Saturday, 31 January 2009

French dragoons (dragons)

















Called Dragons in French because of the gun they used to carry made them look like Dragons, or so goes the story.

We heard a rumour long ago before the internet that there was a dragoon reenactment group in France for this period. It turned out not to be true alas. It would certainly be a colourful thing but I suppose as expensive as some of the more glamorous options. French dragoons of this period are perhaps associated with the dragonnades - forcible billeting of dragoons on Protestant families. The picture at the top by Guerard is worth closer inspection as it's thought to depict a forcible billeting. It was a terrible thing for these families but it's a long time ago now. I'm cynical enough to think that would actually make a good scenario for an event - going round a village and forcibly billeting yourself in some poor unfortunate's house. Maybe not. Presumably dragoons weren't the gentlemen of the French cavalry for them to be used in this role being more of the vulgar fellows of the infantry.
Certainly something I'd like see and add to my wish-list of French units.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

King Monmouth!

Excellent and well researched wargame scenario including Orders of Battle. Game here

My attempts to recruit in the old days

More reenactment nostalgia - in this case slightly embarassing. This is me in my local paper trying to get recruits for the 1685 society in 2000. How many did we get from this act of self-debasement? None. But that's the sort of thing people felt the need to do before the Internet was everywhere - advertise in the real world. I always used to like the posters people in the English Civil War put out in the old days - in pubs, bakers shop windows...'would you like to fight for parliament' or something like that. I suppose now its more incestuous - advertising to people who are already reenactors...probably not so embarassing. For the record I didn't regularly walk out like this from my home...but that's the press for you.

A Grand Alliance

The late 1980s was a fertile time in the UK for the late 17th century or so it seemed. 1985 saw numerous Sedgemoor events and Devereux's my regiment in the English Civil War Society reenacted various skirmishes of the Glorious Revolution at places like Wincanton and Littlecote in 1988. Killiekrankie followed in 89. The National Army Museum staged an exhibition in 88 with interpreters recreating William III's army. Most of the wargames figures for the period were released at that time and there were new books on the subject such as the Louis XIV's army Osprey - in short it seemed as if this period was beginning to get momentum.
In the light of this we had a meeting - me Simon Frame and David Wilton and came up with the idea of The Grand Alliance - an international society of tercentenary groups that could come together for the League of Augsburg anniversaries through to the Marlburian events. Of course this was all before the internet and there wasn't any reenactment magazines in those days - there was no way of knowing who was out there in Europe - how were we to know that outside of the UK there was no real late 17th century scene at that time. We did go as far as trying to get an event at Namur for the siege there but things floundered for a while as there was no demand for 300th events until Blenheim came along in 2004. Nowadays there is no need for umbrella organisations as communications have meant that with the internet we can all keep up without constantly scouting for rumours of other reenactment societies.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Lord Mountcashel's Regiment

Some of our reenactment ideas have taken off and some haven't - some morphed into other ideas and so on. This idea was from around the mid 90s and was to be a reconstruction of this - Mountcashel's - one of the original Wild Geese regiments - eventually becoming the famous Lee regiment. The reason for doing this was the fact that the Irish Brigade was the home of English-speaking Jacobites as well as Irish and so we could be Anglophone Frenchmen, but this idea gave way to do Kirke's Regiment for the Monmouth Rebellion which was more geographically in our neck of the woods. However I still like the idea - not sure why as I am not Catholic but I think my association with lost causes takes over here. It's an attractive uniform with its lace and green cuffs etc. Official County Tyrone WebsiteKing James' Irish Army Lists 1689
I found some of the bumph we put out at Trade Fairs and so on. Here's an excerpt.
Historical background by David Wilton
Justin MacCarthy, Lord Mountcashel commanded the Irish Brigade in the service of France.
The regiment was formed in 1683 from a number of Irish independent companies which were part of the English garrison of Tangiers. It served in the campaign of 1689 receiving heavy casualties at Newtownbutler. Later it was part of a body of troops exchanged for a number of French units which were sent to Ireland.
Straight into the field the Irish Brigade contributed to Marshal Catinat's victories in Savoy against the Piedmotese in 1690. Mountcashel's distinguished themselves in these Alpine campaigns. Then served in the French Army in Catalonia where it was present at the storming of fortresses along the Franco-Spanish borders. The regiment then went on to fight in Germany and was present at the capture of Heidelberg. Mountcashel died of wounds in this campaign and he was replaced by Andrew Lee, formerly Lieutenant-colonel of Clare's Irish Regiment. Before the end of the war in 1698 the regiment fought in Italy and the Low Countries.

