Sunday, December 15, 2013

Images of Herero Leaders: Assa (Asser) Riarua

Asser Riarua (2nd from left): Photo courtesy Wecke and Voights Collection
Modern histories of the German - Herero conflict in Southwest Africa often confuse Assa (or Asser) Riarua with his father, Riarua, including mislabeling images of the senior with the name of the junior.  The photograph shown at left, from the archives of the Namibian store chain Weche & Voigts, is the only one I have located online that I believe correctly identifies Assa Riarua.  I have also come across a reference to another image in the Namibian Archives (No. 1288) taken in 1901 that aparently shows him wearing a hat with a light colored band alongside Samuel Mahahero and the Nama leader Barnabas, but I have not had the opportunity to view it.

The elder Riarua had been the supreme military commander and adviser to his half brother, the Herero chief Maharero kaTjamuaha (who died in 1890).  After the death of the chief in 1890, Riarua was a rival claimant against Maharero's christian son Samuel Maharero, for the chieftaincy of the Okahandja Herero and other inheritance rights. Traditional leaders backed Riarua, but Samuel Maharero had the backing of the German authorities and the Rhenish missionaries, however, and was ultimately recognized by them as paramount chief of the Herero.

Assa Riarua (b. 1848) was a close friend of Samuel Maharero's who as his veld-cornet or under captain lead his forces against the Nama Kaptein Henrick Witbooi in 1892, and later rallied with him in 1894 when Riarua and his supporters challenged his position as paramount chief.  There is a wonderful description in Jan-Bart Gewald's (1999) Herero Heroes of a reenforcing German column approaching its ally Samuel Maharero's hilltop laager, surrounded by its hedge of thorn and with the Imperial German flag flying above, and being met by "Assa Riarua, who, dressed in the uniform of the German Kaiser's French Guard regiment, told them that Samuel would be joining them as soon as he had finished conducting a field church service." 

Backed by German firepower and with the assistance of Assa Riarua, Samuel was able to compel the elder Riarua to relinquish all his claims to Maharero kaTjiamuaha's inheritance.  Why Assa Riarua chose to support Samuel over his father is a question that deserves further study, though his mission upbringing and the complexities of Herero clan inheritance structures may have been factors.  He might also have seen alliance with Samuel as a path to wealth, and indeed he lead Herero forces along side the Germans in 1895 during the boundary dispute with rival eastern Herero and ovambanderu.

Both Assa Riarua and Samuel were heavily indebted to German traders.  Assa Riarua continued to have difficulties with German merchants, one of whom later forcibly ejected him from a bakery in Windhoek and beat him bloody in the street.  In 1903, Assa Riarua and his followers in Okahandja vocally resisted German encroachment on Herero lands when a proposed native reserve left them with too little territory, unsuitable for grazing, and outside their customary areas of residence.  The reserves were finalized despite these objections and the crisis with the German authorities worsened. Neither Samuel nor Assa Riarua nor Governor Leutwein were available to intervene in Okahandja when misunderstandings and tensions boiled over in January, 1904 and open hostilities began.

Assa Riarua continued as one of Samuel's ablest commanders during the war with the Germans, who for their part suspected him of being the mastermind behind the "revolt".  He commanded the Herero left wing at Ongandjira, and in the early stages of the war was among the Herero leaders who granted safe passage to the German missionary Eich and a small party of German women and children.

After the battles around Waterberg in August 1904, Assa Riarua was among the Herero who fled into the Omaheke.  The captured Herero leader  Zacharius Zeraua later told the Germans that by early September, 1904, Assa Riarua was with Samuel and most of the surviving Herero leadership at a waterhole known as Osombo Onjatu on the dry Eiseb River.  His fate thereafter is unknown, but his daughter Diana Riarua survived in Botswana and reported that after Samuel's death in 1923, his spirit visited her in Christlike fashion with a message that "mine are those who will do my will."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

African Wildlife for a German - Herero War Gaming Table

North Star Africa! Kudu (modified to create cows from bulls)
Having spent several years living in Namibia in the 1990s, and having made a career as a conservation professional, it is not really surprising that my interest in modelling the German - Herero War as authentically as possible on my gaming table extends to getting the scenic and terrain elements right, including wildlife.

It is tempting to sprinkle the board with clusters of the classic African game and predator species on offer from two excellent manufacturers - Foundry and North Star Africa - but even with a personal knowledge of the wildlife that these areas of Namibia support today, it would be a mistake to assume that those animals had the same ranges and populations in 1904.

Two significant factors need to be considered.  The first is the impact of extensive harvesting of wildlife resources that occurred after European traders arrived and firearms were introduced to the regional economy in the mid-19th century.  In Land Filled with Flies: A Political Economy of the Kalahari (1989); Edwin M. Wilmsen makes a compelling case that even the most remote areas of the Omaheke sandfeld were well integrated into regional trade networks that produced hides, ivory and ostrich feathers for both African and European markets. 

Ostriches in particular were valued by the Herero and Matabele for their white feathers and the beads made from egg shells, and  in Europe for their black feathers until that fashion faded in the 1880s and ostrich farming started in South Africa.  More than 300 elephants a year are thought to have been hunted in the 1870s and 1880s in the western Kalahari alone.  These two species would have been rare to nonexistent in the ephemeral Swakop River catchment where most of the engagements in the German-Herero war took place.  The range of Namibia's healthy elephant population today only extends to one battle site: Fort Namutoni in Ethosa National Park.  Rhino would also have been under extreme hunting pressure at this time and were not found on the Waterburg Plateau where southern white rhino have been established today.

