Defending Pensacola

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Front view of the Bay Area Fort Jackson star fort. The miniature is pretty good sized, with the interior sans bastions about six inches across.

I’ve blathered on about my plans for Enfilade and my Ironclads game.  Well, I’m prepared to reveal just a little bit more.  I’m thinking a Sunday game, if that works for my partner David. Sunday is a good time, though it often excludes Canadian attendees.  If David is selling stuff at the B and B, he has incentive to be there on Sunday.

Our game is a hypothetical action in late 1864.  Admiral Farragut’s attack on Confederate defenses in August 1864 are disrupted by a Katrina-like event that severely damages many vessels in the Gulf Squadron as they lay at anchor at the mouth of the Mississippi. With Farragut unable to act, Confederate admiral Franklin Buchanan takes the matter into his own hands and launches an assault on the outer defenses of Pensacola with vessels from the Mobile defense forces, and meets some of those nasty ships abuilding in British yards, led by Confederate Commodore Raphael Semmes.

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Another look at the miniature. It was a true pleasure to assemble and paint, but unfortunately it’s no longer available.

Pensacola was occupied by Confederate forces April 1861-May 1862.  They took control of Forts McRee and Barrancas that provided two angles of the “triangle of fire” controlling the ship channel into the city. They also laid siege to and tried unsuccessfully to capture Fort Pickens, the great star fort on Santa Rosa Island. McRee was shelled mercilessly by Pickens and the Federal sloops Niagara and Richmond in September 1861. When the Confederates evacuated Pensacola in spring of 1862, they destroyed what was left of McRee’s defenses, and it’s unclear what happened at Barrancas. Pensacola’s fortifications went largely unimproved as it became a backwater, an ignored enclave in Confederate Florida, the action moving on to Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia

One of the stars of the scenario will be Fort Pickens, the 1830’s era star fort that anchored the defense of the ship entrance to Pensacola Bay.  In my previous entry I shared a photo of the Bay Area Yards model of Fort Jackson, which has to be a reasonable substitute for Pickens.  First let me just say it’s a beautiful miniature.  Steven Taylor and Dave Brandon have my salute, because there’s nothing about it I found to be a problem.  Well-cast in resin, I think I found one small inconsequential bubble. Unfortunately, a limited number of these babies, together with Fort St. Philip, were cast and are no longer available.

I’ve never been to Fort Jackson or Fort Pickens, but I have been to Fort Pulaski in Savannah.  Though Pulaski is pentagonal like Fort Sumter, rather than a classic star, I was struck by the beautiful brick work, like Jackson.  I painted the brick areas, the exterior and interior walls, the ground colonnades Vallejo cavalry brown.  I dry brushed it with Ceramcoat Trail Tan, and then washed it with Vallejo brown wash.  Same with the interior citadel. I decided on Vallejo neutral gray for the horizontal surfaces and then dry-brushed with Ceramcoat light gray.  The citadel roof was painted Ceramcoat charcoal and again dry brushed with light gray.

The model comes with a passel of guns for the fort, and if I made a mistake in my painting choices, it was with the guns. I painted them the same neutral gray and should have painted them any other color.  I also glued them to the fort before painting–another “doh!” moment. I found the model required lots of handling, so I made sure to dull-coat it multiple times along the way.  Really a pleasure to build and paint with some very moderate challenges. I really like it. IF THERE IS ANYONE OUT THERE READING THIS WHO HAS THE FORT ST. PHILIP MODEL AND DOESN’T THINK THEY’LL EVER BUILD IT, PLEASE CONTACT ME.  I’D LOVE TO TAKE IT OFF YOUR HANDS.

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Rear view of the Bay mortar battery and brick water battery.

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Another sizable model, the Bay Battery Buchanan miniature is quite nice. My friend, Al Rivers painted it for me. Thanks Al.

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This is my tub o’ land based leavin’s. It includes fortfications, buildings and one must have a Martello Tower-always. No, really.

I completed a few more Bay pieces.  They may or may not make it into our game.  A few years ago, my friend Al gave me a miniature of Battery Buchanan that was part of the Fort Fisher defenses of the Cape Fear River. Al did a super nice job with it, and all it needed was armament.  Thankfully I had plenty of surplus guns.  In addition I had the Bay brick water battery and a seacoast mortar battery and I wrapped those up too.  There going to have to be more landbased pieces acquired, probably both from Thoroughbred and from Bay Area Yards.

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Weisfield’s Jewelers. There are countless things I would do differently with this miniature. Too many to list here.

Last on my list of finished pieces was another picklefork hyroplane, the Weisfield’s Jewelers from 1974-5.  It’s unique tail simply had me.  Not an easy miniature to paint with all the lining required. Still, it’s always fun to paint these miniatures, though I confess I don’t quite have the same attachment to the later boats I do to the 50’s and 60’s boats.

