The Road to Yorktown – A monologue on miniature size and compatibility

Although I don’t want to make this blog too emphasized on painting, I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss miniature sizes and compatibility between ranges by showing off my WIP thus far. I’ve decided to start my AWI collection by painting up the armies from the Philadelphia campaign in 1777. Although there are more generic ways to depict the conflicts, I’ve found it enjoyable to organize regiments and research uniforms. 

With it comes to miniatures in the 25mm/28mm spectrum in the AWI, there are a plethora of choices one can make with new ranges and expansions popping up all the time. For instance, the fairly recent Brigade Games Kickstarter release comes to mind. Then there are more established ranges, like Old Glory. However, without a doubt the most extensive and comprehensive range on the market is by Perry Miniatures, who have recently begun adding the Spanish to their AWI (currently done by no other major 28mm manufacturer). For a long while, Perry was also the only major manufacturer with a 28mm Saratoga range, and even now they have fairly unique offerings like the Volunteers of Ireland and southern/hot-weather troops in Shirt Sleeve order.

However, I feel it would be remiss not to mention Fife & Drum Miniatures. A quick aside, however, is that technically Fife & Drum are 1/56 scaled, not 28mm. 25/28mm is an arbitrary height usually defined as measured from the bottom of the miniature’s feet to the eyeline. 1/56 are proportionally and realistically scaled at 1/56 the size of their real life counterparts. 28mm figures are often not proportionally scaled, and can have unrealistic sized features  (hands, heads, etc.) or equipment. However, 1/56 figures are roughly the same height as 28mm, and so for our purposes they will do. 

The Fife & Drum range has been praised for its realistic proportions and beautiful sculpting and comes highly recommended. Though the range is not not as extensive as Perry or some older ranges, it is still expanding, having just begun a release of its own Saratoga campaign figures. Like Perry, it also boasts some unique offerings in the British Brigade of Guards’ flank and hat companies. 

When I started looking into beginning an AWI collection a year ago, I came across consistent recommendations for both Fife and Drum and Perry (in one peculiar case for the latter, I remember at my first Historicon being told “Perry. Nothing. But. Perry.”). Now, there are other ranges that have piqued my interest and I plan to add to my collection (For example, King’s Mountain Miniatures with its unique head sculpt options, Eureka for their awesome looking Ragged Continentals, and Foundry, Front Rank, and Old Glory for some of their personality options as well). But when it came to actually start collecting, I decided to go with Perry and Fife & Drum to start with.

However, with all the ranges a question that is consistently posed is compatibility. Are the miniatures of different ranges in such different proportions that they look alien and out of place when next to one another on the tabletop? While the answer is subjective, I thought I would take the opportunity to compare Fife & Drum to Perry in what I feel is very apples to apples comparison.

Other comparisons exist but since one of the purchases I made included American officers from both ranges, I thought I would take advantage of two similar looking sculpts for a comparison

I’ve started by ordering some plastic Continental Sets and American officers from Perry Miniatures as well as the Lord Cornwallis, British Mounted Officer, and two American general officers from Fife & Drum. So these are an example of American generals in uniform from each range. I had already painted the Perry one, so for reference the Perry figure is the one already painted.

Perry on the left, Fife & Drum on the Right

Since I am doing the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign, I’ve started with Greene’s First Division of Virginia Continentals, starting withe 1st Virginia Continentals as they would have appeared in 1777 – Blue faced scarlet regimental coats, dyed hunting shirts trimmed with scarlet, and the round hats that were popular with Virginia troops. Here are Fife and Drum generals with Perry rank & file of the 1st Virginia. 

So the Fife & Drum figures are narrower, thinner, and have more realistic hand sizes than the Perry figures. The Perry figures are more… prosperous and corpulent (maybe not as much as other ranges, but still). 

This doesn’t include infantry from Fife & Drum, whose 1/56 muskets are apparently longer than the 28mm ranges. This may look awkward as a mix infantry group from ranges, but separately may appear fine. I would say cavalry figures and personalities mixed together are fine for several reasons – one, horses and people come in different sizes. In fact, I plan on using one of the Fife & Drum American generals as a staff officer to a Perry Washington sculpt command base. 

