Friday, 9 February 2007

Napoleonic problems

Earlier this month Alan Perry released a number of staff packs for his 1815 French range. My order arrived on Tuesday and I have been playing around with the figures all week, trying to work out how best to integrate them into one massive vignette for Waterloo. They are fantastic figures. Everyone is there: Mameluke Ali, valets, a page with Napoleon's horse, the Chasseur guards, Adjutant-Commandants and their assistants the Adjoints, Imperial orderlies, generals etc. Some of these figures will be used on corps, division and brigade command stands, but I want to combine the majority of the figures into a diorama of Napoleon and his battlefield headquarters.

My first attempt was to fit all the figures onto a large 200mm x 200mm square (see first pic above), but this looked messy and Napoleon, who should be the focus, just seemed to disappear. Having a Chasseur guard at each corned looked neat, but I discovered is not historically correct. I then worked out an inverted "T" shape with Napoleon at the front and all the hangers on behind (see second pic). I am still not convined this is correct, although it is much more aesthetically pleasing that the first layout. One problem is how to integrate mounted figures amongst a large number of foot figures - I think horses just look out of place here, but I would like to use the mounted Imperial orderlies and adjoints if possible. The one decision I have managed to make is to stick to basing the figures on a set of bases measuring 100mm x 100mm. That way I can change the layout around and each stand will be usable for other situations. So experimentation and research will continue.

Last night I painted the map on Napoleon's table. Very tricky to do and the effect is lost in extreme close-up (a better view I think is in second the photo above). I used a copy of contemporary-ish maps of Waterloo that I found on the internet (thanks to Purple of the Wargames Directory for helping me track them down!). The map on top is of the Waterloo battlefield: Hougoumont is the black building by the right-hand edge of Ney's hat, La Haye Saint is a little bit to its right and La Belle Alliance is marked at the bottom of the map, on the main road running up to Mont St. Jean (beneath the wood). The opposing ridges are clearly visible, although the scale went a bit wonky here. The map underneath is a more detailed map of the Mont St. Jean to Waterloo stretch of road and surrounding area (I was thinking that perhaps Ney has been working out whether a flanking move is viable). It took me over an hour to paint this, when I should really have been finishing off some Dutch-Belgian cavalry...


Martin said...


That map looks terrific. I can see I'm going to be spending a lot of time oggling figures at the Salute Waterloo game this April.

Keep up the good work!

legatushedlius said...

Fantastic job on the map! I have bought some of the Perry figures but have only managed to paint one so far. I really admire the patience of anyone who can do horse and musket armies!

Grand Duchy of Stollen 1768 said...

Hello GIles,

Highly envious of your painting skills with the recently completed map. Well done!

Best Regards,

Stokes Schwartz

Artilleryman said...

Excellent ideas and painting, especially that map! I'm always jealous of such skill and commitment. I have a couple of points which might help.

Firstly, I'm trying to track down what the personal escort to the Emperor wore during the 100 Days. Before, it was always full dress to mark his position. The Perry figures are in the campaign dress for the 100 Days. I wonder if the regulation changed?

Secondly, when positioning the escort commander, previously only Murat and Berthier were permitted to come between him and the Emperor. Perhaps for the Waterloo camapign that was applied to Soult as Berthier's replacement.

Hope that helps.

Giles said...

Artilleryman - many thanks for that. I was flicking through the old Osprey MAA on the Guard Chasseurs last night and that echoed your post. The escort were not allowed to wear their greatcoats for that reason too. I like the idea of the escort commander hovering just behind Napoleon like a well-dressed bouncer!