Friday, 9 October 2015

Mameluke Band

Napoleon's Mamelukes need little introduction.  Upon his escape from Elba, Napoleon ordered the reformation of the Mamelukes, to consist of one squadron to be attached to the Chasseurs of the Guard.  Sources appear to disagree on whether this squadron fully materialised and, if it did, whether it was actually present on the Waterloo battlefield and, if so, in what capacity.  120-odd Mamelukes may have charged with the Guard Chasseurs...we can't say for sure.  If they did, it's highly likely that the men were French rather than Turks or other men of Asian origin.   

These rather lovely figures are from Gringo40s, who have a small range of off-beat Imperial Guard types (I recently painted some of their engineer figures).  The also do Mamelukes and I believe Lithuanian Tartars are forthcoming.  The Mameluke figures are on a mix of walking and charging horses.  The walking figures include various musicians and I thought it would be fun to put together a small band.  The figures aren't cheap - the kettle drummer costs £5.95 and the other ones are £4.50 each, but I think they are beautiful sculpts and make a nice little vignette.  The other figures in the range include a "normal" drummer, an eagle-bearer, a standard bearer and a charging trumpeter.  I wanted the kettle-drummer to be centre stage, and thought another drummer figure would look a bit odd so I bought the cymbalist and the chap with the "jingling johnny".  This Asian instrument was used by Ottoman armies from the 17th century and made its way into European bands in the mid-1800s.  Apparently it is still carried by bands in the German Army and the French Foreign Legion.

For uniform reference I used the Osprey MAA on the Mamelukes and the relevant volume of the Histoire et Collections series on the Imperial Guard.   I didn't want the figures to be identically uniformed, but I used the same general scheme of red trousers and light blue to tie them together.  I decided to paint each of the horses as slightly different greys, given that the riders are all musicians.  The horses are all in the same pose, although the kettle-drummer's horse has more furniture and ornamentation.  By 1815 it seems that most, if not all, Mamelukes were actually Frenchmen, but I decided to use the Foundry "Mediterranean Flesh 125" palette to suggest some sort of different skin tone.  These were fun, if complicated, figures to paint.  The sculpts have lots of detail which makes them somewhat fiddly to paint, but I'm pleased with how they turned out.  Did Napoleon have a Mameluke band at Waterloo?  I've no idea, but if some Mamelukes were there I'm sure they would have had some musicians...

3 figures.  Painted August 2015.


Sunday, 20 September 2015

American Militia (10)

This afternoon I finally took decent (by my standards) photos of all the AWI units that have been hanging around waiting to be photographed.  This is the most orphaned of my hitherto un-photographed regiments.  It's the last unit of American militia which I painted at the end of 2013/early 2014.  I can remember painting it and I really can't believe almost 2 years have elapsed since.  My intention at this time was to use up all my remaining militia-ish figures I had, which I have now by-and-large achieved.  Being the last unit to be painted, this is a real mish-mash of Foundry and Perry figures, with a Eureka "ragged Continental" and one Conquest Miniatures F&IW settler.  Whilst it's labelled as "militia", it could do as a ragged early war Continental or state regiment.  With this unit I'm now pretty much done with militia.

What does "pretty much done" mean?  Well, I have a dozen militia units, of between 16 and 24 figures, and that will do for most scenarios.  I have written before about how I think the scenarios divide more into "cold" and "warm" weather militia units rather than "northern" and "southern" ones (Guilford Courthouse, for example, was fought on a cold and damp day), but with some allowances I reckon I have enough militia now.  These chaps are probably more in the "cold" camp, or at least not "height of summer", dress, although there are some hunting shirt types.  In the rear rank is a Conquest Miniatures settler figure - thinner and smaller than the Perry sculpted figures, he makes a very good "teenager". As I said above, the purpose of this unit was to use up various leftover figures, so it's a bit of a "swings both ways" unit.  I also expect I will combine stands from it with other units to make larger regiments for those 1:10 games that the more recent "British Grenadier!" scenario books tend to feature.    

24 figures.  Painted December 2013-February 2014. Flag by GMB.



