The Soldier

During a short visit to a local discount bookshop, I bought a copy of Chris McNab’s book entitled THE SOLDIER for £5.00. The book was published in 2016 by Parragon, and was originally priced at £16.00.

The book is split into three sections, and each section is divided into three chapters.

  • Section One: Global Conflict and Revolution
    • The Seven Year’s War
    • The American Revolution
    • The Napoleonic Wars
  • Section Two: The Age of Empire and Statehood
    • The American Civil War
    • Colonial Wars
    • Wars of Empire and Unification
  • Section Three: The World Wars and Modern Conflict
    • World War I
    • World War II
    • The Modern Era

Whilst this might not be the most definitive study of what it was like to be a soldier over the past two hundred and sixty years, it has some interesting illustrations. It is certainly worth £5.00 of anyone’s money … although personally I wouldn’t have paid full price for it.

Other people’s Portable Wargame battle reports: Seven Years War

Ross Macfarlane and his friend Ron have been at it again. This time they have been using an adapted version of the Ancient rules from DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME to fight a Seven Years War battle!

The battle report makes for interesting reading, and has given me several ideas regarding the possibility of writing a Seven Years War version of my own NAPOLEONIC PORTABLE WARGAME rules. These are currently in the very early stages of development, and I hope to publish them at some time in the future. In the meantime I recommend that anyone interested in using my PORTABLE WARGAME rules for other periods should read Ross Mac’s excellent battle report.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Ross Macfarlane.

The War Game … edited by Peter Young

A recent comment that the terrain created by the late Peter Gilder for the film CALLAN was also photographed and used in the book edited by Peter Young and entitled THE WAR GAME made me look out my copy of the book … and reminded me how much it had inspired me when I first saw a copy.

The book was divided into ten chapters (each of which covered a major battle and was written by a different author) and two appendices:

  • THERMOPYLAE BC480 by Charles Grant
  • AGINCOURT 1415 by Philip Warner
  • EDGEHILL 1642 by Peter Young
  • BLENHEIM 1704 by David Chandler
  • LOBOSITZ 1756 by Charles Grant
  • SARATOGA 1777 by Aram Bakshian Jr
  • AUSTERLITZ 1805 by David Chandler
  • WATERLOO 1815 by James Lawford
  • GETTYSBURG 1863 by Clifford C Johnson

  • EL ALAMEIN 1942 by Donald Featherstone

  • Appendix 1: The Principles of War Gaming
  • Appendix 2: Model Soldier Suppliers

THE WAR GAME was edited by Brigadier Peter Young and illustrated with photographs taken by Philip O Stearns. It was published by Cassell & Company Ltd in 1972 (ISBN 0 304 29074 2).

In the acknowledgements at the back of the book it states that the figures came from the collections of David Chandler, Peter Gilder, Charles Grant, Lieutenant Commander John Sandars, Ed Smith, John Tunstill, and Brigadier Peter Young, and that the terrain was specially made for the book by Hinchliffe Models of Huddersfield.

My Portable Wargame book: A further update

During the recent break from my Napoleonic project I have been working on my PORTABLE WARGAME book. This has involved taking numerous photographs, searching the Internet for illustrations of some of the earlier gridded wargames, and redrafting some of the text.

Amongst the images I found were two of Johann Hellwig’s late eighteenth century wargame:

The gridded playing surface used in Johan Hellwig’s wargame.

A close-up of one section of the image of Johan Hellwig’s wargame.

The Shadow Campaigns series by Django Wexler

As a child I was lucky enough to have THE HOBBIT and LORD OF THE RINGS read to me. (When I was a child in Junior school, teachers used to read stories to their class at the end of every day, and one year I had a teacher who read us THE HOBBIT followed by the recently-published LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.)

This early exposure to fantasy fiction rather soured my view of other books in the genre, especially after I re-read Tolkein’s books when I was at college in the early 1970s. I suppose it was a case of ‘I’ve read the best, why bother with the rest?’ I have tried reading other fantasy novels – including EMPIRE OF FEAR by Brian Stableford, which features Edmund Cordery as one of its main protagonists – but until recently most seemed to be pale imitations of Tolkein’s books.

(One book that did stand out as being an exception to this was JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL by Susanna Clarke. It is set in an alternative/fantasy version of England during the Napoleonic era.)

My attitude to fantasy fiction changed when I chanced upon the short story THE PENITENT DAMNED by Django Wexler.

It was the first of his series of books that form THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS series. (I understand that they classed as being ‘Musket and Magic’ fantasy books.) Since then I have read each of books in the series as they have been published:


The stories are set in a time somewhat akin to the end of the eighteenth/beginning on the nineteenth century, and other than the magic element (and some more adult themes that probably make them unsuitable for younger readers) they can be read as the ‘histories’ of a number of imagi-nations. There are some obvious parallels with European history at that time (e.g. a revolution against a repressive regime; the invasion of a Russia-like country and the impact of fighting during its winter) and from slightly later (e.g. a colonial campaign in an Egypt-like colony). I understand that the writer – Django Wexler – has used European history to inspire elements of the plots in his books and that he is also a wargamer … which might account for the way in which the battles that are featured in the stories are described.

