Alan the Tradgardmastre had sent me some spare surplus home cast 40mm figures that he had picked up along the way. I quickly filed the bases flat, cleaned up the mould lines and got them based on MDF tuppenny 2p from Warbases, ready for painting.
I recognised these figures, as I have a small collection of them acquired at random in an online job lot about five to ten years ago. I was probably being lazy at the time, acquiring some secondhand precast home castings (especially painted ones) instead of casting them myself.
Pre-painted and play-bashed Army Dark Blue 40mm figures in my collection. “You, man at the back, why haven’t you painted your helmet … or your rifle?”
Somewhere I’m sure I still have a silicon mould for the standing and kneeling firing infantryman amongst my randomly acquired moulds collection.
One of Alan’s suggestions was that these figures could be useful for “creative uniform design and tailoring …I thought you might enjoy coming up with some toy soldier uniforms for these fellows.”
This creative colour choice is already part chosen for me as the painted figures I have are in dark blue Prussian uniforms, so I have an Army Dark Blue skirmish unit of infantry, cavalry and gunners already.
They could stand in for several dark blue coated nations who adopted the Prussian style spiked helmet from US Marines in late 19th century dress uniforms through to Portuguese 1890s, several South American and colonial units.
Norway, Portugal, Chile, Brazil, colourful Argentina … lots of late 19th century spiked helmets which my Army Blue could be used as, if you want a change from Prussian 1870.
“From the second half of the 19th century onwards, the armies of a number of nations besides Russia (including Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Portugal,Norway, Sweden, and Venezuela) adopted the Pickelhaube or something very similar. The popularity of this headdress in Latin America arose from a period during the early 20th century when military missions from Imperial Germany were widely employed to train and organize national armies.”
One easy colour scheme solutions for the new unpainted figures would be the late 19th Century red coated British Infantry with spiked helmet.
However looking through my uniform books, I have found several other historical nations with spiked helmets or ones that could also double as ImagiNations uniforms.
Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour gives a few ideas.
I am rather taken with the light blue uniform with yellow facings of the Baden dragoons 1870 FPW, although this could be mistaken for the French uniforms. Army Light Blue ?
Mixed in with my old painted joblot of Zinn figures were some semi-flat French figures, some of which almost from a distance on the table match the Zinn Brigade / Schildcrot figures.
Amongst the castings was a cheery note from the Tradgardmastre himself, apologising for the lack of horses for the rider figures. Fortunately these horse moulds are available from Zinnfigur.com, although I read on many blogs that postage costs from Europe to the UK post-Brexit is causing issues for some people and firms.
I also already have some Holger Erickson unsaddled horse moulds in 40mm from Prince August, which may prove suitable.
Thankfully I have some pre-painted dark blue cavalry, along with small hollow-cast cavalry.
The unpainted rider castings from Tradgardland are these Zinnfigur / Schildcrot officer ones
These cheap hollow-cast cavalry from bits and bobs box seem a good match or opposition, once repaired. These come originally in red paint … hmmm. Thinks.
I also have amongst my random figures selection some suitable officer figures, standard bearers, fife players and artillery crews from the Schildcrot range with a few Meisterzinn origin 18th Century limbers, horses and guns.
A strange combination of periods but that is the joy of the Job Lot ImagiNation!
Some colourful old 40mm guns and limbers from Meisterzinn.
With the addition of the new unpainted figures from Alan, this should be good for a small balanced force of a gun or two, a few cavalry and some infantry for skirmishes.
So lots of ideas but still undecided what colour the new figures from Tradgardmastre should be.
Whilst I think about the new army uniform colour, I have been busy repairing and basing the original blue Prussian painted figures from my past joblot.
Army Dark Blue 40mm figures in my collection. Some rifles broken or short-cast to repair. I will post pictures when finished …
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN / ZINN, 18 August 2021
“There are no words to express half what I feel about the teachers in our Council Schools, their enthusiasm, their patience, their energy, their devotion. When we think of what the lives of poor children are …” E. Nesbit
It has been a tough time for many children and teachers during Lockdown, with schools mostly shut, rapidly adapting to home schooling and being taught online, the inequalities of the nation shown up by concerns over free school meal vouchers and lack of data or laptops.
