25 January, 2015

The Wissmanntruppe - Adversaries

Photo from ERM's website
Finding ideal figures for the Zanzibari Arabs and Swahilis that faced off against Wissmann and his force is probably never going to happen.  Short of winning the lottery and having specific figures commissioned (which also is probably never going to happen), I have decided to use a fairly obscure range of figures from East Riding Miniatures.  There are a few reasons to use the ERM.  First, the figures look close to what I would use in 28mm and there are a variety of packs available.  Second, they are decently priced at $3.79 a pack.  And third, the service I have had from ERM's Tony Barr in the past has always been outstanding.  The only issue I may have is that the German forces, due to using Old Glory 15s and Blue Moon Manufacturing, may tower over the ERM figures as I have never seen a comparison picture of the three ranges side by side (which I will take once I collect figures for Ost Afrika).  But, as these forces are on opposite sides of the coin, any height variation should not be that noticeable on the game table.


ERM has Arab swordsmen, musketmen, crossbowmen, command, and dead figures in their colonial range.  I will forego the crossbow figures as they are of no use.  I will use a fairly high proportion of musketmen as one source I have indicates that they were mostly equipped with small arms.

As for painting, I have this information:

ZANZIBARI ARABS

Skin - varied, from olive to dark brown, with the number of generations a family had been settled in East Africa. Beards occasionally dyed red with henna.

Gown - a long shirt with full-length sleeves. Originally this was a dull yellow, but by the 1870s was usually white, its brightness increasing with status. At the waist there was usually a sash, often white although any color could be used. A shorter shirt, in a striped or patterned fabric, was sometimes worn over the gown.

Waistcoats and Jackets - dark blue or red zouave style with contrasting edging and decoration.

Overmantles - in very dark blue or red, worn by leaders.

Hats - white fezzes or turbans. Wealthier Arabs often used multicolored, striped silks for their turbans.

Flags - a blood-red flag was the sign of a caravan from Zanzibar, although the contingents of individual leaders carried their own flags. These were probably simple vertical or horizontal strips of blue, red or white fabric added as borders to a basic red flag. Sometimes patterned fabrics may have been used for these stripes.

So, there we have it, basic figure ideas for the Wissmanntruppe and their enemies.  I've summarized this information on the Figures page.

22 January, 2015

The Wissmanntruppe

Marine, two officers, Sudanese askari, Somali askari, Zulu askari
Part of my original passion for German colonial gaming was the Bagamoyo Expedition in East Africa in 1889, led by Major Hermann von Wissmann.  I did a bit of research, came up with a decent order of battle for both sides, figured out what figures to use, and was looking at a couple of options for rules (including a variant of Volley and Bayonet and the Bagamoyo rules found as a download on the home page).  At the time this was going to be a project using 28mm figures, but I never seemed to ever start buying the necessary figures and the project fell by the wayside.  Luckily I kept the information I had because now, as my (potential) second German colonial project, I hope to create the Abushiri Rebellion in 15mm.

To that end, first thing is to restate the German order of battle:
  • 200 German Marines and a small number of sailors, drawn from the cruisers Leipzig, Schwalbe, Sperber, Carola and Pfeil
  • 40 German Army NCOs deployed as sharpshooters (treat these as Regulars in the rules)
  • 4 Companies of Sudanese (Nubian) askaris and 1 of Zulus, totaling about 500 men
  • 50 local askaris (Somalis in some sources)
  • 100 Nyamwezi irregulars and porters
  • 1 60mm mountain gun
  • 2 revolver cannon
Picture from Old Glory Miniatures website
HERE is a conversation I had with some helpful folks on The Miniatures Page some time ago about sources for 15mm figures. In looking through that conversation, and perusing the excellent German Colonial Uniforms website, I think all the askaris will be covered by the Blue Moon Askari pack from their Deep Dark Africa range.  There are enough of a variety of types that I can separate them out by type for the three types of askaris I will need.  The turban for the Sudanese askaris will be a bit large (the two figures on the left and the figure on the far right), and the sailor uniforms for the other two types will be shirts and shorts (fourth figure from the left), but I believe in 15mm the differences will not be huge.

Guns, however, will be a bit of a challenge.  There are crews within the Old Glory 15s Boxer range, but finding 15mm late Nineteenth Century revolver cannon and mountain guns has been a bit of an exercise in frustration.  I know I have to be missing some obvious range of figures, but I've yet to come across anything that would be suitable.  Not perfect, but suitable.  I believe the picture shows the 60mm mountain gun on the left, and something a bit larger on the right (the barrels seems to be of different caliber), so now you have an idea of what I am seeking (please leave a comment if you have suggestions).

