Monday, December 27, 2010

Pike and Shot Tournament: Poles Vs Turks Summary

It's great to be fighting battles again!

I haven't done much of it in recent years, due to the lack of sufficient free hours to really work on these battles. But my resolution for 2011 is to change that, and put my 10,000 figures to as much use as possible! Which hopefully, in turn, will mean the regular posts that I originally set this blog up to accomodate.

Last Sunday's battle was my first with both these armies, which I assembled over the course of the past year. Neither army is completely finished, but they are ready enough to take the field. (In fact, I haven't done much fighting in the Pike and Shot era at all previously, so this tournament will be a great learning experience for me.)

I was definitely pleased with the look of both armies. They made for a really colorful display, and once I plug the gaps in their ranks that currently exist, I think both will be very formidable - hopefully both in look and deed.

The Turks had a great day. Pretty much everything fell into their lap, and indeed the only bad dice throw I can remember them getting was the one that killed Kazazian Beg. Everything else went their way - the Poles arrival was delayed long enough to allow them to take the village and relatively freely deploy for its defense. Their outflanking force showed up at just the right time to provide re-enforcements for the main battle, and if the Poles had arrived earlier, its arrival would have been perfect to hit the Poles in the flank as planned. The Turks even managed to string together a series of good throws in the final melee against the Winged Hussars.

The Poles on the other hand, had to struggle for everything they got. They arrived late. When they did arrive, the Zaporozhians found the going tough against a lone unit of Tartars - that should have been a comfortable match for the Zaporozhians. Their German allies played no meaningful role. And then the Winged Hussars had to make a hurried assault, with very limited support, against a formed-and-ready Turkish defense force.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army seems to be one that needs to take its time to accomplish things, and they just didn't have it in this fight. Had they been able to use their artillery to soften up the Turks for a few rounds before sending the Winged Hussars in, the result might have been quite different.

There will be other days however, and I'm sure this Polish army will have its share of glory in the future. Its second round clash against the Japanese will be do-or-die as far as this year's tournament is concerned though.

The Turks next assignment is against the Swedes, and we'll know more about them next week, after they take on the Muscovites in our New Year's Day (or the day after!) battle! For now though, the Turks are sitting comfortably at the top of the table.

Pike and Shot: Poles Vs Turks - #3 of 3

Hetman Nowak knew there was insufficient time for his infantry to clear the path to the village, and the artillery at his disposal was not particularly powerful. Accordingly, he resolved to make the thrust for victory with his mighty Winged Hussars!

As the hussars advanced, the Tartars attempted to clip their wings with another arrow storm. The armor of the hussars however provided better protection than the cossacks had enjoyed, and the arrows did little damage. Realizing his own light cavalry couldn't stand up to the Polish elite, Kazazian Beg led his own bodyguard against them.

The thunderous clash was followed by an intense do-or-die struggle. Surprisingly, (actually, luckily - some great dice throws!) the Turks didn't just held their own; they actually gave better than they took. But, just as the Poles could not break them, they could not break the Poles!

The fight continued, with the Polish and German infantry closing in, hoping yet to play a role in the victorious push, should the Turks give way. Kazazian Beg himself fell in the struggle, but still, his men got the better of the overall contest.

The hussars had now sustained heavy losses, and their line was showing signs of strain. Hetman Nowak recognized there was no way through, and called for his men to fall back, relying on his supporting infantry and the proximity of darkness to deter any pursuit.

With nightfall approaching, the Turks were content, for now at least, to hold the field, and gather up the body of their fallen leader.

Pike and Shot: Poles Vs Turks - #2 of 3

The forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth received a nasty shock as they approached Bratworst village - the road ahead was blocked by Tartar and Turkish cavalry.

The Zaporozhian Cossacks at the head of the column hastened to deploy for battle, the Tartars began to pepper them with arrows. In an effort to clear some space, a small group of Cossack horsemen rode out to challenge the Tartars. Outnumbered, they were driven back, with the Tartars in hot pursuit. After a brief but desparate struggle, the full cossack contingent was able to see off the Tartars, but they themselves had taken such heavy losses that they were forced to withdraw from the field.