I started reading Wings and The Child or the Building of Magic Cities (1913) by E. Nesbit (of Railway Children fame) with some scepticism about this middle class pastime of borrowed silver candlesticks and marbled bound volumes set up by servants in the library or the nursery.
The first half of the book is about her thoughts on childhood, education and the state of England, the second half is how she makes her Magic Cities with the help of her children.
Reading this book, I get echoes of Baden Powell’s Scouting for Boys and E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End, a concern for the rapidly urbanising State of the Nation, shown up in BP’s case by the poor standard of recruits for the Boer War.
What I didn’t realise is that Edith Nesbit, in response to many letters from children about her children’s book The Magic City (1910), exhibited and manned her Magic City at during the Child Welfare ExhibitionOlympia of late 1912 and early 1913, the year her book was published.
Here at the Exhibition, she had a wide range of visitors from foreign royalty to teachers. Fellow exhibitors included the suffragette or suffrage societies.
Regular blog readers will have read my recent posts on H.G. Wells’ Floor Games (1911) and Little Wars (1913).
Edith Nesbit (or Mrs Hubert Bland) and her husband Hubert would have known Wells and his Little Wars friends like Mr W. (Graham Wallas) through the socialist Fabian Society. Arguably Wells’ science fiction books have their own criticisms of the state of the Nation or colonialism and Empire such as The War of the Worlds or The Time Machine.
Reproaching my initial modern prejudice about this book and her Edwardian Middle Class background, Nesbit shows that she is aware or able to adapt her thoughts to the situation of children in rural or urban board schools (primary schools) established in the 1870s.
The Poor Child’s City – CHAPTER VII, Wings and the Child, E. Nesbit, 1913
“When my city was built at Olympia a great many school-teachers who came to see it told me that they would like to help the children in their schools to build such cities, but that it would not be possible because the children came from poor homes, where there were none of the pretty things—candlesticks, brass bowls, silver ash-trays, chessmen, draughts, well-bound books, and all the rest of it—which I had used to build my city.
So then I said I would build a city out of the sort of things that poor children could collect and bring to school. And I did. My friends Mr. Annis and Mr. Taylor, who were helping me to explain the city and show it to visitors, helped me with the building. We did it in a day, and it was very pretty—so pretty that the school-teachers who came to see it asked me to write a book to say how that was done. And so I did.
There are no words to express half what feel about the teachers in our Council Schools, their enthusiasm, their patience, their energy, their devotion.
When we think of what the lives of poor children are, of the little they have of the good things of this world, the little chance they have of growing up to any better fate than that of their fathers and mothers, who do the hardest work of all and get the least pay of all those who work for money—when we think how rich people have money to throw away, how their dogs have velvet coats and silver collars, and eat chicken off china, while the little children of the poor live on bread and tea, and wear what they can get—often enough, too little—when we think of all these things, if we can bear to think of them at all, there is not one of us, I suppose, who would not willingly die if by our death we could secure for these children a fairer share of the wealth of England, the richest country in the world.
For wealth, by which I mean money, can buy all those things which children ought to have, and which these children do not have—good food, warm clothes, fresh country air, playthings and books, and pictures.
Remembering that by far the greater number of children of England have none of these things, you would, I know, gladly die if dying would help. To die for a cause is easy—you leap into the gulf like Curtius, or fall on the spears like Winkelried, or go down with your ship for the honour of your country.
To lead a forlorn hope, to try to save one child from fire or water, and die in the attempt—that is easy and glorious. The hard thing to do is to live for your country—to live for its children.
And it is this that the teachers in the Council Schools do, year in and year out, with the most unselfish nobility and perseverance.
And nobody applauds or makes as much fuss as is made over a boy who saves a drowning kitten. In the face of enormous difficulties and obstacles, exposed to the constant pin-pricks of little worries, kept short of space, short of materials and short of money, yet these teachers go on bravely, not just doing what they are paid to do, but a thousand times more, devoting heart, mind, and soul to their splendid ambition and counting themselves well paid if they can make the world a better and a brighter place for the children they serve.
