Monday, September 28, 2009

Leaving The USA

well after 6 months living and working in New Haven, Connecticut i will be returning to the UK in 4 days time. Whilst i have had a great time here the impending delivery of my first child is a much better reason to return to the UK than work.

The other downside to being away from home has been the lack of opportunities to paint and game. i have tried to keep up with things by doing plenty of background historical reading, including 3 ACW books, a russian civil war book and an AWI book. also i recently received some great looking woodland indians from conquest miniatures which i am really looking forward to painting when i return home.

finally on my return i will start posting some of my collection of figures online for you to peruse. Initially i will probably start with Franco-prussian and ACW figures as i am in the process of rebasing a significant portion of models from other periods

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point

In July i had the opportunity to travel to Vermont, USA for a relaxing holiday with my wife. After spending 2 days in the north of the state and around Burlington, a small city i would recommend anyone to visit for its relaxed college atmosphere and beautiful lake champlain, i was able to convince my wife that on our travels back to Connecticut that it would be great to stop and visit Fort Ticonderoga just over the water in New York state.

On the way south to Ticonderoga, we crossed lake champlain at crown point another important fort of the 1750s. The French built Fort St. Frederic on this site in the 1730s to control the lower reaches of Lake Champlain from the British and to overawe the native indians. This building included an immense stone tower more in keepiong with a medieval city than a frontier fort. As British aspirations on lake champlain increased the French realised the weakness of the fort to modern cannons and destroyed the fort at the approach of a British invasion force under Gen. Sir Jeffrey Amherst in 1759. The British immediately recognised the importance of this area for control of the lake and began construction of their own fort at Crown Point.
The fort was built in the typical Vauban style of the period with a central parade ground and mess buildings and a series of blockhouses and redoubts beyond the walls of the fort to protect the landward side. The fort was garrisoned weakly in the american war of indepence and was captured and used as a base for Gen. Benedict Arnolds campaign on the lake. With the loss of the American fleet at the battle of Valcour Island in 1776, the fort was abandoned. Despite a fire in 1773 destroying a large amount of the buildings inside the fort the walls and stone officers and soldiers quarters are still standing. A stroll around the walls is well worth the time. A small amount of remains from Fort St. Frederic can also be seen.

Travelling a few miles further south you come to Fort Ticonderoga. This impressively intact fort was begun by the French in 1755 and completed as Fort Carillon in 1758. The fort was attacked twice by the British in the Frecn Indian war. The first assault resulted in the catastrophic British defeat at the Battle of Carillon, 1758. Gen. James Abercrombie launched an unprepared assault against extensive abatis and field works placed by Gen. Montcalm some distance from the fort. The later siege resulted in the capture of the fort largely intact in 1759.

During the American Revolution (1775) a token garrison of British troops was captured along with large numbers of guns by Gen. Bendict Arnold, local hero Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys. The guns were removed by Henry Knox through terrible winter weather to Boston where they formed the beginnings of the continental army's artillery.

The fort and the overlooking hill of Mount Independence were captured by the British in 1777 as part of Gen. John Burgoynes Saratoga campaign. Following the defeat of the British at Bemis Heights both Ticonderoga and Crown point were abandoned.

Today the fort is a well preserved tourist attraction, combining as it does key elements and characters from American Revolutionary history. some of the galleries are open and several have been restored to how they would have looked in the 1770s. During the summer a series of fife and drum and historical re-enactments occur.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Washington DC

Back in June i had the opportunity to visit Washington DC with the wife and whilst there i was able to drag her around all the famous monuments including a fantastic trip across the Potomac river to Arlington National Military Cemetary and former residence of General Robert E. Lee of ACW fame.

Amongst the landmarks are the Capitol building, seat of the US congress. Work began in 1795 leading to both wings being completed by the time of the war of 1812. In August 1814 British troops partially burnt the building. Further work resulted in the completion of the central rotunda in 1864 during the civil war.

The White house was begun in 1792 and has housed every US president since John Adams. It was completed in 1800 and like the capitol building partially burnt during the British occupation of Washington in 1814.
Ford's theatre (now a museum) has been

The Lincoln memorial stands at the end of west end of the national mall. It was originally commisioned in 1867 but work did not begin until 1914 and it was not completed until 1922. A Greek style front was based upon the Temple of Zeus. Inside sits a white marble depiction of Abraham Lincoln.

To either side of Lincoln are inscribed the key speeches of his presidency; the gettysburg address and the 2nd inauguration speech. Personally i found this monument one of the most moving in the whole of Washington, principally i think for the high moral ideals yet practical reasoning of Lincoln. Behind the monument is the bridge across the potomac to Arlington cemetery. Everything in this city is spread out so bring good walking shoes.

The cemetery was proposed by Quartermaster General Meigs in 1864 during the ACW. Meigs had recently lost his own son in the conflict and a national cemetery on the land of General Lee who had originally been offered command of the Northern forces was thought by many to be appropriate.

The cemetery has a wellcome centre which provides paper maps, which are generally useful listing some of the more famous incumbents, but actually finding their graves is a little more difficult. Key military incumbents include Maj Gen Phil Sheriden, Abner Doubleday not to mention numerous service personnel from the AWI onwards, including a separate section containing soldiers of the confederate states.

Other more recent conflicts are obviously represented by a significant array of monuments both in the cemetery and throughout Washington DC. Personally i found the most striking to be the US marine corps (Iwo Jima), for its sheer size and spectacle, and the Korean War monument for the gentle beauty of the simplistic yet moving platoon models.