As for uniform details, I have this information, provided to me so long ago I cannot remember who was kind enough to send it!

The Sudanese soldiers wore a khaki jacket with brass buttons, khaki knee-length trousers, blue puttees, and natural color leather lace-up shoes. On their head they wore a light gray or pale yellow turban wound around a fez. Toward the end of 1890 the turban was changed to a gray tarbush and neck shade. 

The Effendis (native officers) wore a khaki jacket after the pattern worn by German NCO's, with trousers, puttees, shoes, and headdress as for the soldiers. Their jacket buttons were brass also. 

The designation "Effendi" originated during the time of the Wissmann Unit. The equivalent German rank was Leutnant or Second Lieutenant. For insignia they wore three, golden, five-pointed stars on each shoulder strap. 

Chevrons denoted rank among the men. These were of blue braid (Zinnfigur mentions that some sources state yellow) and worn on the right forearm of the khaki jacket. From 1890 onward they were red, and worn on the upper left sleeve. One chevron denoted the rank of "Ombascha" (Gefreite, or Lance Corporal), two chevrons denoted the rank of "Schausch" (Unteroffizier, or Corporal), three denoted the rank of "Betschausch" (Sergeant), and four the rank of "Sol" (Feldwebel, or Sergeant-Major). Askaris (Privates) wore none. 

Specialist badges were worn on the upper right sleeve of the jacket. There was a red flaming grenade for artillerymen, and red crossed flags for signals personnel. Soldiers of the Zulu company wore the same dress as the Company askaris mentioned earlier, but the jacket and knee-length trousers were blue instead of white, and the jacket was worn outside the trousers. For parade they wore a long sleeved white shirt beneath the jacket, and white puttees. According to Zinnfigur, later, when a second company was added, the soldiers of the second company wore a white tassel on their fez as a distinction. At the end of 1889 the Zulu soldiers were given the same sort of dress as the Sudanese; with the exception of headwear as they continued to wear the fez, and the lack of shoes. 

The German East Africa Company askaris continued to wear their white uniform and fez. A photo in Schmidt dated 1889 shows a group of them wearing a waist belt with belly box and their jacket is being worn outside the trousers. Zinnfigur states that during the period of the Wissmann Unit a white jacket with standing collar and black buttons came to be worn with long white trousers; jacket outside. There was a black-white-red braid running along the base of the collar.

19 January, 2015

Sorting It All Out - The Figures

If I had my preference I would game the Herero War in 25/28mm, as there are some excellent companies making suitable figures in that scale.  However, as I live in a two bedroom condo, and the second bedroom is used as our den/office, my gaming space is limited to the dining room table, and that doesn't allow a lot of room, especially for the larger figures.  I find 6mm almost too small for my liking, and to be honest, finding suitable figures in 6mm might be a bit more difficult.  I could handle 10mm, but there are no companies, that I know of, making Boxer and/or Boer War figures that I can use as adequate substitutes for the Germans and Hereros.  Therefore, with all this in mind, I posted on The Miniatures Page (TMP) some months back about using 15mm figures, and received some quite helpful advice and suggestions from Roy Jones, who should probably be called Mr. Herero, as he is the current expert when it comes to this conflict from a gaming perspective.


With the scenarios available in Mr. Jones' The Herero War book, most of which are on a six foot by four foot table, I realized that I could halve the distance scale and use my existing terrain I have about for other arid settings.  I bought some nice terrain tiles and assorted other bits from The Terrain Guy, who sadly now is defunct.  But what I bought will give me a nice looking three foot by two foot layout, which works perfectly with the dining room table, and 15mm figures.

If you know me, you know that I like my figures for any era or project to be from the same manufacturer.  There is something about the figures, if all designed by the same sculptor, "matching" as it were, on the tabletop that I simply prefer.  That means any project I get into has to have a complete range of figures to buy if the project is fairly comprehensive (complete in terms of what I want to accomplish, that is).  With German Schutztruppe, Marines, sailors, artillery and crews, facing off against Hereros, mounted and dismounted, with most looking like Boers but some specialized units using captured German uniforms, I had to find a range that made Boxer Rebellion Germans along with Boer War figures.  The Boxer Rebellion range had to include See Battalion (for use as Marines) along with Far East Asian Brigade (for use as Schutztruppe).  Mounted and dismounted types for both sides, and artillery for the Germans were also of a concern.  The Old Glory 15s Boxer and Boer War ranges seem to cover most of what I will need to game the various scenarios in Mr. Jones' epic work.

