Saturday, June 1, 2013

Stuart Phillip Frederick McDonald Part 2 of 2

Continued from Part 1 here:

So we started ACW with the new Essex 15's. I believe I painted a couple Reb units first then Stu jumped in with a couple Union units and the race was on. Originally there were other players with us but as time went on they dropped out.

Ultimately we played with whatever we had painted up, so if it was painted and based, it got added to a brigade or helped form a new one for the next game. This was a strong incentive and we both worked feverishly to get more units than the other. Somewhere in this time period, the Old Glory ACW range hit and we both bought a mess of those too. Battle Honours, Stone Mountain, Minifigs and some Freikorps filled out some brigades and whatever else we could find.

Each unit got better and better and we'd steal each others techniques to the point where we both had gotten pretty good by the end. As I looked at these figures today I thought he was just one more layer of highlight away from perfection by my current standard on many of these.

I didn't paint any Union at all until long after Stuart died so ALL the figures you see below were done by him sometime in the early to mid 90's. There's a fair amount of gaps in the collection too for one reason or another.

Here's a shot of early and late war together. The riflemen are Freikorps but I'm not certain what the back row guys are. It was a State troop of some kind in a unique early war uniform.
If you recognize them, let me know in the comments.

Per JR2, there are to be 5 bases per regiment. I inherited many units that are missing a base here and there. Stuart elected to give this 100 man unit of Berdan's repeaters and they more then held there own while only taking up a fraction of the real estate a more typical 500 man unit would occupy.
These are actually Battle Honours that Stuart painstakingly added havelocks to with a putty of some kind. Only a limited number of sculpts in the BH range at the time.
Single pose Freikorps? Charging with havelocks - more early war. Mercifully there's only one broken and now missing bayonet. Oh, I should point out,in the early to mid 90's there weren't a lot of options in modeling flags so apart from the Essex ones, ALL of these were hand made and hand painted. It was too much for him to do the Federal flags too so just the National flag sufficed.
Essex - Zoaves in Kepi Firing. The single figure at left is Old Glory that Stuart used as a Brigadier. He's painted identically to the Zoaves so I included him here.
Pre-Internet I'm sure we made a lot of errors on this or that.
Battle Hounors - Zoaves
Battle Honours -  Zoaves Advancing - same unit as above.
Battle Honours - Zoaves - Rear
Stone Mountain - Loading.  Weird choice on this officer who's looking through his binoculars.
Stone Mountain - Marching
Same Stone Mountain unit in line.
Essex - Advancing   Today I wouldn't mix up the kit so much as we did then.
Essex - Advancing - Rear  I messed this one up. In my units I tried to set them up to avoid having duplicate sculpts next to each other or close to each other. I didn't build these so I I'm not exactly sure which stand goes where but I just noticed this one isn't right.
Essex - Firing. Stuart told a fair amount of stories with these. Easy to do with the large variety of Essex figs, even easier with Old Glory ones. Here the standard bearer died and another has picked up the colors. This theme repeats below in other units.
Essex - Firing - Rear -- Stuart painted a battle honor on this one that I can't make out.
Same unit but better view of the dead bearer. There are a fair number of figures in these units with the badge for the 2nd corps, Army of the Potomac. I don't recall exactly modeling a specific formation but maybe he had enough info to do it - I didn't for the Rebs.
Another unit  missing a stand - the command stand in this case. Bummer.
Old Glory - March Attack - Missing another command stand here. Today, I wouldn't do that particular shade of blue for the pants though I mistakenly did it on at least a few of my Confederates.
Old Glory - March Attack - Rear  - Same leaderless unit as above.
Old Glory - Firing - this one is missing a stand too. Note again the colors being picked up. And that is a spare Battle Honours figure kneeling in the front rank.
Old Glory - Firing - Rear.  Same unit as above.
Old Glory - Charging - this is my favorite of the lot - great animation and composition.
Old Glory - Charging - Rear - Same unit as above ...
Essex in Overcoats - Front
Same Essex unit as above.
By the end there was a few Divisions worth for both sides. Both of us were relatively light on cav and artillery was somewhere in the middle - basically right. We never used real orbats and all our games were fictitious but plausible, as were our forces. As you saw above, Stu liked modeling a lot of the early war stuff and we mixed early and late, Eastern and Western, all up regardless.

Essex - Cavalry - this is all that exists of Stuart's cavalry: One mounted command stand and an entire dismounted unit. I don't recall more than 3 or 4 cavalry units but one of them was Rush's Lancers.
Artillery - All that's left are the two Napoleons and the two Withworths and the crew pictured here. He had at least three full batteries of Napoleon's, there were Parrotts too - all lost.
Better shot of the crew - even a conversion stretcher bearer made into a rammer near top center.
Crazy - he insisted on 6 horse limbers for each gun but only did enough for a battery. There's a couple missing pairs of horses at least and much more.

I remember, I had a handful of 600 man units that were pretty tough and Stu used to propose making improbable paper strength 1000 man units which for JR2 would be 50 figures large - Five 10 figure bases. They could easily hold any position they wanted to and I don't doubt they would look cool but luckily he never did. I had plenty of 400, 300 and even 200 man units too. To take down three 1000 man units would have been a nightmare. We rolled troop quality randomly so if one of those would have been Elite then forget it.

By and by, I finished up at the community college when I went off to Michigan to finish my schooling. A couple years later I came back to Sacramento and Stu had moved on to WW2 and other things - I got busy in my career, we played a handful of games, Command Decision, a JR2 game or two and I moved again. All this while he has been having difficulties in various things in his life, add alcohol to that, girl troubles and it was combustible. In early May I got a phone call from a mutual friend of ours who informed me that Stuart had taken his own life. His friends had divided up all those soldiers, books, models, and sold some to cover the funeral expenses.They had pulled aside the ACW stuff for me knowing it was what we shared most fondly.

Stuart was an awesome friend, a great painter, and tremendously influential to me in a lot of ways. These figures are a dear reminder of a great, great guy who just couldn't get enough light in his world. I, his family, and countless others miss him terribly.

Thanks for looking - questions and comments are welcome.


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  2. Peter,
    Thank you very much for putting this post up. I am thrilled to see those ACW figs again. Brought a tear to my eye and smile to my lips. We had plenty of great games with those figs and those were the gold standard to which I attempted to paint. I Would have loved to see the unit of Wheat's Tigers up there, I think those might be with Stu though. I think you might like to know those missing command stands went to some of his family as keep sakes.

  3. Thanks Chris! Aye I remember Wheat's! Ya, great guy, Stu - I miss him a lot.