What’s on my painting table?

Well, with the fortifications done I can spend all my time working on the dismounted men-at-arms I started working on a while ago. Still a ways to go, but I’m hoping to have them finished by the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.  Why?  Well, because I just received to Thoroughbred ships in the mail.  I bought the T-Bred Gaines.  The Gaines was a small, but well-armed gunboat that served on Mobile Bay together with her sister ship Morgan, and the Selma.  They became consorts to the ironclad Tennessee. They look nice, and they should be fun to build and paint.

Music to paint by. 

David GilmourYesterday I picked up a vinyl copy of the first solo album by David Gilmour.  Gilmour is the lead guitarist and sometime vocalist for Pink Floyd.  His first solo record was released in 1978.  I bought it after hearing “There’s No Way Out of Here” on the radio when the album was released.  I had a 1974 Ford Pinto and I installed an eight track player in it.  Gilmour’s album was one of my first eight track purchases. The album is more accessible than Pink Floyd’s Animals, which was released at the same time.  The songs are reflective, wistful and generally, a very pleasant listen.  This record also has a Hipgnosis cover, which made it a must-have for my collection.




Longbowmen finished and other cool stuff.


I finally finished these guys last night.  I made their bases a bit busier than I usually do.  They are supposed to be able to fight in difficult terrain, and at Poitiers–always a guiding star for me-were able to navigate swampy terrain They aren’t brilliant, but the first rule of miniature wargaming is that any painted unit is a WELL-PAINTED unit.

Old Glory longbows on half stands, ready to go.

Old Glory longbows on half stands, ready to go.

Escodida Versatil Brushes Arrive

So my Dick Blick order arrived in an enormous padded mailer.  Inside were my carefully packaged 0 Escodida Versatil brushes.  I carefully pried them out of their packaging and was singularly unimpressed.  They are the right size but as miniature gamers we live and die by brush points.  No brush point, much less detailing. These didn’t come with one of those little protective plastic thingies that fits over the ferrule, so one of the brushes had any potential points squashed right out of it.  The others retained something of a point, but only one of the three brushes seems to have “winner” exuding from it.  I’ll have to work with them.

My Escondida Versatil brushes  arrived from Dick Blick yesterday.  I am not optimistic, but they're the brushes I have . . .

My Escondida Versatil brushes arrived from Dick Blick yesterday. I am not optimistic, but they’re the brushes I have . . .

Re purposing My Den

My den/painting area/ music room is tiny.  It’s 8′ X 8′ and is crammed full of miniatures, board games, my stereo, a television, dvd’s all my Kevin stuff. It had also become virtually unnavigable.  As my music consumed a bigger and bigger portion of my time and resources, the situation I had in there with my painting table plunked right in the middle of the space made accessing my stereo difficult. So I did some switching, moved my table to a place that renders the rest of the room more accessible and doesn’t negatively impact my ability to work efficiently and comfortably The lighting is probably better, and will be better still when we emerge from the great darkness of the Northwest winter, which seemed to begin yesterday and will last until June.

It's hard to tell from this photo, but I've pushed my painting table toward the back of the room and near the window.  It's opened up the space so it's more walkable without interfering with my work space.

It’s hard to tell from this photo, but I’ve pushed my painting table toward the back of the room and near the window. It’s opened up the space so it’s more walkable without interfering with my work space.

Enfilade Plans

Yes Enfilade is in May, but I like to have things worked out well in advance.  Dave Schueler and I always work together on at least one game.  We’ve done two super successful rollouts: the bombing of the Tirpitz–which was just gorgeous–and the prize winning Raid on St. Nazaire from last year.  This year it looks like we’ll do The Channel Dash of the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and various auxiliaries from Brest in Brittany to the German port of Wilhelmshaven where they could threaten North Atlantic convoys.  It turned into a disaster for the British who could muster little naval power to threaten the German battleships, and whose repeated air attacks were driven off with heavy losses by defending elements of the Luftwaffe.  The sheer variety of British aircraft–Wellingtons, Spitfires, Hurricanes, Swordfish, Whirlwinds, Hampdens and Blenheims make it all pretty attractive.

Beyond the Channel Dash, I’m not too sure what I’ll do.  After last year’s “fill the car” excitement, I may stick to something a little less demanding.  I have a bunch of 1970’s era hydroplanes to paint–I could update my Thunderboats!, which is always a crowd-pleaser.  I could also do some ACW naval stuff.  I still have some ships to paint, and I’m sure David Sullivan and I could do something.  He was interested in an Ironclads game.  Now that would be retro.

What’s on Your Painting Table?

