Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Windsor Great Park and Butcher Cumberland

It is often all too easy to overlook references to history that interest us. I have cycled though Windsor Great Park and enjoyed a great deal of its 5000 acres for much of my life. I have however, unfortunately, become somewhat complacent to its points of interest.

On a recent family outing to Virginia Water I decided to ‘stop and smell the roses’ and with great interest I discovered more about a feature I have passed with little regard on more occasions that I care to admit.

Beside one of the smaller lakes, known as the Obelisk Pond, not far from the main entrance stands an Obelisk memorial to the Duke of Cumberland.

The Obelisk memorial.

William, the Duke of Cumberland is generally best known for his role in putting down the forces of Charles Edward Stuart ‘The Young Pretender’ during the Jacobite Rebellion at the battle of Culloden in 1746, he was appointed Ranger of Windsor Great Park in the same year.

The obelisk is inscribed:

Inscription on the east tablet.

The Duke’s actions at the battle of Culloden, in which the forces of Stuart where decimated, put an almost instant end to the JacobiteUprising and earned him an honorary degree from he University of Glasgow. His actions in the ‘Pacification’ of the Jacobite areas of the Highlands, in which rebels and sympathisers, including non-combatants, were murdered, villages burned and livestock confiscated also earned him the title ‘Butcher Cumberland’.

The Duke of Cumblerland (1758) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, c/o Chatsworth Settlement Trustees.

The base tablet facing north is carved with a laurel wreath surmounted by the Royal crest inscribed 'W.A. Born April 15th 1721 Died October 31st 1765'. A garter symbol is carved in the base on sides facing south and west. Above the north tablet the obelisk was originally inscribed “Culloden” however this was erased following Queen Victoria's instruction and replaced with "CUMBERLAND".

Garter on the south and west sides.

Following the events of Culloden the Duke’s military career was unsuccessful and after the Convention of Klosterzeven in 1757, after which he never held an active command, he turned his attention to more ‘noble’ pursuits such as politics and horse racing.

I almost missed the significance of the planting at the base of the obelisk.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Captain Robert Stewart - Monongahela 1755

Captain Robert Stewart was a native of Scotland who fought and was wounded at the Battle of Great Meadows in July, 1754. He was promoted to captain in the Virginia forces on November 1st, 1754.
Stewart commanded the troop of Virginia light horse on Braddock’s expedition. His unit served as escort for General Braddock and fought at the Battle on The Monongahela.

During the Battle he had two horses shot out from under him and his sword and scabbard were shot away. He was one of only five members of a 29 man unit that survived the battle, suffering only a slight injury when one bullet creased his brow and another his forehead. 1

Captain Robert Stewart at Monongahela.

In 1755 General Braddock raised a company of “Horse Rangers”, 34 men under Captain Robert Stewart, these became known as the Virginia Light Horse  “Every officer sergeant, corporal and private to be armed with a short carbine, case of pistols and a cuttng sword.” (Braddock Orderly Book entries February 28, 1755).

Colonel George Washington wrote to Governor Robert Dinwiddie on October 11, 1755
“3 drunken soldiers of the light-horse, carousing, firing their pistols, and uttering the most unheard-of imprecations” caused a panic among the local populace who mistook them for an Indian raiding party.

Captain Stewart - One of only five members of his unit to survive the battle.

Colonel Washington himself wrote of Stewart that “His military knowledge is second to none in our service and his assiduity I can greatly confide in. I can't use the freedom of mentioning it to the General, nor shou'd I .” Washington to Major Francis Halkett Fort Cumberland, July 21, 1758 (Washington papers).

1. Courtesy of John Jenkins Designs.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Battle for Fort No. 4 - Eastern Front 2010

August 2010 saw us heading for Eastern Front, a wargames show in Norwich, Norfolk.
John Jenkins - Fort Number Four

This was to be Norwich’s first Wargaming show for many years, we invited friends from Stoke on Trent to join us. We used a lightly modified version of Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings skirmish game rules; easy and fast with an emphasis on fun.
The layout was 9’ by 5’. A skirmish of the French Indian War. We used the ‘Fort Number Four’ (now sadly discontinued) as a focal point for one end of the set-up, with a force of French Infantry and Native irregulars pushing in from a forest at the other end.

French Infantry marches under fire.
Having never publicly shown our collections, we discovered our terrain didn't go very far on the large table. We did have a few things; a beautiful river/stream, sourced from Italy, a collection of rocks, mainly railway ballast and slate, a superb resin 'wooden' bridge, from Snapdragon Studios, (unfortunately no longer trading) and an adequet collection of model trees of varying scales, the largest firs (available in most railway or model shops) fixed into resin Snapdragon Studio trunks.
To bulk this out we needed something more, as it was going to look very bare; by chance James spotted the moss from his shred roof, and the morning of the game gathered a great bucket full, when arranged among the rocks and trees, it added a very natural element to the battlefield and made a huge difference.

I got one!

The scenario was simple: The French and Indian force must advance across the river and close on the civilians, light infantry and grenadiers occupying the fort whilst the British force had to hold off the attackers for as long as possible - a British relief column of regulars was on its way but would be held off table until it was sorely needed. The spectacle was the most important thing, with the game progressing throughout the day, so passers-by could watch the attack unfold.

"Fire at will!"
Family day outs were different back then..... but just as exciting!

Looking at the pictures of the layout after the show it was the trees that we felt we wanted to improve on most, something larger and less regular in shape than the bottle brush style we had. We welcome any suggestions on where to get better 54mm trees! Also more trees - could we ever have enough?

"Two gockles of gear on the wall, two gockles of gear! Sarge!"

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Two Little Boys - An Introduction

Not that long ago it seemed toy soldiers were something to be kept in the dark, hidden in a back room or closet away from the prying eyes of 'sensible' visitors or upstanding members of the family. My how things have changed. The internet has a lot to answer for.

Not only can we explore our passions, we can enjoy them with other like-minded individuals. Sharing lessons learned, experiments attempted, recommendations and the now indispensable 'how-to' tutorials are so much a part of any hobby now that is seemed a shame not to jump in an join in with this one.

Each to His or Her Own
Upon deciding to start this blog our thoughts focussed on just the models: of starting our collection and the wonderful moment when a set is opened for the first time. We then considered scenery: the joys of displaying our pieces in a semblance of context, from small vignettes to huge display tables. Then came the hands-on modelling: building, crafting and painting pieces.

We soon realised there were so many ways to explore and enjoy this hobby. Books, movies and music, museum visits, re-enactments, wargames and toy soldier shows have all been part of our toy soldier collecting experience.

British Artillery brings to bear as the French advance - Models by John Jenkins Designs.

Two Little Boys
Even just the two of us, Adam and James, enjoy our hobby in many different ways. Thankfully we both have understanding partners who allow us to indulge in our passion and our 'little guys' are no longer relegated to a back room or closet.

Two Little Boys is the tale of our shared journey into the world of toy soldier collecting. Join us on this wonderful adventure that we undertake, on this marvellous spree.