Monday, March 24, 2014

Expanding the Library, not the Lead Pile - the Challenge Economics.

Curt has recently posted some interesting statistics about the economic impetus of the recently completed I've been pretty good about restraining my purchase impulse during the Challenge. The only figures I purchased were a set of Foundry Darkest Africa European Ladies Two off ebay, rebranded as Roses of the Empire - DA018:

Terrain and base purchases were a bit more extravagant. I bought 60 2mmx25mm diameter and 20 3mmx30mm diameter slotted bases from Warbases, along with a bunch of their counters to use for missile salvo markers in Silent Death and Full Thrust. I also bought one of their Long Walls from the Middle Eastern range. It's a bit thin for anything but a building wall, but it's inexpensive, ships well, fit together nicely and with a textured spray paint, wash and dry brush will look splendid.
I also purchased a 28mm domed Middle Eastern building off ebay. It's roughly three stories, with two balconies/verandahs, and the option of either a dome or a flat roof. I am setting up to do mostly skirmishish (1 snuffy figure represents roughly two real snuffies, and "heroes" are 1:1), so buildings that allow figure placement inside them are essential. 

 I also purchased two Ziterdes Desert Sanctuaries (for about half retail) off Amazon. Unfortunately, they're one piece castings, so they'll have to serve as towers and impenetrable areas. I'm thinking of making a compound with four of them, connected by some Warbases walls.
But the main expenditures have been in books (and paying off that pesky library fine, because they expect the damn things back). The following recently arrived from Amazon:
  • Beyond the Khyber Pass: The Road to British Disaster in the First Afghan War ~ John H. Waller
  • Donald Featherstone's Wargaming Campaigns ~ John Curry
  • Donald Featherstone's Solo Wargaming ~ John Curry
The following are also on order:
  • Richard Simkin's Uniforms of the British Army: The Cavalry Regiments ~ W. Y. Carman
  • The Seleucid Army: Organization and Tactics in the Great Campaigns (Cambridge Classical Studies) ~ Bezalel Bar-Kochva
Half-Price Books also made the mistake of issuing a 50% off coupon, and it was promptly pillaged. I think the building is still standing, but don't hold me to it. The haul:
  • Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire ~ Robin Waterfield
  • The Victor's Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium ~ David Potter
  • That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present ~ Robert and Isabelle Tombs
  • Fusiliers: Eight Years with the Redcoats in America ~ Mark Urban
  • Napoleon's Immortals: The Imperial Guard and its Battles, 1804-1815 ~ Andrew Uffindell
  • Blue-Water Empire: The British in the Mediterranean Since 1800 ~ Robert Holland
  • The Opium Wars: The Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another ~ W. Travis Hanes III and Frank Sanello
  • The Afghan Way of War: How and Why They Fight ~ Robert Johnson
  • Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, The West and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War ~ Stephen Platt
  • Invading Mexico: America's Continental Dream and the Mexican War, 1846-1848 ~ Joseph Wheelan
  • Hero of Beecher Island: The Life and Military Career of George A. Forsyth ~ David Dixon
  • The Wilderness Campaign ~ Gary W. Gallagher, Ed
  • Setting the Desert on Fire: T. E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918 ~ James Barr
  • Operation Kronstadt: The True Story of Honor, Espionage, and the Rescue of Britain's Greatest Spy, The Man with the Hundred Faces ~ Harry Ferguson
I also passed on a few books about the Victorians and Dickensian London. In retrospect, they were both possibly worthy purchases, and I may snap them up later. Generally, I prefer hardbacks to paperbacks - they last better, and travel better.

So that's my contributions to the wargaming economy during Challenge-Time. Anything picked up at the SYW convention this weekend will be counted separately.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fourth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge Entry Number Four: Comanche

My fourth submission to Curt's Fourth Painting Challenge was Comanche, one of the few survivors of Custer's Battalion (C, E, F, I and L Companies, 7th Cavalry) at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

My 7th Cavalry work is as extensively researched as I can get. I try to pick figures that match the descriptions and photos of the men of the 7th. I consult They Died With Custer: Soldiers’ Bones from the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Archaeology, History, and Custer's Last Battle: The Little Big Horn Reexamined, and Men with Custer: Biographies of the 7th Cavalry : June 25, 1876 looking for descriptions of skin color, hair color, stature, date of enlistment and service record before I do any painting. Comanche was no exception.

Comanche was purchased for $90, the going rate for Army remount purchases. He was captured somewhere on the southern Great Palins, taken to St. Louis, and sold to the Army. He went through breaking in at the remount station, then was shipped to Ft. Leavenworth, and part of a batch of 41 horses selected by LT Tom Custer for the 7th. At Ellis Station, he was selected as the personal mount of Capt Myles Keogh.