I plan on reviewing additional ranges as I add to my collection, but I’ll leave some final notes on each range:

Fife & Drum:

  • The sculpts had no flash or mold lines. This is the first time I’ve encountered this with metal miniatures. Either the mold is of high quality or Fife & Drum has pretty amazing quality assurance in making sure figures don’t have these blemishes. I appreciate this. It saves a step in the painting process and frankly should be a step taken by other manufacturers. 
  • The miniatures are finely detailed.
  • While finely detailed, the sculpts are delicate. An American General officer with a cockade feather in his hat had the feather broken. While I was able to remedy this with Green Stuff without issue, it is something to look out for. 
  • The officers, while thinner and on smaller horses, mix with Perry officers and plastics with no appreciable difference in scale. 


  • Good detail. 
  • Pose variation with figures representing dynamic actions. Not only with Plastics, but in their metal ranges too. 
  • Range variety
  • Mold lines and flash were commonplace. To be expected, but one American officer had his face ruined by a mold line that deformed his nose when it was removed.

The Road to Yorktown: British Grenadier – A First Impression of the rulebook

When I initially envisioned this review, I had anticipated this would be a comparison between British Grenadier and Black Powder with its Rebellion supplement as a ruleset for wargaming battles in the American War of Independence. These were the two most recommended rulesets on miniature boards such as TMP, with the consensus typically being that British Grenadier is a more authentic ruleset but more complex and takes longer to play, whereas Black Powder is the more accessible (popular) game and quicker to play but also a more generic set of rules. 

But then the COVID 19 Pandemic happened. I’ve ordered Black Powder and its Rebellion supplement, but as of today, Warlord Games (publisher of Black Powder) is currently shut down for shipping out physical orders. I in no way fault Warlord for an act of nature (exacerbated as it might have been by incompetent authorities and careless people in numerous countries, but I digress) but it has put my planned comparison on hold for the foreseeable future.

However, I was able to get a hold of the deluxe edition of British Grenadier from On Military Matters. I would like to give a special thanks to Dennis at On Military Matters, who was prompt, communicative, and shipped the order in a timely manner. 

So instead of a comparative review, I thought I would leave my first impressions of the rules. I have yet to take to the tabletop to play out a game with fully painted figures, but I have messed around with the rules by proxy. 

The book is beautifully bound and very well illustrated. The set I received included a beautifully crafted player sheet. 

The book is informative and the rules for the most part are well written and seem to emphasize a historical basis. Certain mechanics often include first hand accounts to illustrate the basis for said mechanic. As someone who is interested in the period, I think this was a great way to go about mechanic justification. For example, on page 66, for rules concerning the firing artillery overhead of friendly infantry, Continental Private Joseph Martin’s account is quoted about acting as an artillery covering party and how the uphill Continental artillery fired over the heads of Martin and his comrades at the Battle of Monmouth. 

The rule system is derived from the Napoleonic system General de Brigade though it is far more than just an AWI sticker slapped on a Napoleonic format. At its heart, British Grenadier’s raison d’etre is the concept of a disruption point system. Disruption Points (DP) represent the friction of war, and represent the manifestations of the difficulties of leading formations of troops in rough terrain and under fire. Incurred by either movement or combat, DPs can be rallied off but require a unit not to move in that turn. Additionally, a unit cannot take casualties unless it has incurred 3 DPs. This requires commanders to either take time to rally off DPs or to risk casualties to keep momentum in attacks going. I think this is a very realistic system, but I have yet to try it out against another player. 

Additionally, the AWI setting and scholarship has lent to the rules’s focus on the use of open and skirmish order. Like Loose Files and American Scramble, in British Grenadier, certain troops can march and fight in open order and skirmish order. Far from the shoulder-to-shoulder depictions of artistic license and Hollywood, it was a common place practice (especially in the British Army) to use open order (with spaces between each file of soldiers). This was a tactic necessitated by the heavily wooded and less developed terrain of North America. This is reflected in the rules with an emphasis on this type of fighting. 

This was a ruleset written to accurately reflect combat of the period and it shows. 

