I managed to finish my American Civil War skirmish today with my rebased vintage Airfix figures – The Battle of Pine Ridge River crossing – for a railway bridge over a rocky ravine cutting of the good old Hicksville River USA, sometime in 1862 whilst zouaves still had confusing uniforms.
These veteran troops have not fought a battle since the late 1980s. Game write up follows later this week.
Inspired in recent blogposts by the photography website Forgotten Georgia and also the rebasing of my childhood vintage Airfix American Civil War figures, I redeemed a couple of book tokens on a trip into town to fund my summer reading.
The Osprey Combat book is especially relevant with the comments John Patriquin made about my confusion with Zouave uniforms being mirrored in the First Battle of Bull Run / Manassas:
“Your post partially explains the confusion at the first battle of Bull Run. Shortly before the start of the Civil War, after Ellsworth’s tour, many individual militia companies started to stylize themselves as Zouaves. These companies designed their own uniforms. As the better organized states would place these companies into regiments of 10 companies, it is easy to imagine a regiment of militia!”
Of course, at the start of the war the states would provide uniforms to the regiments so they would be more “uniform” in appearance. However, each state would decide on the uniforms. Many northern units were provided grey uniforms. Confused? So were the commanders on the field of battle at Bull Run.”
On the same trip, I also found a recent red box of Airfix WW2 British Commandos reduced in price, another toy department sadly slimming their ranges. A chance to paint some more Zouaves to my vintage Airfix ACW troops.
I am this weekend I confess – Confused by Zouaves.
I have recently rebased and flocked some of my original 1970s and 1980s paintings of Airfix OO/HO American Civil War infantry, along with some other Airfix WW2 figure conversions to other troop types.
We had very few American Civil War Airfix OO/ HO troops, as they were a scarce set by the 1980s. Reinforcements were needed from unusual sources!
I have liked for a long time the Airfix WW2 OO/HO Japanese (and Russian) infantry for their slender build and possibilities for conversion to troops from other periods.
Sometimes I can tell looking back what (roughly) these reinforcement figures were supposed to be or were inspired by, helped by looking again at Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour by Preben Kannik’s and the Blandford book Uniforms of The American Civil War by Philip Haythornwaite. Both books were sporadically available in our local branch library.
They were created or converted by repainting Airfix WW2 Japanese Infantry.
Wallace’s Zouaves featured in the few, the very few, ACW uniforms shown in Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour, as well as Philip Haythornwaite’s more extensive ACW Uniform book (Plate 25). Text notes reveal the unusual career of Lew(is) Wallace, their commanding officer, who went on to write Ben Hur, amongst other things! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lew_Wallace
But are these 1983 Airfix conversions really Wallace Zouaves?
I painted these grey coated Zouaves with a “first National Flag” of the Confederacy with the grey coated Zouaves, suggesting they may be instead Confederate McClellan’s Zouaves or Chichester Zouaves Cadets, both from Charlestown South Carolina.
Kannik notes that these “Union Grey” uniforms faded out quickly early in the American Civil War, no doubt to avoid confusion with such Confederate Grey or Zouave regiments.
No doubt also that many of these fine colourful uniforms would have quickly been adapted to the rigours of whatever could be found or repaired on campaign.
I am not entirely sure of all the intended regiments of the Zouave figure conversions 35 years on, even looking through the original uniform books I had available.
Why so many Zouave regiments? I wondered.
“In the United States, zouaves were brought to public attention by Elmer E. Ellsworth. Inspired by his French friend Charles De Villers, who had been a surgeon in the North African zouaves, he obtained a zouave drill manual. In 1859, Ellsworth took over a drill company and renamed them the “Zouave Cadets”. The drill company toured nationally, performing the light infantry drill of the north African zouaves with many theatrical additions. “Zouave” units were then raised on both sides of the American Civil War of 1861-5, including a regiment under Ellsworth’s command, the New York “Fire Zouaves” …”
None of the Airfix boxes with their uniform pictures had survived in my family by then, so further uniform notes could only be glimpsed in the pages of the old Airfix Catalogues or Military Modelling magazine and the eye-candy illustrations of Miniature Wargames.
Converting easily available first version WW2 British Commandos to Zouaves worked surprisingly well, on account of the puttees, soft caps, straps and spindly rifles.
The Zouaves with red caps and red trousers with white spats or puttees probably represent the Union’s 14th New York Volunteers (or 84th New York Infantry Regiment) known as the “Brooklyn Chasseurs”, pictured in Haythornwaite’s Uniforms of the American Civil War Plate 24a.