The Cossack's struggle however had brought time for the Poles (right flank) and their German allies (left flank) to enter the field. As the Tartars regrouped at a safe distance, closely supported by Kazazian Beg and his sipahi, the Poles and their allies deployed for a final rush on the village.

At this time, the Turkish outflanking force also arrived, further boosting Turkish numbers north of the stream.

Time was running out for Hetman Nowak! (To be continued........)

Pike and Shot: Poles Vs Turks - #1 of 3

The opening battle of this year's Pike and Shot Tournament saw forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth under the command of Hetman Wlodzislow Nowak collide with Ottoman Turks under the command of Kazazian Beg, as both endeavored to occupy and secure Bratworst Village as a base for their future operations.

Blessed by his superiority in light cavalry, and some successful espionage, Kazazian Beg had learned that a Polish force was on its way to secure the village, and was aware of the possibility that he might have a fight on his hands. Hetman Nowak had no such knowledge, which showed in the lack of urgency in his progress.

Kazazian Beg proceeded northwards towards the village at the head of his main column, dispatching a sizable force of light cavalry - his akinji - as an outflanking force to the west, with instructions to circle north of the village, and potentially catch any approaching enemy in the flank. Somewhat to his surprise, Kazazian Beg was able to enter the village unopposed (see the photos above), and with no enemy yet in sight, led his bodyguard, screened by Tartar scouts, across the narrow stream on the northern outskirts of the village, with the intention of providing a blocking force, protecting his janissaries as they put the village on lock down.

So far so good for the Turks - one-way traffic in fact!

Where were the Poles? (To be continued........)

2011 Pike and Shot Tournament Underway!

Boxing Day saw the opening salvos in my 2011 Pike and Shot Tournament fired - yes, I know it was a week early, but I had three days off work and wanted to make use of the time!

Five armies will be contesting the tournament - Japanese Samurai, Muscovite, Ottoman Turkish, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Swedish.

Boxing Day action saw the Poles and Turks square off. Full report, with some action pics, to follow.

Pictured above, before the battle, are the Polish Hetman, Wlodzisaw Nowak (top) and Turkish commander, Kazazian Beg.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ottoman Turk Janissaries

The Janissaries were the main core of infantry that fought for the Ottoman Empire from the 14th Century on. They also reputedly provided "the model" for Ivan "The Terrible" when he created his own Streltsi regiments for the Duchy of Muscovy, as gunpowder-powered firearms became increasingly prevalent on the battle field.

The Janissaries provided a form of "elite" unit for the Ottoman army, which was mainly a cavalry force. Light cavalry would initially harass the enemy, with the heavier cavalry then adding some muscle. If an enemy provided stubborn, or the terrain wasn't suitable for cavalry, the Janissaries would be brought in.

The strong point of the Janissaries was their firepower. Also gunpowder weapons were still relatively ineffective in the early years of their existence, the numbers of troops firing could still provide a devastating effect. Jannisary regiments were led by an agha, and the Sultan himself, if he was present, would command the Jannisary corps in battle.

As with the Austrians/Poles, I have provided two pics - one of the front on view and enemy would have as the Janissaries closed for battle, and the other a slightly overhead view, so you can see the full unit, including back ranks. My front rank is kneeling and firing, the secoond rank is mostly standing and firing (this rank also includes my agha, a standard bearer and musician) and the back rank is mostly reloading its guns for use next round.

This is just my first Janissary unit. I plan to add two more in 2011 as I bulk my Ottoman Turk army up to enable it to compete with the Muscovites, should they field their full strength army.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Austrian Pike and Shot Infantry Ready For Action

Actually, they will be fighting with my Polish army next year - part of the backup for the Winged Hussars. I've included both the "front on" view you would get if you were attacking them, and also an overhead shot so you can see the back ranks. (Next year I will do a second regiment).

These 45 figures bring my total of painted figures up over 10,500. Many more still to do.....