Wednesday, 9 September 2015

South Carolina militia cavalry (2)

Work, holiday, more work, bad cold, helping out with the "British Grenadier!" 4th scenario book's final stages etc - the usual excuses explain a gap of a month since my last post.  But I've been busy and have masses of stuff now going through the basing process: French Napoleonic generals, Continental infantry, more French generals, Boston militia, AWI French chasseurs, my Mameluke band and more AWI cavalry.  Eureka's Continental dragoons came out about 5 years ago now, and I've been rather slow at painting up the large number that I have acquired since I first saw them at Eureka's shop in Melbourne.  Since then, of course, Perry Miniatures have released a large number of cavalry packs, with the four regiments of Continental dragoons, Lee's Legion and militian types all covered.  So is the Eureka range redundant now?  Not a bit of it.  I think the Eureka cavalry figures remain an essential component of a serious AWI collection, and that's because of the figures' flexibility and the customisation opportunities afforded by their separate hats and helmets.  I haven't yet tried using some of the hats on the Perry plastic infantry figures, but I intend to create some "legion infantry" types that way.

You don't need much American cavalry for most AWI games, but as it the case with this period there were lots of different units raised during the war and most of them only appear once or twice in the scenario list.  A quick peruse the scenarios shows, for example, that the 1st Continental Dragoons appears at Cowpens (4 figures) and Eutaw Springs (2); the 4th appear at Whitemarsh (4); Armand's Legion appear at Camden (6) and Indian Field (8); and at Gloucester you have Dabney's Virginia Legion (10).   So you could have half a dozen or so dragoons and just use those figures as generic American cavalry for everything.  Or you can try to model some of these particular regiments and that's what I'm intending to do.

I painted a unit of South Carolina cavalry 3 years ago but this is another one, inspired by the picture in the Osprey MAA "General Washington's Army (2)" of a cavalryman from "Giles' troop" of the South Carolina militia light horse.  The text refers to light blue coats with yellow facings and states that other troops had black, blue, red and green facings.  The Osprey makes a distinction between "militia light horse", which includes Giles' troop, and "light dragoons", which includes the units that I painted up earlier, such as Horry's Regiment.  I assume this distinction means that the units listed as "militia" were raised for limited periods while the "dragoons" were full-time state troops. Whether the Osprey has the correct units under the right heading is debateable,  as there are references to a Captain James Giles who served in South Carolina's 1st Regiment of State Dragoons before joining Hill's (5th) Regiment of Light Dragoons, and then to Captain Thomas Giles who served in Horry's Regiment and then the 3rd Regiment of State Dragoons (the Giles family appear to have been prominent landowners in the north-east of the state).  So I think it's possible that the separate units that Osprey list and divide into "militia" and "dragoons" may in some cases be the same, or at least operated together under a common commander, whose name was then given to the "regiment" that he commanded.  The Osprey also distinguises between the "light blue" coats of the "militia" and the darker blue of the "dragoons" such as Horry's Regiment.  But the essay on South Carolina's backcountry cavalry in  Jim Piecuch's Cavalry of the American Revolution quotes an earlier historian as saying that the coat of Horry's Regiment had "a light blue appearance".  But there were two regiments called "Horry", one raised in 1779 by Colonel Daniel Horry and another raised in 1781 by Colonel Peter Horry.  The "light blue" description refers to the latter regiment, which is stated in Piecuch as being "militia" but which is listed as a "dragoon" regiment in the Osprey. 

So who knows?  I may have painted the same unit twice over; or one (or both) of my versions of South Carolina's state dragoons may be completely wrong; or they may both reflect completely different units.  But anyway, following the Osprey we have: Giles' troop (yellow facings), Kolb's troop (green) and McDonald's (red).  I mixed up the head gear a bit to provide a militia-style/irregular look.

6 figures.  Painted August 2015.


