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Friday, 2 December 2016

Here be Dragons

My first squadron of Hinton Hunt Dragons de l'Imperatrice are ready for their photo session.

They required a lot of preparation as they were covered in a thick coat of house paint which took a week in the dettol jar to get off, only to reveal some very flashy and bashed-about castings underneath. They made my heart sink a bit when I first saw them. The swords, muskets and aiguillettes on all but one of the troopers had been either cut away or otherwise damaged, but in a way this was an advantage as I could take my drill and soldering iron to them without too many qualms! The results are quite pleasing, I think, as no two are completely alike.

First up are the officer and the standard bearer. Both have had their muskets removed and been given new aiguillettes on their right shoulders and fringed epaullettes on their left. I also contemplated removing their portmanteaus, but my nerve failed at that point!

The standard bearer's original arm had been severed at the elbow and replaced with a bit of scrap lead, so the only thing to do was to replace it altogether with another one of John Cunnigham's very useful recast lancer arms. The flag is made from another bit of that wonderfully thin piece of brass donated by my neighbour, Richard. The eagle comes from an old Minifigs guardsman that I found in a local junk shop.

In the next photo the troopers on the left and in the centre were also missing their aiguillettes, so I replaced these too. I rather like the effect of seeing them flying about in different directions.

The second squadron are on the painting table and I'm very pleased to report will now be a mixture of Der Kriegspielers and Hinton Hunts. This is thanks to a very generous donation by the Archduke.

His Royal Highness also sent me this beautifully realised self portrait. It commemorates the moment, he tells me, when he personally seized the colour of a faltering infantry regiment at the Battle of Aspern-Essling and ran forwards with it to great morale boosting effect. Now that is classy!

The Archduke himself!
Until the next time,


Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Duellist

What with earthquakes and so forth, I haven't got quite as far with the first squadron of the Empress Dragoons as I'd hoped. However, I have finished their commander. He is Général de Division Phillipe-Antoine d'Ornano, who was a colonel of the Empress Dragoons from 1813 to 1815.

The figure I've used for him is a vintage Hinton Hunt FN 362: General Baraguey d'Hilliers, Colonel General of Dragoons. He was missing his horse (which should have been an FNH 10), so the mount I've given him instead is an FNH 2: French Guard Heavy Cavalry Horse, which was kindly donated by Hans. I've modified it slightly to turn it into an officer's horse by removing the portmanteau.

Born in Corsica on 1784, d'Ornano was a cousin of Napoleon's and served with distinction as a cavalry officer, fighting at Austerlitz and Jena. In 1808 he was made a Count of the Empire and spent the next few years in Spain and Portugal where he was promoted to général de brigade  at the battle of Fuentes de Onoro.

In 1812 d'Ornano took part in the Russian campaign. At Borodino he charged the enemy at the head of the cavalry of IV Corps, for which he was promoted to général de division. During the retreat he was wounded and left for dead but he clearly got out of Russia somehow as in 1813 he became a major colonel of the Empress Dragoons and would go on to fight at Dresden, Kulm, Leipzig, and Hanau.

When Napoleon returned to power in 1815 d'Ornano was placed in charge of the Empress Dragoons, but his hot-headedness prevented him from taking part in the Waterloo campaign. When General Bonet refused to salute him, d'Ornano considered himself insulted and the result was a duel.

There are various versions about what happened next, but it seems that the duel was fought on two consecutive days and ended when d'Ornano was gravely wounded. Bonet, it is said, was saved by a 5 franc coin in his pocket, which deflected d'Ornano's bullet.

D'Ornano eventually recovered from his wound and was briefly married to Napoleon's former mistress, Marie Walewska, with whom he had a son before her untimely death in 1817. D'Ornano himself lived until 1863. His descendants went on to found a perfume empire!


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Dressed to Empress

Hinton Hunt FN 60: Empress's Dragoons
What with the arrival of Cambronne and the Chasseurs à pied, it seemed logical that the next regiment to mobilise should be cavalry of the Guard. When they're complete all I'll need to complete the Phase One French are a battery of artillery and one of Rob's splendid teams, plus a general or two.

The figures I have for the latest unit are six each of Hinton Hunt and Der Kriespielers Empress Dragoons. The Hinton Hunts were all grizzled veterans of many a battle, and had suffered a bit, so were ripe for a bit of conversion.

Hinton Hunt FN 60: Empress's Dragoons
The figure pictured here is a conversion of Hinton Hunt FN 60: French Empresses Dragoons of the Guard, in handsome brass helmet with flowing horse-tail plume, in green coat and top boots (mounted) charging.

