Monday, 20 July 2009

Streifkorps Mussinpuschkin

The Czarist Bear has awoken from hibernation!

Other than the base coating the occasional greatcoat or two, and some (hated) figure preparation, I've been making little real progress on my Russkis recently. Mainly because I've been concentrating my Napoleonic painting on my French collection these days.

As I've mentioned here before, one of the problems with not having a club or a regular group of like-minded gamers nearby is not only the lack of peer pressure that helps project discipline, but also the fact that both sides need to be painted! And although the French can be fiddly with all the elite company trimmings and so one, they are fun to do. Which, along with working on other non-Napoleonic projects, has meant that what painting I have been doing lately has been at the expense of my Russians.

Another related problem is that having set myself the task of wanting
to ultimately paint up a Russian Corps as well as a French Division (roughly 15 battalions each), it is clear that this is a daunting target!

I fully intend on achieving it, even if it means that at some point I'll have to look to outsourcing the lions share of the painting. But I do want to have some of my own painted units to game with, and I really want to get gaming as soon as possible. Yet painting even a brigade of infantry per side is clearly going to take an age at my current pace, and I've been getting quite discouraged about ever getting any actual gaming in.

But I may have found the solution- a Streifkorps!

I had come across references to Streifkorps in many orders-of-battle for the 1813 campaign, and they seem to have been very mobile,
ad hoc collections of cavalry (often cossacks and/or hussars), infantry (often light infantry or Freikorps such as Lutzow's gang) and even on occasion artillery.

Usually consisting of a total of five or six squadrons and battalions, these formations were detached from their various corps and sent off to reconnoitre, raid, and generally raise merry hell in rear areas held by the French.

Two articles from wargaming magazines jump-started my jaded brain, and made me realize that here is a way I can get gaming with a varied force of miniatures that I can field on a small table, and that will not take a decade to paint up.

First I came across this old Miniature Wargames article that I had way back in 1994, and which I clipped out and saved for a rainy day. Well, it's pouring now and it looks like keeping it on file was a smart thing to do.

click to enlarge pictures

The article sets out a short scenario for a fictional Freikorps- von Strieker's- that the author created for a mini-campaign as a break from his usual big-battle Napoleonic fare. It made for a fun read, and apparently for some fun games.

The other inspiration was the scenario featured in the Table Top Teaser special publication by Charles Grant for Battlegames magazine, in particular Teaser #4, "Plunder and Pillage" (with a name like that, there can only be no end of fun for your average Cossack!)

Now this seems the way to go. Reasonable painting targets, variety, and the promise of some practical gaming! So, I have decided to "flex" historical fact and create a mixed-nationality detachment led by Major Mussinpuschkin of the Vitebsk Infantry regiment, with the brief of racing ahead of the Army of Silesia and inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm on isolated detachments and convoys of the benighted forces of Bonaparte!

Mussinpuschkin was an actual person (he commanded a brigade of the IXth Korpus in the 1814 campaign), but his Striefkorps itself will be a flight into alternative history.

My next post will look at the organization of the Streifkorps Mussinpuschkin.

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