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Friday, 28 April 2017

(P)Russians


 The Archduke correctly deduced that my new flag was intended for the Russo-German Legion, or Russisch-Deutsche Legion (RDL) to give them their proper title.

The idea of painting the RDL came about thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Mark S in the US, who contacted me early this year with  an offer of some Der Kriegspieler Russians which were surplus to his requirements. All Mark asked in return was that I cover the postage.

The RDL was raised in  Russia in 1812 by the exiled Graf Peter of Oldenburg at the instigation of the Tsar Alexander I. Its ranks were filled with German prisoners and deserters taken during Napoleon's invasion of Russia. It eventually rose to a strength of 10,000 men and included cavalry and artillery units as well as eight battalions of infantry. Its early adherents hoped that it would be the revolutionary vanguard of an all-German uprising against Napoleon. Its paymasters, however, were British, and Britain wanted it to form the backbone of the new Hanoverian army that was raised in North Germany in 1813.

It is not known if flags were ever issued to the infantry of the Legion but it is known that one was proposed for them by Ernst Friedrich Graf von Münster, an influential Hanoverian member of the British cabinet. Münster proposed St George as the central motif, accompanied by an inscription calling on all and sundry to join in the downfall of the "Dragon". Other sources mention that St George was to be surrounded by oak leaves.

It was a logical proposal. St George already appeared on the Russian imperial coat of arms, and the white horse would also appeal to Hanover. The colour scheme, however, is entirely my own invention, although with inspiration taken from other Russian flags and the arms of the Moscow Governorate, which also features St George and oak leaves intertwined by a scroll.

The figure I've converted to carry the colour is a Der Kriegspieler from Set # 55: Russian Line Infantry 1812, At Ready. He is painted to represent a soldier of the 1st Brigade of the infantry of the legion, which had red facings. The 1st Brigade would eventually be absorbed into the Prussian Army as the 30th Infantry Regiment and it would fight in this guise during the 100 Days. One can be sure, however, that the Prussian authorities would have ditched the flag!

Most of the rest of the battalion will use Russians from another DK set, # 191: Russian Line Infantry 1812, Attacking. I've modified these by removing their plumes and turning their heads slightly to the left in order to give them more of a charging appearance. Also pictured is my drummer conversion, who was made by soldering an old Hinchliffe drum to his leg and replacing his musket with stainless steel pins for the drum sticks.


The last variant I've used, pictured left, is the charging Russian line infantry officer from DK set # 57: Russian Line Infantry 1812, Command.

 To finish off, the last shot shows the 15 figures I've completed so far. The complete battalion, plus their commander if I can make up my mind about who this should be, will feature in the next post.


My thanks, once again, to Mark.

WM

Friday, 21 April 2017

Dubious Standards

The completion of the Field Battalion Bremen has brought my coalition army up to parity with the Franco-Bavarians. Next off the blocks, I've decided, should be another Allied battalion. I may even follow this up with more Allied units in order to give my honourable opponent, JC, a decisive advantage in our next encounter.

The only thing I've got to show at the moment is the flag, which is another of my coke can efforts. It's rather speculative, but not entirely so.

Can anybody guess who might have carried it?

All will be revealed in the next post....

WM


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Rid Jarmins




Having failed to deliver a completed Field Battalion Bremen as promised last week, this week's post comes with a bonus Hanoverian general. He is Hinton Hunt BN 254: Lieut-Gen. Charles. Count von Alten, in General's full dress uniform, on horse BNH 11. Both figures are David Clayton castings, I believe, but are very fine.

Marcus Hinton clearly based him on the magnificent portrait of Alten that hangs in the Bomann Museum in Celle. The painting even provides an intriguing little peek at the decoration in the corner of his general officer's shabraque, which one only very rarely gets to see as paintings from the era always seem to show just the plain blue-grey shabraque cover used by British general offciers on campaign. I liked this detail so much that I even had a go at incorporating it on my figure.



Alten is to command the now completed Field Battalion Bremen, with whom I am really quite chuffed, having wanted a 'thin red line' of my own for about as long as I can remember. Less successful, however, is the new shade of green I've been trialling for my tabletop. As in previous attempts, it's played havoc with the colour balance on my camera. The last shot, taken with the flash turned on, is the closest I could get to capturing anything like the actual tones. It may pay to invest in some whiter light bulbs, perhaps.





In other news, I'd like to say a big "hello" to David C, who has now embarked on his grand design to refurbish an army of Der Kriegspielers and Hinton Hunts. If you haven't seen them already, do take a look at the splendid first results on David's Miniature Minions blog.

Even more Hinton Hunt goodness is also now on show on Mark Dudley's Ilkley Old School blog. Mark's Austrians are simply stunning.

