite might be a very moveable feast. Indeed one might opine that some troops are only elite some of the time and for different reasons in different wars and campaigns.

Are these British Footguards elite or  the Line troops nest to them? They certainly think so and have proved it numerous times in their history. So how do you deal with their wargames counterparts? 

Of course, if your wargaming is army list  and dice roll driven you may choose to obey the diktat of the 'game designer'  rather than your own researches. This  lightweight approach is something we all do- I do it for periods I only have a passing interest in, such as most of the Ancient world, though even here, actually buying an army according to an army list is not to be done under any circumstances,  especially if I'm paying. I'll read a book or two. So I don't care if your ordinary hoplites are six points each and your  Sacred Band are eight points each  because they are elite. The question for these, and indeed any other supposed elite units throughout history is WHY are they considered elite in the first place?

Discipline and weapons training are two pretty obvious reasons  but of course those two factors don't come close to telling the whole story. If you know your history you can think of plenty of elite units who had such training who sometimes did not come up to the mark for various reasons in individual campaigns or battles. The Gardes Francais at Fontenoy perhaps or  some of the Imperial Guard at Waterloo? Make your own minds up but try to be dispassionate if you can. Are some troops 'automatically' elite? British Footguards - sometimes  but not always by any means.

The Earl of Essex's regiment of foot in the ECW usually performed pretty well up until their capture at Lostwithiel but does that make them elite@ 

Equally time and place have a part to play. Take admittedly a slightly obscure example Earl Brtytnoth's Hearthtroop at the Battle of Malton in 991 . After  Thorkel the Tall's vikings broke the Saxon shieldwall and killed the Earl the Hearthtroop apparently fought on expecting to 'lie in the dust at the feet of our leader' as the Song of Maldon tells us. Now it may not have been quite like that but people of the time believed it was or should have been. Likewise King Harold's Housecarles at Hastings so do we rate these as 'elite'  for other games?

The Iron Brigade in the ACW - does a different hat and coat make you elite ? Even thought it makes you stand out form the crowd. The Brigade does seem to have performed better than some.

Pride of course plays a part- this will feed into unit cohesion and can make the given unit hang on for longer but then there is also 'backs to the wall' syndrome- nowhere to run so we must fight on - Roarke's drift being a good example here.

 Of course so called social class is no automatic granting of elite status , except perhaps in the mind of those 'socially elite' troops. Obvious examples are the Philadelphia Light Horse in the AWI- who apparently would not do outpost and vidette work- as is the role of light horse- because it was beneath them. I also seem to recall a mention of a troop of New York Light Dragoons in the War of 1812 - again  from the 'cream' of New York society who scarpered at almost the first shot at the Battle of Bladensberg - quickly followed by most of the rest of the Americans leaving the  rear guard of US Marines and sailors with their guns to do the bulk of the fighting. Equally the Cumberland Hussars at Waterloo  socially upper crust- off as soon as the guns began.. So so called social class often has nothing to do with  elite troops. 

The Irish Brigade were key to the French victory at Fontenoy. Does that make them elite everywhere else?

There is definitely a case for 'variable morale' on the wargames table- after all how can any general be sure that his troops will perform as expected- he might be sure of some of his units - but what about that lot over there> Arses out of their trousers and filthy from campaigning, or those there, bright and shiny and new - never been shot over. There are historical examples where both types have performed above and beyond and equally examples where both have performed poorly so you take your pick and hope for the best.