The other major factor was the regional Rinderpest pandemic that decimated both cattle herds and even-toed ungulate wildlife species in the region between 1896 and 1897.  The Herero lost up to 90% of their vast herds, along with what one study calls "unquantifiable destruction in the vast, free-ranging populations of fully susceptible wildlife."  These included some species such as cape buffalo and hippopotamus that require perennial water-bodies and regions with more rainfall than these parts of southwest Africa provide, but also giraffe and many antelope species such as kudu that thrive in central Namibia today.  It is estimated that most of these populations crashed to levels that were too small to sustain the virous and may have taken many decades to recover.  The worldiwde eradication of Rinderpest was declared just two years ago.

Wargames Foundry Vultures
So what would have been left?  Certainly there were predators, though these would have been subject to hunting for reasons of stock theft as well as for hides.  The region has cheetah, leopard and spotted hyena today, and all of these are available from either Foundry or North Star.   Lions would have been rare indeed.  It would have been a good time to be a vulture, though, and Foundry has an excellent set with two of these birds that I recently acquired.

I have also purchased the baboons and intend to get the warthog sets made by NorthStar (from a great series of African animals formerly produced by the Honourable Lead Boilersuit Company), as both of these species would have been present in 1904 across this region.  There might still have been a few oryx (gemsbok) in the lower Swakop or Omaruru drainages around Klein Barmen or Liewenberg, and North Star makes these, along with kudu, wildebeest and giraffes though they would be very scarce.  There might have been Hartmann's Mountain Zebra in the lower Swakop as well, though today the range of this endangered species along Namibia's escarpment has been augmented by artificial water points.

North Star Africa! Warthog AA08
I have not found much from  manufacturers in 25mm or 28mm scale to represent some of the smaller ungulate wildlife such as steenbok, diuker, impala or springbok that would have been supported by this landscape before the Rinderpest outbreak and do well here today.  Irregular Miniatures does make a gazelle that could be painted as a Springbok, but that's about it.  Nor have I found any good storks or hornbills. 

Venturing out of this period into the realm of Fantasy offers other unusual options in 28mm, some of which will work for this period.  You can get a falcon, raven, vulture and hedgehog (along with a cat and a baby dragon ) in Reaper Miniatures "Familiar Pack VIII.

I can imagine  fashioning the nests of social weavers in my acacia trees, and constructing termite hills the color of clay.  That project, though will have to wait for another time.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Schutztruppe Barracks at Omaruru

This postcard shows the Schutztruppe barracks at Omaruru in German Southwest Africa.  The architecture is distinctive, and helps to identify the setting for the Shutztruppe mounted infantry and artillery pulled by mule teams in the photograph, below.

I am not sure about the provenance of this picture.  I have seen it misidentified as part of the Marine Expeditionary Force, but it clearly shows Schutztruppen.  In the foreground is a small mountain gun pulled by a six mule team and attached to a tiny limber with four ammunition boxes.  The supply cart alongside has eight mules.  There is a covered wagon in front of the veranda of the barracks at right, and the troops are in the process of forming up.  Whether they are from Franke's 2nd field company (which would be appropriate for early 1904), or another unit from the Schutztruppe, or even an image from 1915 as the Germans prepared to retreat before the Union of South Africa invasion forces of General Louis Botha, will have to await further research to determine.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The German - Herero War in 15mm (1/72 scale)

While they are a smaller scale than the 25mm / 28mm figures I am using for this project, I am really impressed by another new option for wargaming the German Herero War in 15mm metal figures.  Hagen Miniatures in Germany is a company established to partner sculptors with collectors and develop and market lines of figures to satisfy their figure "wish lists".  One of the first projects is a line of Germans and Hereros for Southwest Africa, and the results are some very dynamic and detailed sculpts. I wish these were available in 25mm scale, but for now will have to be satisfied to admire them from afar.

Farbfotografie from Deutsch-Südwestafrika

Hereros from Farbenphotographien aus den Deutschen Kolonien
Color photography was in its infancy at the turn of the 20th century, yet it did exist and there were enthusiastic amateur photographers using this medium in the years leading up to World War I.  The Autochrome process developed by the Lumière brothers and brought to market in 1907 required a tripod and a longer exposure time, lending itself more readily to portraiture and landscape photography.  Although not in use during the German Herero War, there were color photographs taken in German Southwest Africa  as early as 1910. 
Many of these were published in 1913 in Farbenphotographien aus den Deutschen Kolonien by Dr. Willy Scheel, and some of these later appeared among the 126 color photographs included in the 2 volume Die Deutschen Kolonien written by former Schutztruppe Officer Kurd Schwabe.  Schwabe's books credit three photographers:  Dr. Robert Lohmeyer, Bruno Marquardt and Eduard Kiewning.  I am not certain whether any of these were responsible for taking the images in 1910 published in Scheel's book of Southwest Africa. 

These color photographs are an astonishing visual record of the land and some of its people in the years immediately following the Herero and Nama uprisings.  They are of particular interest to me both because of what they reveal (and perhaps betray) about the "colonizing lens" of the photographers, and also the material culture of the indigenous people they have captured in color.
Christian Herero Woman from Farbenphotographien aus den Deutschen Kolonien

These two color images of Herero people  were published by Scheel.  Given the overcast sky, the group image above was taken during the rainy season.  You can just make out two tin roofed, white walled houses beyond the trees.  The crease of the hat worn by the man at the front of the cart is worn and discolored from frequent removal and his coat may be corduroy.  The tall man's blue and white striped shirt is too small for his long arms.  The women in the cart wear orange and red print dresses.  None of them looks at the photographer, except, perhaps, for the man whose face is entirely in shadow.. 