Brevet Lt. Colonel (substantive Captain) Myles Keogh, 7th US Cavalry
How Comanche got his name is unknown. From
There is some controversy as to how Comanche got his name. The most widely accepted story is that on September 13, 1868 Capt Keogh was involved in a skirmish with a band of Comanche Indians. During the fight the horse was wounded by an arrow in the right hind quarter. The arrow was later removed, and the wound healed. After the battle, a trooper who witnessed the incident claimed that when the arrow struck, the horse "yelled just like a Comanche" If this were true, then Comanche would have been in Keogh's possession for over four months without having been assigned a name.  This seems to be an unlikely scenario, as just with a newborn infant, a name or method of identifying the child is quickly established.  Another story might explain the naming delay.  So it goes, Keogh was on a scouting mission near Fort Larned, Kansas.  During a skirmish with the Comanches, Keogh's horse was killed.  Supposedly his Lt. dismounted one of the enlisted men and turned the mount over to Keogh, who kept the horse from that point on. The horse was then named Comanche, and became Keogh's favorite mount from that point on. It is stated that at that time, with the exception of the officers' horses, it was not customary to give names to cavalry horses.
Comanche missed many of the major battles of the 7th before the Little Bighorn Campaign. In 1867, Keogh served as the CO of Fort Wallace. During the Washita campaign, Keogh was on the staff of BGEN Alfred Sully. Keogh and Comanche were at Fort Totten, assigned to the International Boundary Commission, and was on leave for the 1874 Yellowstone expedition. After the Battle of the Little Bighorn,  Comanche was found on the battlefield, put on the Far West with the rest of the 7th Cavalry's wounded, and nursed back to health at Fort Abraham Lincoln.

Comanche at Fort Abraham Lincoln, fully recovered
In 1878, Col Samuel Sturgis, the commander of the 7th, put Comanche on retired status:
"Headquarters Seventh United States Cavalry, Fort A. Lincoln, D. T., April 10th, 1878. General Orders No. 7.

(1.) The horse known as 'Comanche,' being the only living representative of the bloody tragedy of the Little Big Horn, June 25th, 1876, his kind treatment and comfort shall be a matter of special pride and solicitude on the part of every member of the Seventh Cavalry to the end that his life be preserved to the utmost limit. Wounded and scarred as he is, his very existence speaks in terms more eloquent than words, of the desperate struggle against overwhelming numbers of the hopeless conflict and the heroic manner in which all went down on that fatal day.

(2.) The commanding officer of Company I will see that a special and comfortable stable is fitted up for him, and he will not be ridden by any person whatsoever, under any circumstances, nor will he be put to any kind of work.

(3.) Hereafter, upon all occasions of ceremony of mounted regimental formation, 'Comanche,' saddled, bridled, and draped in mourning, and led by a mounted trooper of Company I, will be paraded with the regiment.

By command of Col. Sturgis, E. A. Garlington, First Lieutenant and Adjutant, Seventh Cavalry." 

The reasons for Col. Sturgis' order may have been as much to bring peace to his household as much to honor Comanche. Supposedly, one of Col Sturgis' daughters convinced Comanche's keeper to let her ride him. Later, the daughter of another officer also prevailed upon Comanche's keeper to allow a ride, which enraged Col. Sturgis' daughter that her special status had been breached.

After Col. Sturgis' order, Comanche was interviewed by the Bismarck Tribune. Comanche would answer with a toss of his head, a stamp of his foot, or a swish of his tail. His keeper at the time, Farrier John Rivers, answered more fully: 
Comanche was a veteran, 21 years old, and had been with the 7th Cavalry since its Organization in '66.... He was found by Sergeant [Milton J.] DeLacey [Co. I] in a ravine where he had crawled, there to die and feed the Crows. He was raised up and tenderly cared for. His wounds were serious, but not necessarily fatal if properly looked after...He carries seven scars from as many bullet wounds. There are four back of the foreshoulder, one through a hoof, and one on either hind leg. On the Custer battlefield (actually Fort Abraham Lincoln) three of the balls were extracted from his body and the last one was not taken out until April '77…Comanche is not a great horse, physically talking; he is of medium size, neatly put up, but quite noble looking. He is very gentle. His color is 'claybank' He would make a handsome carriage horse...
Comanche served with the regiment during their time at Fort Meade, and with the Regiment when they moved to Fort Riley. He had the freedom of the post, would form up with Company I during parades, and was named the Regiment's "Second Commanding Officer." He formed a bond with his keeper, Pvt Gustave Korn, and they became inseparable - with Comanche even leaving the post to go look for Korn, if Korn had not returned to the post in time for nightly feeding. Here's where Comanche's story takes the sad turn. Korn was killed at the Battle of Wounded Knee, and Comanche never recovered. He lingered on through 1891, until dying of colic - or, perhaps, a broken heart. The members of the Seventh were devastated, and Comanche remains one of two horses given a funeral with full military honors.