Horse, Foot and Guns: Version 1.1

The replacement copy of HORSE, FOOT AND GUNS arrived in the post from Lulu yesterday.

The front cover has been slightly changed, and the back cover has been revamped. This new edition has also been allocated a different ISBN (ISBN 978 1 325 57118 4). The new edition is longer (72 pages as opposed to 64), and this has enable the army lists to be laid out in a much less cluttered way.

I have not undertaken a complete word-by-word analysis of the new edition, but there do appear to be some minor change to the Combat Outcomes which seem to make them clearer to understand.

Horse, Foot and Guns: Latest news!

Back in February I mentioned that I had bought a copy of Phil Barker’s HORSE, FOOT AND GUNS rules. It later transpired that the wrong edition of the text had been published, and the version that I bought was withdrawn from sale.

Yesterday evening I received the following email from Lulu:


You are receiving this message today because we show that you purchased a copy of the book “Horse, Foot and Guns.”

We were notified by the author that the version you received was not the one she intended to be available. The author has asked Lulu to help notify her customers of the error and to inform each customer that she will be replacing it with a complimentary copy of the new version of the book.

We are writing to you today from Lulu to let you know that we will be placing these new orders within the next couple of days. If you ordered with a registered Lulu account, the new order will be placed in your Lulu account and you will be able to track its progress from your Order History page. As this is a complimentary reorder, the payment method will say Invoice, Billed to Lulu.

If you did not order with a registered Lulu account and placed your order as a guest, a reorder will be placed for you; however, you will not be able to track your order. If you wish to inquire about the status of your reorder, please contact Lulu through the Support link on the top right side of the page. Select My Orders, I purchased a book or calendar, Something else, then click the “I still need help” button. Please be sure to include the previous order number and the email address that was used to place the order so that we can better assist you.

We appreciate your patience as we get these orders placed and the new book printed for you. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to respond to this message or contact us through the Support link on

Thank you for shopping with Lulu. Have a great weekend!

Kind regards,

Thomas B
Lulu Press, Inc.

I should therefore be receiving a replacement copy of the latest edition of the HORSE, FOOT AND GUNS rules in the very near future … and I think that in doing this Phil Barker and Sue Laflin-Barker have more than made up for the understandable mistake that occurred.

Those of you who have not used Lulu to self-publish your work may not realise that when you do so, you have to upload a copy of the text to your account so that the publication can be allocated an ISBN and pre-publication proof copies can be printed. If you select the wrong option – as I did when I first used Lulu – it is very easy to publish your book before the proofs have been checked and any errors corrected. Luckily for me I realised what I had done before any purchases had taken place, and I was able to upload the corrected text for publication before any copies were sold.

Is it really thirty years?

A few weeks ago I received an email from Stuart Asquith asking me if I would be interested in acquiring his collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale RELIVE WATERLOO Napoleonic figures. I was interested – very interested – and yesterday I drove from London to Stuart’s lovely home in Gloucestershire to pick them up.

The journey took me three hours, and I arrived a few minutes after midday. Stuart was on the doorstep to greet me as I got out of my car, and we began chatting as went inside for a drink. During our conversation Stuart pointed out that we hadn’t actually spoken to each other for over thirty years(!), a fact that I found difficult to believe even though it was true. We had first met back in 1980 at the inaugural Conference of Wargamers at Moor Park, and he had attended the next couple. After that we had met on and off over the years – usually at wargame shows – but when Stuart moved to Gloucestershire, we lost touch.

During my visit Stuart showed me his extensive collection of 54mm-scale figures, his beautifully painted 40mm-scale Front Rank American War of Independence figures, and his 15mm-scale Colonial figures. (Stuart blames me for his acquisition of the 15mm-scale collection of Colonial figures – and a recently purchased gridded battle mat – after he bought a copy of my WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! rules.)

Unfortunately I could only stay for a couple of hours before I had to drive back to London, but during my visit Stuart and his family made me very welcome, and I hope to return to see them again at some time in the future.

Besides the Del Prado figures Stuart passed on to me (and there are enough of them to increase my existing collection by a considerable number of units), he very kindly gave me a copy of his recently published book entitled STUART ASQUITH’S WARGAMING 18th CENTURY BATTLES INCLUDING RULES FOR MARLBURIAN WARFARE 1702-1714.

The book has been edited by John Curry and was published in 2016 by the ‘History of Wargaming’ Project (ISBN 978 1 326 48193 3). The book covers the follow:

  • The 18th Century as a Wargaming Period
  • The Battle of Schellenberg (1704)
  • The Battle of Ramillies (1706)
  • The Battle of Sheriffmuir (1715)
  • The Battle of Mollwitz (1741)
  • The Battle of Soor (1745)
  • The Battle of Falkirk (1746)
  • The Battle of Plassey (1757)
  • The Battle of Minden (1759)
  • The Battle of Warburg (1760)
  • Wargaming Rules for Malburian Warfare 1702-1714 (first published in 1986 by Athena)

The most interesting section of the book is – in my opinion – Stuart’s reflections on a lifetime of wargaming, which I hope that everyone will read and reflect upon.

