Back in 2017 on one of my “recconaissance flights over the digital front lines” or whatever it was Henry Hyde used to call his web, blog and podcast reviews in Miniature Wargames with Battle Games, I spotted this 1.3 kilos of 15mm lead scrap. In this fuzzy eBay picture I spotted some Peter Laing figures – his horses are very distinctive – and “took a punt” on buying for about a tenner with postage.
Now the Laing figure moulds are vanished and probably no more. From time to time I and others of the plucky and ever vigilant members of the Peter Laing Collectors Circle suit up, put on the flying goggles, get the engines running and chocks away, fly high and keep a watching brief on the Web and EBay to see what Laing figures come up for sale, glimpsed amongst the mass of figures far below online.
On returning from our Digital Dawn Patrol, “we few, we plucky few” then pass the word round on the Peter Laing MeWe web community pages set up by Ian Dury. https://mewe.com/join/peterlaingfigures
Although “time spent in Reconnaissance is seldom wasted” (family WW2 saying but who first said that?), this haul was a bit of a Peter Laing dud. Not much a ‘show’! Here is the debrief and the photographic reconnaissance:
What to do with over a kilo of scrap figures?
The remaining 1.3 kilos of of white metal and lead scrap was 99% 15mm, mostly painted and unbroken, although minus the usual musket ends, bayonets and flags. Mixed manufacturers but 90% Napoleonic, no guns, few cavalry. A few stray Ancients and some ACW figures who might become guerrilla forces.
I don’t now know the origin of the various figures but it seemed a bit of crime to melt them down for homecasting. Some gamers somewhere had spent a lot of time painting these figures. It was not their tiny fault they had become detached from their units and so ended up unwanted as odds and ends with no RLS martial pride
Some figures as you can see in the original lead kilo photograph were on unit stands, most needed rebasing and flocking. This would add some unity to the varying heights, build, paintwork and stances of this mixed group.
Dividing the groups up was done mostly by uniform colour and style of head gear. This makes it easy to incorporate further random job lot figures in future.
Before repainting or re-uniforming, I photographed one or two features such as flags
I have temporarily misplaced most of the battered broken and unbased cavalry – no matter.
ImagiNations Inspiration for the Forgotten Minor States
For what follows, if you are outraged in a realist historical button counting way by the misidentification and mishmash of Napoleonic units, I will blame the following:
A) The Balkan Ruritanian natures of the proposed Woking 2021 54mm games day group build up of forces https://littlewarsrevisited.boards.net/thread/483/woking-2021-group-build-game?page=4
B) Antony Hope for writing the Prisoner of Zenda, here ably illustrated by Charles Dana Gibson in 1898
D) the Brontes
E) Gilbert and Sullivan – not only their many Ruritanian states but also because it was the first time I got wear a “redcoat” (albeit from a theatrical costumiers).
The Forgotten Minor States and Principalities of MittelMittel Europe.
Along the Alpen fringes of MittelMittelEurope in the late 18th and 19th century were plenty of now Forgotten Minor States, now subsumed by unification, inattention, cartographical errors, inbreeding, insurrection, migration, invasion or royal marriage into other larger countries.
Few today now remember the triumphs and traditions, victories and defeats, failed colonies, romances and intrigues, scandals and petty squabbles of their plentiful heirs and claimants, Dukes and Duchesses, Princes and Princesses, Emperors and Electors, Statesmen and Generals, Chancellors and Presidents, Rebels, Republicans and Exiles.
Here are some of the fine forces of the FMS – Forgotten Minor States.
Guns for the artillery figures came as game pieces from the Napoleonic version of the Risk boardgame.
Light Artillery of the Verdigris Volunteer Militia – a suitably grey misty day for their grey green uniforms.
In this game world, these early to mid Nineteenth century troops have very light artillery pieces which can be horse drawn or dragged and manhandled on the battlefield by ropes by their four men crews and the rest of the “fire lock” or “fyreloque” company of troops. In mountainous regions the guns are disassembled and carried by Man or Mule.