Comanche was preserved by Professor Dyche of the University of Kansas, for $400 and the right to display him at the 1893 Exposition in Chicago. For reasons unknown, the officers of the Seventh could not pay the $400, and so Comanche remains on display at the University of Kansas.

Comanche was supposed to be my entry for the casualties bonus round, but I wasn't pleased with the paint job. There were a few paint bubbles - which have plagued me the entire competition - and some bits where the paint didn't take. So I waited, and submitted him on his own. 
Front view of Comanche - you can see why I picked this figure
There is a dearth of horse holder options for the Plains Wars, so I have been forced to use ones for the ACW. The horse furniture is close enough, and probably accurate for the 1860s and 1870s. The uniforms of the horse holders, mounted (Perry) or dismounted (Sash and Saber) are in the low-cut shell jacket worn by cavalry in the Civil War and the 1860s and early 1870s as Civil War stocks were expended. By 1876, most US Cavalrymen would be wearing tunics. More problematic is that both mounted and dismounted figures carry their sabers, which were expressly proscribed for the Little Bighorn Campaign.
Sash and Saber Union Horse Holder
Perry Union Horse Holder
I ended up choosing a Sash and Saber horse for Comanche for two reasons. First, I chose the Sash and Saber horse specifically for the military bearing the horse sculpt has - tall chest out, proud eyes, front, standing tall. Second, Perry Miniatures are wonderful sculpts, but they have MAJOR issues with flash and clean-up.

Comanche was described as a claybank in his interview with the Bismarck Tribune, but his official description labels him a "buckskin:"
Name: Comanche
Age: 6 years(25 years at time of transfer)
Height: 15 hands
Weight: 925 pounds
Color: Buckskin
Condition: Unserviceable
Date of Purchase: April 3, 1868
By Whom: (left blank)
Cost: $90.00
Purchased: St. Louis, Missouri
Remarks: excused from all duties per G.O. No. 7 April 10, 1878. Ridden by CPT Keogh in Battle of Little Bighorn River, M.T. June 25, 1876
However, buckskin is too light to match with the photographs. He's also referred to as a "light bay" and a "buckskin dun." I ended up using Reaper's Olive Skin Shadow for most of his hide, and Reaper Earth Brown where he darkens in the leg, his mane and tail. I then washed him with Vallejo's Sephia Wash to get the proper darkening, and I think I nailed it. It certainly looks very good, and I'll keep that in the repertoire, along with other brown and chestnut/red leather paint schemes I use for bay and chestnut horses.

While the saddle bags/bundles look very sky blue in the pictures, they're actually Foundry Tomb Blue 23B over Delta Ceramicoat Sky Blue, and highlighted with a pale grey blue. Though the kersey is supposed to be darker, I like the faded, sun-bleached look, with just a hint of gray. All leatherwork is black, highlighted with a 1-1 mix of black and Vallejo salmon rose. Saddle blankets and canteen are Delta Ceramicoat Charcoal Gray, highlighted with Hippo Gray. All are the same mixes I use with other members of the 7th Cavalry.
And now here he waits, in the shade of the trees, for the Seventh to parade.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Painting Table Saturday - #1

Well, I caved to the current wargaming blogger fad: Paint Table Saturday.

Sophie's Paint Blog came up with this graphic. I stole it from Dave, but Tasmin, Loki and others participate.
It's a good filler post as the Challenge winds down. My painting counter (the apartment is small, so instead of a dedicated gaming room or basement, I have a dedicated slice of counter) is quite a bit of a mess. It's got the Mahdists I'm struggling to finish, a reaper Zulu War British colonel, some spaceships, some Foundry African civilians I need the right village for later, and lots of minis I have purchased that I have held-off rebasing or reworking since they don't count for the Challenge.
I've done a few other revamps of the blog. Creating the new header image in Photoshop was fun, once I figured out how to get perspective to work.

Tomorrow should have a post about Comanche, the Second Commanding Officer of the 7th Cavalry, and then I'm off for a week's vacation, and the Seven Years War Convention games the 28th/29th.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fourth Analogue Painting Challenge Fortnight Bonus Challenge Round: Favorite Character

This is my third entry to the Fourth Analogue Painting Challenge, for the favorite character round: Chief Buffalo Hump, of the Comanche.