His sword arm had been replaced by a very ugly bit of scrap lead, so there was nothing for it but to cut this off and replace it with a new arm, in this case donated by a Lamming cuirassier trumpeter I picked up from somewhere.

I also had to remove his musket, ammunition pouch and shoulder strap, and give him a new set of  aiguillettes. It took a few goes to get these all to attach properly, but I got there in the end.

Some proper green-coated troopers should be appearing in the next post.

Have a great weekend,


Saturday, 29 October 2016

CàP in Hand

The Chasseurs à Pied are ready, and I'm even prepared to admit that I'm quite chuffed with them.

Only two paint conversions were required to turn my Dutch grenadiers into Chasseurs: a change to their cuffs to make them pointy, and an extra little tassel on their bearskins.

They were easier to paint than ordinary line infantry, although I complicated things a bit by giving them their full-dress, summer gaiters. The original plan was to paint these black as I'd noticed that wargamers tend to paint their Chasseurs in a rather grungy, campaign-stained style, no doubt as a way of adding a bit of variety to their otherwise pristine guard divisions. When I saw the effect of the white gaiters on my test figure, however, I was hooked.

I was hoping that finishing this battalion would cure my very long-standing desire for French guardsmen for the time being, but I'm wondering what they'd look like in white and red as Dutch grenadiers now!


Der Kriegspielers DK 220 Chasseurs a Pied of the Imperial Guard

Der Kriegspielers DK 220 Chasseurs a Pied of the Imperial Guard

Der Kriegspielers DK 220 Chasseurs a Pied of the Imperial Guard

Der Kriegspielers DK 220 Chasseurs a Pied of the Imperial Guard

Der Kriegspielers DK 220 Chasseurs a Pied of the Imperial Guard

Der Kriegspielers DK 220 Chasseurs a Pied of the Imperial Guard

Friday, 21 October 2016

Head Hunted

As I'm halfway through my latest regiment, it's time for another Hinton Hunt personality figure.

The Archduke guessed who he was going to be. He is Pierre Jacques Étienne Cambronne. At Waterloo he was a maréchal de camp (an archaic title for General de Brigade) in command of the first regiment of the Chasseurs à pied of the Imperial Guard.

In 1815, at the age of 45, Cambronne was a veteran of 23 years, having served in the campaigns of Jena, Spain, Russia and1813 and 1814. Starting as a humble grenadier, he rose steadily through the ranks of the Imperial Guard. In 1814 he commanded the battalion of guardsmen that accompanied Napoleon to exile and was rewarded with the title of Viscount when Napoleon returned to power.

The Emperor's offer of promotion to General de Division, however, was refused by the typically self-effacing Cambronne. It was thus with a relatively modest colonel's command (which, as a guardsmen, required him to have general's rank) that Cambronne fought at Waterloo.

Cambronne entered into legend when it was said that he heroically refused to surrender his regiment after it was surrounded at the end of the battle. His legendary reply when summoned to lay down his arms was: "the Guard dies but does not surrender!" Some sources say that it was altogether briefer and more direct.

The exact circumstances, however, are disputed, as Cambronne didn't die and did surrender! Anglo-German accounts insist that he was captured by Sir Hugh Halkett, the commander of the 3rd Hanoverian Brigade. Halkett claimed that he seized the wounded Cambronne by one of his epaulettes and physically dragged back behind British lines.

The figure is Hinton Hunt FN 367: General Cambronne, in general's uniform and cocked hat on foot, with drawn sword and waving arm. He was, until very recently, the only French personality figure I was missing. Hans, however, has very kindly donated him so that I could complete the set.

Marcus Hinton evidently preferred the legendary version of Cambronne and depicted him much as he appeared in the famous print by Hippolyte Bellange. In Bellange's work, Cambronne is grasping the tricolour, surrounded by his defiant guardsmen. My attempt to re-stage this stirring scene is in the last shot.


Cambronne at Waterloo, after Bellange.

Cambronne at Waterloo, after Marcus Hinton.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Head Hunters

Der Kriegspielers DK 20 Chasseurs à pied command group

The DK 20 command group for my Chasseurs à pied (literally "Hunters on foot", in English) is ready for inspection.

I've had an ambition to paint a battalion of French Imperial guardsmen for as long as I can remember, so I've been beavering away during the weekday evenings to get them done.

Der Kriegspielers DK 20 Chasseurs à pied command group

The flag is my attempt to produce the 1812 pattern infantry flag. It's a little impressionistic as I couldn't quite squeeze everything on to it! I can't help thinking that the Imperial symbols down the sides look just bit too much like Chinese characters, but they ought to be OK when viewed from a distance.

I have a special commander for these chaps! All will be revealed in the next post....