Finally, Rob G has sent me some photos of his absolutely spiffy Spencer Smiffies in action during a recent game. Further photos and one of Rob's uproariously entertaining write ups of the game should be appearing in a forthcoming addition of the Wargamers' Notebook.



Happy Easter everyone!

WM

Edit: I've added an extra shot of Alten to show his nearside. The resemblance to the painting is a lot clearer from this angle!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

At The Sign of the White Horse

As promised, I present the Field Battalion Bremen's command group and their ever-so-slightly speculative flag.

The flag design is based an illustration in an article by Ottfried Neubecker in Die Fahnen und Standarten der Armee des Koenigreichs Hannover, which was published in several parts in the Zeitschrift für Heereskunde (Berlin) in 1934, A flag of this form, according to Neubecker, was carried by at least some of the field battalions, although it is unclear whether they were actually carried before 1816.

Neubecker also doesn't specify any of the colours on the flag, so what I have presented here is an educated guess based on other Hanoverian flags and heraldry.


The figure is a Der Kriegspieler British line or guard infantry regimental colour bearer from the set # 150: British Line/Guard Infantry 1815, Command Group.

The first task was to rub off the original British regimental colour markings using a steel burnishing tool from a ceramic arts set. I then inscribed the roundels using another steel ceramic arts tool. The roundels are a little larger than they ought to be as I wanted to give myself a little space to work with and to help fill up the huge expanse of white on the rest of the flag.

The officer is from the same set #150. I've pictured him next to an original unpainted example to show how I've modified him.  That right arm was so horribly modeled that I simply had to do something about it.

One of the interesting things about this figure is that it is not based on the Hinton Hunt British infantry officers, but on the British Royal Artillery officer instead. Whoever made him evidently forgot to remove his sword hilt from his left hip!

I could have used British light infantry officers for this battalion, but went for the line infantry variants as it seems fairly clear that the Bremen battalion's officers wore Belgic shakos. There's a very good illustration of one (albeit in his original light infantry green) in the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, here.




The rest of the battalion is past the halfway mark and should be ready to put on show by next weekend.

Wir sehen uns dann!

WM


Saturday, 25 March 2017

King George's Other Army

The first half of my first Phase-Two infantry battalion is ready for inspection. It is the Field Battalion Bremen, one of the regiments of King George III's Hanoverian Army.

Strengthened with a sprinkling of British troops and German freikorps units in British pay, this new army sprang into existence in 1813 following the collapse of French power in Northern Germany. After campaigning in Germany in 1813 and 1814, the Hanoverians would eventually march to the Low Countries and were still garrisoned there when the Napoleonic Wars broke out afresh in early 1815.

In its early days the Bremen and Verden Battalion, as it was originally called, was dressed as light troops in stovepipe shakos and Rifle green. By the time of Waterloo, however, it had been re-organised and equipped as a redcoat battalion. Opinions differ about the other details - some sources suggest they were also issued with new Belgic shakos, for example, and had blue rather than the black facings I've given them here. However, most agree they retained their distinctive dark blue trousers and black leather equipment. Whatever the details, they're certain to brighten up my Prussians a bit, and provide a brilliant excuse for adding all sorts of other weird and wonderful units.


The figures I've painted so far for this battalion are taken from the Der Kriegspielers sets:

# 153: British Light Infantry Battalion 1815, Firing x 11; and
# 154: British Light Infantry Battalion Command Group, Drummer, x 1.



The next post will feature the rest of the command group and an ever-so-slightly speculative flag!

Have a great weekend,

WM

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Onwards and Upwards

Now that Phase One is complete I thought I'd set everything out again and have a think about where the Hinton Spieler ought to go from here.

The task in Phase One was to produce two starter armies of five infantry battalions, two cavalry regiments and two batteries each. I also wanted to get in a good mix of different types, including guard, line and militia units, exotic foreign regiments, skirmish battalions and a balance of heavy cavalry and lights. The result, I hoped, would be armies that were not only fun to paint and play with but which would serve as a call to action. What I actually achieved, however, was slightly more than this due to the unscheduled appearance of the Bavarians.

The Prussian Army
The Prussian Army Order of Battle:

2nd Neumark Landwehr Infantry Regiment
2nd/21st Infantry Regiment
10th (1st Silesian) Infantry Regiment
1st Foot Guards
2nd Silesian Schutzen Battalion

2nd Leib Hussars
Garde du Corps Cuirassiers

1 Line Foot Artillery Battery
1 Guard Foot Artillery Battery
1 Line Artillery Limber


The Franco-Bavarian Army
The French Army Order of Battle:

3rd Swiss Infantry Regiment
13th Light Infantry Regiment
Combined Voltigeurs
45th Line Infantry Regiment
1st Chasseurs a Pied

7th (1st Vistula) Line Lancers
Dragoons of the Imperial Guard

1 Line Foot Artillery Battery
1 Guard Foot Artillery Battery
1 Guard Artillery Limber

The Bavarian Army Order of Battle:

4th Bavarian Line Infantry.

