Well, after no blogging activity from me during September it’s almost been looking as though October was going to be a re-run! However, that’s not the case and I’ve now caught up on painting and getting photos taken, but this is likely to be just a temporary blip (skip to the end if you want to know why – if you don’t I’m surprised you’ve got this far)!
The main reason for my apparent lack of activity is that I’ve been painting both at home and whilst we’ve been away at our caravan while the weather’s been not too bad! Although this sounds like it means I should be getting quite a bit done, it results in me jumping between preparing and finishing figures. At the caravan it’s more convenient to take infantry figures that just need their highlight layers added whereas at home it’s easier to prepare figures, paint the base colours and work on cavalry.
I’ve managed to stay focused since August at working on my 20mm Paraguayan War armies and made good progress. Painting in September concentrated on finishing some small groups of figures, with October being used to finish two slightly larger units. First up are Brazilian and Argentine artillery crews (shown below).
I’d already got one Brazilian and one generic Allied artillery crew but decided I wanted some more. For something different, I decided to paint a Brazilian horse artillery crew (shown below).
These are Newline Design ACW gunners painted to represent late-war Brazilians. I based the uniforms on figures in the background of a colour plate and a description of their uniforms in another book and they seem to combine various elements of later war dress. The jackets should be longer but I can live with that! I’ve just shown them with an existing gun model but I need to get a lighter gun painted up to go with them.
The picture above shows the Argentine foot artillery crew. These are plastic IMEX ACW figures and look almost identical to my early war Brazilian foot artillerymen with the exception of red details instead of crimson (although in this view its only evident on the nearest figure’s kepi).
I also decided to finish off some extra command figures that have been sitting around primed and based for quite a while. I originally intended these to be HQ units for each of the four national armies involved in the war but instead opted to paint mounted generals for each army. However, the excellent Borders Of Blood rules allow for colonels to be attached to units (which confers advantages on those units), so I thought I’d finish off the two outstanding foot command bases to let them represent colonels (shown below).
On the left is a Uruguayan officer and drummer and on the right their Paraguayan equivalents. The Uruguayans are SHQ ACW figures and the Paraguayans are Newline Design figures, with the Paraguayan drummer having his kepi built up to represent a shako. All four of my “colonels” are shown below – left to right these are Brazilian, Argentine, Uruguayan and Paraguayan. The Argentine officer in the campaign hat is actually based on a drawing of General Mitre, the Argentine commander and president!
Next to get finished was a Brazilian mounted cacador unit (shown below).
Since it was a cavalry unit, I dragged my heels a bit in getting them painted! Mounted cacador units were raised later in the war to operate as light cavalry for operating in difficult terrain but also with the ability to fight as infantry (so more akin to dragoons). The figures are Newline Design ACW cavalry painted in a simple light brown campaign uniform and I’m trying to get more horse colour variation into my units as well! The picture below shows them compared to my cacador infantry unit, both in the same colour uniforms.
As a further comparison, the mounted cacadores are shown below alongside the first Paraguayan cavalry unit I painted a couple of years ago.
Both units are painted using the same ACW cavalrymen figures and its surprising how dissimilar they look just for a different paint job. I changed my painting process for the latest cavalry, just to make it seem less onerous – I’d normally paint all of one colour in a unit, then move onto the next colour and so on, but this time round I decided to paint figures individually, finishing one figure before moving on to the next. I felt as though I really made progress painting this way and in the end felt that I’d done well enough to just paint the last three figures in parallel.
Last unit painted (and only varnished yesterday) is the early war Argentine infantry battalion shown below.
In the very early stages of the war, most of the Allied troops wore their pre-war uniforms before adopting campaign uniforms more suited to the climate. Consequently, Argentine troops could still be seen wearing shakos, fringed epaulettes and quite colourful uniforms. The figures are Strelets plastic French chasseurs from the Crimean War period and come in a box along with Algerian tirailleurs (and I use the latter for Franco-Prussian War Turcos). The figures are very nice and came from a period when every single figure in the Strelets boxes was in a different pose. The chasseur uniforms, however, are not quite correct for Argentine infantry, although not bad – the Argentine tunic was much shorter and the trousers were held in place over the white gaiters by short, buff leather jambieres, which these figures lack. Neither of these faults is particularly obvious when viewing the unit from a distance and I can live with them if it means I get to have an early war Argentine infantry unit in my forces. Additionally, the officer’s uniform is probably too formal for the Argentines and the bugler should maybe not be present (I have a feeling 19th Century light infantry units included buglers to transmit audible commands/signals, whereas line infantry units made use of drums), so I might replace them in the future but I quite like them there for now.
Sorting out Argentine infantry uniform details proved to be less than straightforward. I have three books that cover them, by two different authors, but there are variations across all three books! The most significant variation was in the colour of the belts and equipment straps, being shown/described as white or black. Whereas white straps would look much more colourful in the end I opted for black because any wobbly painted lines would be less obvious! The other variation was in the form of the green uniform distinctions and whether the cuffs should be a solid colour or just piped in green – I opted for solid green, but it’s not such an obvious colour anyway. As with other figures I paint, I tend to ignore very fine lining/piping on uniforms anyway, since they would not be obvious at a distance. These figures took much longer to paint than I’m used to for infantry, probably because of some of the fiddly detail.
Having got all of the above figures painted, I’ve now got only a few units left to do for this conflict (in theory)! Already prepared, based and primed are another Paraguayan cavalry unit and some Brazilian sailors to man a couple of gunboats. After that, I’m not quite sure, since it would be more of what I “want to do” as opposed to what I “need to do”! Another Paraguayan infantry battalion would be useful and there are a couple of Brazilian volunteer units that have uniforms that I like the look of. In addition, a Brazilian ironclad and some Paraguayan canoes would be worth having. Having counted up my figures though I have now got 222 altogether for this conflict but still some room in the boxes for a few more!
I mentioned right at the start of this post that catching up with painting and posting might be a temporary blip. The reason for this is that I’ve got a sort of side-project to work on that I’d like to do next and I don’t really want to post anything about it until I’ve got a reasonable amount to show for it. More than likely this means I’ll go quiet again until the end of November unless I make outstanding progress! Whatever happens, mission creep means it’s unlikely that it’ll all be over by Christmas!