The most boring uniform of the 18th century?

Surely the Hanoverian Freytag Jägers wore one of the most boring uniforms of the mid-18th century! Plain green coats, with green turn-backs and cuffs, the only hint of ‘colour’ a single white strap on the left shoulder; buff breeches and gaiters; and plain hats with no trim and just a green cockade.

The whole attire was so dull, one could almost believe this was the first real attempt at camouflage, helped even more by the field-sign of a spray of leaves in their hats. As the Freytag Jägers were originally drawn from hunters and gamekeepers, perhaps that was actually the case?

I used GW Contrast paints for these beautifully sculpted 1/56 Crann Tara figures.

Perhaps in hindsight I could have used a more vivid green and a lighter buff to make the colours ‘pop’ a bit more. On the other hand, maybe they’ll be harder for my opponents to spot on the table!

So these rather dull Freytag Jägers will never be one of my favourite units. And just because of that, they’ll no doubt fight much better on the table-top than any of their much more gorgeously costumed comrades in the armies of the Barryat of Lyndonia!

Barry Lyndon and friends

Meet Barry Lyndon, governor of my 18th century imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia (see ‘Wargames Illustrated’ issue#385, November 2019), as he leaves his chateau to go for a stroll with his friends. 

The figures on foot are by Crann Tara Miniatures. They are modelled on a set of four mounted figures that were originally made by Minden Miniatures, which I purchased back in 2013. [Correction 1 Sept 2020: I’ve been informed that although I bought the foot figures from Crann Tara, they are in fact made by Minden Miniatures.]

Above are the mounted and foot versions of Barry and his lady-friend. By painting them in exactly the same colours, I’ve ended up with a mounted and foot version of each figure. This should make them interestingly flexible for use in scenario-based games – not that I get to play many games!

Here’s the more colourfully-clothed duo with their mounted equivalents. As I painted the mounted figures back in 2013, I didn’t still own the exact same paints – but they’re close enough.

Also, the figures on horse-back are painted in the black-undercoat method I used to use, whereas the foot figures are done mainly with the GW Contrast paints I now favour, on a cream undercoat.

I’ve also recently painted this ADC by Crann Tara Miniatures. The sculptor has frozen the galloping horse in time brilliantly, the rider desperately holding his hat onto his head, with his hair-queue and coat-tails flying out behind him.

I haven’t painted him wearing a real-life ADC uniform. Instead, I chose an entirely fictional palette of blue and red that will allow him to fit in anywhere he is required.

Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince

The latest regiment in my 18th century fictional army is a unit of light troops, the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince.

“Ah, but they’re not fictional,” I hear you say, “they’re a real French unit!” True. But my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia, contracts real-life regiments from all over Europe to man its armies. This cunning subterfuge allows me to use any real-life units I like!

These wonderful 1/56 scale figures (i.e. about 28mm) are produced by Crann Tara Miniatures. The detail is beautifully sculpted – just look at the lace on the men’s pockets and the officer’s lapel.

The models are depicted wearing the conical red hat called a ‘pokalem’, with a chamois front flap decorated with the French fleur-de-lys, and a white plume.

The Volontaires wore a uniform based on the livery of the House of Bourbon-Condé: chamois with red cuffs, collar, turn-backs, left-side lapel and waistcoat.

I once again followed my new-found passion for using GW’s Contrast paints, which are perfect for painting such detailed figures. Every bit of shading on these models was done by the paint itself – I just slopped it on!

The way I have organised my unit is not based on real-life, but is of my own devising, though influenced by the 1967 book ‘Charge! Or, How to Play War Games’ by Brigadier P. Young & Lieutenant Colonel J. P. Lawford.

Here’s one of my two companies, with an officer on the left, twelve infantrymen on four bases, and a drummer on the right.

With the two companies grouped together, I have quite an impressively large unit.

You’ll see the men are arranged in a ragged firing line representative of light infantry, rather than the more regimented line-of-battle troops.

I guess this is the sight that I, as the player, will usually have of my unit on the wargames table (unless it retreats or routs, of course – which in my case is quite likely!).

