Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Phil Sheridan, Heroics and Volunteers

In 1863 Phil Sheridan commanded an infantry division in the Union Army of the Cumberland. Popular with the rank and file, sometimes he could stretch their patience.


On the first day of the battle of Chickamauga, his was the last Federal division into the fight. His first wave entered the Viniard Farm field and attacked the Confederates across the way. The Union second line halted in a handy ditch. From the rear came cries of “Make way for Sheridan! Make way for Sheridan!” Following an officer bearing his battle flag, along came Sheridan trailed by his staff. The troops gladly  opened ranks and let the mounted group through.


In short order the first wave came back at the run, as did Sheridan, his black horse and his staff. The troops shouted “Make way for Sheridan! Make way for Sheridan!” Perhaps with more than a touch of irony and a lack of respect or at least silence that disciplined regulars might have displayed.

The next case of Phil’s heroics came at Missionary Ridge, when the troops of the army of the Cumberland made their impromptu attack against orders and routed the Army of Tennessee,  succeeding in deposing Braxton Bragg, something his own generals had been trying to do since 1862. 

Phil's division waited at the foot of the ridge, having overrun the rifle pits at the base. Orders and counter-orders confused the situation. Sheridan took out a flask, poured a cup of whisky and toasted the rebel gunners with “Here’s to you, general Bragg”.  The only people who could hear him were the nearby prone Union troops, waiting for a decision to join the others climbing the ridge. The enemy gunners aimed at the mounted target waving his cup. They missed. Sheridan hollered “That is damned unkind.” A sergeant of the nearby 15th Indiana later remarked: “I did not know the act was to become so historically famous, I saw, and heard, the whole performance, but instead of thinking it a grand and heroic act, I only wished he would quit his foolishness, drawing down the rebel cannon on us.”


Bill Mauldin once did a cartoon on a similar subject. Kudos to anyone finding a link to it.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Victrix 12mm armor and infantry, a project delayed

Replacing my old Crossfire set: Madness? Perhaps. The old 1/72 set, eastern Front WWII, has two+ companies per side with a few tanks. After a long hiatus, the rules were trotted out again. Current members approved. The Victrix WWII 12mm figures got my attention; new, bright, shiny.

An order went off. I had them sent to a friend in Maine since we were bound there; assuming the Royal Mail wouldn’t be so fast. They arrived a couple weeks before we left NY, as quickly as if mailed within the US. Upon arrival in Maine in early January two record-breaking storms hit the coast, three days apart. Amid all the confusion not a lick of painting got done. Eventually we returned to NYC and work began on the little guys. 

I haven’t figured out how to photograph these tiny guys well enough to do them justice, but here goes.

First, the armor. Yes, Crossfire is an infantry game. So, I started on the tanks. Go figure.

The T-34s come with plenty of spare wheels, tracks and riders. After festooning one tank with riders, I stopped. Gluing them on is a tad finicky for my old eyes. The models are easy to assemble. The Pz IV comes with clues which are helpful. The T-34s are simple and don’t need any. My paint job is basic with ink wash. Applying the decals a tad fussy. There are enough decals in each pack for more vehicles than the pack contains. The models are lovely, better than my photos show. As you can see, tanks can be assembled with turret hatches closed or open with commanders. Up to half of the T34s can be the later 85mm model or all as the 76mm version, with two turret variants for the latter. I await some towed anti-tank guns for the Soviets. Or else I’ll get some from Pendraken. They should be close enough.


After the tanks I started on the infantry. For some reason the prone Germans didn’t get painted yet, while prone Soviets did come under the brush. Again, basic paint with ink wash. This technique looks best on the lighter uniform of the Soviets. Some day I’ll paint up SYW or Napoleonic Austrian in a flash with this technique. Although my apartment is about maxed out between figures, terrain and books. Did I mention books? In some cases, I wasn’t sure what the figures were. You can check the larger photos on the Victrix website to see just what is what. Oh, that’s the woman sniper, that’s the radio operator… 

These tiny folks are well proportioned, no cartoonish musclemen. A few poses are stiff, but most are really quite naturalistic, way more than other plastic sets I’ve seen. I left the painted figures on the sprue for the time being. They are so small I don’t want to remove them until my metal bases arrive. Tiny things disappear in my flat like large ones do in the Bermuda Triangle. It is easy to paint them on the sprue. Except for one Soviet figure, all the sprue attachments are at the bottom of each base. Nice. Next up will be the heavy weapons sprues, included in the pack with infantry. Should you wish to paint detail, it’s all there. For me, that way lies madness and I figure if they pass muster at 12 inches that’s enough. Again, my photography doesn’t do justice to these tiny guys. They should look good mounted up on the table amidst terrain. That’s all the news from Corlears Hook.