Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dublin Horse Police

Thanks to the wonders of this fascinating modern age in which we live, I'm writing this on my shiny new laptop on the train back to college. The first week went well and if I had any doubts about this being the profession for me, they've been dispelled. The academic course is rigorous and the physical jerks are a bit daunting, particularly is you're as sedentary a chap as I, but I'm looking forward to the challenges.

The college was originally a barracks built in the early 19th century to quell domestic unrest and resist the French in case of another invasion attempt. A great deal of work has been done since then of course, but you can still see the basic structure of the barracks concealed under modern glass and paint. There's a reassuring quality to that, at least for me, a sense of a continuity. I think I've managed to work out, while strolling between the canteen and gym, where the old cavalry lines were. There are phantoms of Kipling's army here, the long past scent of blackball and wet serge and the acrid tang of horse piss.

I was also surprised to learn during a lecture on policing in Ireland that the first uniformed police force in these islands* was the Dublin Horse Police, who were founded in 1786 in order to quell riotous behaviour and general mayhem. I had alway assumed that the Met was the eldest police force, but it seems I was wrong.

There's been precious little wargaming activity these last few days. To be honest our feet didn't hit the ground during the first week, but I did bring down a small selection of figures and a travelling paint set.

Thus far I've painted three horses, which will eventually mount French Dragoons.

One idea I did have was for our upcoming large scale Little Wars game at Leprecon on the 28th of February. We bought approximately 640 Accurate British Infantry of the America War of Independancw, in amongst these were a great number of Sergeants carrying spontoons, rather more than really seemed necessary.

So to do something unusual with these figures, to celebrate my new profesion and to draw attention to Little Wars prisoner rules. I have come up with the following Little Wars house rule. It is totally unplaytested and will be of use only in the largest of games.

New Troop Type: Military Police

The Military Police come in two varieties, Horse Police and Foot Police.

The number of Military Police is determined by the scenario, but a player may not field more than one for every eighty men. If you are using the points system laid out in Little Wars, a Horse Police costs twice as much as a regular cavalryman, while a Foot Police costs twice as much as a regular foot soldier.

Horse Police are mounted and count as cavalry in every way. Foot Police count as foot soldiers.

The following exceptions apply:

A single Horse Police figure may take control of any prisoners within 12 inches, relieving his comrades of the burden of escorting them to the rear. A single Horse Police figure may excort up to twenty prisoners without assistance.

A Foot Police may similarly take control of any group of prisoners within six inches, relieving his comrades of the burden of escorting them to the rear. He may control up to twenty prisoners without assistance and may also declare one building per game to be a POW cage.

Once a building is declared a POW cage, the Foot Police figure must be placed outside it and may not abandon his post until the game is over. A POW cage may hold as many prisoners as the building itself may physically fit, so long as the men are standing with the entirity of their bases flat on the ground or thirty, which ever is the larger number.

Men that end the game in a POW cage are counted as having been escorted from the field.

*Trying to find a politically neutral term for "The British Isles" is something of a chore, "These islands" is the best I've managed so far. "Britain, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall" is clunky and "The North Atlantic Archipeligo" doesn't exactly trip off the tongue.