PS: I did this posting using the new Gutenberg editor that WordPress have foisted upon us. My, what a non-intuitive application! An awful a lot of swearing and cursing went into getting this fairly simple posting formatted properly, I can tell you!

The [French] caissons go rollin’ along …

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When I attended the Partizan wargaming show in the UK last year (back in those heady days when one could still travel abroad!), I made an impulse purchase of three wooden kits of Napoleonic French caissons and wagons.

I’d never made any wooden vehicles before, and thought they would probably be quite crude. So when I got back to New Zealand they were placed in a drawer and promptly forgotten. They probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day again, but then along came the Covid-19 lockdown, and I found myself scraping the bottom of my lead mountain for projects to occupy myself with. Then I remembered these little kits.

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And how utterly and completely wrong I was with my prediction that these would be crude models! In fact , these models by Warbases turned out to be exquisite little miniatures. They went together beautifully, and were cleverly designed with very few of the visible joints that mar so many MDF kits.

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I spray-painted then dark green, then dry-brushed them with a lighter green. I then just had to paint the wheel rims and, hey presto, the caissons were done!

I happened to have four very old Hinchliffe draft horses that someone gave me years and years ago, so I quickly painted them up – so now I had some motive power for at least two of my new wagons. Although a little on the small side, they work OK.

I also borrowed the driver from the Perry Miniatures supply wagon (which you can see in the background).

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The wagons are based on the same ingenious system that Lieutenant General Jean Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval developed for the real French artillery, where the front wheels formed a separate limber to which any cart or gun could be attached. This means that by removing the caissons from the front wheel assemblies, I now have three limbers that can sit behind  my artillery pieces if I want.

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Unfortunately the guns were painted many years ago, so aren’t removable from their bases to attach to the limbers. But limbered-up artillery don’t feature often in my games anyway.

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One of my wagons is a mobile field forge. This comes with a stand for when the front wheel assembly is removed, presumably so the farrier can move unobstructed round his furnace. I based the little stand separately, so I could either have the forge on its wheels or on the stand.

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I already owned one other limber in my collection (another old Hinchliffe model). I found I could put one of my new caissons behind this limber. Although the Hinchliffe wheels are a bit small, the overall effect is fine.

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With these models, it is now actually possible to envisage the long tail of equipment that sat behind an artillery battery: guns to limbers to caissons to support wagons. So often in wargames we see a battery of artillery as a kind of narrow line of guns, whereas this shows that other units moving too closely behind their artillery would be disrupted by all the ancillary equipment.

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At the same time as I painted my wooden caissons and forge, I also painted two metal Crann Tara Miniatures limbers for my 18th century imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia. This certainly shows how the design and horse furniture for limbers changed in less than a hundred years.

But now the bottom of the lead mountain looms yet again!

Finally, on a more sombre but much more important note, here’s the latest animation about Covid-19 from my heroes scientist Siouxsie Wiles and cartoonist Toby Morris. Whilst (as at writing this) we have had only four deaths in New Zealand, the nature of this coronavirus means that we need to steel ourselves for more tough news in the coming weeks. That should only firm our resolve to keep to the lockdown.

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A HUGE battalion of Gardes Françaises

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Phew, this was quite some painting effort: sixty-six privates, along with four NCOs, three officer, two ensigns, and three drummers – a total of 78 figures!

They depict Le Régiment des Gardes Françaises, an infantry regiment of the Military Household of the King of France under the 18th century Ancien Régime.

These Gardes Françaises will join my ‘imagi-nation of the Barryat of Lyndonia (which featured in Wargames Illustrated 385, Nov 2019).  I just have to come up with a good back-story of why they are there!

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My favourite figure in this unit has to be the stately officer saluting with his hat.  Crann Tara Miniatures have really excelled with the sculpting, anatomy and posture, perfectly conveying the image of  the archetypal 18th century gentleman officer.

I’ve painted this unit almost entirely with GW’s Contrast paints. These worked beautifully, flowing well and providing shading with no effort from me. Just look at the officer’s stockings, the wood of the muskets, and the men’s faces – this shading all  happened by itself!

