Monday, 25 January 2021

Napoleon (2)


This is the Napoleon in Egypt personality set from Brigade Games.  Perry Miniatures don't have a Napoleon figure in their Egypt range, presumably because the range is more orientated towards the British intervention after Napoleon's departure in August 1799.  Before Christmas I put in an order with Brigade Games to take advantage of a sale and to buy some of their new(ish) AWI figures, and I couldn't resist this set and a couple of other Egyptian campaign things.  I was going to blog next about my recent ACW units but thought I'd just finish off these French bits first.  This is my second attempt at Napoleon, after the rather massive piece I did for a Salute Waterloo game many years ago (see here).  I won't both with any sort of potted biography of Napoleon, even one limited to the Egyptian campaign, but rather will post some observations on the paints and colours I used, in case of interest, and some inspiration.      

Back in 1799 Napoleon was 30, trimmer and fitter than at Waterloo.  His Egyptian adventure captured the imagination of French artists, and Jean-Léon Gérôme painted three depictions of Napoleon in Egypt which show a young man who is quite different to the corpulent Emperor of several years later.  Gérôme painted a number of middle eastern scenes and had travelled in the region in the 1850s.  His three best known Napoleon paintings are below.  These are very atmospheric paintings, a long way from heroic battle scenes like the work of Horace Vernet, for example.  Commentators have noted how these paintings are quite psychological, with Napoleon seeming deep in thought or contemplating some aspect of his destiny (there's a good analysis of the second painting here).  I found these quite inspirational. 

Napoleon in Egypt, circa 1863

Napoleon and his General Staff in Egypt, late 1860s

Bonaparte Before the Sphinx, 1886

I had to re-find the paints I'd used for the Dromedary Corps vignette.  The base coat was Citadel XV-88, then various layers/touches of Tau Light Ochre, Bestigor Flesh, Ushabi Bone and Foundry "Base Sand" and "Boneyard" paints.  I had to look up the colour of Napoleon's hair, which apparently was dark brown (I had thought it was black).  

Uniform information was sourced from the Osprey MAA and the first volume of Charles Grant's "Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign".  Those books suggested that the uniforms of the high command were often adapted at the whim of their wearers, particularly the hat plumage.  The chap with the telescope is supposed to be a general de brigade (hence the light blue sash) and the mounted figure is a general de division (hence the red sash and plumage).  I tried to paint as much decoration on the camels' saddle cloths as I could without over-cluttering.  The cloths on Napoleon's saddle are sculpted such that there's a lot more cloth on the left of the figure than the right, so the pattern looks a bit uneven.  I wasn't entirely sure what sort of animal the skin on the horse was supposed to be, but a leopard looked appropriate.  I had originally intended to place a few bricks and perhaps a bottle cork at the back of the base to suggest some ruins, but decided that would look too busy.  So I'm sure more could be done with this set to jazz it up, but I'm pleased with how it came out and it didn't take long to do.          

3 figures, 1 horse and 2 camels.  Painted January 2021. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Regiment des Dromedaires (1)

As a coda to my current batch of Napoleonic French, this is the Perry pack of sitting camels and guard from the Régiment des Dromedaires, the camel-mounted unit created for service in the Egyptian campaign.  This was quite small, being two squadrons each of about 250 soldiers, and fought as mounted infantry.  Perry Miniatures have mounted and dismounted figures, and Brigade Games have some nice models as well.  This set is clearly the equivalent of a cavalry horse-holder.  Two camels doesn't really cut it if you have a unit of 12 figures on the table, and I did think about whether I should buy a second set and make a larger base; but in the end I just went for this "as is", given it is likely to be a while before I paint more of the Dromedary Corps.  

This set had lain half-finished on my painting for the best part of 2 years, and I finally finished it off at the beginning of the Covid lockdown.  I really wish I could remember what paints I used for the camels; it was a number of Citadel paint mainly, I think, with some Foundry highlights.  I really need to write things like this down in a notebook.  I owe thanks to wargaming and wine-loving chum John Baxter in Melbourne who emailed me an excellent article (in French) about the regiment and its uniforms a while back.

1 figure and 2 camels.  Painted February 2020.

