Monday, 10 July 2017

The future?

A quick update - like others in this hobby, and indeed many other hobbies, I have used Photobucket as an image hosting service.  By now I expect most readers will have heard about Photobucket's change of terms and the global reaction to its removal of (largely) free third-party hosting services.  Photobucket's decision at the end of July to vary their terms and conditions without any notice, so causing millions (I assume, using their own published figures) of photos to vanish from blogs and forums, has not gone down well.  As plenty of others have said, this has cost them the goodwill and trust of customers, even those who are prepared to pay the "ransom demand" or are, like me, on existing plans.  I have a paid account with Photobucket: I have been on their "plus-20" plan for several years, paying around USD 60 a year.  I've no idea whether the company made money out of that USD 60, but I didn't mind paying an annual subscription for the use of an enhanced service with greater bandwith that presumably ultimately cost Photobucket something to provide.  USD 60 seemed reasonable; I'd probably be prepared to pay USD 80-100.  However, what I'm not prepared to do is pay the USD 400 that Photobucket are now asking for. 
 
Now there may in the near future be a sea-change in people's opinion, and a realisation that for something as important in our lives as social media activity a price has to be paid.  I'm not the only person who's happily been blogging and Facebooking away for years on the basis that doing so is basically free.  I even started a Twitter account earlier in the year, largely to berate the train company that operates my local commute (not in my own name, of course - my Twitter persona is an Australian-born South African called Wesley who likes cricket and ballet; he sounds fascinating and I'd love to meet him).  That's also free.  I don't even have to pay for my mobile phone - work picks up that tab.  All of us enjoy spending a great deal of time using services, websites and online accounts that we haven't had to pay for; and now we resent being told that, actually, the people who provide these things want to earn some money from doing so.  It was about 2-3 years ago that I noticed just how many newspapers and journals now charge for access to websites that had been free to use since the internet was invented.  Next, it seems, will be the turn of social media providers to move to a similar model.  I don't think that stamping one's foot and shouting "it's been free so far; how dare you charge for it now" is that helpful, although it's certainly understandable.  These providers are businesses and if advertising, which brought in revenue on the basis of the numbers of users who could be targeted, is no longer proving financially viable then I can see why other avenues should be explored.  Nor do I think that shouting "it's corporate greed" is really justified.  The market sets its own price, and I sense that people will shortly have to decide just how much their social media activity is worth to them.
 
So I understand that nothing in this world is "free".  But my feeling at the moment, given all the other claims on my wallet, is that no blog is worth USD 400 each year. Photobucket have described this amount as being "competitive", and maybe it is when compared with the cost of building your own hosting website from scratch.  But for the casual internet user, it's currently unjustifiable.  My plan was paid for in advance, so I understand that the photos on this blog will not vanish until that plan expires.  I'm trying to work out exactly when that will be - I think in November/early December, but possibly earlier.  But unless Photobucket drastically reduce their new fee, at that point my images will disappear and this blog will become redundant.  So like many other people I'm currently trying to find a cost-effective alternative for third-party hosting, although I've noticed that a couple of popular alternatives don't appear to allow third party hosting.  For the reasons above I don't have much hope that we aren't seeing the beginning of a major change in the cost of social media usage, and that what's "free" today is unlikely to be so in two years time.  In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for alternative hosting options....

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Thomas Stirling

Thomas Stirling was born in 1733 into a family that held the baronetcy of Ardoch, a place near Perth in the Scottish highlands.  Thomas was the second son and received his first commission in October 1747, shortly after his 14th birthday, from the Prince of Orange as ensign in the 1st Battalion of General Marjoribanks' Regiment, which was with the Scots Brigade in Dutch service.  Ten years later he raised a company for the 42nd Foot, which was mustering to head off to the Americas, and was promoted captain.  He stayed with the regiment until the end of the AWI.  He saw action in the F&IW, in Canada and the Caribbean, taking part in the capture of Havana in 1762. In August 1765 Stirling and his company travelled from Fort Pitt in western Pennsylvania to the Illinois country to accept the transfer of Fort DeChartes, situated on the east bank of the Mississippi River, from the French.  Several months Stirling and his men were relieved and they sailed down the Mississippi to New Orleans and Pensacola.  They arrived back in New York in June 1766 after a trip of over 3000 miles.  The following year Stirling and the 42nd transferred to Ireland for garrison duty, where they remained until the commencement of the AWI.   Stirling became the lieutenant-colonel of the regiment in 1771.