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Behind the ranks you can see (left) an NCO keeping his men in place with his spontoon, (centre) the colour party carrying the splendid flags of this regiment, and (right) the mounted colonel – he’s actually a borrowed Minden Miniatures general, but he’ll do as the colonel at a pinch.

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At the left of this picture there’s another NCO marching along carrying his spontoon.  In the centre are the three drummers, wearing their intricately laced uniforms (a real challenge to paint!).

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Here’s the massed effect of the whole battalion in line, officers to the front, NCOs to the side and rear, drummers on the flank.

The unit looks pretty impressive when the camera pans along the whole line, with its frontage of nearly half a metre. 

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… and here they are from the rear, flags fluttering and the colonel commanding his men from horseback.

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Before I based these figures, I arranged them for a photo-shoot to recreate my favourite military painting, Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux’s The Battle of Fontenoy, 1745: The French and the Allies Confronting Each Other. You can see more pictures of this recreated painting here.

 

Painting Crann Tara’s 1/56th Gardes Françaises

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Being a public holiday today, I just couldn’t resist starting to paint some of the Crann Tara figures of the Gardes Françaises that I mentioned in my post yesterday about recreating my favourite battle painting.

These truly are exquisite figures. Getting close up with them during the painting process, I marveled at the complex undercuts and the fine detail. There was no guesswork required as to where each strap, belt and buckle was going, or how swords fitted under the clothing, as is so often the case with less finely sculpted figures.

I used GW Contrast paints  for the first time on these figures, instead of my normal black undercoat method. Working with a light undercoat was new to me, and I must say found it quite unforgiving of missed areas of painting.

But the Contrast paints themselves worked really well. I love the way they flow so beautifully, and create their own shading. The faces in particular have worked well, with no other painting required.

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The drummers’ lace was every bit as difficult as I had anticipated! Mind you, it was beautifully sculpted, and with a more exacting painting style, would probably respond really well.  However, even with my quick and ready style, I still manged to create a fair impression of the royal lace, especially at wargaming table distance.

I found the cravattes and tassels for the flag-poles in my spares box. They are somewhat out-of-scale, so I will have to replace them in due course.

Now, just a few NCOs and then 54 privates to go!

 

Recreating famous painting of the Battle of Fontenoy

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I’ve mentioned before that my favourite-ever military paining is Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux’s 1873 painting, The Battle of Fontenoy, 1745: The French and the Allies Confronting Each Other.

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I first came across saw this picture many years ago on the cover of Charles Grant’s 1975 book  The Battle of Fontenoy.  To me the painting instantly reflected the feel of 18th century warfare, with its glorious colour and pageantry, its mannered politeness, and also its timeless horror.

I’ve now at last begun painting a battalion of the Gardes Françaises based on this painting. They’ll form part of my Barryat of Lyndonia imagi-nation. I’ll just have to think up of a suitable cover story as to why the Gardes Françaises have joined the Barryat’s army!

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I’m using 1/56th scale figures from Crann Tara Miniatures, and as you can see in these pictures, they are simply superb! The posing, sculpting and detail are some of the best I have ever seen. Click on the pictures to study these exquisite figures in close-up.

I’m trying something different with the way I paint my figures for this project. Normally I undercoat in black, then drybrush in light grey before painting. However, this time I have undercoated in Citadel ‘wraith-bone’ spray, and plan to paint the figures with GW’s new Contrast paint range. It will be interesting to see how they turn out. Painting those drummers is going to be a particular challenge! 

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I am converting the officers from wearing gaiters to wearing stockings, as per the panting. I successfully filed off all the gaiter buttons, but my shoe-buckles haven’t worked out quite as well. I initially tried making them from Green Stuff, but having never worked in that medium before, I ended up with buckles about a foot wide in scale! So glueing on small squares of paper, along with careful painting, will hopefully do the job.

Anyway, I’ll report back once I’ve painted this first batch of figures for what will eventually be a battalion of 54 guardsmen, along with another dozen officers, NCOs and drummers.

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