Monday 13 January 2020

"Shattered" French bases: Sint Vaalben, 1688

From the letters and diaries of the Marquis de Montchevreuil, Grand √Čcuyer to His Highness The King of France, French Flanders, 1688

"When an entire Victory is obtain’d, he who hath lost the day should not lose his Courage too, but ought to gather up his Shipwreck, rally his dispers’d and broken troops, get new recruits, dissemble his losses, encourage his party and draw to a head again; these are things practis’d by all intelligent Generals."  

Sir James Turner, Pallas Armata, Chapter XXII

I never had much time for English or Scottish writers on military matters.  Most of their experiences of battle were in the British Wars, before I became a soldier.  The King of England had sent companies and regiments to His Majesty's armies in French Flanders in '72, but it was a strange business.  The forces were tiny compared with the French regiments under our command, even if their commanders were of a most striking appearance.  But, more of Lord Monmouth another day.  

It is enough here to mention that writers such as Sir James Turner, however well-schooled in the warfare of the classical ancients, can never have seen a true "Shipwreck" on the Field of battle.  It is, of course, hard to "rally ... dispers’d and broken troops", and still harder to recover those formations once fully shattered in the Field, the Officers dead, the standards lost and the troops utterly spent.   

Being able to "...dissemble ones losses..." is, naturally, something I attempt to do on every occasion - whether at the gambling salon or on the Field of Mars.  But one's enemies are bound to conflate a gruesome butcher's bill in retaliation.  And as for the sentiment that "...he who hath lost the day should not lose his Courage too...", my thoughts are that such sentiments do rather depend on the extend to which the enemy has shot musket balls into your body or pierced your flesh with a rapier blade.

Fourteen years gone, and I can still see the place where the Flemish cavaliers had nearly killed me.  Not every single moment, perhaps, as much fades over time - as I'm sure you know.  But I remember more than enough to bring back the sharp pain in my shoulder and side whenever I think of that nasty, drab little Flemish village, nestling like a toad in the Autumn mud.  It had been raining, of course throughout the whole of that day before the village of Sint Vaalben.  It had still been raining when the Flemish horse had broken into the flank of the cavalry du Roi, scattering my squadrons in their moment of supposed triumph, our mounts forced down under the press of horses as we were pushed back into our infantry.

Hard to "....gather up his Shipwreck...." after floundering on such muddy shoals, Sir James.  


So, a brief snippet from the black bile-laden pen of our French companion, the Marquis de Montchevreuil to accompany some shattered bases of French foot and horse for the use on the tabletop.  Much as I love Sir James Turner's "Pallas Armata", I do wonder if some of his encouragement seems to be in the vein of an armchair general.  More from Sir James later this year, I hope...

In the meantime, for anyone wondering if these form part of Challenge X..... No, dear friends, they do not!!  I painted these figures last Autumn, but never got around to posting them on the blog, or anywhere.  

Part of my 2020 plans for the Blog is posting quite a lot of painting I've done but never got around to putting up here on the Blog.  What holds me up more often than not isn't so much the painting as creating the fiction and snippets of angry letters and diary entries which our Spanish and French fictional companions write to accompany the photos!  I know, it's strange - but sometimes life's like that, dear Friends!

So we have three "flight" or "shattered" bases for use with the French troops in the Field.  The standard being waved around is the Regiment de Flandres, which was a regiment of good-standing and (I think) one of the petit-Vieux regiments in the French army, denoting a very respectable but not ancient regimental lineage.  Whatever their provenance, they are having a very bad day.

The troops are from a variety of manufacturers, being 1st Corps, Wargames Foundry, Dixon Miniatures and Perry Miniatures.  The drum is by Redoubt, with some extra green-stuff denoting a ripped drum-skin.  I added some extra green-stuff feathers on a couple of figures, but apart from that the troops are shown as you can purchase them.  The Bases are from Warbases and the finial is from Bicorne.  The lovely tufts are from WSS Scenics.  The standard is hand-painted.

I love doing these bases, which can then take the place of routed formations on the tabletop battlefield.  While I hope they're still respectful, they do point to seventeenth century battles being unpleasant and bloody affairs, as well as raising issues for how formations of routed troops would move off the Field, or remain on it, during the battle.

And next time, I'll be adding some things from Challenge X.  Hope you can join me here for that, later this week.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you and your friends and families all have a wonderful 2020 and thank you all for following this blog over the past year, and indeed the past decade.

As you'll have seen, over the last year my blogging has become less frequent - which is a great shame as it is something I definitely enjoy.  No doubt it's because - like many of you - I've been more active on Twitter than Blogger.  And the distractions of modern life, family, work and commuting have, again, been, present.

But, all this being said, I looked back at my blog over the past few days and enjoyed re-reading some of the nonsense I've been posting over the past year, a great deal of which has been about the fictional town of Laarden, set in the late seventeenth century Spanish Netherlands.

The good news for 2020 is that I don't intend anything different.  Shock... surprise... bewilderment!  No major announcements, or New Year's resolutions, Sidney?  No suggestions of any new periods, or changes of social media?  No, dear readers, none at all.

OK...OK.... I do promise to try and blog here more often - but that's only the softest of new Year's resolutions, I think.  But apart form that, I'd like to bring you more painting, figures, modelling and fiction from the strange, distant, through-a-glass-darkly world of 1688 Flanders.

So, with that in mind, perhaps this year you might: 
  • come face to face with the fearsome Gendarmerie of Le Roi Soleil;
  • trudge along the muddy roads of Flanders with a group of straggling soldiers;
  • witness the miracle of Sint Jacobus' golden fishing net;
  • inhabit the shadows of a town in darkness with a man who cannot be seen;
  • trade and negotiate for lucrative tulip contracts on the Laarden bourse;
  • discover the strange secret of a Prince of the Blood.

All that, dear readers, and much more nonsense besides...

A degree of this foolishness is being driven by Curt's Tenth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, but hopefully this year's fun will stretch long past late March when the doors close on what will be another wonderful Challenge.

And, as this Blog has been going for almost a decade, since 26 January 2010 (..I know, how crazy is that?...), I'll be looking back at some of the past nonsense I've been posting here over the last ten years.

So plenty to look forward to in 2020, and (hopefully) something for everyone.

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