My ‘Barry Lyndon’ armies

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:

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfvCjLgbpy0

Scene from 'Barry Lyndon'

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!).

 

BRITISH:

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).

Gale's Regiment of Foot in the movie 'Barry Lyndon'

British column marches into camp

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 "Gale's Regiment of Foot"

 

FRENCH:

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.  

French regiment in the movie 'Barry Lyndon'

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):

Excerpt from novel 'Barry Lyndon'

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. 

 

PRUSSIAN:

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.

Photo with the three flags.

Prussian column led by three flags

Two of the three Prussian flags (the orange flag is obscured between them)

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30 Comments

Filed under Eighteenth century, Minden Miniatures, Movies

30 responses to “My ‘Barry Lyndon’ armies

  1. Robert Sulentic

    Colonel Johann Albrecht von Bulow was chef of IR 46 (fusiliere)

    Black facings, swedish cuffs, buff or straw small clothes, and fulilier cap with black band and straw dome. buttons are yellow metal.

    Flag was straw or buff ground with black darts to the four corners in a saltire.

  2. Robert Sulentic

    Oh, the closest that the movie Prussians look like would be IR-13, regiment von Itzenplitz–it has white facings and silver metal buttons but there is lace on the cuff buttons, the neck stock should be red, not black, the puschel on the hat should be yellow, not white, and the in the movie, they made the turnbacks on the coats white, not red like they should be.

    And if you look closely its pretty clear they re-used accoutrements from the British soldiers, the should strap on the cartridge box should be white for Prussians, not the leather color that was used in the movie.

    Still, a good effort for 1975.

  3. Robert

    I haven’t seen the movie in quite a while, but if I recall, the British regiment of foot that Barry enlisted in was also called the “Kilwangen” (spelling?) Regt. at some point in the movie.

    I believe it was mentioned in the scene where the companies of the regiment are assembling (just before Barry gets into that fist-fight over the greasy cup).

  4. In the movie, the Kilwangen regiment is the one that Barry first sees in Ireland. Barry has his duel with an officer from that regiment, and is then forced to flee.

    After having his worldly goods taken from him by a pair of highwaymen, Barry meets up with a recruiting party from Gale’s Regiment of Foot, so that is the regiment he joins, not the Kilwangen.

    Captain Grogan was also in the Kilwangen in Ireland, but when he meets Barry again in Europe, the captain is part of a contingent of troops brought over from England to “strengthen the regiment” [Gale’s] .

    The confusion is not helped by the fact that Kubrik uses the same uniforms and flags for the two regiments.

  5. Dave Hancox

    Well, inspired me enough to check trademe for the movie, buy now $8

    Now have something to watch after my operation

    cheers

  6. A very exciting initiative!
    And a fair ‘middle way’ between “strict historicity” and “imagination”.
    “Inaccurate” uniforms -in movies, book illustrations, comics- are often as eye-candy and inspirational as “accurate” ones, and in addition they are *unique*. Some are a little “extreme” -I remember ‘La Tempesta’, a mid-“50 movie rendition of Puchkin’s ‘Captain’s Daughter’, with Russian infantry in violet coats and hussars-lancers with a short cape instead of pelisse- some are so “almost historical” that “they could have existed” -and in miniatures pass unnocited in an “historical” tabletop battle. But most are interesting.

    Looking forward to discover your “almost real” regiments in their painted glory.

    • Thanks for those comments, Jean-Louis. I agree entirely that why shouldn’t we follow movie or novel uniforms and organisations as slavishly as we do history? I think one approach is as valid as the other.

      At one stage I was going to do similar for ‘Sharpe’ Napoleonic novels. In particular, there is a fascinating description of the Spanish Regimentio de la Santa Maria (sp?) in ‘Sharpe’s Eagle’, complete with jewel bedecked officers, mounted (!) standard bearers, bedraggled rank and file, priests and lady camp followers. I haven’t done it yet, but one day …

  7. well in the book he is at the battle of Minden so he would have seen a lot of French cavalry..

  8. Jean-Louis

    My knowledge of mid-18th C. British uniforms is quite limited, but what struck me in Barry Lyndon was that the British drummers did not look British at all (no reversed coat -but it may depend on the facing color?- no mitre).

    The supposedly SYW ‘British’ uniforms in this musical video are far more fanciful (actually they look suspiciously like Gardes Suisses of 1789): of course less historical accuracy is to be expected from such a video than from a major movie. Then, in centuries-old French popular tradition, British soldiery is fully and sufficiently characterized by its red coats: to the point that a popular expression, not yet forgotten, is that every month / moon a woman ‘is occupied by the Brits’ / ‘has be landed on by the Brits’ (study of uniformology is full of surprises!).

  9. Der Alte Fritz

    The Prussian regiment in Barry Lyndon seems to carry three different regimental flags: IR15 Guard in white with the stripes, IR42 orange and IR13 Itzenplitz, black flag.

    I can’t recall if it was in Waterloo or in Barry Lyndon that I read that many of the uniforms were made out of paper!

  10. In the book he is in a number of actions, I must read it again. The movie was my gateway into the SYW way back in 1975…I was a Kubrick fan already via my father .and I read the book in the 80s., my grand mother had a copy and she was a keen Thackeray fan .Both enchanting experiences..must read the book again..Great project Roly ..and a bit of 18th c pulp might yet be in order!!!

  11. Nice idea – one of my favourite films too (though a somewhat dreary tale overall of the corruption of a naive and innocent lad!).

    What flags will you use for your French? I was thinking of doing a few historical French flags to offer on my blog so if you’d like some doing free for your Barry Lyndon regiments, let me know. I’m thinking about the possibility of producing historical flags (currently I do commissions for ImagiNations’ flags) although perhaps the market for flags is a bit saturated! It will be fun to add some more flags to the dossier, anyway.

    If you’d like to see the styles of flag I do you can see some on my blog and also on ImagiNations’ blogs linked from my blog. (Final versions as delivered are much crisper and higher-resolution PDFs or PNG files for printing than those I show on the blog.)

    Cheers,

    David
    http://nba-sywtemplates.blogspot.com/

    • Thanks for that, David. Funnily enough, I just read your comment a few minutes after arranging my GMB Flags order! GMB don’t do the Grenadiers Royeaux flag yet (which is one of the ones you can see in the pics of the French regiment), though he is considering it …

      I really enjoy visiting your blog from time to time … a truly wonderful resource for this period, whether played historical or imagi-national.

  12. As the message I posted earlier hasn’t appeared, I’ll try posting it again (in light of your message on the Lace Wars forum about the spam folder problem – thanks).

    🙂 Ah yes – GMB. They certainly seem to be regarded as the “Rolls Royce” of wargames’ flags these days. Perhaps he hasn’t done any flag for the Grenadiers Royaux yet because there does seem to be some controversy/disagreement about the flag carried during the SYW? A contemporary 1757 image in “Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757, tome I”, Musée de l’Armée, Paris (reference from Kronoskaf – the image is available on the Praetiriti Fides, Exemplumque Futuri website at: http://pfef.free.fr/Page_Principale.htm (no direct link – look under Images in the left menu)) shows a simpler flag with a white cross scattered with golden fleurs de lys and four dark blue cantons. The colour as shown in the film and in e.g. Mouillard (probably the source most commonly used) has the French royal arms crowned in a baroque shield in the centre and also a white edge to the whole flag. Presumably you’d want the probably unauthentic version as shown in the film?

    Glad you like the blog; thanks. It’s not really the ideal format for showing and offering what I do but I haven’t got round to doing a website yet!

    Cheers,

    David
    http://nba-sywtemplates.blogspot.com/

    • Thanks for that useful info, David. GMB say they do intend to make the Grenadiers Royeaux flag. Of course, I want the unauthentic version (in keeping with my policy of portraying the movie, not real life). But but I guess I better come clean and tell GMB that there is alternative information about what that flag was really like!

  13. David

    🙂 Righty ho. Well, if GMB don’t want to do the unauthentic version I could rustle one up for you, if you’d like. But from what I hear I imagine they might be happy to do both as Graham seems to be pretty helpful.

    Cheers,

    David.

  14. actually Roly I think at Minden he is talking about fighting Cavalry..I don’t think Sporkerns column came up against any infantry but they were charged all day by cavalry and as for that faux Prussian regiment, if it had white crossbelts it is a spitting image for the Brunswick Regiment Imhoff, right down to the Swedish cuffs..more so than for Itzenplatz however Kubrick get a surprising amount wrong in the uniforms..of the movie..British drummers, British queues Prussian turnbacks and crossbelts being the 4 most obvious..

  15. Andrea

    Rory, this is my favorite movie, also, based upon its historical value, endearing dialogue, costumes and brilliant scenery – there is nothing I do not like about this film. Each still is like an oil painting I would gladly hang throughout my home. Pray tell, what is that arched metal cuplet Barry has hanging around his neck in the scenes on horseback? Is it some sort of groin shield? And if so, what was it called? This movie amazes me to no end exhibiting Kubrick’s pure genius in a way that I find utterly fascinating. Thanks.

  16. Roly

    Thanks for the great comments, Andrea. While in past years I have concentrated on just the military scenes of the movie, it is ages since I’ve sat down and watched the whole thing. But last Friday I viewed Part 1 in its entirity, and it was every bit as good as I recall, and as you have stated here.

    The metal plate hanging at Barry’s neck is called a “gorget”. It was the last remaining vestige of armour from older times, but no longer of any use other than purely for appearance (it certainly would not have protected Barry’s groin, being a long way from there!!!). The gorget was worn as a symbol of rank by officers in some armies of the period, including the British. Thus when Barry pinches the officer’s uniform at the riverside, he also takes the gorget.

  17. Andrea

    lol – that’s funny! I had noticed his (what I now know is called) codpiece in the other scenes and caught myself wondering if, while on horseback, it became uncomfortable so, was attached to the uniform in that way. And, if in his case, it was made of metal?!

    Okay, I have a beautiful mind, what can I say?

    Are you not on Facebook? I linked you to my site, but would like to follow your progress using that format if possible. I’m not a gamer, but find your research to be fascinating as heck!

    Holiday Cheers be to You!

  18. Hi Andrea … I don’t use FaceBook for my hobby, as this blog is my ongoing online hobby-related presence, and that can be time-consuming enough! What is your site’s URL?

    By the mid-1800s the codpiece had no longer been a clothing item for a century or so. I would be surprised if anyone in the “Barry Lyndon” movie was depicted wearing one, as it would be very anachronistic.

    The gorget, on the other hand, was a purely traditional vestige of the armour that had been worn in previous centuries. Its ancestor was a much larger piece of armour designed to protect the neck and throat (thus “gorget”). The gorget actually lasted a century or more beyond the “Barry Lyndon” period – I think the last occurrence of gorgets were those worn by German military police in WW2.

  19. Patrick Deck

    In photo 5 of the French units lined up defensively, the flag on the right is the banner of Flanders (1684 to 1762). This info was found on pg 67 of Fred Funcken’s book:
    “L’UNIFORME ET LES ARMIES DE SOLDATS DE LA GUERRE EN DENTELLE”. The book was in a set of two published in 1975

  20. Scott

    Great stuff. I have saved your Prussian battalion as my PC background.

  21. Pingback: Old Stuff Day | DRESSING THE LINES

  22. in the film i see the st george flag with a union jack top left, is this a british army regimental flag?

    • Hi Brian …

      Yes, the white flag (or ‘colour’, as it is more correctly termed) with the red cross is the regimental colour of this particular regiment. Generally regimental flags used the hue of the regiment’s facings (collar, cuffs etc) as the background to the cross. In this case the facings are white. Had they been yellow, it would be a red cross on a yellow background, for example.

      The other colour being carried is the large union flag, which is the King’s colour. Generally it is a basic union flag of the period, with a small regimental badge in the centre.

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