An army marches on its stomach, so they say. Thus no army is complete without its supply train. In the final installment of this inspection parade of my French army, let’s look at the supply train consisting of these four carts. And we’ll finish with some eighteenth century civilians.
On the left is a four-wheeled ammunition wagon. Front Rank offer this with two different types of top – the rounded wicker lid as shown above, or the wooden one in the picture below.
On the right is a smaller ammunition cart drawn by one horse. It also has a wicker lid. The soldier walking alongside is in his red waistcoat, having removed his white coat. He is actually a French and Indian Wars miniature, with a hatchet in his belt.
The supply wagon shown on the left is advertised in the Front Rank catalogue as a medieval cart. But I thought it would be totally suitable for the eighteenth century. I’ve added some sacks as cargo. The civilian driver is also by Front Rank, but I understand is quite an early product in their range – thus the rather large Thunderbirds-style head!
On the right is the same four-wheeled ammunition cart we saw in the previous picture, but this time with the wooden top. I was particularly pleased with the way the oil-painted horses came out.
For the French army, I have since learned that strictly speaking the supply train wagons should be painted red, rather than left in natural wood as I have done them.
My biggest problem with these carts, especially those drawn by two horses, was making the traces for the horses to pull the wagons. Front Rank supplied some bendable wire for this purpose, but in the end I used embroidery cotton.
You’ll note that I made the bases look like roads – grass verges, dirt tracks on either side of a shingle centre-line. This was all done with real sand and crushed shell, along with Games Workshop static grass.
Battles during the eighteenth century were sometimes viewed by civilian spectators – though this could turn nasty if the side they were supporting lost the battle!
Back in 2006 I received a few figures from David Wilson, owner of Willie France, who was restoring the old 30mm Willie range. These were apparently the same figures that were used by Peter Young in his iconic book Charge! or How to Play Wargames.
The original Willie sculptor, Edward Suren, started his production in 1964, specialising mainly in the eighteenth century, but covering ranges from the Romans to the Franco Prussian War.
David told me that these classic figures were born of sculptor Suren’s enthusiasm for lifelike military figures full of dash and movement, whilst respecting anatomy.
“This gives the figures their slender, willowy style,” he said, “unlike modern large, dumpy figures overburdened with detail which one would not see at a distance on a real human being.”
The samples I received were three women, and a number of officers. The officers were intended to hold separately-supplied weapons such as halberds or swords – but I thought they looked great empty-handed in the pose of ‘making a leg’ to the women.
David’s reintroduced Willie range also had this rather homely running women in déshabillé. You’ll see her in the background of several of my photos, perhaps trying to catch up with an errant beau!
At the time David had a huge list of mainly 18th century 30mm figures that he planned to gradually add to the restored range. Some of the promised figures made very enticing reading: two hunt scenes, complete with hunting dogs and a stag or fox; various peasant women; in camp characters; the Irish Brigade charging; a highlander on a windy day (the mind boggles!) and many of the more standard poses for armies of the 18th century period.
But unfortunately I can’t find what happened to David Wilson and his 2006 plans to reintroduce the Willie range. Perhaps one of my readers who knows can add a comment to this posting?
I’ve also got this lovely miniature by Front Rank of an old soldier, still wearing part of his old uniform.
That brings the inspection parades of my French army to a close. Next time in On Parade! we’ll move to a totally different army from my wargaming collection. I haven’t decided which period yet, but it could perhaps be samurai, pirates, WW2 French or Dutch, the Wild West … or something else. Who knows!