In contrast,  the portrait of the Herero woman in white, above is hauntingly direct.  Identified by Scheel as a Christian Herero woman, her dress has what look like bone buttons.  She wears multiple strands of beads that are predominantly a reddish brown color but also include yellow, white, blue and black segments.  Her eyes, though, are unflinching, fathomless, and for the European viewer in the early 20th century, ultimately unknowable. 

In a time when few people smiled for the camera, viewers projected their own interpretations on the subjects of these portraits.  Did  German readers of Scheel or Schwabe see a "civilized" Africans,  defeated subjects brought back to their allegiance, evidence that the extermination of the Herero had been greatly exaggerated?  Do viewers today see the defiance of a survivor, or a thousand yard stare?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Images of Herero Leaders: Kajata

This image comes from Elf Jahre Gouverneur in Deutsch-Südwestafrika, the memoirs of Theodor Gotthielf v. Leutwein, published in 1908. Although it is not possible to discern the faces of the riders, this is the only photograph I have been able to locate that includes Kajata, one of the principle leaders of the Herero people during the 1904 war with Germany. 

The photograph was taken in 1896 when Samuel Maharero (also identified in the image) and some of his followers allied with the Germans and rode against rival eastern Herero leader Nikodemus Kavikunua and his Ovambanderu allies under Kahimemua Nguvauva and the Khauas-Nama.  Hendrik Witbooi also lead a section that fought alongside the Germans in this campaign.

Kajata was a close ally of Samuel Maharero who gained power and chieftainship outside traditional inheritance structures.  Following the 1896 Mbanderu campaign, he gained lands at Otjihaenena along the ephemeral White Nossob river at the expense of the defeated eastern Herero leader Tjetjo Kandji.  He was even awarded a sword by the Germans in recognition of his bravery. 

Kajata was viewed as a favorite both of Samuel Maharero and of Governor Leutwein, who supported him when he brought charges in court against a notorious settler and debt collector Falkenhausen who had beaten up some of his people.  Some settlers complained that Leutwein was treating his native auxiliaries far better than they deserved, stating in one letter written during the Bondalswart campaign in November, 1903;

"The natives are valued above all else by the Governeur and the Berirkshauptmann.  These cannot do enough in keeping distinctions by the native riffraff.  Hendrick Witboy (sic) and his staff, Samuel Maharero, Kajata (a special favourite) are invited and showered with lavish gifts..."   [Quoted in Ritter-Peterson, H.G. I(1991) The Herrenvolk Mentality in German South West Africa 1884-1914. LDitt (History). Pretoria, University of South Africa: pg. 154]

During the German Herero war of 1904, Kajata was one of Samuel Maharero's most aggressive field commanders.  He survived the fighting at Waterberg, though I have not been able to determine his fate following the desperate flight through the Omaheke.  One of his daughters, Mukaahasera Kajata, for many years lead the women's section of the Otjiserandu or "Red Band", a paramilitary organization which parades every year at Okahanjda on Herero Day to commemorate the 1923 funeral of Samuel Maharero, honor the graves of their ancestors, and celebrate their resistance to colonialism and ultimate survival as a people.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Filling out the Orbat for Jones/Alvaredo Herero War Scenarios

Since Dr. Roy Jones posted the Order of Battle for the upcoming Herero War scenario and rulebook, I've been sizing up my lead pile and examining were I am in good shape, and where I lack enough figures, or even suitable options to represent them, to complete the German and Herero forces.  Since posting what I had gathered so far for German Troops and their Allies and their Herero adversaries, I've added some additional figures and equipment, including some from new sources.  Nevertheless, the fact remains that I have serious gaps to fill in a number of areas if I want to do every scenario in the book with 25mm / 28mm figures that can represent this period authentically and do it with a minimum of duplication.

Mounted Officers:  Jones and Alvaredo call for mounted figures to represent three senior German commanders and two senior Herero commanders.  There is very little in the currently available lines of known manufacturers to meet these specifications. The Honourable Lead Boilersuit Company once produced mounted officers for this period but this line has been discontinued. Matchlock Miniatures, which seems to include some of the Falcon Line, makes a mounted officer and it arrived today but regrettably wearing a helmet so perhaps I will need to find him a different head.  As for Falcon, I fear that this company may no longer be active, as its website is static and unresponsive and its email is out of service.  Perhaps someone who knows the owner can shed further light on the matter.  That would be a shame, because it seems that Falcon had German Mounted Command figures in its 25mm German Southwest Africa line that would do nicely. 

Quite frankly, I would be willing to settle for mounted officers in slouch hats cocked on the right, or even WWI German officers on horseback wearing field caps.  I bit the bullet and spent $25 on the Great Powers High Command set in 25mm from Old Glory's Colonial Boxer Rebellion  range.  It features six officer figures on horseback, the last of which wears a German Southwester hat.  I may be able to paint or convert one or two of the others, but for now can only count on this one, leaving me one more to locate to complete my needs.

Redoubt Enterprises BWBC01
As for the Herero leader a beardless Boer may be the answer (and with all due respect to my progressive minded Afrikaner friends, I appreciate the irony of making an indigenous African out of a Boer).   For this figure I could use any from the three figure mounted boer set from Black Tree Design's Boer War range, but I really like the mounted boer officer waving forward from Redoubt, who is painted in such a way on the website that he even looks African.  I will probably get several mounted boer figures without beards from both of these companies, and will use the rest as Herero cavalry: (see below).  Another option would be to convert the wonderful mounted figure of King Lubengula offered by North Star Africa and adding a wide brimmed hat with epoxy.