Conversing via TMP with Mr. Jones has led to the following figures beings used for this project:

Germany

  • Senior Officers - BOX11 (Allied Mounted Generals/Officers - French, German, US, British, Russia)
  • Schutztruppe - BOX10 (German Far Eastern Brigade Infantry And Cavalry)
  • Landungkorps - BOX6A (Sailors #1 - British and Russian)
  • Marine-Infanterie - BOX03 (Italian Besagliere, German Sea Battalion, Armed European Civilians)
  • Bastards - BOX10 (German Far Eastern Brigade Infantry And Cavalry)
  • Feldkanone - BOX12 (Artillery #2 Russian, British and British Naval)
  • Maschinenkanone - 
  • Revolverkanone - SUD17A (British Naval Brigade Gatling Guns)
  • Gebirgsgeschutz -

Herero

  • Foot - COW12 (Dismounted Boers)
  • Shock Troops - BOX03 (Italian Besagliere, German Sea Battalion, Armed European Civilians)
  • Infiltrators - BOX10 (German Far Eastern Brigade Infantry And Cavalry)
  • Mounted - COW13 (Mounted Boers)
  • Command - BOX11/COW14 (Allied Mounted Generals/Officers - French, German, US, British, Russia and Boer Artillery and Mounted Generals)

As you can see, there will be plenty of extra figures I will not be needing, and I still have to determine what to use for the machine cannon and mountain gun, but the above gives me a good start on collecting figures.  Now that I know what figures to buy, determining what rules to use will help me determine how many figures to purchase...but that is another post!

16 January, 2015

Rules for Download

I've added two sets of rules for folks to download from Google Docs.  I hope I have done this correctly, be certain to let me know if you have issues downloading the rules.

The first set, A Place in the Sun, is the late Greg Novak's work for Southwest Africa.  A fellow gamer was kind enough to scan these rules for me, but there are a couple of gaps where I had to guess as to what was originally written as the scan cut off part of the pages.  If anyone has these rules and can provide the correct information (highlighted in yellow on the download) I would greatly appreciate the help!

The second set is simply a modification of Ted Brown's The Sand of the Desert which appeared in Issue 9 of the now sadly defunct Colonial Conquest magazine.  The rules were written for the Sudan, and I modified them a bit for use in East Africa.  I was planning on doing this period with 28mm figures, but with moving to a smaller place I will have to do some research for using 10mm or 15mm miniatures.

Enjoy the rules, feedback of course is welcome, and if you have any issues with the links please let me know.

13 January, 2015

Willkommen in der Blog!

Welcome to my blog about gaming some of the various German colonial wars.  This will be a very sporadic blog, as I really needed a place to combine all the various information I gather, so posts will be infrequent at times.  My focus will be on Sudwest Afrika and the Herero Revolt/War, using 15mm Old Glory 15s figures and most likely the late Greg Novak's A Place in the Sun, modified with information from The Herero War, written by Roy Jones and Eric Alvarado, which is a treasure trove of information, with scenarios written for The Sword and the Flame.

What you will not find here are political opinions about the first genocide of the 20th Century.  I believe there is enough out there on that already, and one of the reasons I game is to enjoy time with friends and to get away from the real world and all the nasty politics that go on every day.  On occasion I may refer to various situations that border on political issues, but only as they are linked to the military operations.


What you will find already is a list of figures, recommended and confirmed by Mr. Jones, that one can use in 15mm for the Herero Revolt.  That list can be found on the Figures tab above.  What else you will find are my occasional ramblings about figures, terrain, battles, etc.  First and foremost this is a gaming blog so gaming it will be!

Even with my promise of irregular posts, I do hope you find the blog worthy enough to become a follower.  I am far from an expert on this subject, and there are some wonderful sites that cover the revolt in so many great ways (see the links to the right), but the blog will deliver on how to approach this conflict from a gamer's perspective.

The blog may eventually branch into other German colonial conflicts as well, particularly to the Bagamoyo Expedition (Wissmanntruppe) and perhaps Lettow-Vorbeck's amazing campaign in Ost Afrika during the Great War. 

Comments that offer advice, feedback, and constructive criticism are always welcome!
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