For a forthcoming gaming scenario in 2020 about the Battle of Saxby between navvies and country farmworkers in Leicestershire during 1844, I needed some suitable looking country figures for the mid 19th Century to match my Airfix OOHO trackworkers / navvies with their red neckerchiefs.
I raided all the spare civilian figures that I could find from hoarded boxes of Airfix Waggon Train, American Civil War Artillery and the odd Airfix civilian or airman.
I have used a Citadel Agramax Earthshade brown shade wash to make the figures’ clothes and faces suitably muddy for farm work, on campaign or on the trail.
These men with rifles might be too well armed for the Saxby Bridge battle of farm tools and navvy tools.
I painted them non-uniform and nondescript enough to work as American Civil War troops, Wild West cowboys, irregular troops or even Boer sharpshooters. The lamb or calf carried by one of the figure types can be underpainted to look like a bed roll or provisions sack.
Some of the Airfix Waggon Train civilians have no tools or weapons so I used a range of spare picks and shovels from the Airfix OOHO Forward Command Post or Jungle Outpost.
The Earl of Harborough’s men at Saxby Bridge fought off the Midland Railway navvies, who were trying to survey and build a railway across the Earl’s estate, with stout staves and every tool they had to hand.
The farm figures equipped with picks and shovels should work equally well for future modern railway games, as well as civilian workers, sappers, miners and engineers with a wide range of armies.
Some interesting figures of the American Civil War Artillery crew look as if they could be miners or farmworkers, whilst still being usable as gun crew.
There are also useful Waggon Train female figures who could double up as nurses and a Boy from the Waggon Train (who also works well as a tall man with my Peter Laing 15mm figures). Spot the spare RAF crewman, as many of my past railway figures were padded out with German and British Aircrew.
This was a post that got lost back in May 2016. Now I have found most of the photographs again!
The ‘V and A’ (Victoria and Albert Museum) also run the Bethnal Green Musuem Of Childhood. They put together touring exhibitions from their extensive collections of toys, such as the now finished War Games exhibition I saw in 2016.
Sadly it seems photography was not allowed in the main exhibition, but I have photographed some of the things I picked up free around the exhibition and in the shop including the obligatory bag of plastic toy soldiers. These now have WG marked on their bases, short for War Games (the exhibition). They can be seen at this May 2016 blog post https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/spa-treatments-for-toy-soldiers/
This post got lost in the earliest days of my blogging. The Victoria and Albert Musuem / Museum Of Childhood travelling exhibition War Games has now finished travelling. It was hosted as part of the 1941 Plymouth Blitz Anniversary and the Plymouth City Museum (which survived the Plymouth Blitz) is closed for rebuilding until the Mayflower Anniversary 2020 https://plymhearts.org/
I have a few photographs of the advertising banners outside the museum but nothing inside the museum.
Sadly three years later I cannot remember too much detail about the different sections appealing to different demographics.
There were some well-presented old toy soldiers on parade or in boxes. There was a section on classic board games (Risk etc) and a whole section on video games. I don’t recall a wargames section and any classic wargames title. The section on vintage kids dressing up uniforms such as “cowboys and Indians” and toy guns was pure nostalgia!
There was the obligatory dressing up costumes (for kids only) for a photo opportunity. From what I recall, you weren’t allowed to photograph the rest of the exhibits and in 2016 not everyone carried an IPhone camera.
The final room featured a big room sized table top diorama using toys of all scales called “Earthling Armies vs. fantasy Forces” which was quite good fun to see and identify figures.
Another random blog post draft finally sees the light of day as part of the Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 6.
I was sent these four odd crude homecast figures with very chunky lead rifles as part of a job lot by Alan the Tradgardmastre of the Duchy of Tradgardland blog.
Rather than painting them as the more obvious Victorian colonial troops, I thought they had a look of armed Sydney Street Siege era Edwardian police with rifles.
The Siege of Sidney Street of January 1911, also known as the Battle of Stepney, was a gunfight in the East End of London between a combined British police and army force and two Latvian revolutionaries. Home Secretary young Winston Churchill witnessed the event at close hand as did Pathe Newsreel.
Inside are several interesting sets of early rules, not only the well-known H.G.Wells’ Little Wars, but others from late Victorian up to WW2.
