Saturday, February 11, 2012

ARGH! - or: when math ruins your plans...

Hello there!

Well. Today is not a good day. Why is that? It's lousily cold, my wife suffers from a terrible headache while the kids are top-noisy and unstoppable chaotic. PLUS I have to admit that - as back in school - I have been beaten by mathematics.

Regular guests of my blog know that I'm running a long-time project that aims to paint all possible varieties of Napoleonic pre-1812 double-breast uniforms on basis of HaT's set French line infantry 1808-1812 (complete list of pictures available on
At next FIGZ, which shall take place in June in Arnhem (NL), I wanted to show some results of that project. I've been painting single figures for months now, so I intended to make little bases with small labels that describe origin and date of the shown units. I made the labels in the last two days and in order to complete my overview of the needed labels in total, I had another close look into my reference books.

In one of them, John Eltings commented collection of pictures from Knoetel, I discovered two pictures that catched my special interest: soldiers of the Departmental guards (or Legion Départemental in French). I directly had a bad feeling about them - two pictures are shown in the book, mentioning the uniform patterns of some other units as well.
I read about these Departmental guards and learned that since 1805, each French departmental district had to raise a unit of local guards, its' size depending of the wealth and size of the department itself.
They usually wore fusilier uniforms and the drummers wore jackets in colours reverse to the infantry.

So far, so bad. Wikipedia mentions 130 departments for 1811 ( Which would mean 130 fusiliers and 130 drummers plus most favourably 130 officers. That's total overkill.
I have currently around 140 missing uniform patterns on my list, including such obscure units as  Sapeur Mineurs, medics, galley watchmen and coastal guards. That's much work anyway, but 130 different units of militia...
Apart from the sheer number, which wouldn't make me afraid, there's a much worse problem: the number of required drummers/officers!

Here's my current stock:

So that's enough to complete the four Swiss regiments and maybe the Hanoverians according to my Histofig uniform pages. After that, I need supplies. A full set of HaT 8095 contains four drummers and four officers. Switching over to set 8166 (the line grenadiers) would make things half as expensive, therefore requiring lots of headswaps. Nevertheless, this sets also contains only 4 drummers and 4 officers (just wearing bearskin heads instead of shakos).

Now let's get out the calculator. At the moment, I would need around 30 drummers (pure speculation). That's around seven full sets of 8166 (to save money). If I go and paint the 130 department guard unit drummers, that would need another 33 sets! So that's 40 sets altogether at a standard price of 6.5€ each. No one said that this is a cheap hobby, but 260€ for a bunch of drummers while ending up with more than 1000 useless grenadiers is - from the economical point of view - a pure catastrophy.
The full 8095 set costs around 14€ at the moment... that would be 560€ then... totally ridiculous.

I know that this decision will give my project a little spoil, but I will go without painting the departmental guards, except from one or two examples. It's simply too much.
Anyway, I would appreciate if someone could provide me more information about these units, because there's little to find about them on the web.

If anyone of you likes to support me by sending some of these 8095 drummers or officers, you would be very welcome. ;-)

P.S.: (edit February 18th) a fellow figure painting friend from France provided me with some new info about the department guards and gave me this link:
This site shows 28 varieties - I know that there must have been a handful of others, but at least it's not more than a hundred! At least, this is a relief. I'm just wondering about a practical solution for a diorama regarding these folks.


  1. If I had the drummers they would be problem. Could it be possible to make them..I mean by casting?

  2. Thank you so much, Paul. It would be possible, of course - but the last one who I asked mentioned a price for casting the mould and start figure production, that you could as well go and buy the sets. :-(