With the longbowmen finally completed, I’m just dorking around with things I want to do. The Miami (gunboat) is a step closer to completion.  I’m getting ready to base some figures for Mars. I’ve primed a big Baueda pavilion for a potential camp for the Hundred Years War.  Not terribly focused, eh?  It shouldn’t take forever to paint them.  I think after I do that, I’ll paint the Volunteers of Ireland for the American Revolution.  I bought the GMB flags for them, they have a different looking uniform, and they are pretty small for the period. After that, it’s the gunboat Selma from the Battle of Mobile Bay.  That should get me into November.

A bit more done on the Miami.  My goal is to be finished, based and rigged by the end of the week.

A bit more done on the Miami. My goal is to be finished, based and rigged by the end of the week.

And Now For Your Listening Pleasure

The Power StationI have a bunch of mini collections in my pile o’ vinyl.  Little Feat, Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs and a few others.  One guy I really like who is kind of under-appreciated is Robert Palmer.  He’s a British blue-eyed soul singer is best known for his lounge-lizardish appearance on some early MTV videos.  “Addicted to Love” is his best known video with the long legged, pretend backing band. But before that he made some very good R and B influenced albums.  Before his MTV fame, however, he teamed up with two former members of Duran, Duran John Taylor and Andy Taylor, and Chic’s Tony Thompson.  Together they formed The Power Station.  Their first album, titled, simply enough, The Power Station (1985) is pretty enjoyable.  It is energetic synth-pop, but not so much as to be annoying.  Palmer’s vocals are powerful and the two Taylors have enough guitar influence to keep things interesting.   My favorite song is a cover of TRex’s “Bang a Gong.” Good stuff, worth a listen.  Picked mine up for half a buck at the Goodwill Outlet.

I was gone, but now I’m back.

So, it’s been about a month since my last post.  The last time I wrote I was discussing Enfilade.  In that intervening time, I was wrapping up school, finishing the last issue of JagWire and getting ready for my prostate surgery.

Well, all that’s come and gone.  Surgery was last week and pathology report shows I am cancer-free, so that’s good news.  I’m in a recovery mode right now, which means I need lots of rest.  I am physically incapable of playing a game at the moment, though things are in the works to start playing the weekend of  July 19th.

Even so, I’ve been trying to paint a little bit.  Mostly I’m painting for fun.  I’ve got some hydroplanes I’m working  on.  I finished the 1959/60 version of Miss Burien, a local favorite.  It’s denoted by the big swoosh like decor on the tail and the deep red cowing and engine decking.  I also decided to paint myself the Hawaii Kai.  The Kai was one of the very few pink hydroplanes during racing’s Golden Age. I painted one for Dave Demick years ago, but I decided I needed one of my own.  The other boat I have on the painting blocks is the Miss Bardahl from 1968, “The Checkerboard Comet.”  It is in fact painted a creamy yellow with black checks everywhere.  It seems like a really big headache, but I thought I would at least try.  It’s one of Shawn McEvoy’s new hulls.  I think I’m actually going to pencil grid out the design as best I can.  I’ve finished one other boat, a second fantasy hydro, the JagWire, in honor of the school paper and all my students who have worked so hard on it.  It’s in ERHS school colors, with our flag on the hull.  It’s green and black with a jaguar paw on the tail.  I like it.  You may think it’s a bit much.

Hawaii Kai was quite a fast boat in the late 1950's and early 60's.  I painted this for my friend David, but noticed I had no pink boats in my inventory

Hawaii Kai was quite a fast boat in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. I painted this for my friend David, but noticed I had no pink boats in my inventory

I painted JagWire for my school and in honor of our paper.  I tried to emulate our flag with it's brackets and Helvetica font.

I painted JagWire for my school and in honor of our paper. I tried to emulate our flag with it’s brackets and Helvetica font.

Miss Burien was a local favorite, though I don't remember it having a lot of success.  This is the 1959/60 version of the boat.

Miss Burien was a local favorite, though I don’t remember it having a lot of success. This is the 1959/60 version of the boat.


I’m also working on some ACW ships I’ve had for a few years, but really need some paint. I finished painting and rigging an armed sailing sloop.  It may be a Bay model, but it looks kind of Thoroughbredish.  I also have a sailing merchantman by Bay as well as the Confederate river ram, Webb.  From Thoroughbred I’ll be working on the river monitor Neosho, as well as Toby’s truly awesome Benton. They’ll be fun and relatively easy to paint thought I’m hoping to put some rigging touches on all of them.


Pretty sure this little sloop is a Bay Area Yards miniature.  I have another three or four ships I plan to paint and rig this month.

Pretty sure this little sloop is a Bay Area Yards miniature. I have another three or four ships I plan to paint and rig this month.