Sunday, February 19, 2017

'West' from ChristopherS: Abraham Lincoln Brigade




Many Americans living in the west were not content to sit idle and watch events unfold in Spain and so elected to join in the fighting with most ending up in what's now called the Abraham Lincoln brigade which supported the Republicans although some Americans also joined the Nationalists they were fewer in number.The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was composed of battalions from the 17th and later the 58th Lincoln battalions which were largely made up of American volunteers who were part of the International brigades( Foreign fighters in Spain) fighting on behalf of the Spanish Republican Government vs the Rebel Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.






The battalion while commonly called the Lincoln Brigade was actually made up of  the Lincoln battalion initially, and later was joined by the George Washington Battalion, Canadian MacKenzie-Papineau Battalions, some Irish, Latins and eventually a small amount of Spanish. The Lincoln battalion was formed in January 1937 of highly motivated recruits and after less then two months training were thrown into action with a rifle and some bullets and used primarily as assault troops. Obviously this lead to the battalion having very high casualty rates indeed losing some 22.5% of it's strength by the end of the war.






In 1937 the Lincoln Brigade participated in the battle of Jarama losing 2/3 of it's number including it's commander in fruitless assaults. After a short reconstitution the battalion then moved on to the offensive at Brunete where it was joined by the Washington battalion and secured the town of Villanueva de la Cañada after a hard fight before attacking "Mosquito Ridge," in series of grinding assaults that failed to remove the Nationalists. The casualties were very high including the loss of another commander resulting in the two battalions being joined together. The brigade then saw action again in the Aragon offensive fighting well and were later joined by Macenzie-Papineau Battalions for the fighting at Fuentes de Ebro again receiving high casualties in leading the action at the front. After Fuentes de Ebro the exhausted brigade was given a rest. In December the brigade fought in the battles around Teruel both fighting defensive and offensive engagements to dislodge the Nationalists before ending in a stalemate.






1938 could best be described as a disaster as the brigade was caught up in what became known as "The retreats" which was basically a series of delaying and holding actions as Nationalists forces cut the Republic in two. The brigade was dispersed and reformed repeatedly during the retreats losing it's two highest ranking officers before finally consolidating at the Ebro river. The brigade then participated in the Ebro offensive which eventually stalled out after the Nationalists regrouped halting the offensive in it's tracks. At this point the International brigades were withdrawn from the conflict by prime minister Negrin in the vain hope that Franco's Nationalists would do the same with his German and Italian troops which they of course did not as they had the advantage at this point.



The brigade included 3,015 volunteers over the course of the war made up mostly of Americans and included some Canadians and small amount of Latins and Irish. Because the Americans were an independent bunch that preferred to vote on things rather then dogmatically follow orders so they eventually included Spanish troops and commissars both for communications and to insure loyalty to the government on their terms. The brigade was mostly white, but did include some African Americans making them the first American integrated combat unit. They were also mostly communists/socialists and ardent anti-fascists, but did include some who joined just for adventure or to escape a bad life back home.





The figures are of course from the excellent Empress miniatures SCW line and are 28mm. The very nice flag is from Flags of War. I painted the figures using mostly Vallejo paints, but did include some Foundry paints. They are organized for Bolt Action with a Captain/Lt. and two guards and Standard bearer and his two guards, but they can also be used with Chain of Command as well.







I still have more SCW on my near to do list to try and keep competitive in the SCW side challenge with Curt, Nick and Phil plus I'm starting to get close to a battle worthy force which is always nice!:-) I have a some more Republicans in the pipeline, but will be tackling some Nationalists pretty soon as well.




Thanks for viewing!
Miniature Company- Empress

22 comments:

  1. Very good painting and I learned something I didnt know yet as well!

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  2. Excellent painting Christopher :)

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  3. Impressive painting and very educational!

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  4. Wonderful painting and great post. You fellows doing SCW seem as taken with the history as with the figures and it has been a treat to enjoy both.

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    1. Thank you kindly Greg and it does seem so with the SCW players although I'm not as good a writer as Curt for example I do try and give some background even if I hash it up.

      Christopher

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  5. Lovely looking group of figures, isn't this the unit the Catholic Irish fought with after refusing to fight with the British Battalion

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    1. Thank you Ken and off the top of my head I have no idea, but since both like a good scrap I wouldn't doubt it!

      Christopher

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    2. I read a fascinating book last year on the Irish volunteers (for both sides) very informative, mixing ex IRA with in one case a black and tan in the same unit was always going to cause tension !

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    3. Yes indeed and I'm sure things were handled carefully.

      Christopher

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  6. Cool history. Thank you. But amazing painting! Really nice. cheers

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  7. Very nicely done - had never heard of these chaps before, thanks for the education!

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  8. Very nice painting, and an education!

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  9. Ahhh a wonderful entry! Gorgeous painting on these classic Internacionales

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    1. Thank you kindly Phil and I hope to see more of your SCW in challenge!

      Christopher

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  10. Thank you very much everyone for your kind words!

    Christopher

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  11. These figures are just tremendous Christopher! I think you've done a fabulous job in capturing the '30s feel with the natural tone of these models. I'm particularly impressed with your blending. Beautiful work.

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    1. Thank you Curt and think the period lends itself to experiments in blending.

      Christopher

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  12. Tom Lehrer's 'The Folk Song Army' springs to mind whenever I think of the Spanish Civil War;

    "Remember the war against Franco,
    that's the kind where each of us belongs;
    He may have won all the battles,
    But we had all the good songs!"

    Terrific work on this unit, Christopher!

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    1. Thank you Evan and that's a funny limerick!

      Christopher

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  13. Wonderful painting, and a fascinating account of a little piece of history I knew nothing about.

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