I'm currently working on Ottoman Empire Jannissaries and a village for my Japanese to fight over - the village is looking very promising so far!

Photos from those two projects will follow as soon as they are "photographable".

Monday, October 18, 2010

Polish Winged Hussars Ready For Action

Finally, my Polish Winged Hussars are complete.

From the front, it's hard to tell that there are four ranks of them, so I also took an aerial shot.

While I have been able to find plenty of references to the actual soldiers, I have found little reliable information abut their organization, uniforms etc.

My understanding is that they were formed in regiments, comprising four "banners", each of 300 men. My armies are built on a scale of one figure represents 20 men, so each "line" (or "Banner") comprises 15 figures, and the four banners - 60 figures - represent a full regiment. I've painted them in Polish "red and white" - with white ostrich feathers forming the "wings" they wore on their back.

The Winged Hussars were the backbone of the army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the 1500s through to the "demise" of Poland as a eastern Europe superpower in the late 1700s, with the Commonwealth then being carved up between Prussia, Austria and Russia.

The hussars fought as heavy cavalry, initially held back in reserve while the infantry and artillery softened up the enemy, then launched their (hopefully) decisive charge. The large "wings" they wore on their back were ostrich feathers, mounted on a wooden "board" and made quite a noise when the wind blew through them as the unit charged at full speed towards an enemy. The noise, plus the added appearance of height, must have presented quite a fearsome prospect for any foe charged with stopping them.

The hussars would typically "charge through" the enemy line and continue forward, rather than stopping to clean up. Thus, my first banner is charging with it's lances down, striking at the enemy; the second line also has lances which will be used to dispel any remaining resistance as it follows up the work done by the first banner, and the third and fourth units have turned to their swords to perform the final "clean up" as they rush through.

Now I just need to get the infantry and artillery done to support these guys on the battlefield!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Polish Winged Hussars - Almost Finished

Another project that has taken a bit longer than I expected!

But, my 60-figure regiment of Polish Winged Hussars is almost ready for battle, and I also have a batallion of infantry almost finished to back them up. (Will do a few more of those next year - Zvezda's Austrian Infantry from the period look real nice painted up!)

These figures will also push my collection up over the 10,500 figure mark!

Also, my presentation to Mike Kracium's history class at Bluffton High School on early Russian history went really well thanks to the new Smartboards they now have there. My figures looked really good on the big screen, and the kids seemed to enjoy it.

Now we know what works with the kids, I think I can do a lot more to help their history lessons really come alive.

Hopefully, I'll have some pics of the hussars in about a week.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First look at my Polish Winged Hussars

These guys will be fighting my Muscovites, Zaporozhian Cossacks, Swedes and Ottoman Turks.

Still a lot of work to go on them, and I'll print their full story when I'm a bit further advanced.

They were the elite troops of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which was one of (and possibly THE) super-power of eastern Europe up until the late 1700s when Austria, Prussia and Russia eventually overran it and divided its lands amongst them.

Also working on a presentation of early Russian history to Mike Kracium's history class at Bluffton High School for later in the month using my figures and the new Smartboards technology at the school.

Keeping busy, even if I'm not posting as regularly as I should.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A few pics of my Zaporozhians at the WCHS 2010 Show

Just a few pics of my Zaporozhian Cossacks from the Wells County Historical Society's Collector's Show.

I was a little disppointed I wasn't able to get the wooden pallisade that usually went around the villages to work, but the figures looked okay "defending the wagons" anyway.

Muscovites at the WCHS 2010 Collector's Show

Just a few pics of my Muscovites from the Wells County Historical Society's Collector's Show.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Zaporozhian Cossacks

My Zaporozhians Cossacks were so happy when they found out I was going to take them to Monday's Collector's show (along with my new Muscovite army) that they began singing and dancing and partying!

(These guys won't be much use in a fight, but they will help make a nice little camp scene for my Zaporozhian Cossack army!)

Muscovite Artillery

I finally got some artillery painted up for my Muscovite army. Two guns, ready to go!