The Black Watch returned to America in 1776, having spent time raising fresh recruits in Scotland after news of the rebellion reached Britain.  Stirling appears to have been at pains to train his regiment in frontier-style fighting.  The regiment fought in the New York campaigns of 1776 and 1777.  Stirling and his men performed notably in the attack on Fort Washington in November 1776 - General Howe wrote in his General Orders that he "is extremely sensible of the Universal Spirit and Alacrity which evidently animated all the Troops that were Yesterday engaged, and desires his particular thanks may be given ... To Lieut.-Col. Sterling, and the 42d. Regiment...".  In June 1777 Stirling, like other senior officers, began receiving brigade commands, initially comprising the 33nd Foot and the two battalions of the Black Watch.  In February 1779 he commanded troops from those regiments and the light companies of the Guards in a raid on Elizabethtown, New Jersey.  This time Stirling received plaudits from the American side - the New Jersey Journal stated that "Colonel Stirling who commanded the detachment shewed himself throughout the whole expedition not only the officer, but the well bred gentlemen..."

On 1 May 1779 Stirling was appointed to an honorary position, as Aide-de-Camp to the King.  In June he was breveted to the rank of brigadier general and he was given what was nicknamed the "Royal Brigade", of the 7th Foot (the Royal Fusiliers), the 23rd Foot (the Royal Welsh Fusiliers) and the 42nd (the Royal Highlanders).  However, this brigade was sadly short-lived and the other regiments were soon replaced with the 63rd and 64th.  In 1780 Stirling was badly wounded by a musket ball in the leg in a skirmish near the Connecticut Farms during Knyphausen's attack on New Jersey.  Surgeons did not expect him to survive; he did, but his days on active service days were over.  Letters to his relatives show that his recovery was slow and painful, but he successfully managed to prevent amputation of his leg.   

Despite his wound, he continued to progress up the ranks.  He became colonel of the 71st Foot in 1782 and later that year was promoted to major-general.  In 1790 he became colonel of the 41st Foot.  Promotion to lieutenant-general came in May 1796 and finally to full general in 1801.  In 1799 he succeeded his elder brother as baronet of Ardoch, but Thomas was unmarried and childless and so the baronetcy came to end when he died in 1808.  

This is the second of the King's Mountain Miniatures Highland officers I painted last year, following on from the 71st Foot's James Baird.  Stirling appears as a brigade commander in the Harlem Heights scenario in the 3rd Caliver/"British Grenadier" scenario book.  As I noted with the Baird figure, the right arm is separate so you can position it how you like and this pose is different to Baird's.  I probably should have given Stirling powdered hair; but to be honest, I hadn't decided who this figure was going to be when I painted it!  But it's good that finally, after over 10 years, my 42nd Foot finally have their commander.

1 figure. Painted April 2016.

 
 

Monday, 26 June 2017

North Carolina Light Dragoons

A unit of North Carolina Light Dragoons was first raised in April 1775.  Originally a militia unit, the regiment was the attached to the Continental Army and was present at Brandywine and Germantown.  The regiment was disbanded in 1779 but then re-organised alongside other existing militia units into a new regiment on the NC State establishment under the command of Colonel Fran├žois DeMalmedy, a colleague of Pulaski who was seeking employment in the South as a cavalry commander.  The regiment fought in various engagements in the southern theatre, including Stono Ferry, Cowpens, New Garden Meeting House and Eutaw Springs.  At some stage after the last engagement DeMalmedy was killed in a duel by another officer.  The regiment seems to have dissolved as a result of the loss of its colonel and the troops were reassigned to other units.

I painted this unit simply to use up my remaining Eureka "ragged Continental cavalry" figures.  I hunted around for a cavalry unit I didn't already have (or which I intended to do with Perry figures) for a while before I came across the North Carolina Light Dragoons.  This unit is not specifically referenced in any of the published "British Grenadier!" scenarios, but I suspect it falls within the 20-figure "militia cavalry" at New Garden.  Information on the uniform for this regiment is very thin. I found one un-sourced reference to dark blue coats faced red, and there's a Don Troiani painting of a "rifle dragoon" in a hunting shirt and tarleton helmet (which is very similar to my Dabney's Legion), but that was it.  I went with the Eureka "jockey caps" because I had those left over and wanted something different to the tarletons/crested helmets/floppy hats that I've been painting recently.

