Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Napoleon's Imperial Guard - Book Review

As preparation for an upcoming project, I thought I better brush up on the history of this most famous of Army Corps. J.T. Headley's "Napoleon's Imperial Guard - From Marengo to Waterloo" is an interesting 261 pages covering the Guard's impressive history. It follows, in sequential order, the Guard's exploits both on and off the battlefield from 1799 until after 1815. THe

Much is made of the mutual devotion between Napoleon and the Imperial Guard. This is told through numerous examples of interactions between the two, which are well described, as well as the incredible feats of valour on the battlefield. These feats were usually under overwhelming odds and mostly turned the tide of the battle. You can't help but admire the courage of these soldiers.

The retreat from Moscow describes the horrendous suffering of he troops as well as the exemplary behaviour while the Emperor was in their midst. Things got messy when Napoleon abandoned the army with Murat in charge.

The stories of the Pupils in the 1813/14 campaign highlights the effect of many years of war and conscription on the population of France.

Of particular interest was the chapter of the Guard after Waterloo, describing how some of the survivors made it to America and attempted to set up a colony. It was something I had little awareness of and would make an interesting fantasy campaign.

Headley makes an interesting point at the end of the book about Napoleon not starting wars, but reacting to the actions of the other nations around wanting to extinguish the Revolution and it's ideas. He paints the Imperial Guard as being part of a expansion of ideas of freedom and liberty against the established monarchies of Europe.

There is no attempt at describing the uniforms or detailed orders of battle. Occasionally at the end of each chapter the total number of the Guard is stated. Some details on the uniforms or organisation would be a welcome addition.

The book has a number of black and white plates of battles the Guard fought in. The order doesn't always match the chapter. Being in black and white, much of the emotion of the battle seems lost, as it is hard to tell particular uniforms. There were no maps in the book.

One disappointing aspect was the number of typographical errors I noticed (almost as many as on this blog). It seems the book was written and edited with some haste. Headley wrote this from material he had from another book project, so it seems a bit of an after thought.

Overall I found it an interesting read with some insights into the Guard. It was quick to read, but once read, I doubt that I'll go back to it.

Certainly good inspiration to finish painting my own Imperial Guard in 10mm, my upcoming summer project.

Monday, October 22, 2012

100th Post

Seems like yesterday that this project started. When I wrote in my very first post that playing Waterloo was one day a dream to play. Now some 20 months later, I have almost the complete OOBs for Quatre Bras (just a few Hanoverians to organise), as well as having various other units from Waterloo done. I estimate that I am about a bit over a third of the way. Much of the last six months has been on smaller projects and gap filling, rather than great numbers of rank and file.

Some statistics on the first 100
  • First post 3rd February 2011
  • 628 days, average 1 post every 6.28 days
  • Posts - 100
  • Comments - 115
  • Followers - 86
  • Page visits - 35075
  • Most popular post - The Emperor's Beautiful Daughters
  • Total figures done - 3698 + 117 Guns
So what is coming up? There is still so much to do. Part of the challenge in making this project work is not to get too overwhelmed. By concentrating on discrete blocks, particular Divisions or Brigades, the sense of completion provides the enthusiasm for the next part. In the next year I aim to -
  • sort out the Hanoverian contingent
  • begin the Imperial Guard infantry
  • fill in the Gaps in the British line
  • finish off the outstanding Cavalry and Artillery for both French and Allies
  • finish off the Nassau contingent
  • complete Lobau's Reserve VI Corps
  • start researching the Prussians
While some parts depend on the right figures being available, others are just a matter of organisation and time. But I don't plan to work on it alone, some of the bulk painting will need to be outsourced, otherwise there is no way I'd make the 200th Anniversary.

I'd also like to dedicate some more time for playing some games. As most of my time comes in little parcels it is easier to focus on reducing the lead mountain, than getting games going. But there is a special satisfaction in playing with your creation.