If these children when they grow up shall prove better citizens, kinder fathers, and better, wiser, and nobler than their fathers were, we shall owe all the change and progress to the teachers who are spending their lives to this end.
And this I had to say before I could begin to write about how cities may be built of such materials as poor children can collect and bring to school …” (E. Nesbit, Wings and The Child, 1913)
You can read the rest of this section and the whole of Wings and the Child here:
Wings and The Child – A very interesting book , along with Little Wars and Floor Games that captures the spirit of our childhood games and our modern gamers’ scrap modelling.
Many of her other comments in Wings and The Child on the ‘institution’ of Education from the content of curriculums, class sizes and the lack of time for concern for the individual personality of children might be heard in school staff rooms and home education groups today.
The communal or collective efforts (collective in many senses of the word) to make these Magic Cities in urban or rural Board Schools must have been splendid sights to see, the shiny tin can city version of the glories of the Victorian and Edwardian “Nature Table” in primary schools and Sunday Schools.
Thanks to a gift of broken and surplus figures from Alan ‘Tradgardland‘ Gruber, I had five damaged or oddly painted Britain’s Deetail Guardsmen to play with.
Some of them already had some bright and colourful but playworn repainted uniforms. I have sensitively repainted some of the more scuffed paintwork to keep these colourful ImagiNations and Ruritanian uniforms.
Such wild paint or uniform schemes (OBEs or Other Beggars’ Efforts) deserve to be preserved and enhanced. The blue and yellow ones have a colourful Scandinavian or a Swiss Guard inspired feel.
Up close, the two red coats along side each other goes to show how easily Britain’s Deetail could have made more traditional Line Infantry with spiked Home Service helmets rather than more modern Guards.
The rifle needed to be modified or repaired with ammunition clips removed to make it more old fashioned. The metal base and feet lugs were missing so feet were drilled, wire pins inserted and fixed through and underneath a card base.
These will be robust enough figures for Little Wars style 54mm games.
The Line Infantry style conversion was done simply by repairing the rifle and removing the original head. The new spiked infantry helmeted head was a spare one in the bits box that I had cast from the Prince August 54mm Traditional Toy Soldier Homecasting set.
A hand pin vice drill was used to drill a hole in neck and head and joined by short piece of wire and superglue.
A quick gloss spray Varnish added to the toy soldier look. A pink cheek dot is still required.
As more such broken Britain’s Deetail figures turn up, I now have several ImagiNations type uniform schemes to add to.
Rumours have reached the Redcoats at Fort MacGuffin that a gang of illegal loggers and miners are back in the hills to the NW edge of the Northern Forests. From time to time, rumours of past gold finds and limitless timber have lured landless settlers and gangs to try their luck.
Usually a Hunting Party of Forest Indians deal with any threats to their Hunting Grounds and Sacred Forests.
Redcoat patrols in the forest are warned to watch out for trouble. What will happen?
A small gang of armed miners is glimpsed at the entrance to the old mine, pulling down the boards that close it off.
D6 thrown to see at which turn or when next two parties of miners (Turn 4 and 9) and the next two Forest Indian Hunting Parties of five each arrive at Turn 6 and 7.
The Redcoat patrol of nine will emerge on the board and road to the south of the mine at Turn 11. Two d6 were thrown to determine how many redcoats are on patrol.
A Forest Indian Hunting Party emerges from the Northwest following a scrub turkeyfowl. They spot the Miners and some felled trees. This must be stopped! Where there are a few Miners, more follow.
The Forest Indians decide to scare the Miners off with some up close rifle fire.
Do the Miners post a lookout? D6 yes 1,2,3 – no 4,5,6.
Do the Miners see the Indians moving in the forest before the Indians fire? D6 Yes 1,2 No 3,4,5,6 – at this point Turn 1 and 2 the Indians are not seen approaching.
By Turn 3, the Miners do notice the Indians approaching. They are all out of range.
