Friday, 30 December 2011

Monnow Bridge, Monmouth

Monmouth is a town in the south-east of Wales, probably best known amongst those interested in history as the birthplace of King Henry V (16th September 1386).

Of particular interest is the Monnow bridge. The following info is taken from panels located on or nearby the bridge itself.
"Monnow Bridge built circa 1270, as a town defence is the only surviving medieval bridge in Britain with the gate tower standing on the bridge. The gatehouse has served as a toll-house, guard room, gaol and dwelling house."

"Monnow Bridge was built in about 1272. However, it was not the first bridge at this site. In 1988 construction works for the flood alleviation scheme exposed the remains of an earlier timber bridge. Analysis of the timber dated the construction to about 1140. The remains are preserved below the river bed, under the existing bridge."

More information about the bridge can be found here.

Surprisingly the bridge remained in use as a road bridge until as recently as March 2004 when a new bridge opened just a short distance downstream. 

The Millennium Plinth  is located nearby. Made from 40 tiles illustrating the town's history, the two below caught my attention detailing aspects from the ECW .
Millennium Plinth detail
Millennium Plinth detail
The normal toy soldier posting service will be resumed shortly (honest), but until then I'd like to wish all the followers and readers of this blog a very Happy New Year for 2012.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

National & Regimental Colours, 4th American Regiment of Infantry, 1812

On a recent visit to the fine principality of Wales, we visited the Museum of the Welsh Soldier  located within Cardiff Castle. The museum covers the development and history of the modern 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards and The Royal Welsh Regiment.

Sharing a joint interest in the period my brother called my attention to the following display.
Quote from information panel:
"National Colours and (above it) a fragment from the Regimental Colour of the 4th American Regiment of Infantry. 

These are extremely rare. The Colours (flags) are the heart of an infantry regiment. The US Army has not lost many. These Colours were surrendered to our 41st Foot after the capture of Fort Detroit on 16 August 1812, during the War of 1812."

National Colour - Detail of Eagle
'The Forth Regiment' detail
Interestingly the US Army didn't use the famous 'Stars & Stripes' during this period.

You are not allowed to use flash photography in the museum and the lighting around the flags are deliberately keep subdued to protect the habit, hence the poor quality of the images (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!).

Due to the low lighting levels I couldn't tell if the Regimental flag was buff, white or yellow, the traditional colours used. Versions of this flag, suitable for 28mm figures, are available from Flags of War - 1812 US Regiment flags.

As far as I'm aware the only other US flags from this period still held in British hands are in the Shropshire Regimental Museum at Shrewbury Castle. These are the flags of the 68th , 85th and the 1st Harford Light Dragoons captured, oddly enough, by the British 85th Light Infantry.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Scots Saker Cannon, Warlord Games

Regular readers may remember this particular post showing Scots Dragoons where I mentioned that I had also painted a saker cannon for the same company. Anyway reading about one of the latest releases from Warlord Games, New Alexander Leslie, Lord Leven I scrolled down right down to the very end and noticed these familiar chaps: Scots Saker Cannon (click on the images to enlarge them).

I had actually initially painted the carriage red but around the same time I attended a re-enactment display at Kenilworth castle. Speaking to the interesting crew manning the artillery one fellow mentioned that Scots artillery was 'associated with the colour yellow' as he phased it. I went back home and re-painted the carriage and was reasonably pleased with the results.

I've been temporary distracted by other periods (and shock horror - another scale!) at the moment. but I do have some more ECW pieces on the workbench but these will hopefully feature some time in early 2012. Looks scary when you write that date down, doesn't it? Where has the year gone?

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, Conquest Miniatures

Tenskwatawa, (1775 – 1836) was the brother of the famous Tecumseh. Tenskwatawa was himself a religious and political leader of the Shawnee tribe. This figure is from the Eastern Woodland Indians range by Conquest Miniatures, Item Number: 500-012. The two figure set also contains Tecumseh.
Regulars readers may be even more surprised to know I actually plan the colour schemes of these figures such as using predominately reds and blues for the materials. The feathers are painted to represent eagle feathers and the animal skins are painted to represent black bearskin as this species (I believe) inhabit that particular part of the world.

