Tuesday, 27 March 2007

1st Marines

I painted this unit for a re-fight of Bunker Hill. It represents elements of the 1st and 2nd Marines Battalions that were cobbled together to fight in the battle. Those battalions were formed in America in May 1775 under the command of Major John Pitcairn, after an initial unit of some 450 marines had been landed in December the previous year. Marine troops had been permanently established only 20 years previously, as a result of the Seven Years War, although the Admiralty raised a regiment of troops trained to fight at sea in the 1660s that was then disbanded. As with line regiments, the two marines battalions were formed with 8 companies of "hat-men" and a company each of light troops and grenadiers. At Bunker Hill in 1775 the flank companies fought alongside those from line regiments inthe combined light and grenadier battalions. The Bunker Hill scenario in the "British Grenadier!" rules requires just one unit to represent the detachments that fought at the battle, so I just call these troops the 1st Marines.

Concerns seem to have been raised about the quality of the marines, those from Plymouth particularly. Major Pitcairn complained of the marines' short stature and bad discipline; apparently they had a tendency to exchange their clothes and equipment for local rum. Nevertheless, they seemed to have fought and died just as well as other regiments that were engaged at Bunker Hill. Major Pitcairn himself and at least 4 other marine officers were killed in the battle. From what I can tell, the marines battalions fought in no further large battles of the war.

There has been some debate as to whether the marines (a) wore lace and (b) carried colours. It seems certain that colours for the two battalions did exist, although we do not know for sure whether they were actually carried at Bunker Hill. Given that GMB don't make colours for the marines (and I couldn't be bothered to paint them myself) and as a means of using up various spare officer and musician figures, I decided to have my marines leave their colours behind. These Foundry figures all have lace anyway. White lace on white facings I found difficult to paint effectively. I just painted the facings and lace in a light grey, added a wash of black ink to give the lace some definition, and then highlighted the lace and parts of the facings to pick them out. Not sure if it really works. 20 figures. Painted January 2006.


Anonymous said...


As far as I've been able to find out, no lace and they did have colours but they are not mentioned as being carried and (IMO) they were left in Boston. No accounts from either side mention colours being carried at all.


Frostydog said...

Since marines were assigned to work in small groups on ships they did not have the need for "colours". I treat these guys in the same way as I treat converged grenadier or light infantry battalions. No "colours" extra musicans.