The first Hunting Party of Forest Indians uses cover to get closer to the miners.
By Turn Four and Five, firing has begun.
By Turn Six, the Melee between the Miner with the Pike and the Indian Braves sees the Miner and one Brave killed.
Photo: Turn Four, To the North a second Party of miners appears, weapons drawn.
Turn 9 – the final small group of miners appear on the track, south of the mine. Several Forest Indians and Miners are in melee.
Turn 10 – more Close Range firing does not lead to a mass of casualties due to some poor dice throws when firing and lucky Casualty Savings Throws.
Turn 11 A patrol of Redcoats appears on the path, south of the mine.
At this stage with three groups on the table, I chose what would happen next from six options for a d6 dice throw.
1 – Miners fire on Redcoats
2 – Miners try to ally with Redcoats against Forest Indians
3 – Redcoats ally with Indians against Miners
4 – Redcoats fire in Forest Indians
5 – Forest Indians retreat away into the trees
6 – Indians fire on Redcoats
The outcome this time is Number Four, that the Forest Indians retreat whilst firing and being fired upon by the Miners.
Turn 12 – time to leave?
The Indians departing and Redcoats arriving, the Miners throw a d6 to see if they stay to fight (1-3) and be caught or retreat (4-6). They wisely throw a retreat dice number, leaving their equipment behind.
The fortunate Turkey watches the Redcoats load up and wheel away the Miners’ cart. It lives to gobble another day!
Before they departed, the Redcoats hastily used the gunpowder and explosives they found at the site to blow up the entrance to this troublesome mine good and proper, once and for all. If they can’t carry back all the Miners’ supplies on the cart, they will be buried for later or blown up in the mine entrance. No sense leaving it all for more Miners or the Forest Indians to find.
The fleeing Miners and Forest Indian Hunting Parties far away hear the sound and saw the plume of dust, smoke and rock spouting high above the trees as the Old Mine was sealed shut under a rockfall tumbling onto the Forest Path.
In their colonial policing role, the Redcoat Patrol gather up any dropped weapons and loaded them onto the Miners’ handcart. Removing any identification papers or personal effects that they find, the Redcoats quickly bury the Miners in one area.
That done, they bury the fallen Indians in shallow graves and cairns in another area, to keep them safe from wild beasts, knowing that the Forest Indians would return by nightfall to retrieve their fallen warriors and bury them according to the Forest Indian tradition.
By nightfall, even with the Miners’ Cart, the Redcoat Patrol should be back towards the safety of Fort MacGuffin by dusk.
Photo: The surviving two Hunting Parties of Forest Indians lurk to see what they can scavenge, including this small mystery barrel. Firewater? Explosives? Food?
Who knows what will happen next in the forests of North Gondal?
An enjoyable short solo skirmish game in cluttered terrain, handling three different groups of characters for once. Hope you enjoyed it too!
I am enjoying the rough continuity of tensions between skirmish episodes amongst the various character groups and their background motivations.
The 54mm figures and terrain used are the following:
The Forest Indians are my repaired and repainted mostly Britain’s Hollowcast metal Indians
The Redcoats are my paint conversions of Pound Store Plastic copies of WW2 German Infantry
Movement distances are again generally halved from the Close Wars appendix to reflect the smaller playing space available.
By chance, the Amazon.co.uk page for this book currently features in the sample pages / ‘see inside’ section a view of these Close Wars rules appendix – good choice, as you can see proof that it is a (reprint) book worth buying and reading!
Around the time in 2019 that Charlotte Bronte’s last surviving little book was saved by fundraising to be returned home to Haworth, I was lucky enough to spot this charming little handwritten book online. I bought it and asked its origins but the seller knew little about it, other than his father had picked it up somewhere.
Now The Warrior and Pacific August 1901 issue will be shared with the world to boost its tiny circulation and family readership.
The Bronte family wrote tiny book parodies of magazines and adverts of their early Nineteenth Century and Victorian times as part of their ImagiNations of Glasstown, Gondal, Angria and Gaaldine. These are housed at the Bronte Parsonage and have inspired my ImagiNations Games for many years.
