Wednesday 17 August 2011

Using my collection of 25/28mm Napoleonic wargames figures

Having taken my collection of 25/28mm Napoleonic wargames figures out of their storage draws, I realised that they presented me with a mini-project that I could work on whilst I sort out my thoughts about where to go next with the development of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

I have never been a great fan of the Napoleonic era, mainly because the battles that wargamers fought were always so large, and the rules always appeared to be very complex. That said, there were plenty of small wars that took place in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars that did have potential, particularly the Wars of Independence in South America. I already had a South American imagi-nation – Cordeguay – and it therefore followed that it could be the setting for my Napoleonic wargames figure collection to finally appear on my tabletop. So here goes …

Cordeguay in the early nineteenth century
Unlike almost the rest of South America, Cordeguay moved from being a Spanish colony to independence almost without bloodshed. General José Santa Maria – the Cordeguayan-born commander of the locally recruited Spanish garrison – merely announced that the country was independent of its former rulers and made himself head of the Provisional Government. The latter wrote a liberal constitution that was based on that of the United States of America, and Santa Maria was elected the first president of the newly independent state.

At the end of his five-year tenure Santa Maria was re-elected, but he was already beginning to exhibit autocratic tendencies, and there was a growing movement amongst the political class in Cordeguay to ensure that he would not be re-elected for a third term. President Santa Maria got wind of this, and just before election day he announced that the country was in a state of war ‘due to plots against the State by persons unknown’, and that he would – with regret – have to postpone the elections. This was followed soon afterwards by a declaration that the newly self-styled ‘Napoleon of the South’ was henceforth to be President-for-Life of Cordeguay.

Throughout the country Santa Maria’s opponents began to band together to oppose him with all possible measures that were at their disposal. Under the leadership of General Roberto Branco – one of Santa Maria’s former lieutenants – several small armies were raised and equipped, and a legion of foreign volunteers (mainly from Britain) was raised. The country was on the verge of civil war, and a clash between the opposing armies was inevitable …

The Presidential Army (led by President-for-Life and General José Santa Maria)
The Presidential Army included five cavalry units, three artillery units, and twelve infantry units:
  • 1st Presidential Guard Infantry
  • 2nd Presidential Guard Infantry
  • Presidential Guard Foot Artillery
  • 1st Cuirassiers
  • 2nd Cuirassiers
  • 3rd Lancers
  • 4th Carabineers
  • 5th Hussars
  • 1st Foot Artillery
  • 2nd Foot Artillery
  • 1st Regular Infantry
  • 2nd Regular Infantry
  • 3rd Regular Infantry
  • 4th Regular Infantry
  • 5th Regular Infantry
  • 6th Militia Infantry
  • 7th Militia Infantry
  • 8th Militia Infantry
  • 9th Militia Infantry
  • 10th Militia Infantry

The Constitutionalist Army (led by General Roberto Branco)
The Constitutionalist Army included four cavalry units, three artillery units, and nine infantry units. It was organised into three small ‘armies’, two of which were organised geographically (the Northern and Southern Armies) and the third from foreign volunteers. The latter were commanded by General Branco himself.
The Army included:
  • English Infantry (British Legion)
  • Scottish Infantry (British Legion)
  • The Rifles (British Legion)
  • British Artillery (British Legion)
  • 1st (Northern) Cavalry
  • 2nd (Northern) Cavalry
  • 3rd (Southern) Cavalry
  • 4th (Southern) Cavalry
  • 1st (Northern) Artillery
  • 2nd (Southern) Artillery
  • 1st (Northern) Infantry
  • 2nd Northern) Infantry
  • 3rd (Northern) Infantry
  • 4th (Southern) Infantry
  • 5th (Southern) Infantry
  • 6th (Southern) Infantry

The stage is now set for the war to start. The figures are based and organised, and the back-story written; all I need now is some rules … and where best to look for them than in works of Joseph Morschauser! A quick ‘pick-and-mix’ from his ‘Musket’ and ‘Frontier’ rules will be my starting point and then, let battle commence!


  1. Great idea, Bob - sounds like a lot of fun.

    Best wishes


  2. Giles,

    I hope that it will be.

    The whole back-story just seemed to come together in my mind very quickly (inspired by the figures in my collection) and that is usually a good sign.

    All the best,


  3. Hi Bob,

    The early struggles of Cordeguay eh? the actual events of the era are worthy of a soap opera in themselves and so I am quite that this set up will follow suit!

    Don't forget to allow for the effects of crocodiles during any river crossings!

    All the best,


  4. David Crook,

    I am hoping that it will serve both as a good basis for a short campaign and to expand the back-story of Cordeguay for possible conflicts in the future.

    As for crocodiles in Cordeguay ... President-for-Life Santa Maria has banished them (and all snakes) from the country and the reptiles, being well-known as the most law-abiding creatures in creation, have all gone … or so he thinks! (This was an example of the growing ‘I will it, therefore it will happen’ attitude that turned so many of the people against him.)

    All the best,


  5. The wars of South America have been sadly neglected by the rest of the world. Glad to see this being rectified. This looks like a fun little diversion and a good start.

  6. Ross Mac,

    It seemed to make sense to find a use for my collection of Napoleonic wargames figures ... and this seemed as good as any of the possible alternatives.

    South America's Wars of Independence (and the following wars with neighbouring countries for control of disputed or 'unclaimed' territory as well as the numerous small civil wars) are an as yet mostly untapped source of potential wargames battles and campaigns. I am doing my small bit to change that situation, even if mine is an imagi-nation version of the real thing.

    Whatever happens, it should be fun!

    All the best,


  7. Conrad Kinch,

    Does anyone make model llamas?

    All the best,


  8. Hi Bob,

    Don't forget the herds of marauding guinea pigs - they are quite a delicacy by all accounts in certain parts of South America!

    All the best,


  9. Conrad Kinch,

    I expected the answer to be Irregular Miniatures not Foundry!

    If this project 'takes off' I may well invest in a few.

    All the best,


  10. David Crook,

    I will take your word for it with regards to their taste and nutritional value!

    All the best,


  11. Hi
    Look at this post (in english) about the South-America conflists


  12. Rafael Pardo,

    Many thanks for the link.

    Such information is of great help to me as I develop my campaign/mini-project.

    All the best,


  13. Reading the accounts of the Civil War, I could easily imagine General Roberto Branco cautioning his elated lieutenants: 'We might win one thousand such victories, yet 'El Presidente' is still the President. He has but to win once, whence we shall draw the attention of a firing squad.'

    I've never been all that tempted to 'imaginate' Napoleonics, but I now see that the thing would work very well.

    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      I am very pleased to read that you found this old blog entry to be enlightening.

      When I acquired the earliest figures for this collection I had no idea what to do with them, but once I have rediscovered Morschauser's rules, they had a purpose and use.

      All the best,



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