Equally they could be the red trousered, red capped 1st Battalion Louisiana Zouaves fighting for the Confederacy, shown on Plate 55. Confusing in battle!
You will also notice that the Louisiana Zouaves in the Kannik book look different to the Haythornwaite book – confusing for a young boy with his paints. I needed Confederates more than Union troops as I had few of the original Airfix Confederate Infantry.
Converting WW2 infantry into 19th Century troops?
Such strange figure conversions did not seem odd at the time in the early to late 1980s as these original ACW Or other Airfix historical figures were much sought after second hand. I remember a dealer called “Andy Peddle, Sunnymead …” regularly advertising in the small ads of Miniature Wargames each month for further stock of such loose figures. The price quoted by dealers alway seemed too high on my pocket money or paper round budget at the time – ” I will pay 3p per foot figure, 6p per cavalry figure, 12p per cannon, waggon or limber” advertised one Mr. S. Russel of Wingham. No doubt they were resold for more.
To give a comparison, in the same 1983 magazine (cover price 80p) the new Esci 1/72 figures were being advertised for a £1 per box of 50 Esci figures. Soon Esci would have their own range of ACW and Colonial or historic figures but too late for me. I was moving on to Peter Laing metal 15mm at 7p a foot figure.
In the absence of Airfix ACW, I generally made do with whatever bizarre tiny Atlantic Wild West packs turned up, sometimes cheaply in model shops like Beatties, although these seemed more like diorama sets than gaming figures. The Atlantic Wild West range provided a few scruffy Confederates and 7th cavalry on horses with bases unlike the irritating Airfix horses. I also painted up whatever American Civil War looking figures I could make from leftover WW2 infantry or Cowboys.
I was always puzzled that no flag or standard bearer figure was produced by Airfix with their ACW infantry sets but I checked here on Plastic Soldier Review and there is no sign of one:
Again in 2017, these Airfix ACW figures have disappeared and I don’t think that HAT did a reissue a few years ago. They don’t seem to have been in production since early 1980. No fort or playset reissue ever featured them. Some boxes and loose figures lurk on E-Bay and online shops, becoming increasingly pricy and, for the old 70s stock, increasingly brittle.
Will they ever be reissued again? The 150th anniversary of the American Civil War has now gone by.
Good to see on many people’s blogs that these charming ACW figures have retained their nostalgic appeal.
2017 – More reinforcements!
Recently a retired work colleague kindly gave me an old biscuit tin of 1970s Airfix figures, a jumble of loose figures and some on sprues, predominantly ACW and AWI figures with a few British Paras mixed in. A relic of his 1960s and 70s flirtation with wargames before American railroad modelling took over, I shall unpack this Airfix owl pellet in a future blogpost. There look to be some Confederates and ACW artillery lurking!
I also chanced upon two half price “Red boxes” of recently produced Airfix WW2 Japanese Infantry from a shop closing down its models section (mostly it was all Airfix USAAF aircrew boxes) so I should be able to produce some more reinforcements in the future. USCT US Coloured Troops are one thought, and finally some more unconfused Zouave regiments?
Zouaves troops also turn up in my Bronte gaming scenarios, based on troop descriptions in the Bronte family Angria and Glass Town scenarios – I’m sure all these vintage Airfix figures will find a role in these Imagi-Nations, just with a new standard bearer or two.
Thankfully this was online rather than on foot. (Maybe I should have sought sponsorship for charity for this pointless minor achievement?)
I’m not sure how many thousands of photographs that I have looked at of buildings, bridges, ruins and towns, barns, lots and lots of barns, but I worked through the Forgotten Georgia website County by County on the A to Z listings. Strangely there was no Hazzard County.
After looking at all these decaying or restored buildings in Georgia, I am quite tempted to order this winter some of the old Airfix OO railway building range of plastic kits, now manufactured by Dapol.
There were some innovative conversions to typical American Civil War / Wild West buildings using the basic Service Station, Signal Box and Booking Hall kits suggested by Terry Wise in the Airfix Magazines in the early 1970s (see the links to the Vintage Wargaming website)
These buildings would be a fine setting for my surviving OO/HO Airfix American Civil War troops. Flip open the pages of Donald Featherstone’s 1962 Wargames to the section of rules for Horse and Musket battles and then you’re away …
Dicing with Dragons – “Long before Peter Jackson made it respectable, teenage boys fought imaginary orcs and dragons”.
Writer and Presenter Kim Newman celebrates Dungeons and Dragons’ early days through interviews with Gary Gygax and others of the Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone era failing to get a bank loan for setting up Games Workshop. It mentions needing to buy the original Chainmail ancient Wargames rules as well as the early D and D books.