Buffalo Hump is both a historical figure, and a character in the last novel of Larry McMurtree's Lonesome Dove series, Comanche Moon. He was a chief of the Penateka band of the Comanche. By Buffalo Hump's time, the Penateka were "a decayed and degenerate" (quoting S. C. Gwynne's Empire of the Summer Moon) version of their Comanche cousins of the Staked Plains. They lived on the frontiers of Texan society, both ravaged by and benefiting from their contact with American and Mexican Texan settlers. Cholera and smallpox ravaged their ranks, and settlement reduced their hunting grounds, while they became dependent upon settlers for their very livelihoods.

Buffalo Hump's name was Po-cha-na-quar-hip; if properly translated, it meant "erection that won't go down." S. C. Gwynne puts the mistranslation down to white prudishness. Before the Council House Fight, Buffalo Hump was a minor chief, more a recruiter for war bands than an actual battlefield leader. However, various disease epidemics and the Council House Fight cleared the field, so to speak, and gave him both the apocalyptic vision of driving white Texan settlers into the sea and the means to carry it out.

The result was the Great Raid of 1840, where Comanche's under Buffalo Hump's leadership swept Texas from the Staked Plains to the Gulf of Mexico, rampaging, pillaging and burning. An estimated $300,000 worth of trade goods were in the port of Linville alone, and the Comanches swept up nearly 3,000 horses, and thousands of dollars worth of other loot. 

Despite his apocalyptic vision, Buffalo Hump became known as more of a peacemaker and concilliator than a die-hard last stander. Negotiations for truces and a lasting treaty went on between Buffalo Hump and other Comanche chiefs and Sam Houston in 1843 and 1844, and peace was almost there, until the Texas Senate deleted the border agreements separating Comanchería and Texas, Buffalo Hump repudiated the treaty, and the war was back on. 

After the Texas Annexation and the Mexican War, Buffalo Hump realized that he could not win against the might of the US. He and the Penateka settled down on the Comanche reservation on the Brazos, and made a go of it. Between the Comanche being thoroughly miserable at poor conditions and a lack of food, and a plague of white horse thieves and squatters, settling there was a disaster, and the band left in 1858, pursued by troops under the future Confederate general and serial womanizer Earl van Dorn. The Penateka were resettled on the Comanche-Kiowa reservation at Fort Sill, and Buffalo Hump settled down to be a farmer until he died in 1870.

The figures are from Conquest Miniatures. They make mounted and dismounted versions of Buffalo Hump, as well as a very nice and modular selection of Comanche. Right now, the mounted versions have to be purchased as the Comanche War Party, but dismounted versions can be bought separately.

Dismounted versions of Buffalo Hump (left) and Little Spaniard (right)
 There's a lot to love about this figure. The features are slim and well detailed, and the character in the umbrella and the backwards duster makes it hard to resist painting. The detail is crisp enough to allow easy highlighting without being overdone. Unfortunately, Conquest suffers from flash problems; though not as bad as the Perry's metals, it was annoying to get off. However, the backwards duster and umbrella were more than enough to get the nod for "favorite character" - it's certainly one of my favorite miniatures.

For inspiration, I used the following painting of the Great Raid of 1840, even though I plan to set my Comanches in the 1860s-1880.

I went with a generally muted color palette, with two different beige templates for his duster (Reaper Chestnut Gold triad), loincloth and moccasins (Reaper's Blond Hair triad, which is now my go-to for buff colors). The only splashes of real color were the red pattern on the horse blanket and the blue and white umbrella. Skin was Foundry's Native American Flesh triad.

Basing was inspired by a quick Google images search for cactus on the Staked Plains:
I used large (40mm round and 40mmx75mm oval) bases, to make sure that the Comanche will be properly spread out on the table top, however a potential player lines them up. Stealing an idea from Curt, using a Gale Force 9, with black beveled edges, instead of my usual Litko or Warbases bases will allow leaders/characters to stand out on the tabletop. While some major filing has to be done with the GF9 bases, I think the effect is worth it.
I added some Dungeon Decor cacti to the bases, painted up with Vallejo's Reflective Green dry brushed over Dark American Green, then washed with Sephia Wash. I used to use washes heavily with my 15mm figures, but switched almost entirely to three-tone shade/main/highlight style for my 25mms. I'm now working washes back in because for some colors it's the only way to get a natural look.

Anyway, here's the end result:
Both figures. That's a Woodland Scenics cactus to the right; I've been working on some terrain but haven't had time to finish the basing on it.

You can see the red pattern on the saddle blanket
A good view of the base and the facial detail

Showing the detail on the flank of the horse

Frontal view of him dismounted. The camera for some reason greatly increases the googly-eyed effect; his eyes are more natural in real life

The Batmanesque gratuitous butt shot
 I can't say he did too well in the judging - despite repeated mentions in the entry, he only garnered one vote, but I am pleased with him.

Maybe I should have submitted the cartoonized versions?