Saturday, November 18, 2017

Bodyguards - the Velites de Turin

To strengthen his reign, Napoleon Bonaparte put a lot of his relatives onto European thrones. Sometimes, there had be certain arrangements to be made to secure them. At least, so it seems if you look at the Velites de Turin.
They were created in March 1809 as a battalion in order to protect prince Borghese, Napoleons brother-in-law, who served as governor-general for the French departments in northern Italy. 

Having guard status and officially being part of the Imperial guard, they wore guard uniforms. Originally, most of the ranks were build up with Italian men while the officers came directly from the French guard grenadiers.
The Velites de Turin fought actively in the battle of Leipzig, mainly in the covering of the French retreat. They were also actively fighting during the campaign of 1814.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Guards of Venice

Well - here we have something rather off-line again. And things will - I promise - get even worse regarding the diversity of this Pre-Bardin uniform thing. I discovered a new book that brought up a whole new aspect that I didn't have on screen until now. And it brings new uniforms, new units... gosh... if I knew that before...

Venice, a former big European player during the centuries which had declined into a local player when Napoleon showed up, brought in it's very own guard unit when the army of the Kingdom of Italy was formed. Here it is:

Doesn't look spectacular, I know.

For the statistics, I have now painted 313 figures representing more then 60 different units. That's about 120 left to be painted - if I don't find more units.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Veterans of Rome

Here's another unusual unit represented for my Pre-Bardin-uniform project. It's a soldier of the Veterans of Rome.
I found this uniform in a book filled with old Knoetel uniform plates. Napoleon annexed the Papal States in 1810, following a number of disputes with the pope. At this time, the Papal State army was considered to be the most worthless of the continent. Whoever was found worthy of serving in a regular unit, was transferred to the regiments of the Kingdom of Italy.

However, there was still a bunch of men left - and as it was considered to have these people rather in a uniform and under some sort of control then having these men roaming the streets, the battalion 'Veterans of Rome' were raised as a military unit for local security purposes.

If used in wargaming scenarios, I would say that this unit is merely militia with a minus on morale and combat abilities.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dutch Corps Israelieten - and a historical remark

In 1808, King Louis Bonaparte, ruler of the Kingdom of Holland by the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte himself, made a decision to raise an infantry unit exclusively from the jewish population of 'his' country.

The unit raised up to regimental status, although it suffered from never getting enough recruits. It was dressed in the same uniform as the 2nd light infantry regiment - the only difference was the shako plate, showing the letters 'CI' for 'corps israeliten'.

I wasn't able to find out what the main reason for creating this unit really was - some write it was because of the special jewish nutrition, some write it was all about promoting jewish citizens' rights. Whatever it was, as far as I was able to find out, the Israelites Corps never saw actually any battle and was disbanded in 1810, it's soldiers were put into other regular infantry regiments.

Because of this short lifespan, the regiment remains one of the oddities of the Napoleonic era, although all-jewish regiments had already been in service in Russia and Poland in the late 1780s. Receiving citizen's rights due to the Napoleonic juristictional reforms that took place in many French dominated countries, jews began to join the armies, although it seems that not many of them were actually recorded. Or perhaps it was something that noone ever documented very well.

When Prussia joined the Coalition forces in the liberation wars against Napoleon, jews had been given citizen's rights in Prussia as well. This led to hundreds of young Prussian jews joining the army, although an exclusively jewish unit never had been established.

I find this matter really interesting. In the archives of the 'jewish history' of the city were I grew up, you can find this picture:

These are jewish citizens who fought for the Kaiser during WW1. The man on the left must be a NCO who has been decorated with an Iron Cross. In fact, thousands of jewish men fought on the German side during the first world war. They were as patriotic as their christian comrades were and the merits they earned during the 'Great war' later led many of them to the fatal mistake that even a Nazi government would never commit atrocities to the former brave soldiers.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Re-start the whole photo thingie...

Hello and welcome back!

...and sorry for the long absence...

