Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Lieutenant-Colonel Curt Bogislaus Ludwig Kristoffer von Stedingk

Curt von Stedingk (1746-1837) was a Swedish aristocrat with impeccable military credentials.  His maternal grandfather was Kurt Christoph Graf von Schwerin, one of Frederick the Great's field marshals.  Von Stedingk first experienced soldiering at the age of 13, as an ensign in the personal regiment of the Crown Prince of Sweden and served in the even Years War (on the other side to his grandfather).  After time at university he joined one of the French army's "foreign regiments", the Royal Suédois.  This regiment had been created in 1690 from Swedish prisoners taken during the War of the League of Augsburg.  It recruited in Swedish Pomerania and so many of the rank and file were of German extraction, but the regiment was only allowed to have Swedish officers.  Von Stedingk became colonel of the regiment in March 1784. (The French army's foreign regiments were disbanded in 1791 and the Royal Suédois was reorganised as the 89th Line.) 

Von Stedingk arrived in America in 1778 with the first French force under the command of Admiral D'Estaing.  After the failure to capture Newport in August, the fleet moved off  to the Caribbean and in December the French fleet under D'Estaing began a series of attacks on British possessions.  The French seized first Saint Vincent in June 1779 and then Grenada, which was captured on 3 July.  Von Stedingk appears to have been present either at the seizure of Grenada or the fleet action between D'Estaing and Admiral John Byron that followed.  At the seige of Savannah in October he commanded the left column of the attacking force. His column lost some cohesion during the advance, which was undertaken under severe fire, but the French managed to capture a section of the British earthworks. Apparently von Stedingk managed to plant an American flag in the British trenches, but he was then wounded and a counter-attack by grenadiers and Royal Marines forced the French to retreat.  After the unsuccessful siege on Savannah, D'Estaing and his force returned to France.

George Washingting recognised von Stedingk's contribution to the war effort by making him a founding member of the Society of the Cincinnati.  This society, the brainchild of Major General Henry Knox, was founded in 1783 to maintain links and friendship between officers of the Continental Army.  Other original members also included Louis de Nouailles.  Unfortunately, it seems that the King of Sweden, Gustav III, told von Stedingk that he could not wear the insignia of the Society as the award cam from people who had revolted against their king.

Von Stedingk remained in the army and participated in the Russo-Swedish War of 1788-90, a rather inconclusive affair which Gustav III began to distract attention from domestic issues (he was assassinated in 1792), and was promoted to major general.  He then served as Sweden's ambassador to Russia before taking to the battlefield again in the Russo-Swedish War of 1808-1809.   That war has some important effects on Sweden: Finland was lost and fell within the Russian Empire, and King Gutav IV was deposed and the House of Bernadotte became the new ruling family of Sweden.  Von Stedingk was the commander of the Swedish army at Leipzig in 1813 (which only participated in the action rather late in the day), following which he was promoted to field marshal.  He died in 1837, aged 90.        

The uniform took a bit of research.  From about 1750 onwards the regiment seems to have had dark blue coats with buff or yellow-brown facings, so resembling traditional Swedish infantry uniforms.  I found conflicting information about the colour of the blue - whether dark blue or a lighter colour.  In the end I went with a more medium/light blue, in part because the uniform would then resemble that of the Royal Deux-Ponts regiment and I could therefore use this figure as the commander of that regiment as well.   The Perry sculpt looks a bit older and more portly than you'd expect of a 35 year old.  I gave von Stedingk a powdered wig because that's what he wears in the various portraits of him that I've found.

1 figure.  Painted August 2015.

 
 

12 comments:

NW Crew said...

Beautiful paintjob! And a very nice read aswell (in particullar as a Swede myself). Von Stedingk is indeed a very prominent person of that period with a very interesting life story. /Mattias

Bedford said...

Lovely work!

Darrell.

Simon Jones said...

Superb! My take on this figure was to make him an artillery officer.

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Agreed. He is elegant. An interesting personal/professional history too.

Best Regards,

Stokes

Stryker said...

Great paint job and very interesting post!

Dalauppror said...

Very very nice !

Will McNally said...

Great painting and a fascinating character, thanks for bring him to my attention. I may have to recruit him for my forces as well

AJ (Allan) Wright said...

He seems a stodgy old fart. I hope that this is a compliment and that's what you were going for. Any time you can associate a figure with a personality I think you've done a great job painting it.

paulalba said...

A real darling of a figure Giles, cracking colours. The Swedish uniforms are very unique for the Later Napoleonic period. Interesting read.

Doc Smith said...

Great stuff Giles - another good post with a beaut figure and great bit of history to boot!

David said...

Great work,as ever,Giles. Nowt wrong with portly though you know...

Stefan (aka. Monty) said...

Top notch!