However, there are several surprising flaws with the book. Like most rulesets, there are certain sections that could benefit from clarifying language. I personally found the section about line infantry formations confusing, as several types of columns and squares are illustrated but not line infantry in close order. Information about close order line formations is present but in the section under open order infantry and there are no accompanying illustrations. Your experience may differ, but it took a careful rereading of this section for me to how to understand these line infantry formations are depicted in games.

 Yet what was the most surprising negative for me was a major omission involving one of the game’s key mechanics. DPs are a key mechanic in the game. And a common way DPs are incurred is by a poor movement result, with a movement roll of a 1 or 2 (2 only for better units such as elite units on an AvD dice) incurring a DP for the unit. This, however, is omitted in the Deluxe Edition of the rules. (I had to look up a separate Errata sheet published on the General de Brigade website for the correction). While the reasons for such errors and omissions of this nature are understandable, what makes this particular exclusion puzzling is that this was not a mistake made in the original publication of the rules and that somehow this important tidbit was deleted in the process of making the Deluxe Edition. Furthermore, this omission was repeated on the playsheet included with the book. 

That said, the existence of the Errata sheet covers most of the similar types of miscues I encountered in the book. 

Additionally, the books include some historical scenarios – Sainte Foy from the Seven Years War/French & Indian War, Bunker Hill, Freeman’s Farm, and the Battle of Chippawa from the War of 1812. The inclusion of non-AWI scenarios is a positive bonus which is meant to demonstrate the flexibility of the rules for gaming conflicts outside of the scope of the AWI. However, the original rules included Guilford Courthouse, which was dropped for the Deluxe Edition. A new version of Guilford Courthouse, as well as additional scenarios, are available in supplementary scenario books. 

To surmise, these are a ruleset that set out to capture battles as they were fought in the AWI. I still have yet to play a full game to give my full opinion, but overall I would say my first impressions are mostly positive.

The Road to Yorktown: War-gaming the American War of Independence

Battle of Guilford Courthouse – 15 March 1781 by H. Charles McBarron. The Continentals of the Maryland Brigade prepare to stand against the British Brigade of Guards while William Washington’s Continental Dragoons charge in the background. Major General Nathanael Greene is depicted in the left background. It is one of my favorite depictions of the period.

I’ve recently decided to try my hand at war-gaming the American War of Independence. I’ve always been fascinated with the period, but I must admit that in history and in war gaming it is a relatively new period for me so to speak. As an amateur historian, my field of expertise is the American Civil War. As a wargamer, most of my gaming experience has been limited to pike and shot blocks and heavy cavalry charges of 17th century eastern European warfare in By Fire and Sword. This is not to say that I am completely out of my league here. Several books on the American War of Independence grace my shelf, including Ron Chernow’s Washington: A Life, David Hackett Fischer’s Washington’s Crossing, and the newly released Rick Atkinson’s The British are Coming. 

I have decided to document my journey through the war-gaming the American War of Independence (AWI). Now I know I am not the first to run such a blog. Several great blogs exist on war-gaming in the AWI, such as Tarleton’s Quarter and Der Alte Fritz Journal. However, I decided to come in with the perspective of someone is totally new to war-gaming the period. This is also going to a major switch for me because I am switching scales. By Fire and Sword and Flames of War are wargames based in 15mm scale, I have decided I want to switch to 28mm for AWI. This is not to say that there are not 15mm options for the AWI. There are many 15mm manufacturers of AWI miniatures (particularly the excellent Peter Pig). However, I want to try a new scale with this new period of warfare. There are numerous manufacturers of 28mm miniatures for the American War of Independence: Perry Miniatures, Foundry (also sculpted by Alan Perry), Eureka Miniatures, and Fife and Drum miniatures are just a few I am considering at the moment. 

So where does one start when starting to war-game in this period? That’s a good question. I would say that it depends on you personally. For myself, I like to start by getting familiar with the campaigns, units, and leaders as much as possible. Authenticity and verisimilitude are important for me. Some might start by picking miniatures, since I already have done a little bit of research in this regard. Some might start by picking a campaign. I have a few in mind (the 1777 Saratoga  Campaign, the 1779-81 Southern campaigns, and the 1777-78 Philadelphia campaigns), but that is in its own time for me. I’d rather start with a rule set, and then pick my scenarios and miniatures for those scenarios from there.

