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On Things Roman
Posted on: 7/15/2012
On things Roman

One of the lovely things about miniature artworks is that they can represent History and stir your imagination to new heights. You can look at a single soldier and imagine an entire cohort, a legion even. You can see a Celt, Breton, Pict or Teuton and imagine hundreds of years of history. They don’t have to move, or sing, or give a speech to sway us, all they have to do is inspire our imaginations.

Recently a number of authors and manufacturers have stood forth for the public to state that they have authentic historical Roman shields for several identified legions. In Collins’ “Legions of ROME” he says he gives us the shield patterns for 30 legions for example.

I rather imagine that this book will, by the way, become a classic. It will do so because many will follow it to the letter and make it a major sourcebook. Its section on the histories of the legions is excitingly written and has many imbedded sources, no footnotes, but sources none the less. Thus the assertions for the shield patterns are un footnoted.

Collins even takes on Osprey Publications' adopted theory that almost all Roman soldiers wore white uniforms. Osprey’s principal author on this topic did his doctoral thesis on the clothing purchases of the Roman army and reached the conclusion that White was the major color. He, in my opinion, overlooks several sources and the Napoleonic practice of stopping and putting on the ‘good’ uniform before battles. I have no problem that like American Civil War armies that stable dress and other work outfits could be plain white cotton, I just still support the Red Cloth uniform for the Legionaries, as does Collins. I just wish he had given me footnotes to support our mutual position.

Graham Webster’s The Roman Imperial Army, in its several editions has as much as 40% of a page devoted to the footnotes and references, Goldsworthy’s “The Complete Roman Army”puts its references into the Text, but certainly makes no sweeping claims regarding shields. These and many other texts on the Romans rely on one cryptic source (that's all there are I am afraid) that each Cohort's shield was a different color. But until now no author has such sweeping speculations about shield devices.

In a quick review of major summaries of the Roman army and its soldiers one could only say that three or perhaps 4 Legions have their shield patterns identified convincingly. The idea that thunderbolts and wings are reserved for a tiny minority is more wishful thinking than it is an established historical fact. Lead Army’s Roman soldiers, sailors, marines, counsils, legates, senators and auxilia will continue to be based on traditional sound documented historical references and ought to stand ‘the test of time’ for your enjoyment and imagination.
"It is a Happy Day"
Posted on: 6/14/2012
"It is a Happy Day, It is the Anniversary of Marengo!"

At least that is what Napoleon said at the Battle of Friedland, June 14, 1807, referring to his earlier battle at Marengo in Italy on the same date, 1800. And of course it will be followed by Quatre Bras, June 15, 1815, Ligny, June 15, 1815, Waterloo, June 18, 1815 and so on.

So why all of this history in June? Well, its just pre industrial revolution mechanics really. Horses are needed for Armies from the Trojan war on to well past the American Civil War. More than three thousand years really even if you round down. So is it that Horses prefer June weddings? No. They have to eat though. And when you are advancing away from established and stocked depots they have to eat a lot of grass.

In European climates the Spring snows have finally fully subsided and grass has reached its best growing season. Only when the grass will support your animals is it truly safe to leave supplied territory and advance into unfriendly places. Napoleon had to wait until June 21 to invade Russia. Coincidence? Hardly. A site involved with Russian miniatures could hardly avoid 1812 could it?

In that context then the June start really is explained. So also we might as well go on to discuss "General Winter" who is so often credited with the destruction of Napoleon's Grande Armee. Even that is overly generous to Winter. His brother, "Corporal Summer" never gets the credit he deserves. Actually, of all of Napoleon's campaigns he spent perhaps the most effort arranging in advance the supply system he would need going into the vastness of Russia. Extra and large supply wagons and teams were prepared and ready to follow the army to Moscow and if necessary beyond.

However, the Russian summer of 1812 was one of the warmest of its era. This caused the heavier draft animals to die at an alarming rate, far in excess of their normal mortality. Consequently, when Corporal Summer was done with the supply system it had been almost totally wrecked and broken down. Only then did General Winter get to take the credit for killing off horses and men with inadequate food, shelter, clothing and other supplies.

It is not for nothing that Napoleon also said, "The only enemy I fear is Nature." Mother nature could be proud of her twins Winter and Summer. And, for this reason we find that calendars of Military History have their June month crammed with the beginning of many campaigns while other months are often remembered just because they did not follow the 'normal' pattern.
An Elephantine Question
Posted on: 5/1/2012
An Elephantine Question

May used to bring us legions of the Red Army parading in Red Square. (oddly enough so named long before Lenin and his ilk ever were born but that is yet another story) But this May Lead Army has such a special treat to announce that the whole Red Army must be shoved aside to make room.

And, it might take that much room!! For we speak now of Elephants in warfare. When Alexander the Great set out to conquer anything and everything he went eastwards. He even could recommend things to us about Afghanistan for he marched through it conquering as he went east. When he crossed into India however he encountered types of troops which he and the West had never seen before. King Porus of India had a large and combative force of elephants. These were generally ridden upon by a few fighting men who rode astride the beast more or less. Nobility and commanders had a wooden box structure upon the elephant to fight from and to provide shelter and better footing...this was the Howda.

When Alexander's successors settled with Porus he was given back much of his territory in exchange for a payment of a large number of trained elephants. By this time the value of the Howda was established so all known successor elephants had towers upon their backs. These beasts mainly figure in the armies of the Selucid family based on Persia. However in Egypt the Ptolomies decided that they too needed this new wonder weapon which frightened horses and men and which might crack a hole in a mile long wall of pike phalanx. Luckily Egypt had access to the African elephants. These were either the northern variety or the ones from the tree forested areas to the south. Neither African elephant was as aggressive nor as large as the Indian fighting elephant but they were pressed into service. Indian Elephants were in use in many places demonstrating, if nothing else, that there was a lively arms trade even in those years. For Hannibal's best elephant was a single Indian which crossed the alps with him and lived the longest of those in his army in Italy. Pyrrus of Epiris invaded Italy with elephants of his own. The Roman officers told their men that these were merely 'Lucanian Cows' (Lucania was a local district involved) so the soldiers would not be as afraid.

