Tuesday, 20 November 2012

French Foreign Legion - 1st Battalion


Britain, France and Portugal all provided troops to assist the Isabellino government.  In the case of Britain, such assistance was predominantly in the form of the granting of permission for Spain to recruit British and Irish citizens to form the British Auxiliary Legion.  Very few professionals from the British armed forces were permitted to participate in the war.  France, on the other hand, saw a cheap and easy way to assist the Spanish government at little risk to its own citizens - it decided to transfer to Spain the newly-formed Foreign Legion.  The FFL was formed in March 1831, apparently as a form of immigration control; foreign nationals with military experience were languishing in Paris with little to do, and allowing them to join the French army was a way of ensuring they didn't spend their time formenting dissent against the government.  A second advantage was having a corps that could be deployed to those parts of the French empire that were unpopular postings with the regular army.  7 battalions were formed initially, with each battalion comprising men from a particular nationality or linguistic group.

Soon after its formation, the FFL was sent to Algeria to assist the consolidation of coastal territory occupied by the French.  In 1835 it was sent to Spain, arriving in Catalonia in August with a strength of some 4,000 men.  Its commander, Colonel Joseph Bernelle, abolished the separation of troops by nationality and reorganised the corps into 5 battalions.  The legion went straight into action in northern Spain, fighting various small actions and no doubt fending off guerrillas in what was very much pro-Carlist territory.  The Carlist took great exception to "foreign mercenaries" waging war on behalf of the government and captured legionnaires and BAL soldiers were routinely executed.  It appears that the legionnaires responded in kind, looting and pillaging their way around the coutryside.  I won't go into the full campaign exploits of the FFL, but will do so in a later post.  There is an excellent year by year summary of the FFL's involvement on the "Toc de somatent!" blog here.  Suffice to say for now that the FFL was virtually destroyed in the war, with barely 500 men of the original 4,000 making it back to France.

 
 
A couple of painting notes.  I wanted the greatcoats to be a different colour to those of the Carlists and Isabelino regulars, a grey with a blue-ish tinge.  I used the Foundry "Confederate Grey 117" palette, which I think did the job pretty well.  The officers' dark blue tunics were painted with Foundry's "French Blue 65" palette, with an extra highlight of "Deep Blue 20B" (this is the recipe I now use for French Napoleonic light infantry and artillerymen, i.e. figures all dressed in blue).  I am planning to do 3 or 4 battalions in all, each of 24 figures.


24 figures. Painted July-August 2012.  Flag by Adolfo Ramos.






14 comments:

Jason said...

Fabulous painting. Very impressive indeed.

REDTROOP said...

They actually ended up fighting against their own comrades who had deserted to the other side when the French abandoned them.
c'est la guerre.

Dalauppror said...

Stunning paint job !

best regards Michael

Sire Godefroy said...

Tarleton's Quarter at its best: excellently painted miniatures and a nice writeup on the unit's history. Thanks for sharing!

Cheers
SG

pacofeanor said...

Very nice job, and very nice colour for great coat and officers coaties!! It's not easy to find the good one !!!
regards
paco

Oriol said...

Great painting! and thank you very much for the link.

Fire at Will said...

Great eye candy

Giles said...

Thanks, chaps. I've had another "offline" period over the past 3-4 weeks. Hopefuly back now for a while and looking forward to catching up on other blogs :^)

Rodger said...

Wonderful painting Giles!

VolleyFireWargames said...

Excellent figures especially like the red shakos where do you get these figures / wonder what would do as a conversion / would the later period Old glory figure work?
Makes me interested in doing the period if just for the French Foreign Legion Battalions - Are the British Auxiliary Legion in a pre - Indian Mutiny uniform?

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Wonderful looking unit Giles and super write up as is your standard!

Christopher

Tank Girl said...

Super work Giles, my favourite unit so far.

Helen

Mericanach said...

Great stuff, Giles. Lovely work as usual.

airhead said...

A great looking unite Giles, keep up the good work.

Best regards

Airhead