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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Saturday, 28 April 2012


... a task that US forces found a bit tricky in 1898. Partly because they weren't really configured (that's a horrible word) for an out of theatre assault. Trying to put together my Span-Am chaps this afternoon for a trial run of Chris Ferree's Rough Riders; America's Little Wars of Empire, I had similar difficulties. I began collecting together these figures over a decade ago, and put the collection together in a haphazard fashion. So, using the orders of battle in the rules, I thought I'd try a part of the famous battle of San Juan Heights:

This was my first attempt to put the forces together. It was fine for the Spanish, as I could muster enough figures for the Talavera Regiment, the Porto Rico regiment, some counter-guerillas (the original contras?), a reserve and a mountain gun battery, but my US forces quickly proved lacking in numbers. So, I had to rethink, and decided on a part of the battle for El Caney, specifically, the US attack towards the El Viso blockhouse, involving the 3rd, 20th and 7th US infantry and a gatling gun detachment. But I had to use Buffalo soldiers (black troops) as stand-ins for the 3rd:

What will be immediately apparent is that Rough Riders really sticks to historic numbers, so even though I only intend to field three US regiments, as opposed to the nine that faced the Spaniards at El Caney, the numbers still stack up as 19 Spanish figures and a blockhouse versus 81 US infantry and the gatling gun detachment. Yikes! The key will be in the effectiveness of the game mechanism. 

As evidence of the haphazard recruitment process, here are some Cuban patriots/nationalists/guerillas/machete-wielding types which will not be seeing action:

Nice figures - especially the moustaches!

Finally, smoke of the moment:

The pipe bowl on the left, minus its stem (I bit through it - modern life can be rather annoying, hence the broken stem!) came from a batch of pipes made in the 1950s from Algerian briar. Briar pipes are made from the roots of briars, so there is every chance that the briar was growing in the heat of North Africa a century ago. At any rate, it was dug up and turned when Algeria was a bit different from now, before the most successful ethnic cleansing of the latter part of the last century - anyone seen a pied noir lately ?


  1. Thats one heck of a force you have there Mr Alfront. I do like the Cubans

    1. I do have more, for example Civil Guard in a very natty uniform plus straw hat, but, as I said, my force planning was a bit haphazard... must think before I paint!

  2. Like the figures ,looking forward to the battle report and disscussion regarding the effectiveness of the rule mechanisms.Hope the game was fun too!

    1. Hi Alan, the game will probably happen next week - 'many a slip' etc. But I will report on it in full.