sexta-feira, 30 de abril de 2010

Character Series nº 1 - Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill
(Part II)
When you look at the life of WC there is no disguising the fact that, from his early years, he planned to use a military career to promote his future prospects in politics.
There was nothing new to that option. Many before him had done that, although only a few where as sucessful, after him.
Therefore, WC wanted to become noted in a way that could prove useful in a future political career. The thing is he chose to do that in the place where it hurt the most: the place where the bullets meet the meat.
Nowadays, I think the most hazardous place where a politician exposes his "meat" is when he appears on TV for a debate with a political opponent.
(The Cuban Insurrection)
WC seemed to have a strange curiosity regarding what his reactions would be under fire.
By the end of the year 1895 he had scheduled his annual leave from the 4th Hussars (where at the time he held the rank of Lieutenant). Going through all the necessary motions, he obtained permission to go to Cuba to "visit" the little war they had going on over there. He also secured an employment as a special correspondent for the Daily Graphic, a London newspaper, in exchange for some articles from the war zone in Cuba, that in practice resulted in the beginning of his career as a journalist.
And what about the prospect of being shot over there?
WC's answer: that "was only a sporting element in a splendid game". Do not forget this guy was only 21 years of age, at this time.
And there he went, with his friend Reginald Barnes (a Lt also from the 4th Hussars), arriving in Havana, Cuba, on the morning of 20 November 1895, after a brief visit to the good old USA.
There were Cuban rebels fighting for the independence of the island, using typical guerrilla warfare tactics. The rebels controlled the countryside and were largely supported by the peasant population. The Spanish army (Spain controlled Cuba since 1492) and the loyalist Cuban militia controlled the cities and towns.
Bearing the proper credentials, WC presented himself to the Spanish C-in-C (Marshal Martinez de Campos) asking if he would be so kind as to point him to where the fighting was. And he (the Marshal) obliged him.
By the 24 of November WC and his friend were already marching with a column of Spanish regulars, looking for trouble. He found them on the 30 November (strangely, on his birthday...) when he experienced, for the first time, the emotion of being shot at (nobody had the proper respect for a war correspondent at that time). In the following days he got increasing exposure to the fine tune of whistling bullets, and had the good luck of not being hit by one of them. He was not actually fighting, but was always in the presence of the General officer in charge of the military operations, whose staff suffered several casualties.
This exposure to danger was a somewhat sobering experience to WC. He later admited being rash in risking his life merely in search of adventure, but nevertheless proved himself physically courageous and cool under fire (not many aristocrats could, or can, say the same). He also got his first medal: the (in Spanish) Cruz de la Orden del Merito Militar, con distintivo rojo, de Primera Clase (a Spanish decoration given to officers). It would not be his last.
His articles about the Cuban Insurrection and his Spanish decoration were noted and brought him some public attention.
And he liked it...
(The Frontier War)
Shortly after his return to England, WC received the news that the 4th Hussars was to make a tour of duty in India. He tried to use his family connections to avoid going along to that boring place - they did not have a war over there, at the time. Instead, he tried (without sucess) to go along with Sir Horatio Kitchener to the Sudan Campaign, scheduled for that time (1896).
Therefore, WC had not other option but to go to India, where he set his foot on 2 October 1896.
I will let you know about his adventures over there in my next post.
Pop-up windows: as you have surely noticed, we are having a problem with pop-ups over here. We did not ask for them; we do not want them; we complained about them - to no avail, until now. Therefore, we can only arrive at two conclusions: 1) Somebody wants to make a huge profit on advertising, through the thousands of visits we have here everyday; 2) Somebody, besides being a nuisance, in clearly devoid of intelligence...
There is only one this we can ask of all the thousands of daily visitors out there: STOP VISITING THIS WEB SPACE!
This way we'll show'em a thing or two...

quarta-feira, 28 de abril de 2010

Evento de Torres Vedras - Dias 7, 8 e 9 de Maio

Como tenho a certeza que havia muita gente a passar por um tremendo estado de ansiedade, sem saber qual a nova data para o evento previamente anunciado, aqui fica a informação necessária.
O programa do evento pode ser consultado em:
Quem quiser esperar por outra oportunidade para visualizar uma fortificação do tempo das Invasões Francesas/Guerra Peninsular devidamente guarnecida com tropas, só tem de esperar pelo Tricentenário.
Nota: as peças de artilharia que se podem visualizar na foto acima colocada não têm correspondência com peças de artilharia utilizadas no princípio do século XIX.
Esperemos que não chova...

quinta-feira, 22 de abril de 2010

Character Series nº 1 - Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill
(Part I)

