Friday, 28 January 2011

Regiment Dillon

The Dillon Regiment was first raised by Viscount Dillon in 1688 to fight in Ireland for the Jacobite cause. The regiment transferred to French service 3 years later and formed a brigade with the other "Wild Geese" regiments. These Irish regiments served at virtually every major land battle fought by the French between 1690 and 1789, perhaps most notably at Fontenoy where they captured the colours of Coldstream Guards. The Dillon merged with two other Irish regiments, de Lally in 1762 and de Bulkeley in 1775. From 1779 to 1782 the regiment was present in the Caribbean and America: it fought at the capture of Grenada in 1779 and then at Savannah later that year. I'll say more about the Dillon's involvement at Savannah in a short while. When King Louis fell to the French Revolution the regiment, which had remained loyal to the king, lost the Dillon name and was absorbed into the French regular line. Apparently the last colonel of the regiment, Arthur Dillon, was guillotined in 1794. Ironically, given the circumstances surrounding the regiment's foundation, the Dillon name lived on in British "emigre" regiments that were raised from the Irish Brigade's former officers.

I have always had a soft spot for the Wild Geese. On my father's side I come from Protestant Ulster stock and so these fellows and I would have little in common politically, but they were brave and dashing fighters united by their hatred of the English (or at least that's their image) and one has to admire them for that. Also, the very first Osprey book I owned was the one on the Wild Geese, which I bought about 25 years ago at a bookshop in Belfast. I felt a bit guilty that having praised the Perry Miniature French releases I then painting only one battalion, so I was keen to paint up some more. Happily I'm now stuck-in to the French so expect some more over the next couple of months.

The Dillon only appears once in the published "British Grenadier" scenarios, as a 12-figure unit for Savannah; small, perhaps, but the the chasseur and grenadier companies are detached into combined formations. I opted to go for the 1779 ordonnance uniform, even though it's almost certain that the regiment would have worn the 1776 ordonnance, or a variant of it, for the Savannah campaign. I came to this decision for two reasons. First, I wanted the regiment in march-attack poses, and the Perry figures in 1776 dress are only in standing poses. Secondly, I saw the illustration by Eugene Leliepvre that shows the men in rather longer coats than one would expect for 1776 dress; the 1779 coat is a similar cut to that shown in the picture. That illustration also shows a drummer in the same scarlet coat as the rank-and-file rather than the standard royal livery, a point confirmed by the Chartrand Osprey on French troops in the AWI. Due to the red coats I undercoated these figures in black rather than mid-grey, but then used the same grey/white combination for the waistcoats, breeches etc as I used on the Armanac Regiment.

I also decided to apply the "second battalion" colour rather than the white colonel's first battalion colour, because it's just so much more colourful and the black and red cross is a pretty iconic Wild Geese image. Many thanks to John Ray and "Mericanach" for their advice on and help with the uniform and "look" of this regiment. I think these turned out ok and I really enjoyed painting them.

12 figures. Painted January 2011. Flag by GMB.


Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Just lovely painting Giles and background story was great!


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Magnifique, begorrah!! :o)

Dur Ecu said...

Actually, as I understand it, the last colonel-proprietor of the regiment -- Count Theobald Dillon -- was basely murdered by French troops under his command at Lille on April 29, 1792. See O'Callaghan's History of the Irish Brigades, 52-53.

Great looking unit!

Achilles said...

Beautiful painting Giles! I really admire your painting and your research skills. I am looking forward to your next post already :)

Sire Godefroy said...

Simply love 'em!
Many thanks for the historical insights as well, that's what I really appreciate - second only to staring at pictures, of course...


Docsmith said...

Wonderful post and painting Giles - I had no idea they wore redcoats! Typical mad Irish (some of my ancestors too!) - they love to live dangerously!


Ray said...

Very nice painting, they look great.

AD said...

Nice historical summary and the figures are par excellence.

Mericánach said...

An-deas ar fad, Giles.

painterman said...

Great figures Giles (as ever), looking forward to adding some French to my southern theatre, when i get back to AWI.