This article describes making and painting of 28mm American War for Independence (AWI) figures for table top miniatures battles. Although it is similar to an earlier AWI Town Battle article, this article contains many miniatures centered around American, British, and Hessian line infantry of the time period.
Scroll to read the story and see smaller photos. Click on the photos for a larger gallery of the images.
First a tale of a battle in a small town during the American War for Independence (AWI).
In 1667, Connecticut settlers established the third English-speaking settlement of New Jersey, and they called it Connectictut Farms. Slightly west of the two earlier English-speaking settlements of Newark and Elizabeth, Connecticut Farms featured rolling hills and rich farm lands. By the time of the American War for Independence in 1776, there was robust agriculture and trade with the neighboring towns and settlements.
In 1808 Connecticut Farms incorporated into the modern city of Union, New Jersey.
During the early part of the American War for Independence, many colonial towns were divided in their loyalties. Some American colonials favored revolution and independence. Others favored continued loyalty to the British Crown. Others had ideas in between these extremes.
Part of the British war strategy was to venture out of their strongholds and test which towns were loyal to the monarchy. If they were loyal, there was trade. If they were revolutionaries, there was likely a punitive measure taken on the town.
Here three regiments of British infantry, Red Coats, investigate the small settlement of Connecticut Farms in 1780.
After the early war period of tough times, George Washington was finally starting to build up the Continental Army and not rely so much on the town militias.
Although Washington and the British played a cat and mouse game all over New Jersey during the war, this scene shows a hypothetical encounter if George Washington decided to venture from the Watching mountains and take on the British troops full force in Connecticut Farms.
Here we see three regiments of Continental Infantry approaching Connecticut Farms from the west.
The British discover Connecticut Farms is rich in revolutionary sentiment, so they decide to punish the town and burn a few of the farms and building.
They also are joined by Loyalists in brown, the Queen's Rangers in green, and two regiments of Hessian mercenaries.
The Continental Army counters by also calling up some provincial and allied troops. Here the troops call up two regiments of light infantry in brown and green and a regiment of French allies in white.
There are no cavalry or artillery in this battle, just infantry.
The British tighten up their regiments to give a strong volley with the muskets.
Elite British and Hessian grenadiers with their fancy tall hats can follow up the volley with a strong bayonet attack.
The Continental Army also tightens up their ranks.
The infantry regiments advance at a slow pace until they can closely see the enemy.
All the infantry are in place.
A line up of nearly equal forces.
Here is a bird's eye view of the enemies, just before the battle.
Both sides fire their first volley.
First a blinding lightning crack, then a roar of thunder, then many casualties, and a cloud of burned black powder.
The battle is on. What will happen next?
This part of the article goes into details about the suppliers of the miniatures, paints, and historical sources.
An earlier AWI Town Battle article gave information about the first figures painted for this American War for Independence series. Since these first experimental boxes, I bought both big boxes, the Black Powder British and Continental Starter Armies from Warlord Games. While a typical regiment box might cost $25 to $30 for 4 sprues and 30 figures, the starter army boxes cost about $135 for about 21 sprues and 185 figures.
What is great about the Warlord Games plastic minis is that they give you many heads, hats, weapons, and options. This article shows many infantry, but they all come from the same basic command and infantry plastic sprues.
This gallery contains four photos for each regiment. There are two photos for each half of a regiment, one photo from the left side and one photo from the right. Keep scrolling down for the text and smaller images. Click on the image to get a larger gallery.
The Warlord Games British Infantry regiment contains one command sprue of 6 figures and three infantry sprues of 8 figures eachfor a total of 30 soldiers in the regiment.
These soldiers are modeled as grenadiers which were the elites of the British foot soldiers. That means they get the fancy hats and the best equipment.
This photo shows the command figures as well as some of the regular infantry. The command sprue gives you the parts to make the leaders, the flag bearers, and the drummers. The British command sprues have two flag bearers, one with the national flag and the other with the regimental flag
Here is the same part of the regiment from the other side. Notice the drummer has distinguished clothing. Where as the regular soldiers have red coats with white tails and black cuffs, the drummer has a black coat with red cuffs.
The flags are printouts of examples included in John Mollo's book "Uniforms of the American Revolution". The flags are the "King's Colour, 5th Regiment". I don't know if that was a grenadier regiment, but the flag colors go nicely with these uniforms.
Here are the remaining grenadier regiment from the right side. I like the big bearskin hats and the long muskets.
Here are the remaining grenadier regiment from the left side.
All these figures have the same sort of basing. The figures come with 20mm plastic square bases (about 3/4"). The figures are cemented to this plastic base. I epoxy a square piece of steel to the bottom of plastic base to give the figure more weight and help keep it upright.
Then I use simple white glue to add some rocks and the grass fibers. The small tufts of grass are from The Army Painter. A final coat of matte varnish (Krylon brand) protects the paint and locks the grass in place.
Then I make a larger rectangular base from thin plywood (Litko brand) and vinyl magnetic sheet. The metal bases adhere lightly to the magnetic sheet. This way I can move 6 or 8 figures at a time and keep them in formation.