So thank you, loyal readers, for your comments and clicks. Without this important feedback, not many blog posts would have been written. Currently the level of visits to the site is the highest it has ever been, which is a validation for the effort in writing contributions, and a motivation to keep writing.

What would you like to see? I am happy to take suggestions. Let me know in the comments and I will do my best to accommodate the requests.

Looking forward to the next 100 posts.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Kellerman's Heavy Cavalry Corps

Kellerman's III Reserve Cavalry Corp. 
General de Division Francois Kellerman commanded the III Reserve Calvary Corp during the 1815 campaign. He lead a brigade of Cuirassiers on a successful charge at Quatre Bras, capturing the Colours of the 69th Foot before making it to the crossroads. He narrowly escaped after his horse was shot from beneath him by hanging on the bits of of two trooper's horses. His Cavalry were involved in the massed charges against the Allied square at Waterloo.

He was called "the Younger" as his father had served as a General in the French Army.

The III Corp numbered some 3600 sabres - made up of the 11th Division containing the 2nd and 7th Dragoons  and the 8th and 11th Cuirassiers, and the 12th Division with the 1st and 2nd Carabiniers and 2nd and 3rd Cuirassiers along with supporting horse artillery.  The 11th Division was engaged at Quatre Bras, as the 12th had been delayed crossing the Sambre River.
Kellerman the younger

Most of the figures I had painted earlier, just needing to finish off the 3rd Cuirassiers and create some leaders. To make the leaders I used a Old Glory packet of Cuirassiers as a base. I cut of the square portmanteau at the back of the saddle and used some green stuff to model some coat tails. I also covered up the sheepskin shabraque at the front of the saddle and made cloth pistol covers out of green stuff. One had a comb replacing the horse hair on the helmet to become a Carabinier General. They were based individually on a 15 x 15mm for the General de Brigades, and with another rider on a 20 x 20mm for the General de Division. Standard bearers or trumpeters were used as the second figure.

Kellerman was from the French Leaders pack with two Cuirassier escorts. They came out pretty well.
The back square portmanteau was cut off
Green stuff was used for the tails, pistol covers and helmet comb

Remodelled Carabiner General leading his brigade

The whole Corps just fits into one of the storage draws

Monday, October 15, 2012

van Merlen's Brigade

Rushing to support the units at Quatre Bras
Major General Baron Jean-Baptiste van Merlen commanded the 2nd Netherlands Light Cavalry Brigade made up of the Belgian 5th Light Dragoons and Dutch 6th Hussars. He had earlier fought against the British in Spain on the French side. Made a French General in 1814, he returned to his homelade in the Netherlands after the first abdication to take a command in the new Netherlands army.

The 5th Light Dragoons suffered heavy casualties in clashes with the French at Quatre Bras. On engaging with the 6th Chasseurs for Pire's Division, the French recognised the unit and called on their old comrades to defect. Merlen refused and ordered a charge. As it pulled back unsuccessful, their green uniforms were mistaken for the French Chasseurs by some British troops and they suffered further casualties form friendly fire.
Van Merlen and the Dutch 6th Hussars 

The 6th Dutch Hussars also took heavy casualties during Quatre Bras. At waterloo they helped repulse the French Cavalry attacks. Over the two battles they lost 45% of their strength in casualties.

Mark Adkin reports in "The Waterloo Companion"  - During a melee at Waterloo he defeated a French General he knew well, but released him saying "General, this is my side of the battle, yours is over there. Take care of yourself; farewell!" Shortly after Merlen was wounded and died a few hours later.

Belgian 5th Light Dragoons

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ney, d'Erlon, Reille and Others

Filling in a few more gaps in the French leadership structure - now for the Corps commanders. The figures are from the Old Glory French Leaders pack - some good variety and conversion potential. Spare ADC's and escorts were using some left over Old Glory  Guard Chasseurs a Cheval and some Lancer command figures.

