Thursday, March 27, 2008

A stroll with Daisy along the Gunpowder River

One our favorite local sites to hike is the Gunpowder Falls State Park here in Maryland. The other day I took our Beagle Daisy for a hike along one of the many trails here that follow the course of the Gunpowder River as it makes it way to the Chesapeake Bay. The boys used to come here with me when they were much younger and thought a day on the trails with Mr. Joe was a fun thing to do. Now I leave that to Daisy, as to her, a walk along the trails is her "Disney World"
Here's the sign at the park entrance just off Route 1/Belair Road.
For the last couple of years, Daisy and I have always taken the same trail, out of four or five available, but as they say "Variety is the spice of life" and I wanted to see what I was missing on the other trails. As for Daisy, she is perfectly content to sniff along any trail, walk through any patch of mud or climb over every fallen log I bring her to.

Here's a view of the Gunpowder River at the beginning of the trail and as we cross the walkway on the Belair Road bridge.
As you look at this picture, we will be taking a trail on the right bank of the river, heading towards I-95 about 3 miles away. Even at this height, you can see the clarity of the water in the river.

Below is a view from that trail, looking at the river. On the other bank is another trail, while on the other side of the bridge are trails heading West. That's the direction we usually head.
And here is my scout dog Daisy, leading the way up the path.

The river is pretty shallow here, fast moving one moment with calm pools the next. Daisy and I like to stop along the way and get down to the waters edge. Here's some shots from the waters edge, showing the dual nature of this river.

Of course a hike in the Gunpowder Falls State Park is not just all water views. On the other side of the trail, you have deep forest, that is just starting to bloom with Spring. Crocus flowers dot the landscape as do interesting rock formations, many types of trees and plenty of deer and other wildlife.
The Gunpowder can run high at times, especially in the early spring, as evidenced by the drift wood balanced on top of the boulder in the middle of the river.

In the following photo, you can see the white rectangular trail marking and one of the many little watercourses/creeks that Daisy and I crossed as we hiked along. Always a good opportunity for Daisy to pad along the stream bed and take a quick sip of water.
I'm careful to only let Daisy lap up moving water and not give her time to take a long drink even at that. Although she herself never does take more than a few sips.

One neat spot to see is a section called "Pot Rocks", so named after the holes or pots worn away in the stones by centuries of swirling water. If you look at the two following photos you can see the "pots" in the rocks.

Meanwhile the woods and hills have some pretty unique rock formations themselves as you can see in the photo below.

After Daisy and I had hiked for an hour and a half, I decided to turn around and head back.

Daisy grabbed a stick from the souvenir stand and we made our way back to the parking lot.

Meanwhile I had been picking up litter in the form of bottles, cans and food wrappers as we walked along the trail and came away with a plastic bag full of disposable goodies myself.

All in all a good day for me, Daisy and Mother Nature.

Mr. Joe

Thursday, March 6, 2008

10mm 1870 Prussians for Volley & Bayonet

Now it's the Prussians turn in the spotlight.

If you go back a couple of posts, you'll see that I highlighted my 1870 French in 10mm for the wargame rules, Volley & Bayonet. I have been building the two opposed forces that took part in the battle of St. Privat in August of 1870. The Prussian and Saxon attacks on the French lines has been likened to Picketts Charge at Gettysburg, only this attack went on for hours, into the evening and eventually the Saxon XII Corp, turned the right flank of the French VI Corp, while the Prussian Guard units, who had been pinned down all day, sensed just enough of a let up in French fire to rush forward once more.

I went with Volley and Bayonet rules, as they seem to be fairly simple to play, but give you the feeling of large masses of troops and a feel of combat at that time. I also have "1870" rules, "They Died for Glory" rules, "Chassepot & Needlegun" rules and "Ever Victorious Armies".

All for gaming the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

Why do I like this period; the combination of, massed units, colorful uniforms, with the dawn of modern technology and the development of new tactics, there are many areas of interest for someone interested in military history. And while the results were lopsided, most battles could very easily have gone the other way. the Franco-Prussian War, laid the foundation for the First World War, which set the stage for the Second World War.

But for now, lets have a look at my Prussian miniatures:

Here are two "big picture views of my Prussian Infantry regiments, Jager Battalions, Artillery batteries and Cavalry. These are all based in accordance with the rules "Volley & Bayonet". The large squares are 3"x 3" and each has 20 figures on it, including a leader, color bearer and drummer. For anyone not familiar with wargaming sizes, a figure that is in the scale of 10mm is a half inch tall. Down below here is a side view at the Prussian 2nd Armee, that I have done so far.

I really like the look of a massed body of troops you have with 20 10mm figs on these bases. Since the Prussians fought in a more loose order or skirmish formation, I didn't rank these boys up as much as I did the French. When I paint and base my figures, I go for not only the historical look but the feel of an army.

The next photo is a closeup of one of my regiments. You might notice one of the figures lying down on the base. When I prime and paint my figures, I use Elmers glue and attach them to a craft stick. Sometimes I use too much glue and the poor guy snaps off at the ankles as I try to pop him free. So, he becomes a casualty on the base.

Here's a side view of the same regiment.

And here is the back view....All of my figures are primed in black and then a Prussian Blue basecoat. I always matt spray my figs, but unfortunately it really darkens them up to almost black. I do the leather straps in black, the greatcoat in a lighter grey to stand out. Helmets are black with brass trim.

Now any army is not just riflemen, you need Artillery and Cavalry, you need Combined Arms. Here's my Artillery, which could be either 4 pdr or 6 pdr pieces.

The next photo is of my Cavalry; at this time most cavalry was used as Skirmish or patrols, although there were several instances of massed cavalry charges, which more often than not, went down in a shambles from disciplined infantry fire. In this photo I have my Hussars, who were armed with sabres and a carbine. In the actual battle of St. Privat, there was no French Cavalry and the Prussian Cavalry was off on the flanks trying to find an opening, so they really didn't take part in the battle.

These are my Uhlans or Lancers...the coolest looking Cavalry around. Think of the "Charge of the Light Brigade when you think of this type of unit. Prussia used their cavalry much more effectively in the scouting role. There is a story of a Prussian cavalryman, who came to a river bank, and saw what he thought was the French Army on the other side. The rider then dismounted and swam across the river to scout out the French positions and then swam, back to his horse and rode back to HQ with the information of where the French army was. That's how you scout:-)

And of course you need an Army Commander, This is Major General von Pape, Commanding General of the 1st Guards Divison.....or a close approximate.

Finally, a ground view of my troops moving into action.


Mr. Joe