Monday, 12 April 2010

Lee's Legion infantry

Lee's Legion (raised by "Light Horse Harry" Lee, father of Robert E Lee) began life in June 1776 as a body of horsemen raised in Virginia and attached to the 1st Continental Light Dragoons. Within a couple of years Lee had been promoted and was asked by Congress to expand his unit into a "legion", comprising both cavalry and infantry elements. George Washington envisaged his Continental Army's legions, or partizan corps as they were also known, as being elite formations that could carry out reconnaisance and raids. Lee's Legion served with distinction in the Southern theatre. It was present at Guilford as well as several minor engagements and skirmishes. By 1781 the Legion seems to have mustered over 100 cavalry and 180 infantry. The Legion was disbanded in November 1783.

Uniform sources for Lee's Legion are minimal. There are references to the cavalry at least being mistaken for Tarleton's British Legion, so one assumes that they wore similar dark green jackets. The infantry may have worn something similar, although there are also references to "blue coats with red trim". However, the most well-known representation of the infantry is Don Troiani's painting of a soldier in a kind of purple outfit, and this is what I have followed for these figures (as did the painter for the figures on the Perry website). Where this comes from I am not too sure, but wiser heads than I have suggested that it may be faded blue. The officer figure here is in a different uniform to everyone else - a cut-down coat with lapels and facings. In keeping with the British Legion theme, I painted the coat dark green with black facings. I suppose I could have painted him blue with red facings, but this way he will match the cavalry element when I turn my attention to that. I think you could use these figures for the elusive British Legion foot as well - perhaps in a white uniform.

In the published "British Grenadier!" rules, Lee's Legion infantry appear only once - 10 figures at Eutaw Springs. I painted up both Perry packs, so I have 12 figures; at 1:20 that equates to 240 men which is probably more than actually served in the unit. Never mind. I toyed with the idea of basing them up on close order infantry bases; this would have been a nice look, but the figures are posed as skirmishers and reading about the Legion and it's activities I think on balance skirmish bases are most appropriate. I've been unsatisfied with my indoor photos for some time now so took these outside in the garden; hopefully the natural light improves them a bit.

12 figures. Painted February 2010.


Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

My favorite blog is back!Welcome back Giles.
Very nice painting as usual,but I prefer Lee's legion in the white uniform myself.
Anyways,nice to see your work rolling off the line again.:-)


Anonymous said...

Hi Giles, great brushwork on Lee's Legion. I love the colours you have used, very nice indeed.



Mericánach said...

Excellent, as always.

I have a couple of these packs en route to me - can't wait to get hold of them now that I've seen your interpretation.

Dalauppror said...

Very nice !

AJ (Allan) Wright said...

They look great in the purple uniforms, and there's additional evidence of purple uniforms being used in the 4th Independent Maryland to support your color choice. I like these a lot and might have to do a similar unit myself.

Greg Sapara said...

Can you tell us what paints you used for these fellows?

Great work again, Giles!

Post Modern Bellerophon said...


Lovely work do you think the Legion figures could double as the British legion Light Infantry Battalion that was at Savannah 1779?

Giles said...

Thanks chaps.

Greg - I used the Foundry "Royal Purple" palette, with careful control of the final highlight.

MLD - I reckon you can indeed use these figures at British Legion infantry. In fact I intend to paint some up at some stage - dark green coats and white/brown legwear.