Jump forward to the end of the Victorian era in 1901.
Entitled the Warrior and Pacific magazine, this tiny postcard sized ‘magazine’ appears to have been hand written and hand drawn around Maidstone in August 1901, possibly by a group of young boys or girls on summer holiday.
Some of the pen names are suitably grand – Montagu Fontenoy, John Fitzgerald, Major Pearl, Dick Iberville, Lady Sagasso …
Queen Victoria had died months earlier, this was written in the first Edwardian summer, August 1901.
Why was it written? It mimics and maybe mocks the thrilling, moralistic, mawkish and dull magazines of the day, based on the small sample that I have read. I have a few such random bound volumes of the Strand, Boys Own Paper and Girls Own Paper, Windsor Magazine etc. which make great Wellsian Little Wars hills.
Page 1 – Maidstone News Cs and B’s
“As the inhabitants of Maidstone seem to have left their native town to its solitary fate, Maidstone news is not flourishing. In fact about the newest thing about Maidstone is its emptiness.
The Creepers have joined the Boswells at Felixstowe where we hope the united forces will spend happy times.
This month saw two little Creepers born. Princess Winifred celebrates her eighth birthday on the twenty ninth and Princess Cecily her fifth on the nineteenth.
We congratulate them and wish them many happy returns on their respective birthdays.
We may expect in the near future to hear something definite about a certain Princess Eloise and a certain Earl Haynaught.”
Portraits of Cecily and Winifred appear on page Seven, alongside ‘Mary’ and a dog Maurice Bernard. The C’s and B’s are presumably the Creeper and Boswell families.
Are these real people?
A quick check on Ancestry and Find My Past on 1901 Census and elsewhere reveals no Winifred or Cecily Creeper born on those dates or at all anywhere, not just in Maidstone, although the Creeper surname does really exist. Similarly there is no R. Springfield in Maidstone but there were several Boswell families living in Maidstone in 1901 and 1911.
The main editor or illustrator appears to be one R. Springfield, ‘Warrior and Pacific, Maidstone.’
Page Ten and Eleven – A ‘Brothers Revenge’ and remedies for sunburn in the August issue 1901
Memories – “In the heart are many spots / sacred to Forget-Me-Nots”
Montagu Fontenoy? This may be an unconscious echo of “Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Montagu KB (died 1 August 1777) who was a British Army officer. He was the son of Brigadier-General Edward Montagu, colonel of the 11th Foot and Governor of Hull, nephew of George Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, and great-nephew to the celebrated minister Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax. He had an elder brother, Edward, who was killed at the Battle of Fontenoy, being lieutenant-colonel of the 31st Foot.” Or maybe just a good made up name?
Some of the portraits look as if they have sketched from magazines and may or may not be based on real people. Captain Earl Haynaught appears to be a made up name (the Earl of Hainault appears in medieval times in Froissart) but his portrait does look like Victorian army officer’s hat.
Other contributors include the grandly named Montagu Fontenoy, Major Pearl, Dick Iberville, Lady Sagasso and illustrator R. Springfield.
Page 2 – Editors Notes
“This is our grand August double seaside number and is generally considered the best paper of the month. We do not think that this year it will fall far below its usual high standard. We have many articles of interest this month that we have not had before and it bids fair to be a good success.”
“There is very extra special superfine, pluperfect competition specially designed for the pupils of Ronde College belonging to the Lower School and we hope to have a great many competitions for it. The prizes offered will be very handsome ones. There will only be two prizes for the two sets which are nearest right.”
Page 3 – ‘Model Mothers to Be – An Improvement on Home Chat Model Mothers’ by Lady Sagasso. An amusing little mock article about a warring celebrity couple and their darling only child that could have been written today …
Home Chat was obviously a style model to follow or mock – to make “an improvement on”. Alfred Harmsworth founded Home Chat which he published through his Amalgamated Press in 1895. The magazine ran until 1959. It was published as a small format magazine which came out weekly. As was usual for such women’s weeklies the formulation was to cover society gossip and domestic tips along with short stories, dress patterns, recipes and competitions. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Chat
Illustrators D. Iberville, H. Vaughan, C.U. Boswell, K. Selagein, S. Howard …
“It is an insoluble Chinese puzzle to Maidstone why they ever did it” is a good closing line to ‘Model Mothers to Be’.
