Friday, May 25, 2007

The Electorate of Vulgaria Responds to the Grand Duchy of Stollen

Hans Karl von Wilkowiczeske,

The Electorate of Vulgaria welcomes the exchange of Ambassadors during these times of turmoil. There appears to be a major movement toward crises in the West that is at best confounding and absolutely perplexing. It is at times like these that civilized Nations should become friends!

Vulgaria is willing to extend the hand of friendship with two caveats; As the Empires of Maria-Theresa and Elizabeth march so marches the Army of Vulgaria, Betrayals of our friendship will be considered an act of war and will be retaliated against most severely.

I await your response in earnest anticipation of a new friendship with all that it conveys.

Byr Levrenti Beria

For the Elector Vleg Donislov I of Vulgaria

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Meeting with the Elector!

In the highest room of the castle in Schweingrad the Elector Donislov I sits, with his Chief of Diplomacy Levrenti Beria, in front of roaring fire; wine, cheese, sausages and a chess board adorn the table.

A Grenadier announces from the portal to the room; “Major Poruchik and escort sire!”

“Yes, yes send him in!” replies the Elector, and to a figure at the side, “Another plate and glass for my friend the Major.”

The command to send in Major Poruchik was a small formality and unnecessary as the Major has free access to all chambers in Schweingrad; such is the authority of the Intelligence Officer and the trust the Elector places in him.

“Sire, I bring news from our Northern border.” announces Poruchik. To his right and slightly behind him stands a young officer from the Hosok Tere Hussars.

“A man of yours Poruchik?” queries Beria, nodding towards the Hussar Officer.

“A man of the Electors and trusted by me!” replies Poruchik.

“Stop you two, I’ve had one too many glasses of wine to negotiate new settlements between Intelligence and Diplomacy tonight.” commands the Elector. Major Poruchik nods his acceptance of the Electors command.

"I had only thought to establish the Officers credentials Sire.” offers Beria.

“Oh I know what you thought to establish Beria, and if you two are unable to find a way to coexist in Schweingrad, I shall send you to the Empress in St Petersburg and Poruchik to the Empress in Vienna! A fine pair of play things you two would be also!” the Elector retorted.

“Now have a seat Major and tell me what this is about.” The Elector motioned to an empty seat, between him and Beria, now set with glass and plate. Poruchik sat and the Hussar took a spot again just behind and to his right at attention; conspicuously between the Major and Beria.

“We have a report of an Alzheim encroachment on the plateau overlooking our shared lake.” stated Poruchik, allowing a moment for the weight of that statement to be felt before continuing. “Our patrol is in contact with an unknown number of Alzheimers on the plateau. In fact young von Stahl believes this to be an invasion.”

“What do you think Major?” asked the Elector.

“Von Stahl has shown excellent tactical ability; however, he can be a bit rash at times. I selected him for this operation in hopes that he will continue to mature as an Officer in the Army of Vulgaria. Initial reports from our men assigned with him suggest that he is positively developing in the field as a commander.

Those same men were able to forward information regarding this new incident to our young Hussar Officer here, fortuitously in the area on leave. As a result of analyzing that information and questioning this young man I’m not convinced that this incident is an invasion.” replied the Major.

“Did you see any signs of an invasion young man?” asked the Elector of the Hussar Officer.

“No Sire, the road between Schweingrad and the lake are completely clear as is the surrounding area.” responded the officer.

“How fortuitous indeed that he happened to be home on leave in this very area of operation at this very moment in time, eh?” insinuated Beria.

“This young Officer is to be commended Sire, he encountered a patrol of our irregular horsemen in the area and commanded them to ride to the plateau to investigate and report back to Schweingrad their findings. I expect that we will have additional news within the day.” added Poruchik.

The Elector picked up his wine stating; “Well done son! See that he is rewarded Major; perhaps a promotion!”

“I certainly will Sire.” Responded Poruchik, and turning to address the Hussar, “You are dismissed; however, wait for me at my headquarters.”

The Hussar saluted and left with the hint of a smile on his face.

After the Hussar had left, Beria asked Poruchik; “What does this mean? I have just sent a delegation to Alzheim and they were accepted. We have had less then satisfactory relations with the Alzheimers over the last few hundred years! Everything was beginning to look better. Should I recall our people from the road?”