So this is the end (probably) of Eureka's cavalry figures in my collection.  This range has served very well for both American and Loyalist units and I now have 70 of these figures - 52 Americans and 18 Loyalists.  I raved about these figures when they first came out and I can't recommend them too highly.  Even with the more recent Perry Continental Dragoon releases, these figures still have something special to add, as the separate hats/helmets and the mix of coats and hunting shirts enable you to create pretty much anything you like, particularly for state, militia and legion troops.  I confess to a preference for the charging figures, as with the other swords-shouldered pose it's sometimes difficult to put floppy hats on the figures' heads.  I do have one Eureka figure left, which I'm hoping to turn into a personality of some sort.

Currently on the workbench are Perry cavalry and something a bit different, as per the final photo below....

4 figures.  Painted May-June 2017.


 
 

Friday, 16 June 2017

South Carolina Dragoons

Many Loyalist units were raised in the South and these figures represent generic Loyalist cavalry. I like to give my units specific regimental designations, so I'm calling this one the South Carolina Dragoons, even though it's designed to cover a variety of units.  Finding specific information on these sorts of units is difficult.  The Royal Provincial website lists 3 units of "South Carolina Light Dragoons" but provides no details.  The site also refers to a unit of "North Carolina Independent Dragoons".  These units seem to have be raised in 1781 and operated either as scouts or mounted infantry.  We do know that at least some of the South Carolina Loyalist cavalry was commanded by Major John Coffin, formerly of the Loyalist infantry regiment the New York Volunteers. 

I wanted something for use in two "British Grenadier!" scenarios: the "South Carolina Dragoons" at Eutaw Springs (8 figures) and the "New York Dragoons" at Hobkirk's Hill (6 figures).  It's possible that these two units are in fact the same, as there is speculation that whilst the "New York Dragoons" are recorded as having been at Hobkirk's Hill this unit may have been confused with the infantry New York Volunteers and that the cavalry present were from South Carolina.  I thought that if dressed in proper cavalry uniforms the troopers might have sought to emulate British regiments like the 16th and 17th Light Dragoons.  So tarleton helmets seemed appropriate, although chum Brendan Morrissey suggested to me that floppy hats would probably have been worn as well as, or instead of, metal helmets.  I decided to use more Eureka "ragged Continental" figures (which I've used for other Loyalist cavalry units, the East Florida Rangers and  Emmerich's Chasseurs).  Options for facings colours included blue, which would have been suitable for a New York unit, and yellow, which was more suggestive of South Carolina as it's known that some of the infantry Loyalists had yellow facings.  Given that I have the blue-faced 16th Light Dragoons in a similar uniform, I decided to go with yellow.

I'm almost there with British and Loyalist cavalry now - just the 17th Light Dragoons in their northern theatre dress and the British Legion left to do.

8 figures.  Painted April-May 2017.

 
 


Monday, 5 June 2017

1st Continental Dragoons (1)

This unit was raised in June 1776 in Virginia, and was originally on the state's establishment as the Virginia Light Horse Regiment.  In November is was taken into the Continental Army and re-designated as the 1st Continental Light Dragoons on 25 November 1776.  One of the original troops commanders was Captain Henry Lee, who in 1778 was promoted to Major and authorised to raise his own legion of infantry and cavalry.  The regiment was present at Brandywine, Germantown and Guilford Court Horse.  In January 1781 the 1st Dragoons were re-organised into a legion, with four mounted and  two dismounted troops, and was re-named the 1st Legionary Corps.  The regiment was disbanded in November 1783.

The 1st Light Dragoons are commonly portrayed in brown faced green coats and leather caps.  I had two Foundry dragoon figures left over and I decided to use them for an alternative interpretation of the unit's uniform to that which is commonly portrayed (e.g. by in the Perry and Fife & Drum ranges).  This different uniform of blue faced green coats and the standard brass helmet is shown in a Don Troiani painting, with the caption "Fall-Winter 1780-1781".  I've seen other references to this uniform in descriptions of Greene's army at Cowpens.  Maybe this is a new uniform issued at the time of the re-designation into the 1st Legionary Corps.  In the published "British Grenadier!" orbats, the 1st Dragoons appear at Cowpens (4 figures), Weitzel's Mill (2) and Eutaw Springs (2).  Given that Cowpens was fought in January 1781, Weitzel's Mill in March and Eutaw in September, I thought I could justify using these figures.  Other references refer to the post-1781 uniform coats as being blue faced red, but given that I already have figures in that uniform I decided to go with Troiani and have green facings.  With a unit of only 2 figures I don't have enough for Cowpens, so at some stage I will paint 4 in the earlier uniform of brown faced green coats. 

