Tag Archives: Napoleonic

Military Dress of the Peninsular War

I am currently working on British, Spanish and Portuguese forces for the Peninsular War.  I have a few reference books around – the odd Osprey and old Blandford book and so forth. On Trademe the other day I spotted this book – which was rather serendipitous. I bid on and won it.

Military Dress of the Peninsular War 1808-1814 by Martin Windrow and Gerry Embleton (1974).

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This is a fairly substantial reference work of 200 pages.  There is a fairly standard historical overview of the Peninsular War – probably nothing that you have not already read. There are a number of black and white illustrations – historical and period paintings and maps for the most part.  The best thing about this book is the one hundred colour portraits of various units that fought in the Peninsular Campaign.  Each illustration is accompanied by a fairly substantial blurb referencing historical and known uniform information of the regiments depicted.

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The colour illustrations are of a really high quality and have a grittiness about them that I find compelling. If you like ‘campaign dress’ you will love them too.  I thoroughly recommend this book. I do not know if it is still in print or not, but if you can find a copy then get hold of it.

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Finished first of my 28mm British Brigades

I have finally finished my first 28mm British brigade for my Peninsular War forces. I have never painted British infantry before and found it surprisingly refreshing after so many battalions of blue coated Frenchies.  There is also something rather cool about those big colours – and you get two in a battalion. Probably one of the reasons British infantry in line look so cool.

I had got some Old Glory 1st Ed British Infantry in Stovepipe Shakos years ago that I was going to paint up as Canadian militia for War of 1812. They are typical Old Glory miniatures – very quirky. However, quirky is something I like.

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Not too clear but there are a couple of sergeants in this shot. One with pike and one waving his men forward. The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that the flag is wrong for the facing colours of this regiment. I wanted to base them and didn’t have the right flag.  Oh well, How sad, Never mind.  These Old Glory figures are pretty good and easy to paint. They are not as small as I thought they would be up against modern 28s.

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The second battalion in this brigade is the 37th – constructed out of the Perry plastic British Infantry set.  My painting guide was the one that came in the box. I am nothing if not thorough in my research.

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I used the British casualty figure from the Perry Cuirassier/Carabiner set to tart up the firing line.

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When I did the Old Glory battalion I used a base for each Flank Company. That was too many, so for the Perry battalion I used a couple of figures at each end to represent the Grenadiers and Lights.

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A rear view of the Perry Battalion.

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The last battalion I painted was a battalion of the 60th Rifles. Once again these are Perry metals and plastic riflemen. On TMP I had wondered about the compatibility of the plastic and metal figures on the same bases, but it turned out better than I expected. I put the plastic riflemen either at the back of a base, or together on one base. Seemed to work out alright.

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I really liked these metals. I see another battalion of riflemen in my future – this time the 95th. Who makes the best Sharpe and Harper that will go well with Perry’s?

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The brigade all together.

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The next unit on the painting table is another plastic unit – this time Victrix. I have assembled the 24 man battalion in stovepipe shako and with the front rank kneeling to receive a charge with a firing line behind them.

Blaze Away Miniatures: Napoleonic Spanish Review

Mick from Blaze Away Miniatures kindly sent me a few of the pre-production figures from their yet to be released Spanish Napoleonic Range.  I have ordered only once before from Blazeaway and purchased some of their Australian colonial “Bushrangers” for my Wild West Skirmish games. Off the bat I have to say that they seem good sorts to deal with and the order was processed incredibly fast.

On to the miniatures. Mick sent me three of the new range. These were two Grenadiers and a Line Infantryman (Full Dress).   These models have been photographed ‘as is” and I have not trimmed any flash or otherwise cleaned them up.  As I said, these are pre-production samples only.

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Grenadier Charging, Line Firing Line, Grenadier Marching

The Blaze Away website says that these figures are a comparable size to Front Rank. The shot below shows the difference in size and bulk compared to Front Rank and comparable plastic figures.  When I first looked at the models my initial reaction was, these guys are huge – scale creep at work.  But I got the ruler out and measured them. The March attack figure is 29mm from the soles of his boots to his eyes. By comparison, the Perry Plastic British infantryman is almost exactly 28mm.  The Front Rank Wurtemberger is 28.5mm. The real  difference is in the heft. These guys have not stinted on the paella, let me tell you. In this respect they are very like Front Rank – well fed indeed.

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Front Rank, Blazeaway, Victrix plastic, Perry plastic

The detail of these models is, on the whole, very good.  A small fault is that some of the buttons on the tunics were a little underdone. What I liked were some of the small touches. The blanket/rolled greatcoat looked like it was big enough to actually keep the guy warm – not the undersized rolled up shawl that adorns the backpacks of many miniatures (like on almost all my Connoisseur infantrymen for example). The figures all have fixed bayonets, and their bayonet sheathes were correspondingly empty.  The faces are not amazingly detailed, but I don’t paint eyes anyway so that would never be a minus to me. I liked the beard on the Grenadier.

