Monday, February 20, 2017

French Field Bakeries and Logistics

Construction of a typical field bakery, model by Ed Phillips. Click pix to enlarge.

I was reading a book titled "The French Armies in the Seven Years War" by Lee Kennett (Duke University Press, 1967) and came across some information about the French system of logistics, in particular the section about field bakeries. The one thing that really struck me was how the movement and placement of the field bakeries had such a substantive impact on the maneuvering of the French army on campaign. More on that in a minute.

I also found a short passage from memoir of Comte d'Estees and the account of the Marquis de Valfons, both on the Battle of Hastenback on July 26, 1757. The booklet was translated and published by the late James J. Mitchell (formerly the editor of the Seven Years War Association Journal prior to his untimely passing).

Valfons' account mentions an incident prior to the battle. M. de Chevert was making a reconnaissance in force around the left flank of the Hanoverian position on July 25th. After an examination of the Hanoverian position, Chevert sent Valfons back to the headquarters of Marshal d'Estrees, the commander of the French army at Hastenbeck, to give an account of the news that Chevert believed that there was an opportunity to attack the rear of the Hanoverian position on the Voglesberg.

I found M. the Marshal who, after having listened to me, told me, "Monsieur, I do not want a battle; pray M. de Chevert to withdraw his corps by the left beneath one that M. d'Armantieres command and for both to rejoin the army.

I insisted on the advantage to be lost in abandoning ground which the enemy would certainly take hold of during the night, all was of no use, his response was always "Leave!" Finally, counting on his goodness and the friendship which he had for me, I took him aside and said to him:

"Monsieur la Marechal, my attachment and appreciation embolden me to represent to you that you will be doing a great harm with respect to your army if you defer an operation which appears certain. Audacity, as you know, is the appendage of the Frenchman, and we should not allow his courage to cool."

He gently listened to me.

" Oh well! You are going to extract from me my secret; my convoy of bread is another 4 leagues from here and we don't have any other. When one fights, one could be beaten, and I don't want that the army should disperse for lack of sustenance. See you tomorrow morning when the convoy arrives."

By 7PM, the convoy was within one league and so M l"Estries gave Chevert the go ahead to organize his attack on the Hanoverian position on the following morning (July 26th).

So often we critisize French generals for their deliberate actions on campaign, and yet, when one drills a little deeper, the problems of logistic reveal the true nature of d'entrees command decisions.

Kennett's Analysis

An army of 100,000 men consumes 200,000 pounds of flour each day. The 75,000 horses in Germany  required during the Winter months a total of 8,818,636 rations - some 70,000 bales of hay and 4 million bushels of oats. To supply 100,000 men with bread, some 40 ovens were needed; often materials were in such short supply that houses had to be demolished to obtain the brick, and the installations required as much as two weeks to build. The Austrians and Prussians developed portable iron field ovens which were very successful, but the French preferred to adhere to the system of baking their bread in brick ovens. [ this suggests many ideas for wargame scenarios that center around either the construction of brick ovens, attacks on the bread convoys, or raids to acquire the necessary bricks for oven building].

Commonly the bread ration was issued every four days, the bread being edible for about nine days after baking. The rations were delivered to the army by convoys. The field ovens were generally placed about three days' march from the grain stores and two more days march from the army. It must  be said to the credit of the minitionnaire that the bread supply never failed disastrously in the Army of the Lower Rhine. It should be added, however, that time and time again troop movements were cancelled for the very purpose of preventing such a failure. [this is an interesting revelation that explains the events at Hastenbeck on the day before the battle on July 25th 1757]

This can be seen quite clearly during the summer of 1759 . Contades wrote from Corbach on June 10 that he had planned to advance but the that the ovens at Corbach from which the bread was to be drawn would not be ready for some two weeks because of the lack of materials. (Contades mentions that the army could be supplied from the ovens installed at Marburg, but could go no further, as it would be a distance of 18 leagues, the maximum distance as outlined in the French military regulations). 

