Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

BATTLE OF KANDAHAR Refight Post #3 - Terrain Board Progress, Etc.

It's April 30th, which means it's CAMERONE DAY, the anniversary of LA LEGION ETRANGERE'S most famous and hallowed battle.  Be you French, Mexican, or other, I wish you a Happy Camerone Day!  If you happen to be interested in all things Camarone, please visit my less-travelled blog at, where you'll find some brief comments and FURTHER LINKS to a couple of Legion songs, one traditional, the other quirky:


Meanwhile I hope everyone reading this is in good health and staying sane, or if you're ill, I hope and pray you recover fast and fully, and with as little suffering as possible.

Work continues apace on the big Kandahar refight.  I have spent the better part of the past 2 months sequestered at home with family, work, news, and the hobby.  And though work has been very busy and with all 3 kids back home there are more people to talk to, laugh with, fight with, and otherwise interact with, I'm happy to report I have somehow been able to spend more time on hobby-related matters than is usually the case.  It's true this is small consolation compared to all the medical, economic, and mental/emotional destruction being wrought across the country and the world, but I will take consolation where I can find it.  In a similar vein, because of current circumstances our middle child who is a second year cadet at West Point has been back home with the rest of us for the past month, something that would otherwise have been impossible for another 7 years -- 2 more years at the Academy and then 5 years as an Active Duty Army officer.  And though she misses her classmates, my wife and I and her brother and sister are all enjoying this surprise bonus time with her,  and I think she's enjoying it as well, despite the fact that it comes courtesy of a global pandemic.  I know for a fact she is enjoying the food!

Since my previous post I spent way WAY too much time sucked down the rabbit-hole of Ayub Khan's tent.  I had hoped to start play-tests 2 weekend ago but instead I went nuts trying to build a 28mm size version of the tent illustrated in the magazine sketch below, and described in somewhat intricate detail in a number of contemporary accounts of the battle...


The model turned out alright, though perhaps not the masterpiece I was hoping for, but still useful for the game -- at least as useful as any commander's tent can be.  Truth is I should have spent all that time working on the Baba Wali or Mirza Kotals, or gluing ground dover onto the 10'x2' of new terrain boards that need to be finished for the game!  Actually that reminds me that I did make some more significant progress for the table: I built the last 2'x2' terrain board box and then trimmed down the last 2'x2' sheet of blue foam and fit it into the board.  So now all that remains is the aforementioned gluing and painting of ground cover onto a total of 10' x 2'.  The only things standing in the way of me getting this done pretty fast is my need to conduct the also aforementioned play-tests.  At least a couple.  At this point with Ayub's tent all but completed and the previously missing terrain board securely in place, I'm pretty confident I'll be able to actually set out the armies and play at least a couple of turns this coming weekend with help from my son, and maybe some from one or both of my daughters as well -- though that may be asking too much, despite one being a future officer of the United States Army.

Meantime here's some pics of the progress I listed above, as well as more pics showing work being done by my friend Bob Ridenhour, who goes by Rhyngll on TMP, and is graciously helping me out by contributing several units of Anglo-Indian troops and even more importantly by volunteering to MAKE A COUPLE OF KEY BUILDINGS FROM SCRATCH for the game (THANK YOU, BOB!).

The first of these is the Shrine or Mosque in the photo below, which I believe was located close to the small village of AHMED KHAN:

Here's some pics of  Bob's model building process so far:

And here's a pic of Bob's 3rd Bengal Cavalry (Skinner's Horse), who will -- hopefully -- be traveling from the Mid-West to Los Angeles come August:


1. I traced and cut out a baseboard for the MIRZA KOTAL to place at the far North end of the table:

First I lined up the very edge of the table with some of my ROCKY TERRAIN MARKERS, because I didn't want the actual mountain pass to be right at the edge, where it would be easier for figures placed on it to possibly topple over the side and off the table edge to the floor.  Then I used a big piece of paper to TRACE the outline of the pass itself and went from there...

2. Making the last terrain board...



I scrounged a 10 year old 2" thick 2'x2' blue foam board that I had experimented on with Rustoleum Multi-Colored Textured BROWN spray-paint, in hopes it might save me hours of dry-brushing.  The result was the paint ate up some of the foam surface.  It really didn't look too bad and might have worked well for a more sci-fi oriented terrain scheme, but I put the board off to the side and changed to a more traditional painting approach.  Now, a decade later, I'm glad I didn't toss it, since I was able to flip it over and turn the untouched bottom into the top for this extra board I now need in order to complete the Kandahar/Baba Wali battlefield.  But first I had to TRIM IT DOWN by 1-1/2" so it will fit into the box between 3/4" thick frames...