Hopefully I will be putting the finishing touches to the army this weekend, just in time to take it to the Wells County Collector's Show Monday afternoon (at Bluffton-Harrison Elementary School on Spring Street. Open to the public from 5:30 p.m. until "a little after 8 p.m." if you can/want to go!)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Muscovite Streltsi

I posted an initial photo of theese a few months back, and have been busy painting more over the past few weeks/months. They are the backbone of the Musscovite army that I will be displaying at the Wells County Historical Society's Collectors Show at Bluffton Elementary School on Aug. 16.

The Grand Duchy of Muscovy was essentially the earliest form of what became the Russian "Empire". Prior to the Mongol invasion, the Rus lived in various small independent city states, although Kiev and Novgorod did emerge as slightly more powerful domains than most. Novgorod maintained its prominence through the period of the Mongol "occupation", but as the Mongol empire declined, Muscovy became a center of power.

Initially, the Muscovites were essentially a cavalry army, entirely mounted on horseback, as they had learned from the Mongols. The arrival of gunpowder, and muskets on the battlefield however, created the need for foot soldiers once again - muskets were difficult to manage on horseback.

Thus, regiments of "streltsi" began to appear in Muscovite armies, each in their own brightly colored uniforms. (My army will have four by Aug. 16 - just finishing the fourth now and hopefully will have all four ready for photography by the weekend.)

The Rus (including the Muscovites) still looked to Asia for their inspiration, and the streltsi were "inspired" by the Janissaries of the Turks - armed and organized in a very similar fashion. Their main weapons were the musket and the bardiche - a large battle axe which could be used as either a prop for the musket or as a battle-axe in combat - photos showing both are above.

Initially, the streltsi performed very well. As the years ticked by however, their commanders acquired political power and the body as a whole became conservative to the point of being lazy and backward. When Peter I ("The Great") assumed the throne of Russia in the early 1700s, one of his first jobs became the elimination of the streltsi, and the reform of the Russian army along European lines.

Once my Muscovites are complete, I will only have the army of Peter "The Great" to collect and paint up to be able to field any Russian army up to 1815. (And when I finish painting my Crimean War Russians, I will be able to bring that right up to the late 1860s!)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Celtic Village Ready For Action

I'm not going to say it's complete as there are a bunch of things I still want to do. Also, it won't be a permanent set up as the village may change according to the battle scenario.

But I do have a Celtic village ready for action now. (By the way, the big "yellowish things" off to the side are haystacks for the animals to feed on. They probably should be a bit further away from the village, but I wanted them in the photo as they are part of the project.)

Over the next few weeks I'll be back onto my early Russians, preparing a project to present to Mr. Kracium's history class at Bluffton High School early in the new school year.

Also coming up, in mid-August, is the Wells County Historical Society's Collectors' Show. I still have no idea what I will be presenting at that. My Japanese village definitely will not be ready in time, so I need to find a "Plan B" from somewhere. Lots of options - just can't decide which one to use at the moment!

Monday, July 5, 2010

No, I'm not missing in action!

I can't believe I haven't posted since March!

I have been busy, but just not (it seems) with this blog site.

Every time I think I've got these Zaporozhians and also the 15th-16th-17th Century Muscovites sorted out, they throw up a new challenge at me.

With the Muscovites, I'm almost finshed the third of four units of Streltsi that will complete the army. These guys have been real hard work, but look great and will make for a pretty spectacular looking army when it is all fullly displayed!

(I have actually started a Muscovite campaign - hopefully by the time I've finished painting the army, I'll be ready to start posting a serialised story - with pics of my soldiers supporting it - for this site.)

With the Zaporozhians, I'm still waiting on some infantry figures to arrive, (they're on order) so I can finish them off. They'll make a nice little army - I don't think they will seriously challenge my Swedes or Muscovites, but they will make them work for a win. The Zaporozhian figures I'm waiting on include dancing cossacks and some females for a camp scene, which should give them something to fight for :-)

The will also feature in the Muscovite campaign.