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The firing line Fusilier I received is reaching back to take a cartridge from his pouch. I liked the animation in the figure and have to hope that the rest of the Firing Line set is as good. His face is very ‘Spanish’ and I rate this figure.

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The Grenadier charging is not a guy I would want to see running at me if all his mates are the same size. This guy is also 29mm from boots to eyes – and he is leaning forwards. Standing up straight he would be about 30-32mm for the same measurement I suspect.

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Another view of the same miniature.

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I cannot comment on a full range from seeing three figures, but my initial assessment is that if these minis are representative of the entire range, it will be a good one.  The miniatures have the type of animation that I like in a Napoleonic figure. I have said it a million times, but I feel that many of the modern miniatures, whilst excellently sculpted and cast, have a sameness and stiffness to them.  The muskets and bayonets are extremely well cast. They wont bend or break easily when fumble-fingered wargamers are handling a base of these miniatures (something I fear when moving my plastic miniatures on the table top).

Mick said that these will work well with Front Rank, and I agree. I also think that they would be able to be mixed in with Elite or Connoisseur without any trouble – if not in the same unit, at least in the same army, without looking out of place.

The Blaze Away Spanish range will be a great addition to what is currently available for the Peninsula War gamer.  Now they just have to get them on the market.

28mm Spanish Militia: Milicias Prov. de Mallorca

Another militia battalion marches forth for my Spanish napoleonic army project.  These models are all Perry Miniatures Carlist militia infantry. I have no idea if the hats are all correct for the Napoleonic period but I have never been that hung up on that sort of thing. They look the part and will now take the field alongside their Brigade Games counterparts that I posted a few weeks back. I have one more Perry battalion to complete and that will be it for my Militia. I also have two units of guerillas to paint and then it will be on to the regular infantry.

The Battalion advancing with the colours of the Milicias Prov. de Mallorca.

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Rear view. What I like about painting militia is the lack of straps, backpacks and accoutrements that regular infantry have. Hate those things.

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Command Stand. All my militia battalions have spiritual help on hand in the form of an armed clergyman. The flagpole finial and tassel are from a Warlords Games Russian infantry box set I have acquired at a Bring and Buy.I thought the officer’s blanket came out quite well.

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The mixture of hats, shirts, jackets – make these a great set to paint.

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The other thing I like are the fact that half the chaps have their muskets shouldered on the opposite shoulder to the other half. A real motley lot – enough to make a regular grimace.

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The priest tells the men that God is on their side. One hopes.

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They look like they are ready for action but I have the sneaking suspicion that these Spanish infantry will flee at the first whiff of powder smoke. I guess time will tell. Their first outing is planned for three weekends from now when some friend come up to the woolshed for a weekend of eating, drinking and gaming.

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28mm Napoleonic French Cavalry Division

I recently rebased a lot of old models – mostly painted in the 80s (and it shows) and also painted some French Chasseurs a Cheval that I found in a box. I had acquired them in 1985.  The models are a mix of Connoisseur, Hinchliffe and Hinchliffe Foremost ranges. The horses are Connoisseur, Hinchliffe and Essex I think.

Two regiments each of Chasseurs, Lancers and Dragoons.

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French Line Lancers. Connoisseur models.

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French Dragoons at Rest (mostly Hinchliffe and Foremost). Note the trooper second from right in the back rank with a scythe. Must have been out foraging.

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French Dragoon Brigade Commander.

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French Chasseurs a Cheval. They are all Connoisseur except for the Elite Company officer and the bugler who are Hinchliffe.  Again the horses are a mix of whatever I had. I am not even sure who made some of them – the result of buying horses at Bring and Buys at conventions over the years. I always figured it was cheaper to ship just the riders from the other side of the world to New Zealand than to bring their mounts with them – so I have a huge remount depot available.

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28mm Spanish Militia (Volontarios des Cuidad Rodrigo)

My latest unit and the first of my 28mm Spanish Napoleonic project. These figures are from Brigade Games.  The codes are Spanish Rebels I, Spanish Rebels II, Spanish Rebels III and Spanish Rebels Command 1. The Officer commanding is a single model code Spanish General.  I also brought Spanish Rebel Woman with Musket but did not include her in this unit. She will be painted separately as part of a guerrilla unit.  She bears more than a passing resemblance to “Teresa” from the Sharpe TV Series.  These models are fabulous. Nice detail, no flash worth mentioning and pretty easy to paint. I did not use any reference material for these guys so just painted them how I thought they should look. The Brigade Games range do not have a standard bearer so I converted a guerrilla who had a pistol in his left hand to instead be holding a flag.  The flag is one I found on the internet, re-sized and printed.

