Friday, July 10, 2015

Waterloo: Weather, Greatcoats and Shako Covers

I have an ongoing difficulty with the widespread preference of some wargamers for depicting those who fought at Waterloo in greatcoats. There is this persistent notion that from 11:20 am or thereabouts on 18 June 1815, men would have marched and fought in heavy woolen greatcoats because it rained the night before. Together with this idea is that men went into battle with shako covers. This prevailing view and desire has in turn steered sculptors and manufacturers to provide such figures for 1815 - they'd be mad not to of course.
I do not dispute that the weather in Belgium can get cool even in high summer and that weather can change with radical dips and rises in temperature. The morning would have been misty as it was in late May 2012 when I last visited - it was cool also on my visit. Having said that, there was no rain on the day in question and it had ceased by 7:00 am at the latest by all accounts. The meteorological study by  Wheeler and Demaree demonstrates the previous evening's downpour and electrical activity was nevertheless a shallow trough of low pressure following a scorching previous day.
I suggest that it would have been and still is wholly impractical to attempt to march and fight with a sodden greatcoat by midday when the mists were clearing and the weather warming. If worn the night before (and I certainly would have if I'd had one) it's a matter of drying it as best one can and then rolling it and strapping onto the back-pack or saddle. Once on the move, greatcoats would have weighed the men down significantly - heavy on the arms, cumbersome and increasing fatigue for the French in particular who did most of the foot-slogging over muddy ground. An active soldier will have generated his own heat and combined with rising temperatures (even if only a few degrees) in what must have been developing as a humid zone would have been galling. Worse that that, it would simply have been insane.
An active person in the great outdoors is going to dry quicker under even a feeble sun with less on - not more. The uniform jackets were all wool also and should have provided sufficient insulation against any breeze which may have prevailed and if sodden, would have been heavy enough on their own without the assitance of another and thicker layer of soaked wool on top of it.
Of course, there's no such thing as uniform when it comes to uniform. There are references to members of the French Old Guard wearing greatcoats but more to cover civilian attire when a soldier was without a full uniform. For the appearance of the Guard, appearances were almost everything in front of their Emperor. I regard this; however, as an exception to the general rule. I say leave your greatcoated infantry for the Russian winter campaign but keep them away from Waterloo.
On the subject of shako covers - they are an item for campaign as opposed to the day of battle. They were no more likely (on either side) to retain their shako covers by midday than I would carry an open umbrella for four hours after it had stopped raining. As with all items of uniform, given sufficient preparation time (and there was plenty on the day of battle at Waterloo) regiments would have gone into battle as splendidly arrayed as was practicable to identify themselves (particularly important amongst the Allies), increase their own morale, to impress or even intimidate the enemy and display before their own command. It was a different era to the modern.
My difficulty in the persistence of greatcoats and covers only truly extends to when I cannot purchase figures sculpted without them - which is the case for my Elite Miniatures Nassau regiments. In any event, this is my considered opinion - very much considered but nevertheless very much an opinion only. Please feel free to disagree. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Waterloo: Papelotte Map Adjustment

 I must say, for the wargaming researcher, the internet is a blessing from Olympus. A rapid search through Google Earth and voila; an in-situ aerial view of Papelotte farm house. The roads have not essentially changed their course it seems for about two hundred and fifty years making it very simple indeed to translate modern birds eye photography to my map references.
A closer view clearly demonstrates the farm house today and it's orientation to the road - Chemin de la Papelotte. Contrasting this photo to older records (photos), sketches and the Hovels Ltd model and it is clear how to orientate the building - the outer courtyard being where the similarly sized square of heavy vegetation to south is today. What also becomes clear is the relative inacuracy of Adkin's map in his Waterloo Companion is for the placement and orientation of Papelotte.
There will be no substitute for use of the model itself in precisely locating placement of Papelotte on my terrain. Nevertheless, I have shown the amendment of the position and some fiddling with my proposed hedges and crops.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Black Powder House Rules for Napoleonics