Well. I've been busy painting things for the FIGZ which I then wasn't able to take part to. Blame me. At least I have some entries for next years' competitions. One should always see the positive side of the story, right?

Well. I have a new job and some new private issues and a second book to complete and not much time for painting. Next thing is that I have mostly painted things I'd like to have complete before showing them here. That is, for example, the display with all French reserve infantry regiment representatives or, on the other hand, a US infantry line for the 1812 theatre. For the first, I have completed all the figures, but not the groundwork of the base, for the second, there are still 13 infantrymen that I need to complete. So... well. I have done something.

With completing the officer and drummer for Italian light infantry, I've finished the light infantry units for my pre-Bardin uniform project. I'll do the veterans and the Venetians next, so that my Italian army will soon be complete.

To compensate my photography troubles, I have now invested some money and bought myself a small transparent photo tent. I'm still in the experimental stage - it will take me some time to find out which positioning and lighting brings the best results. But as far as now, I'm pretty satisfied with my first snapshots. Well... the inlay needs to be either flattened or replaced with something smoother, but the overall snapshot result looks far more pretty than what I was able to achieve during the last months - which was, to be honest, one of the reasons why I stopped making photos at all. When the summer set in, the large trees in front of my windows filtered every sunlight replacing it with a smooth greenish light. Which is, in fact, a catastrophy if you want to make good photos.

For example, this is a closeup of a casualty figure. Please feel free to tell me what you think about the photo quality. Every hint is welcome. ;-)

When I've found out how to use this photo tent in its' best way, I'll take up my pre-Bardin Nappies and make a complete set of new pictures and then, I will refurbish the complete project catalogue. :-)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Another Baden snapshot

The last few weeks flew away and I'm still not sure where they went to so fast. In the meantime, I have finished something for the competitions at this years FIGZ which is about to take place in Arnhem on the 4th of June. Yeah - plenty of time, I know, but it's always feeling comfortable to be done with the homework early enough.

The next thing was to continue with my Baden Jagers. After finishing these, I have 4 figures from that set left which are almost complete. Next task will be to paint them two sets of fusiliers.

Well - although it's all about green, green, grey, black and only a bit of white and gold, I still love these chaps and their uniforms. In fact, it's quite a good thing that they come without backpacks because usually, they cover the largest part of the figures backside so that you see lesser of the uniform colour. In case of the French for example, I always asked myself why they were called 'le bleu' when most what you can see is actually white...

The jager on the left side is one of these figures that allows a bit of conversion because both arms are separate. This figure is support to reload his rifle, but he also looks good as a spotter, doesnt't he?

The most cool pose of them all is that of the officer. Francesco made a really great job on that figure. With that hand on his back, sword held ready and a slightly snobbish look on his face, he makes a realistic look of an officer supervising his soldiers.

In addition you have that great sergeant. One of the advantages of Franznap's sets is that all figures of a set work together very well, no matter what combination you chose.

Now I have the Jagers ready, I have the Austrian infantry and the largest number of Austrian cavalry ready, it's about to start with the fusiliers. When I have all these figures painted, I can start to assemble the diorama.

Things take time. Good things take longer time. ;-)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Pre-Bardin uniform project: heavy carving

Today, I present you some plastics hardcore carving results. I'm still not finished with my project to paint all possible units that wore the French pre-Bardin style infantry uniform by using the same HaT set - but at least, I'm getting near to finish one of the biggest of Napoleon's allies - the units of the Kingdom of Italy.

Among them, I found two units that brought me to a certain challenge. Both uniforms share a greyish vest/trouser colour that is not that often seen on uniform plates. But what both have in common is the fact, that under normal duty circumstances, they certainly wouldn't have worn any backpacks. So for the first time, I had not only to remove some cords or swap a head, but had to remove a chunky part of plastic that hadn't been intended to be ever removed.

