On the Painting Table

Painting is still going a bit slow. I’m slowly building up my 15mm Native Americans for the ACW and managed to finish a couple more of the Union Indian Brigade. I also painted another one of the Oathsworn anthropomorphic animals.

I modeled the fur colour after the tomcat living at our place!

Some time ago, I also received Annie’s Kickstarter and I finally painted up two of the figures.


On the painting tray are even more Indians – this time, Confederates. In the end, I want to have four skirmishers group of six figures for each side.


In the foreground, you can see some mounted Indians. They have been standing there for a while and I’m pretty stuck with those at the moment. They are from 15mm.co.uk and are not the best sculpts and castings, so painting them is a bit of a hassle. I’ll give them one more chance, otherwise I’ll put them away. The snakey guys you can see in between are 28mm serpentmen from EM4. They will be used for our Sellswords & Spellslingers games.

Last week, I suddenly had the desire to build something. I found a nice photograph of the Hilton Head post office during the Civil War and spontaneously decided to model this building. As always, I made the shell out of plastic sheet and added cardboard strips for the weatherboarding. It’s not yet finished, but it’s been a fast and smooth build so far.


Last but not least, I got myself some pine trees. I’ve been thinking about those for a while now, as many of the ACW actions I’m gaming were fought in or around pine woods, and I finally caved in and got two packs. Let’s see how they look on the tabletop. The tiny animals will also add some detail to the 15mm landscape.



ACW Vignettes

I’ve recently made some terrain vignettes for the ACW. The first one is a smithy. I didn’t do much research, I just looked at images from 19th century American blacksmith shops and then built a simple hut.


The blacksmith figures are from a medieval blacksmith set from Donnington Miniatures I’ve had lying around for years now.


As always, I made the building out of plastic sheet and covered it with match sticks. The chimney is sculpted out of green stuff. I’m not completely happy with it, but it looks ok.

The other vignette is a small scene that links to the topic of friction.


A limber broke down on a road and the crew is working (more or less) frantically to replace the wheel.


As always when such things happen, two guys are actually working on the problem while the rest is standing around and doing other – certainly important! – stuff.


A straggler is chatting with the horse holder.


A sergeant is stopping the traffic and securing the scene of the accident…


… while the officers are, well, officering.

The figures are a mix from different manufacturers, mostly from Peter Pig, but the straggler is from Essex, who make a nice pack of soldiers at rest. The limber is from QRF.


This will be a good objective for a game of Sharp Practice or just a background scene to enliven the table.

Escort Duty – Sharp Practice AAR

Having recently finished a handful of Confederate Native Americans, I naturally wanted to play a game with them. We settled for the Escort scenario from the Sharp Practice rule-book, as we had never played that before. Also, raids on federal supply trains were quite common in the Indian Territory.

The terrain featured a lot of hills, rocks and woods  and also a sunken road – a perfect spot for an ambush. We decided that the Union convoy, which was commanded by me, would travel along the road in marching formation until attacked. I could, however, deploy my skirmishers and cavalry on the flanks.


After I had placed my troops, K. positioned her deployment point. She also immediately began to deploy her line troops in a position to enfilade me as soon as I moved out of the sunken road. Blissfully unaware of the danger, my convoy moved forward, the leading formation entering the sunken road. K. also had one group of Indians move through the woods. When those opened fire on my skirmishers, the game was on.

However, before my troops could exit the sunken road, K. sprang an ambush. I’ve given the Indians the ‘Tactical’ characteristic and she made good use of it. Rushing to the crest of the sunken road, they delivered an enfilading volley on my unsuspecting men. Shocked, they turned to face their assailants, but another volley was too much for one of the groups, which fell back. My Force Morale started to sink.


It was going to get worse, however: K.’s line troops now moved into position to block the sunken road’s exit and fired at my bottled-up and already shaken groups. Both broke and fled back toward the supply wagons.


While this was happening, my rearguard took position to fend off the cavalry K. was moving into position. Before they could get off a shot, however, the cavalry charged them furiously and emptied their pistols into the ranks. Yes, K. had two command cards and used ‘Sam Colt’s Equalizer’ to inflict shock before going in. Lo and behold! I was on the receiving end of the first successful cavalry charge in all of our games of Sharp Practice. The Rebel troopers not only broke my formation and made one group fall back, they also killed my Leader. This was the last blow: My Force Morale was down at 1, while K.’s was still at 10.

A victory for the Cherokee Raiders!

