17 February 2019

Retire vs. Retreat vs. Rout: Tentative Definitions and Further Explanation. . .

Ol' Frederick II leading his troops forward at Zorndorf, on foot no less, with renewed vigor.

Well, after information flooded in from various wargaming friends and acquaintances during the last 36 hour or so (Thank you, everyone!), I seem to have a better handle on the differences between these three terms.  I've cobbled together the working definitions and explanations below based on the responses to my question posed yesterday.  

Please feel free to leave any additional relevant comments as they occur to you, which might enable me to clarify things further.  New observations are welcome since many are well read and, no doubt, have a much better grasp of the subject than me.  

Remember, though, this is a work in progress by a dabbler and hobbyist (yours truly), so no one need tip over a figurative table full of figures and scenery in anger or annoyance like once happened long ago during the early days of the hobby as related by the late Donald Featherstone in a book or article(s) whose title(s) escapes me at the moment.  Read away and see what you think.

-- Stokes

Retire, Retreat, and Rout Defined -- All three are moving AWAY from the enemy: 

1) Retire 
*An orderly withdrawal.   

*When a commander chooses to disengage or shift his troops rearward although unit(s) may not even have made contact with enemy.   

*A deliberate decision to avoid a worse fate.   

*Officers and NCOs still in control and unit cohesion remains intact.  

*Units finish their move facing the enemy. 

*Example: “Unit moves back X number of inches with no further effect.” 

2) Retreat 
*Somewhat more urgent, but still within control of officers and NCOs and related cohesion maintained.   

*Temporarily disordered and wavering.   

*Less from choice than from necessity, for instance line infantry or jaegers in the open avoiding an approaching infantry charge.  

* Usually, follows contact with the enemy, though possibly only the threat of eventual contact, to avoid losing advantage and considerable damage/defeat.  

* Larger formations (brigades, divisions, etc.) usually covered by a rearguard.   

*For average units that have already taken a beating, or poor quality troops, however, a retreat might easily turn into a rout if enemy pressure/contact maintained.   

*Units finish their move with backs to the enemy but can reenter the fray without too much difficulty once the immediate threat has passed if rallied successfully.   

*Example: “Unit moves back X number of inches and requires rallying before it can return to the front line.” 

3) Rout 
*Wild panic has set in.   

*An uncontrolled, involuntary, and disorderly departure from battle.   

*Unit cohesion and discipline lost.   

*Unit(s) not under the control of officers, NCOs, or commanding general (i.e. The Player).  

*Usually the result of a melee or post-melee morale check although heavy casualties from enemy fire might lead to a rout for average to poor quality troops especially if they have taken a beating already.  

*Often requires a rally check (difficult) or some kind of command intervention (difficult) to recover, with possible removal from the table in the following if attempts fail to halt rout and rally troops in question.   

*Enemy units in close pursuit inflict double number of losses shown by D6 rolls to reflect that most casualties happen during a rout if attackers maintain pressure through pursuit. 

*Example: The classic, "Unit moves back a full charge move distance, facing away from enemy, suffers X number of hits/losses, and/or marked by with some form of long-term or permanent disorder or degradation.  

16 February 2019

Enter the Dragon!

The Young Master just post-introductory lesson in Tae Kwon Do.  A genuine smile instead of over the top clowning for the camera.

The Young Master, who has recently expressed an interest in the martial arts, tried out an introductory lesson of Tae Kwon Do this (Saturday) morning to see if it is a good fit for him.  He deals with a number of sensory and cognitive challenges, so we were not sure how things might go, but it seems Paul took right to it.  Besides giving him something to do that he enjoys, it will provide goals, focus, self-discipline, self-respect, and help with self-control things he has already grasped better after working with a Tae Kwon Do instructor one time.  A good good fit it seems, and I am so pleased for our son that I can hardly speak.  Wow!

-- Stokes

Retire vs. Retreat vs. Rout???

