Thursday, April 5, 2012

Of Vostroyans and Bulgarians, Part II

Continued from Of Vostroyans and Bulgarians, Part I in which I will be talking about my idea for a foot-slogging Vostroyan army with as many Special Characters from Codex: Imperial Guard, in order to represent the Bulgarian Resistance volunteer combatants (Opalchentsi) and army from the end of the 19th century - 1870-1880 with special attention to the April Uprising of 1876 and the key battles of Shipka Pass, Sheynovo and battles of Pleven under the command of Russian General Mikhail Dmitrievich Skobelev and during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. It was a war meant to liberate the Bulgarian state from the Ottoman Empire after almost 500 years spent under Turkish yoke.

Last time I mentioned some of the Special Characters that I will be using, including some of the models that will be representing them. As before, every Special Character is going to be based on a famous Bulgarian soldier, general or revolutionary from the aforementioned time period.

So far we have:
Lord Castellan Creed as.... Mikhail "White General" Skobelev
Colour Sargent Kell as... Nikola Korchev, Standard Bearer of the 3rd Opalchentsi Batallion's Samara Flag.
Captain Al'Rahem as...Vasil Levski, the Deacon Ignatius, the Lion, the Apostle of Freedom!

Today I'm going to cover yet another trio of Bulgarian Heroes for my Bulgarian Vostroyan army! So sit back, relax - it's time for some Southeastern European History...

Sergeant Lukas Bastonne as...
He's alive, he's alive! There on the Balkan Mountain
Drowning in his blood, groaning
A hero lies with a deep wound in his chest
A hero in his youth, in his prime.

His rifle's cast to one side
His broken sword the other;
His eyes dim - his head reels
As his mouth curses the universe! 
He who falls in freedom's fight
Dies not - he's mourned
By earth and sky, Nature and beast,
And singers remember him in song...
- translated from Hristo Botev's Hadzhi Dimitar 
Hristo Botev (born Hristo Botyov), the revolutionary poet. Poetry played a very important role during Bulgaria's time spent under Ottoman rule. It inspired the people and gave them hope. Even today literally dozens of revolutionary poems and stories are taught in Bulgarian schools. They are full of passion and angst, hatred and love and describe brutal battles and skirmishes or praise those who chose to die in the name of freedom. 
Hristo Botev was one such revolutionary. He lived in exile, writing with zeal and determination about the difficult times in Bulgaria and the terrible injustice that was taking place in his motherland while waiting for the revolution.

Botev is famous for organizing a company of ~200 members in Romania, crossing the Danube river with a hijacked steamship only to find out that where he had landed the uprising had not started and that alarmed Ottoman forces were everywhere. With almost no military training, Botev led the volunteers and fought against the Ottoman troops for many days until he was shot in the chest by a sharpshooter. Personally I think that he captures the personality of Sergeant Bastonne.

Read the poem above. Kind of prophetic, isn't? As if Botev wrote about his own, imminent death.

For Botev's model I obviously need a head with an epic, bushy beard. So far I have decided on one of the models from the Imperial Guard Gaunt's Ghosts. Not sure what his name is.. If you are aware of something with even more resemblance, go ahead. I'm all beard ears.

Mogul Kamir as...
Georgi Benkovski
Georgi Benkovski (born Gavril Gruev Hratev) of "The Flying Band" (bg. Хвърковатата Чета/Hvarkovatata Cheta) cavalry detachment during the April Uprising of 1876 and the apostle (leader) of the 4th Revolutionary District. A polyglot of seven languages, a man of many professions, Benkovski was a natural-born leader. When the Uprising started he quickly formed the so-called Hvarkovata Cheta or simply The Flying Band - a very fast detachment of men (and a woman!) on horses, which moved as one from town to town in order to announce that the Uprising was happening and to liberate as many Bulgarians as possible. Unfortunately the April Uprising was a failure and Georgi Benkovski was eventually captured, hung and then his decapitated head was put on display at the capital by the Ottomans. Despite his death, Benkovski proved that he was a capable fighter indeed. His journey and the trials and tribulations during the April uprising were written down by the famous Bulgarian memoar-writer and biographer Zahari Stoyanov who was the sole survivor of The Flying Band.

