Sunday, 28 June 2015

Imperial Guard Engineers

I'm still photographing AWI bits and pieces so here is a small vignette of the engineers of Napoleon's Imperial Guard  (or to give them their proper French name, "le génie de la Garde impériale").  A small corps of engineers was created in 1804 as part of the Consular Guard and a 140-odd strong company of sapeurs was added in January 1811 to act as specialist firemen (apparently, according to one source, in response to a bad fire at the Austrain Embassy in Paris which).  These troops were initially part of the Old Guard, but as the corps expanded in numbers new companies were assigned to the Young Guard.  By 1814 the engineers numbered a complete battalion, of which the first company was in the Old Guard and the second to fourth companies were in the Young Guard.  The engineers do not appear to have ever fought together as a regiment.  As you'd expect for troops of particular expertise, detachments were used as required.  The corps numbered around 600 men at the time of Napoleon's abdication.  During the Hundred Days about 200 men were mustered to re-form the unit, of which just over a hundred appear to have been present in the Waterloo campaign under a Major Boissonnet.  The uniform was very similar to that worn by the regular army's engineers, save that the latter's shako was replaced by the brass helmet you see here.

These figures are from Gringos40, who have released a wide variety of figures in 28mm and 40mm.  Their Napoleonic range has various esoteric Imperial Guard types: mamelukes, Gendarmes d'Elite, the Marins and engineers, and a couple of personalities.    The engineers range has several poses, including skirmishing and marching figures and command.  I thought the figures you see here would make a nice little vignette to represent the presence of the engineers, perhaps being drafted in to ferry ammunition and powder to the Imperial Guard's artillery.  Whether these troops were actually present at the battle of Waterloo I don't know; I suppose they might have been off building or repairing a bridge somewhere.  However, these are nice figures and it seems a pity not to find a use them.  Gringos40 also do a sapeurs fire engine set which I must check out some time...

These are large 28mm figures.  From base to the crest of the helmet is 35mm and they look quite big side by side with Perry and (particularly) Foundry Napoleonic figures.  I thought about putting some more boxes and crates or barrels on the base, but then decided that would be too busy and, given the amount of "rear echelon" stuff I have for my French Waterloo army (with much more planned), I wanted to keep the base size of this vignette as small as possible.  As with my other Imperial Guard figures (who now have a new label all to themselves) I used the Foundry "French Blue 65" palette with a cheeky final highlight of "Deep Blue 20B".   More AWI next, I promise.

3 figures.  Painted June 2015.



Sunday, 21 June 2015

Espana Regiment - 1st battalion

It's been over 2 years since I last posted about the First Carlist War and over 4 years since I last painted Isabelino infantry (and this post has itself been gestating for a couple of weeks while I take and re-take photos; hence the gap in posts).  For the past few months I've been making an effort to deal with the leadpile - as a result I have barely bought any new figures during the past year or so, save some boxes of Perry plastic AWI infantry when they were released, the Ewart vignette and a couple of metal AWI packs and some Maori from Empress Miniatures.  Oh, and some Napoleonics from Gringo 40s that I'm currently getting to grips with.  That's certainly saved some money, and as wargaming chum Timmo says "hoarding unpainted figures isn't much of a hobby".  One aim of this year is to become "lead neutral" on a couple of periods, by which I mean having no unpainted units left to paint and a rule that anything new is painted as soon as it is purchased. My First Carlist War leadpile consists of some Valencian troops for the Carlists and some regular cavalry for the Isabelinos, so not a huge amount to get through.  (The other period I'm focussing on is the New Zealand Wars, with about 40-odd figures and a massive 24-pounder to get through.)  The FCW leadpile also contained enough figures for another Isabelino infantry battalion, and this is it.