This was pretty challenging. Although the plastic of the figures is not that hard at all, it's a massive block of plastic that has to be cut off. In addition, I chose grenadiers as basic figures, which required a headswap with the fusiliers. At the first try, I underestimated the effect that - when half cut - the resistance of the plastic decreases, which ended with the scalpel blade slicing halfway through the tip of my left hand's thumb. Ouch

But after all, I managed to scrape off the backbacks. You can't just slice it away, you must also try to achieve the overall shape of how the soldier's back would look like, including a little bit of texture which looks like belts etc.
Well - the final result looks pretty nice to me and was worth the work .

The first example is a soldier of the medic company standing guard - for example while guarding a field hospital. Brown, light grey, white and black... I really like the combination of the colours. In addition, this is a rather unusual subject because you seldomly see units that are not directly battle-related.

When you see this figure from a small distance, it appears as if the backpack has never been there. :-D

The second one is is a galley guard. These chaps were the sentinels who guarded the convicts who had to row the galleys that some nations in the Mediterranean region still used in the Napoleonic age.
Working on a ship, this guy logically has no need for a backpack at all. So I had to remove it for him as well. In addition I decided to make the base look as if the figure was standing on deck, right in front of the guardrail.

I always liked that green of the Italian uniforms - in addition with light grey cuffs'n collar, trousers and vest, this figure looks really pretty. Although you wouldn't see those guys on a battlefield at all.

In both cases, I wasn't able to find representations of drummers or officers. In case of the galley guards, I found out that they were subordinated to the navy staff of officers and had no own officer's staff at all. In case of the medics... well, I don't know. Maybe someone else might help me?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

US generic flag for 1812

Well - I found that it is quite hard to find suitable sources for the different line regiment flags of the US Army of 1812-14. Or maybe I'm just not looking in the right corner of the web? I bought a set of the new Strelets British marching infantry because I like Strelets figures, I wanted to make some paint conversions for the war of 1812 theatre and I wasn't able to get some HaT British. The set contains a flagbearer with a blank flag. Cutting it off in order to replace it with a printed flage would have looked silly because of the flagpole's thickness.

So after not being able to find the original flags for the 16th regiment of the line, I decided to get along with a very generic flag. Maybe you guys could tell me if that's alright or if it is problematic for a reason? Who knows how the regimental colours have looked like? Is there any good source on the web? I'm happy for every help!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

War of 1812 special

Hello, hello!

I'm still there. Don't panic. Not that I haven't painted something during February, but it was all too diverse and too many things still lay on my desk. I had been experimenting for a while, which was the fact that kept me from completing many things. Today, I have some snapshots of what I'm currently working on and that's:

Soldiers of the British/US war of 1812

Some may say: pretty unusual stuff for someone who lives in Europe. And yes, that's right. European history has Napoleon and his wars so much in focus that you don't read much about the things that were going on in northern or southern America during the 19th century, except from the well-known American secession war, some WildWest-stuff and (if you're lucky) the Alamo (as if that wasn't just a single battle). Not to speak of the liberation and unifications wars on the Southern American continent... (total blank in German schoolbooks)
South Carolina militiaman

Well. Research on that matter wasn't as hard as I had expected. And due to my surprise, I found a hell of a lot different uniforms. In fact, back in 1812 even the US Army hadn't adopted a completely uniformed appearance. From grey to brown to blue to black to fawn, in the beginning of the war there was a large number of uniform colours to be seen even in the regular regiments, not to speak of all these militia units that were sent by the different states.

One thing that makes it fairly easy to make up an army for the US/British war of 1812 is the fact that both armies used pretty much the same sort of uniform and equipment. Differences, as for example the backpacks that looked different in US use (or were just the same backpacks, but covered with blue cloth that often had a 'US' or state mark on it), can be easy emulated.

Early Upper Canada militia

I had seen on the pages of Hagen miniatures that they offer a range of British soldiers in colonial uniforms for the early 19th century campaigns. As many units, especially in the early phase of the US/British conflict, wore these hats as well, I thought that these figures could be a good basis for my little '1812 tryout'.