“Volume 1 of the Early Wargames series contains a compilation of fascinating pre-Donald Featherstone wargames written between 1898 and 1940. Prior to Donald Featherstone publishing his classic book War Games in 1962 there were numerous attempts by other authors, to create wargames. H.G. Wells’s 1913 Little Wars, was the best known early wargaming book, although only one of a number of early wargaming rules. The many similarities in the rules indicate that H.G. Wells was clearly familiar with some of these when devising his own rules.” John Curry
This book contains selected key wargames all written between 1898 and 1940 including:
Notes on the Robert Louis Stevenson Game (1898)
The Great Wargame (1908)
War Games for Boy Scouts (1910)
Little Wars (1913) by HG Wells
Sham Battle 1929 (Extract) by Lt. Dowdall and Gleason
Mechanix Artillery Duel (1932)
The Liddell Hart Wargame (1935)
Captain Sach’s War Game (1940)
The obvious connection to my Scout Wide Games was the War Games for Boy Scouts (1910), written by A.J. Halladay, a Boer War CIV volunteer veteran who later went on to run Skybirds aeroplane and tank models and figures (perfect for wargaming). Now also reissued http://skybirdsuk.com
War Games for Boy Scouts 1910
I found these Scout War Games rules a curious thing, more like a campaign or map game with terrain marked out by paper pin flags.
To be honest I couldn’t really see what role toy figures played.
The rules rely heavily on an Umpire. I want my Scout Games to have a solo option.
A simple points system for choosing a force is described.
These 1910 rules stem from a time, just before Little Wars 1913, when you could have put the word Boy Scout on anything and sold it, such was the popularity and commercial opportunity that Baden Powell’s Scouting created.
I wonder how many Boy Scouts actually did get around to using these 1910 rules with their lead toy soldiers.
There is a post Boer War concern with manliness, fitness and Empire that links these Halladay rules with the wider concerns of Mafeking hero Baden Powell’s scouting movement.
Overall a fascinating book looking at the echoes of Featherstone and Wells on early rule sets
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 4 December 2019.
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
John Curry also reprinted as a free PDF some American rules with a curious almost Robert Louis Stevenson feel, the Tin Army of the Potomac, a curious Little Wars type hand drawn and lettered games rule book from 1888, including pages erupting with or disrupted by the charming scrapbook illustrations of late Victorian flat soldiers.
This website link came from eagle-eyed Hugh Walter at Small Scale World, linking to an article in Gulf Weekly entitled “Reliving the Joys of Childhood” published October 16 – 22, 2019 written by Mai Al Khatib-Camille:
The kingdom’s popular gaming group, TableTop House Bahrain, aims to spark nostalgia, build social bonding as well as provide an escape from every day “adulting” by staging bi-monthly mini-conventions for young and old to enjoy.
The group, which is made up of various board gaming and role playing aficionados including Nasser Al Alawi, Mohamed Al Shirawi, Abdulla Sultan and Khaled AlDossary, have been hosting events since 2018 to share their childhood joys as well as to help develop the surface-playing scene across the island.
“Tabletop is any game played on a surface or table such as Monopoly or even Wargaming,” said Nasser, a 39-year-old real estate agent from Gufool who has been playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) since 1999. “Dungeons & Dragons is a tabletop role playing game where you play as an imaginary character using a character sheet that has stats and dice to determine failure or success.
“There are no boundaries to this game and it is a great way to fuel someone’s imagination.
“Tabletop role playing has been in Bahrain for 30 years thanks to the likes of Hamad Al Najar who, from what I remember, was the oldest dungeon master (DM). He started it up in the 90s and now we are passing on the torch to teach the next generation. We host these events to give the hobby exposure, offer people the experience and joy of playing these games, to show them that there is more than video games and how it can be a social gathering where people meet face-to-face and have a great time.”
The group, which is now led by Abdulla, 23, a banker from Juffair, recently held an event at Darseen Café, at Bahrain National Museum, featuring one-shot games. According to Nasser, one-shot is a game that takes from an hour to two hours where players are introduced to a scenario. “Basically, you have to play through that scenario until it’s resolved, whether it may be goblins attacking a village or rescuing a fair maiden; the usual fantasy trips that are available,” explained Nasser. “Some people played D&D, I ran the Pathfinder game and other people featured other systems. There was even a Star Wars tabletop role playing game and another person ran Starfinder.”