Years ago I owned a small 20mm-scale Malburian wargames army made up of wonderful Les Higgins figures, and having looked through Stuart’s book, I wish that I had kept them and not sold them when I did.

Horse, Foot and Guns

Many years ago I play-tested a set of rules that had been written by Phil Barker that were entitled HORSE, FOOT AND GUNS. At the time he promised that one day they would be published … and now they have!

The full title of the book is HORSE, FOOT AND GUNS: QUICK PLAY ARMY LEVEL WARGAME RULES FOR LARGE LAND BATTLES 1701-1925, and it has been published by Susan Laflin (ISBN 978 1 326 55510 8). I bought my copy from Lulu for £14.99 (plus postage and packing), and it arrived only a few days after I ordered it online.

The book is split into two main sections. The first covers such things as game philosophy, playing equipment, scales, definitions, organising the armies, setting up a battle, and the rules. The second is a set of army lists that cover wars from 1701 to 1913, including the Seven Years War, the American War of Independence, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the American Civil War, the Schleswig-Holstein War, the Seven Weeks War, the Zulu War, the Egypt and the Sudan campaigns, the Second Boer War, the Russo-Japanese War, and the First and Second Balkan Wars.

I don’t know if I will ever use these rules on a regular basis, but reading them will bring back a lot of great memories … and as a large part of my 15mm-scale Colonial collection is already on the right size bases, they will always be available if I want a bit of a change from using my own rules.

I have been to … the Fortress of Louisburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

During our recent cruise, Sue and I had the opportunity to visit the Fortress of Louisburg, which is located on the south-east coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. We both agreed that this was a very impressive site, and we could easily have spent a whole day exploring it.

The Fortress of Louisburg was built on the site of an earlier settlement called Havre à l’Anglois. This was a fishing port, and had been settled in 1713. In 1720 construction of the fortress began, and is was completed twenty years later, by which time it had developed into a major commercial port as well as being one of the most extensive European-built fortifications in North America.

In 1745, during the War of the Austrian Succession, the fortress was captured by a force of British colonists. It was returned to the French in 1748 in exchange for several border towns in what is modern-day Belgium. Ten years later during the Seven Years War it was recaptured by British forces, after which its fortifications were systematically destroyed by British engineers.

The site remained a ruin until the 1960s, when the coal mining industry on Cape Breton Island declined. Faced with the problem of trying to find work for the now unemployed miners, it was decided to use them to reconstruct the fortress, using as much of the original stonework as was possible. Over a quarter of the original fortress has now been reconstructed, and work continues although at a much slower rate.

Some idea of the size of the site can be gauged from the following satellite photograph:

The King’s Bastion Barracks dominates the skyline.

When we arrived at the guardhouse outside the barracks, we were met by an interpreter who was dressed as a member of the Artillery unit that was stationed in the fortress in the 1740s.

In character he described his recruitment from prison into the French Troupes de marine. He explained how the Troupes de marine were paid and treated, and that without being able to undertake paid manual work in the fortress’s docks during his off-duty time, he would have been in perpetual debt to his company commander. He further explained how he learnt to read and to do mathematics, and that this had enabled him to transfer to the artillery and to reach the rank of Sergeant.

He then demonstrated how his musket was loaded and fired.

We then set off to look around the reconstructed buildings that form part of the town that was built within the fortress.

One of the houses we were able to look around was that belonging to the fortress’s engineer, Jean-Francois du Vergery de Verville.

Jean-Francois du Vergery de Verville’s office contained numerous survey instruments …

… and a desk on which were …

… copies of some of the plans used in the fortress’s construction.

Outside we came across a member of staff who was playing a hurdy-gurdy.

We then made our way back to the King’s Bastion Barracks. The only way one can enter is via a wooden bridge …

… over the dry moat …

… in which were kept some of the garrison’s animals.

The bridge over the moat is quite narrow …

… and as we crossed it we were met by another interpreter, who was dressed as a member of the Troupes de marine.

On entering the gateway we saw the prison cells on our right …

… and the chapel on our left.

Once through the gateway we could see the huge area enclosed by the bastion’s walls.

On top of the main rampart …

… we met the Sergeant again, this time with one of his beloved cannons.

Standing atop the rampart, it was possible to see the entire length of the barracks …

… including the stockade in which some of the garrison’s the livestock was kept.

As the time we had left was limited, we were only able to spend a short time looking inside the right-hand end of the barracks.

On the ground floor were various rooms used to prepare food for the garrison’s senior officers …

… and where some of their soldier-servants lived.

Upstairs …

… were the apartments used by the senior officers and their families.

Our final stop was in the information centre, where a large model shows what the fortress would have looked like in 1740.