Henry Pitman - Monmouth Rebel

Full text of his exploits here

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Barry Lyndon (1975)

This movie set in the Seven Years War is being rereleased for the cinema - check your local listings. I used to be quite obsessed with this film and have always been interested in hearing stories about it. Some of my friends finished up with some of the uniforms - one had the Prussian officer's stuff worn by Hardy Kruger and someone else had the clothes worn by Leonard Rossiter. It's not the authenticity of this film that makes it so great - as it's not really that accurate - but the feel of it - the atmosphere that made this so influential.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Van der Meulen's cavaliers




While we're trying to work out the Kilmainham mystery (see below) I thought it might be interesting to look at some contemporary depictions of French cavalry from about this time by the master himself. Images from here. I think these sketches are interesting in as much as showing the processes that went into a battle painting.


Thursday, 22 January 2009

Kilmainham mystery battle painting

This is something quite fascinating and I hope you all pitch in to identify this mystery painting.
These images were sent by journalist Maurice Healy and he is hoping maybe some of us can shed some light on the identity of the subject and the artist. Hanging in the Kilmainham military hospital - (a Dublin version of the Chelsea Hospital and modelled on les Invalides) this painting was donated some time in the 19th century. It was originally thought to be the Boyne (1690) but on cleaning an earlier date was discovered.
It reads
Joa(h?)nne(s?) FAP(?) Ae(?) 1672
Events of 1672 here
The OPW - Office of Public Works would love to know more about the painting. Let's see what we can find out about it - the clothing styles certainly suggest 1672 is in the right time period but usually battle paintings are made a couple of years after the event. Short sleeved coats and cravats are depicted as well as some doublet type jackets suggesting earlier... but what battle? Anyone recognise the central figure or any of the flags? Any stylistic similarities with painters of that era? I'm not making any guesses as I want you all to look at it first and make your thoughts known.



























Besançon in the age of Vauban

By Heritage Virtuel. An amazing 3d reconstruction of Besançon's fortifications. Highly recommended. Just like being there in the late 17th century. Read about the place, its history etc in English in Fortified Places.

International Living History Fair

These living history fairs are great fun - even if you're not a reenactor. Books and all manner of other sundry items are there and I recommend it as a great day out for this time of year.
27th Feb- 1st March. Leamington Spa. Website here with all the traders who are going to be there so if you can't go you can browse the list online.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Cutthroat Island (1995)

Noticed this movie was on tv tonight and so thought I'd post a trailer. (If you don't get British tv you can watch it in parts here) I actually liked this film and I didn't like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies so what do I know? Known as one of the biggest movie flops of all time Cutthroat Island is a movie of excess but in a reasonably historically accurate (its set in 1668) sort of way. It's more like the old Hollywood pirate films and didn't really deserve to sink as badly as it did.


Battle of Texel 1673

Wiki here . I'm not that interested in naval battles but this painting is excellent and is worth enjoying.
By Willem van de Velde, the younger, painted 1683. The ship at the centre is Dutch Admiral Cornelis Tromp's flagship Gouden Leeuw, 82 guns.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The real Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe's great novel published in 1719 is thought to be based on a real person's exploits - usually Alexander Selkirk is the commonly known example but now thanks to new research it is thought to be based on the life of Henry Pitman - a Monmouth Rebel. Sent to a penal colony in Barbados he escaped to be marooned. His story was later published in A relation of the great sufferings and strange adventures of Henry Pitman Chyrurgion to the late Duke of Monmouth (1689). It seems like this book may be online - here are notes - anyone know how I can find it to read?
Defoe knew Pitman and had been a rebel himself in 1685. Wiki on Robinson Crusoe

Siege of a town


I don't know the date of this painting called Siege of a town by Van der Meulen but these close-up views of figures are interesting.

Mons 1691

I love these panoramas of sieges - they really give you an idea of the huge scale of these operations and generally repay careful scrutiny.
Vue panoramique des travaux du siège de Mons par Louis XIV en avril 1691 représentation des différents mouvements des troupes avec, au premier-plan, l'abbaye servant de quartier-général au Roi et camp de mousquetaires de la Maison du Roi Martin Jean-Baptiste, l'Ancien (1659-1735)

My email

If anyone wants to send me images, emails or whatever... ralphjmitchard@aol.com

Monday, 19 January 2009

Hounslow Heath picture

I've never seen this picture by Willem van de Velde of James II's army in review at Hounslow Heath in 1687 before - shame it's so small. Presumably available at the National Army Museum. www.national-army-museum.ac.uk/
Van de Velde usually did maritime paintings.