I actually enjoy these idealized old paintings of Famous Napoleonic battles more than cinematic attempts to render the same events.  Although I have not watched it in 20 years or more, I always find myself picking about Sergei Bondarchuk's version of Waterloo (1970), which seems to completely ignore most of the allied troops who were part of Wellington's army in Belgium that spring.

Revisiting three early issues of Miniature Wargames this morning, specifically a few related articles by Mark Clayton on Napoleonic troop morale, and I remain confused after all of these years.  1) What is the difference, within a horse and musket era context, between troops that retire, those that retreat, and those that rout, please?  2) How might you make these distinctions readily apparent in rules and on the tabletop?  Any clarification would be greatly appreciated.

-- Stokes

11 February 2019

The Joys of Amazon Giftcards. . .

One of the three sizes of Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor brushes I ordered this afternoon.  Should have 'em by the weekend!

There is something nice about sitting on Amazon giftcards for a little while until clarity reveals what one ought to use them for.  Such was the case with a remaining Christmas gift from my in-laws this year.  I finally put together an order this afternoon to replace a few dried up, or soon to be, bottles of Citadel colors and also selected two of each of my three preferred brush sizes -- #1, #3, and #6 rounds.  

These are synthetic bristle brushes intended for watercolorists, but I have long used them for figure painting, and the points usually last long enough for three or four units, depending on the size, before they are relegated to the base-coating and dry-brushing jar.  They give me the results I seek and seem to provide a nice compromise between ready availability, durability, and usefulness on the one hand and price on the other.  I'll need to replaced my 20 year old 000 sable before long, but honestly I don't rely on it all that much any more, so the matter is not yet too pressing.

In other news, I spent about an hour last night carefully applying oil-based silver paint to bayonets, musket barrels, firelocks, and a few officers' swords with my current #1 round, more dry-brushing a very sparing amount to each item, and the result looks rather nice today if I do say so myself.  I'll spare everyone yet another Kodak moment (Remember those?) photographic update until things progress just a bit more though.

-- Stokes

09 February 2019

A Lengthy Saturday Session. . .

The details are starting to make the composite grenadier battalion come together really nicely.

For good measure, here is another photograph to show how they look from behind.

A rare nine hours of uninterrupted sleep last night resulted in clear eyes, an unusually steady hand, and the patience for a lengthy session in the painting chair this afternoon.  

Some touching up to start, followed by lots of slow, painstaking attention to teasing fine lines of light brown onto canteen straps, white on cartridge pouch straps,  and dabbing bits of more white carefully onto fur-covered haversacks and musket straps.  My supply of hobby acrylic white is running out, so I made do for most of the latter with simple leather brown for the enlisted men.  I also hit the shoulder straps on the left shoulders since I was on a roll and lots of these things came together very quickly.  It is not always so!

Still a few things to do, but we're staring to see some light at the end of the painting tunnel!  Time to stop for the time being before I start to make those annoying blunders that take so much time to retouch later.  It has been an unusually productive day, though, so I am pleased.

-- Stokes

03 February 2019

A Scarlet Highlight Really Brings out the Reds!

Three photograph updates showing where things stand with the composite battalion of Kurkoeln (left) Hessen-Darmstadt (right) grenadiers.

Well, it took a while, but the red facings, turnbacks, and bags are done with dark red, red, and a dot or two (or a very careful short dash) of pure scarlet highlight to make the red really stand out.  Still a number of steps to go until they are finished and ready to gloss, but they are finally starting to look like something.  Next: touching up the black areas and dark brown musket stocks before moving onto the white highlight for the shoulder belts.

-- Stokes

01 February 2019

Only -6 Degrees Fahrenheit in the Grand Duchy This Morning. . .

The view from our front porch a short while ago this afternoon at about 1pm.  A high temperature of about 16 F. is forecast for today, almost 30 degrees warmer than yesterday, so the three of us are headed out to ski later this afternoon once the Grand Duchess and Young Master arrive home.

