Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Year in Review: British and French Napoleonics

(Originally posted on the Home Page, Dec 15th)
I was glancing at my blog calendar just the other day and realized that December 19th will mark a year since I started 'Analogue Hobbies'. Wow. It feels both so long ago and yet it  seems like only yesterday. I must say that at the time, when I started this whole blogging thing, I was a bit leery about it, thinking my interest would quickly peter-out or I'd simply have nothing to say. Well, while I doubt that what I have to say is of any real value I have found that the blog has become very valuable to me for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is that I've met some really fabulous people through blogging - people who have a similar passion for the hobby and whose words of encouragement have been both gracious and helpful. 

A bird's eye view of the two forces.
In addition making new friends, this whole exercise has really helped me focus my efforts at the hobby table. I dunno, but it seems the mixture of getting jazzed in seeing others' great projects and knowing that there are others out there anticipating my own work has really fanned the fires of productivity.

The white-uniformed 16th advancing towards the British position.
To underline this new 'renaissance' I've had for the hobby I thought it would be fun if I spent the next few days pulling out all the stuff I've done over the past year or so, set it up on the table and take some shots - sort of a 'Year in Review'. So, first up is the largest representative of my efforts this year, figures for 'The Beautiful Game': Napoleonics.

Rifles sending out a skirmish screen to meet the French.
The pictures here show the majority of my French and British collection. To be clear, about five of these units had their beginnings many years ago, and a few were started about 14 months ago, but for the most part what you see is around a year's worth of work. I think there is around 550 models in total of which I probably painted approximately 400 in the past year. I'm usually a fairly plodding painter so this is a notable achievement for me especially when this does not include the oddball forays like my Dystopian Wars diversion and things like the recent Russian 'campaign'.

Marshal Ney leading forward regiments of Carabiniers and Dragoons.

Portion of a British Rocket battery getting ready to engage.
Imperial Guard 12 pounders doing hot work.
A view down the French line.

Anyway, like the picture of Ney above, I thank all the visitors of Analogue Hobbies in spurring me on - you've been a great encouragement to me in both getting stuff done and enjoying the stuff that I do. Its been a great year and I'm really looking forward to seeing what the new one will bring. 

Season's Greetings and a Happy New Year!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Napoleonic Russians from the 'Riazan' Regiment - 28mm Foundry

(Originally posted on the Main Page, Dec. 11)
This is an 1812 period Russian infantry battalion whose colours identify it has having been recruited from the Riazan area of Russia.

To be perfectly frank, I need to paint Russian Napoleonics like I need a hole in the head. I actually finished this unit as a 'poke in the eye' to Sylvain who is currently lazily sitting on a pile of unpainted Victrix early-period Russians that he acquired last winter. When I told him that I was going to work on all my other projects PLUS match his Russian 'commitment' battalion-for-battalion he responded with typical Gallic style by saying (in his charming French accent), "Ah, is zis another one of your charming, how you say, challenge 'Gauntlets', Cuurt?  Pff, add it to the pile..."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, laugh it up, Pepe le Pew. ;)

Anyway, perhaps the Painting Challenge will put a fire under his butt, we'll see.

I quite like these Perry-sculpted Foundry castings (I think they were created late in their association with WF). They have great proportions, deep folds for shading and a lot of variation to give units greater character. I started these last February to experiment with Army Painter Quickshade and thought I'd get the unit done and off the table.

I went a little overboard on the groundwork but I'm still happy with how they turned out on the whole. The flags are by the indispensable 'Flag Dude'.

I have enough castings in 'The Lead Reserves' to do a good portion of the 17th Division of  Baggovut's 2nd Corps which saw heavy action at Borodino. Cripes, yet another project on the roster...

Monday, December 12, 2011

From the Lead Archive: Chasseur a Cheval de la Garde Imperiale - 28mm Foundry by Brian Homenick

(Post migrated from Main Page)
Whenever I think that my painting skills may be improving I pull this old chestnut out from my display cabinet to get a reality check. This Chasseur a Cheval officer of the Imperial Guard was given to me as a gift about 15 years ago by my friend Brian Homenick (of Vaubanner Graphics), who is, as you can plainly see, a phenomenal painter. 

This is a venerable 28mm Wargames Foundry casting, sculpted by Alan Perry, which still holds its own amongst the best out there today. The pose is taken from the famous painting by Theodore Gericault titled "The Charging Chasseur" which was first exhibited in 1812 and can be viewed today at the Louvre (see above).

I remember Brian giving me the model in an almost nonchalant manner, just a slight smile and a shrug. Almost like, "I thought I'd give this one a whirl, and well, here you go." Awesome.