The regular army battalions I chose to paint are determined solely by the flags that are available from Adolfo Ramos.  Information on the precise orders of battle for Carlist War battles is hard to come by and, in any event, are there are no distinctions between the regiments that I can discern it doesn't really matter which units one fields on the table.  A scenario needs three battalions from the Princesa Regiment?  Well, I have two already and I'll field the la Constitution Regt as the third; no one's going to complain.  I do try to make each regiment look a bit different.  The standard winter uniform for regular infantry was dark grey overcoats and trousers - I painted the La Constitution regiment like that.  But to make the Espana look different I gave the figures white summer trousers instead of grey ones and didn't add any mud splatter (which I gave to the Borbon Regiment which is otherwise similarly dressed).  If I ever get around to painting second battalions for these regiments I will continue the colour schemes of their first battalions.    

I don't as yet have any light infantry battalions for the Isabelinos, but with 6 regular line battalions and 4 other units, together with the British and French allied forces, I have enough loyalist troops for the moment.  In time I'd like to add second battalions to the Espana and La Constitution regiments and a third battalion to the Princessa.  However, in the meantime my Carlist forces need building up, as I only have 3 battalions and some skirmishers.  Next up on the blog are 4 new American infantry battalions for the AWI; then more 1815.   

24 figures.  Painted December 2014-February 2015.  Flag by Adolfo Ramos and barn by Touching History.


Saturday, 6 June 2015

Sergeant Charles Ewart

The final 1815 post for a short while is the Perry Miniatures Sergeant Ewart vignette.  Ewart, of course, captured the eagle of the French 45th Ligne at Waterloo. Charles Ewart was born in 1769 in Kilmarnock, Scotland. Twenty years later he enlisted in the 2nd Royal North British Dragoons, better known as the Scots Greys.  Accounts from his fellow cavalrymen relate that Ewart was renowned for his strength and skill as a swordsmen, as well as being six feet and four inches tall.  His first experience of combat was in the Flanders Campaign of 1783-85, during which Ewart was briefly captured by the French before being rescued by some Austrian allies.  For his part in that campaign Ewart was promoted to sergeant.  The regiment then took no part in the Napoleonic Wars until it joined reinforcements sent out to Belgium in 1815 in response to Napoleon's escape from Elba.  Ewart's own account of his exploits at Waterloo is well known, but it seems appropriate to include it here:

"It was in the first charge I took the eagle from the enemy: he and I had a hard contest for it; he made a thrust at my groin, I parried it off and cut him down through the head. After this a lancer came at me; I threw the lance off by my right side, and cut him through the chin and upward through the teeth.
Next, a foot-soldier fired at me and charged me with his bayonet, which I also had the good luck to parry, and then I cut him down through the head; thus ended the contest.
As I was about to follow my regiment, the general [General Ponsonby] said,’My brave fellow, take that to the rear; you have done enough till you get quit of it’. which I was obliged to do, but with great reluctance.
I retired to a height, and stood there for upwards of an hour, which gave a general view of the field, but I cannot express the horrors I beheld. The bodies of my brave comrades were lying so thick upon the field that it was scarcely possible to pass, and horses innumerable. I took the eagle into Brussels amid the acclamations of thousands of spectators who saw it."

What colour was Ewart's hair?  No idea, so I painted it brown
The Scots Greys remained with the occupying forces in until 1816 and early that year he was promoted to Ensign in the 5th Royal Veteran Battalion.  Ewart, who was in his mid-forties at Waterloo, retired from the army when his regiment was disbanded later in 1816 (the Royal Veteran Battalions were raised after1802 with men who were considered no longer fit for active duty but who could act as garrison troops; most were disbanded in 1814 but were then re-raised before final disbandment in 1816).  Ewart seems to have spent his time as a fencing instructor and giving after-dinner speeches.  He died in 1846, at the age of 77.   In 1936 his remains were discovered in Manchester and were then reinterred at Edinburgh Castle, where the Scots Greys' regimental museum is located.

