Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reason & Explanation finally for my fascination with Windmills!

For some reason I've had a fascination since I started this blog with Windmills.

Windmills in my mind certainly remind me that a Napoleonic Army is definitely fighting for territory within Europe. Otherwise when one see's troops on the wargaming field of battle they could be assumed to be anywhere. So after posting the last couple of weeks on the Vendeen Wars and my excitement with finding some figures to depict that era with on the wargaming table I came across a possible explanation finally for this somewhat curious fascination? Call it a sixth sense (I used to be a Police Officer), or just an intuition, but I somehow knew that these structures played a more meaningful role during the Napoleonic Era. Be it it a hasty observation post, "FLEURUS" for instance almost always has a windmill in the painting, or a temporary makeshift HQ's "VALMY", or something else?

Famous battle painting of Kellerman (One of my favorite generals, as well as the younger)
Valmy windmill rebuilt

So one can imagine my surprise that whilst reading about the Vendeen wars I came across the following interesting information;

"During the Wars of the Vendee windmills were used to relay the position of the Republican troops by changing the angle the sails,

1. in an X position meant "All was quiet"

"All is Quiet"

2. anti-clockwise (dog leg left) position "Danger over" 

"Danger is over with"

3. Clockwise (dog leg right) position, "Danger troops arriving"

"DANGER Enemy is advancing"

4. In a + shape as photo opposite, "Gathering Troops.

"Gather or Assemble the troops"
  By these means they gained a real advantage in real time, it is thought that later the semaphore telegraph was based on this simple but clever communication system."
"The sails of the mills at rest - especially those grouped on the MONT DES ALOUETTES (Larks' Hill), near Les Herbiers - would be set by sympathisers in positions that indicated to the rebels the degree of revolutionary activity.

For example an X showed the "all clear"
+ was a "call to muster stations"
the dog-leg position slightly clockwise meant "danger at hand"
and anticlockwise conveyed "danger is past"

This use as a semaphore brought down the anger of the Republicans, and by the time the Vendée Wars finished in 1796 many of the mills had been destroyed in retribution."