A few years ago, when I was living in Ontario, I met up with another good friend, Dallas (another venerable member of the Fawcett Ave Conscripts), to check out a Games Workshop's 'Games Day' event in Toronto. It was pretty cool as the energy level from all the kids was completely off the hook, but the real reason I was excited to go was because the Perry twins were in attendance to show off their latest work for GW and visit with the geeks. I duly stood in line with what seemed to be a battalion of pimply teens and managed to chat with the both of them for a few minutes. During this time I pulled out a few of my favourite Napoleonic models of their design and asked them to sign the bases for me. Of course Brian's Chasseur was one of these and Alan Perry was kind enough to oblige. 

I remember we all thought it pretty funny being at an event which showcases EVERYTHING Warhammer and here we were gabbing on about Napoleonics. I came away completely stoked and I remember Sarah nodding and smiling indulgently as I described by field trip and the cool 'autographs' I received. Yep, complete nerdgasm.

Anyway, there you go. The Chasseur remains a prized gift and a constant source of inspiration. Thanks Brian!

Note: Brian also painted for me the complete set of Foundry's dismounted Napoleon, Marshals and staff (its the one with Napoleon seated with his boot on a drum). As you can imagine its a real treat and I'll post it up in the future.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

1er Regiment de Carabiniers (early uniform) REDUX

The first group of these figures (ten, I think) originated from my earlier days in the hobby and I decided last spring that I wanted to enlarge and rebase them so they better aligned with the look and feel of our 'Big Battalion' games. So here is the regiment, fresh with replacements, (24 strong) ready to be deployed on the tabletop.

The early Carabinier uniform is one of my favorites of the period as, to me, it personifies both the elegance and power of the French heavy cavalry at that time. Sure, the later brass cuirass and crested helmet was very fashionable and quite swish but I think it lacked the understated grace of the long-tailed cutaway coat, white waistcoat and tall bearskin bonnet.

It is believed that the regiment retained a high proportion of aristocrats from the ancien regime which may have helped it maintain a greater level of professionalism during that early period when the French cavalry typically suffered from a lack of experienced officers (at this time the guillotine was very busy providing 'advancement opportunities' to meritorious NCOs and junior officers). 

An interesting anecdote from this early period is during 1800, when the 1st Carabiniers were billeted in the small German town of Eichstadt. The impoverished town was so strained under the burden of French taxes that it faced the prospect of having to sell its sacred vessels from the local church in order to raise sufficient funds.  On hearing of this situation the Carabinier officers first tried to get the debt reduced, and failing that, passed the hat amongst themselves in order to pay the debt from their own pockets. For years afterward, long after the French were considered to be the arch enemies to all Germans, the grateful town of Eichstadt celebrated an annual mass for the 1er Regiment de Carabiniers a Cheval.

A little known but dramatic action involving the Carabiniers occurred early in the 1809 campaign when they faced against their equivalent in the Austrian Cuirassiers in a moonlit melee near the village of Alt Egolfsheim.  The Austrians were covering the retreat of their infantry after the Battle of Eckmuhl to which the French were vigorously pursuing. The Austrian Gottensheim Regiment of Cuirassiers led the charge and were met with a short range volley of carbine fire from the 1er Regiment de Carabiniers, who then slung their firearms, drew swords and charged. The combination of their numbers, training and superior mounts allowed the French  to prevail. (John Elting writes that the quality of the enormous Flemish and Norman horses was telling against the largely untrained remounts of the Austrian troopers)

The French heavy cavalry was used ruthlessly by Napoleon during the vicious battles of Aspern-Essling and Wagram. The cuirassiers and Carabiniers were often sacrificed to fill gaps or to buy time for the infantry to redeploy.

After the shocking losses they suffered during the 1809 campaign it was decided to equip the Carabiniers conforming with the regulations of the rest of the heavy cavalry arm, that is with helmets and full cuirass. With typical Gallic elan the Carabinier troopers received the news of them being issued armour rather poorly, thinking it to be an insult to their honour and courage and it took no small amount of convincing to have them surrender their beloved bearskins and long coats.

These are relatively older Foundry castings but they are still amongst the best depicting this early Carabinier uniform. I expect that either Victrix or the Perry's (if not both) will come out with a new rendition in the years to come.

Above is a small conversion to a cavalry casualty figure depicting a Carabinier trooper who has been shot from his horse which is gamely galloping forward with the charge.

As these larger cavalry units can be a bit of a nuisance to move around the table I decided to place them into movement trays that Sylvain kindly mocked-up for me in card. We decided to break them over two sections to facilitate both the extended line and supported line formations which were common doctrine at the time.

I think I have enough castings in 'the lead stocks' to do the 2nd Regiment but I'm afraid that'll be down the road as I need to get another Dragoon regiment done to fill out a proper brigade - but more on that later!