Empress Miniatures ZWB43
Herero Cavalry:  I need three full sections (24 figures) of Herero horsemen. Unlike some of the figures on foot who can be wearing loincloths or partial European clothing, mounted African figures for this period should not be wearing traditional regalia.  This rules out mounted Zulu or Matabele figures from other ranges.  I have one mounted Edendale Native horseman from Redoubt's Zulu range, three Native Horse from Foundry's Zulu range and four Native Horse from Empress' Miniatures Anglo Zulu War figures.  These last required removal of the spears in their shoulder quivers but are otherwise excellent and I plan to add another 4 from this range.  Still, that would only give me half the horsemen I require, so the rest are likely to be beardless Boers as mentioned above.

Seebataillon gunners: 
I believe that the Maschinenkanone called for in the Scenario book was served by German marines.  There were also marine machine gunners during the war, but I am told they are not included in the Scenario book for playability reasons.  The latter can be purchased from Pulp Miniatures, but while there are a number of great options for the Krupp "Pom-Pom gun (37mm Maschinenkanone M97) in this scale, there are no German marines scultpted specifically to serve it.  Possibly one or two of the Pulp Figures from the Maxim gun set could do so, but this will require further investigation.

Landungskorps Revolverkanone gunners:  I have the cone mounted Hotchkiss gun from HLBS now to represent the ones removed from the SMS "Habitcht" for service with the naval landing party.  As I have purchased more Naval machine gun sets than I require from Brigade Games (German) and Redoubt (Austrian), I should be able to borrow from these to serve the revolverkanone.

More Schutztruppe in slouch hats:  With Askari, Pulp and Tiger the main options for Schutztruppe that are suitable for this period, and a sprinkling of Brigade Games figures wearing puttees that are not issued in SWA, I am still in need of more Schutztruppe officers and men to complete the foot commanders and eight infantry sections I require.  I will certainly need to duplicate sets, and these are likely to be Askaris or Pulp, but whenever I find another option I jump on it. 

One such surprising find is from Old Glory in its 25mm Spanish American War range.  Here you can get the Spanish "Fantasy" Pack, featuring a German Maxim machine gun crew and adviser.  Not only is the two man gun crew a decent alternative to the 2 figure machine gun sections offered by Pulp, but the remaining two figures are officer types and can be used at need to command Schutztruppe infantry.

Herero Shock Troops:  Thirty-two are needed.  Falcon once made these, I believe wearing captured Seebataillon and/or Schutztruppe uniforms.  Alternatives include Brigade Games Schutztruppe in Slouch Hats and Askari's current Herero offering.

Native Auxiliaries:  The same figures identified for Herero Shock Troops could be used for these,
Courtesy of German Colonial Uniforms website
Courtesy of German Colonial Uniforms Website
but would need to be painted so as to avoid confusion with Herero fighters in German uniforms and I'm not sure an imperial armband or hatband would do that clearly at this scale.  I need 24 Witboois and 16 Rehoboth Bastards in sections with one officer and seven men on foot.  

My solution for the Bastards is to convert Copplestone's Zanzibar Askaris from its Darkest Africa range by turning their fez headgear into feld hats and giving them shoes fashioned with epoxy putty.  This should make them appear very much like the 1905 historic image at right. 

As for the Witbooi contingent, I will keep them in civilian clothes with white hats and imperial armbands as well as some braided hat cords, and may well chose to use beardless civilians or Boers for this purpose. 

I could use white officers with these native troops, though they had their own Kapteins and Veldkornets as well.  Leutnant Müller von Berneck commanded the Witboois in Abteilung Müller during the Hamakari campaign, while Oberleutnant Böttlinhad the Bastards in Major von Estorff's section.  While there is no scenario that currently calls for the other group of Native troops that served with the Germans at this time - the Bethany (!Aman) contingent - these were under Lt. Thilo von Trotha at Waterberg and this officer and close relative of the commanding General was later killed during failed negotiations with his former soldiers and allies in 1905 during the Nama war.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Alte Afrikaners"

Here are three "old Africans" in a German photograph dated 1895 and published in 1914 in Aus der Geschichte der Schutztruppe für Südwestafrika by Alexander Cormans.  Two of them are officers in the Southwest Africa Schutztruppe, and one a civil servant and the first civilian to hold the post of Governor in this German colony.

The officer at left in the 1894 issue field cap is Oberleutnant Otto Eggers, though probably just a lieutenant when this picture was taken.  He was very young when he came to Southwest Africa in 1894, though it is hard to credit that he was as young as sixteen, if we go by the vital statistics presented for him by Klaus Dierks. He was formerly in the Lower Saxony Field Artillery Regiment No. 46, and served as Besirkschef at Okahandja.  Eggers wrote a journal that was posthumously published, for he was among the officers and men of Maj. von Glasenapp's East Section killed at Owikokorero on March 13th, 1904.

The man at the center is Dr. Friedrich von Lindquist, who arrived in the colony at the end of 1893.  As one of Governor Leutwein's deputies he was responsible for administering the central Windhoek district and was also a judge.  Lindquist was appointed a German consular officer at Cape Town during the Boer War in 1900 and promoted to consular General  in 1902.  He succeeded Lt. Gen. Lothar von Trotha as Governor of Southwest Africa in 1905 during the Nama uprising and remained in the colony until 1908.  He actively promoted the introduction of karakul sheep farming and established a vast wildlife reserve in Northwestern Namibia in 1907 that included what is now Etosha National Park.