Black Powder House Rules by UnluckyGeneral

A few thoughts Grant and I had on how Black Powder rules applied to the way we enjoy our Napoleonic wargames. As you will see if you read the House Rules amendments, we felt that heavy artillery was insufficiently represented and the horse artillery rules governing movement were too fluid; allowing them to magically appear and disappear about the table-top without the practical need for a limber model.
We preferred to limit interpenetration and also felt that units were too easily paralyzed through the disorder rule so introduced a chance of saving against it. 
Most rules allow for forming square as a reaction to charge but we enjoyed the old Grand Manner requirement to form square only in your own move - being a matter of judgement. Not abandoning it entirely, we are providing for a last minute attempt all the same but at a risk of potential disaster. This certainly reflects battlefield events such as those which took place at battles such as Quatre Bras.
Finally, the only provision for Napoleonic battalions deploying skirmishers is the 'mixed order' ability in Black Powder. We felt it ignored the particular capabilities of specially trained and experienced Light Battalions so we are experimenting with transfer of the whole battalion fire rating to its skirmish line. For us, only sufficient figures representing the light companies of any line battalion are ever deployed in the 'mixed order' but will opt for 'up to a third' in the case of light battalions in keeping with Black Powder recommendations.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Papelotte: The Mapping Done

Map with roads

The location of my Papelotte footprint will require careful revisiting. I'm happy with it's notional position but the orientation will require adjustment I am guessing. It's a great excuse to revisit my photos from when I was there. In any case, I enlarged the grid map on my print out and inserted the roads. All roads will be carved into the surface to some extent but much shallower than the sunken roads marked with the lines above. Of course, it will be utterly arbitrary just how sunken they will be and as can be seen, most are not. The roads and their indentation are according to Adkin.
Crops, hedges and trees
I have generally stuck with Adkin's hedge lines but have included trees and crops from the 1777 map by the Austrian cartographer Joseph de Ferraris - map 78 held by the Royal Belgian Library. I have not been slavish in following Ferraris' inclusions, erring toward Adkin's minimalist inclusions. I am not building a static model of Papelotte and its immediate environs but rather a table-top for wargaming on. Nevertheless, with nothing more to go on, crop lines are marked by Ferraris and this will do. He included a lot more hedges and areas of cultivation down to vegie patch plots which I may include once I have the Papelotte model precisely placed. The central cluster of trees I am taking to be an open orchard and the five specimens along the south eastern road to be shade trees. Of course, a lot can change in 38 years.

When the time comes to model the foliage I will have to decide which are crops, types and growth and which are fallow. I will provide for movement through them - probably using removable sections. I just need to think long and hard about what products to use in replicating them.

Papelotte: My Mini Waterloo Begins

Image c/- Hovels - the completed Papelotte
I had made my first purchase of figures for 1815 maybe even as long as ten years ago and always knew I'd get there. As a 1/20 troop scale player, I was never considering taking on the whole battle - I have a mate who is - so I have taken to recreating the fight for Papelotte in 28mm. Several things attracted me to this part of the Waterloo battle. It was largely defended by 'Allied' units rather than British. As I have been playing the British in my Peninsular armies for years, I fancied a uniform change and on the eastern flank the large British element was less in evidence. Papelotte was and remains very much the forgotten and largely ignored stronghold. It is also like La Haie Sainte and Hougemont, a battle within a battle.

Hovels also make a ripping looking resin model of the farm complex which is next on my list. I have seen many a Waterloo game this year but I want to represent the ground as accurately as I can. I have really locked onto the desire to recreate the ground and now that I have mastered the intricacies of synthetic fur and spray guns, there's no stopping me.

Scanned image taken from Adkin's incomparable Waterloo Companion
First stop was my trusty Adkin's Waterloo Companion to select the topographical area I wanted to fight over. I have half developed an involved scenario for the game (to be published on-line at a later date) which takes into account the rest of the battle ranging around Papelotte with likelihood and consequences affecting play on the Papelotte table-top. With this in mind, I have revisited an initial selection and have now determined the field.

Calculating the dimensions of the Hovel's Papelotte model 290x736mm) as my starting point. The farmhouse footprint on the map is 3mm wide so using 1mm = 100mm I drew what will be 900x900mm squares on Adkin's map in an arrangement to best capture the features of my scenario. I then up-scaled them to 5mm grid paper. At this time I only want the contours to cover the rise and fall of the ground. My next step will be getting medium thickness ply board cut to measure and purchasing the Styrofoam sheets, working on 8-10mm thickness.
The contour-only sketch map of my table-top to be

I learnt from my Lewes foam terrain that I have to be mindful to build into the stepped levels to achieve the even flow of the slopes. I will use cans of expanding spray foam to in-fill the rise and fall. After that, I will carve in the roads and then cover (glue) the surface in as thin a gauze as I can find before adding synthetic fur where appropriate as well as numerous crops and features to represent an area under heavy cultivation. 