Some spare Peter Laing horses and holders, artillery and baggage train will have to step in for future games.
The misty mountain regions of Verdigris is allied with Upper or Higher Plumea (see below). Its principal industry is copper mining, copper working for a range of industrial and artistic craft purposes, allied to the use of green pigment by artists. This has slowly declined since more stable green pigments were discovered and became available. As in Bleudelys, its pigment rival, the women of Verdigris play an important role in the processing of the pigment.
The flag reflects the mountain grey mist and the copper green of the Verdigris pigment industry.
Here we see a fine contingent and drums of the Pompomeranian Grenadiers on field exercises, tramping through a field for exercise, as ever poorly commanded by their General Abysmal Notuptodemark. On this occasion he is not with them, being back at his headquarters, having a major fashion crisis trying to decide what to wear.
* Not to confused with the region of Pomerania mentioned by Prussian Otto von Bismarck who expressed a view that involvement in the turbulent Balkan wars was “not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier”.
Pompomerania as a minor state or region has two main industries – goat and sheep herding and turning the wool into the exotic dyed pom-poms supplied to the many military uniforms of many countries worldwide. Dyes are sourced through many local wildflowers and plants in the well grazed mountain meadows of Upper Pompomerania, along with a trading approach to purchase such dye stuffs from many sources worldwide.
The excessively large white PomPoms on their shakos both signify the importance of sheep and goat wool to the national culture and economy, as well as advertising the national wares at any military event and occasion at home and abroad from wars to military tattoos, coronations and state funerals. Approaches and requests can be made through the Pompomeranian Embassy and Trade Delegation in your country.
As result of its military exports, it aims to achieve armed neutrality in most conflicts, except where its trading sources are threatened. When nations are at war, demands for adornments to military headgear increase including for splendid volunteer and yeomanry uniforms. During the occasional “Long Peace”, uniforms become even more impractical and flamboyant. A rare “win win” situation in peace and war.
Additional Note: The small quick firing cannon used in many countries is based on the Pompomeranian quick firing light artillery whose rapid fire sound “pom-pom-pom-pom” is due both to excellently choreographed artillery units (drill days Tuesdays Thursdays and Saturdays) and to the similarity to the rhythmic sound of some of the wool processing machinery powered by water mills in this mountainous and snowmelt terrain of Upper Pompomerania. This rhythm is also reflected in the drums and military bands of Pompomerania and the tuneless near wordless “Pom Pom Pom”ing Chorus Section of the national anthem.
An information request to the Pompomeranian embassy can confirm that the breed of local mountain dogs used to carry the sledge or dog cart artillery is indeed the tough and very fluffy White Pompomeranian breed. These also make excellent sheep herding dogs.
The Duchy of Hesseansachs
An advanced unit of Hesseansachs Grenadiers and military cadets.
This minor region and Duchy of Hesseansachs thrives on the supplies of the jute trade, rivalled only by Dundee and the curiously revolving town of Glasgae in Hibernia.
Like the Pompomeranian economy, Hesseansachs thrives in times of war and peace. In wartime it is busy supplying jute sandbags for fortifications or Hessean Sacks as they are known. In times of peace it supplies shopping bags and in case of heavy rainfall both in peace and war, hessean sacks are supplied as sandbags for flood prevention. The military personnel are trained to assist in these times of deluge. War, peace, disaster or shopping, the Jute mills of Hesseansachs are busy by day and sometimes by night. The national motto roughly translates as “Your disaster is our national income”.
A small Hesseansachs Navy and Marines force exists to protect the shipping and supply lines to the sources of jute such as India and Southeast Asia.
(Above) The “greenery yellary Grosvenor Gallery” uniforms of Gelbania depict the verdant greenery and sunshine of this mountainous state, whose inhabitants frequently indulge in arias and light operettas. They are noted for their harmonic marching songs as they trek up and down the mountain passes. On Sundays, small military bands play a selection of light airs at bandstands in each of the few towns. Here in this small platoon are some cadets and members of the Light Operetta Company of Gelbanian Volunteer Militia – Chorus Section.