Page Six and Seven – Dog breeds, royal portraits of Princess Winifred and Cecily (the Creeper sisters, with Cecily’s Fifth Birthday on the nineteenth, see page 1 Cs and B’s?) ,
Scene or art competitions ‘you have to sketch a scene in pencil or crayon. It may be a landscape, seascape, fire escape or any other scape. Size half this page. Paper provided’. R. Springfield.
Page Seven – Hints on Etiquette …
“When introduced to a complete stranger, there is no need, as a general rule, to shake hands, but to bow.”
“It is now fashionable for a bridegroom to wear lavender suede gloves”
“A gentleman should precede a lady in a crowded street, in order to clear a way for her.”
Page Twelve – ‘My First Attempt at Novel Writing’ a comic article by ‘John Fitzgerald’ – ‘extracts from JF’s novel next month’ – were there more issues of Warrior and Pacific?
Page Thirteen – Nature Competition’ – for the best pressed flower leaf or seaweed “sent to us before September 1st.” 
A Brother’s Revenge by Montagu Fontenoy
Stretched on the ground her lover lies,
With dagger drawn, her brother stands
“My brother, go” she sadly cries
“Oh Philip, hasten from these lands.”
He turns, then mutely kneeling down,
Beside that prostrate form,
With lips compressed, and beating heart,
She ———– his lifeblood warm.
She see the face she dearly loves
Now stamped with death’s grey hue
Grow fainter, fainter as she looks
With loving eyes and true.
One glance, one kiss, one gasp, one tear and all is o’er
She knows that brave heroic heart
Will beat on earth no more.
Then rising quickly from her knees
With a steadfast upward glance
She stoops beside the fallen man
And holds his fatal lance.
“I will not live my life” she cries,
With the passion of despair
Then with one sharp homeward thrust
She lies beside him there.
A variety of article styles are parodied or pastiches from dramatic poems, romantic gothic melodrama stories to nature notes and etiquette observations.
Page Fourteen – a portrait of Dick Iberville by R. Springfield ‘An Eminent Member of our Staff’
Page Fifteen – ‘By The Old Style’ [Styal?] story by Major Pearl: the heroine’s face “beautiful it is beyond doubt. Beautiful in the full beauty of womanhood and yet there is a winning girlish charm about it. She raises expressive blue grey eyes to the man’s face …”Etc, etc.
‘To be continued in our next’ issue – by Major Pearl – do any other issues of Warrior and Pacific exist?
Hold the Back Page! For the next 120 years …
I shall type out a few more of these strange little mock articles in the coming weeks.
Warrior and Pacific Magazine – Excellent for the ImagiNations?
I feel the Warrior and Pacific should have a travel writer or war correspondent. Maybe we can send an eminent member of our staff Dick Iberville or hope that Captain the Earl of Haynuaght is not too busy with Princess Eloise to provide some Churchill style dispatches from the front?
Warrior and Pacific – It ought to have a railway company named after it.
I feel sure that we should ‘find’ a few more back issues of the Warrior and Pacific, (c/o The Editor Maidstone) in future.
Why do I like this tiny very fragile magazine?
I really like the mixture of tones in the article, faithfully recreating or mocking the magazines of their day.
As a comic book writer and cartoonist at school, I was part of an underground 1980s fanzine / samizdat culture of small comics and magazines satirising events and caricaturing school and national personalities. These were often in small runs of a couple of hand stapled photocopies or hand-drawn originals circulated to avoid unwanted attention from “the authorities”. A scurrilous rival comic in the sixth form got busted, snitched or grassed to teachers (not by me, I hasten to add), shortly before we left school and expulsions were threatened.
