Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Confederation of the Rhine: 6th Regiment, 2nd battalion Part 1


Reuss Fusiliers


The piece below, from my main blog, kicks off my new Peninsular War project for the battle of La Bisbal.  I am so enthused by these new Perry Miniatures figures that I did something I hardly ever do these days and started them under artificial light last night.  With even just some of the base colours down I can see that they are going to be very striking.  While doing them I had a revelation about why my Napoleonic projects never progress.  I don't like painting French Infantry!  I don't know why!  I just don't.  Something of a fundamental issue for Napoleonics!  


*****


My latest Perry Miniatures based and undercoated


I have always had a hankering to paint some units for the Peninsula War and, thanks to Sharpe, initially was looking at doing Talavera, which featured in both the book and the TV adaption Sharpe's Eagle.    Later I became interested in the battle of Barossa where Sergeant Patrick Masterson  of the 87th foot took the first French Eagle of the Napoleonic Wars for the British (and was promoted to ensign as a result).  Indeed, I actually started to paint quite a lot of 20mm plastic figures, so I could reenact this battle, about 15 years ago.  More recently, I bought quite a lot of Victrix plastics but just couldn't face putting them together. There were no instructions and I couldn't work out what pose they would eventually be in from looking at the parts.  I also didn't like the anatomy on them (particularly the French). I bought Sharp Practice thinking I might do some skirmishes but that never happened.

More recently, I finished my first full Napoleonic unit,the 27th Dutch Jaegers and started to paint some Perry Prussians, having now got over my fear of painting Napoleonics.  They were slow and tedious work but I wasn't frightened of them any more.  My biggest problem has been that I try to paint forces only for historical battles.  I can't bring myself to line up random units for a fictional encounter.  As Steve the Wargamer said in a recent post it's because I also come at wargaming through an interest in history.  Therefore trying to paint figures for a specific Napoleonic battle (even a small one) is patently insane when you are doing both sides.

Anyway, I was thinking about all this again when I saw the first of the Perry's Confederation of the Rhine figures.  Now I have always only ever been interested in the 100 Days and the Peninsula.  I dismissed all the people who bang on about Austerlitz, Lützen and Leipzig and wanted Austrian and Russian armies.  I had no interest in these parts of the Napoleonic Wars at all.  I have to confess that I didn't even know whose side the Confederation of the Rhine was on!  So I ignored the first Perry figures in this range.  Recently, however, they have brought out some troops for Reuss and Waldeck and I am lost!




For no reason I can logically explain I fell in love with the uniforms of these principalities because of my Blandford Military Uniforms of the World book by Preben Kannik.  I must have been given this book just a few years after it came out in 1967.  My favourite part of the book, when I was little, were the twenty pages of Napoleonic uniforms and my favourites of these were the Reuss and Waldeck uniforms.  They were not even the flashiest Napoleonic uniforms in the book but their striking blue and white colours appealed to me.  I even painted some of my Airfix French (the soldiers from the French artillery set with the big shakos) in the colours of Waldeck.   I never imagined that figures for these forces would ever be released in 28mm.  Once I saw them I knew I had to have them but what would I do with them?  Then I discovered that they fought in the Peninsula in a composite battalion.  I could have both the Reuss and Waldeck figures in the same unit: the 6th Confederation of the Rhine regiment.  The Perry Miniatures site even has a helpful organisation chart for the battalion in Spain.




So I will need six companies altogether in the French manner. One company of Waldeck grenadiers, two of Waldeck fusiliers and three companies of Reuss fusiliers.  I will aim at 6 companies of four to start with, with the option to expand to companies of six if I get along with them.  I need to buy a command pack and can include one figure in each company.

Even more interesting they fought in the battle of La Bisbal. It wasn't much of a battle and the outnumbered Confederation troops soon surrendered having been pinned down in a small castle in the town centre.  It all took place, however, in a part of Spain where I used to go on holiday when I was young. So names like Palamós and  Girona resonate with me.  The only source I can find on the battle mentions 2 battalions of the 6th Confederation of the Rhine and two battalions of the 5th, the figures for which the Perries also do.


The very promising looking Eagle Figures


For the Spanish it was in the period before they were issued with the British-made uniforms so would have been still resplendent in their bicornes. I have found a company I have never heard of before called Eagle Figures which does figures of a similar build to the Perry ones (the Front Rank ones are far too chunky, for example).  They even do a figure representing one of the Swiss regiments which was present at La Bisbal plus artillery and cavalry.  They only sell figures individually (no choice of poses but then the Perry ones are all in the marching position too - very old school) so I have ordered one to see what it looks like compared with the Perry ones.




One thing I have discovered as regards searching on the internet is that it pays to search in the language of, in this case, the location of the battle you are looking for, so I managed to find some pictures of a 200th anniversary reenactment of the battle which has given me at least one interpretation of the uniforms of the Spanish.  Fortunately, this does match with at least one written source I have found. Interestingly, the Spanish also had basically light blue and white uniforms ,so the two sides will compliment each other most artistically!  Having started off saying that I am not interested in fictional battles this one will be a slightly "what if" conflict given that a bunch of Germans holed up in a castle who surrender as soon as the Spanish started massing outside doesn't make for a very interesting wargame.  Anyway my wargames projects are all only really an excuse to paint figures.  The gaming bit almost never happens!

So, another Napoleonic project begins but I am very aware that the only unit of Napoleonics I have finished took seven years to complete!  Still, you're not a proper wargamer if you don't have some part-painted Napoleonics under way!


2 comments:

SteveH said...

Good choice of figures sir, i look forward to seeing your progress
cheers
Steve
www.hallmarkpainting.co.uk

Seb Palmer said...

Brilliant stuff on all your blogs Legatus. So many things that resonate for me, and doubtless many other wargamers.

I love the comments about one's chosen scenarios as simply excuses to collect figures to paint, with the games never actually coming into being, and not being a true wargamer unless you have caches of unpainted Napoleonics secreted here and there... all so very true! For me at any rate.

I also really dig (sorry for the outmoded hipster patois; one of my many chapeau is 'jazz drummer') how you got into Napoleonic uniforms via that Blandford book. I had similar experiences. I'll post about that on my blog in due course.

Regards, Seb