Saturday, 26 March 2016

Dabney's Virginia State Legion

This unit appears to have been formed by Charles Dabney in 1777 or 1778.  Dabney was from a prominent Virginian family and joined the patriot cause as soon as war broke out in 1775.  He quickly rose through the ranks and by the end of 1776 was a major in the 3rd Virginia Continental Regiment.  In 1778 he become lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Virginia and was present with that regiment at the battle of Monmouth.  Later that year he appears to have transferred from the Continental Army to command of the 2nd Virginian State Regiment, although Dabney's unit served with the Continental army and Dabney fought at Stony Point in July 1779.  From 1781 Dabney's regiment was part of Lafayette's force in Virginia and it saw out the siege of Yorktown.   It seems that in early 1782 most, if not all, of Virginia's state troops were merged into Dabney's regiment, which was renamed Dabney's Second State Legion.  The unit consisted of infantry, cavalry and artillery and became known simply as "Dabney's Legion".  The Legion remained on duty in Virginia throughout 1782.  Dabney must have become rather bored as apparently he tried to persuade the government to let him take his Legion off to invade Bermuda. The Legion was disbanded in April 1783.

Dabney's Legion appears in only one published "British Grenadier!" scenario to date, the cavalry action at Gloucester in volume 3.  This is the skirmish on 3 October 1781 primarily between Tarleton's British Legion and Lauzun's Legion, otherwise known as the "Battle of the Hook".  This scenario requires a uniquely large number of cavalry figures: 36 from the British Legion, 16 Queen's Rangers, 4 Light Dragoons and 60 from Lauzun's Legion.  Not many AWI gamers are going to have access to those kind of resources by themselves, I suspect.  Dabney's Legion appears in the orbat as part of American reinforcements that arrive on Turn 10 (the unit is clearly cavalry, even though the battle took place in 1781 prior to the "merger").  So not only does this unit make it's sole appearance in one of the most unlikeliest of AWI games to be staged, but also it appears right at the end, if one even gets that far.  So Dabney's Legion ranks high, if not at the very top, of my list of units that are unlikely ever to appear on the tabletop.  Actually, I can use a couple of bases to bulk out militia cavalry units for other large-scale southern scenarios, but I'm sure you see my point.

Which is a shame as I really like the look of this unit.  I remembered seeing a painting by Don Troiani of an American cavalryman in a dark blue hunting shirt and a Tarleton helmet, and I knew I wanted to model a unit like that.  The Osprey MAA "General Washington's Army (2)" describes the uniform of Dabney's Legion as "green sailor's jacket and blue overalls", but the illustration in the book is clearly an infantryman.  Troiani's "Soldiers of the American Revolution" refers to the purchase by the Virginia government in 1782 of a consignment of "royal blue coats with blue facings" that were used for Dabney's Legion and the Illinois Regiment.  Even though that uniform may well have been worn after the Gloucester action took place, I decided to go with that and paint a unit that contained a mix of hunting shirts and coats.  I kept the hunting shirts in various shades of blue, so the uniforms as a whole would all blend in.  As with my other recent American and loyalist cavalry units, this one utilises the fantastic Eureka Miniatures "ragged Continentals" figures.   The flag is home made; a simple design to reflect the unit's Virginian identity.

10 figures.  Painted January-February 2016.









8 comments:

paulalba said...

Stunning Giles and great to hear the back story!

David said...

Nice looking unit Giles. Looking forward to seeing more in your next post.

Neil Scott said...

Excellent looking unit

AJ (Allan) Wright said...

Lovely figures Giles. I have lazun's cavalry painted up so Gloucester gets played a lot in my basement. With a little creativity it can be a great game.

Neil Scott said...

Excellent looking unit

Stephen said...

What a cracking unit!

Iowa Grognard said...

Very nice!

I swear your style of horse painting has changed/evolved over the years. I'd be interested in a breakdown of how you now go about it.

Fritz II. said...

Very nice painted unit. The horses look great - also the riders.