OK, so we’ve had the whys and wherefores about my Paraguayan War project, but what’s the plan? Well, I do have one, which is a plus! That’s probably a result of painting Franco-Prussian War and Seven Weeks’ War figures over the past couple of years, but it’s let me scope what I think I need for this project.
To formulate a plan for this project, I worked through both my own reference material and anything I could find online. Apart from the original Wargames Illustrated articles, which I still enjoy reading, the source I refer to most is the Wargames Foundry book on the Paraguayan War by Terry Hooker (with line drawings of the uniforms by Ian Heath). This is a brilliant resource to have, and it shows the variation in uniforms that happened in practice, which in turn made me feel a bit happier about not having to be so stringent over the appearance of my troops!
I’ve also got the more recent Osprey Men At Arms title on the war, and it’s a nice concise guide. The colour plates and line illustrations show little more than the Foundry book, but it helps to see the most representative uniforms in colour. The sections on tactics and weapons for each army are really useful, particularly since the types of artillery are summarised! I also have the John Tuohy book on Wargaming The Paraguayan War, which includes some scenarios and army compositions.
As far as contemporary accounts are concerned, I managed to get a Kindle version of Sir Richard Burton’s book of collected letters written from the theatre of operations during the war. It was only 99p and suffers a little from scanning and layout errors (what were probably footnotes have a habit of appearing in the middle of pages in the same font type), but it’s interesting for little bits of detail, even if it’s far from politically correct for the 21st century! I’ve also ordered a reprint of Lieutenant Colonel Thompson’s book on the war, but that hasn’t arrived yet. George Thompson served as an officer of engineers in the Paraguayan army and was responsible for the construction of many of the fortifications used in the defence of the country.
Anyway, on to the plan! First of all, I want to represent all of the national armies i.e. Paraguayan, Brazilian, Argentine and Uruguayan, although the Brazilians will form the major part of my Allied army. For Franco-Prussian and Seven Weeks’ War armies I used a 1:100 model-figure-to-real-man ratio, giving me battalions represented by 10 figures, but the South American battalions are smaller so I’ve gone for a 1:50 ratio. I’ve then slightly tweaked these strengths to give me mostly 10-figure infantry battalions, with Brazilian line infantry battalions having 15 figures. I’ve shrunk cavalry regiments to six figures to represent the shortage of good horses (or is it because I don’t like painting cavalry)! Artillery is always tricky, since neither of the above ratios are any good. I tend to work out how many batteries might support a brigade for example and then use one model gun with a 1:50 ratio representing the crews.
Very roughly, infantry battalions tended to be grouped into brigades or columns, so I’m going for flexibility! For the Paraguayans, I intend doing five infantry battalions and two cavalry regiments, supported by six gunners – the latter will let me use a single gun with three crew under normal conditions, or all of the figures manning three guns if fortifications are present. I’ll also have a two-man HQ unit.
For the Allies, I’m planning on doing 20 generic white-clad infantry that can represent either two Uruguayan infantry battalions, two Argentine battalions or a single Brazilian 15-man battalion. And I’ll add four generic gun crew as well. But the bulk of the Allied infantry will be nation-specific. I’ve planned a single Uruguayan infantry battalion, two Argentine infantry battalions and a cavalry regiment, while the Brazilians will get two line infantry battalions, a zouave battalion and a cazador (light infantry) battalion. The Brazilians and Argentines will also each get three gunners and a two-man HQ.
Finally, I’ve planned a mounted commander for each side and I’ll need to add a handful of supply elements (even though the supply chains in the armies were generally poor) and a couple of rocket launchers. There is always the chance I’ll add some extra units as well, but I’m not sure, given how long the troops listed above will take to paint. By my estimate, there are just short of 200 figures to paint and if I’m turning them over at a good rate (for me!) I can usually finish one figure every two days, so I’m not going to finish them before July 2018! Being realistic, and trying to do some other bits and pieces in parallel, I think I’d like to have around 70 figures finished for the end of 2017, with the total rising to 120 for July 2018 and 170 for December 2018, but who knows how it will work out!
For the naval side I’d like a Brazilian ironclad, one or two Paraguyan chatas (these look like very low freeboard barges with a single large-calibre gun mounted centrally) and some assorted small craft! I’ll also need terrain items and fortifications, but haven’t got round to thinking about them yet – since Paraguayan fortifications tended to be simple I’m hoping I can make some that will also do for late 19th Century China! This might be a new project, but having stuff that can be used by some of my other armies will be handy!
As far as I know, the last three images above are in the public domain. The full colour image at the top of the page is just an example of my poor photography skills!