I’ve been doing some research and I’ve seen two rule sets highly recommended – British Grenadier and Black Powder with the Rebellion supplement. I’ve played Black Powder before, but not with the Rebellion supplement. I was playing Napoleonics on a relatively small board (an 1815 Waterloo campaign battle of a Dutch-Belgian division versus a French division) which was a fun game but I was left with the impression that it was suited for a larger table than what I played on. British Grenadier I have not played, but it is a modification from General de Brigade for Napoleonics  that I have seen great reviews for. I’ll be looking into both of these rule sets before I make a decision. 

In the meanwhile, watch this space. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What on earth does OFITG History stand for?

A. OFITG stands for “One Foot in the Grave.” This is not because I am a fan of the British television series, but because of an injury that left me an amputee. I find the reference to be appropriate, given my interests in history and the fact that I literally have a foot that transcended the plains of our existence.

Q. We have seen your miniature painting and hobby stuff. But when in the history coming?

A. To paraphrase the caricature of a popular fantasy author, “It’s coming.”

Painting Swedish Veteran Reiters: The cavalry of Charles X Gustav

“Gustav Adolf’s best cavalry were his Swedish nationals… Most feared of all were Stålhandske’s light-armed Finns, the “Hakcapells”(named after their war-cry Hakkaa päälle – Hack ‘em down!) who took no prisoners. The German cavalry were a very mixed bunch, ranging from regiments like Courvill’s and Ohm’s which had fought in the Polish campaign, to hastily recruited units that had yet to be issued standards. On the whole they were distinctly inferior … it was for this reason that Gustav Adolf strengthened them by ‘interlining’ bodies of musketeers between the squadrons.” (1)

Although King Charles X Gustav’s invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was more than two decades after Gustav Adolf’s bloody battle at Lützen, the nature of Sweden’s mounted arm had not drastically changed in the intervening years. From the hard-hitting Finnish veterans to German mercenaries who were recent recruits to the Swedish flag, Charles X Gustav depended on his cavalry for offensive action and charges. In the insurgent war that followed the Swedish occupation of much of the country, in which infantry had a hard time covering the times and spaces needed to confront the cavalry-heavy Poles, Charles X became increasingly reliant on his cavalry arm. It is noteworthy that at the war’s largest battle, Warsaw in 1656, more than two-thirds of the Swedish-Brandenburger army under Charles X’s command were cavalry. Despite their inferiority to their Polish and Imperial counterparts, Swedish cavalry by the time of the Deluge included veteran troops and disciplined commanders who usually acquitted themselves well on the battlefield.

It is only natural that my next painting project will focus on these grizzled units of the Swedish cavalry arm, 15mm veteran reiters for my By Fire and Sword collection (links here for the main store and here for the US store). I’ve done things slightly differently with my painting method, and as a result I am very pleased with the results. I used Vallejo Glaze Medium with my paints and altered my method accordingly. This is for three purposes. I’m not actually using a glazing technique, per se, but I am using the properties of the glaze medium to achieve a kind of wet blend. The glaze medium acts a both a thinner and a retardant, and delays the drying time for the paint. This allows me to mix in highlight colors on raised areas and provides a smoother and less harsh contrast. The glaze medium also provides an excellent texture when dried. I got this idea from watching Miniac’s video on wet blending here. This was my first time using this technique or attempting to ape wet-blending in general. While my results might not be the best example of wet-blending, I like the final finish and I’ve decided to adopt this method going forward.

So in essence: 1. Lay a base color mixed with glaze medium. You want to make sure the pigment is thin but not too thin. If the paint is too runny like a wash or ink, add more of the color to the mix. Clean the brush immediately with clean water (have a cup at your paint station, even if you use a wet palette) and wipe your brush on a paper towel. Then immediately use a mix of a highlight color, base color, and glaze medium blend. Paint this on the raised areas or areas exposed to light, leaving recessed unpainted. Clean the brush. Line (a method opposite of highlighting where you paint darker colors into the recesses) the recessed area with the base color/glaze mix. Clean the brush. Finally, hit the highlight color (or highlight mixed) combined with the medium. on the highest raised areas or the areas that would be most exposed to light. Clean the brush. Further line and apply highlights as necessary.

Using faces as an example (following the adage of “Good Faces, Bases, and Flags”).