Repeat of a Documentary originally made in August 2004 – Radio 4 Extra Debut / repeat, find this at:
Made in 2004 it speculates about when RPG gamers give up, along with the lack of women RPG players at the time. They do find and interview one female “Dungeon Master”. I imagine this aspect may have changed since 2004, as the few female gamers whose blogs I have come across tend towards Sci-Fi and Fantasy rather than Historical Wargaming.
Available online on BBC Radio Iplayer for about thirty days till late July /early August 2017, it may well be around in the BBC Radio Iplayer documentary section afterwards. This may not be available to some overseas readers.
One blog reader (thanks!) suggested looking at Flint and Feather rules by Crucible Crush in Canada written by Howard Whitehouse.
I recognised this name from reading a fun and crazy set of “Caveman” conflict rules written by one Howard “Ugga” Whitehouse in Miniature Wargames many years ago (early 2000s?), again also with a Scissors, Paper, Stone game mechanic. I am now casting up some Prince August cavemen this summer to finally try this out as a solo game.
This uses a ‘Rock/Paper/Scissors’ form of deciding how warriors attack and defend. It was available in beta version (free) and being playtested.
Players choose or use a deck of cards (at the back of the PDF rule book) to indicate which option below is selected.
“Key Characters – not only Great Warriors and Companions but Shamen and Healers – get to choose their maneuver, placing the card face down on the table but keeping it hidden until both sides reveal their maneuvers. Others choose cards randomly and reveal once both sides have placed their cards face down on the table. Obviously, “Huh!” is an accidental choice that only occurs only when the figure rolls, rather than chooses, an option.” Flint and Feather rules PDF
1) Swing: a good strong swipe at the foe. Often risky … (Flint and Feather goes on to suggest the ‘Best’ weapon for each manoeuvre).
2) Cut: a dependable attack, without much risk of disaster …
3) Lunge: a fierce thrust …
4) Bash: A Strong overhead blow …
5) Taunt: no armed attack at all, but a pithy insult to taunt the enemy …
6) Huh!: accidentally failing to make any attack, and possibly making a fool of yourself in the process. Not a deliberate choice …
The Defender has also six options – again, “Huh!” is an accidental choice.
1) Counter Blow: hitting the other fellow before he strikes you! Risky …
2) Leap Aside: dodge that blow and show off your agility …
3) Jump Back: see him swing at thin air …
4) Duck: Drop down! …
5) Parry: the safest way of fending off an assault, with shield or with weapon. It’s good to have a shield! …
6) Huh!: accidentally failing to offer any defense at all. Usually not a deliberate choice.
One aspect I like is that it shares some of the move words from Gerard De Gre’s Lunge, Cut and Stop Thrust duelling game.
Flint and Feather has a combat table that is similar in appearance but larger than to Gerard De Gre in Lunge, Cut and Stop Thrust
Surely if they have a HuH! move, that nobody would choose by choice, there should also be a clumsy “whoops-a-daisy” move.
I have changed this into a more Lunge, Cut and Stop Thrust type simple table.
Using The X cards used in Lunge, Cut and Stop Thrust game means that you can have a mixture of Both Hit, None Hit / Both Miss and random event cards such as the Whoops- a-Daisy falling over, ducking, run away, etc and whether a hit is landed or not on either player.
Numbering the Attack and Defence Options 1-6 means that a solo or two player version could be used, rolling dice to randomly select attack, defence or both moves , rather than relying on cards.
If Huh! got too annoying, another unused move type could be added in such as Thrust and the Hit on Attacker / Defender options rewritten for this line.
It remains to be seen how Taunt will work outside of the Flint and Feather rules context. It sounds much like “sledging” in modern sport, designed to put your opponent off their game. It usually ends up with attackers being hit!
Testing Out a Dice version
I ran a quick play test of the dice choice option using suitable lead figures on a paper sheet using red dice for attacker, green dice for defender. Dice were used instead of cards for selecting the attack and defence options.
Instead of 5 combat point counters, quick scrawled circles are crossed off as combat points are lost or one added if you win the contest and defeat your opponent.
Sparking of Scissors Paper Stone, after a big of scratching of heads, I finally worked out what the current freebie Sainsbury’s handout Lego cards are supposed to be, having spotted scissors paper stone logos on the cards. Good fun as a family card game, along with fast snap and dominoes if you look at the brick dots on the back etc. They were free with purchases at Sainsbury’s (May to early June 2017).
Stone blunts scissors, scissors cut paper, paper wraps stone …