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
Interesting comment from Rosemary Hall on the handmade little books, worth sharing:
A delightful find! It reminded me of a handwritten (but full-size) Edwardian magazine, written by members of a family, at least one of whom was awarded a military award – as featured in episode 3 of History Hunters, originally shown on Yesterday, and still, I think, available on catch-up (UKTV).
The writing of such magazines was not unusual, in the days before the availability of commercial entertainment – think of the Hyde Park Gate News, the magazine that Virginia and Vanessa Stephen (to become Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell) and their siblings produced during their childhood. &, while not a magazine, there was the Journal that Beatrix Potter kept for several years, a journal that was not just in tiny writing (like the Brontes’ little magazines) but in code.
Another example of the kind of writing produced for amusement by young people in the past is the collection of handwritten little books produced by the Nelson brothers in 19th century America. The collection was discovered by Pamela Russell when she was at an auction house in southern New Hampshire, and came across a ‘flimsy, old shoebox filled with tiny carefully handwritten books’ – a collection consisting of over 60 volumes!
They are described as comprising ‘an astounding, one-of-a-kind trove of stories and drawings [revealing]…what life was like for …[youngsters] growing up in rural 19th century America.’ The books are now in the collections of Amherst College. To find websites describing the collection, go to a search engine, and type in ‘Amherst Nelson brothers’- and on one website there are digital images of pages from some of the booklets (which always made me think of the Brontes.) You see how the brothers combined accounts of their ordinary daily life with imaginative embellishments.
North Gondal forests, 1870s – a supply column, deep in the forest, approach a stream
Ahead of the supply column, few yards over the old bridge, a large dead tree had fallen over the road, neatly blocking it.
Suspicious? Old dead trees fall over, and they had had heavy rain storms recently. The old plank bridge wasn’t looking in too good shape either. Must have happened overnight. The Forest Fort foot patrols should have noticed this damage and made good a repair.
They would need to proceed cautiously. Steady there! The weekly supply waggon for the Forest Fort (Fort McGuffin) tipped precariously over and backwards as it crossed the old wooden bridge over the stream.
The Redcoat troops of the Yestershire Regiment heard the sound as one of the wheels skewed off at an odd angle. Barrels and boxes tipped out onto the rough forest road and stream. Some of the bridge had washed away … or maybe the rope and timbers had been hacked away?
Assessing the damage to the wheel, Captain Snortt of the Yestershires, the officer in charge of the supply column, quickly sent the wagon horse and rider ahead to summon reinforcements and a repair team from the Forest Fort (Fort McGuffin).
As the horse and rider disappeared up the forest road, Snort sent his small column of seven redcoats to fan out and protect the cart whilst one of the Army Service Corps men Private Fuller tried to fix the axle and wheel.
The scattered barrels and boxes were stacked to make temporary cover positions.
They wedged the damaged axle on a haybale that they had been carrying for the horse.
Snortt knew that the Forests this far North had eyes everywhere. The local Native Indians were increasingly hostile, they did not enjoy their sacred hunting grounds being carved up by roads and forts, loggers and the land claims of settlers.
To add to his problems, the column included a rare civilian passenger, Kate the youngest daughter of Major McGuffin, the Fort Commander, who was travelling to visit her father. A fine hostage and bargaining chip she would make, if the Indians captured her.
Luckily for Snortt, young Kate was used to frontier life and quickly unpacked a pistol from the baggage, loaded it and watched the surrounding forest. There were spare rifles in the wagon if needed.
The Indian Scouts who were scattered around hunting through the forest return to their chiefs. They bring news. “The wagon is broken on the bridge.”
“The horse has gone to the fort.”
“Several redcoats have stayed to protect the wagon.”
“There are supplies and a passenger for the Fort.”
Meanwhile back at the bridge, the Redcoats of the Yestershires heard drums. The low sound of a native signal drum in the distance. Snortt was not sure how far away. Drums talking across the forest trees. Someone may have seen their difficulty and was even now summoning the local hunting parties.
Damn that bridge! Damn that wheel.
It looked to Snortt now that the fallen tree and the storm damaged bridge may not have been such natural events after all.