Painting the face part 1
Base the face

1. Base coat of Mourfang Brown and glaze mix.

Wet palette. Miniature painting.
Wet palettes help keep paints wet for longer periods and are a nice tool to have. Note water cups to the left.

2. Clean brush applied a 40/60 Brown/Flat Flesh and glaze mix on the cheeks, forehead and nose.

3. Clean brush. Lined the eyes and the bottom creases of the cheeks with Mourfang Brown/glaze mix.

4. Clean brush. Apply a Flat Flesh and glaze mix on the top of the cheeks, nose, and the center of the forehead.

Swedish Reiters
Final Face result
Painting By Fire and Sword
… and from a slightly different angle.

From start to finish, painting this face took about six minutes. This is not as fast as a straight base coat and contrasted highlighted (about three minutes in my case) or using something like a dip or stain (barring the drying times for those methods), but the result is much more nuanced and textured in a manner that it is worth the extra steps and the slight increase in time spent in my opinion.

Painting By Fire and Sword
The paints used for faces:

Refer to paint comparison charts if you need to use a substitute.

What I used: Uses:
Vallejo Glaze Medium As a thinner and retardant to assist with blending, highlighting, lining, and to result in an excellent texture when dry
Vallejo Gloss Varnish First layer of varnish on the miniature. For maximum protection.
Vallejo Matt Varnish Second and final layer of varnish applied to the miniatures twelve hours after the first.
Citadel Chaos Black Spray Primer
Citadel Mourfang Brown Face & fleshtone base color. Also used to base the bay color horses.
Vallejo Model Color Flat Flesh Face & fleshtone highlight color, used to mix highlight with browns for some bay colored horses, though to a lesser extent than the faces.
Vallejo Model Color White Highlight color for cravats and small clothes, and to highlight the base colors for the wool coats, boots, scabbards, and hats.
Citadel Wazdakka Red Base color for red
Vallejo Model Color Hull Red Used to base coat wood on pistols
Vallejo Model Color Mahogany Brown Highlight color on the pistols. Mixed with yellow in 50/50 to highlight leather. Mixed with black to highlight the chestnut colored horse.
Citadel Rhinox Hide Used to base coat leather
Vallejo Model Color Dark Prussian Blue Base color for the blue wool coat
Vallejo Model Color Military Green Base color for the green wool coat
Privateer Press P3 Greatcoat Grey Base color for the gray wool coat
Vallejo Model Color Chocolate Brown Base color for two hats
Privater Press P3 Ironhull Grey Base color for the gray hat and for the cravats and white colors
Vallejo Model Color Oily Steel Used to paint the pistol barrels and gunmetal
Vallejo Model Color Black Base color for boots and scabbards. Also base for the chestnut colored horse.
Vallejo Model Color Brass Base color for sword hilts
Vallejo Model Color White Primer Priming the base for the unit
Vallejo Model Color Flat Earth Base color for the base. Mixed with matt varnish to ensure protection for the base while handling. Drybrush highlight on the base.
Citadel Stirland Mud Texture paint for the base

So from start to finish:

preparing miniatures
Pre-painting preparation

Cleaned the miniatures in a water/dish washing liquid mix and a toothbrush to clear away casting dust and to leave a clean surface for the primer. Cut away mold lines with an X-Acto knife. Super-glued the riders to their horses.

Primed miniatures
Post priming

Used PVA glue to temporarily attach the old rulers and primed.

Swedish reiters
One reiter finished. The second rider has been painted, but still needs his mount painted.

Base color and highlights for the riders. Moved them to an old bottle to use as a paint handle. Painted the riders first, then the horses.

Swedish reiters
The varnishing process has not been shown.
Basing Swedish Reiters
Attached to the base.

Returned to the rulers with PVA glue to varnish. I used paint-on varnish because my area is too hot and humid this time of year to reliably use a spray varnish. Double varnished, with an initial layer of gloss varnish and followed twelve hours later with a matt varnish to kill the glossy effect of the first varnish. Shook the varnish well and slightly thinned with water.

Textured base on Swedish reiters
After an application of Stirland Mud

Super-glued the figures on to the pre-primed base. Applied the base coat/matt varnish mix. After waiting for that to dry, I applied the texture paint carefully to the base, carefully avoiding the attached miniatures with the texture paint. I cleaned up the edge of the base where texture paint wound up on it.