Around 100 aspiring and dedicated gamers attended the event including the kingdom’s first female DM Kirsten Hofstad.
The 32-year-old teacher who lives in Mahooz has been playing D&D since she was 12. She said: “It’s a great way to meet people and make friends. I first started being a DM when I lived in Thailand and wanted to find a role playing group. I decided to try my hand at it since finding a DM to run the game is the hardest thing to do. I discovered that I really enjoy being a DM more so than playing the game. I have been a DM for eight years now.”
Yasmine Bouroubi, 31, a teacher from Janabiya, sat in on Kirsten’s game as her children Hamza, five, and Zaynab, eight, and her husband Reda Ibn-Tahaikt cheered on. She said: “I like this game because it’s sociable, there is team work and you will meet people. I definitely think my children should get into this because they aren’t sitting in front of a TV and it’s all about face-to-face interactions.”
Other parents tend to suggest joining Wargaming, run by Radio Bahrain DJ Khaled, for its therapeutic and strategic aspects.
“Wargaming is a hobby that started by H G Wells,” said Khaled, 34, who lives in Hamala and started playing the game in 2015 before developing a group on Instagram @wargaming_bahrain. “It was an idea he had with a friend of his who was ill at the time. He wanted to find a way for them to both have fun. He took toy soldier figures from his nephew and developed a game using dice in combination with soldiers and measuring tape to move and simulate combat, which they were very big fans of because they were both historians who loved to read battels.”
“This hobby features two factors. Some people love to play the side of the game that’s throwing the dice and simulating battles. Then there are people who like to paint miniatures.”
There are recurring events such as paint nights. “We teach painting workshops and we get different ages playing this game too,” added Khaled. “Many parents want their children to do something tactile with their hands and then they will get to take the miniature soldier or figure that they painted home.”
People can follow @tabletophousebh to find out more about upcoming events as well as the weekly games run at The Raven’s Nest Café. Co-owner Mirna Almaz, 32, who lives in Seef, said: “We encourage people to leave their screens and technology behind and focus on using their minds to strategise, imagine and role play for the sake of entertainment. We all know the brain is a muscle and board games are considered exercise for one’s mind. These hobbies are also used to fight depression and anxiety; not to mention, strengthening social interaction and bonding.” [End of article]
Fascinating that boardgaming, RPGS, tabletop gaming and wargames of all sorts are played all over the world with much the same social and therapeutic benefits. And if you’re ever passing through Bahrain in need of a game …
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 3rd December 2019 – Advent Day 3. M
American Doughboys versus Bolshevik Russians – this sounds an interesting piece of history to explore through game scenario, if you have suitable WW1 era troops in greatcoats. Doctor Zhivago stuff, this!
The Smithsonian article is partly based on this book:
Hostilities are in active progress between the Earl of HARBOROUGH and the Midland Railway Company.
As we read about the valorous exploits of the champions on either side, the imagination is carried back to the times when feudal barons levied war against incorporated boroughs, and stout burgesses laid siege to the castles of feudal nobles.
Since the days of Warwick the King-maker there have been no such stirring deeds as have of late been doing in the land of foxhunting, and now merit to be recorded in prose or numerous verse. As to such warlike operations as those of the French in Algeria, or our own gallant Engineer-officers at the siege of Chatham, they are far outshone by the untaught military geniuses of the Midland Counties.
The siege of Stapleford Park was raised on Saturday last, (the Commander of the Midland Railway Company’s forces, General COPE, having proved as unlucky as his namesake of the year ’45), by the retainers of Lord HARBOROUGH, commanded by General FABLING; whose victory, notwithstanding his suspicious name, is as authentic as any recorded in the bulletins of NAPOLEON. Till the civil commotions in Guernsey leave General NAPIER at leisure to write the history of this remarkable campaign, we shall attempt a sketch of it. [Ed. see my footnote about Napier and Guernsey].
Stapleford Park is situate near the Confines of Leicestershire and Rutlandshire, between Melton Mowbray and Oakham. The Oakham Canal, or, more correctly speaking, its towing-path, passes close under the park-wall. The Midland Railway Company, proud of its joint-stock force, had sent word to Lord Harborough that its engineers would survey his park, somewhat in the same spirit that the Percy out of Northumberland sent word to the Douglas, “That he would hunt in the mountains Of Cheviot within days three.”