The officer at right in the 1891 issue kepi is identified as Major Schwabe.  Kurd Schwabe arrived in the colony as a Leutenant in 1893, and held Haupmann's rank as late as 1903.  He participated in military operations against the Witbooi Nama and the ovambanderu and served as Besirkschef in Okahandja and Otjimbingue before leaving Southwest Africa in 1897.  He subsequently served in the Seebataillon during the Boxer Rebellion and returned to Africa during the Herero War (I believe as an adjutant and staff officer).  Schwabe wrote extensively on colonial warfare and his various campaigns and taking a large number of photographs during his travels.  Oberstleutnant Schwabe died in 1920 of hepatitis contracted during WWI in Palestine.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Three HLBS Company Germans in a Batch I Won on eBay

I feel rather pleased about these figures, which I picked up on Ebay this afternoon.  I will repaint them when they arrive (from Thailand, so I hope they make it).  The three figures in Südwester hats and riding boots are from the discontinued Honourable Lead Boilersuit Company's 28mm German Colonial line and I was specifically after these when I bid on this mixed assortment.  The others include three of the four poses offered by Brigade Games Great War in Africa series for Schutztruppe in slouch hats, two of the German marines produced by Copplestone Castings, and two Copplestone Zanzibari regulars that I will convert (by giving them shoes and feld caps) to Native auxiliaries from the Rehoboth Bastard contingent. All in all, I am very happy to have them on the way.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Another Good Option for 25mm Seebataillon and Landungskorps in SWA

The Order of Battle for the war games in the upcoming Herero War scenario and reference book by Jones and Alvarado calls for a fair number of German marines and an even larger number of sailors for the Landungskorps.  I have the fine sets of the former from Copplestone and plan to add more from Pulp, but using these I will be stretched to provide the 36 figures needed to fill out 4 Marine sections (1 officer plus 7 marines in each), a senior commander, plus a 3 figure machine gun section.  It can be done in 28mm without repeat purchases, but barely.

 It is even more challenging filling out the sailors in the Landungskorps, for that will require 2 senior officers and a senior NCO (all on foot), six artillery figures with a machine gun and a revolver cannon, and 8 Landungskorps Units   (1 Officer, 7 Sailors in each).  This comes to 73 sailors and a large number of officers/NCOs, and while Brigade Games Great War in Africa series sets the standard and offers many of the figures this will require, it means purchasing multiple sets and a lot of duplication in the officer figures.  Short of some careful surgery to swap heads and arms, this does not allow for much variation in sailor sculpts.

Luckily, there is another excellent option that will add 8-10 German marine figures, two 3 figure sailor gun crews with at least one usable machine gun, and a handful of sailors for the Landungskorps.  All are in suitable uniforms, and all come in 25mm from Redoubt's Boxer Rebellion range.  They are offered as single figures or gun crew sets.  The German marines are from Seebataillon III and are fully compatible with their sister bataillons that were dispatched to Southwest Africa.  The sailors are from Germany's strong ally Austria Hungary, and work well with those from Brigade Games.  I plan to use some of them to crew my revolver cannon, probably the crew shown above with a Skoda machine gun.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hererowars Scenarios Figure Requirements

Dr. Roy Jones has posted some excellent new material on the Hererowars website, including the order of battle for the figures needed to run all 13 scenarios in the upcoming book that he and coauthor Eric Alvarado hope to have to the printers before the end of the year.  I am pleased that my lead pile has gone a long way toward addressing many of the unit requirements, but with an acknowledged weakness in mounted troops and native auxiliaries.  

While the Schutztruppe were mounted infantry, they generally fought on foot, so the requirements call for a single mounted unit of 8 Schutztruppe (1officer, 1 NC, six troopers).  The Herero, who also fought largely on foot, did have cavalry engaged in at least one scenario and 24 mounted figures are needed.  I have 8 (plus a horseholder with four more fighting dismounted), so this will take a while.

As for the Witbooi and Rehoboth Bastard units, these appear to be dismounted troops, and the challenge is to distinguish them from their Herero adversaries when the same (uniformed) figures are likely to be used on both sides.  The Bastards are perhaps the hardest to represent appropriately, as period images provided by the indispensable German Colonial Uniforms website show them in feld caps and modified 1896 Kord Waffenrock uniforms that are very pale colored, and suitable figures are not produced by any of the readily available manufacturers.  As my aim to take every step possible to make faithful representations of the uniforms and units involved in this period, I may need to wait on the Bastard unit until there are better figure options.
Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv
I am considering getting some epoxy putty to make minor adjustments to figures, either to have trousers cover puttees on some of the Brigade Games Great War in Africa figures or to make wide brimmed hats for figures wearing fez.  This would open up a large assortment of African figures for use as Herero troops as well as more figures in German uniforms for both sides.  I may try this experiment with an NCO unit of Schutztruppe askaris and see how it works, though the neckshade on the Askari tarbush fez thast three of these figures wear presents modelling problems.  We shall see.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ludwig von Estorff: "Crushing the People like this was in Equal Measure Cruel and Insane" (Part II)

Major Ludwig von Estorff's Westabteilung fought an engagement against the Herero on March 16th, 1904 at  Omusema, and later coordinated with the Main section under Governor Leutwein in a brief and unsuccessful campaign that included engagements at Onganjira on April 9th and Owiumbo.  In the first of these engagements, a young staff officer Oberleutnant Otto von Estorff of II Seebataillon  was killed.  Born in 1872, was the youngest brother of Major von Estorff. 

After the June troop build up and reorganization of the Schutztruppe into two regiments, Estorff was given command of a battalion of three companies in Lieutenant Colonel Mueller's 1st Field Regiment. 

During the Waterberg campaign, Estorff's command consisted of 26 officers, 247 enlisted men, four artillery pieces and four machine guns.  According to German sources*, Section von Estorff contained 3 Schutztruppe companies from the 1st Field Regiment.  These were the 1st Field Company under Hauptmann Graf zu Solms-Wildenfels, the 2nd field company under Oberleutnant Franz Hermann Ritter, and the veteran 4th Field Company under Hauptmann Franz Ritter von Epp. He had native auxiliaries as well, from the Rehoboth "Bastards", under Oberleutnant Böttlin.