Painted Swedish Reiters, By Fire and Sword.
The finished base

After waiting for the texture base to dry, I applied a drybrush highlight and then static grass and bushes. Voila!

  1. Richard Brzezinski, Lutzen 1632: Climax of the Thirty Years War (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2001), 21.

Painting Buff Coats in By Fire and Sword: A Guide.

Author’s note: While this guide was written for the miniatures made by Wargamer for their proprietary game By Fire and Sword, this guide can ostensibly used for any 15mm miniature or ruleset that takes place in the seventeenth century that features buff coats. For larger scale miniatures, additional intermediate highlight colors between the base coat and the final highlight may be required.

Buff coats are one of the most common armor types seen in western unit types in By Fire and Sword. Reiters, cuirassiers, some infantry (mainly pikemen), and certain officers would have worn buff coats. These are modeled and represented on the miniatures of the game as men with long, thigh-length coats. These can be painted as either buff coats or as regular wool coats, depending on the look you are attempting to achieve for your soldiers. As armies of the period trended away from the heavier full plate armor cuirasses, buff coats became a popular and cheaper alternative, especially with cavalry units. The buff coat was a compromise between the heavy, expensive immobility of a full plated cuirass and the more affordable but significantly more vulnerable wool coat. Buff coats could be seen from units ranging from the Eighty Years War to the English Civil War to the War of Spanish Succession.

If you play By Fire and Sword and have a faction that uses reiters or similar armor types, you will probably find yourself painting buff coats at some point. Buff coats, being made from a tanned animal hide (ranging from ox to elk hide), are usually a brownish-yellowish color.

What you will need:

A unit with a buff coat. Featured in this guide are pikemen from Wargamer’s Imperial infantry set. I’m using a set I initially painted when I new to the hobby, but want to repaint to bring them into line with my recent standard of painting. These are meant to represent infantry from the late Thirty Years’ War period of the 1640s. At this time, plate armor had fallen out of favor with the Imperial pikemen. Even buff coats themselves were becoming less popular in favor of ordinary woolen coats (1).

A black/dark/cold colored spray primer. I used Citadel’s Chaos Black spray, but you may use any black or dark gray spray primer. You may use a painted-on primer if you wish, but a spray primer will save you time.

Paints (duh!). You may choose the paints of whatever paint maker or provider you like, as long as your colors roughly match (To avoid confusion, use or a similar paint chart). The paints I typically used were Citadel Steel Legion Drab, Citadel Tallarn Sand, and Vallejo Model Color White.

To paint a buff coat, you have three steps: 1. Priming 2. Base Coat. 3. Highlight

For these figures, the left and right figures will have sleeveless buff coats, while the center figure will wear a plain red wool coat. To paint a full coat, you simply have to include the sleeves in your painting process. To paint a sleeveless buff coat, you only paint the torso, blouse, skirt, and tails of the coat, leaving the arms to be whichever color you desire. Additionally, the figure on the right in the top photograph has a small metal breastplate, which has been burnished in black. While plate armor was falling out of favor with Imperial pikemen, it perhaps would not have been uncommon to see a breastplate or two, especially if a soldier was to be in the front rank.

After having cleaned and primed your miniature, you will need to provide a base coat. For the base coat, I will use Steel Legion Drab. Be sure to thin your paint appropriately (or use a wet palette as I do) to avoid clogging details with excess paint. Once your base coat is down, your next step is the highlight. For 15mm scale, you only have room and detail for one bright highlight typically, as the smaller size of the miniature will mean that the nuance of a two-step highlight is lost. To ensure maximum contrast and attention to detail, you need to make sure your highlight is well chosen and painted. The highlight is best painted on raised areas, such as the ridges of folds in the clothes and the tops of creases. To ensure maximum detail, the highlight should cover the raised areas, but the base coat should still be visible in recessed areas.

