Thursday, November 14, 2019

Uniform Guide: Second Empire French Line Chasseurs a Cheval

To off-set the woefully inadequate Osprey offering on the Franco-Prussian War French Imperial Army, I present my findings of the uniform regulations in effect for the French Chasseurs a Cheval for 1870. In general terms, 12 regiments of Chasseurs a Cheval ('Horse Hunters') of the Line were light cavalry dressed largely in accordance with the 1854 regulation. Each regiment had six squadrons, fielding five.
Captain's dolman 1854 pattern.

DOLMAN (jacket)
Was green with 18 braids of black wool to the front and three rows of pewter buttons (left/centre and right) There were no collar or cuff facings or regimental distinctions but were piped black - some have the pointed cuff piped 'garance' (red). Officer distinction is a Hungarian knot in white lace bordering the cuffs and extending up both sleeves to above the elbow. The elaboration of the knot is dependent upon rank - simpler for junior officers and increasingly elaborate for senior ranks. Officers, NCOs and trumpeters also wore a lanyard style 'draw-strings' of a significant and intricate plait in black: fixed to the shoulder and sternum across the left breast with a pair of elaborate tassels hanging from the left.
Second Empire 12è Chasseurs à cheval
GIBERNE (cartridge box and belt)
White broad leather belt worn diagonally across the chest with a brass gun-spike (ornate and elaborate for officers) on the front and the black leather cartridge box on the back.

TROUSERS (Pantalon Basane)
Were madder red for all ranks with a double black stripe down the outside seam of each leg with a central green seam/stripe. The trouser has 'false boots' of black leather extending from just below the knee to the hem. I can't find any images of officers wearing the false boot trousers so they either didn't wear them or all officer images are of dress pants of the same colour and stripe.
Officer talpac 1858 regulation
TALPAC (headgear)
The black lambswool 'talpac' is a Turkish bonnet being often described as a 'frustoconical astrakhan hairstyle' of Middle-Eastern (Janissary) origin and adopted by the French during the Second Empire in the 1854 regulation. The brass-ringed chin-strap when not under the chin was hung from either side across the front of the talpac. Pompoms were affixed at the top centre with the regimental number attached. Pompoms were gold for officers and red for other ranks (including trumpeters). In full dress, a plume was fixed above the pompom - red over green for all ranks but tricolor for trumpeters (red topped, white centre and blue base).
I can neither find images or written references to the colours of the Chasseurs a Cheval kepi. Given that the infantry and the Chasseurs de Afrique of the period follow the same doctrine of red crest over coat colour for the headband, I can only assume it must have been red over green - so unless someone advises me to the contrary, I'm going with that.

Are in black leather with steel hooks (spurs).

The light brass-hilted cavalry sabre is more often shown hung by white slings (hangers) but sometimes black. Other ranks including trumpeters have white sword knots; officers have gold. All ranks waist belt is black.

SABRETASHE (from 1860)
Black leather for all ranks, white hangers and sporting a brass imperial eagle in the centre.

The saddle, girth strap and stirrup leathers are in brown leather whilst the tail strap, bridle and reins are in black leather. The cylindrical portmanteau is in the same green as the dolman; the circular ends edged in red with a red hunting horn patch in the centre. The pale brown/beige woolen blanket is rolled and slung across the pommel and fixed with black leather straps.
When depicted is green edged red with a red hunting horn in the rear corner.

Similarly uniformed to the rest of the regiment in all respects with tricolor piping at collar and cuff as well as tricolor chords for their brass trumpets and bugles.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Franco-Prussian War: 15mm French Cuirassiers and Garde Mobile

It may have taken a month but that was including a two-week leave break away from my work table. I finally got around to giving my six Second Empire infantry battalions some cavalry support. These are my first ever cuirassiers and what ripping little sculpts they are too. These are the Old Glory 15mm range and come in a pack of 16 - at least that's how I bought them second hand.
I mounted them in four by four figure squadrons 45mm wide and 35mm deep on good old balsa as my original MDF proved too small. They came with two trumpeters and two standard bearers but as a big-battalion man my regiment is 16 figures ready to go with Black Powder rules.
I touched up the steel cuirasses after their matt spray coat with a highlight of silver and added the brass over brown base coat as the final touch. I really enjoyed cracking these out and they are so much easier than my 28mm cavalry efforts. Even though this is my only 15mm army, they do feel to me like a real wargaming scale - I can't explain it.
I also finished an under-strength battalion of Garde Mobile. I'd not normally invest in them but they came with the job-lot purchase so what the hell. They featured seldom on the battle field until after the disaster at Sedan but they did feature.

