Friday 27 September 2013

Sir Ralph Hopton

Here's the second of my two ECW command vignettes.  In was way back in May 2009 that I started painting a Royalist force for the English Civil War - my efforts can be seen here.  I began work on two command stands, one for the complete army and a second for its (forthcoming) cavalry element (Sir John Byron).  I painted 3 of the figures and began work on 2 cornets, but failed to complete them; I think it was painting the cornets' grey horses that scared me off.  As I said yesterday, I eventually finished these stands in February last year, together with several things that had lain half-finished over the past few years (including lots of Darkest Africa arabs and beluchis, which I might blog about at some stage).  This stand feature Sir Ralph Hopton with his escort and cornet.  Hopton is a personality figure from the Bicorne Miniatures range; the other two figures are Renegade, I think.

Sir Ralph Hopton (1596-1652) is one of the better known characters of the ECW, leading the Royalist charge in the West Country.  He was MP for Shaftesbury from 1621 and then gained early military experience as part of the entourage of Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia (Prince Rupert's mother), whose husband, in 1620, was defeated in battle and deposed by the Holy Roman Emperor.  He saw further action in the early stages of the Thirty Years' War before returning to England to become MP for Bath in 1625.  He returned to the army in 1639 to serve the King in the Bishops' Wars as a captain in the King's Lifeguard.  In 1640, Hopton became MP for Somerset in the Short Parliament and for Wells in the Long Parliament and was active in supporting the King against his political enemies.   He supported Charles' attempt to arrest five members of the Commons in January 1642 and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned in the Tower for 2 weeks.

In summer 1642 Hopton went to Cornwall to raise the county for the King, which he managed to do by mobilising the militia and driving out the local Parliamentarians.  He then recruited a local army and won his first victory of Braddock Down in January 1643.  A further victory at Stratton enable Hopton to meet with reinforcements from Prince Maurice and the Earl of Hertford and march into Somerset, where the Royalists won a pyhrric victory over Sir William Waller at Lansdown in July.  Among the heavy Royalist casualties was Hopton himself, who was injured and temporarily blinded after the battle when an ammunition cart exploded.  The Royalists regrouped, were joined by reinforcements under Lord Wilmot and then won a more decisive victory over Waller at Roundway Down a week later.  Joined by Prince Rupert, Hopton's army then captured Bristol.  Hopton was appointed lieutenant-governor of the city and raised to the peerage as Baron Hopton of Stratton.  He was then appointed as commander of Royalist forces in south-western England and ordered to advance on London.

Hopton captured Arundel Castle in Sussex in December 1643, but his march on London was checked by Waller at the battle of Cheriton in March 1644.  After a brief return to Bristol, Hopton was appointed General of Ordnance and fought at the second battle of Newbury in October 1644.   The following spring saw Hopton besieging Taunton, but the defeat at Naseby meant the effective end of the Royalist military struggle and Hopton withdrew to Devon.  Hopton held his army together long enough to enable the Prince of Wales to escape to the Continent and then surrendered in March 1646.  He too went into exile and, after providing some further assistance to Prince Charles, died in Bruges in September 1652.

I've always had a soft spot for Hopton and his dashing Cornish army.  He rather reminds me of Cornwallis in the southern campaigns, winning most of the battles but ultimately losing the war.  There's a rather bad painting mistake on the Hopton figure.  I clearly confused myself about what clothes he's wearing, and assumed that the buff coat was some sort of tabard such that the visible sleeves would be those of an under-coat or tunic.  On reflection, that's wrong - the sleeves should also be buff as they are part of the same coat, although the light blue does give quite a nice contrast to what otherwise would be a buff-heavy vignette.  Portraits of Hopton, like the one above, also show a slight goatee beard, but I didn't see one on the figure so he's clean shaven here.  I also notice that the gloves of the chap with the pistol look rather yellow - they remind me of the Marigolds that my mother used to wear when doing the dishes.  But I remember when painting this figure that I wanted a slightly different colour for the cavalryman's gloves, otherwise everything would look, well, "buffy".  As for the cornet's horse - I have no idea what I was doing there, but, while the dappled effect probably isn't 100% quite right, at least it's a change from plain white or grey.

3 figures.  Painted May 2009 and February 2012.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Sir John Byron

Sorry for the lack of posts this month - real life catching up again.  Also, I don't really have much in the way of new stuff anyway; I have too many different things on the go and I'm not concentrating sufficiently on finishing units before starting others.  That said, there will, I hope, be new AWI militia posted on Sunday and I'm almost ready for a mass of ACW posts.  To tide things over, for the next couple of days I'm going to post about a couple of ECW pieces I painted a good while ago (as long ago as 2009, in fact) and didn't bother talking about at the time.