I suppose some of you may think that almost everything there is to know about Winston Churchill has already been written.
Well, I have to agree with you.
You will not find in this, otherwise totally innovative, Character Series previously unknown material regarding the personalities subject to appreciation.
My purpose is to make a personal appreciation of the life and actions of the Characters described here, in the perspective of their involvement or participation in one or more military actions, and how or why they influenced or where influenced by them. The opinions you will read here can, no doubt, be subjective or even biased - but if you want a shot at objectivity pure and simple, you should look it up elsewhere, maybe Wikipedia. After all, this is the Brigada Tripeira Blog and everybody knows we are a bunch of bigoted guys from Porto, in Portugal.
Almost anybody with even the slightest interest in History associates WC (as he is affectionately known to us) with World War II. His best known speech in the time of Britain Finest Hour still makes my blood run faster (check it out in: http://http//
But, do you wonder why these words, in particular, sound real and inspirational ?
In my opinion this is because WC was a guy that "talked the talk" but that also "walked the walk" (freely quoted from the Full Metal Jacket film, 1987), and this particular mark of his personality appeared much sooner than the 1940's, as you will notice later on.
Let me try to explain this, using information from the excellent book by Douglas S. Russell, "Winston Churchill Soldier - The Military Life of a Gentleman at War".
WC was born on 30 November 1874 in what we could define as a "golden cradle". One of his ancestors was the famous Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), about whom WC wrote a biography (Marlborough, His Life and Times). On the other hand, his grandfather, John, was the seventh Duke of Marlborough, who by the way was one of only 27 Dukes and as such ranked just below the Royal Family in order of official precedence.
However, an aristocratic birth was not (and still is not...) a confirmed ticket to greatness. We can see that looking at WC's daddy, Lord Randolph Churchill, who apart from politics had no profession (politicians do not need to know how to do anything - they just manage somebody else's money...), lived a high society life and was constantly in debt.
Our Character seemed to want more than that for himself, as his early actions showed.
Nevertheless, this was a guy born within the ruling elite of the greatest Empire the world had, or has, ever seen - a fact that may be difficult to accept to some, but true. At a given point in the 19th century, Britain ruled over one-fifth of the earth's land mass and over one-quarter of its populations - impressive, by any standard.
And the path WC chose to rise above the clouds passed through the military institution and war was the trampoline of his choice, since his academical performance was average, to put it mildly.
In my next post (the posts in this Series will be placed on a weekly basis) I'll show you how tough this guy was.

sexta-feira, 16 de abril de 2010

The Mongols are coming!

As promised, here is my report about my new wargames army: The Mongols (1221 AD). All the figures are based according to the Arcane Warfare Excel rules set, developed by our good friend Jerboa. All the following mentions and figures identification are also according to those rules.
Here we have the comand stands, that are collectively called Co, with one General (Gn) and up to two Field-Comanders (Fo). In these rules, the purpose of the comand bases is to allow the interface between the player and his units, in order to mantain the army coesion and the orders transmission framework. They do not fight, but can lose comand potential under certain circumstances.
The heavies! Here are my heavy horse archers (HaH). This is the only rule set I know where you can use the horse archer according to it's historic role.

The medium cavalry (HaM). These are also horse archers, allowed by the army list, with considerable less armour and less fire power but with more manouvrability. In these rules, troops either medium and heavy are considered close-order troops, and the troops weight is distinguishable by the number of figures is each base: 2 figures: light; 3 figures: medium; 4 figures: heavy.

The backbone of the army: the light horse archers (HaL), of mongol origin. A swarm of horse archers can make any enemy army very nervous...

Ismalic heavy cavalry (CvM), fighting as more or less willing Mongol allies.

More Mongols allies - this time Kwarezmian light horse archers (HaL)

The Mongol camp. I got these from João yesterday. They are scratch built.

Here is the camp I used in my first games and that I made by myself (also scratch built). I suppose you can see some (not many...) differences in terms of art-work with the above. Right until now I'm not sure if they the are supposed to be yurts/gers or upside down yogurts...

More scratch built art-work by João - the artillery (WE).

I could not find figures for this purpose and João had the imagination and the skill to produce these fine pair of trebuchets.

Who painted this army, you rightfully ask? You should ask, since those that know me, know that I could never have done it. The culprit is none other than our good friend João Pedro Peixoto, from Coimbra.
There is a story in this.
I ordered these excellent figures from the Museum Miniatures range and had them delivered directly to João, in Coimbra. I also asked Jerboa to send him the necessary bases for the figures.
Well, João painted this army (with 90 plus horsemen...) in more or less 2 weeks, since I needed it to participate in the first round of the 2010 Arcane League, that took place in Lisbon on March 21st.
But there is more!
I could not manage to go to Coimbra in order to get the army in time and I was going to Lisbon that day by train. Therefore, João offered to meet me in the Coimbra train station (the train makes a stop there for a few minutes) and give me the army - with a safety box included!
By the way, the train arrived in Coimbra at about 7.45 in the morning, on a Sunday...
Without being psychic, I can almost see all of you (all the 3 of you - yes, LPP, I'm including you now...) wondering: that must have been expensive...
It was expensive for João, since he did this for free.
Is this an outstanding guy, or what ? I'm sure that when they made João they surely lost the mould and have been looking for it ever since, since a guy like this just is not real !
There is a drawback to this: when I placed this army in the same place as my other wargames armies, I felt an irresistible urge to throw them all out the window...