Count Frontenac and New France under Louis XIV

Although archaic in some of his views, Parkman is still a man to read when it comes to the history of America in the English language. Read the full book here

Partisan warfare or Petite Guerre in Europe

When we think about warfare in the age of Louis XIV we tend to think of it as an age before the age of the skirmisher - for that was surely a product of the Age of Reason later on but this was not the case as George Satterfield proves in his Princes Posts and Partisans which is up on Google books for previewing and I heartily recommend it. The blurb reads; This volume explores French partisan warfare in the Spanish Netherlands during the Dutch War (1672-78). It considers such practices as contributions, fire-raids, and blockades before sieges. The author relies extensively on archival sources, and in many cases explores events that have been passed over by similar studies. Louis XIV and his generals used partisan warfare to fit a strategy of exhaustion to ensure territorial conquest. The French army's reliance on partisan warfare reveals the limitations of the war-making potential of Louis XIV's state; at the same time it leads to the emergence of a more modern practice of military operations to pursue theater-strategic objectives.

Armies had supply lines that were vulnerable to attack and harassment from the fringes was a feature of the period. If you downloaded Richard Kane's A New System of Military Discipline there is a piece in there that reads:

And though we have got clear of the Horse, yet we must still be on our guard against an ambuscade. Wherefore, we should be much more careful in marching through these grounds than over the plain. And though it may seem impossible that a sufficient body of Foot could be sent from the enemy’s frontiers to waylay us, yet as they always have a number of partisan parties abroad who may hear of our march and so draw together and lie hid in some close cover; and though they durst not openly attempt us, yet if they find us on a careless march, may throw in among us, which would certainly put us under great confusion. And ‘tis hard to say what may be the consequence, for I have known some of these impudent fellows that have lain hid in a wood, fire upon the skirt of our grand army as we have been on the march. Wherefore I say, great care must be taken in marching through inclosed grounds where both the advance and rear guards ought to be more circumspect in looking about them, and send men off on every side to inspect into all suspected covers.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV, La - The Rise of Louis XIV

This 1966 tv movie by Rossellini is out for the first time so I thought it might be an opportunity to show a clip from it. Quite influential in its time though I am not mad on this film but I'm not much of a fan of court-set movies anyway but it has to be said it seems to have stood the test of time well. Imdb here Review here

Snaphanne movement

This interesting period of conflict in the 1670s was unknown to me but it might make an interesting wargame. Images here
'Swedish soldiers were ordered to cut the heads off captured Snapphane soldiers and impale their heads on poles set up along the roads, as a warning to others. Despite these terrible punishments, the Snapphane Movement's resistance continued and increased rather than abated. Bloodthirsty forest-dwellers or justified patriots? Which were they really, these mythical guerrilla warriors, the Snapphane of the borderlands?'
Read on at the Website here

The Loshult raid
Loshult coup is the name of a coup in the early Scanian war when North Scanian farmers managed to steal the entire Swedish war coffers when the shipment had set up camp in Loshult. Overall, there was money and valuables to a value of around 30 000 thalers in war coffers, in today's monetary value will be 70-80 million.

Friday, 16 January 2009

The Taunton Garrison

This living history group (website here) recreating the Monmouth Rebellion have gone from strength to strength to become the UK's premiere 1685 period society. Based in the heart of Monmouth country 'the hornet's nest of rebellion' they recreate Somerset Militia and Rebels in events around the West. Check them out for some inspiration if you fancy gaming this period.

Skirmish gaming 1685

In the Monmouth Rebellion there were a number of skirmishes -not huge numbers but some and therefore I think this period has a great deal of potential as a small scale recreation - maybe a fight for the possession of a village or farmhouse. First of all there is a lot of variety in the weapons, ranging from scythes and sticks to the double-barrelled pistols and carbines Monmouth's Lifeguard were armed with. All manner of firearms... pistols, fowling pieces, matchlocks are all in use so it's never going to boring. Monmouth's cavalry had inexperienced mounts which was a major factor in their poor performance. James II's Horse grenadiers would come into their own with their dual status and dragoons can be used in their traditional role. Because of the records that exist you can have actual names for most of the figures - at least on the Rebel side. The Somerset Militia are another interesting source of gaming fun - they wavered and joined the Rebels after early on skirmishes...they could be unassigned in their loyalty and their allegiance could be decided by dice throws.
Anyway it won't cost too much to try it out. ECW skirmish rules should do the trick. Won't have to paint hordes of the same figure either. Dragoon pic by me

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Danish troops 1660

Don't really know anything about this image. I found it on Tony Barton's 1/6th scale ECW matchlock musketeer article - which is well worth a look at.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Vauban Fort model

So if you have some small (6mm) figures, pretty soon you are going to be thinking about a fort. This one from Paper Terrain on card stock looks excellent. Only $18.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Pendraken 10mm League of Augsburg

Pendraken have dipped their toes into 10mm figs for the 9 Years War and WSS - they seem like interesting figures and maybe worth considering for use with Beneath the Lily Banners. If you want to see what they look like go the gallery here for some great photos.