For artillery Estorff had the 3rd Field Battery with its C73 field guns under Oberleutnant Bauszus, and a machine gun section of 4 machine guns under Leutnant Graf von Saurma-Jeltf.  The records indicate a radio section as well, although the main means of communication at in this campaign was via heliograph so perhaps that is what was indicated.

Estorff's section was detailed to advance of the Herero below the Waterberg from the East, and fought an action at Otjosongombe where his artillery was used to good effect.  After the fighting at the Waterberg, Estorff's Section was tasked with pursuing the Herero through the Omaheke Sandveld, and it was this experience and the extermination order given by Lieutenant General von Trotha that Estorff felt seemed both extreme and unwise:

"crushing the people like this was in equal measure cruel and insane.  One could have saved many of them and their herds, if one had spared them and given them refuge; they had been punished enough.  I suggested this to General von Trotha, but he wanted their complete destruction."

Estorff's vision of a pacified and subjugated people integrated into the colonial system as a source of labor and livestock was harsh and destructive, but it was less extreme than the genocidal policy aggressively pursued by von Trotha with both the Herero and later the Nama.  Estorff also felt his personal honor was at stake when he promised starving bands of Herero that they would not be harmed only to see them charged with murder and executed.  During the war with the Nama,  Estorff was so appalled by conditions in the Shark Island prison camp with its 90% death rate that he closed it down and moved the survivors inland.

Promoted to Oberstleutnant in 1906 and commandant of a 4,000 strong Schutztruppe in 1907, Estorff served in Southwest Africa until 1910 when he was succeeded as Schutztruppe commander by Joachim von Heydenbreck.  

At the outset of World War I,  now Major General Ludwig von Estorff  lead an infantry Brigade with the 5th Army (Crown Prince) on the Western Front and was severely wounded at Dannevoux.  The next year he commanded the new 103rd Infantry Division on the Eastern Front (his brother Maj. General Eggert von Estorff was killed in Russian that March).  He was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1916 and later assumed command of the 42nd Infantry Division.  He received his highest military decoration, the Pour le Mérite, in September, 1917.
After the war, Ludwig von Estorff was involved in the unsuccessful Kapp Putsch, and when this failed he was relieved of his command and placed on inactive status.  A deeply religious man, late in life he was associated with German theologian and public health advocate Friedrich von Bodelschwingh, who opposed some of the more extreme policies of the Nazis. 

Estorff was a Prussian aristocrat and a conservative military man, and it would be a mistake to make him out to have been either a defender of human rights or an ardent opponent of Hitler.  In August, 1939 on Tannenburg Remembrance Day, he and many other veteran officers were given the brevet rank of General der Infanterie, which would not have been the case had he been out of favor with the Nazis at this time.    It is not clear to what degree he actively worked against the Nazis in his last years of life.

*Die Kämpfe der deutschen Truppen in Südwestafrika bearbeitet von der kriegsgeschichtlichen Abteilung 1 des Großen Generalstabs Band 1: Die Kämpfe gegen die Hereros Berlin 1906)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Major Ludwig von Estorff: "Der Letzte Römer" (Part I)

When I lived in northwest Namibia, in the shadow of the Grootberg, there was an adjacent farm

called Estorff.  A few miles up the dry Kakatswa River was a stone kraal and the remnants of a mud walled fort once occupied by Captain Estorff of the Schutztruppe during operations against the Topnaar Nama in the 1890s.  Ludwig von Estorff was one of the most prominent - and intriguing - Colonial German officers in Southwest Africa.  He was highly decorated (one of the very few recipients of the "Prussian Quartet" of decorations that include the Order "Pour le Mérite" (PlM), the Order of the Red Eagle (RAO), Order of the Crown (KO) and the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern (HHO).  He took an active part in many of the battles in the Herero and Nama wars, but he also spoke out against the excessive campaign of extermination pursued in Southwest Africa,  and near the end of his long life was an opponent of the Nazis.
He came from an ancient Lower Saxon noble family, the son of a Major General, and in the course of his long military career he rose from Sekonte-Lieutenant to Brevet General der Infanterie.  Estorff joined the Schutztruppe in Southwest Africa in 1894, serving as Captain of a company based at Outjo.  He left to join the Great General Staff in 1899, but was soon serving as Major in the East Afrika Schutztruppe, then as a military observer in South Africa in 1901 during the Boer War and as Deputy Commander of the Schutztruppe in Southwest Africa.  He left Africa later in 1903 when he was appointed Battalion Commander in the Füsilier Regiment Prinz Heinrich von Preußen, but returned to Southwest Africa at the outbreak of the war and was in the field by mid February, 1904.

He arrived to learn that his former batman or bambuse, a Herero man named Sepp, had been killed while fighting alongside Captain Franke's 2nd field company.  Estorff erected a headstone over the grave of his old servant with a verse from Revelations and an inscription in German which may be translated:

"My dear faithful unto death servant, the Herero Sepp, fell on 4 February 1904 in the battle for Omaruru.  Von Estorff, Major."

Estorff initially commanded the Westabteilung, a detachment that included two veteran Schutztruppe companies (the 2nd under Franke and the 4th under von Schönau), a newly arrived seebataillon company (Haering), four field pieces, a mountain gun, and two machine guns. With this force he marched toward Omaruru and Outjo, and on February 25th part of this force fought a ten hour engagement with the Omaruru Herero at Otjihinamaparero. This action produced few casualties and only served to further concentrate Herero forces eastward, but was lauded as a great victory when so much of the war news was verging on disaster. 

