Preparation work for Murfreesboro is proceeding well here at Fawr Towers! In the last thrilling instalment I’d built the basic terrain boards and was waiting for the PVA glue to dry. With that done, I sanded down the slopes a little more to lessen the ‘step’ and started modelling the Confederate fieldworks covering the frontage of Hanson’s, Anderson’s and Chalmers’ brigades, as per the scenario map:
The fieldworks are described as ‘hasty’ and were probably little more than piled fence-rails, tree-trunks and rocks, so I’ve used twigs, matchsticks, MDF offcuts and horticultural grit, braced with a line of fenceposts made from half-matchsticks. all secured with a liberal amount of PVA glue and seasoned with builder’s sharp-sand:
In addition to the fieldworks, I needed to model the pivotal rocky outcrop known afterwards as ‘The Slaughter Pen’. This is a classic piece of exposed ‘Limestone Pavement’ as we might see on the western Brecon Beacons, Derbyshire Peaks or Yorkshire Dales, so being very familiar with such geology, I considered accurately modelling such a geological feature…
…for all of ten seconds before opting instead for a random pile of rocks, albeit hand-selected by artisan foragers and placed upon a jus of PVA, garnished with horticultural grit and again seasoned with the finest builder’s sharp-sand:
I was also going to model the railway at this point, but then realised that I really need to do that after painting the boards, otherwise the rails will get covered in the main earth colour. Much as it pains me to say it, lest I be accused of <gasp!> railway modelling… I’ve bought a bag of miniature railway ballast…
With the rocks and fieldworks firmly fixed, I liberally painted the boards with yet more PVA and liberally sanded them to create some texture. I find that a coat of PVA and sand also serves to stiffen and toughen the boards (though probably triples the weight).
These days I use supermarket play-pit sand. I can get very fine sand from the lovely beach sand-dunes hereabouts, but it contains a lot of salt which can leach out to leave a deposit on water-based paints. Pembrokeshire County Council also tends to take a dim view of people stealing the beach, even if it is just one bag at a time… I picked up my last sack of play-sand at Tesco in 2015 for about £5 and it’s served to cover three demo-games and every figure and tree-base I’ve made since, so it’s good value! And there’s still plenty left.
As for the figures, the painting is already well ahead of schedule, so all being well, I should be able to paint some ‘extras’ such as ambulances, objective markers and the like. As discussed in Part 1 of this series, I’ve been researching the headquarters flags of Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland and at the time of the Battle of Murfreesboro, the three wings of the army were simply described as the Centre, Right and Left Wings and probably didn’t use headquarters flags. However, only one week after the battle they formally became the XIV, XX and XXI Corps and adopted headquarters flags shortly afterwards. Although they’re anachronistic for this battle, I thought I may as well create some commanders for the three new corps, as they’ll come in handy for a future refight of the Battle of Chickamauga.
I described the various known flags last time, but got one key fact wrong: the headquarters flag for McCook’s XX Corps (shown above) was apparently red, not blue. The headquarters flag for XIV Corps was apparently identical, though with a blue field and the number ’14’. The divisional headquarters for XIV Corps carried blue flags with stars indicating the number of the division and it’s therefore probably that XX Corps went with a similar scheme, except using red as the flag colour.
I’ve therefore knocked up this flag-sheet as a ‘best guess’. The bright blue flags with black stars are for XIV Corps from January to August 1863, while the dark blue flags with white stars are post-August 1863 and are apparently the type carried at Chickamauga. The red flags are my hypothetical flags for XX Corps (the eagles aren’t quite right (the shield should be of the field colour, with the corps number), but they’re in the right pose and are ‘near enough’ for 10mm…).
PLEASE let me know if you have better information, as these flags are very easy to remove and replace with more accurate versions! 🙂
Above: General William Rosecrans‘ headquarters. Army commanders are not normally represented in Fire & Fury, but in this instance Rosecrans’ personal example was a consistent motivating factor, so he features in the scenario as a ‘roving positive modifier’.
An escorting cavalry trooper carries the headquarters standard, which to be honest, was probably adopted after the Battle of Murfreesboro. The standard was based on the Stars & Stripes, though was superimposed with an eagle and had ‘DC’ within a circle with stars, indicating the Department of the Cumberland.
Above: ‘Old Rosie’ has attracted some admirers from the local civilian population.
Above: A young staff officer salutes a ‘Southern Belle’…
Above: “Oh God, on second thoughts…”
Above: General George Henry Thomas, commanding the Centre (later the XIV Corps).
As mentioned above, the flags shown are those carried at Chickamauga in September 1863. An order from Rosecrans issued in early August 1863 dictated that the old flags, being bright blue with black stars, were to be replaced with new flags of dark blue with white stars. The number of stars indicated the number of the division. The stars were arranged vertically near the hoist (1 placed centrally, 2 placed top and bottom and 3 placed equally spaced), though when XIV Corps formed a fourth division, the fourth star was placed alongside the central star of the column of three stars.
For reasons unknown, XIV Corps changed its pattern of flags twice again during the course of the war, eventually settling upon an acorn as its corps badge.
Above: The headquarters of General Alexander McDowell McCook’s Right Wing (which later became XX Corps).
As mentioned above, these flags are speculative, based on a single mention of the XX Corps headquarters flag at Chickamauga being red and of an identical design to that of XIV Corps.
Following the horrific casualties suffered by XX Corps at Chickamauga, the remnants of the corps were absorbed into a new IV Corps and a brand-new XX Corps was formed under General Hooker from the remnants of XII Corps and part of XI Corps, transferred in from the Army of the Potomac. The new XX Corps adopted the five-pointed star badge and the system of flags already used by the old XII Corps. Any attempt at research into the flags of XX Corps consequently always throws up the flags of the ‘new’ XX Corps.
Above: The headquarters of General Thomas L Crittenden‘s Left Wing (which became XXI Corps).
Thankfully the headquarters flags of XXI Corps are rather better recorded than the other flags of the Army of the Cumberland. They seem to have stayed the same throughout 1863, being striped red, white and blue, with black stars indicating the divisional number.
XXI Corps suffered horrific casualties during the Battle of Chickamauga and was amalgamated with the remnants of XX Corps, to become the new IV Corps.
Above: I’ve also painted some more Union artillery. God I hate painting limbers…
Above: And I’ve also painted three more brigades of Union infantry. I’ve still got another four guns and sixteen bases of infantry left to fo for the Union side, but should have those finished by this time next week. Then I’ve got about thirty bases of Confederate infantry to paint, plus a load of Western-specific infantry command stands and mounted commanders.
Right, I’m off to slap some paint on the terrain boards…