A Napoleonic Portuguese telegraph station

Perry Miniatures produce this delightful set of model soldiers depicting a group of Portuguese signalers, complete with their semaphore pole.

In 1810 the Anglo-Portuguese army had a network of optical semaphore stations that ran in lines forming an inverted Y, from Lisbon to the frontier fortifications of Elvas and Almeida. Each station was manned by a small group of soldiers from the Corpo Telegraphico.

Signals were passed using a moveable 3-foot square panel that could indicate six numerals. Combinations of these numbers corresponded to hundreds of words or part-phrases in a code book.

The Perry models include a cross-legged engineer officer reading a message from next station in the line, his telescope supported on a stoic telegrapher’s shoulder. Another man notes down the code-numbers as the officer calls them out.

Behind them a fourth telegrapher is busy re-sending the message further down the line, using a rope to control the pivoting semaphore arm.

The above extreme close-up photos show my somewhat impressionistic painting style. They really do look better than this when held at arms-length!

But despite my untidy paintwork, the character that the Perry twins have instilled into the faces of these figures is undeniable.

I’ve based this set so they can be placed on top of a tower I converted many years ago from a plastic toy in the old ‘Weapons and Warriors’ pirate playset.

7 thoughts on “A Napoleonic Portuguese telegraph station

  1. Splendid. A very impressive conversion – and it’s always good to see the Portuguese of the Napoleonic Wars receive some attention. The “Fighting Cocks” of the army, as Wellington called them (and as you noted back in 2019)… 🙂



  2. Excellent – only an American could find fault!
    The Perry figures are so well sculpted – perhaps the officer was caught short during an unexpectedly long message?

  3. Excellent display of wonderful modelling, I have several of those plastic towers. Must dig them out of the loft, thanks for posting.

    Willz Harley.

  4. This a great little vignette by the Perrys – I have been tempted to add it to my Portuguese collection but I cant think of any practical use for it in a game! I think ylou are overly self critical on your painting style – not many would stand up to the close range scrutiny of your photos!

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