The Corbach ovens would be completed on June 24 and the first rations from this installation could be drawn on July 28, after which the army could advance again. New problems arose for more ovens needed to be built at Cassel and Paderborn and the army could advance 18 leagues beyond Paderborn providing the ovens could be put into operation by July 6. The army continued to leap frog forward from one set of ovens to the other, until it encountered the enemy at Minden.



Monday, February 13, 2017

Diesbach Regiment in French Service

Swiss Diesbach Regiment - Minden Miniatures. Click to enlarge.

The other day I received a package of figures from Leuthen Studios, containing a 30-figure battalion of the Swiss Diesbach regiment in French service during the SYW. I am very pleased with the brushwork provided by Ioannis' team of painters and hope to get the full battalion based and flagged soon so that I can show you pictures of the unit in full fig, ready to go.

It looks like I will be adding a SYW French army to my collection. My only other unit is the Cuirassiers du Roi, but that is certain to change during 2017.

Toy Soldier News

A couple of weeks ago I attended a "trunk show" hosted by Treefrog Treasures. The show was in a nearby town so I decided to drop in and see what was new in the toy soldier realm.

I purchased the Rolls Royce armoured car, shown below, not because I'm planning on gaming WW1 in the desert, but rather, the model was just too darn beautiful to pass up. This is one of those things where you just know that if you don't buy it now, it will be gone when you have made up your mind that you want it, only to find that someone else purchased the model.

I have added a Trophy Indian Sikh figure and a palm tree to provided some perspective on the size of the vehicle. I really like this model and it will go on display in one of my library shelves. It will never be in a wargame though.

Rolls Royce armored car, WW1 desert campaigns, from John Jenkins Design. Click to enlarge.

I found a long lost box of Trophy 54mm Pathans last week whilst doing some clean up in the Closet O' Lead (moving things out of the shelves so that I could put plastic parts bins on all of my shelves to hold the excess Minden and Fife & Drum stock).

I had given the Pathans up as a lost box of figures. I knew that I had them a long time ago, but could never find the box that they were stored in from my last house move 12 years ago.

Trophy 54mm Pathans, returned from the Land of the Lost. Click to enlarge.
Next Toy Soldier Game on February 23rd at Chez Protz

Bill and I decided that we should have a smaller Sudan game with our toy soldiers on a week night. So on a Thursday afternoon, I will pack up a square of Highlanders (which have never played in any of our wargames with toy soldiers ) and a hoard of Dervish and make the one hour drive to Chez Protz, where we will have a smaller game played on a larger table. It should be a lot of fun. As I understand it, the British army contingent will be providing protection for a gang of railroad track layers - this will allow us to use Bill's model railroad set up as part of the wargame. Yikes! I am looking forward to this game very much.

Friday, January 27, 2017

More Items for Sale

15mm Old Glory SYW Austrian and Prussian army set.

I have an army of 353 15mm Austrians and Prussians for the Seven Years War for sale. I believe that they are mostly Old Glory figures. The price $115.00 for the lot, plus postage. SOLD! I would rate them as average war-game standard painted figures, but at 33-cents per figure for painted figures, it is not a bad way to start a 15mm SYW army.

The lot includes 2 x Hungarian musketeers (30 figures per battalion), 5 Austrian battalions (30 per battalion), 4 Prussian battalions (24 figures per battalion), 5 Austrian cannon, 2 mounted Austrian officers, and 23 Prussian cuirassiers.

One of the Austrian battalions.

More Austrians close up.

Four battalions of Prussians.
UPDATE ON THE Foundry Figure Sale

A fair number of the lots have been sold, but there are still some good bargains left and I have decided to reduce the prices further because I need to clear them out to make room for my growing Minden inventory .

LOT 2: 24 Russian artillery crew and 2 heavy cannon. Was $49, now $39 for the lot plus postage.

