Friday, September 30, 2011

Strelets French Field Hospital

Strelets French Field Hospital from their now defunct French Army Camp set

I bought these figures ready painted from Mark Bevis of Micromark along with the rest of the set. They are quite crude and not as good as the current run of Strelets work, but they paint up well and Mark has done a good job here. All I did was dolly up the base a bit, though I may trim it later to reduce the footprint.

There are Memoir '44 rules for Field Hospitals, which are as follows.

"Hospital: An ordered infantry unit on a Hospital hex may recover lost figures, as long as no enemy unit is in an
adjacent hex, by applying the exact same procedure as a Medics & Mechanics Command card, but rolling 6 dice
instead. The unit cannot move or battle this turn, even if it is healed."

I think that might be a little generous and I think it reflects Provosts or MPs rousting out men who've carried wounded back to the hospital and sending them back to the line rather than Lazarus like recoveries. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence of straggler clustering around hospitals in the blackpowder period.

On the other hand, being next to an open air operating theatre where men are having their legs hacked off probably isn't too good for your spirits, so there is an argument for making troops more brittle in close proximity to one. How about this for size.

"Hospital: Whenever an infantry unit takes casualties, take one of the removed figures and place them in the hospital hex. These are straggler figures. An ordered infantry unit on a Hospital hex may recover lost figures, as long as no enemy unit is in an vadjacent hex, by applying the exact same procedure as a Rally Command card, but rolling 6 dice. The unit cannot move or battle this turn, even if it is healed. The replacement figures must be taken from the stragglers. Units in a Hospital hex do not count for supports."

Stretcher bearers, a duty traditionally performed by bandsmen

Field Hospitals are rarely feature in wargames. Funny Little Wars is the only set that I can think of where they appear and I suspect that may have had something to do with the author is an Army chaplain. Chaplains, if they are anything like the clergymen of my social circle, spend more time than they would like in hospitals.

Our hospitals and accident and emergency rooms are often bloody, but they certainly cannot compare to the squalidness and the horror of triage on the horse and musket battlefield. We're all familiar with the idea of amputation, but I've never come across a better evocation of the reality then Ed Zwick's Glory. This is clip , though it lacks gore, is not for the faint of heart.

The bloody business, the surgeon calls for his blades

I'm reading War and Peace at the moment and was put in mind of hospitals when Count Nikolai Rostov visits one.

"Close to the corner, on an overcoat, sat an old, unshaven, gray-bearded soldier as thin as a skeleton, with a stern sallow face and eyes intently fixed on Rostov. The man's neighbor on one side whispered something to him, pointing at Rostov, who noticed that the old man wanted to speak to him. He drew nearer and saw that the old man had only one leg bent under him, the other had been amputated above the knee. His neighbor on the other side, who lay motionless some distance from him with his head thrown back, was a young soldier with a snub nose. His pale waxen face was still freckled and his eyes were rolled back. Rostov looked at the young soldier and a cold chill ran down his back.

"Why, this one seems..." he began, turning to the assistant.

"And how we've been begging, your honor," said the old soldier, his jaw quivering. "He's been dead since morning. After all we're men, not dogs."

"I'll send someone at once. He shall be taken away—taken away at once," said the assistant hurriedly. "Let us go, your honor."

"Yes, yes, let us go," said Rostov hastily, and lowering his eyes and shrinking, he tried to pass unnoticed between the rows of reproachful envious eyes that were fixed upon him, and went out of the room."

Tolstoy probably saw his fair share of hospitals during his service in the Crimea and the Caucasus. I don't doubt that then as now, it was better not to be there.


  1. It's something in the nature of A&E rooms old chap.

  2. Nice (sic) little stand. I've played in or read in magazines about skirmish games with doctors/hospitals (ie Rorkes Drift, Peking etc) but don't recall any other published rules that include them.

    I deployed stretcher bearers and a field unit with my 54's at the turn of the century but didn't write a rule for them till about 5 years ago and didn't actually get a hospital base and rules
    in use
    at the same time till last year!.

  3. Ross,

    It's not the getting there, it's the journey that counts.

    I had considered adding a pile of limbs, but thought on balance that might be a bit much.