This is a vignette of Sir John Byron, a staunch supporter of the Royalist cause.  Born in 1599, he became MP for Nottingham in 1624 and was knighted two years later. From 1634 to 1635 he was High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and then Lieutenant of the Tower of London in 1641, although he was forced to give up this latter post as his appointment was opposed by the House of Commons.  He was clearly in very good favour with King Charles, because at some point he became a Gentleman of the Bedchamber (this strange-sounding position was basically a personal servant to the king; according to Wikipedia, the post involved "guarding the royal water-closet", which can't have been much fun when it was in royal use).  In October 1643 he was created 1st Baron Byron of Rochdale. 

In terms of his military service, Byron began the civil was as commander of a cavalry regiment, which saw action at Edgehill.  His ability as a leader of cavalry resulted in him commanding the Royalist right wing at Roundway Down in 1643 and then the centre at the First Battle of Newbury.  Subsequent to his actions in those battles he was ennobled and appointed commander of Royalist forces in Lancashire and Cheshire.  His siege of the town of Nantwitch in  January 1644 was destroyed by a relief force under Fairfax.  In July that year we find him commanding the Royalist right wing at Marston Moor.  After the defeat Byron withdrew to Chester, which he defended against various Parliamentarian sieges until being forced to surrender in February 1646.  In 1648 the future Charles II sought Byron's assistance in what became known as the Second Civil War, but Byron failed to raise support for the Royalist cause in Wales and fled to Ireland.  He appears to have realised that the Royalist resurgence was doomed and headed off to France to join the Duke of York (i.e. the future James II), who was spending his exile serving in the French army.  Byron died at Paris in August 1652.  As he had no children his baronetcy passed to his younger brother, Richard (see below) and then, after three more barons, to the poet Lord Byron.

This command stand is intended to use as a generic "cavalry wing" commander.  The Byron figure is actually a personality figure of his brother, Richard, that was originally a subscriber freebie from Wargames Illustrated.  It is now available from North Star as part of their Trent Miniatures "Newark Characters" range.  I believe Mark Copplestone was the sculptor.  Richard Byron (1606-1679) was a governor of Newark and also fought in the ECW on the Royalist side, being knighted in 1642.  Judging from the fine portrait of John Byron by William Dobson (which is on the left and is also on the cover of Stuart Reid's ECW history "All the King's Armies") the two brothers looked pretty similar.  I wanted a cavalry commander for my Royalist army and thought the Byron figure would fit the bill.  The cornet is from either Renegade or Bicorne - I confess I can't now recall which.  I remember painting the Byron figure well before I left London, and in fact I've found a photo from July 2009 that shows him finished; however the vignette's completion was delayed by the cornet, as I developed a bit of a mental block about painting the horse.  Then in February 2012 I made a conscious effort to finish off various things that I had been working on for too long.  I must make a more general conscious effort to paint more ECW at some stage.

2 figures.  Painted June 2009 and February 2012.


Wednesday 4 September 2013

French line foot artillery (7)

Here's another Napoleonic piece from much earlier in the year, which I forgot about.  This is the limited edition set released at the end of last year by Martin Kelly of the Befreiungskriege website and which was sculped by Peter Fitzgerald of Calpe Miniatures.  The process behind the design and commissioning of this set is explained on Martin's website and he has some very good tips on how to paint these figures.  The figures are quite specific: two soldiers of the artillery train; a foot artillery drummer; and a "Marie-Louise" infantryman carrying what looks like potatoes.  There's also a campfire with a "marmite" cooking pot over it, which I'm afraid I totally forgot about when taking these photos!  So Martin's site is well worth looking at for information on painting these types of soldiers.  And if you look here you can see these figures painted up as Italians by young Simon Haldezos in Kapiti, NZ.

The bluey-grey of the artillery train's uniforms is a tricky colour to pin down.  I used the Foundry palette "Confederate Grey 117", which has a tinge of blue in it and I think works ok. The blue facings and trousers on the drummer were painted with Foundry "French Blue 65".  There were quite a few straps and bits on these figures, some of which I couldn't immediately identify - those sort of things are always painted with Foundry "Canvas 8" or "Deep Brown Leather 45".  I confess the precise colours to use on the whip eluded me, so I just used various browns.    

This is a neat little set - it's not often you have the chance to paint members of the artillery train on foot. These were the first Calpe figures I've painted.  They were enjoyable to do, with clean surfaces and carefully sculpted detail.  The figures are a tad larger than Perry sculpts, but look fine together on the table.   The Calpe website states that French (and Saxon) artillery pieces and crews will be available in September or October, so I'll be sure to pick up some French artillery when they are released.  I'm tempted to look at their French line infantry too at some stage.

4 figures. Painted February 2013.