Thursday, 1 May 2014

Risorgimento or Garibaldi in Sicily 1860

I studied the Italian Unification at school and it was fascinating; This lead to following Garibaldi's career and especially his amazing campaign in Sicily with the "Mille" (Thousand), or Redshirts , taking the island in the face of 20-30,000 Neapolitan troops.

In 1860, Garibaldi lead a small force to overthrow the Bourbons who ruled The Kingdom of The Two Sicilies (Naples and Sicily), one of the few parts of Italy not subject to the new Italy, created by Piedmont. How he succeeded with enthusiastic but poorly armed volunteers against an army totaling perhaps 150,000 is an amazing story.

Last year I saw some of Gringo 40s Mexican Republican troops with simple uniforms and havelocks (cloth neck covers) on their kepis and immediately thought, Dunne's English battalion, part of Garibaldi's  forces, being a 50 odd hard core of English soldiers, mostly ex-officers, and the rest being mostly young volunteers from Palermo's slums.

I'm collecting more figures but in the meantime here are two of Dunne's men.

More Ironclads: Russo-Turkish War 1877

In 1877 Russia invaded the Ottoman Empire to "liberate" what would become Bulgaria. This war ended in a Russian victory after famous incidents such as the siege of Plevna and the battle of the Shipka Pass. Incidentally I am trying to finish off a couple of hundred 54mm figures for the last battle!

The war at sea was largely unknown, mostly because there wasn't one. At the end of the Crimean War the Russians were not permitted a Black Sea fleet. In 1877, the Turks under Hobart Pasha, a British Admiral, had a large fleet of river gunboats, monitors and ironclads which covered the River Danube and could interfere with the Russian river crossings. To counter them the Russians turned to torpedo boats , many built on the Tyne and the Thames, and a furious conflict was fought.

The torpedo boats used towed torpedoes, spar torpedoes ( a bomb on the end of a long pole familiar to ACW gamers) and Whitehead self propelled torpedoes, predecessor of the modern weapon.The Turks employed nets hung from ships, cables (but not nets for some reason) slung between boats and guard boats and launches.

My ship models are 1/600th scale made from balsa wood and wire with a few ships boats and ventilator shafts in metal, as are the Turkish defence boats and launches. I've also written my own "Za Torpedirovat" rules.

Well, here some photos of my vessels.