This set is a bit fiddly to put together.  Ewart's left hand is attached to the separate eagle/flag pole and I noticed immediately that there wasn't enough space between the hand and the eagle to accommodate my GMB flag.  So I had to cut the pole in half and add some metal rod to lengthen the pole.  I then realised that the flag was too big to sit over Ewart's left shoulder, as it appears on the Perry website, so I re-positioned the flag pole to sit across Ewart's body, which has the advantage of plaing the flag itself more "centre stage", I think (I have no idea how the chap who painted the set on the website did the flag - I'd love to know).  It was only after I'd started painting the figures that I realised that what I had thought was Ewart's sword (the blade isn't attached to the Ewart figure) was actually the French lancer's dropped where was Ewart's?  It then occured to me that what I had thrown away assuming it was a bit of flash on the sprue that held the lancer's sword and  lance was in fact the missing sword blade; so I had to rummage around in the kitchen bin to find it!  Once the figures were painted I had several goes at positioning them on the base.  I think the set is better suited to a rectangular base than a round one, as there isn't quite enough space for the lancer to go past Ewart.  The lancer, incidentally, is from the 3rd regiment of line lancers.  The French cavalry counter-attack against the Union Brigade's charge included the 3rd and 4th lancers from Jaquinot's 1st Cavalry Division.  I chose the 3rd because I preferred their pink facings to the crimson of the 4th.  The lance pennant is from Adolfo Ramos. It was only once I'd taken these photos that I realised Ewart's sword is looking rather clean and bloodless, so I'll need to rectify that this evening.

4 figures. Painted May 2015.  Flag by GMB.


Sunday, 31 May 2015

French Post Coach

In keeping with the Napoleonic theme for a moment, this is Westfalia Miniatures' limited edition French imperial post coach, together with an additional French postman smoking his pipe.  This is an all-metal set that comes in various parts.  In can be fiddly to put together, although the Westfalia website offers good instructions.  The only really confusing part are the bits that go on the back of the coach and precisely where they go.  The model might have benefited from reins, but I decided I didn't really know how to go about it and I couldn't really be bothered anyway.  

The standing postman is straight out of an illustration in Osprey's Elite series "Napoleon's Imperial Headquarters (2)", a book that provides a bit of useful information.  Apparently the French Military Postal Service was staffed by civilians but came under the command of the military.  Every army had a detachment, but in circumstances where Napoleon himself commanded an army the director-in-chief of the service came under the command of the imperial household HQ.   This model shows a two-wheeled coach that was often used to transport letters - these are on the roof of the coach, protected by oilcloth.  The postmen here are wearing civilian blue rather than imperial dark green, but their attachment to the army is shown by the tricoleur ribbons around their hats.  The illustrations in the Osprey book show the various imperial coaches painted yellow ochre with red oxide woodwork, so that's those are the colours I've used here.  I painted this some time ago but didn't quite finish the painting or the lantern.  I tried to paint the lantern as it might appear in daylight, but that's failed totally and it looks as if there's a phosphorus grenade going off inside it.  Anyway, this joins my "rear echelon" stuff for my 1815 collection.


Coach and postmen painted November-December 2014.

On the painting table at the moment are the Perries' Sergeant Ewart Waterloo vignette and the 8th Ligne - wip photos below.

Monday, 25 May 2015

54th Ligne (2)

This is the first battalion of Napoleonic French Line infantry that I've painted in 2 years.  It is the first battalion of the 54th Ligne, so the counterpart to the second battalion I posted about in May 2013 (see here).  The 54th Line was part of the 1st brigade of the 1st division of I Corps and, as with its counterpart, at 1:20 for the "General de Brigade" orbat it has 24 figures.  As I noted before, I try to standardise small details like shako covers and greatcoat colours for each division I work on.  So this division have black oilskin shako covers and slate grey greatcoats. The figures are largely Perry plastics.  On the command stand are 2 Perry metal casualties and a Foundry drummer - I was trying to use up spare metal figures when I put this unit together (you can see the rest of the Perry casualties pack here).

Not much else to add, really.  I've now painted over 200 Perry plastic French infantry (check out the "Napoleonic French" label if you're interested in previous efforts) and I totally love these figures.  I'm currently painting some metal French infantry and they are so much more work than the plastic figures that I don't know why I bother, to be honest.  I'll probably complete Charlet's brigade with the 55th Ligne and then call time on the French infantry, moving on to some cavalry and allied troops.   As before, the building in the background is by the much-missed Touching History, with walls from the Hovels Hougoumont set and a side barn by Tablescape.

24 figures.  Painted November 2014 to February 2015.  Flag by GMB.