I've also bulked up my Japanese Civil War forces, although they also aren't quite ready for photography yet. I have the buildings sorted for a nice little village for them to defend - I just have to save up the money to buy them! I have a campaign ready to go for them, but will not be starting it until I get my village built.

Oh, and I have finished my Celtic village - well, one more haystack to arrive, but that will be outside the walls. I also have a campaign ready to go for them, which I will start after the Muscovite campaign is under control.

No, it doesn't help that I'm spreading myself over so many different projects.

On top of all that, we have the Wells County Historical Society's Collectors show on Monday Aug. 16. What I display there will probably depend on which of the above projects I can get finished in time!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Unit of the Week - Zaporozhian Cossacks (Mounted)

Well, the basic description came in the last post.

Effectively, the Zaporozhians would initially take shelter behind their wagons, and once an enemy attack had been beaten off, they would mount their horses and ride out to counter-attack the disorganized foe, leaving enough foot soldiers behind to close up the gap in the "wall" until they returned. On attack, they would use the lance and the sword as their main weapons, preserving firearms for the defense of their mobile "wagon fort".

On the march, the mounted warriors would ride out in front, or on the flanks of the wagon column, providing warning of any potential threats that emerged.

They fought for and against Sweden, Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Also for and against the Ottoman Turks. They regarded themselves as an independent nation, and it was ultimately that desire that proved their undoing. Catherine "The Great" of Russia decided to put an end to it in the 1770s, and sent her armies in to crush the Zaporozhian "nation."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Work in Progress - Zaporozhian Cossacks

I was hoping that I would have these guys ready as "Unit of the Week" several weeks ago, but they are still very much a "work in progress."

The Zaporozhian Cossacks inhabited the area known today as the Ukraine. Their origin is not known for certain, although they are believe to have been the descendants of Rus from the Principality of Kiev, which finally collapsed (after many decades of going downhill) during the Mongol Conquest of modern-day Russia. Their numbers were later swelled by serfs fleeing the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

At various times they fought for and against Poland, Sweden and Russia, and even the Ottoman Turks. Finally, Catherine "The Great" of Russia became fed up with them and invaded their homeland, crushing any resistance and effectively destroying them as a force.

The pics accompanying this post show representatives from each of the portions of what will be their "army." (I don't expect them to be big enough to form a separate army of their own, but will be a sizable ally for the main armies from the same periods.)

The first picture shows all arms. Then we have some of the horsemen - the typical "Cossack warrior" the world thinks of when they here the word. Then we have one of the drums, used to beat out orders to the men, and finally, infantry armed with muskets and pistols shelter behind a wagon. In that pic you may notice the guy in the light blue shirt reaching up with a "stick" to the top of the wagon.

He is actually lighting a fuse to fire the small cannon positioned on the wagon. Zaporozhian cossacks mounted these cannon on about half of their wagons, making them an early form of mobile artillery post.

On the march, the cossacks would deploy wagons on their flanks and march between them. If faced with a hostile situation, the wagons would close up to form a fortified perimiter, with the cannons ready to be fired, and the men (and women inside.) If the chance for a counter-attack came, some wagons could easily be moved aside to create a gap, or doorway, for the mounted cossacks to ride out on the attack, and then close up behind them, until they were ready to return.

I think they're going to be an interesting bunch to work with, but boy - are they taking forever to paint!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Unit of the Week - Napoleonic Wars French Cuirassiers

Actually, I'm cheating and covering two (almost identical) units - the meat of the French Heavy Cavalry - Cuirassiers (blue jackets above) and Carabiniers (white jackets).

These are the guys that provided the muscle when it was needed. Big men on big horses, kept in reserve until the enemy had been softened up by the artillery and infantry. Then, when the time was right, the massed squadrons of heavy cavalry would be unleashed for the decisive charge that punched a huge hole in the enemy line, and marked the beginning of the end of the battle.