The obvious thing to do in both cases (Plan A) is to simply double the Prussians and the French. This would create two-battalion guard, line, light, reserve, landwehr and foreign infantry brigades and also light and heavy cavalry brigades. However, there is the small matter of that extra Bavarian battalion which would start to look increasingly anomalous.

An alternative plan (Plan B) is to regard the Bavarians as the beginning of phase two and to embark on two allied forces. The result would be very colourful, but wouldn't get me very far towards a coherent order of battle.

Plan C is to do a bit of both!

No prizes for guessing which one I've decided to go for. The first battalion is now half finished and will be the subject of the next post.

Till then,

WM

Onwards!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Limber Labour of Love

The first of Rob's magnificent Guard Artillery gun teams is ready at last. It all took a bit longer than I expected, but they were very complex to paint and assemble and it took me a while to figure it all out.

The figures are:

Hinton Hunt:
FN 188 French Horse Artillery Of the Guard Artillery Drivers Corps driver x2
H 3: French (nearside) Gun Horse x 2
H4: French (offside) Gun Horse x 2

Der Kriegspielers Napoleoniques:
French Limber from the # 32: French 6" Howitzer, limber and four-horse team set.

Warrior:
FA1: French 8lb Field Gun


Getting everything to fit together  required quite a bit of planning. The DK limber came complete with swingletrees, but to attach these to the horses I first had to cut them off the limber and then wrap lengths of fuse wire around them. The fuse wires were then soldered to the horses to create the traces. The trick here was then to attach a short nib of solder on the rear of each swingletree, and then paint each horse assembly while leaving these nibs unpainted.

The limber also needed a bit of cutting back and rearranging so that everything would fit back together again neatly. Again, I attached small nibs of solder on to the points on the limber where the swingletrees would reattach. These nibs were also left unpainted.


The final stage was then to glue everything in place on the base with the nibs on the swingletrees and limber just touching. My hope was it would take just a quick application of heat with the soldering iron for them to melt together and form a single string, and much to my relief this is exactly what happened. It was then just a quick dab of black paint and varnish and the job was done.


The Warrior guns have also been given a repaint, although its hard to tell the difference. The only real change here was to add some bent steel pins to create the tool brackets on either side of the trails.

And that, I'm very pleased to say, is the end of Phase One.

WM

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A bit of a breather and a mystery solved and deepened.

After all the frenetic activity over Christmas to get (most)  of my January 2016 list of "to dos" finished, I needed a bit of a break, so off we flew to the imaginatively-named South Island for a glorious week in the sun. Below is the view from the balcony where we were staying looking over the Akaroa bay. It has to be one of the most lovely spots I've ever seen.

Lovely Akaroa
Any feelings of self satisfaction over the dent in the lead pile I'd managed to make over the year were swiftly dispelled on my return, however. Over the course of a few days the lead pile has increased by 4+  battalions, a battery of artillery and two cavalry regiments! My ever lasting thanks to David, Mark and Tony S for these. It looks like the Hinton Spieler will be trundling on for a while yet.

Tony S also sent me the picture below, with some further intelligence about the mysterious FN2a Hinton Hunt charging French line grenadier variant (he of the hanging musket sling). The man on the left, Tony tells me, is a David Clayton figure which he obtained from the man himself. The chap in the right, however, is rather more Hinton Huntish, being of a softer metal and the chunkier base plugs typical of Marcus Hinton originals. The other main difference, clearly visible in the picture, is their leg positions. The mystery deepens!

Left to Right: David Clayton FN2a and an FN2a from somewhere else!
Rob's magnificent gun team has been staring at me resentfully for long enough now, so I guess I'd better paint it. A final review of the completed Phase One will follow, with a bit of discussion about what Phase Two ought to look like. My erstwhile opponent, JC, is already demanding a rematch with substantially augmented forces!

Yours, cracking on,

WM

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Battle of Windy Pass - Part 2


Satisfied by the artillery preparation, and the unaccountably feeble Prussian response, the Emperor ordered the resumption of the advance. Two massed infantry columns immediately marched to the assault, while to the south the Swiss also formed column and advanced towards the woods. With drums beating the infantry let out a mighty cheer: "Vive L'Empereur!".

Napoleon: Right lads, now go in there and sweep away that Prussian rubbish!
The crisis of the battle was fast approaching. Blucher remained confident, however, that if any of the French broke through his first line they would be swiftly ejected by his carefully husbanded reserves.