Meanwhile amongst the trees, the Indian Braves gathered with their spears and hunting rifles. Their tribal chief Old Wooden Legs spoke to the dancing Medicine Man who was blessing their hunt and ordered the drums be silenced. The Summoning was over.
“Let us harry the Redcoats and their wagons to remind them this is Our Land. There may be much of value in the Wagons – firesticks, metal bees* (bullets) and other important supplies for the Forest Fort, a Fort made from the timbers of our sacred trees.”
“Let us use the shadow and cover of these trees to approach the wagon and take something back in return for what these Redcoat devils have done to our forests. Civilians may prove good hostages. If the Redcoats attack or resist, we will use force to defend our forest.”
* The native Gondal Forest Indian name for bullets, “metal bees that sting death”.
Thus the die is set for a confrontation. In part 2 (or chapter 2?) of this small skirmish solo game I shall set out the terrain map, troop dispositions, aims and victory conditions.
Figures, Terrain and used.
Close Wars rules requires a cluttered terrain. Rather than clutter up the kitchen table with a 54mm Close Wars game and have to move it for meals, I wanted to leave this set up to play over several days squeezed in next to my desk and painting table.
I put sheets of felt over my usual portable hex boards for a change, using some chunky bound old volumes for hills. I used strips of felt for added streams and paths, exploiting the dips added some slate chips and chunks from the garden, some twigs and railway modelling bushes.
The damaged bridge was quickly made from a raft of coffee stirrers, superglued and ‘painted’ with felt tips. The bridge provides a “pinch point” between hills and stream for the wagon.
Hopefully it all keeps some of that improvised terrain spirit of our childhood games, of H. G. Wells’ Little Wars and early Donald Featherstone War Games 1962 (the book from which the two page ‘Close Wars’ rules appendix came).
The only large sheet of felt in the house when I was a child, a beautiful thick dark green, was the heat protector under the table cloth for our family dining table, so borrowing this or the dining table itself (above or below) meant toy soldier games had to fit in and finish around family mealtimes.
For a few moments I considered this as a garden game, but with creaky knees and changeable weather, I decided against this. The trees I use for pop-up 54mm games would not like being left outside.
The forest trees are beautiful preformed preprinted thick card ones from Bold Frontiers Australia, a recent gift to aid my Close Little Wars forest games. The three tree sets bring a real pop-up 3D picture book feel to this forest landscape.
The scenario of ‘Wheel Meet Again’, the broken wagon to defend in hostile territory is loosely based on one by the late Stuart Asquith that I used as a memorial game last November. Add a dash of Last of The Mohicans.
Gondal is a borrowed ImagiNation, one of the four kingdoms on a North Pacific ‘Tropical Yorkshire’ island created in the 1830s and 1840s by the Bronte family as youngsters. Other Bronte versions of ‘Tropical Yorkshire’ include Glass Town and Angria (roughly West Africa), whilst Gaaldine is Tropical Yorkshire on two South Pacific islands. Gondal is similar to my ImagiNations continents of North, Central and South Generica, roughly equivalent to the historical Americas.
I don’t have any French Indian War / Revolutionary War bicorne figures or redcoats in 54mm at the moment. The BMC 54mm ones are in a box patiently awaiting painting, a year on from Christmas 2019. Instead my 42mm Pound Store Redcoats have stepped in and borrowed the scout trek cart. This overloaded wagon is pulled by a flat cavalryman who disappears to take news to the Forest Fort, Fort McGuffin.
A few smaller Britains hollow-cast figures were added in. The Fort Commander’s daughter is a plastic seaside pirate girl with concealed pistol behind her back, her faithful hound from the old Tradition of London Victorian street figures.
Barrels are buttons from the local craft shop, hay from Britain’s farm series, the baggage from the old Herald cowboy raft.
I do have a host of repaired, tuppenny based hollow-cast 50 to 54mm Indians that I have repainted over the last two years. I have generally chosen the non Britain’s Indian figures as they tend to be a little smaller in the mid 40s to 50mm size.