Friday, February 21, 2020

Painting Challenge Submission 15: A New Project - Quebec 1759

The 28th Foot - 28mm figures from Warlord Games.
Hey - just what every hobbyist loves, a new project! Apologies in advance for what might a longer post...you see, this was a sort of secret project, one I had hoped to work on, under wraps, until I could just sort of surprise everyone one day with a game...but that was not a practical plan. Besides, a couple of Conscripts have already seen some of these figures, so I might as well post them.

The 35th foot, ready to give a volley. 28mm figures from Front Rank.
I guess we can just start with the technical bits - here are the British 28th and and 35th Regiments of Foot. These are 28mm castings.  The 28th Regiment (with the yellow facings)  are metal figures from Warlord Games. The 35th Regiment (with orange facings) are metal figures from Front Rank - although both casualty figures are also Front Rank castings. All flags are from GMB. These figures are intended to provide tabletop representation of British infantry units which served in the Seven Years War. In one specific battle...

The Siege of Quebec 

An engraving showing Wolfe's army making their daring crossing of the St. Lawrence and assaulting Quebec.
My hometown, Winnipeg, is about 2,500 kilometres (give or take) from the beautiful City of Quebec, in the Canadian province of the same name. This distance physically, geographically and culturally between Winnipeg and Quebec City is significant. Yet a great deal about the life I have been fortunate to lead to this point here in Canada was shaped by the events which occurred outside Quebec City on September 13, 1759, during the Seven Years War. On this day a European-style field engagement took place between a British force led by British General James Wolfe and the French forces of General Louis-Joseph Montcalm.  This was the battle of the Plains of Abraham.

Officer on the left, keeping thing in order...
As battles of the era go, this one was small, and relatively short - a shattering volley of musketry from the British side settling matters and sending the French reeling. This was not Leuthen or Zorndorf or Minden. But its impact on history was significant, leading to the fall of "New France" and, for a time, British rule over a substantial portion of North America (until certain subsequent events). The Battle of the Plains of Abraham is an important moment in the history of the country known today as "Canada".

The uniforms of the British infantry musicians in that era were really something...
The British conquered "New France", and in subsequent negotiations, ended up keeping the territory...and, well, more than 2,000 years later, here I sit in Canada. Lots of history there, too much to cover in any one blog post :) 

Rear view showing the detail on the Front Rank sculpts. Very nice, very pleasing to paint!
But the lines of history are amazing to me...so much drawing back to this one battle, a brief and yet so significant engagement, a turning point in history.  So, so much, even today, all going back to that one moment outside of Quebec when the British infantry unleashed a devastating musket volley...

Rear detail on the Warlord sculpts - the grenadiers are fully loaded, but the regular troops are not carrying as much.
I studied it all from when I was very young.  I visited Quebec City in junior high, and was stunned by the battlefield park, the walls of Old Quebec, the old cannons...wow, it captured my imagination. Our teachers in school had their biases, and in their telling this battle was just one more hapless military moment for France - just like WW2 (France as a hopeless case in things military is a staple of popular culture and history in North America).

But of course nothing is so simple. I read the amazing book "Death or Victory" by Dan Snow.  It is a gripping read, and it is fascinating to put the battle that day into its proper context of a drawn out and dangerous summer campaign - one that was actually quite terrifying and vicious. Yes, the British won, but it was a close-run thing.  There is so much more to share - for example,  the defeat on the Plains of Abraham is well known, but the part where the French returned to Quebec the next year and defeated the British at the Battle of St. Foy, putting their victory in Quebec at risk, is not so well known... :)

But I'm already blabbing too long about this. That is all best left for other posts or comments from smarter people.

A little closer view of the command and colour party - that one ensign is carrying, like, a broadsword? In one hand? Bad @ss fellow, I'm sure. Odd sculpt. But overall, I really enjoy these Warlord figures.
Some years ago, it occurred to me that it might be fun to wargame this battle.  I know many gamers do the "French & Indian War", but I was very focused on this one battle: Plains of Abraham. That battle, that moment - that was what I was interested in.  This one, formed up, European-style battle that took place in North America in the Seven Years War.  Cool uniforms, history...man, it would be so neat!