2 figures. Painted May 2017.



Sunday, 21 May 2017

Philadelphia Light Horse

The Light Horse of the City of Philadelphia, or "Philadelphia Light Horse", was established in 1774.  It was a volunteer militia unit, formed by "a group of prosperous gentlemen" (according to Uniformology's book on the Continental Light Dragoons).  The troopers bought their own equipment and provided their own horses.  The coat was "rust brown" faced white, while the cap was of black leather with a buck/fox tail crest.  Apparently the unit's flag was presented by the first captain of the troop, Abraham Markoe, who had previously served in the army of Denmark.  However, King Christian II then issued an edict banning Danish citizens from fighting in foreign wars, and so Markoe had to be replaced.  
 
During the AWI the troop oftern acted at Washington's personal bodyguard and messenger service.  The unit was present at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown.  Being essentially a militia unit it was never formally disbanded at the end of the war and survives today as Troop A, 1st Squadron, 104th Cavalry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard.  It is, apparently, the oldest military unit of US that is still in service.   

The Philadelphia Light horse don't appear in any of the published "British Grenadier!" scenarios, but I've wanted to paint up this unit for years, largely because I love the brown coats with their white facings and the bucktails and light blue turbans on the helmets.  I can always use them to add numbers in those 1:5 ratio scenarios where a lot of cavalry are required on both sides.  I had some Foundry Continental Dragoon figures left over and was originally intending to paint just one stand of 2 figures.  But I then realised that I'd bought the unit's flag (from Adolfo Ramos), so I had to pick up a command pack from Foundry at Salute this year.  The means I still have 2 Foundry figures left over that I'll need to find a use for.  The coats were painted with Foundry's "Bay Brown 42" palette.  Sources refer to rather fancy brown shabraques with embroidery and white silk finishes.  I decided against painted those on the horses and instead used my normal blue-grey colours to suggest more work-a-day furniture. 

4 figures.  Painted April-May 2017.  Flag by Adolfo Ramos.





Friday, 5 May 2017

Pulaski's Legion (2)

This is the infantry element of Pulaski's Legion (the mounted troops being here).  In the "British Grenadier!" scenarios it appears as a unit of 6 skirmishers at Savannah.  So far as I can tell, the only way to model this unit in 25mm without doing your own conversion work is to use KMM figures as they provide heads specifically for the Legion (KMM-08).  This then gives you a choice for modelling the Legion infantry - you can use the generic Continental infantry figures or the newer dismounted dragoons.  I chose the latter as KMM's proprietor, Bill Nevins, had sent me several packs of these figures and I was keen to try them out.  The Continental infantry figures are probably more appropriate for the specific Legion infantry (as opposed to Legion cavalry who have dismounted to skirmish), but given that only 6 figures are required I don't really think it matters.  But if you want to make up a unit of Pulaski's Legion infantry, then the figures in overalls and packs would be perfect. 

I have 7 figures here because I wanted to add the officer as well (there's also an eigth figure in the range which isn't present in the unit - a standing loading figure).  The rank and file figures are based in threes as second-grade skirmishers under the "British Grenadier!" rules.  I suppose I could add three more figures and use this unit as the dismounted version of the cavalry, given that charging the fortifications at Savannah isn't really something any sane gamer is going to try (historically that didn't work out well for Pulaski).  Like the mounted troops, I painted these figures about a year ago.  I did take photos at the time but I wasn't really satisfied with them and decided to wait until the rest of the Legion was finished before having another go.  To the right is a picture of the entire Legion, with Pulaski at its head.  As I've said, these troops only feature in the Savannah scenario (although the Legion, or parts thereof, were engaged in skirmishes at other times), which is the orbat I have half an eye on at the moment.  I'm currently working on more cavalry for both sides and I've also just added a couple of figures to my 3rd Continental Dragoons, to bring them up to strength for the Indian Field scenario - you can see those here.     

7 figures.  Painted April 2016.