There's still a ton left to do:

1. Use ELMER'S WOOD FILLER to fill in the slight gaps between the wood frame and foam and then glue ballast onto the 3 new boards that total 2ft x 10ft;
2. After they dry PAINT the boards with BROWN, HONEYCOMB, & SANDSTONE;
3. Build the Mirza Kotal on the baseboard I cut;
4. Glue ballast onto the Baba Wali Kotal & Mirza Kotal;
5. Make a few bespoke road pieces to complete the road network on the table layout;
6. Make some Woodland Scenics WATERFALLS to connect the canals to the Arghandab River;
7. Finish Ayub's Tent
8. Get AHMED KHAN Shrine building from Bob;
9. Get British OUTPOST building from Bob;
10. Make some more FRUIT TREE ORCHARDS;

...and last but not least:


PS. THANKS again, Bob!

Friday, April 3, 2020

BATTLE OF KANDAHAR Post #2 - Revised Table Layout


A short but sweet update to the battlefield itself.  First are pics of multiple maps I have been pouring over and then the revamped tabletop.

Most important amongst all these maps is the big foldout from the British Army's Intelligence Branch OFFICIAL HISTORY of the Second Afghan War.  I got these photos courtesy of one my oldest and best friends in the world, James "Jimmy G." Garzillo.  I've known Jimmy G. for about 35 years and he's been an active book collector specializing in military history for probably a decade before I met him.  My heartfelt thanks to Jim and also his younger brother John, who is the one that managed to locate and retrieve the book from Jimmy's vast collection.  Thank you my Brooklyn brothers!

Map of the battle from "THE ROAD TO KABUL,
THE SECOND AFGHAN WAR, 1878-1880" by Brian Robson:

Map of the battle from "BATTLE STORY - MAIWAND 1880" by Edmund Yorke:

Map of the battle from "THE MARCH TO KANDAHAR" by Rodney Atwood:

NOTE: This is the map with a spot in the "open field" between the Baba Wali and Murza Kotals labelled "OUTPOST".  My big question is: was this a British outpost established before Ayub Khan's army surrounded and besieged the city, at which point it was abandoned... OR was it an Afghan outpost, established when Ayuub's army abandoned the siege and occupied their defensive line to the West?  Or perhaps something completely different, like a newly established British outpost set up by General Roberts immediately after his arrival at Kandahar?  In all the descriptions of the battle in primary and secondary sources, I've never seen a single mention of this "outpost" -- but it's there, on this map, which is the most detailed and accurate of all the maps in secondary source history books, and looks the closest to the original source for these later, less detailed maps, which is the "Official History" map at the ends of this group of photos.  Needless to say, if anyone reading this post has additional information RE: this "OUTPOST" feature, I would LOVE to hear it!


Panorama of the battle from the OFFICIAL HISTORY - FULL VIEW:

Panorama of the battle from the OFFICIAL HISTORY - CU LEFT SECTION:

Panorama of the battle from OFFICIAL HISTORY - CU CENTER SECTION:

Panorama of the battle from the OFFICIAL HISTORY - CU RIGHT SECTION:

And finally, what I believe to be the ultimate map of the battle of Kandahar...


Based on all of the above -- with particular attention paid to the above map in the "Official History" I adjusted the layout of the table. 

One big adjustment was deciding (with some encouragement my buddy Jeff "Sgt. Guinness" Baumal!) to EXTEND the North end of the table (in reality it's more the North-Eastern end) in order to include the MURZA KOTAL.  The additional 2'  length also allowed me to adjust the relative sizes of the various hills and the distances between various key pieces of terrain to bring them into better accord with the distances on the Official History map, thereby making them -- I hope -- more accurate. 

After resetting the terrain features I laid out crop-fields, orchards, poppies, and trees from my old Maiwand and Charasiab layouts.  I'm pretty happy with how its looking, though obviously there's still a lot of work to be done, just getting the still blue foam terrain boards into shape.  But that is work for another day.  For now I will simply enjoy the progress made, and hope you do as well!

from British lines (view from the  South-East):

from Afghan lines (view from the North-West):

BRITISH VIEW w/terrain featured labelled:

AFGHAN VIEW w/terrain features labelled:

I hope everyone reading this and all of those you love and care for are staying safe and healthy in these challenging times.  And as I've said before and will say again, if you work in the Medical profession, THANK YOU for what you are doing, and I hope and pray you manage to stay safe and remain healthy while doing it; and if you are a police officer, firefighter or EMT, or drive a truck, train or aircraft, or work on a farm, or at a pharmacy, supermarket, take-out restaurant, gas station, hardware store, lumberyard, plumbing store, gun store, supply warehouse, or similar essential place of business to keep our society functioning, THANK YOU for going to work and doing your job in the face of inherent danger, thereby enabling the rest of us to carry on.