Monday, 10 August 2015

Général de Brigade Baron Jacques-Charles Dubois

At Waterloo Dubois commanded the 1st Brigade of the 13th Cavalry Division in  Milhaud's IV Cavalry Corps.  His brigade consisted of the 1st and 4th Regiments of Cuirassiers.  Dubois was a natural choice for inclusion in my flurry of French generals as I painted the 4th Cuirassiers a few years ago, and the 1st Cuirassiers are on my list of things to paint up this year.  Jacques-Charles Dubois (1762-1847) joined the dragoons in 1781 but left the service a few years later.  He rejoined soon after and by 1792 was lieutenant in the 16th Dragoons.  He served in the French Caribbean colony of Sainte-Dominque (modern Hispaniola) and then in the Vendée.  Like most French soldiers of his generation, he fought with Napoleon in Italy and then in the Prussian and Polish campaigns.  He fought at Eylau, as a major in command of the 5th Dragoons' elite company, and so distinguished himself that he earnt the praise of  no less a figure than Murat himself.  In 1807 Dubois transferred to the 7th Cuirassiers as their colonel and was appointed a baron of the empire the following year.  At the battle of Essling he had to assume command of his regiment's division, as all superior officers had been killed or wounded. In February 1813 he was promoted to général de brigade rank, in recognition of his regiment's performance at the crossing of the Berezina.  He seems to have been a brave and inspiring leader.

Milhaud's Corps provided support for D'Erlon's large attack on Wellington's centre.  Dubois' brigade appears to have been involved in the fighting around La Haye Sainte, initially to assist other cuirassiers who had had some success against Hanoverian infantry but have then been counter-attacked by elements of the Household Brigade.  Dubois charged into this melee and may then have also been attached by the Union Brigade as it charged into D'Erlon's infantry.  Apparently during this encounter the coloner of the 1st Cuirassiers had his epaulettes ripped off by a captain of the 1st Light Guards. It is not clear whether Dubois' brigade then took part in the later cavalry attacks on the allied centre or was sent to participate in the defence on Napoleon's right against the advancing Prussians.

So it seems that we don't know for sure whether Dubois was ordered to charge the allied square with the French cavalry in the late afternoon.  Which is a shame, as the Foundry figure here has a wonderfully angry expression, as if he's saying to his ADC "tell the Général de Division that I'm not throwing my command away by charging British infantry in square".  Maybe instead he's asking the ADC to ensure that the 1st Cuirassiers' colonel finds some new epaulettes.  The ADC, also from Foundry, is painted as a junior officer in the 7th Hussars, following a colour scheme in the Histoire et Collections French hussars book that is slightly different to the standard uniform for the 7th (I couldn't see a way of painting this figure in the more usual dark blue with light blue facings ADC uniform).  I'm assuming that there is no reason why a heavy cavalry general shouldn't have a light cavalry ADC, and the two figures seemed to go together quite well - Dubois is clearly rather agitated about something.

2 figures. Painted June 2015.


Monday, 3 August 2015

Général de Brigade Baron Pierre-Antoine Husson

Husson commanded the 1st Brigade of the 5th Division in Reille's II Corps.  I have all the infantry and artillery elements of Bachelu's 5th Division painted up, and needed command stands for Husson and Bachelu himself to finish it all off (the commander of the 2nd Brigade, Baron Campi, can be found here).  He was born on 21 May 1769 and joined the army in 1787.  He rose through the ranks, becoming a sergeant in 1791 and a sous-lieutenant the following year.  In 1795 he was a captain serving in the Army of Italy and in 1806 became colonel of the 111th Line in 1806.  He was made a baron of the empire in January 1808 and promoted to général de brigade rank in August 1811.  Husson died on 4 May 1833.  He appears to have had an impressive series of battles to his name, having fought in the Egyptian campaign and then at Jena, Eylau, Friedland and Wagram. In 1812, his brigade was part of Macdonald's X Corps and remained in Germany until after the retreat, and at some stage was moved to Danzig.  Husson and his troops held the city until the garrison surrendered to the Russians in January 1814.  He continued in some "desk jobs" after Waterloo, receiving promotion to général de division in 1826.

These figures are both from the Foundry range. There is a noticeable size difference between Foundry and Perry Napoleonic figures and so I'll have to keep them separate.  I put these two together because I thought Husson looks as if he's just let go of the reins to reach out for the ADC's despatch.  I like the faces on these earlier Perry-sculpted figures.  They are slightly more caricatured when compared with the smoother feature of later Perry Miniatures sculpts, but that style provides some excellent expressions.  When I finished this command stand I hadn't worked out that Hussons had just turned 46 at Waterloo, so making him one of the oldest brigade commanders.  I might add a touch of grey hair this evening.  This command stand has been on the "to do" list for literally years, given that I painted the last infantry battalion in the brigade at the end of 2011.  When I've based the Bachelu command stand I must take some photos of the completed division.
2 figures. Painted July 2015.   