“The Duchy has been heavily fishing the lake and naturally we thought it was in anticipation of a new campaign against us. The mission to the lake was to more closely observe this behavior all under the auspices of some non-existent poaching. We have verified that they are taking fish, but not in numbers that are overly alarming.

Bear in mind that the whole continent is ripe for war. We ourselves have begun to store grain, pickled vegetables and smoked meats in anticipation of the event. There are multiple problems with many of the smaller states and the major Empires are actively looking for a spark to move our world into the chaos that is War!

I suspect that what is occurring on the plateau is outside of the plans of Augustus Rex or any of his ministers. There appear to be no signs at the moment of an invasion only an incursion. We don’t know the scope of the thing yet although we should shortly.

I would recommend mobilizing a couple of squadrons of Hussars and sending them to the lake with a section of Artillery. The official reason can be to celebrate the promotion of our young messenger to his Captaincy. If nothing is amiss when they get to the village of Hosok Tere they can fire a few celebratory salvoes over the lake and return.

At the same time we should send a messenger to St Petersburg to enquire about moving up the planned exercise to our south with the Czarina’s forces. This will cement our dedication to St Petersburg and it is a good time to have a few regiments of Russe bivouacked with us.

We should send a few additional staff with specialized talents to the Court in Vienna. And we must absolutely try to maintain good relations with our neighbors north of the lake. Beria keep your delegation moving to the Alzheims Capitol and when they arrive have them invite a similar delegation to visit with us.” replied Poruchik.

“What if you are wrong Major?” asked the Elector.

“If I’m wrong then there will be war with Alzheim. Vulgaria as well as the Duchy will be gobbled up by the Russe or the Empire or Germania, our larger neighbors, in their desire to be at each other and you Sire may have my head on a pike at the approaches to your castle.” confidently replied Poruchik.

“I like the sound of that!” quickly added Beria.

“Stop! There will be no heads on pikes, you are my son’s dearest friend and I consider you a part of my family Major.” inserted the Elector with a stern look at his Chief of Diplomacy.

“Sire, Vulgaria does not have a monopoly of rash young men; I'm sure Alzheim has her share also. Rash young men can be used to drive countries apart or together. There has been peace between Vulgaria and Alzheim since 1720. Let us wait and see what the next few days bring.” offered Poruchik.

“Sound advice, my faith is not misplaced, do as is required Major!” commanded the Elector.

“Sire, Beria, if you will excuse me, I need to prepare our newly appointed Captain for a trip to St Petersburg.” replied Major Poruchik as he got up and left the room.

“Are you sure of the Major Sire, he has ‘people’ it would seem everywhere?” whined Beria after Poruchik had left.

“Please, my friend, we have been together a long time, there is room in my staff for both of you and your fine skills. Now let us enjoy another glass of wine and a game of chess before the evening gets too old.” insisted Donislov.

Pix coming of the finished conversions and a question for the audience.

I would be posting pictures today of the painted conversions except for a slight problem. I was reviewing the Pengel and Hurt volumes on the Russian Army and noticed that I had made a mistake in my painting. I have painted my line Regts with white flag staffs and my Grenadiers with red flag staffs.

Erhmmmm, this is opposite to the information reported by Pengel and Hurt and will need to be rectified. Fortunately as this is a fairly new project we are talking about only a few staffs to be repainted.

Is this really a big deal BTW?

I suspect if we know and can make it right we should. In this case it's easy, although I wonder if I would consider the repair if the mistake were substantially larger.

Oh well and now for a question that perhaps someone out there could be of assistance with.

As part of the Russian Armies train there was a company of Pontooniers. These fellows were not Engineers but were on assignment from the Russian Navy. I have it on authority from a number of good sources that the Engineers wore a uniform similar enough to the artillerists as to be identical. However, I can find no information at all on the uniform of the Russian Navy during the SYW. This formation was present with every incursion into Prussia, and consisted of roughly 60 pontoons, a few officers (the commander was a Navy Lieutenant), and approximately 60 sailors or marines and a dozen naval craftsmen.

Does anyone have any information regarding Russian Naval uniforms from the SYW? I have Googled and check the references that are at my disposal and I have found nothing to date. I suppose I could paint them in Black (very dark Navy Blue) as per current regulations; however, if it's possible I'd rather have some good information to base their uniforms on.

Thanks in advance for the help.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's almost summer and Vulgarians love to travel.