However, when the successors and their families made war at the eastern end of the Mediterranean sea they commonly used elephants. And so, at the great battle of Raphia, 217 BC elephants even faced off against each other!! Polybus wrote of this confrontation,

"The soldiers in the towers made a fine fight of it, jousting with their pikes and stabbing at each other, but the beasts themselves fought still batter, battling with all their strength and butting at each other with their foreheads." (Quoted from Duncan Head, Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars, WRG publishers, 1982)
Is there a miniature April Fool?
Posted on: 4/1/2012
Is there a miniature April Fool?

Actually there is!! Once again it is the Romans who we have to thank for the custom. As you may know, March 1st was Roman New Year's. It makes sense with the coming of Spring to start the year off with a forward leaning season. Now many of you, like me, have at some time in your life written a letter, document, check or similar writing and then dated it with the prior year or month. This happens a lot in January when you are paying bills quickly and date them with the last year which had become a habit of sorts.

Well, the Romans did the same sorts of things. So during all of March it was socially acceptable to write the previous or wrong date on your document. But, when an entire month had gone by. By April 1st if you made the mistake then.... You were an APRIL FOOL. So, the little tricks and such we see at the start of April have their roots going way way back into civilized history.

So, what about Friday the 13th? Well, this relates to the Middle Ages. The Knights Templar were a Crusading order which was created after the capture of Jerusalem by the 1st Crusade. The Templars were in most of the major battles thereafter until the Islamic reconquest of the area. They were present in all European kingdoms and on the battle front in those resisting the advance of Islamic conquest. As such they had strongholds strategically located over a huge geographic area. This also just happened to be an excellent foundation for rudimentary banking. You could deposit money with one Templar stronghold and reclaim it at another a thousand or more miles away. And, when handling vast sums of money as they eventually did, the Templars were able to begin lending money as well.

This then got them into trouble. Several major monarchs owed vast sums to the Order. The most indebted was the King of France. The King decided he needed to be rid of this troublesome Order. Of course if they were wiped out it also meant that the huge debt wouldn't have to be repaid either. But how to do it? This was an era without radio, television, phones or even hielographic communication. If the Templars got word that a purge were going on they might be able to escape, to seal off their strongholds, or otherwise survive. So, the plan was that sealed orders to sequester and eliminate Templars were sent out in secret. These were to be opened and acted upon on Friday the 13th, October 1307 the King struck simultaneously at many Templar strongholds seizing both Templars and their assets. They were then tried and virtually exterminated. A very very "unlucky" result for Friday the 13th!! Which thereafter carried the taint of being an unlucky day.

As it happens Lead Army has both Roman Senators and soldiers all capable of being April Fools and knights Templar who can display the best attributes of the Order at it's height. Not only are these miniatures beautiful pieces of Art for your home or office, but they are also a memory aide to help you recount interesting and useful history associated with the individuals depicted. We here at Lead Army invite you to take a little art tour of our Roman and Medieval sections and see those who added color to the days of April, 2012.
March ROMAN ARMY MONTH
Posted on: 3/1/2012
Photo....


ROMAN EMPIRE MONTH

Caesar!! Beware the Ides of March!! So Shakespeare tells us that Caesar was warned that trouble was coming. And what would be more fitting than to look into Roman figures during March?

The "Ides" of March is for the Romans March 15th. And on that day Caesar the de facto ruler of the Roman Republic was murdered on the steps of the Senate in an attempt to preserve the Republic. This, perhaps sadly, failed to do more than kill Caesar and bring on civil war and the end of the Republic. Octavian, later Augustus Caesar would prevail and become the first Emperor.

But Julius himself, who we remember on the 15th, had quite a personal record. In fact, if you were to collect a single model figure from his lifetime and events he personally touched it would fill a large display shelf all by itself. We are fortunate that the Russian master artists who do works for art studios associated with Lead Army received a 'classical' education. Often their works turn to such subjects even if they are not constantly present in the collectible artwork market.

In his day Caesar expanded Roman Gaul until it was bordered by the Rhine river and the English Chanel. Thus many Celtic warrior figures from Gaul are available as well as Early Germans, Danish (Angles), and Ancient Britons with their early chariot armies. But, he also fought a civil war with Pompey the Great. He fought in Greece with some allies, in Asia with allies, in Egypt with Cleopatra and her army. In Spain with local Spanish troops as well as the legions. Either for or against Caesar you will find almost every military organization on the shores of the Mediterranean sea!

And, if you were to add in some of his political partners..like Crassus from the triumvirates, the list only gets larger. For it was Crassus who fought Spartacus and the Slave Army and who went down swinging fighting the Parthian Empire when it was his lot to expand the Republic to the East when Caesar went West.

Since so many spectacular figures come from the era around Julius Caesar and as Lead Army has pioneered in exceptional Roman background buildings, we have declared March to be ROMAN EMPIRE MONTH. It will not be until later this year that our 2nd piece of the Roman Forum series is released. The Arch of Septimus Severus. This will be equally as magnificent as the Roman Senate building pictured above but we hope it will set new standards for supporting buildings in this art medium. Yes Caesar, the "Ides of March have come, but they are not yet gone" And with that spirit of keeping history alive to teach us all its lessons Lead Army thanks you for your support and attention.
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Templar Crusader XII c.
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Jacobite Scottish Nobleman XVIII C
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Marshal Berthier
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