Frigid winter weather provides the perfect excuse for extra time at the painting desk.  After all, one can hardly be asked to go (ok, 'sent') outside to clean out the gutters or engage in other kinds of domestic husbandly pursuits that, if we are honest, many husbands/male partners would rather not do.  So, I too have been plugging away with the 30 or so grenadiers in the composite battalion currently on the table.  

Most of my efforts the last few days have gone into getting the facings and turnbacks started with a dark red -- Citadel's Khorne Red -- which will then get a dash of Evil Sunz Scarlet applied very sparingly atop that.  I've also started to clean up figures here and there as I have gone along, trimming in edges and touching up adjacent areas.  Still lots of small things to paint, but they are starting to come together.  I hope you'll agree once I popt a photo update or two this evening.  Stay tuned!

-- Stokes

30 January 2019

It's -5 Degrees Faherenheit (-20.5 C.) in The Grand Duchy of Stollen Today. . .

Seemingly endless white washes followed by a feather touch of the bristles, each application holding a small drop of black paint, to the gaiter buttons has yielded a nut unpleasing effect to this company of Hessen-Darmstadt Leibgrenadiers.  I was extremely careful to run the very tip of the bristles across the raised buttons and, fortunately, made very few mistakes that required fixing.  Some days, the stars align just right!

The Young Master's school district, along with many others in the area, has closed and, in a very rare move, so too has Michigan State University and will be again tomorrow (Thursday).  The university has only closed half a dozen times due to winter weather in its history, so you know it's cold.  My sister tells me that a client of hers, who is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and with whom she spoke on the telephone this morning, mentioned that is was -27 degrees Fahrenheit there.  

"Zoiks!" as Shaggy used to intone on Saturday morning episodes of the original Hanna-Barbera animated cartoon Scooby Doo, which my sister and I never missed during the 1970s.  "And I would have succeeded if it hadn't been for those meddling kids!"

In any case, the cold provides a perfect excuse to stay warm inside and apply bush to figures.  So, here is where we stand this afternoon with the current batch on the painting table.  You'll see that I have redone the gaiters and garters on the white-clad Hessen-Darmstadt Leibgrenadiers and carefully dragged bristles of black paint over the gaiter buttons.  I've also repainted the breeches and waistcoats of the related officers red.  Next up, the facings and turnbacks.

I also spent some time this morning, after taking care of some online administrative duties for my cancelled classes, looking through my files, copies of various old prints, I have saved into a folder on my computer desktop, for colorful ideas on how I might paint subsequent units of soldiers.  In particular, I am thinking of additional units of combined grenadiers since 30 or infantry figures at a time seem to go reasonably fast.  Lots of room for color if I base these future units some of the uniforms worn by Wurttemburg toops, admittedly outside the confines of the WAS or SYW, as well as Polish Crown Garde, and a few of the lesser states.  In other words figures painted in yellows, light blues, and reds, to provide some additional color beyond the usual dark blue and white.

In addition, there was a Dutch regiment of the mid-18th century, the Walen Infantry, that for a very short while apparently wore Russian uniforms.  If I can uncover some likely flag possibilities, I might just give them to those Minden Russian musketeers I picked up last fall and call 'em Dutch instead of Russians.  We'll see, but I am getting ahead of myself here.  Let's get the current two companies of grenadiers finished first, shall we?

-- Stokes

27 January 2019

How We Suffer for the Hobby. . .

Backtracking a bit here for the white clad Hessen-Darmstadt Leibgrenadiers at right, a frustrating exercise, but this is where we are as of 3:59pam Eastern Standard Time on Sunday afternoon.

Time spent this morning and mid-afternoon redoing the white gaiters and garters on the Hessen-Darmstadt half of my composite grenadier battalion (Argh!!!).  I've taken the opportunity to add the basic brown horse color for the mounted officer as well as the red (Khorne Red, Evil Sunz Scarlet, and very sparse pure Scarlet atop that)breeches, waistcoats, and saddle cloth for the officers plus the drummer's coat for the Kurkoeln Wildenstein drummer.  