Total calculated area taken from the breakdown dimensions provided on-line

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Uniform Guide: 7eme du Hussards 1815

I'm not maintaining that this post is a definitive reference point for the uniforms of this regiment. I'm really just a painter of miniatures who wanted to know how to paint this fabulous regiment of hussars. There appears some contradictory information out there from the colour of shako to the dolman for 1815 which is very confounding. It remains frustrating how unhelpful individual books and guides can be and my recent purchase and greatest hope from Andre Jouineau's Histoire & Collections (French Hussars 2. From the 1st to the 8th Regiment) stops short at 1812 and there is no other edition I can identify in English or French to plug the gap. Sacre Bleu! This article is about what I found which informed my choices of representation. I hope it may prove useful for others.

My figures are all Perry's French Hussars - my second foray into plastics for 28mm. Helpfully, they come with a painting guide but like this posting, it is only a guide. For the 1815 campaign dress, they have elected to refer to the green shako, blue dolman and red overalls. Being more inquisitive, I decided to check the choices and regrettably for me, their representation is not definitive. I'm going to first concentrate on the main points of divergence.

DOLMAN & PELISE (blue for colonel and green other ranks)
I am assuming the dolman will largely be reflected in the pelisse also. In most depictions, the dolman for this period (when represented) is referred to as green, rather than blue. Philip J. Haythornthwaite maintains in his Uniforms of Waterloo (Blanford Press, 1974) that both dolman and pelisse were green. Similarly, John Rafferty's Painting Guide to Napoleonics Part Four: French Line Hussars and Chasseurs (Active Service Press) has them as dark green - though this is a simplified guide and does not delineate through our period. Clive Palmer's illustration of a 7th hussar trooper depicts a green pelisse worn as a jacket in Mark Adkin's Waterloo Companion (Aurum Press 2001) who perhaps conversely maintains (pp 245) the 7th dolman was blue. The dolman is not visible in Palmer's illustration but there may be a conclusion to be drawn that they believed the dolman was blue but the pelisse to be green? I rate Adkin as a suspect source as he also has the overalls in blue - clearly contrary to any other source and Palmer's illustration. Bukhari & McBride's Napoleon's Hussars (Osprey Men-At-Arms 76) have the dolman and pelisse dark green in their leading reference table but do not specify any time period.
Marbot's shako, pelise & dolman
A cautionary note is the difference between dark green and dark blue is not great and may have led to confusion in general. The actual dolman purported to be that of the commanding officer, Colonel Marbot, appears to be (to me) dark blue with grey fur trim. It is housed at the Musée de l’Armée and can be seen on-line at the website Waterloo 200. Confusingly, the text accompanying the image claims the dolman and pelisse to be dark green - I can assure you that I do not suffer colour blindness but there can be curious anomalies in even digital photography and dark green and dark blue may be confused.
Due to the long standing adoption of dark green for previous campaigns and because it is cited in the majority of references, I have elected to represent my rank and file in the dark green dolman and pelisse. Due to the habit of officers to differentiate themselves from their troopers, my Marbot will have his dolman and pelisse blue. For me, this will be the best fit against what might otherwise be seen as contradictory evidence.
The collar and cuffs for all are red and the lace yellow for other ranks and gold for officers. The buttons are gold for the officer pelisse and dolman and likely brass for troopers. The pelisse is trimmed with grey fur for the colonel and black for other ranks. Jouineau has the pelisse lined white (sheepskin).

GILET (VEST) (Red with yellow/gold lace)
The sleeveless gilet vest or waist coat is rarely seen, being worn beneath the dolman but is shown scarlet (bright red) in all depictions for all ranks including Marbot's surviving gilet.

Again, much inconsistency with the overall trousers of the 7eme. Perry's and many images have the trouser in red with a yellow stripe. Haythornthwaite has it in green and as a general principle it is usually consistent that French hussar regiments overall trousers matched the dolman and pelisse which the name 'overall' usually suggests. Whilst Adkin departs from everyone with the blue reference, Palmer's illustration has it in green with a red stripe and presumably brass buttons. Whilst sometimes green, grey, blue or even red, Bukhari & McBride refer to the 1812 regulation green overall trousers. They also cite breeches (differing from overall trousers) as scarlet - which is universally applied in all references and illustrations (thank goodness). McBride has illustrated Brigadier-fourrier in green trousers with red stripe for 1807-8. Nevertheless, the sheepskin leather inside reinforced lining and cuffs of overalls were often tailored to imitate the traditional Hungarian breeches and boots and it seems reasonable to imagine the trousers would have been in red also.  So, I will have both red (with yellow/gold stripe) and green (with red stripe) throughout my unit to represent retention of previous issue. 
Leather lining, cuffs and shoes and boots were always black and stirrups steel with nickle or silver plate for officers.