To provide a maximum variation between the base coat and the highlight, I use a mix of two parts Tallarn Sand and one part Vallejo Model Color White. While Tallarn Sand by itself can be considered a highlight color for Steel Legion Drab, I find the white provides the extra brightness necessary to stand out from the base coat. If you don’t want to mix colors, you can still use a different yellow color for a highlight, such as Vallejo Model Color Iraqi Sand or Vallejo Model Color Desert Yellow. You could also alternate between using Tallarn Sand/White mix and one of the other desert colors on various models to provide a heterogeneous mix of yellow-brown colored hues, and to avoid an overly uniform shade for your buff wearing troopers.

Bonus: Iron Armor Plate

For the pikemen on the left above, I achieved an iron plate even though the sculpt does not originally feature one by simply painting over the torso where a plate would be with plan Vallejo Model Color Black. This plate covers the front and black. Once I achieved the basic outline of what the plate was, I highlighted it with a mix of 1/3rd White to black. This represents that most armor was simply burnished black to avoid rusting in the field.

1. Vladimir Brnardic, Imperial Armies of the Thirty Years’ War (1): Infantry and Artillery (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2009), 33.

A Whole Imperial Battalion.

In my last post, I detailed how I was painting musketeers from the Mansfield Regiment (circa Vienna Campaign of 1683) for my Imperial army for By Fire and Sword. I’ve now completed a whole battalion, with four companies. Here they are in a standard post-Thirty Years’ War pike-and-shot formation, with pikemen in the center and squadrons of musketeers on the flanks. They are supported here by a regimental 3lb cannon. These are representative of Imperial-Habsburg infantry units who would fight in the War of the Holy League against both the Ottomans until the 1690s as well as Louis XIV of France and his wars of expansion. By the end of these conflicts, there would be drastic changes in the infantry’s equipment and appearance. The pikes would disappear, obsoleted by the socket bayonet. Infantry would adopt tricorns to replace the slouch hat and the flintlock fusil would see widespread adoption over the less reliable matchlock musket.

Infantry Battalion from the Mansfield Regiment, Habsburg Imperial army.

I simplified my painting process somewhat. I still prime in black, but I just use a base color and then a single but highly contrasted highlight on raised surfaces and edges. This saves the times from painting third highlights (which are not really perceptible in 15mm scale) or waiting for washes to dry without sacrificing visual quality or fidelity.

It is worth noting that for the actual period that By Fire and Sword (1648-1672) is set in, the Imperial infantry would have worn red uniforms as noted by a description by French diplomat Frischmann here:

“… there were about 5,000 infantrymen, all dressed in red cloth.”

Frieschmann was describing the forces of the anti-Swedish coalition in Denmark during the Second Northern War. A fuller version of his quote, including a description of Polish and Brandenburg units in addition to Imperial units, can be seen here. It is presumed that the Imperial army would have worn red uniforms in the 1663 war against the Turks. Additionally, there are artistic depictions of Imperial infantry in red as late as the 1676 Siege of Phillipsburg.

However, given that the Vienna Campaign took place only a little more than two decades after the Second Northern War, and that the pearl-gray/off-white color is strongly associated with the Habsburg army uniform (there are examples of Imperial regiments under Field Marshal Gallas adopting the color in 1645, partly as a cost saving measure as the color was essentially undyed wool), I chose pearl-gray as the uniform color for this time (1). I do have plans for an entire Imperial regiment in period appropriate red, however.

Make Ready!
Open Fire!

Up next on the painting list are some Swedish cavalry units that will serve for both the Thirty Years’ War and Second Northern War, followed by Imperial Croats.

1. Geoffrey Parker, ed., The Thirty Years’ War, 2nd ed., (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), 171-2; Vladimir Brnardic, Imperial Armies of the Thirty Years’ War (1): Infantry and Artillery (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2009), 37-8.

Painting Little History: Habsburg Musketeers from the Imperial Mansfeld Regiment, Vienna Campaign, 1683

“Here we think of nothing except military affairs. Last Monday the Dieppental battalion, 500 strong, was inspected by the imperial commissaries. Nine hundred horses and 169 wagons for the artillery, and 19 large anchors for warships, also arrived; while the same day, the foot marched out along the Tabor road to the suburbs, and went down the Danube next morning. On Tuesday 3 craft from Steyr came in, with 2,000 cannon-ball, and many thousands of smaller shot. Half of the Scherffenberg regiment (with 1,020 men) also arrived, and marched through the city … Today, half the Mansfeld regiment (again 1,020 men) were stationed outside the Burg-gate at 9 0’clock, when the Emperor went out of town to hunt; he took the opportunity to inspect them. They were well clad in grey, with blue facings …” – Observer in Vienna, April 22, 1683, quoted in John Stoyer, The Siege of Vienna: The Last Trial of Cross and Crescent (New York: Pegasus Books, 2006), 63.