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Current wip

I've fallen behind a bit, I'm afraid - real life, holidays, work etc; the usual excuses.  This photo of what's coming off my painting desk shows what I've been up to and why there's been a lull in posts.  My nod to the Waterloo bicentenary has been to work through my 1815 French lead pile and, in particular, to concentrate on painting up higher command stands for my current French army.  I needed one more brigade commander and a divisional command stand to finish off Bachelu's division from Reille's II Corps.  I already had figures for those, but I thought why not add Reille himself?  And if I'm going to buy the Perry corps commander's pack, why not paint d'Erlon as well given that his corps is what I'm looking at next, having already made a start on the 1st Division of I Corps. Lurking in the leadpile were various ADC and staff figures that I bought years ago for the Salute game but never painted.  So for the past few weeks I've been painting lots of Perry personality figures and other bits and pieces from a variety of sculptors (including a Mameluke band from Gringos40 - that should be finished in a couple of weeks).  I've already based a couple of command standss using Foundry figures - I'm hoping to photograph those either today or tomorrow.   But all the stuff on the photo above is sitting in the "departure lounge" next to my painting desk until I finish everything else, as that's when I will decide how the figures will fit together.  There will be two corps command stands, four division stands and a couple of brigade stands.  And the Mameluke band - every self-respecting Waterloo collection should have one!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Bastille Day

14 July is Bastille Day in France - happy felicitations to any French reraders.  So it seems appropriate to post some photos of my AWI French troops.  These photos were originally taken last summer as part of a potential project with a wargames company; but my 10-year camera lacks sufficient resolution (or whatever the technical term is) for the photos to be of top-notch publication quality and so they didn't make the cut.  But it seems a shame to waste them and I enjoy seeing the troops out of their boxes.  I've had photos published before - notably the deluxe "British Grenadier!" rule book, the third AWI scenario book from Caliver and a couple of  issues of "Battlegames".  I quite like the shots - it is supposed to be a French camp somewhere in the South.  The infantry are mainly by Perry Miniatures.  The camp followers etc are from Eureka's Revolutionary Wars range.  The buildings are by Tablescape and the flags from GMB.

You can see the individual units under the French label.  It's been a while since I painted French troops and I'm keen to do more, as they are very pretty troops.  I have a half-finished unit of chasseurs that needs polishing off (this is the unit above flanked by two individually based Eureka Miniatures officers).  The unit stalled because I lost one figure and it wasn't until Salute earlier this year that I finally decided that I'd never find this figure and so bought a whole pack just to replace it.  I'm intending to finish painting this unit next month.  I'll then do a unit of grenadiers and some more line infantry, and I have in the lead pile the various command figures that Perry released.  So at the moment I have 3.5 battalions of infantry and several skirmishers (who aren't shown here).  The figures are mainly from Perry Miniatures.  The singly-based officers, as mentioned, are from Eureka Miniatures' Revolutionary Wars range, as are the various camp follower sets. 

I've also added another label for the various "parades" I occasionally have of my collections.  The original AWI parades are some years old now so I should have a go at re-doing those, although I suspect each side no longer fits onto 1 table - the American forces in particular are much larger now than they were in 2008.  I did a parade of my 1815 French collection last year, but I seem not to have posted about it then for some reason; given everything I've painted since I'll have another session with my 1815 stuff at a later stage.

Was there a direct causal link between France's involvement in the American Revolution and the fall of the Bastille?  The cost of the war was one of the contributing factors to France's economic problems, which were a major cause of the French Revolution.  It is also sometimes said that men who fought in American returned home with new-found revolutionary fervour, but I expect it's easy to overplay that.  As it happens, I'm currently painting the Perry Miniatures sculpt of General Marcognet, a soldier who fought in America as a very young junior officer in the final stages of the AWI and by 1815 had risen to command a division in d'Erlon's I Corps.  I wonder how many other soldiers were present at Waterloo who had also been in the AWI.