They were effectively the last troops to still wear armor into battle. The use of gunpowder had largely made armor redundant, as bullets could now penetrate the metal, and the additional shattering would make wounds more serious. These heavy cavalry units howeveer still wore a metal breatplate, or cuirass, from which the cuirassiers took their name.

These were the most expensive men in a Napoleonic army, and given the difficulties the French experienced finding suitable horses in the period soon after the Revolution, very "valuable". These weren't troops you just "threw away on a whim." You had to pick the right moment to inject them into a battle.

Because they were big men on big horses, carrying the additional weight of armor, they were also slower moving than the lighter cavalry units such as chasseurs and hussars. They therefore relied on support of these lighter cavalry types to exploit the success of the charge, by pursuing enemy fleeing from the field, while the heavy brigade came to a halt and reformed their ranks.

In the French army, cuirassier and carabinier regiments comprised four squadrons, each of 120 men (6 figures in my army which is scaled down to one figure represents 20 men).

When preparing to attack, a cavalry regiment would deploy in "column of squadrons". Each squadron would deploy in a line, with the squadrons drawn up one behind the other. The distance between each line was critical, as if the first line became disordered during the course of the charge, there had to be sufficient space between it and the following squadron to prevent those behind from crashing into their own men.

When moving forward initially, a regiment would keep at least 40 yards between each squadron's line, enabling it to wheel to form one long line if faced with an attack from the flank. As the speed of the advance increased, the distance would increase to up to 150 yards, allowing more time to come to a halt if required.

French cuirassiers and carabiniers ignored the element of firepower, charging directly with the sword, relying on their size and weight to inflict the damage. (Supporting artillery and possibly also infantry would provide the fire support for a charge).

If the charge did not go well, those supporting infantry would then be required to provide cover for the retreating horsemen, enabling them to regroup, and perhaps prepare for another attempt, back in "friendly territory".

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Unit of the Week - French Chasseurs-a-cheval

Prior to the Revolution, the cavalry arm of the French army had largely been recruited from the nobility. The revolution, of course, saw "the people" turn on the nobility, and those few who weren't executed on the guillotine were chased abroad. Horses too, were in short supply, as the French military had traditionally imported its horses from Germany. In the early days of the Revolution, France had few friends among the German states, and supply was therefore poor.

So, in the early stages of the Revolutionary Wars, French cavalry was less plentiful and of a lower quality than in previous years.

Initially, squadrons of chasseurs-a-cheval were raised, providing at least some light cavalry support for the revolutionary armies, forced to defend "La Balle France" against the (still royalist) superpowers of Europe, who hoped to crush the flame of revolution before it spread to their lands. These were horsemen essentially light cavalry, designed for scouting and reconnaissance, and support duties rather than heavy duty fighting.

When they did find themselves in the midst of close quarter fighting, French light cavalry discharged both pistols before turning to their swords. (Heavy cavalry didn’t bother with pistols, charging directly with the sword).

A French cavalry regiment comprised four squadrons each of 120 men (which translates to six figures in my army, which is scaled to one figure represents 20 men). In the picture above , we see "Le Petit General" himself, Napoleon Bonaparte, leading a squadron of chasseurs-a-cheval on patrol.

While in Italy, after almost being killed when the patrolling chasseurs-a-cheval that he was accompanying found themselves in the middle of Austrian positions by mistake, Napoleon Bonaparte formed a Guard Cavalry with Chasseurs-a-Cheval-de-la- Guarde comprising comprising five squadrons of Chasseurs. A sixth squadron, one of Marmelukes, was added following the Egyptian campaign of 1798-1802.

What was left of the old “heavy cavalry” of the Royalist era was reorganised in 1799 into regiments of carabinier (which tended to be elite troops) and cuirassiers.

The light cavalry (hussars, chasseurs-a-cheval and lancers) were primarily intended for reconnaissance, screening, raiding, pursuit and “field security”, although hussars were known to make massed charges on the battlefield. Hussars were a direct copy of the famous Hungarian hussars, just as (later) lancers were a copy of the Polish lancer.

Prior to 1800, the French had regarded dragoons as primarily heavy cavalry, and used them as such. Finding that he had insufficient horses to mount all his cavalry, Napoleon ordered at least some of his dragoons to be trained as the dismounted light cavalry role we know them as today.

The successful 1805-1807 campaigns against Austria and Prussia brought some relief in terms of provision of mounts. But dragoons were now officially a part of the “light cavalry”.

Celtic Village Update

It's going sloweer than I wanted, but it is moving forward.

My Celtic village progressed over the weekend with a "haystack" for the animals to feed on and also the first portions of fencing (far left) that will eventually surround it (except for a small gateway in front).

Eventually I'll get there!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Unit of the Week - Huns

The "boogie men" of dark age Europe - or so we are often led to believe.

Interestingly enough the term "Hun" was often used to refer to German soldiers during the two world wars of the 1900s.

The original Huns were believed to be one of the nomadic tribes of Asia - western China in fact, pushed west by natural immigration and conflict with rival tribes.

They arrived in Rurope and the Middle East in force however during the early 5th century. The "White Huns" invaded Iran and the Arab world, while the "Black Huns" invaded Europe from the latter part of the fourth century, forcing the Germanic people to migrate south and west, and setting off a chain reaction that led to the final collapse of the Roman Empire.

The Black Huns first defeated the Alans, who lived between the Volga and Don rivers. They then defeated the Ostrogoths and attacked the Visigoths, pushing both south. (It was the Visigoths who then overthrew the final Roman Emperor). By 420CE a large Hunnic Cobnfederacy had been formed,under King Roas (or Rugilus). It was the son of King Roas however, who was to become the most famous, and perhaps feared, of all Huns.

Attila (and his older brother Bleda) became joint kings of the Huns on the death of Roas in 435CE. Attila has been branded as the "personification of barbarism" by the history books, but he was certainly educated in Rome, reportedly spoke as many as seven different languages, and built or rebuilt more cities than he destroyed. Indeed, diplomats of the time geenrally seem "impressed" with him.

Attila did murder his brother in 445CE to become sole king, and during his lifetime, he sacked more than 70 towns. He was cruel in dealing with those who opposed him, but appears to have been as much of a "gentleman" as any of his era with those who dealt fairly with him.

The Huns themselves were primarily light cavalry, armed with bows and javelins, but their armies were supplemented by the forces of conquered or allied nations.

Attila pressed into Gaul (modern day France) in 451CE, urged by King Gaiseric of the Vandals to attack the Visigoths who had fled there from Germany, taking the circuitous route through Rome itself. The Vandals and the Visigoths had formed an alliance which didn't quite work out, and the Vandals wanted to teach the Visigoths a bit of a lesson. The Vandals stayed out of the war, but the Huns crossed the Rhhine, to take on the Visigoths, who had realigned with the Romans.

The initial Hunnic victories saw the alliance against them grow, as they pushed deeper into Gaul. Now, the remnants of the Alans and the Burgundians also joined with their traditional enemies, the Romans, to fight the new invader. The Franks, after whom France was eventually named, fought on both sides.

Finally, on the Catalonian Plains the Huns and their allies, under Attila, met an allied army of Romans, Visigoths, and their allies, at the Battle of Chalons (possibly fought closer to Troyes than Chalons however), on June 20, 451. The Huns were defeated, and forced to flee back into Italy, which they then began to pillage. Attila died in 453CE, choking to death on his wedding night after passing out from drinking too much alcohol, and his empire fell apart in a civil war amongst his sons, each striving to succeed him.

The remnants of the Huns refromed in south-eastern Europe, ruling over, and intermingling with the Slavs of that region, eventually founding a new empire and becoming known as the Bulgars.

My own Hunnic army is still to small to function on its own in anything more than small scale battles. (Once I get stuck into painting the Late Roman army I have waiting to do, I will put a lot more effort into my forces from this period). They are a very "light weight force", great for fast movement, but not for heavy duty, hand-to-hand fighting.

You have to admit that their leader - the guy with the standard with human skulls hanging of it - looks impressive though!