Monday, 19 February 2007

Major-General Friedrich Riedesel

Friedrich Adolf Riedesel (1738-1800) was the commander of the Brunswick contingent, troops which like those of Hesse-Cassell were hired out to King George by his fellow monarchs in Germany. Riedesel joined the army when aged 17 (much to the displeasure of his parents, apparently) and saw action in the Seven Years' War. He was swiftly promoted and by the mid-1760s Riedesel was the adjutant to Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. Duke Charles sent a corps of troops to America in 1776, initially of 4,000 infantry and about 350 dragoons, and Riedesel was placed in command. The Brunswickers were stationed in Quebec and then took part in General Burgoyne's ill-fated Saratoga campaign. The troops that survived the campaign entered captivity when Burgoyne surrendered his army in October 1777. Riedesel's wife Caroline and children had accompanied him on the expedition. They were released by the Americans in 1781.

2,431 Brunswickers are recorded as having surrendered at Saratoga, and the number of killed, wounded, captured or missing was recorded as 1,122. The troops fared badly in captivity, being put to work for their food and clothing and then being marched down to Virginia during the winter of 1778/79. Many Brunswickers elected to remain in America and so deserted. Of 5,723 total men who came over to America during the war only 2,708 returned, of whom fewer than 500 were from Riedesel's Saratoga force.

I have two Riedesels in my collection, from the Old Glory (left) and Perry (right) ranges. The Old Glory sculpt is from their "Foreign Generals" pack, which also includes Steuben, Knyphausen, Lafayette and a couple of French generals. I find Old Glory's AWI range a bit of a mixed bag. This sculpt is ok, although the horse looks as if it's scratching itself in the way dogs do (which horses don't). However, I do like the pose of Riedesel himself; he looks as if he's completely lost in the back woods of the Hudson River valley. The Perry sculpt is much finer; Riedesel looks younger and more dynamic than his Old Glory counterpart, which is more accurate given that he was not yet 40 when captured in 1777 (although he still seems to have that "what on earth am I doing here?" look about him). I thought the horse's saddle furniture looked odd when I painted it and I discovered last week that this horse is largely the same sculpt as Napoleon's horse from the "Napoleon's personal staff" set in the 1815 French range! Both figures sport the yellow facings of the Musketeer Regiment von Reidesel. The uniform is basically the same as that worn by Hessian generals, except that the silver sash has a yellow weave instead of red. Painted May 2006 (Old Glory) and January 2007 (Perry).


Anonymous said...

Very nice!The Old Glory can be odd but there are some nice figures there. I may get the OG British Legion but maybe the Perrys will get to them yet. These pictures are most inspirational. Mark Stevens

Dogui said...

Excellent pics. This is a period I know nothing about and I will enjoy your posts greatly.