November 11, 2023

A Gentleman's War - Crimea 1854

I've been in a bit of a painting funk this year. Although the blog often gets neglected, I've normally continued hobbying "off camera", contenting myself with quick Facebook posts on various groups. For some reason, I've painted almost nothing this year apart from a handful of models to finish my King of Buccaneers 4Play PDF (see the last post) waaaaaay back in January.

Something needed to change. I bought a whole new set of paints (Two Thin Coats from Duncan Rhodes). My amazing wife suggested we turn the spare bedroom into a dedicated studio (more on that in a future post... I'm still arranging things) so I have a whole new room for my hobby. I have a pile of projects that could use attention (a handful of units to finish my Boyne collection, British for the AWI, my SYW Imagi-nations, the Sudan... sigh), but somehow I couldn't get motivated to tackle them. What I needed was something to jumpstart the painting routine that used to be part of my weekly life.

I turned to the piles of books that are scattered through nearly ever room in my house for inspiration. There HAD to be something around here to give me a kick!

A Gentleman's War. Howard Whitehouse... I love the book he wrote on the Colonial era (Battle in Africa 1879-1914). Did I ever read A Gentleman's War? When did I even buy it? Skipping ahead a bit, this was it! The rules are fairly conventional and owe quite a bit to Charles Grant and Donald Featherstone with the addition of a turn mechanic inspired by Larry Brom's The Sword and the Flame (all freely admitted by the author). If you've read my blog in the past, you know I'm a fan of all of these. The book is a delightful read and provided the spark I was looking for.

The core rules are presented for the H.G. Wells era in the decades before World War I, but will work for any Horse & Musket period (and there are chapters dedicated to earlier periods). I have models for several different conflicts in this broad category and if it were just a question of playing games with the rules I could have gotten stuck in right away. Tilting at these windmills began as a quest to get me painting and for that I needed something new. Having just read Flashman at the Charge (again), the choice was an easy one. I toddled off the scour the web for 28mm scale models for the Crimean War!

There seem to be several good choices, but I'll skip the process I went through and just say I settled on Great War Miniatures. I always enjoy painting sculpts by Dave Andrews and Aly Morrison. I am planning out to start with VERY small armies... three or four units of infantry, two or three units of cavalry, and a couple of guns per side. I'm not basing the collection on any particular battle or brigade and will start with Russians and British. They will probably end up fighting over some fictional corner of the Ukraine far removed from the famous historical battlefields.

To ease back in, I picked the Russians first as the great coats would make for easy brushwork. My initial goal (and initial purchase) was:

  • Two Units of Line Infantry (12 models each)
  • One Unit of Grenadiers (12 models)
  • Two Units of Dragoons (6 models each)
  • One Unit of Cossacks (6 models)
  • Two Guns (1 gun plus 3 crew each)

I'm not a huge fan of the appearance of 12-model infantry units on the table, but another goal of this project is to realize completion. A Gentleman's War allows for larger units and if I manage to finish both sides, I'll explore expanding the infantry to 18 models. I am basing figures individually so I'll be able to reorganize things easily. I will also be able to use the collection with Donnybrook!

So here are my first two units...

In my head canon, these are "companies" because I just can't think of 12-model battalions, but they will be grouped into "brigades" for game purposes. I intend to paint separate command figures who will be scattered through the brigade, creating an appearance similar to my SYW units

I DID enjoy painting these and have the next models on the desk. I'll take some proper photos on terrain once I get a few more units ready. More (fingers crossed) soon!