SHAKO (green) and COLPACK (black with red bag)
There appears to be little dispute that the last iteration of the hussar shako - the rouleau shako - was green, but the shade is often referred to a light green. This design of shako was not apparently ever regulation issue but immensely popular from 1812. Marbot's rouleau shako is green but much faded no doubt from use in all weathers and for being over 200 years old which may be the source for this reference. I am inclined to think that a richer mid-green is more likely for the bold uniform of a hussar but still lighter than the dark green dolman and pelisse.
At its centre is the tricolour cockade with yellow/gold lace from the cockade to the pom-pom. The pom-poms were red for the first squadron (sometimes also plumes), green for the second and blue for the third as pictured above as per the 1812 regulations onwards. Several on-line pictorial references have curious yellow or white pom-poms which I am dismissing as inaccurate but Marbot's is gold. The 7eme fielded only three squadrons at Waterloo. The top band is in regimental lace (sometimes shown as black leather reinforcement) with a double band and scrolled lace work on the Colonel's. The back of the shako had black leather reinforcement. The chin scales are brass.
Not the 7eme but the 5eme - note pom-pom.
It appears the elite company of the first squadron retained their black fur colpacks with red bags and regimental lace. Whilst I accept that shakos and colpacks may have had oilskins for the wet season and on campaign in general, I do not believe men went into battle in anything less than their most magnificent kit unless belting down with rain at the time. The colpacks by 1815 may have retained their plumes for parade (red) but I believe they are more likely to have retained the solid red pop-pom in the field such as depicted in Knotel's 1812 example (above). As such, I am pruning the Perry plastic plume back to its pom-pom for my hussars.

Belts and straps were all white buffalo hide for troopers with black leather cartridge box. Officer cartridge belts and straps were red with gold edging and I opt for red leather cartridge box seen below (reproduction) but with gold options. This image was taken from the Empire Costumes site and I defer to their sources being better than mine.
Scabbards were steel, swords were steel-bladed, brass handled and black gripped. Buckles were brass. Scabbards might be brass with a black mid-section for officers and trumpeters.
Barrel sashes were all broad banded red and yellow affairs.

By 1815 more decorative versions had all but given way to simple black leather carriers with a simple brass eagle and the regimental number 7 beneath it. Given the foul weather of the previous day, I will depict some with their plain black oilskin covers. Officers may have had the more decorative wreathed versions in gold, bordered gold on green by 1815. Trumpeters carried reverse sabretache colours (red). 
The 7eme Hussars definitely took their gold plated Eagle on campaign for Waterloo as per Napoleon's orders. Curiously, their Eagle for the return of the Emperor was that of the old 23rd Chasseurs a Cheval which was previously commanded by their Colonel Marbot who seems to have retained it. According to Wise & Rosignoli Flags of the Napoleonic Wars (1) (Osprey Men-At-Arms 77) they were mounted on a blue staff as before and beneath flew the square tricolour standards (not a guidon) with gold chords and blue cravat.
The standard measured 55cm square with comparatively paler blue and red fields than the 1812 issue. Like all cavalry standards theirs was bordered on all edges with a gold fringes and a single row of gold laurel leaves. The obverse side bore the gold lettering (on black cloth, sewn onto the silk): L'EMPEREUR/NAPOLEON/AU 7eme REGIMENT/DE HUSSARDS. The reverse bore the battle honours: JENA/EYLAU/FRIEDLAND/WAGRAM.
PORTE-AIGLE (flag bearer)
This honour was assigned to a Lieutenant of the Elite Company from the first squadron with at least ten years service. In keeping with my approach to the colpacks, my Porte-Aigle will wear overall trousers but in red (scarlet) and a colpack with pom-pom but no plume. His mount will have an officer shabraque.
Not the 7eme: note elite co. porte-aigle on a trooper shabraque. The 7eme would be with colpacks.