(Information from John Elting's Swords Around A Throne, David Johnson's Napoleon's Cavalry and its Leaders, James Arnold's Crisis on the Danube and Napoleon: His Life, His Wars, His World vol. 10. Illustration buy Angus McBride.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

The 2nd/66th (The Berkshires) - 28mm Perry & Victrix

 Here are some new recruits to bolster my British Napoleonic collection. This unit (composed of Perry plastics and a Victrix mounted officer) represents the 2nd battalion of the 66th Regiment of Foot (The Berkshires). I had mentioned previously that I was building a British force based on Colborne's ill-fated brigade which was severely mauled by French cavalry at Albuera in 1811 (approximately 70% casualties throughout the brigade).

On top of being a speed bump for Polish lancers, the 66th had the distinct misfortune of loosing both its Regimental and King's colours that day.

The 2nd/66th was all but destroyed at Albuera. Of the approximately 400 men that made up the battalion at the start of the day, it suffered 16 officers and 310 men killed or wounded. The following day, it was able to muster only 53 bayonets. The majority of the casualties had been killed and among the dead were the battalion major, and the ensigns Walker and Colter. Captain Clark was taken prisoner, but was able to escape later, wrote that one of the flags was saved, but he does not specify which one. The remnants of the 2/66th was formed into a provisional battalion with the 2nd Battalion 31st, which had saved its flags. It was noted in its last inspection in Roncesvalles in 1813 said “The Battalion of the 66th doesn't have flags, because their new ones were sent to Lisbon in 1812. It is the undeniable test of their loss at Albuera, and the King's Colours also exists still in Paris”.

Another document, a letter from Lieutenant George Cromption of the 66th, dated May 18, 1811 states, "Oh, what a day that was. The worst of the story I have not related. Our Colours were taken. I told you before that two ensigns were shot under them; two Sergeants suffered the same fate. Lieutenant seized a musket to defend them, and was shot to the heart, what could be done against cavalry?"

These flags, in fact four complete and two reduced to the flagstaffs with their spearhead and  some fragments of their cloths, were sent by Soult to Paris, where they were temporarily deposited in the home of Marshal Berthier, until their presentation in the Tulleries in August 1811, along with 200 flags taken from the Spanish in the past campaigns.

After 1814, these trophies remained hidden until 5 April 1827, when five were displayed in the Museum of Artillery. During the Revolution of 1830, a mob stormed the Museum and took weapons and flags from it, including the King's Colour of the 66th Foot. 

In 1831, the four remaining Colours, were placed in the cornices of the chapel of the Hotel des Invalides. During the funeral of Marshal Sebastiani on 11 August 1851 a fire broke out. The Regimental Colour of the 66th Foot was completely destroyed, while the King’s Colour of the 48th Foot was badly damaged with only its central shield surviving. 

In 1861, General Duffourc d'Antist donated to the Invalides his collection of flags. Among these flags was the King's Colour of the 66th Foot which had been stolen by the mob in 1830.

From what I understand, currently there still exists the shield of the King’s Colour of the 48th Foot, which is in a frame in storage of the l'Armée Musée, while the King's Colours of the 66th Foot, as well as the remains of those of the 3rd and 48th are suspended of the cornices of the chapel of the Hotel des Invalides, which is part of the annex to the l'Armée Musée.

(Information from

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

28mm Aspern Church for Aspern-Essling

Yeah? Oh, so now you want me to create some freakin' battlefield in Austria for you...? WTF. You know man, I have needs too...

A while ago I mentioned to my friend Sylvain that I've always wanted to do a tactical Napoleonic scenario that focuses on the ferocious fighting for the village of Aspern at the Battle of Aspern-Essling (May 20-21 1809). 

Before we go any further you have to understand that Sylvain is completely mad. Bonkers. Nuts. Certifiable. Anyway, Sylvain likes to scratch-build buildings and since he's a bit 'touched' (and doesn't do anything in halves) he got it in his mind that he'd make me a 80% to scale representation in of the Aspern churchyard with all its buildings and grounds for my 28mm collection.

As you can see its pretty amazing.

With a 32 figure battalion as indication of scale.
Below you can see the roof has been removed so you can place figures in the upper galleries.

The roof can be removed to show battle damage and allow figures to be placed on the third level.
Another shot of the roof timbers and firing platforms.
The church tower can be removed as well in order to place figures.
Both the Church and the Rectory can be broken-down like a layer cake to allow each section to be defended separately.

The bottom layer of the Church with a nave and attic.
Her is the Rectory broken-down into its three component layers (minus roof).

Sylvain tells me he has another building (a mausoleum, I believe), the graveyard and the surrounding walls to add and then the project's done. Its going to dominate any table but if the action is purely focused on taking the church grounds then the scaling will work great. I'm thinking of using a beefed-up variant of Sharpe's Practice to do a monsterous tactical scenario based around the churchyard but first I need to paint and groundwork this stuff AND finish a raft-load of Austrians...

Bravo Sylvain! Awesome work!