And with the spirit of the old Douglas did HARBOROUGH and FABLING reply, “We will let that surveying an if we may”
‘General’ Cope was the Chief Surveyor for this project for the Midland Railway.
On Wednesday the 13th of November 1844, the Railway forces, a mustering seven strong, attempted to penetrate into the park by the Oakham Canal towing-path. The Harborough retainers, in number nine, overpowered and took them prisoners. The captives were carried to Cold Overton Hall ; but the keeper of that castle being from home, the leader who captured them said, “It would be better for all parties to separate for the night.” This was accordingly done; the Harborough troops retaining the spirit- level of the surveyor as the gauge of victory. It does not appear that the commanding officers on either side were present at this affair.
The attack was renewed more earnestly on Thursday [the 13th of November 1844].
At the early hour of nine, the defenders of the park were observed collecting, under General FABLING, to the number of forty, in the vicinity of Saxby Bridge.
The clerk and treasurer of the Oakham Canal Company, which adheres in this war to the Harborough cause, were at their posts. This alliance, and the issue of the siege, may appear to some to corroborate the opinion so often emphatically expressed by Mr. COBDEN, that the aristocracy never triumphed over the towns but by sowing dispensions among them.
Preparations for a most determined resistance were made by the allied forces, by barricading the towing path on both sides of the bridge with ” trays.”
The assailants were soon after seen advancing in two columns, one from Melton and the other from Oakham; each conducted by its leaders in chaises and waving proudly the flag-staffs of the surveyors.
A lengthened parley ensued, in the true Homeric fashion. A demonstration was made against the barrier on the Oakham side of the bridge, but soon relinquished. Reinforcements of his Lordship’s vassals kept pouring in; and strong detachments from Oakham and Stamford were added to the assailants.
A neutral body — consisting of four or five County Police — declared, a la Randolph, “The man who strikes makes us his foe.” Hereupon each party, unwilling to draw upon it another enemy, wisely resolved to eschew striking.
The Harborough forces wedged themselves together on the Melton side, presenting a formidable living barrier.
The Engineer-officers of the other party drew up their front-rank men with their backs close to the forces of the Earl’s party, and instructed the rear-ranks and reserve to rush upon their own friends and drive them like wedges through the hostile array.
“Dire was the din of conflict “; men’s bodies were seen from the pressure to spring as high into the air over the heads of the contending parties as ever lance-heads did at a tournament. Mud bedaubed the clothes of all.
A breach was made in the line of the defenders, and the chain carried through in triumph; but immediately seized hold of, and broken. After this exploit, the defendants scampered for about a quarter of a mile down the towing-path; then halted, and formed their barrier de novo. The Railway troops did not venture to renew the assault; the defendants retired within their intrenchments, and the assailants returned to their quarters.
Friday [the 15th of November 1844] passed without any movement on the part of the besiegers. But late in the evening, news came to FABLING that an assault was to be made before daybreak next morning.
Immediately all was bustle within the intrenchments.
Every assailable point was strengthened with hurdles and waggons, and a fire-engine placed in readiness to pump upon the enemy at the place where the first attack was expected.
The uncertainty, however, of the defenders as to the point selected for the assault, weakened their arrangements: the park contains 800 acres, and the garrison was too small to man every part of the wall.
FABLING in this emergency had, like other great commanders, resource to a fable: he despatched a letter to the hostile chief, assuring him that he had in readiness “a few cannon from Lord Harborough’s yacht,” and concluding “Dear Sir, yours faithfully.” But his adversary had too much experience to be thus deceived: he knew that the cannon spoken of were only meant to throw cold water on his enterprise.
At seven o’clock a.m. on Saturday [the 16th of November 1844], Cope with 100 stout men – fresh recruits from Stamford, and the Peterborough and Midland Railways – swarmed over the park-paling on the side next Oakham; and immediately four chains were in active operation.
Captain LATHAM’S troop had been advanced, it is true, at an early hour in the direction of Oakham to reconnoitre; but he took the route by Whissendine and Langham, and thus missed the enemy, who came on by Ashwell and Teigh.