Upper or Higher Plumea
This small selection of troops from Upper Plumea shows in its uniform the alliance by Royal marriages of the Duchess Maria of the flaming red hair to the reigning family of the small state of Verdigris.
You can clearly see the similarity to the dark green uniforms of the Verdigris Volunteer Militia, the main difference being the copper buttons and band instruments of the Verdigris troops. The two regions share misty and humid microclimates unusual in the Alpen regions. Verdigris is supported by its copper mining and copper working industry.
Upper or Higher Plumea’s mountainous valley economy is mostly based on breeding birds for their feather plumes to supply the military and civilian millinery industry, much like Pompomerania.
The Upper Plumean troops have a tall plume with red upper part and the lower green section reflecting the alliance with the Verdigris.
No one now remembers what happened to Lower or Middle Plumea, whose troops must have had more restrained and unimpressive hats.
Another mountainous minor state, its troops wear white uniforms and its few Marines of its tiny lake and river navy have attractive top hats.
We are awaiting uniform information on this calisthenic nation of early risers.
The proudest part of the Thyer Brigadian uniforms is the brass cavalry style plumed dragoon helmets which are often copied by Fire Brigades worldwide. Interestingly these Volunteer Militia troops are also the Volunteer Fire Brigade in their various towns and villages (hence the variations in uniforms), making sure that their native Alpine wooden houses and mountain forests do not catch fire. A fireman’s axe is carried on fire duty and state occasions. The wooden fire towers are also part of Militia watch posts in each valley.
These excellent Rifleman are from the western edges of Southern Europe. Their brown uniforms provide good cover and camouflage.
Bleudelys (Republique de)
Bleudelys Republican forces (below) wear light blue plumes on their darker blue uniforms. These are a selection of the Bleudelys Grenadiers (the ‘Grognards’) or the Old Guard. The uniform is based on that of the Royal Guard of the former Royaume de Bleudelys.
Bleudelys forces include the Blue plumed Line Infantry, Artillery and Bicorne clad Marines.
This Bleudelys Republic is currently run by one Revolutionary turned Emperor, the short and far from boney and skeletal Mediterranean-born former artillery officer Napoli de Leon (Napoli the Lion).
And finally the Marine Corps and boatmen with their distinctive bicorne hats
Great Butlinnia and Hibernia
The redcoats of Great Butlinnia, a large island off the coast of MittelMittelEurope with its cheery Redcoat Army, its Navy, Marine, are allied with its North, the kilted Celtic redcoated troops of Hibernia.
Ruled by King William or ‘King Billy’, Great Butlinnia does not maintain a large standing Army except for the oppression of democracy and reform. In times of peace its Redcoats double up as family entertainers and variety artistes, its wartime barracks serving also as holiday camps for its many citizens and tourists.
As a result of its dual Redcoat nature, each regiment and branch of the armed forces is in great rivalry with its ornate uniforms, showy parade movements, music and marches on state occasions.
The Republic of the Uwessae
Uwessae, the phonetically spelt former colony of Great Butlinnia in the Neu Welt or New World of Northern Generica has kept the military shako of its former masters but changed its coat colours throughout revolution and independence to a Republican inspired Bleudelys dark blue to avoid confusion with the Redcoats.
A troubled border exists to the north of the Uwessae where a mountainous forested country was once occupied by Bleudelys as a trading colony, alliances with warring tribes of the native Generican inhabitants and simmering friction with the existing dominant power of Great Butlinnia – the colony of Butlinnian North Generic or BNG.
For much of the rest of the early 19th Century world in this Napoli-de-Leonic Era of world war and Minor States, look no further than the Bronte ImagiNations of Gondal, Glasstown and Angria.
These are well summarised in Isabel Greenberg’s new graphic novel Glass Town https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/23/glass-town-by-isabel-greenberg-bronte-imaginations-in-graphic-novel-form/
Blog posted by Mark, ‘Man of TIN’ 17/18 April 2020