Canadians, Left: Montreal militia

Canadians, Right: sharpshooter of the Leeds rifle company
2nd Glengarry regiment (Canadian)
At first I found out that these figures are not as hell of a much detailed as the Rifles from Hagen were (see on the right side, you can use them as light infantry (i.e. the Glengarry regiment) as well). But thinking about it again when I had the first ones painted, I don't think that this matters much too much.

First: these are still very nice metals. Not chunky, not clumsy, though not too crisp. But they have their details where you need them and will surely make a great appearance in masses on a wargaming table or in groups on a diorama.

Second: their uniforms aren't that splendid anyway. For many units, you need to trim away all the laces, slim up the cuffs, cut away the plumes etc., so all that's left is more or less a very blank uniform.

Pennsylvania militia (l-t-r): volunteer brig.Porter/113th regiment/Pittsburgh blues
So do these figures do their job as War of 1812 militia? Yes, of course they do. And as a Napoleonics enthusiast, I can only recommend other miniature painters to give that theatre a go because what I show you here is only a slight piece of the mass of different units you could paint.

There's loads of different militia units. There's lots of different line infantry units. There's lots of colourful flags never to be seen on the European continent.

And there's a lot to be learned about the early years of US/British policies and to what this war (which is not even that much noticed in the USA itself) led concerning the development of the USA and it's neighbours.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

More British rifles

Here's the rest of the photos I made of my British rifles. In fact, these are figures on the march. Hagen also offers standing figures and Riflemen in battle.

If you ask me, these figures are marvellous because they have sort of an 'in the field' look. Not that shiny clean 'regulation book' style in which soldiers under field conditions never really looked like.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Baden jager - first pics

Hey friends - here are the first pictures of my new Baden jager (light infantry) figures.
Sculptor is Francesco Messori (Franznap), the figures are produced and distributed by Schilling figures.
Not to say that this is, in my eyes, really high-end-stuff.

 I still feel a little bit involved in this whole thing. Some years ago, I met Francesco at FIGZ in Arnhem and he asked me what I thought was the biggest blind spot in the 1/72 Napoleonic miniatures market. My answer was: the army of Baden.
Although Baden provided one of the larger contingents in the line of Napoleons German allies, nobody at that time  produced Baden figures in the 1/72 scale. Bavarians, Wurttembergers... they were all there, but Baden? Nope.

 These here are light infantry jagers (hunters). The figures are delivered without backpacks, which does make sensebecause for agility and swiftness, all unnecessary equipment was often left behind on the baggage wagons or inthe camp. When Baden jagers were stationed as rear guard troops for defending Leipzig, they were for example responsible for guarding supply convoys, policing the roads and eliminating enemy scouts.

Baden troops were involved in many battles during Napoleons' greatest years. They served in the battles against Austria, in the Tirolean uprising, in Spain, in Russia, even in the decisive battle of Leipzig. Due to many records, they performed well. That means that those troops are a great deal for wargamers as well.

Franznap has in the meantime built a lot of different Baden troop types, from infantry to cavalry. I guess the only thing missing to set up a complete Baden army is the artillery branch.

I really like these figures, hope you do, too.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Short notice: British rifles by Hagen Miniatures

Hey there!
I'm currently finishing some British riflemen I recently bought at Hagen Miniatures.
Hagen offers a range of British riflemen that include standing/resting figures as well as riflemen in marching and fighting poses. What makes them most attractive to me is their rugged look. They wear outworn trousers, patches on their clothes... it all gives them the look of men staying in a battle theatre long enough to have lost that splendid parade look. If you look for realistic figures more then the 'by the book' style, you should give those Rifles a go. ;-)

So this is just the first one in order to give you an idea of how these figures look like when painted. As most people would paint riflemen in the uniform colours of the famous 95th regiment, I decided to paint these chaps in the uniform colours of the Royal 5/60th, which fought with Wellington's troops during the Peninsular campaign.

Here's another one, wearing a non-original legwear. ;-D

I'll show you the other figures when they're ready. I have also started to paint the Baden Jager figures and I'm about to finish some more Italians - unusual stuff this time. ;-)