Read this book!!
I started doing the research, faffing around with figures, which scale etc. This has been going on in the background for years.  I was always painting something else too, so hardly hobby paralysis - but this project was going in my mind for a long, long time...I don't know why, but I thought I could, somehow, paint all of the units and surprise everyone. But, like, come on...that was dumb. So here we go!

The 35th and 28th Foot were on the right of Wolfe's battle line that day in 1759.  The 35th seemed unique because they had orange facings, and even now when I see them I feel like having some ice cream for some reason.

Many thanks to Byron and his 3D printer for making the little dice trays that I placed on to the casualty markers.
The Front Rank figures are a lot of fun. I love the sculpts. The heft. They are just great and relaxing to paint.  But Front Rank sadly charge extortionate amounts for shipping and their "battalion packs" are a bit...unusual, at least for me (YMMV).  The main bump for me is the inclusion of two musicians in the 24-figure pack.  Again, it's all personal taste, but that is not what I would do with a 24-figure unit. Also...the uniforms of the British musicians are insane - certainly a challenge to paint, and doing two of them per unit isn't my ideal...although it's a chance to practice, I guess!

A casualty figure on a round base - with a little tray for dice useful to mark casualties for different game systems.
The Warlord sculpts are very, very nice.  Huge bonus - the Warlord musicians and grenadiers have the details on their hats and uniforms cast right into the figures...it's pretty amazing! Great stuff.  But Warlord sometimes is just...odd. In this case, the unit boxes come with 18 figures.  This is a strange number, when so many people out there use 12 or 24 figures for a unit.  You can buy extra musketeers of course, but it's very strange/irritating.  Seems like a GW-style move to me.

Gotta love the grenadiers! Man...those hats...great sculpts from Warlord.
I'm working my way "along the line" on this project - starting from the right, and painting each unit in turn for each side.  I have it relatively mapped out...will still take a while, I'm sure, though hopefully just general posting and sharing pictures will help it go faster.  I might change up my approach - the so-called "Louisbourg Grenadiers" would be up next for the British line, so I might change gears and start on the left of Montcalm's opposing line, or just skip to the British centre.  There are still things to figure out in terms of representing the Louisbourg Grenadiers on the table - would they have carried a standard? If so, which regiment, the senior one? Would their officers have mitres or tricornes? Things to ponder.

The line starts to take shape on the Plains of My Kitchen Island.
Anyway, my brushes have turned to other projects for now. But I hope to have more to share with this project as I go along .Thanks for reading, and I hope you are not asleep.

7 comments:

Michael Awdry said...

What a fabulous looking unit. Stunning job.

Dallas said...

Great stuff dude! You really knocked it out of the park with these guys :-)

DaveV said...

What colourful looking models! I look forward to seeing more of this project.

Iannick said...

Great work Greg! Completely agree with you on the biased view of this war as a monumental French fuck-up, which it definitely was not.

So...when are you painting the good guys, i.e. the pure, noble-hearted french canadians?

Greg B said...

Thanks very much folks!

@Iannick - I'm hoping to start on some French units this summer...but this project will take a while, so it will go into next year too, I expect.

john de terre neuve said...

Really enjoyable post, Greg. Growing up 2300km from QC in Newfoundland, I was also taught a very biased view of Quebec (it did not help that this was early post confederation times for Newfoundland, while at the same time still engaged in a boundary dispute). You are lucky that you got to see the Citadel in high school, I was 50 before I got there. But having spent a lot of time in the past 15 years in Quebec has taught me a lot as well as having advocates like Iannick.

Great looking figures, I will enjoy the evolution of this project.

Wouter said...

Really great work. I don't think I'll ever be able to bring myself to paint so many identical looking models, but I can't deny that it looks amazing!