His men called him "Der letzte Römer", the Last or Old Roman, and this did not mean they saw him as a martinet but rather one of the old warriors reminiscent of an earlier age. We will continue with the second part of this brief biography of Maj. von Estorff in a subsequent post.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Rules for Wargaming the German Herero War of 1904

Once I get my colonial German and Herero figures painted up, I will need a good set of war gaming rules.  I am thrilled that there is already an option, based on close examination of German source material and game tested over a number of years, that is about to be published.

The team of Roy S. Jones, Jr. and Eric Alvarado have been working on a Herero War scenario and rules book for a number of years and plan to have a draft to the printers by the end of this year.  I've had the pleasure of corresponding with Dr. Jones and am deeply impressed by his dedication to this project and the extensive research that he and his co-author Mr. Alvarado have undertaken.

The rules and scenario book is based on The Sword and the Flame system (TSATF), originally drafted by Larry V. Brom  in the late 1970s for British colonial tabletop war games.    These rules have been modified  by Jones and Alvaredo to address the unique conditions that apply to the German Herero War of 1904.  The book is planned to include 13 scenarios, each representing an actual skirmish or battle from this conflict, many of which have been featured in war games run by Dr. Jones at various conventions such as FALL-IN!™ in Lancaster, PA, and in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area.  Dr. Jones maintain a Hererowars  blog that has descriptions of many of these scenarios and other information about the project and the period.

TSATF has a 1:1 ratio with each figure representing a single soldier, so even though my lead pile feels very large it may require me to order some duplicate figures once I know what is required for the various scenarios covered in the Herero Wars rules.  The size of the base is unimportant in TSARF as long as facing direction and field of fire are clear.  This is different from another rules set often used for colonial war gaming in Africa - Death in the Dark Continent - which requires 3 figures  / base.  There are other rules systems out there as well, such as In the Heart of Africa, but I have not played them and am unable to offer further comment.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Simon Kooper (ǃGomxab), The Captain in the Striped Coat

Leuntant Weiss, flanked by Simon Kooper and Henrick Witbooi
 There are several images taken together of German and Nama leaders when they were still allies that include a man with a white mustache and a vertically striped coat.  He appears at left with a Leutnant Weiss and below with Karl Henning Conrad von. Burgsdorff, as well as in a third image previously posted here.  His name was Simon Kooper, and he was one of the greatest of the Nama leaders during their 1904-1908 war with the Germans in Southwest Africa.

Bezirksamtmann v. Burgsdorff with Hendrick Witbooi and Simon Kooper
Simon Koper or Kooper, whose Nama name is !Gomxab, was part of the Fransman or ǃKharakhoen Nama who emigrated to Southwest Africa in the mid-19th century from the Northern Cape region of South Africa.  Kooper assumed the leadership of this group in 1863.  The clan was closely allied at this time to the Oorlam at Windhoek under Jonker Afrikaner.  In 1889 Kooper's people formed their main settlement at Gochas t east of Mariental.

Longtime allies of Hendrick Witbooi, Simon Kooper's Nama fought against the Germans with the Witbooi in the 1890s, and joined with the Witboois once again in the war against the Germans in 1904-1908.  In the photographs,  Kooper wears the imperial armband of Germany's native auxiliaries, but was quick to side with the Witboois when they rose up in October, 1904.

Despite his advanced age, Simon Kooper proved a tenacious are resilient guerrilla leader.  Among his reported extraordinary accomplishments, he is said not only to have survived imprisonment on the notorious Shark Island, where there was a 90% death rate, but to have actually escaped from it and returned to the field.  Although this claim requires further substantiation, there is no doubt that he fought the Germans in numerous battles alongside both the Witboois and the forces of Jakob Morenga, and that he lead the very last Nama resistance group in the field well into 1908.  The Germans actually attached him in the Bechuanaland Protectorate where he had taken refuge, and he was ultimately given a pension by the British in 1909.  He died in 1913 and is buried near Kaartle pan in Botswana.  His grave is inscribed both in German and in Damara/Nama.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cone Mounted Naval 37mm Hotchkiss Revolver Cannon from HLBSC

The Landsungkorps from S.M.S HABICHT had three artillery pieces with them when they fought at Lieuwenberg and Gross-Barmen in February, 1904.  One was a C73 Krupps field gun from the Kamerun-Schutztruppe.  One was a machine gun (and this was not the most effective as it was difficult to elevate sufficiently to attack Hereros on the heights above Groß-Barmen). The last was a revolverkanone, a 37mm Hotchkiss gun likely very much like the one shown manned by the sailor in an archival photograph below.

Tabletop wargamers in 25mm / 28mm scale are in luck if they are looking for a revolver cannon for the German Herero War of 1904, perhaps to play S-233 Assault at Liewenberg: The Main Line from the upcoming Sword and Flame based rules and scenario book by Roy Jones and Eric Alvarado.
Here it is in 28mm scale in all its cone-mounted glory from the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company.   All it needs is a Brigade Games, Great War in Africa German sailor or two to man it, for unfortunately the HLBSC German SW Africa Colonial Line is no longer produced (and I'm not certain that it ever had German sailors even when it was).  I have ordered this revolver cannon [as well as a smaller caliber variety], and look forward to its eventual addition to the lead pile arsenal.

Update (Nov 4th, 2013):  Here is another option for a 3lb 37mm  Hotchkiss gun, revolving cannon, but  in resin, from Grandmanner.

Archival Images

In researching the German = Herero War of 1904, I sometime come across period images of those involved in this conflict that are not commonly found elsewhere on the web.  I do not have the provenance for the image of the horseman, at right.  This rider of the Schutztruppe is an outstanding portrait, clearly showing his Schutztruppe saddlebag and the carbine housed in its leather pouch in front of the right leg.  He wears the standard harness with its ammunition pouches, and what looks like the 1896 khaki tropical uniform.  I dearly wish a manufacturer in 25 mm / 28mm would produce properly accoutered mounted Shutztruppen, in kord uniforms as well as khaki.