Here is my next British infantry regiment which I have modeled with tricorne hats, red coats, and blue cuffs and facings. I usually distinguish some of the command figures such as the flag bearers or drummers with fancy hats that don't match the rest of the regiment.
Here the smaller stands of 3 figures on the sides are modeled as light infantry or riflemen. They also have some fancy hats, shorter coats and black belts. Often small groups of skirmishers would break off from the line infantry, fan out, and harass the enemy lines.
Here are the same British infantry from the left side. The flags are from the instruction sheet included with the figures. These regimental colors are the King's 64th regiment of foot.
Like all the other regiments, I don't know if I matched the flag colors, the uniform colors, and the hats. Some modelers, the "button counters", are really into the history and precisely model these things.
Here are the rest of the British King's 64th infantry regiment from the right. So far in these articles, the three regiments of British red coats have buff facings, black facings, blue facings and different hats. Little details often help you sort and get the soldiers back to their regiments.
Here are the rest of the British 64th infantry regiment from the left. The multiple arm options allow you to make a good mix of firing, loading, and "at attention" poses.
Now we jump from the British red coats to the Continental Army blue coats. Shown here are the leaders and two smaller stands of light infantry riflemen.
This particular regiment depicts George Washington's elite unit, the Life Guard. From this Revolutionary War Journal article I found this uniform information:
In April, 1777, Washington issued that the uniform of the guard was to consist of a blue coat with white facings, white waistcoat and breeches, black half gaiters, and a cocked hat with a blue and white feather. However, at the start of the war, only officers had any semblance of uniform. When Washington issued the uniform code, Captain Gibbs was successful in securing blue and buff uniforms, but chose red waistcoats (probably because white were not available). These vests became symbolic of the guard for the duration of the war.
He also procured leather helmets with a bear skin crest, in lieu of the traditional tricorn hats. These apparently were captured by a privateer and were bound for the British 17th Dragoons. He had the red cloth binding removed and replaced with medium blue, and a white plume, tipped in blue placed on the left side. This unique headgear was to add to the distinctive appearance of the Guard
This image shows Washington's Life Guard regiment command from the left. You can see their fancy buff trousers, red vests, and hats with bear skin and white and blue feather crests.
The flag is the regimental flag of Washington's Life Guard. The command sprues for Warlord Games Continental Infantry only have one flag bearer, but you get a fife player instead. Here the fife player wears the distinguished inverted coat colors.
Here are the remaining Washington's Life Guard regiment from the right.
I am mostly a paint by numbers figure painter, that is to say I don't do much shading. However at the end of the painting process, I do shade my figures with dark polyurethane to give the wrinkles some darker depth. Here I use The Army Painter Soft tone quick shade thinned with some mineral spirits. With a cotton swab, I slather it on the figure, and then I use a cotton swab to remove most of the polyurethane and get the shading I want. It might look a little dark or dirty up close, but from a few feet away on the gaming table, the added contrast makes it look more realistic and less cartoony than unshaded figures.
Here are the remaining Washington's Life Guard regiment from the left.
Here is my third regiment of Continental Army Infantry command from the right side. These soldiers sport the deep blue of the Continental Army with red cuffs and facings. The prior two American regiments that I painted had deep blue with buff or white cuffs.
This flag bearer is carrying the "national" colors with the thirteen stars arranged in a circle, also known as the Betsy Ross flag. My formula for flags is to find a good example in a book or on the web. Print it out on my printer using scaling to get the appropriate size. Then cut it out, paint it with dilute white glue, and wrap it around the flag pole. Before the glue dries, bend and wrinkle the flag so it looks like it is fluttering in the breeze.
Here is my third regiment of Continental Army Infantry command from the left side. The "Betsy Ross" flag is in the center. Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!
This image shows the British line infantry regiment painted as colonial Loyalists. Loyalists were Americans who did not favor revolution and instead were loyal to the British monarchy. Some of these folks wanted to maintain their businesses, some wanted to address problems through legal means, and some thought the revolution was doomed to failure.
Notice that these figures are the same plastic miniatures as the earlier British red coats. These figures simply have different heads with cocked wide-brim hats. Also the bayonets have been cut off the muskets to simulate that the provincial regiments likely did not have the top equipment of the regulars. Brown and green were popular colors for provincial, light, and militia troops.
The flag shown with the motto "Liberty and Union" is known as the Taunton Flag. It was used by the secretive Sons of Liberty to advance the cause of liberty in the colonies. I use it here with "British Loyalist" figures so that this group can be played as revolutionaries or loyalists. I think the Union Jack and the red "King's colours" make it look more British than Continental. The word liberty seems rebellious for the time, but the word union seems to favor the existing government.
This image shows British Loyalist command from the left. The caps, buff pants, brown coats, and white facings look very dapper to me.
This image shows the remaining Loyalists from the right side.
Notice the skin tones of these and other soldiers in this article. For both the British and Continental infantry regiments I have a small number of darker skinned African Americans. There is evidence in writings and paintings that African Americans, freemen and escaped slaves, fought for both sides.
This image shows the remaining Loyalists from the right side.