Tecumseh, Conquest Miniatures

This is figure depicting the famous Shawnee leader Tecumseh (March 1768 – 5th October 1813) from the Eastern Woodland Indians range from Conquest Miniatures, Item Number: 500-012. The two figure set also contains Tenskwatawa. A detailed account of his life can be found on-line at Wikipedia
Article taken from the Conquest Miniature website, temporary (hopefully) unavailable, covering the appearance of Eastern Woodland Indians by Tim Greene:
Shawnee Tribe
"The Shawnee, meaning “southerners”, were a tribe of wanderers who were often invited by other tribes to live among them because of their reputation as fierce fighters. An Algonquian speaking people closely related to the Sac & Fox they lived from the Great Lakes region to the Carolinas. The Shawnee claim to have prevented the Iroquois from completing their conquest of the Ohio Valley. They certainly resisted white expansion into the Ohio Valley more fiercely than any other tribe. They threw up a great leader in Tecumseh who came very close to creating a pan-Indian confederacy, which might have slowed or even halted the westward expansion of the white frontier.

Shawnee men wore tanned leather breechclout small with short flap in front. Deerskin leggings above the knee gartered below the knee with fringes along the side seams and fastened to a belt with straps. Garments were simple, sometimes decorated with fringes. Other ornamentation was rarely used; when it was arrow, chevron, and zigzag designs were preferred. The roach was rarely worn by the Shawnees. Men shaved the head in front and attached feathers at the back or left the hair long and loose. Some Shawnee wrapped their long finger woven sashes round their heads like turbans. Moccasins were soft-soled one piece with a seam up the front from toe to instep covered by quillwork. Cuffs were small and turned down. Face paint was usually red. Very, very fine lines were sometimes tattooed on the face. In overall appearance the Shawnee were rather simple and plain compared to the other tribes.

By the early nineteenth century all the tribes were wearing a lot of cloth manufactured in England or America, especially calicoes and red or blue strouding. Sashes were often woven around the head like a turban. These five tribes were some of the major players in the Ohio Valley. The next installment will look at the tribes of the Great Lakes region."

Friday, 2 December 2011

Pontiac, Conquest Miniatures

This figure of Pontiac (c. 1720 – 20th April 1769) is from the Eastern Woodland Indians by Conquest Miniatures, Item Number: 500-011. A brief account of his life can be found thanks to Wikipedia.
Pontiac - note body tattoos. 
I thought I would attempt to depict the figure decorated with tattoos. After a brief Google search which initially resulted in some frankly bizarre and random images I eventually found something more appropriate. These were loosely based on the body art ‘worn’ by the Iroquois character played by Mark Deacascos in the entertaining 2001 French film ‘Brotherhood of the Wolf’.

Following article taken from the Conquest Miniature website, temporary (hopefully) unavailable, covering the appearance of Eastern Woodland Indians by Tim Greene:

Ottawa Tribe
"The Ottawa were too far north for agriculture and their land was poor in the wild rice so abundant in the land of the Dakota and Chippewa. There also was few fur bearing animals in Ottawa country. So the Ottawa became great traders. This honed their diplomatic skill and they eventually produced one of the greatest Native American leaders, Pontiac. The Ottawa had a reputation for cunning, treachery, and cruelty. They were adequate warriors. Very loyal to the French they were the nucleus of anti-British hostility after the French and Indian War.

The French often remarked on the prevalence of nudity among the Ottawa’s. Men usually wore only a robe and moccasins. Sometimes a fitted leather breechclout was worn with flaps in front and back, decorated with quillwork. Leggings, when worn, were thigh length simple tubes of hide, fringed on the outside seams and gartered just below the knees. Among the Ottawa the roach was worn by some men. The head was often shaved except for a central tuft standing high from front to back decreasing in height towards the back and a scalplock hanging from the crown. The hair could be worn in two or four braids sometimes wrapped in fur or thongs. Others allowed the hair to hang loose or shaved it all except for a tuft at the crown. Ottawa moccasins were deerskin and sometimes moosehide one piece soft soled with seam from toe to instep and the sole puckered into it. The seam was often covered with a strip of quillwork. Cuffs were usually attached and could be worn down or up around the ankle fastened with thongs. The sole was later puckered into a U or oval shaped vamp as among the Ojibwa.

Ottawa men were commonly tattooed. Designs included lizards, snakes, and geometrical figures, sometimes covering the entire body. The face and body were painted with red, brown, green, and black."

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Black Hawk, Conquest Miniatures

Regular readers of this blog may be surprised to see these latest figures but I have actually held a long interest in both the American War of Independence (AWI) and the War of 1812, in the latter Native Americans played a very active roll. My own interest actually dates back to a fondly remembered holiday road trip taken with my brother back in the mid 1990’s and involved driving from Boston to New York via Toronto and Niagara.

Along the way we visited numerous locations associated with these conflicts such as Concord, Lexington, Mohawk Valley, Saratoga, Queenston Heights and several fortifications including Forts George, Niagara and Erie.

Probably one of the least well know theatres of war during the Napoleonic period the War of 1812 helped strengthen both the American and Canadian national identities although it is still largely unknown here in the UK.

Therefore to redress the balance ever so slightly there are the first of many figures I am preparing to represent this period.

I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by pretending to know much about these historical figures so rather than give a detailed history I thought I’d provide a number of useful links instead. from sites such as Wikipedia.

These figures are from the Eastern Woodland Indians by Conquest Miniatures, Item Number: 500-011. Their website is currently being updated so (without permission) I have included a few notes taken from tribal articles that previously appeared on their site (these appear in italics). Hopefully they’ll re-instate the articles once the website is up and running properly.

First up is Black Hawk (1767 – 3rd October 1838). This figure comes in a set of two, the other being Pontiac which I will detail in another post.
Black Hawk
Black Hawk
Black Hawk
Portrait of Chief Black Hawk
by Charles Bird King
The Black Hawk figure is obviously based on this portrait and shows the sculptor’s skill in recreating a historical character.

Following article taken from the Conquest Miniature website, temporary (hopefully) unavailable, covering the appearance of Eastern Woodland Indians by Tim Greene:
Fox Tribe
"The Fox were an Algonquian speaking people who may have originally come from the Michigan Peninsula. They were part of the Fire Nation, a confederacy also containing the Sac, Kickapoo, and Mascouten who were driven into Wisconsin during the invasions of the Great Lakes region by the refugees fleeing from the Iroquois.  The Fox were especially formidable fighters.  In the 18th Century they unwisely chose to single-handedly oppose the French while simultaneously alienating most of their neighbors.   This resulted in the near destruction of the Fox Nation.  The remnants were taken in by the Sacs and became the Sauk & Fox Nation.

Fox men wore breechclout and moccasins in summer with thigh length leggings and a shirt added in winter. Leggings were fairly fitted with fringes at the sides and large pointed flaps at the bottom, which covered most of the foot.  The leggings were seamed up front and had garters sometimes of fur. Geometric quillwork and later floral and traditional moosehair embroidery decorated garments which were lavishly covered, more so than among the Sauk.  Garments could also be painted in bright hues in solids and stripes or figures and designs like the Miami.  Among the Fox the roach was almost universal.  Men shaved the head with a tuft running from front to back left on and a scalplock left hanging from the crown. The tuft was sometimes shaved leaving the scalplock and roach and the top part of the shaved skull was painted red. Some Fox wore a turban of otter fur.  A few sported buffalo horn headdresses captured from enemies like the Sioux and Iowa.  Some Fox wore a tuft from side to side rather than front to back on the shaved head. One segment of the tribe wore their hair long and loose.  Fox moccasins were soft-soled one piece with a seam up the front from toe to instep covered by quillwork.  Flaps or cuffs of men’s moccasins were of exaggerated size and heavily decorated with quillwork or embroidery in geometric patterns, each flap with a different design then reversed on the other moccasin as for the Sauk, Miami, and Potawatomi.  Fox warriors used red and black pigments.  Some Fox chiefs painted by a European artist had their faces painted blue. Yellow, red, and black stripes could be painted on the lower half of the face.  Hands painted on the body meant an enemy killed in hand-to-hand combat."