These little blighters were a doddle and they remind me why the American Civil War period leaves me flat ... so drab. Feel free to disagree.
All I need now is another cavalry regiment and a battery of guns and I'm ready for a fight. In the meantime, I'm ready to start painting my next French infantry battalion in 28mm for the battle for Quebec on the Plains of Abraham.  

Friday, November 1, 2019

WOR Black Arrow Characters and Guns: Digital Back-Cataloguing

Sir Daniel Brackley
This is a Lord of the Rings Wraith Lord figure (I think) which I converted to Sir Daniel Brackley, disguised as a leper. Sir Daniel was very much the primary villain of The Black Arrow.
The vengeful hero of the novel but not the primary character is Jon Amend-All who is the head of the Black Arrow fellowship and another Lord of the Rigs conversion. I think I made the bow using wire and Greenstuff.
I have a feeling this small two crew piece might be a Mirliton model but I can't really recall.
A novelty addition to any WOR army is a handful of early hand-gunners. I cannot remember or find images which match these figures on an internet search. Perhaps someone else can enlighten me? I picked them up at a wargames convention years ago.


WOR Yeomen Archers: Digital Back-Cataloguing

These archers are all based for fighting in woodland to accompany my campaign for the Black Arrow. If I remember correctly they are called men of the Green Wood.
One of the leaders of the company of the Green Wood is Will Lawless and this is my depiction of him.
This lot are prime candidates for re-basing in threes on circular 5mm MDF bases. They will never be in anything other than skirmish order.
I think for ancients and medieval ranges you really can;t improve on a good core of Old Glory figures. They are cheap, beautifully detailed and full of character. Other companies tend toward more robotic stances, especially for WOR ranges. On balance, I'm not a fan of Old Glory musket era figure ranges.
No doubt about it, for WOR armies you need plenty of archers and one day I'll add a number of retinue archers to stiffen the back line.

WOR Men-at-Arms and Pike:Digital Bck-Cataloguing

 I'm the first to admit that the green background doesn't really work. Amazing how much light it absorbed - my Canon Digital SLR kept wanting to engage the flash. This is a small army with intentions to grow over time. I think all of the figures are Old Glory and they really are an animated and violent looking bunch.
There are militia pike-men in the rear with 30 men-at-arms up front. The standard bearer carries the standard of Edward of York and much of this army is a build towards the Mortimer's Cross battle.
The men-at-arms are by far and away the best example of my worst experiment in basing. The principle was that they would form rectangles when aligned but it doesn't work - not the way I've executed them anyway. They will require more than just elevating them to 6mm bases.
There's a few renditions of my take on the blackened armour often depicted. I'm content enough. The Old Glory boys really look like they are getting stuck-in.
I chose militia pike-men for my first infantry block to fit into a mini-campaign I designed around Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Black Arrow' novel set in these wars - an excellent read. I remembered fondly the Black Arrow childrens' TV show in the UK in the early 1970s. I got a hold of it a few years back on DVD - not quite as good as I remembered it but I was under nine years old at the time.
Thus far these two units have yeoman archers, a small cannon and some hand-gunners to support them.

EIR Supported Elephant: Digital Back-Cataloguing

I think a war elephant is about the most random fun you can have in ancient wargames and is the nearest thing we get to the WOW factor of the more ludicrous fantasy and sci-fi models to hit the table-tops.
The crew and howdah adornments are all my kit-bashing and for the life of me I can't recall whose elephant model it was - except it is resin. The things you find yourself looking up as a miniatures painter. I researched an elephants eye on-line to make sure I got the colour right.
Whether they do much good or not, there's nothing like an elephant to put the wind-up. I think it was Diodorus who says they were present for the invasion of Britain - so that was that for me. The support troops are mostly Old Glory. The howdah shields represent my other units.

EIR Auxiliary Cort (Batavian): Digital Back-Cataloguing

My Batavian EIR auxiliary cohort is all spear and all Wargames Foundry. I got a good deal in the late 1990's but would never buy that many of their figures again. They remain constantly over-priced and under-sized and I think they have been eclipsed by other manufacturers since I built this army.
I think these were my first Romans I ever painted and I'm still pretty pleased with them. As light infantry they still need multiple skirmishing bases as well as formed ranks but they will all be migrated to 5mm MDF bases.