Monday, 18 May 2015

NZ Wars - Maori (4)

Here we have the final 4 Maori figures that I painted recently, all from Empress Miniatures pack NZ14, "Maoris with shotguns".  I painted them exactly the same way as with previous Maori.  A note on the skin colour: yes, I know that it is not quite right.  Maori would be darker than this.  I explained on TMP that the reasons for my colour choice are: (1) practical ease – the Foundry palette I'm using is there, available and seems the best of the bunch, and I don't like mixing my own colours, to be honest; (2) I tend to use lighter-than-life colours on 25mm anyway; (3) a lighter flesh tone shows off the tattoos more clearly and that to me is the thing that distinguishes these figures as Maori; and (4) I remember seeing an exhibition of Gottfried Lindauer portraits in Auckland a few years ago and I was surprised at how light he'd painted the maori skin on some of his maori portraits.  An example is below - it was pointed out on TMP that Lindauer may have painted what he wanted to see, or thought he'd seen, which could well be right.   Lindauer was born in Bohemia in 1839 and moved to New Zealand in 1874, apparently to avoid being conscripted into the Austrian army.  He settled near Wellington and become well known for his portraits.

Anyway, that's the reasoning behind the decision. It's not a perfect colour, but at least I've rationalised it in my own mind!I didn't add much in the way of skirt decoration, as I wanted these figures to have clothing that was less ornate than that worn by the chiefs I painted earlier.

That's it for the NZ Wars for a while.  I have a couple of packs left to do - some more militia and the RN 24-pounder and crew, but I'll wait until I pick of the other new-ish packs from Empress and paint the lot together.  I still have a backlog of painted units to post about - 3 AWI regiments of American infantry, some French Napoleonics, First Carlist War Isabelinos and a couple of other things.  I'm hoping to have all those posted up over the next couple of weeks - it's just a question of finishing all the basing and then taking photos.  On the workbench are, amongst other things, the last few figures for the 2nd South Carolina Regiment and some more 1815 stuff to celebrate the bicentenary.   This year I've been trying very hard to reduce my leadp/plastic pile and not buy anything new.  So far, I've bought about 5 packs' worth of figures, and acquired a free box of Warlord plastic 1815 British infantry from my Wargames Illustrated subscription.  I'm determined to make a conscious effort to run down those piles this year.  I feel I should be painting lots of Napoleonics and I still have plenty sitting at home.     

4 figures. Painted March 2015.

And a couple of group shots with some of the figures I painted a few years ago:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Rotorua - Flora and fauna

After I returned from my last trip to New Zealand, over Christmas 2013/2014, I posted about the Maori buildings and other bits and bobs at Rotorua (see here).  We also visited Paradise Valley Springs wildlife park, which despite its rather cheesy-sounding name is a beautiful place with plenty of birds, animals and trout to admire and a rather spectacular "treetops canopy walk".  It was during that walk that I took some time to look at the forest to try to work out how the NZ bush might be modelled - with extreme difficulty is probably the answer, but I thought I'd post some photos and a couple of observations.  While the trees come in all shapes and sizes, it is of course the ferns that make the landscape distinctively New Zealand (at least to English eyes), and naturally there are many different types of ferns. 

I think these are black tree ferns, which are NZ's highest and can grow to a height of 20 metres.  


I think this a "Wheki Ponga" or tree fern, which grows up to about 6-8 metres.  The trucks are very thick and are used for building materials.  The fonds are quite symmetrical and look a bit like a shuttlecock:

Low-growing ferns are "Kiokio" or palm-leaf ferns:
Then you have all sorts of other trees, fuchsias, white pines and bushes alongside the ferns:

I thought these little prickly-looking flowers were interesting, although I didn't catch their name:

And here are just a couple of more panoramic shots, including what a path through the forest might look like (with Hugo doing his best Haka impression)

I forget to take photos of the new Maori figures I painted recently so those will appear at the weekend.  I'm just finishing off a new Continental Regiment using Perry plastic figures, and I'm half way through the 2nd South Carolina Regiment (plastics again).  Also on the painting table are 1815 French infantry and a couple of vignettes.