'Duke of Marlborough' Maddy Prior

Bit of folk-rock for you - a traditional song apparently - about the famous Churchill. Nice video to go with it. I think the lyrics are here.

Monday, 12 January 2009

1688's battle that never was

Most people know the story; William of Orange lands at Torbay November 5th 1688 with about 14,000 men - mostly foreign professional soldiers. James II assembles his own army and marches out to meet them. James gets to Salisbury and suffers nose bleeds - Churchill and the Duke of Grafton desert with about 400 troopers to William's camp at Axminster. James dissolves his army and escapes to France. James had a numerically superior army and has been criticised for not having the martial skills to have made a fight of it. I wonder to what extent we can reconstruct this non-existent battle through army lists, orders of battle etc and see what might have happened? It might make an interesting display wargame. William III's itinerary here
Image James II's armour from here

Hurons of Nouvelle-France

French language Document from 1660 on the Amerindians known as the Hurons.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The First Churchills (1969)

A mini-series charting the life of the Duke of Marlborough. High on court intrigue low on battle scenes. Wiki here

Snow trek 1709




This looks like real snow! Thanks to our Great Northern War reenactor friends in Russia and the Baltic we have some great snow trekking photos to look at. I wonder if the winter is like it was in 1709? Looks like it. Wish I could have been there but I would probably be moaning about being cold! Excellent images. More photos here

Friday, 9 January 2009

Battlefield Britain - Battle of the Boyne (2004)


Watch it here on Google video
This BBC documentary available on DVD is of interest to me as I was in it! It has a lot of computer simulations in it but they had the basis of using real people to fire the guns and charge about. I was employed by Irish Arms to help out with the training of the Jacobites and some of the musketry. It was all pretty much done in front of a green screen which was bad in some ways as I had taken some Kirke's uniforms over and they had green cuffs so were totally unusable. On one bit I had to be on my knees waving a sword about while someone reared up and down on a horse - it was really frightening and they didn't use it. There was a bit where I was supposedly firing out of an Oldbridge cottage at the Williamite army but I was actually just firing at a green canvas...(see still image above). Anyway worth renting or watching if you have an interest in the Williamite era.

Frost Fair 1684, Arctic adventure, 1677

An interesting couple of paintings and ones suitable for this time of year.

By Abraham Hondius Dutch Printmaker and Painter, ca.1625-1691

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Tilbury Fort


This fort in south-east England is this country's finest example of continental style fortifications. Started in 1670 by Bernard de Gomme on the site of a small 16thc blockhouse it wasn't finished until the 1680s. Wiki entry here
I did a Napoleonic reenactment here in the early 90s - it was great fun rowing around the moat.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

David Chandler


The late Dr David Chandler is a name that crops up a lot if you are researching the Sedgemoor/Blenheim period - one time lecturer at Sandhurst was a prolific author on the subject publishing many essential works. He was also involved in reenactment and through this I met him many times. He came along to the first 1685 Society event in 98 at Basing House and because of this got in touch with me about organising something for Blenheim in 2004. He sent me this sheet with previous reenactments mostly by the SK of Blenheim and Sedgemoor - hope you enjoy it. The annotations are his own.

A 17th century French Military Fusil

This link - gratefully recieved in a comment is worth having its own entry. A fascinating look at a French flintlock from 1670-1675 Read more here

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Russian uniform


From the Hermitage Collection - from between 1701-1709

French army in camp


Siège de Besançon, le 6 mai 1674
Behagle Philippe (?-1717), Martin Jean-Baptiste

Monday, 5 January 2009

Indian warfare

The abandonment of the matchlock and pike in favour of the flintlock was taking place in the Americas a lot sooner than in Europe. Even natives realised the superiority of the flintlock and soon used nothing else. Matchlocks were hastily converted.King Philip's War is probably the watershed for the use of matchlocks. For further reading on the subject I suggest the excellent
The Skulking Way of War: Technology and Tactics Among the New England Indians by Patrick Malone. Review here

raquettes and traine

It snowed here last night - not much - nowhere near enough to warrant getting busy on the snowshoes (raquettes) or traine (sled) but enough to publish this lovely image of Canadians using these essential Milice items.

Milicien concept drawing

Here's my interpretation of a 1690 Milicien in capot and tapabord. Side seam leggings. Notice some folks are thinking of doing the attack on Quebec by Phips as a BLB wargame - need some of these and some coureurs de bois. Any sculptors or figure manufacturer reading this get in touch and we could get some of these cast up. Check out the label American Continent reenactment to find more out about these troops and their weapons.