Add caption
For the uninitiated, the only real explanation required after the attached image is perhaps that a Marechal des Logis is a sergeant and the ranks progress from top left, reading down from left to middle to right columns. Lace is regimental.
Years of service were also indicated by red woolen chevrons fixed to the upper left sleeve of the dolman and pelisse as follows: 1 for ten years, 2 for fifteen years and 3 for twenty years service.  The image is taken from the very useful napoleon-series website:

1809 7eme trumpeter: reverse dolman and vandykes
The shabraques, consistent with most French cavalry were sheepskin for rank and file (black for trumpeters and white for all others) and a cloth for officers which for a change is universally referred to and depicted green. The plain regimental cloth officer shabraque is regulation and bore the number of the regiment in the corners but senior officers preferred the leopard skin. The vandykes on the other ranks shabraque; however, are shown sometimes green, sometimes red and blue when presenting the regiment in that colour.  Bukhari & McBride have it that the 'scallops' (vandykes) were in the regimental colour - so for me that's green with perhaps red (reverse) for trumpeters.
The Hungarian bridle was black leather and is universally depicted as such but the portmanteau straps are 'natural leather' or brown. The stirrup leathers are either depicted black or brown, white by Jouineau and red for officers. The saddle and pistol cups, pouches and straps concealed beneath the shabraque were brown or natural leather. It is likely the girth strap and others may also have been and so I opt for the brown leather stirrup straps also. As a separate harness array, the black bridle should not necessarily dictate the other harness. Note that Jouineau has all harness as black. Most buckles and fixtures were white metal and copper - akin to brass in appearance. The bit was steel.
The portmanteau was in the regimental colour (green for me) with lace border at the ends and the regimental number centre also in regimental lace.

Knotel for 1810: note old plumed shako
Depicted by Knotel (for 1810) and others wearing reverse colours, showing red dolman and pelisse with green cuffs and collar and black fur trim. If modelled, a regular company trumpeter may have a plume which after 1810 was green over red. In some examples, regimental lace is retained. I'm representing two trumpeters across my three squadrons: one elite company and the other regular. Whilst the trumpeter's colpack appears in black more often, Richard Knotel has one impression in white with red bag for 1811. There appears room for much speculation here. As already discussed, sheepskins are black with reverse (red) vandykes.
Elsewhere I have found on-line depictions of a regular company trumpeter with imperial lace in regular regimental dress with shako and no plume (see right). It appears consistent with the artwork from Andre Jouineau's Histoire and Collections publications but I can't guess which one it could be or I'd have it already. Referring to Rigo (for 1809) Jouineau has an elite company hussar with colpack (black) with reversed colour bag (green). The portmanteau was in reverse colour (red). Trumpet chords were green and yellow for imperial livery but otherwise have been depicted throughout the Napoleonic wars as red, green, gold or yellow and red. I have yet to decide on my choice but will most likely adhere to imperial for line company and yellow and red for the elite company trumpeter. The agony of choice.

Trumpeters as was normal in French cavalry service were mounted on greys and aside from regimental affectations, the remainder of the regiment were mounted more variously on everything from champagnes to duns, from bays to black.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Waterloo: A Commemorative Dinner

Today, 200 years ago the Emperor Napoleon issued his last pre-battle bulletin and tomorrow, the Armee du Nord pushed off into Belgium. The anniversary of the next three battles concludes this coming Thursday with Waterloo but I held my remembrance dinner last night being the last weekend before the main event. As I live in Australia, it hasn't proved possible for me to attend the event itself so I took it upon myself to hold a small soiree down-under. I am handy enough in the kitchen and took Friday off work to shop and prepare.

Following a day of miniature wargaming Napoleonics (1815 of course) the table was set. The dinner was in three representative courses after aperitifs and plenty of plonk as follows:
Cream cherry
  Beetenbarsch (East Prussian) - first course
white wines
Beef Wellington with Brussel Sprouts, baked Dutch cream aardappel, Dutch carrots and French beans
red wines
Tricolour cream sponge with French vanilla ice cream
more white wines
Cheese board including Danish Blue, Red Leicester, Brie with water crackers

It was a candle-lit dinner for six centered around my great friends Grant (pictured above) and Stu with whom I accompanied to Waterloo in 2012, Stu's wife Wendy, my Mother and my lady Julia. By the end of a very long but highly enjoyable evening, we demolished two bottles and one magnum of French Champagne, four bottles of red, four bottles of white, a rose and a good quantity of sherry and calvados.

Unlike an army of social media enthusiasts, I do not photograph food - I have to draw a line somewhere. Even if I say so myself, the Beef Wellington (my first) was a great success, as was the Beetenbarsch and the image below was taken before sweets. Oh, and yes if you were wondering ... we have all been taking today very slowly after a late start.