João: now the whole world (all the 4 of us...) knows what a great guy you are. I think this worldwide publicity for you is deserving of a new army. I've got my eyes on a few hoplites from Xyston... just kidding...

I'm using this post to make another anouncement to the world: I'm going to start a brand new series of military history posts.
I'm calling them "The Character Series" - not very imaginative, I know, but what could you expect on a friday morning ?
My purpose is to deliver a string of knowledge pearls for your benefit, about the subject that fascinates me: the effects of war on the actions and reactions of men and women that came in contact with it, throughout History.

For instance, I still do not understand what Robert E. Lee meant, when he said "It is well that war is so terrible - lest we should grow too fond of it".

quarta-feira, 14 de abril de 2010

Cancelamento do Evento de Torres Vedras!

Caros leitores (não coloquei "e leitoras" porque duvido que as meninas/senhoras que se interessem por estas coisas...), recebi hoje informação da parte da Câmara Municipal de Torres Vedras no sentido do cancelamento do evento previsto para os próximos dias 17 e 18, conforme aqui previamente anunciado.
A justificação dada foi de que há indicações da Protecção Civil no sentido de que para esses dias está prevista a ocorrência de condições atmosféricas adversas (ventos ciclónicos) à semelhança do que já se verificou recentemente na zona do Oeste.
Ainda bem que há duzentos anos atrás aquela malta não tinha o beneficio de poder aceder a previsões meteorológicas, pois se calhar nem chegavam a contruir as Linhas...
Prevê-se que este evento seja adiado para o mês de Maio. Como tenho a certeza que há dezenas de milhares (ok, vou ser optimista e ficar pelas dezenas...) de interessados, por esse Portugal fora, em participar neste magnífico evento, darei notícias acerca da nova data, quando as tiver.

terça-feira, 6 de abril de 2010

Forte de S. Vicente (Ermida), Torres Vedras

Para os amadores da História de Portugal (e todos sabemos que somos muitos...), fica aqui a notícia de que nos próximos dias 17 e 18 de Abril, elementos da Associação Napoleónica Portuguesa (ANP) e do Grupo de Recriação Histórica do Município de Almeida (GRHMA) irão formar um acampamento histórico-militar no Forte de S. Vicente, em Torres Vedras, com vista a reconstituir a vivência e o dia-a-dia de uma guarnição do século XIX de um dos Fortes daquela que foi porventura a maior obra de engenharia militar jamais feita em Portugal Continental: as chamadas Linhas de Torres.
Peço a vossa licença para não me alongar acerca da justificação, enquadramento histórico e características das Linhas de Torres (aliás, para isso é que existe a Wikipédia, certo?), para centrar a minha atenção no Forte de S. Vicente.
Trata-se de um dos maiores e mais importante redutos daquele complexo defensivo, que na sua dimensão original se estendeu por cerca de 80 Km e protegeu centenas de milhares dos nossos antepassados, que no respectivo interior (do complexo defensivo) procuraram refúgio contra o avanço das tropas francesas, a partir de meados do ano de 1810 e no decurso da 3ª Invasão Francesa, comandada pelo General André Massena, Duque de Rivoli, Príncipe de Essling, Marechal do Império e detentor de outros títulos que atestavam tanto uma elevada competência, a nível militar, como a total falta de escrúpulos do respectivo detentor - que apesar de tudo não o livraram de levar um enxerto de porrada frente ao Wellington...
Este espaço tem vindo a ser objecto de um interessante projecto de recuperação da iniciativa da Câmara Municipal de Torres Vedras, integrado nas comemorações do Bicentenário das Linhas de Torres Vedras. Aliás, a participação da ANP e do GRHMA neste evento faz-se sob a égide precisamente desta Câmara Municipal.
O Forte de S. Vicente é composto por 3 redutos, que originalmente comunicavam entre si por pontes levadiças (por óbvios motivos...) colocadas sobre os fossos que os separavam e deve o seu nome à Ermida erguida a S. Vicente, que se encontra implantada no local. O espaço físico em questão seria supostamente suficiente para albergar uma guarnição de cerca de 4 mil homens - mas como só lá para o ano de 3010 é que vamos ter essa malta toda a participar em recriações históricas em Portugal, uma guarnição de cerca de 30 homens (e mulheres) terá de ser suficiente.
Irão ser montadas tendas militares (de época) e irá recriar-se, na medida do possível, um ambiente de guarnição, com rondas e sentinelas, exercícios de ordem unida e, claro, tiros de mosquete e de canhão q.b.
O espaço em questão estará aberto a visitas por parte do público em geral.
O programa do evento pode ser consultado em: