I’m just rationalising the organisation of my Minden Miniatures figures (see my previous postings on these lovely figures). Instead of replicating any real armies, or following the trend of making up completely imaginary countries (aka ‘imagi-nations’), I am building up the regiments featured in my all-time favourite war film, Barry Lyndon. Check out here to view a battle scene from the movie, probably one of the best ever period battle scenes, in my view:
The regiments shown in the movie, although nominally British, French and Prussian, are either made-up regiments or have a lot of inaccuracies (which, where possible, I am reproducing!).
So my first Minden Miniatures unit is ‘Gale’s Regiment of Foot’, a made-up regiment straight out of the 1844 William Makepiece Thackeray novel and the Stanley Kubrick movie. It includes Lt Colonel Charles Gale in command, the Irish adventurer Captain Grogan, the foppish Lieutenant Jonathon Fakenham and his ‘friend’ Lieutenant Freddie [surname undisclosed in the movie], and of course Private Barry Lyndon himself (in the novel he also becomes corporal).
Barry Lyndon joins Gale’s Regiment of Foot after being tricked into a duel back home in Ireland and then being robbed of all his possessions by a highwayman on his way to make his fortune. Captain Grogan takes Barry under his wing, and Lieutenants Jonathon and Freddie later provide him with an intriguing opportunity for Barry to improve his status in life.
In the movie, the regiment has no grenadiers, but I have added these because I like them so much. The movie also depicts the drummers wearing tricornes instead of mitre caps, but I’ve kept to the latter, again because I like them so much.
My French unit (newly bought, but as yet unpainted) will represent the regiment that Barry faces in his first taste of battle, which was “only a skirmish against a rearguard of Frenchmen who occupied an orchard beside a road down which the English main force wish to pass”. The narrator in the movie goes on to say that though this encounter is not recorded in any history book, it was memorable enough for those who took part.
This unit poses an interesting conundrum, as in the movie the unnamed French regiment carries the flags of two real French regiments, the Grenadiers Royaux and the Regiment de Flandre. Yet the uniform facing colours are incorrect for both. In the novel, Barry’s first taste of battle occurs during the Battle of Minden, and the French regiments are actually named (though they are neither of the units the movie has flags for):
Adding to the puzzle is that the real Royal Cravates of the time were not an infantry regiment, but cavalry. Though, in fairness, nothing in the novel states that the charges Barry faced weren’t cavalry, but the description of the fight seems more apt for infantry.
I have to make some sort of decision on this confusion, so I’m choosing the made-up French Royal Cravates infantry regiment as per the book, with the facings and incorrect flags of the movie. The result is a nice colourful hodge-podge, but still distinctly French in look and feel.
Later in the novel and the movie, Barry is enlisted into the Prussian army (in the book he says this is the ‘Bulow’ regiment). I have not yet researched to see if this regiment really existed, or to compare how it is portrayed in the movie. But as Minden Miniatures have an exquisite Prussian range, this will definitely be the next regiment I’ll paint after the French.