Blucher: Here zey come boys! Ve vill haf zem for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
General Quiestil led the crack 13th Légère against the Prussian right flank, closely supported by the Bavarian 4th Line Infantry.....

while Ney led the 45th against the Prussians regulars lining the heights.

Ney: Forward the 45th!
Behind them marched Cambronne, leading his beloved Chasseurs à Pied.

Cambronne: Courage, mes enfants. La victoire est à nous!

Meanwhile, the 3rd Swiss advanced almost unnoticed towards against the southern flank of the Prussian line.


Decimated by the relentless pounding of the French guns, the Prussian 21st fell back in confusion, leaving the gunners either side of them unsupported. Seeing his chance, Quiestil led a sudden charge which overran one of the Prussian batteries.

The 13th demonstrate the art of "Assault and Battery".
Blucher watched in dismay as his right flank began to collapse.

Blucher: Ooops, zat vasn't supposed to happen. Gneisenau, send in ze Guards!
The crisis was fast approaching, but the Prussians still refused to give way without a fight. The Silesian regulars fired a devastating volley into the 45th, who were also hit by canister shot from the few remaining Prussian guns. The 45th wavered and then stopped, their ranks in hopeless disarray.

Ney: It's nothing lads, barely a scratch. Charge, Goddammit!
Meanwhile the 3rd Swiss, having chased off the Prussian riflemen out the woods, prepared to assault the Landwehr, who wheeled in line to face them.



The Emperor watched intently. Everything seemed to be going more or less according to plan.

Napoleon: You'll see Marbot, it'll be 1806 all over again!
For a moment Prussian hopes were lifted as the 45th, after receiving another devastating volley from the Silesians, turned and fled. These hopes were dashed almost immediately, however, as the Neumark Landwehr broke in turn before the Swiss onslaught.

Soult: Splendid work, men! Shame about poor old Ney though, eh? Ahem.
Blucher's situation continued to deteriorate as the 4th launched an unstoppable charge against the disordered ranks of the 21st, who also broke and ran.


Only the Silesian regulars continued to hold the first line, but were now faced by the French Imperial Guard. A desultory volley failed to stop them and the Silesians braced for impact.

Cambronne: er.....I think it's this way, Chasseurs!
Blucher knew that it was time to throw in his reserves. Surely the cavalry and the Guard could stop the French? The Lieb Hussars led by General Bulow, were the first to charge, hitting the Swiss before they had time to form square. The Silesians, however, were pushed back in disorder by Cambronne's guardsmen.


On the right the Prussian 1st Foot Guards were barely able to fire a few shots before the Bavarians were on top of them. Despite  losing the first round of the melee, however, the guardsmen held their ground.


Sensing that the climax of the battle had arrived, the Prussian Garde du Corps now charged the 13th Légère, who failed in their attempt to form square. Amazingly, however, the 13th not only survived the impact but won the first round of the melee, forcing the Prussian horsemen back in disorder. Quiestil couldn't believe his luck.

Quiestil: Er....we'll just pretend that didn't happen, shall we?
The battle was not going all the way of the French, however. As the Swiss, broken by the Prussian hussars, fled towards the rear, Murat led a counter attack with the 7th Lancers. Having lost a quarter of their strength in the earlier fighting, however, the lancers were too weak for the task and were immediately put to rout, with the hussars in hot pursuit.

Murat: I've received terrible news from Naples and must return immediately!

But it was all to no avail. Although he was able to rally his Landwehr, Blucher watched helplessly as the Prussian Foot Guards were finally driven back in disorder by the Bavarians. The 10th Silesians, after a desperate hand-to-hand struggle with the Chasseurs, broke and ran.


Any prospect of restoring the situation with the much reduced Garde du Corps also began to fade as the 13th formed square and Ornano's Guard Dragoons appeared within charging range on their right flank.


Blucher: I hate to say zis, Gneisenau, but we're going to have to run for it!
And so the battle ended. As his army streamed away from the battlefield, Blucher could at least take comfort from the fact that the French were too disorganised to mount a pursuit.

Blucher: I am 72 and a proud soldier. We'll beat them yet, Gneisenau!

The following morning, the Emperor resumed his march towards Berlin. The events of the previous day troubled him.

Napoleon: The only ones who were any good were the Bavarians!

JC accepted his defeat with gallantry and grace. It could and indeed should have been otherwise but for those accursed Bavarians and his atrocious luck with the dice. 

My sincere thanks to Don, Ian, Steve, Roy, John, Chuck, Nigel, Tony H, Tony F, Rob, Richard and Tom, without whom I could never have got this far, and to all those whose kind words and encouragement kept me going.

Cheers,

WM