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,