Again notice the short muskets of the provincial light infantry. You might also notice the poses (firing, loading, and "at attention) are similar to the earlier British red coats.
This image shows the Warlord Games British Line Infantry painted up as the Queen's Rangers. The Queen's Rangers were Loyalists who fought for the British in the American War of Independence. They are typically organized as light infantry, riflemen, and scouts.
These are the same Warlord Games British Line Infantry figures as before, but the heads with the peaked caps are used, and the bayonets are removed to make rifles and light hunting muskets. As often, some of the fancy drummers and flag bearers get special hats.
This image shows the Queen's Rangers command from the left side. Both flags are example culled from the internet, printed, and glued and wrinkled to look like there is some wind.
Here are the remaining Queen's Rangers from the right. They wore off-white trousers, green coats with white linings, green facings and cuffs. I gave them black shoulder straps as I saw in John Mollo's book "Uniforms of the American Revolution".
Here are the remaining Queen's Rangers from the left. Loyalists, American residents, fighting for the British rule in America.
Next up, we look at a regiments of Colonial provincial light infantry. These regiments were better equiped and trained than militias, but they were likely not the long term soldiers that were in the regulat Continental Army infantry. This regiment features brown coats and red facings and cuffs.
The "76 flag" is known as the Bennington Flag. I remember this flag was extremely popular to fly during the USA 1976 Bicentennial years. This flag was rumored to have flown furing the Battle of Bennington, Vermont, but others think it is likely a product of later Independence Day celebrations.
Here are American light infantry command from the left.
If you've been reading this far, you probably are seeing repeated poses. Nevertheless, I think the colorful uniforms help make a wide variety.
Here are American light infantry from the right.
They look similar to the earlier British Loyalists. The two regiments could fight side by side if you wanted to balance a battle with more provincials.
Here are American light infantry from the left
The rectangular bases of 6 figures in a two by three array are magnetized. This makes it easy to remove casualties.
This next American light infantry regiment is based on Vermont's Green Mountain Boys. The uniform colors come from John Mollos book "Uniforms of the American Revolution". The distinctive flag comes from the Wikipedia article.
The Green Mountain Boys were instrumental in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, and helped give Americans their first field cannons.
Here are Green Mountain Boys command from the left.
The green coats make a lot of sense if you are a light infantry, skirmishing through the woods, and trying to remain undetected in America's forested north east.
Here are the remaining Green Mountain Boys from the right.
These soldiers are on an eight man, two by four rectangular base. I have not fought a battle game with these miniatures yet. That is likely to be an upcoming article.
Here are the remaining Green Mountain Boys from the left.
Here are the infantry last regiment of this article, Von Donop's Hessian infantry. The light blue coats and buff facings come from the Mollo book "Uniforms of the American Revolution".
Hessians were German units that were hired by the British to fight in America. It is estimated about 20 to 25% of the British units were composed of Hessians. They generally formed their own regiments with their own leaders.
The plastic sprues for these Hessian soldiers are similar to the British and Continental sets with one command sprue (6 soldiers) and three infantry spruces (8 each) for a total of 30 soldiers. The poses are quite similar, but there are many subtle variations. The Hessian soldiers have big tall fancy boots. Also the three sets differ in accessories and details such as field bags and ammo boxes.
Here is Von Donop's Hessian infantry command from the left.
My earlier AWI Town Battle article showed another Hessian regiment painted up as grenadiers with dark blue coats and tall peaked mitre hats.
John Mollo's book "Uniforms of the American Revolution" show both of these varying uniforms for Hessians. The darker blue coats with the black and white flags are modeled after von Knyphausen's regiments. The lighter blue coats with the black and yellow flags are modeled after von Donop's regiments.
Both of these regiments fought at the Battles of Connecticut Farms and Springfield in New Jersey in 1780 with Knyphausen fighting in the Battle Hill area and von Donop fighting in the Vauxhall area.
Here are the remaining Von Donop's Hessian infantry from the right.
Some of the Hessian infantry have green coats. These are light infantry skirmishers known as "Jaegers" which is the German word for hunters. Their roll was to break off from the main line and harass the enemy from hidden places. The Jaegers were the fittest and stealthiest of the Hessian foot soldiers.
Here are the remaining Von Donop's Hessian infantry from the left.
Thanks for reading about my American War for Independence miniatures. That was a lot of photos, but it is fun to expand your armies and show lots of different variations. At this point I have the following infantry regiments completed and displayed in this and previous articles:
|British line||red||buff||tricornes||27th regiment|
|British line||red||blue||tricornes||64th regiment|
|British provincials||green||green||peaked||Queen's Rangers|
|Hessians||prussian blue||red||mitres||von Knyphausen|
|Hessians||light blue||red||tricornes||von Donop|
|Continental||blue||white||crested||Washington's Life Guard|
|American provincials||green||red||tricornes||Green Mountain Boys|
At this point I am excited about the American War for Independence. Next up it will be more militia and Native Americans. There will also be some surprise units that will expand both armies. Stay tuned for more photos, hobby tips, and history. Thanks again.