The successful assailants pushed right on in the direction of Lord HARBOROUGH’S cottage; and already the foremost chain might be descried from the Earl’s bedroom-window, when the gallant FABLING, followed by a handful of men whom he had collected, cantered up on a pony to the scene of action.
COPE, relying on his superior force, scornfully declared he had no wish to hurt FABLING, and ordered the Railway men to carry him off.
The reply deigned by that gallant leader was a command to his followers to carry off the measuring-chains. Brown, the Herculean lock-keeper of the Oakham Canal, threw himself before his chief; and every blow he dealt sent an enemy rolling heels-over-head. But the Railway party galled him sore with their spikes.
The noise of fray was heard in every village for two miles round. Lord Harborough, though enfeebled with illness, was seen to approach the scene of action, accompanied by his lady; and the sight nerved anew the arms of his faithful troops.
Parties of the tenantry kept pouring in from Freeby and Saxby, from Wymondham, Whissendine, and Teigh.
At last, “Cope could not cope,” and the assailants evacuated the park, leaving their staves and chains, and other munitions of war, behind them.
Thus did the merry men of Leicestershire send “bootless home and weather-beaten back a host of invaders, gathered from Stamford and from Hertfordshire, from Birmingham, and from Gracechurch Street and Churchill Street, London.
We have said that this siege reminded one of the old times when barons and burghers used to levy war against each other. The resemblance holds good to the close. It used to be customary in those days to invoke the authority of the Church to allay intestine broils; and we learn from the Times that ” warrants for the apprehension of some of the rioters have been granted by the Reverend G. E. Gillett.”
So the Railway war is in a fair train to get into the hands of the lawyers ; and in that case, both parties will learn, what all have learned who have ever been foolish enough to go to war, that the after-costs are worse than the fighting.
William Francis Patrick Napier (1785–1860), Napoleonic Officer and Military Historian
On 29 May 1841 Napier was given a special grant of 150l. per annum for his distinguished services. On 23 Nov. he was promoted major-general, and in February 1842 was appointed lieutenant-governor of Guernsey and major-general commanding the troops in Guernsey and Alderney.
He landed at Guernsey on 6 April, and threw himself into his new duties heart and soul; but he found much to discourage him. The defences were wretched, the militia wanted complete reorganisation, and the administration of justice was scandalous. In the five years of his government, despite local obstruction, he devised a scheme of defence which was generally accepted by a special committee from London of artillery and engineer officers, and was partially executed.
He reorganised and rearmed the militia. He powerfully influenced the states of the island to adopt a new constitution …
At Guernsey he devoted his spare time to writing a history of the ‘Conquest of Scinde,’ the achievement in which his brother Charles had recently been engaged. On the return of Lord Ellenborough from India he wrote, offering to publish the political part of the history first, and after some correspondence which established a lifelong friendship between him and Ellenborough, this was done.
In November 1844 the first part was published, and was read by the public with avidity; but, as with the ‘History of the Peninsular War,’ it involved Napier in endless controversy. There was this difference, however: the ‘History of the Conquest of Scinde’ was written with a purpose. It was not only the history of Sind, but the defence of a brother who had been cruelly misrepresented. The descriptions of the battles are not surpassed by any in the Peninsular war, but the calmness and impartiality of the historian are too often wanting. The publication of the second part of the ‘Conquest of Scinde’ in 1846 drew upon him further attacks, and the strength of his language in reply often exceeded conventional usage.
At the end of 1847 Napier resigned his appointment as lieutenant-governor of Guernsey. In February 1848 he was given the colonelcy of the 27th regiment of foot, and in May he was made a K.C.B. In the same year Napier wrote some ‘Notes on the State of Europe.’ Towards the end of 1848 the Liverpool Financial Reform Association published some tracts attacking the system by which the soldiers of the army were clothed through the medium of the colonels of regiments. The association sent its tracts to Napier, himself a clothing colonel, upon which he wrote a series of six vindicatory letters to the ‘Times’ newspaper, dating 29 Dec. 1848 to 1 Feb. 1849. They form Appendix VII. to Bruce’s ‘Life of General Sir William Napier.’ … (Source: Wikipedia)
I wonder if Napier’s controversial memoirs might have inspired the style of the ‘battle’ report of Saxby in The Spectator.