And now, it's time to do something that actually helps pay the bills (and purchase life's essentials. . .  more brushes, paints, military history or wargaming hobby books, and soldiers).  No more putting it off.  No way.  No how.  I absolutely must see to some preparation for tomorrow's two classes before returning, hopefully, for an hour or so this evening.  Keep your fingers and toes crossed!

-- Stokes

 I managed to locate a larger version of this lovely Knoetel print online, which not only shows an enlisted man of Hessen-Darmstadt's Leibgrenadierekorps, but also an officer in the near background.  While text references are handy, nothing helps during the painting process like one or two good visual references.  To borrow a term from one Mr. Conrad Kinch, click on the illustration to "embiggen.".

26 January 2019

Neckstocks & Shoulder Belts Blocked In. . .

Two shots taken this afternoon after the latest couple of Saturday morning and afternoon painting sessions.  They're actually beginning to look pretty good if I do say so myself.  Blast!  Looking at Kronoskaf again, I see that the Hessen-Darmstadt Leib Grenadiers at right had WHITE gaiters, and the officers wore RED breeches and waistcoats.  Sigh.  Back to the ol' drawing board.

Since last we met, I have finished up the various white areas using mostly a #1 round, especially on the waistcoats peeking our from beneath the coats, painted in the black and red stocks, mustaches, and blocked in grey and dark brown for the shoulder straps.  

While I was somewhat anxious about painting these given the level of detail on Minden figures, painting so far has, on the contrary, been a real joy.  There is just no getting away from it.  The absolute winning combination of:  1) well-sculpted, crisp castings; 2) brushes with good points, and; 3) paint that flows from the tip of the bristles to just the spot you intend without running everywhere (in other words the right consistency) has made things a pleasure.  What else is there to say? 

Of course, I have painted plenty of Minden, Fife&Drum, and Crann Tara castings before, but these have usually been in much smaller numbers at any one time, in the shape of command or civilian vignettes and/or support elements.  It's a different kettle of fish when you paint essentially identical figures in multiples of 12 or more in one go I think.

In any case, we're getting close to the home stretch with these.  Here's how I plan to move forward with Kurkoeln's Wildenstein Infantry grenadiers (blue) and Hessen-Darmstadt's Leib Grenadiers (white):

Facings -- Dark Red with Bright Red Highlights
Shoulder Belts -- White and Light Brown Highlights
Musket Stocks -- Mid-Brown Highlights  and White Straps
Musket Barrels/Bayonets -- Oil-based Silver
Scabbards -- Black Tipped with Brass
Wigs -- Tan Undercoat with White Highlight
Super-detailing -- Not sure yet if I'll attempt the many buttons, or leave 'em as is. 
Any Necessary Touch-ups
Acrylic Gloss -- Two Coats

So, still lots to do, but most of these things are pretty small, so we'll see how it goes.  I hope to squeeze in another session at the painting table this evening after the Young Master's bedtime.

One final thing that crossed my mind this afternoon as I painted away that might be old news to many of you, but I'm not sure it has ever actually occurred to me.  Basically, when you paint, a degree of subtlety is called for, especially once the larger areas of figures have been blocked in, and you move onto smaller details.  You don't want to wield your brush like a bull in a china shop, but rather gently tease your paint onto items like tiny straps, belts, buckles, and buttons with a lighter, even feather-like touch.  It requires that your body is relaxed (your mind too) and free of stress.  

Combine that painting approach with bright light over your painting area, decent brushes, paints that are thinned enough to flow well without running, along with some patience, and you'll find yourself making gradually fewer mistakes as you paint that need fixing later.  It's just one more way to save some time and get your troops to the table a wee bit faster than might otherwise be the case.

-- Stokes


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