I’ve recently been expanding my collection of Imperial units for the game By Fire and Sword. I’ve been working on completing at least two regiments of Holy Roman Empire infantry. The first will be painted as Imperial infantry for the Vienna campaign of 1683, while the second would be for Imperial infantry for the 1657-60 Northern War in red uniforms.

Given it is the more famous engagement, I decided to start with the troops from the later Vienna campaign. Using the first hand account of the uniform of the Mansfeld Regiment quoted in Stoyer’s book, I decided to use the Mansfeld regiment as an example unit.

I started by cleaning and preparing the miniatures. I then glued them with PVA glue to a couple of cheap old rulers to provide a base to hold while I painted. I then primed the miniatures with Games Workshop Chaos Black Primer spray. For the uniform coats, I base coated with Vallejo Model Color Basalt Grey. To add definition, I then went over with a coat of Games Workshop Nuln Oil shade. Then I highlighted with either Vallejo Model Color Sky Grey or Vallejo Game Color Ghost Grey. This gives a variety in color which reflects that uniform dyes weren’t quite so precise and that the coats would appear different shades due to natural wear and appearance. The cuffs and other visible facings were then painted with Vallejo Model Color Prussian Blue, shaded with Nuln Oil, and then highlighted with a Prussian Blue/White mix. Next painted were faces, hats, trousers and stockings, and shoes. This were of various colors, but I’ll give an example of each below.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Faces: Vallejo Game Color Beasty Brown Base, with a Beasty Brown/IWM Paints 77-705 Flesh mix as a first highlight, leaving only the lowest recesses not covered. To give definition, Games Workshop Reikland Fleshshade was shaded over the base layers. Then a final cheek/forehead highlight of pure IWM Flesh was used, sometimes mixed with white on the nose bridge and forehead.

Hats: I varied between gray, black, and brown hats of various shades to reflect that these would often be a multitude of colors. For a basic example, I mixed Basalt Grey with Vallejo Model Color Chocolate Brown to give a brown-gray tint as a base coat. I washed with Games Workshop Agrax Earthshade for definition, and then highlighted with a White/base color mix. Sometimes, I edge highlighted with a extreme white/base color mix to give a “pop” to the hat rims.

Trousers: For red trousers, I started with a Vallejo Model Color Red base coat, shaded with Games Workshop Carroburg Crimson shade. I then highlighted with Vallejo Model Color Scarlet.

The results of this process you can see below. They are finished, needing only to be varnished and based before they are tabletop ready.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Welcome & Expectations

Hello, and welcome to OFITG History. This is a website for articles and videos on military and political history. These articles will cover mostly topics in history in which I specialize (such as the American Civil War, the Trans-Mississippi theater in particular) and which hold my interests. This includes but is not limited to such topics such as Republican Rome and Carthage, the Thirty Years War, the English Civil Wars, World War II, and the Vietnam War. Outside of these historical periods, I will also periodically focus on historical memory and its modern-day impacts. I may also occasionally feature works by guest authors on topics of their choice. All articles of a historical nature will include references to primary and secondary sources. All citations will follow guidelines established in The Chicago Manual of Style: Seventeenth Edition.

I will also have articles and posts on media and popular culture related to history, such as computer/video and tabletop wargames, books, and films. This includes miniature painting, discussions of popular historical films, and book reviews. This how portrayals of history in such media relate to historical memory.

Out of respect for you, dear reader, I will refrain from including modern political commentary, theological and religious discussions beyond the direct historical impacts of belief and the actions of believers and nonbelievers, and related modern controversies from my articles and posts.

I welcome comments and feedback, but ask that comments remain polite and civil. I reserve the right to remove or delete comments which promote hatred or bigotry in any form. Certain types of historical revisionism, such as Holocaust denial, will also not be tolerated.