Skip to main content

Painting Continues Apiece. . .

Nowhere near finished, but I managed to make a bit of head way with the white lining yesterday (Saturday) evening and this afternoon.

Besides all of this foolish talk of morale rules, I have managed to keep the painting on those Minden Bosniaks moving forward.  Just barely.  Sat my you-know-what down the the painting chair and worked on white trim on the black kaftans for about 90 minutes or so yesterday evening.  Not too many mishaps with the brush although there were a couple of notable errant white splotches that had to be fixed after the fact.  Still, it is this particular stage that helps the figures start to look like something other than the finely sculpted castings they are.  

Still a long way to go, of course, but I'm pleased with the way things are coming together.  Besides the white piping on the red tunics and trousers, I need to finish the white piping on the black kaftans than runs behind each figure's neck and the highly decorative piping in the vicinity of the hip (pockets?).  Then there is the usual clean-up using straight black and a dark shade of red as I finish up this stage.  

And then it will be time to consult the ol' painting To Do list once again to see what's next in the lengthy process of getting these figures to the tabletop.  I'm thinking they might be perfect for a refight of Guilford Courthouse though I am unsure as yet of whether they will stand in for Tarleton's dragoons or Light Horse Harry Lee's small contingent of Continental cavalry.

At some point Saturday afternoon while in the sitting room where our fireplace, The Grand Duchess' piano, red chaise with golden dragonfly upholstery, and many of our books are located, I re-discovered a book by Rory Muir that has been on the shelf for over 20 years called Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon (1998).  In the current rendition of Stollen Centrale, it resides just a few books to the right of several by Christopher Duffy oddly enough.  Who knew?  Anyway, while not specifically germane to the mid-18th century, there is a chapter on troop cohesion and morale that is packed with lots of potentially useful information to mine, which should help clarify my thinking even more (Is that even possible?).  I've already taken some some notes in my small spiral 'bedside' notebook.  Huzzah!!!  

Do any of you know Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon?  Although I now recall purchasing it and enjoying it briefly in the lead up to finishing one of my graduate programs with exams and all of the related unpleasantness of interrupting life with related packing and moving on for additional studies elsewhere, I am not sure that I have ever seen any discussion of Muir's work online anywhere in the same way that authors like David Chandler, Michael Glover, Christopher Duffy, et al are mentioned in passing on blogs and discussion boards.  Please do drop me a line here via the comments section and let me know what you think of this particular title if you are familiar with it.

-- Stokes

I've updated my notes, shared recently in a previous post, that address morale specifically to include Muir's ideas from his chapter (Chapter 10) on morale and cohesion"

“Progressive degradation” (Duffy 1987, 251). – [Numerous things could and would contribute to a unit becoming less effective with its staying power – morale – eroding gradually.  Better quality units would be able to hold on longer.]

“If the casualties were heavy enough, morale would be lowered further undermining any remaining willingness to move and fight” (Nosworthy 32-33). – [Men in fact did notice what was happening around them, and their will to continue fighting was affected by the number of comrades falling around them.]

“What is it that destroys the courage of troops in action, what makes them take to their heels? . . . the losses they sustain” (Duffy 1987, 248). – [Morale linked to number of men who fell regardless of precise numbers of wounded or those killed outright.]

"The strength of a unit consisted not only in the number of muskets or sabres put into the line, but also in its mental toughness, which decided its ability to endure the strains of battle" (Muir 193).

 "Battle involved mental as well as physical attrition, wearing away at individual and collection determination" (193).

"Experience of success in the field was the best foundation of confidence and good. . . Soldiers who fought in a succession of defeats could have no confidence in victory" (194).

"The presence of good troops would. . .  steady and encourage the others. . . It also meant that if a poor unit did break, the panic would be less likely to spread far: confident veterans would not be unduly perturbed bu the flight of raw troops for whom they felt contempt" (197).

"Confidence, experience, and training were the principal factors determining the effectiveness of units in battle.  Discipline was also very important in instilling an unhesitating obedience. . ." (198).

"The strongest bond which held a unit together in action was. . . group loyalty. . .  the men encouraged each other" (200).

"Good troops would suffer a much smaller diminution of their strength than poor troops, from the same number of casualties" (204).

"Nervous infantry were inclined to fire off all their ammunition at an absurdly long range and then hurry to the rear" (205).

"Cavalry were not immune. . . a startled horse might panic, throw you, or even gallop forwards into the enemy" (205).

"A steady erosion of strength and cohesion of a unit. . . sometimes the whole unit's morale collapsed suddenly, and it either broke and ran, or refused to obey orders.  This could occur in a wide variety of circumstances, some of which reflected no discredit on troops who were simply being asked to do too much" (207).

"The threat of contact was a great test of a unit's resolve, and frequently precipitated a rout, as could any threat to the flank or rear.  Surprise greatly magnified the effect of fear. . . if previously unnoticed enemy troops opened fire or charged, a unit was much more likely to break than if it had mentally and physically prepared to meet them" (211).

"On the battlefield, troops' spirits would rise when they began to advance. . .  once halted, even if there has been no damage, the line never moves as strongly or willingly again" (212).

"The arrival of fresh troops. . . was a great fillip to morale" (212).

"As the battle went on, units in the firing line gradually lost their cohesion and became increasingly vulnerable to any sudden shock" (212). 

"Once a unit was broken, the bravest man could do no good by remaining behind" (213).

"The longer the flight lasted, the more dispersed the unit became, and the more difficult to rally. . . It was important to rally troops as quickly as possible, but futile to attempt to do so while they were still within range of the enemy. . . Broken troops were also likely to head for cover, particularly villages or woods, and once there an attempt might be made to rally them. (213).

"The attempt to re-form the unit. . . depended less on how much the unit had suffered than on its underlying quality.  For even though it took more to break good troops, they were still more likely to rally" (214).

"The experience of having been broken might weaken the unit's cohesion for the rest of the battle and even beyond" (214).

"The foundation of any army is not weapons, tactics, and uniforms. . . but morale and cohesion which keep men in the ranks, full of purpose and struggling for victory -- the very antithesis of the chaos, selfishness, and fear that predominate in the rear" (216).       


Neil said…
Those are some of your best figures yet.
Thank you, Neil! Hard to go wrong with black, red, silver, and white though. And of course the raw materials, the castings themselves, really help. I hope to do them justice when everything has been finished in a few more weeks.

Best Regards,


Popular posts from this blog

Post-Christmas Excitement by Post. . . and a Brief Review

Can't wait to retire to bed this evening with this new arrival!
Earlier this afternoon, Digby Smith's Armies of the Seven Years War arrived with the mail.  A quick glance through the book -- after wrestling it from its Amazon packaging -- shows it to be chock-a-block with information on the various combatants who partook in the conflict, their uniforms, standards, etc.  While I've been aware of Mr. Smith's book for a couple of years, I only got around to purchasing it with some of Mom and Step-Dad's Christmas gift on December 26th.  I cannot wait to examine it more closely later this evening, and might hit the sack right after supper with some fresh coffee and the book, leaving the Grand Duchess and the Young Master to their own devices for the remainder of evening.  Weeeeeell, maybe not quite that early. . .  but all bets are off by 9 or 10pm!

Thursday, January 4th

I just wrote my first review for on this book.  It reads:

A highly interesting title on the v…

Back in the Painting Saddle. . .

It's hard to beat the richness of oil-based metallics.  The Minden mounted colonel that I worked on yesterday evening.  He ought to look pretty good when finished.

I spent a pleasant hour or so last night, following The Young Master's bedtime, carefully teasing tiny bits of Winsor & Newton, or perhaps Grumbacher, gold and silver oils onto the mounted Austrian officer, who will oversee the composite battalion of Minden Austrian grenadiers.  They, of course, are the fellows in the foreground.

Those of you with longer memories might recall that these miniatures have been on the painting table since January.  Real life, however, has meant that progress has been at a standstill since late February.  I even put them away in a box for a couple of months to reduce dust and cat fur build-up!  

However, I managed to get my seat back into the painting chair last night, and here we are.  A steady hand, despite the usual after dinner infusion of strong dark roast coffee, meant only one m…

Stuart Asquith RIP. . .

 The now departed author and hobby personality playing a colonial game in 1978.  No hiding the width of neckties from that era!

Another one of the hobby greats, Stuart Asquith, passed away during the weekend.  While we never met (I am on the wrong side of the Atlantic), I was fortunate enough to exchange a couple of short emails with him 10 or 12 years ago when he was involved with a blog about all things Charge!

Said blog was managed by four or five UK hobbyists during the wave of enthusiasm that followed the 2006 Sittangbad and 2007 Mollwitz refights at Partizan in the U.K. just as hobby and imagination blogging took off in a big way.  Sadly, the blog disappeared pretty quickly, but it was a real blast interacting with Stu even if only briefly and in passing.  He was very personable and humble in his emails to me, expressing surprise that a stranger in the U.S. had an inkling of who he was.

Stu Asquith's writing years ago in Military Modeling, various books, and magazines like Prac…