I've always loved the Plains War and Custer's last stand, right from when I was very small and had a huge collection of Timpo cowboys and Indians.
In 1992 I discovered the Little Big Horn range from Britannia Miniatures and, armed with my video of Son of the Morning Star, set about painting forces for this epic confrontation. I painted a cavalry column and 108 mounted Indians which took me the best part of a year and later, when I had my games shop, we had a single game with them.
Shortly after this financial difficulties meant I lost the miniatures but, undeterred, I started to assemble the forces again in 1997. This time organised for the Principles of War rules. I painted all 12 companies of the 7th Cavalry mounted and on foot along with their scouts, baggage and artillery train.
Then I calculated how many Indians I'd need to fight them at this scale of engagement and the project promptly stalled. Eventually I sold the cavalry to my friend Mark who's had them ever since, also without any native opposition (he doesn't game 28mm).
A week ago I bought them back from Mark because I'd decided the time was right to revisit this early wargaming passion and I thought there was no point in painting a third lot of 7th Cavalry when the second set was still around.
I'm going to take a few of the existing miniatures to form a much smaller cavalry column and then buy and paint the Indians I'll need to fight them. later I hope to expand into more of a general wild west feel with Apaches, Mexicans and a wagon train. What I don't want at this stage is a wild west town and gunfighters however and I plan to steer clear of this.
I decided to base the miniatures in threes to mirror the dismounted bases. US cavalry fought in threes with the fourth man holding the horses. I decided against mounting the riders as fours because I didn't want too big a base for them, I wanted the cavalry player to feel outnumbered and undermanned if possible.
The Indians will be mounted in threes for various reasons and it was important to me that they always represented a real threat. Three Indians against four cavalry wouldn't have seemed so threatening.
The column can be split into two troops to give the cavalry player more tactical options. Each troop will comprise three trooper stands, one command stand and a base of scouts plus the commanding personality, in this case Major Reno.
When dismounted each mounted stand becomes a dismounted stand and a horse holder marker is added. Personalities and scouts remain as mounted miniatures because they keep their mounted movement rates.
Everyone dismounted. Not the world's biggest army when on foot which was the idea.
I have shaken markers in the form of dead and wounded cavalry men and dead horse markers, one for each stand, so the cavalry can make barricades of their horses if they feel the need.
The fighting and scalping miniatures are also shaken markers.
Oops, looks like it's all over.
I decided to add in Custer's personal guidon as another personality stand. It'll make a good rallying point for any last stands.
Teepees by Acheson Creations.
I wasn't going to rebase my artillery but they're such great models I couldn't resist.
Gatling gun limbered and deployed.
Field gun limbered and deployed.
Here are my re based cavalry along with all the personalities, scouts, baggage and status markers.
First up, the personalities. From left to right: A civilian scout, Tom Custer, George Armstrong Custer, Major Reno, Captain Benteen.
Bloody Knife and the Crow scouts.
The supply wagon.
The mule train.
The mounted column. Six bases of troops and two command stands plus whichever personalities are needed for a particular scenario.
The column with scouts.
The first troop.
The second troop.
In homage to my earliest Timpo toys I also painted a small contingent of Confederates in authentic Timpo colours (so, not historical at all).
I hope to use these in a Major Dundee game once my Apaches and Mexicans are added to the mix.
I re-based some of my original Cavalry with re-painted faces to be a column of either 9th or 10th Cavalry; the renowned Buffalo soldiers. I also re-based a couple of scouts including my Apache scouts so this column can operate further south than the 7th cavalry.
This let me use some of the later charging cavalry poses that Britannia produced. Cacti are from Woodland Scenics.
Plains Indians women. These will represent all the civilians from the Native American village under attack which the Indian player will need to safely get off the table in order to win the encounter. Like all the miniatures for this project they are from Britannia miniatures.
Britannia Miniatures included an Indian burial scaffold in my order as a freebie. I built a base out of a rock, a twig and some scatter stones and painted it up.
It will serve as a blocking piece during play, No Indian unit will be allowed to enter the terrain area the burial scaffold is adjacent to. I'll probably let the Cavalry player decide where the scaffold is placed.
Here are the plains Indians warriors. The mounted warriors are a mixture of warrior societies and generic braves. The Indians on foot are all generic. I have two mounted chiefs.
I've arranged with members of each warrior society together on a base so I have the option of having these as elite stands and grouped the generic Indians together separately. There are three crow warriors who are also based together.
All f these were painted by Andy Mac.
Confederates mounted and dismounted.
Mexicans on foot from Britannia Miniatures. The sleeping Mexicans are shaken markers.
The church behind them is based on the church from the Magnificent Seven and is made by Sarissa Precision.
After waiting for over four years the last of my mounted Mexicans finally got painted.
June 2022 Update
As part of my great clearout I have streamlined this project. I have sold all the unused Cavalry, all the unpainted settlers, civilians, Apaches and extras I'd bought and all the painted mexican, Apaches and Buffalo Soldiers. This leaves me with just US Cavalry and Plains Indians (and the Confederates, couldn't get rid of them).
Having re-focused on the part that interests me, I have high hopes that a set of rules will follow soon. Here's hoping.
I found some lovely 3D printed cacti on eBay.