LOT 3: 28 Russian Guard Grenadiers. Was $41, now $35 for the lot plus postage.

LOT 6: Observation Corps Musketeers (22 figures) Was $25, now $19 for the lot plus postage.

LOT 7: Russian Musketeers. (21 figures) Was $20, now $18 for the lot plus postage.

LOT 8: Russian Grenadiers (26 figures) Was $25, now $20 SOLD! plus postage.

Future Sale Lots: stay tuned to check out more clearance deals on my excess 28mm Foundry, RSM and Crusader figures in the coming days. I gotta move em out now to make room for the Minden parts bins that I'm setting up in the Closet O' Lead.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Items For Sale

Foundry Russain Observation Corps Musketeers

I am doing a bit of cleaning up in the Closet O' Lead and have a number of SYW Foundry Russians, both painted and unpainted, that I would like to sell off at low prices. All prices for all lots of figures do not reflect the actual postage or Paypal fees, which will be added to the total cost.

First come, first serve which means actual receipt of payment via Paypal.

Contact me at: if you have any questions or wish to purchase any of the lots.

Foundry Russian Observation Corps Grenadiers
LOT 1: The set of painted figures includes 60 foot and 2 mounted officers for $175.00 (price reduced to $150.00) for the whole lot plus applicable postage. That is less than $2.50 per figure for painted Foundry figures. You would probably have to pay that amount just to buy the unpainted metal figures. These are priced to sell! SOLD

LOT 2: The next several lots are for unpainted Foundry figures for the SYW Russian army. There are 24 Russian artillery crew and two 12-pounders. The whole lot (I will not break the lot up) is available for $49.00 plus postage.

Foundry Russian Artillery Crew and two 12-pounder cannon.
LOT 3: The next lot is a group of Russian Guard Grenadiers, 28 figures in all. This is available for the rock low price of $41.00 plus applicable postage.

Foundry Russian Foot Guards.

LOT 4: Four packs of Foundry Russian Dragoons (4-charging; 1-shouldered sword; 1-command; 1-dragoon characters) for a total of 21 mounted Russian Dragoons. $49.00 for the lot.SOLD
Foundry Russian SYW Dragoons

LOT 5: Dismounted Russian Dragoons; 2 packs with 10 figures and one householder with horse.  $20.00 for the lot. SOLD.

Foundry SYW Russian Dismounted Dragoons

LOT 6: Observation Corps Musketeers. These would go along great with the painted ObCorps figures is you wanted to increase the size of the musketeer battalion. Three packs of figures include: 1 x command (6), 1 x musketeers firing (8) and 1 x musketeers advancing (8). Total of 22 figures for $25.00 for the lot.

Foundry SYW Russian Observation Corps Musketeers.

LOT 7: Russian Musketeers unboxed/unblistered total of 21 figures: 10 musketeers, 5 standard bearers, 1 fifer, 3 officers taking snuff, and 1 general wiping his brow with hat in hand. $20.00 for the lot.

Russian Musketeers: top row left 4 officers with snuff and 1 general; top row right 5 musketeers wearing hats; bottom row left 4 standard bearers, bottom row center one fifer and one NCO with musket, and bottom row right 4 musketeers without hats.
LOT 8: Russian line grenadiers in four blister packs. 1 x command in capes (6), 1 x grenadiers in capes (8), 1 x Observation Corps grenadier characters (6), 1 x Grenadiers in uniform coat (8). That is 26 figures in total for $25.00 for the lot.

Observation Corps grenadiers:2 in capes and 2 without capes.

LOT 9: Foundry Prussian Dragoons Charging: 4 blister packs of mounted dragoons or 12 in total and 1 blister of dismounted dragoons (6 total). $49.00 for the lot SOLD.

Foundry Prussian Dragoons for the SYW


Friday, January 13, 2017

I'm On a Painting Frenzy

Marbach Regt. Firing Line in front and von Donop Marching Regt. in the second row. Fife & Drum Hessians. Click to enlarge the picture.

My painting mojo has returned and I have been on a painting frenzy for the first two weeks of January 2017. I have painted two Hessian regiments using the new Fife & Drum AWI Hessians: von Mirbach (50 figures) using the firing line musketeers and the von Donop (40 figures) regiment using the marching musketeers. You can see my output for Hessians in the picture at the top of the page. I also painted two Russian SYW artillery crew, which are behind the Hessians.

I have also painted some of the Minden SYW civilians, as shown in the pictures below. All of these figures could be used as AWI American Militia, noting that the farm tools would have to be replaced by muskets and rifles. RSM95 has some muskets that would work with the Minden figures. Note to self: ask Richard to make a sprue of muskets and rifles to sell weapons in a new pack.

CIV-001 Agricultural Workers #1

CIV-002 Agricultural Workers #2

CIV-004 Armed Civilians

I had not done any serious painting since about June 2016. No matter how hard I tried, I could not bring myself to pick up a paint brush and sit down at the painting table for an hour or so. Usually painting figures is relaxing and reduces some of the stress in Life, but I think that the old Black Dog was working against me and I couldn't do much of anything for quite awhile.

I think that being retired (since November 1, 2016) has made me a happier and less stressed-out person and this has enabled me to pick up the brushes once again. 

I working on painting samples of all of the Minden and Fife & Drum figures to use on the on-line shopping cart on the Fife & Drum website. The civilians are fun to paint because they are in small groups of 4 or 5 figures and I can paint each figure as an individual with different colored clothing. I didn't add eyes to these samples, so some of them look like zombies when you click and enlarge the pictures. Trust me, they look better first hand.

In parting, some pictures of the Minden Pioneers set. These are very useful figures as the poses can be used for a variety of uses. I often use them as laborers for my artillery crew sets. I have seen other people using them as bakers in a field bakery or as brick masons, etc.

CIV-003 Pioneers (one pose is missing in the picture above, see below for the full set of Pioneers)

CIV-003 Pioneers


Monday, January 2, 2017

Rapid Reading

I read all 320 pages of the book, Hero of the Empire, in one day yesterday. It is the story of Winston Churchill's escape from the prison camp during the Boer War. The book is very well written and has an easy reading style to it, such that I just could not put it down.

I picked up the book at Barnes and Noble yesterday afternoon and started reading it while sipping on a Starbucks latte. My daughter had wanted to go to the mall  in order to get some walking and exercise in and get a little more experience buying something and getting the correct change. So I waited and started reading the book while my daughter did her thing. I liked it enough to buy the book and read the whole thing between 1:30PM and 10:00PM. I don't think that I have ever done that before.

In any event, I recommend this book and suspect that I will want to find some more books about the Boer War for additional background to the book.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Resolutions

With the dawn of the New Year, it is de rigeur to declare one's resolutions for the coming year, so let me provide a few of my own as pertains to the hobby.

My first resolution is to focus more on the SYW and less on other historical distractions.

Add a second squadron to my Zieten Hussars.

Paint some more Saxon cavalry regiments.

Paint more Hesse Seewald cavalry and start a campaign between HS and evil Saxony.

Get the Minden SYW Russian army into production, both infantry and cavalry, and paint a Russian army.

Read Christopher Duffy's book "Might and Reason" cover to cover for the first time rather than skipping through various chapters. I'll also read Duffy's "Wild Goose and the Eagle ".

Read more historical books in general.

Go to Historicon.

Add pictures of all of the SKUs to the Fife & Drum web site shopping cart.

Play more solo wargames.

Learn German so that I can read my vast collection of history books that are in German.

Enjoy my retirement.

I think that this is a fairly good start on the year. What are some of your resolutions and plans? Please feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post. By the way, this is the one thousandth post in my blog since its inception.