Officers of the 4th Cavalry Regiment maneuvers before Samokov, Dolna Banya. Chalets (Borovetz), 1906
Source: Lost Bulgaria
Cavalry regiments have always been the bread and butter of the Bulgarian army - from before its founding in 681 and up until the Second World War, Bulgaria's cavalry, seconded by its famous bayonet charges, has been a force to reckoned with. I have to figure out a way to make Vostroyan-looking Rough Riders - a unit of 9 Rough Riders with Georgi Benkovski, possibly with 2 melta guns (although that pretty much doubles the points of a Rough Rider and gets rid of the hunting lance). 14 (if we have 7 riders with lances) S6, I6 power weapon attacks just from the Rough Riders, 4 S3, I3 attacks from the melta gunners, and then 3 + D3 S6, I6 attacks from Benkovski on the first turn they charge should be able to get rid of most 10-man units without great invulnerable saves before they even get to strike. Frag and Krak grenades are also included, so yeah.. Scout/Outflank with the unit, hope to pop a vehicle or assault a disembarked unit. If you can manage to give the Rough Riders the Move! Move! Move! order with some luck you will be able to move 6, run 6 and then charge 12'' across open ground. Even Thunderwolf Cavalry is in trouble then..

Gunnery Sergeant 'Stonetooth' Harker as...
Hadzhi Dimitar
Hadzhi Dimitar (born Dimitar Nikolov Asenov) - perhaps the most famous Bulgarian voivode (or a хайдутин/hajdutin - an outlaw, highwayman and freedom fighter) and revolutionary for the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule.
It was actually hard to choose which Bulgarian voivode was going to represent Harker's hit and run/skirmish style because they all worked in a similar fashion and the list of hajdutins is long and filled with great names. The honorific title Hadzhi was given to him when he was two years old - his family went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, from which point onward, Dimitar was considered to be a hajji.

He who falls in freedom's fight
Dies not - he's mourned
By earth and sky, Nature and beast...

Hadzhi Dimitar's story is similar to that of Hristo Botev (aka Bastonne), except his military expertise and deeds were more numerous and glorious. Always outnumbered and outgunned, he had tons of standoffs with the Ottoman army and till his very end in 1868 (10 before Bulgaria's Liberation) he kept on causing heavy casualties to his enemies.
Inscription in Bulgarian:
На оружя мили братя
(In English: Take up arms, dear brothers)

Now, you have probably noticed that pretty much all of the heroes in this post have died in battle, years before the Liberation. They didn't get to win any huge, major battles, they never got medals and their deaths were always gruesome and painful. They weren't tactical geniuses or military masterminds, yet they are considered to be among the greatest Bulgarians ever born and their names are in hundreds of songs, poems, movies, schools and street names. It took insane courage and a sense of nationalism to face the Ottoman army, which at the time was one of the most resourceful, well-equipped and numerous military powers in the entire world.
Often the Bulgarian resistance was outnumbered 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or even 10 to 1 and I am sure that they knew that their death was imminent. The odds of survival were just cosmically small.
It's not the direct outcome of their deeds it is the very nature of their deeds that which led to the Liberation of Bulgaria. Their heroism put the name of their country on the map and the world learned about the atrocities in Ottoman-ruled Bulgaria.

This is the concept that I want to capture with my hypothetical Imperial Guard army.
Not just a bunch of metal boxes hiding behind terrain and winning with blast templates and sheer amount of firepower. I want to have a horde of brave men, who have always lived in fear, depravity and poverty, humans tired of being weak, tired of being told what to do, who to worship, what to eat, how to dress, tired of seeing their women taken advantage of or their parents worked to death like cattle. An army of angry men for whom every blood-soaked bayonet is a person avenged and every fallen enemy - a liberated place from their childhood memories. I want to have hundreds of Stubborn, high Leadership models who charge into battle with Furious Charge and re-rolls to hit, I want to see the faces of my opponents as their precious Space Marines are beaten to a pulp, as daemons are purged in the name of freedom from oppression...

It is the Bulgarian way.
Humanity. Fuck yeah!


  1. Glad to see part 2!

    I think that IG figure may be Colonel Corbec.

    The various Space Wolf sprues have lots of beards, or you could sculpt one on another head. Various historical figures doubtless have beards, as do many Empire, Chaos Marauder, and of course Dwarf heads.

  2. Thanks for the tips, Sons of Taurus!
    And I'm glad you're glad to see part 2. Part 3 will be up in a week or so, bringing even more Heroes and then some ideas for Ministorum Priests, Penal Legions.

    Some character I have yet to figure out are Chenkov and Marbo. Marbo I get, but Chenkov. Bah, I'll figure it out!


You think you have something to say? You Shall Show no Fear of expressing your thoughts. The Inquisition can't.. =][= PURGED =][=