In an effort to bring stability to a deteriorating situation between The Duchy of Alzheim and The Electorate of Vulgaria, the Elector has dispatched his master of diplomacy Boyar Boris Basenov and his companion Natasha Lethale. They are traveling with a small escort of Hosok Tere Hussars, letters of introduction and various Vulgarian wines, smoked pork and clocks; lots of clocks. These are all intended as gifts for the assembled court in Alzheim.

The Elector has also dispatched Major Hohenschweingau with a small escort of the von Hause Dragoons as a military advisor to His Excellency the Landgraf Bogey von Hesse-Fedora. Regrettably Ambassadors and formal recognition are not possible at this moment. The Electorate of Vulgaria enjoys excellent relationships with two powerful Empresses and Hesse-Fedora’s adversarial Empress has not been named.

Byr Lavrenti Beria
Chief of Diplomacy
Schweingrad VU

Friday, May 18, 2007

News travels quickly; bad news travels very quickly!

A pair of veteran Grenadiers; Grigor and Bogdan, are on post at the main gate to the castle in Schweingrad.

“Just stop Grigor, stop! Too may stories, will you never stop telling me these same old stories!”

“Shhh Bogdan, look!”

“What are you looking at you old fool?”

“A rider moving fast yelling, can you hear him Bogdan? My ears are not as strong as they once were.”

“Yes it’s the recognition sign, he’s a messenger! Open the gate! Open the gate now!” screamed Bogdan.

The gate opens just in time as the rider, now clearly visible in the uniform of the Hosok Tere Hussars, gallops past the sentries.

“He was in quite a hurry my dear Grigor; I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Well, with the damned Mohammedans active to our South, the rumblings with Alzheim to our North and Gallia and Hesse Seawald at each other in Germania, I fear for the balance of my hearing Bogdan!”

“Ehhh, why?”

“I’ve stood in one to many musket lines already; I’m not sure how many more my poor ears can withstand!”

“Grigor; you only need ears to hear with, I’ve never known you to shut up and actually listen to anyone you old fool!”

Grigor chuckles; “We’ve been together too long Bogdan, pass me some water and I’ll tell you of my time with the Musketeers!”

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Conversions and new regiments!

I think one of the best feelings I get is when a conversion looks better then I thought it would.

I'm painting, in addition to the forces from little Vulgaria, Russians. The RSM figures are brilliant, well sculpted, excellently proportioned and very life like in their ratios. They also make almost every casting in a March Attack variant which I believe is the best possible pose for the Seven Years War. The stately march with muskets held tight and vertical, bayonets gleaming, looks marvelous.

DPC; the sellers of RSM castings, do make Officers and Standard Bearers for the Russian Grenadiers. They are unfortunately sculpt at a run. I bought enough to paint a 53 man Regiment, cleaned them up and just didn't like the look of the Officer and Standard Bearer. It seemed unmanly at best to have the Officers at a run in front of these magnificent Grenadiers in their slow deliberate unfaltering march.

So I did what any petty tyrant would do, I lopped off their heads!

I took the bodies of the Russian Musketeer Officer with cane and removed his head and placed after careful pinning the head of the Grenadier Officer on his shoulders. I also clipped his cane and added a sword to his hand. The result is what you see in front of you. I think he's a much better candidate to lead a Regiment of Russia's Grenadiers then the running man!

Here's a side view of the Officer conversion. I'm very pleased with how this turned out.

In place of the running Standard Bearer I used the Prussian Officer with Spontoon. I removed the head, clipped the spontoon at the hand, leaving the thumb for some added stability and shaved off the lapels. I then added the Grenadier head after pinning and drilled the hand and placed a brass rod with a shaped spear point in it, finally I gently lifted the thumb back into place.

Here's a side view of the Standard Bearer conversion. I'm very pleased with this one also.

Here's the entire Grenadier Regiment after priming awaiting the brush.

A closer view.

Here's a Regiment of Russian Cuirassier in progress. I need to add 2 standard bearers, a musician and a commanding officer to complete it's muster. I have it on good authority from two different OSW friends that the Prussian Cuirassier castings from DPC will fit the bill nicely.

And here's a close up, the officer leaning back heroically yelling; "Come my children, for Mother Russia and the Czarina!"

I'll post more photo's as the paint begins to stick!