Wow, that was one of the quickest games of Sharp Practice I’ve ever played. For the Rebels, everything played out perfectly: The ambush in the sunken road, which was followed up by bottling up my advance guard in the narrow gorge, and, before I could react properly, the swift charge by the cavalry, which made short thrift of my rear guard. Nonetheless, it was a fun game which felt decidedly different from most of the other games of SP I’ve played recently. This one really felt like a swift ambush – there was no probing of positions and slow advance of lines, but a series of fast and furious blows which ended the affair before I could get my act together. K. played the Native Americans boldly and aggressively and Sharp Practice delivered the perfect narrative for the situation.

I’m now going to assemble a Union Indian Brigade and then the tables will be turned!

Native Americans in the ACW

K. has been pestering me for some time now to make ACW scenarios involving Native Americans. A couple of years ago, she even made me buy an Osprey on the subject. However, I never got the project going as I couldn’t find the right figures.

I’ve finally decided that if I can’t get the figures, I have to convert them. So what did they look like?

A Union Indian Home Guard soldier.

The so-called ‘Five Civilzed Nations’ (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek (Muscogee), and Seminole) were split between support for the Confederacy and loyalty to the Union. Officially, for various reasons they sided with the Confederates; however, a great number of warriors from those tribes also enlisted in the Union Indian Home Guard. In many tribes, the men of mixed heritage, who had adopted Southern culture (often including owning slaves), opted to join the Rebel forces. The more traditional ‘full-blooded’ members of the tribes stayed with the Union. Many were members of the influential Keetoowah Society, a secret society founded in the 1850 that not only stressed the preservation of ancient customs, but also had ties to abolitionism.

Though promised uniforms and weapons, Confederate Native Americans didn’t actually receive any, so they wore their civilian cloths and used their own weapons, mostly shotguns. Often mentioned by eyewitnesses are their long hair and the peacock feathers they stuck to their hats.

Native Americans on the Union side at first only got the navy blue 4-button sack coat and hardee hat. All other clothes, including the trousers, they provided themselves. Most of them were home-made. Only in 1863 would they be provided with army clothing. They did get decent weapons, though (various models of rifled muskets). They also wore their hair long, but – being more traditionalist – stuck eagle feathers to their hats. Interestingly, the Union Indian Home Guards also contained African-Americans, men who had escaped from plantations in the Indian Territory and had joined the loyal groups.

Looking from the perspective of 15mm figures, there are three main characteristics that would stand out: The basic clothing, the long hair and the feathers.

As the Confederates were a motley bunch, I grabbed a couple of spare figures with hats, some of them regular Confederate infantry, some from the useful Home Guard Militia pack from QRF/Freikorp15 and some from Peter Pig’s Western range.

I then took some green stuff and added long hair, a feather and an occasional scarf to the figures.

I’m far from proficient with green stuff, but this was easier than I thought.

I then painted the figures, trying to get a varied appearance and avoiding the grays I use for Confederates so as to give them a more unique look.

For the Union Indian Brigade, I used Peter Pig‘s Union infantry with hat and repeating rifles, mainly because they wear hats and I had them at hand. Of course the warriors were not armed with repeating rifles, but I decided no one will notice anyway.

I haven’t finished painting them, but you’ll still get a picture:


I mainly want to use them for Sharp Practice, so I intend to make four skirmisher groups of each side plus two groups of mounted warriors for the Confederates. Incidentally, both sided started out as mounted troops but also fought dismounted. Over time, the Union warriors lost their horses due to attrition and Confederate Raids, so in the end all Union Indian Brigade regiments were dismounted and fought on foot. I’ll do a post about a Sharp Practice Force List for Native Americans in the ACW some other time.



Academic historians have for a long time neglected the Western Theater of the ACW and especially the Indian Territory, so there is quite a number of substandard literature out there. For the wargamer, the most comprehensive and useful book is Mark Lardas’ Native American Mounted Rifleman 1861–65, published by Osprey. The best overall history of the Native American experience is Mary Jane Warde’s When the Wolf Came. The Civil War and the Indian Territory, University of Arkansas Press 2013. It includes a detailed analysis of the political conflicts as well as a solid and comprehensive overview of the campaigns, battles and skirmishes. For a military perpective, another good book is W. Craig Gaines’ The Confederate Cherokees. John Drew’s Regiment of Mounted Rifles (Louisiana State University Press 1989, with a new edition published in 2017), which has a broader focus than the title would suggest.

Some studies dedicated to specific persons or battles have been published, but as far as I have seen them they are of a decidedly mixed quality.