The image at left comes from Aus der Geschichte der Schutztruppe für Südwestafrika, a German account by Alexander Cormans published in 1914.  It shows the German District Officer for Gibeon, Karl Henning Conrad von. Burgsdorff, who was killed in October, 1904 at the outbreak of hostilities with the Nama.  He is accompanied by several native auxiliaries, almost certainly from the Nama, as the individual in the striped coat also appears in another image with von Burgsdorff and is identified as the Fransman Nama Kaptein Simon Kooper.  The other man seated to the left of him is wearing the imperial colored armband signifying his allied status. This image illustrates the range of fabrics and shades of color that can be used for European civilian clothing worn by the Nama during this period.

Another image from Cormans' book depicts the Seebataillon at Omaruru, presumably the 3rd Marine Infantry Company that was part of Major Estorff's West Section that operated in this sector during the latter part of February, 1904.  Estorff's men fought a 10-hour engagement at Otjihihamaparerero before rejoining the Main Section under Governor Leutwein and participating in the aborted campaign that included fighting at Ongandjira and Owiumbo.  The marine at right wears an NCO's braid on his uniform collar, and his boots are a decidedly lighter color than his black marine ammunition harness. 

It is hard to tell whether the marine emblems have been removed from their cork sun helmets, but the cloth covering appears to be a light khaki, or perhaps it was stained a darker color.  There is documentation in an account by Obermatrosen G. Auer that he and his fellow sailors in the landungskorps from the S.M.S. "Habicht" dyed their tropical white uniforms with coffee and tobacco.

The traditional Herero village homestead or "werft" included domed, round houses with low entries, walls that had been daubed with mud and cow manure, and a thatched roof covering.  The image at left shows one such "pontok" below the Waterberg.  I am looking forward to modelling scenic elements for my German = Herero War gaming table, and huts like these will certainly be among them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mustering the Troops: Germans and Allies

The lead pile at my house representing the German colonial forces in the Herero War of 1904 is even larger than the one discussed in a prior post for their Herero adversaries.  This is due, in part, to a greater variety of troops in the field, as well as more options for depicting them than are available representing armed Africans in European clothing and appropriate uniforms for this period.  The Order of Battle for the Germans, as of now, includes the following figures and sets:


Askari Miniatures –   4 German Shutztruppe command
                                -    10 German Shutztruppe infantry
                               -     4  German Shutztruppe field artillery crew
                                -    Krupp 77mm field gun
                                -    4 German shutztruppe mountain artillery crew
                                     Krupp 75 mm mountain gun
                                -    4 mules
                                -    limber

Tiger Miniatures – 5 German Shutztruppen advancing at trail
                              -   5 German Shutztruppen advancing at high port
                               -  5 German Gun Crew in Slouch Hats
                              -   75mm Krupp Mountain Gun (EX-13)
                              -   75mm Krupp Field Gun (EX-010)
                              -  2 German Camel riders in Slouch Hats (sans camels)
                                  on horses from a set with riders in pith helmets

Pulp Miniatures    - 5 German Colonial officers and NCOs
                                - 5  German Colonial Rifles
                                 - 4 German Hvy and Lht. Maxim Gun teams
                                -  5  German Seebattalion troops in field caps (to be painted as Schutztruppen)

Matchlock            - 1  German S.W. Africa Field Force Wounded
  (in transit)          -1 German S.W. Africa Field Force Mounted Officer
                               - 2 German S.W. Africa Field Force Mounted Rifleman
                               -2 GERMAN S.W. AFRICA FIELD FORCE   TWO WALKING WOUNDED
                               -1 GERMAN S.W. AFRICA FIELD FORCE   SITTING WOUNDED)

Brigade Games       - 4 (2) German Shutztruppe Command
                                 - (4 German sailor command
                                - 8 German sailors I
                               -8 German sailors II
                              - 3 Hvy Maxim gun sailor crew

Northstar Miniatures – 2 Boer wagon driver and voorloper
                                        - 4oxen

4Ground                      - Boer Jawbone wagon

Copplestone Castings:- 2(5) German officers
                                        -10 German marines

Foundry                    - 3 Native Horse (DA 15/6)
Total: 46 infantry, 5 mounted cavalry, 3 native horse, 7  machine gunners (3 of them sailors), 13 artillery, 2 noncombatants, 11 marines, 20 sailors = 107

Comments:  Some of these sets came with figures in sun helmets or fez that are not appropriate for Southwest Africa.  I have not yet seen the Matchlock figures, which I believe are the same as Falcon miniatures in the US but seem to have a different selection that does not completely overlap.  I understand from a personal communication with Roy Jones, a longtime champion of tabletop wargaming in this period and the author of the excellent Herero Wars blog, that a number of the Falcon miniatures offerings were designed to fill needed gaps and he recommends them highly.

I continue to hope that German figures will be produced in kord waffenrock or kord litewka uniforms, some of them in field caps.  I also would like to see a heliograph unit, and if one does not appear soon, I may be compelled to decapitate the excellent set from Perry's Sudan range and replace the heads with Germans in slouch hats.  More mounted troops, and better choices for native auxiliaries, are also needed.  If a German personality set is contemplated by any manufacturer for this period, my votes would go for Maj Estorff in his short beard and long mustaches, Governor Leutwein in his gray home uniform and field cap, Maj. von Glasenapp of the Seebataillon in a field cap, and Lt. General Lothar von Trotha as he appears in an historic photograph taken in Windhoek with Leutwein in 1904.  Herero and Nama command figures are also needed (Samuel Maharero, Hendrick Witbooi, Assa Riarua and Jakob Morenga would be my choices).