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The models are based on laser cut mdf bases from Australian company Back-2-Base-ix.

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28mm Connoisseur Saxon Garde du Corps

Apologies for the poor photos but I just cannot seem to get the lighting right. More experimentation needed. The yellow of the coats is a more yellow-buff colour in real lighting conditions and they are not quite so glossy.

I think that these and the Saxon Zastrow Cuirassier figures were the best of the Napoleonic sculpts that Peter Gilder did for his Connoisseur range.  These are still available from Andrew Barret at Bicorne Miniatures.  They have an animation that modern figures seem to lack. The detail is a bit more sketchy and you have to take the odd guess as to what exactly has been molded but all in all, I think they stand up pretty well for models designed in the 80s.

These are based on 40x50mm bases. I have decided to base all heavy cavalry on this size base, and for light cavalry the bases are 50x50mm.

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If the Connoisseur Range had one flaw it was the lack of trumpeters and standard bearer figures in the cavalry ranges. I understand that Peter Gilder consciously made the decision not to make them as a matter of economics. He would sell one or two of such figures for every dozen or so of the trooper models.  Bearing that in mind, the trumpeter and standard bearer are just trooper models converted. In the case of the trumpeter it is paint only and he must have dropped his trumpet.

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In an earlier post I said that I wouldn’t even attempt the monograms on the pistol holsters or saddle cloths. As a great philosopher once said A man has to know his limitations.

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The Zastrow Cuirassiers are next on the Heavy Cavalry to-do list. Just waiting on an order from Bircorne to arrive that includes a solitary Garde du Corps trooper who will become a trumpeter for the Zastrows.

Meanwhile, the re-basing of models painted over twenty years ago in the 80s continues. Next – A regiment of Hinchliffe and Foremost Dragoons.

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28mm Perry French Line Artillery.

Finally got these chaps finished. Brought so long ago the shop that sold them to me has been out of business for six months.  I had actually forgotten I had them until I unpacked a box of crap left untouched since we moved to the country three years ago.  It was a little like Christmas. Also found some Perry French Marshals and a pack of Senior Officers of various regiments lounging about  and a whole lot of woodland Indians I had got for a stalled War of 1812 project.  Hopefully not stalled for too much longer.

Anyways, I used to have my artillery mounted on 40mm wide bases but went with 50mm wide for this unit. I think it works a lot better.

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They are a mixture of sets FN17, 18 and 19.

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I like three to four gun batteries for Napoleonics. They look more like an artillery battery to me than a single gun model or perhaps two stuck on the table.  My next artillery project is a unit of French Guard Horse artillery.  I am going with Elite Miniatures guns (when I order them next week), Bircorne Minitaures crew and probably Hinchliffe Limbers because I have about thirty of them from a bulk lot I got about twenty years ago off a wargamer who was retiring from the hobby.

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Saxon Garde du Corps WIP

In the mid-80s I brought a unit of Connoisseur Miniatures 28mm Saxon Garde du Corps off Peter Gilder.  They sat unpainted in a box for nearly twenty years until I brought them some stable mates – a unit of Connoisseur Zastrow Cuirassiers from JT Miniatures who at that time owned the Connoisseur line.  Of course, they all sat mocking me until this past weekend. So the Garde du Corps got undercoated and ready to paint.

These Saxons will be part of my miniature 4th Cavalry Corps (1812), alongside regiments of Westphalian and Polish Cuirassiers.

One problem with the old Connoisseur line was the lack of standard bearers and musician models in the cavalry ranges.  I have converted a trooper to be a standard bearer (far left).

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I have almost no freehand ability so the monograms on the pistol holster covers and the saddle cloth wont be there.  I was reasonably happy with this model, given my level of ability.

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And a trumpeter who is partially completed.

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These models are quite chunky and full of mid-80s goodness – The horses are a bit small compared to the riders but I still like them.  Connoisseur miniatures are still available from Bicorne Miniatures in the UK.  I really love these old-style figures. As much as I like modern figures with their crisp mold lines and fine detail, I find they lack something in animation and personality. To me they are all much of a muchness.

Recently Eureka released a good line of Saxon heavy cavalry. They look really nice and I am tempted to get a unit to paint as the third Saxon Regiment that seems to get forgotten – the Leib Kürassiere Garde.  They have those fiddly monograms that I could never paint in a million years molded on the figure. That has to be good.
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