Friday, 18 December 2020

The War of the Triple Alliance

I'm behind with basing and photos (I've painted 13 different units since August) but I did manage to assess the current state of my Great Paraguayan War/War of the Triple Alliance project and so thought I'd post them here.  I can't believe the first unit of Paraguayans was painted 6 years ago.  On the Paraguayan side there are three infantry units of Steve May sculpts for Kingscarbine Miniatures (which aren't currently available), two Perry Miniatures firing line units, and the beginnings of a 12-figure cavalry unit.  On the Allied side, I have one regiment of Brazilian infantry and with another on the stocks.  In fact, my pre-Christmas schedule is to finish this off and the Paraguayan cavalry.  Then it will be on to some Uruguayans and whatever's in the two boxes from the Perries that arrived addressed to my wife the other day....   

The flags are mainly from Flags of War.  These are a total lifesaver, as I wasn't relishing the prospect of painting more flags (the larger Paraguayan flag is one that I painted 6 years ago, and which got nibbled the other week by our cat, Millie) and I was having problems with the flags uploaded on the Perry website.  Flags of War also do lance pennants in any colour you want.  The palm trees and broken walls in the photos are all scenic bits I made for Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago last year; I think they look ok-ish for South America.

My immediate plan is to get to 10 infantry units per side (perhaps a couple more on the Allied side to reflect the three different contingents), a bit of cavalry and then take stock.  All infantry units will be between 18 and 24 figures and cavalry units will be 12 figures.  That's not particularly historic, but provides a manageable set-up.  I'll post about these units separately in due course, and will start with the original one again as I added more figures to it.


Monday, 30 November 2020

75th Demi-Brigade

This is my third completed unit of French infantry for the Egyptian campaign.  The 75th Demi-Brigade appears in just two scenarios in the GdB book, The Pyramids (60 figures) and Alexandria (24 figures).  This unit is designed for the latter, and given it's 24 rather than 36 figures I've provided it with two flags rather than three.  I've mentioned before that the GdB scenario book doesn't always divide up the demi-brigades into individual battalions, which I assume reflects the fact that some battalions were absent on garrison duty.  So for the Alexandria scenario, for example (which is the French attach of August 1799, not the British attack of 1801), the orbat has the 18th, 32nd and 22nd Light demi-brigades in two specific battalions, whilst the 13th, 61st and 75th are just given one unit each of 30, 36 and 24 figures respectively.  This all makes for a decent amount of painting - for the French forces in this scenario you need 300 infantry, 8 guns and crew, and 26 cavalry.  But you can see that it's "AWI" in size, and with much less cavalry and artillery than you might usually expect for a Napoleonic battle.  Of course Alan Perry hasn't made any Albanian and Ottoman forces to provide the opposition as yet; I really hope we does one day as otherwise one's limited to French v British games in this theatre, which I think would be a shame.  In the very interesting video interview with Wargames Illustrated, Alan said he'd do Ottomans at some stage. and I know Black Hussar Miniatures (formerly Westphalia Miniatures) do Napoleonic Saudi and Afghan figures, but I don't know whether they are in any way suitable.           

That's pretty much where I got to with the Napoleon in Egypt project.  I also painted 6 figures of the 88th Demi-Brigade (another 36 figure unit), but that's remained unfinished since 2017.  There's a small "vignette" which I'll post about next, but in the meantime here's the current state of things:

24 figures.  Painted July/August 2017.  Flags from GMB.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

4th Legere Demi-Brigade

 I'll continue posting about the Napoleon in Egypt figures I painted three years ago while I catch up with basing and photographing more recent things.  This is a unit of skirmishers representing the 4th Leger Demi-Brigade.  In the "General de Brigade" scenario book the units appears twice: 30 figures for The Pyramids and 12 skirmishers for the battle of Alexandria on 1 August 1799.  The demi-brigade began the Egyptian campaign consisting of 2 battalions and over 1,000 men and I don't know why the Alexandria scenario only lists 12 figures.  The Osprey "Napoleon's Egyptian Campaigns" provides the coat as: light green with dark brown (crimson) facings with white piping.  As is usual for French Napoleonic light infantry, the trousers are dark blue.  So this unit is a good example of "colour" of this period.   

Incidentally, in this series of Napoleon in Egypt posts, the middle eastern style buildings are by Touching History and the mat is "arid green" from Tiny Wargames.  Not much else to say, really.  The 75th Demi-Brigade are next.

