Friday, 15 June 2007

British Light Infantry (1)

Light infantry battlions, as with grenadier battlions, were composite units formed by combining together the light companies of different regiments. At the start of the war the light companies had a distinctive uniform that was quite different to the centre companies: shortened coats, red waistcoats, black leather cross-belts and "chain" helmets. During the course of the war the British light infantry companies adopted a campaign-style uniform of "roundabouts", i.e. their red waistcoats with sleeves sewn on to them, and with slouch hats replacing the chain helmets. Slouch hats would have been much more effective at shielding the men from the glare of the sun, no doubt assisting their aim in the process.

For all but the largest scenarios, one battalion of light infantry will suffice. As with British line generally, in 25mm the gamer has the choice of the early war regulation look or the later war campaign dress look. Given that you are unlikely to need more than 24 figures in the unit, it's not too much work to have a battalion of each. One advantage of the later war figures is that with the addition of a command stand the unit can always double-up as a regular line regiment on campaign in the south (although you would have to ignore the black cross-belts). A second decision to make is whether to model the battalion in close order or skirmish order. Light infantry naturally suggest the latter, but there is plenty of evidence from the war that the light infantry battalions often fought in some kind of ordered formation as elite shock troops. In the AWI, light infantry did not act as skirmishers as such in the way that light infantry did in the Napoleonic Wars (for example). Rather that providing a screen for the main assault, the light infantry often werethe main assult, backed up with battalions of regular line troops. This is certainly how they fought at Bunker Hill, for which I prepared this unit here. During the course of the war light infantry tactics evolved considerably and a gamer will probably need some light infantry on skirmish bases for flexibility.

When painting this battalion I consulted Brendan Morrisey's excellent Osprey Campaign book "Boston 1775". This book is invaluable for anyone planning a game of Bunker Hill, as it has excellent maps and a detailed description of the terrain. Best of all, the book has full orbats and tells you which regiments contributed to the grenadier and light infantry battlions. I used this information to piece together thr light infantry battalion company by company. The different facings are not really apparent from the main photo above, but from left to right the regiments on each stand are as follows: 5th; 10th and 43rd; 4th and 23rd (the command stand); 47th and 52nd; Marines and 59th; 63rd and 64th. I have further figures for all these regiments also based in twos, so the battalion can be deployed in either close or skirmish order. The close-ups below show the 5th Foot in its distinctive horse-hair, crested hats and the command stand. In the photo above you can see the sergeant of the 10th reaching to pull out his bayonet, and I like to think that this unit captures the moment when Lietenant Colonel Clark, of the 23rd Foot, orders his men to charge after firing a volley.
24 figures. Painted April 2006.


Bill said...

Giles, I really look forward to your updates and enjoy seeing your painting. I know that there must be hundreds like me who never comment, but I just wanted to offer a word of encouragement. Please keep this blog running, it is very appreciated...............Bill

João Peixoto said...

I also never comment, only drool.