12 figures.  Painted July 2017.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

69th Demi-Brigade

I thought I'd begin catching-up with my Napoleon in Egypt figures, which will take 4 posts.  I began this period because I was taken with the Perry Miniatures figures and it seemed an interesting, and colourful, Napoleonic side-show (about which I knew very little).  There are some good resources out there, including the two Caliver-published books by C.S. Grant and Eclaireur's volume of scenarios for "General de Brigade", called "Against the Ottomans".  This last publication has formed my list of units to work on, although I've left out the Battle of the Pyramids scenario because the unit strengths for that battle are huge (by which I mean infantry regiments of 48 to 60 figures).  The 69th Demi-Brigade appears in two other scenarios, El Rahmieh (9 May 1801) and El Khanka (16 May 1801), both with a unit strength of 36 figures.   

Representing the French demi-brigades for this campaign is not straightforward.  Each demi-brigade consisted of 3 battalions, each of which consisted, on paper, of approximately 1,000 men.  That explains why an early scenario like the Pyramids has such large units.  However, by 1801, which is the phase of the campaign which I'm interested in, the battalions were reduced in strength.  The GdB scenarios don't state how many battalions are in each demi-brigade and presumably the unit strength is a composite figure.  The battalion structure was 1 grenadier and 8 fusilier companies, but the latter were reduced to 4 in 1799 to take account of casualties.  My this 36-figure unit I have one stand of grenadiers and five of fusiliers, and this is clearly no attempt to replicate the individual battalions but rather to have something that looks good.    One could, I suppose, have two stands of grenadiers and four of fusiliers, which might actually be more accurate.  Each of the three battalions carried its own flag, so you then need to decide how many flags to allocate to your demi-brigade unit.  I decided to give three flags to the larger units and two flags to the smaller one.  Again, there wasn't that much thought behind that decision, other than the fact that if you give everything 3 flags you need a lot of standard bearer figures and to buy those you'll probably end up with left-over officers etc.  That said, I understand that the third battalion of the 69th was on garrison duty during 1801, so this demi-brigade should in fact only have two flags.  Never mind...the GMB flags are so good is seems a shame not in include as many as possible.

36 figures.  Painted May-July 2017. Flags by GMB.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

4th Continental Dragoons

This is another unit I painted up years ago and failed to blog about (another being the Knyphausen Fusilier Regt, which I painted 12 years ago and then realised the cuffs were in the wrong colour - I'll sort that out shortly).

It wasn't until December 1776 that Congress, after much lobbying by George Washington, authorised the formation of regular cavalry units.  Washington arranged four regiments and this was approved by Congress in March 1777.  Washington gave command of the 4th regiment to Stephen Moylan, an Irish Roman Catholic who had held a variety of senior staff positions, including acting as Washington's secretary and the Continental Army's Quartermaster General, and later fell out badly with Count Pulaski.  The 4th recruited mainly from Pennsylvania and Maryland and seems to have mustered its troops much more quickly that the other 3 regiments.  However, sources suggest that none of the dragoon regiments ever reached their full strength and most only had between 120 and 150 effectives at any one time. 

In the "British Grenadier!" scenario books the 4th Dragoons appear only once - a 4 figure unit at  Whitemarsh, a large battle fought in December 1777 near Philadelphia.   As these are Perry figures they come in packs of 3, so I thought I might as well just paint up all 6.  I was planning on doing all necessary American cavalry units with the lovely Eureka figures (which come with interchangeable hats), but then the Perries came out with specific figures for each of the Continental dragoon regiments so I decided to use those.  That said, strictly speaking, these figures are in their later uniform and so different to how they would have looked at Whitemarsh.  When the regiment was formed it was given a stock of British uniforms that had been captured at Saratoga, so red coats faced blue and leather caps.  Washington ordered the troopers to wear linen hunting shirts over these coats to avoid confusion (given that the coats were the same colour as the British 16th Light Dragoons).  Some time in 1778 or 1779 the uniform was changed to the green faced red coats and tarleton helmets that you see here.

When I was painting these figures and the Perry militia cavalry (and also a Warlord Games model of Napoleon's carriage, which I painted but then couldn't work out how to put together) I tried to make the greys a bit more "lifelike" by using photos I'd taken of a troop of grey horses in Vienna as a reference.  I'm quite pleased with the result, which involve a lot of "wet blending" and trying to get the dapples in a realistic pattern.  Did all American trumpeters ride greys (or grays if you prefer)?  Who knows,  but I like painting grey horses.

6 figures.  Painted August-September 2017.