Ney arriving just in time to take on command. 
Marshal Ney joined the Army of the North after the invasion of Belgium had started. He was immediately given command of the left Wing and ordered to block the British and Allies while Napoleon dealt with the Prussians near the Ligny. He quickly joined Reille's Corps and proceeded to engage with the Allied forces just south of Quatre Bras. Incorrectly assuming the entire British and Allied contingent was ahead of him, Ney hesitated waiting for more reinforcements. By the time the attach begun, more British were rushing in to join the outnumbered and outclassed Dutch/Belgians. Ney managed to lose any advantage at the beginning of the day and end up with a draw by nightfall. The retreating Allies were not pursued in their withdrawal back. Not Ney's finest hour. The battle on the 18th of June proved that Ney was indeed having a very bad week.

d'Erlon wandering between two battles
Jean Baptiste Drouet, the Comte d'Erlon was the commander of the I Corps. Late on the scene, he spent  most os the 16th June wandering in the 8 miles between the two battles. Napoleon's orders to join him at Lingy were over-ridden by Ney's request for assistance at Quatre Bras. The end result was that neither received his much needed reinforcements at crucia moments. History may have been very different had he arrived to make a decisive blow at one of the Battles. At Waterloo he attacked the British left in a unsupported frontal assault, which ultimately failed.

Reille ready for action
Comte Honore Charles Reille commanded the II Corps. First to engage at Quatre Bras, his Corps did the majority of the fight in that battle, as well as engaging at Hougumont at Waterloo. Some heavy fighting done by these line troops.

The other Generals include some Cavalry Generals of the Guard - Comte Charles Etienne Guyot of the Heavy Cavalry and Comte Charles Lefebvte-Desnouettes for the Light Cavalry. Guyot was not at Quatre Bras, but in the Imperial Guard reserve at Ligny and not engaged. Both were to take a part in the Cavalry charges at Waterloo.

There are also some yet un-named Generals de Division. I will probably use them for Artillery commanders for the Grande Battery or other gaps in the command structure.
 Lefebvte-Desnouettes and Guyot ready to command the Imperial Guard Cavalry
Two yet un-named Generals de Division
A flamboyant cavalry General de Division

Monday, October 8, 2012

British cassions and limbers

Cassions supporting British RFA and RHA
Continuing the artillery upgrades, now it's the British turn to have some more ammunition. Six Old Glory British cassions and three scratch built limbers.

The cassions came with a six horse crew, which was too much for the base sizes that I use, so I made it a four horse crew and made an additional three limbers with the spare horses.

Quite a few more to make if each gun is to have a supporting limber or cassion.

Scratch built limbers

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dutch and Belgian Artillery and Limbers

Dutch Horse Battery
Perponcher's 2nd Netherlands Division had two batteries of artillery at Quatre Bras - a Dutch Horse battery and a Belgian Foot battery. Each had six 6 pounders and two howitzers.

The Belgian Foot battery was over run by French Lancers and suffered heavy losses. Only two guns made it to Waterloo from that battery. They were deployed on the extreme left flank at Waterloo and saw no further action.

The guns are British from Redline. The crew are Redline French Line Foot and Horse artillery. The limber crew and horses are from Old Glory French Cassion team spares.

There were some spare riders and horses from the French cassions with suitable uniforms for the limber crews. A different paint scheme and they were ready to go. I like their uniform - dark grey with black collars and cuffs and red piping and turnbacks.

The Belgian Foot Battery
I needed to scratch build the limbers out of some balsa wood, tongue depressors and toothpicks, using some spare artillery wheels I had. It was easier than I thought, not bad for a recycling effort.

Base materials for the limbers - a Redline one as a guide
Seats cut from balsa, floors from a tongue depressor
Glued up
Axels made from tooth picks and left over wheels
Ready for priming
Finished limbers
Supporting the battery

Belgian Foot Artillery waiting for the French to arrive

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

More Ammunition!

The French cassions have arrived with more ammunition, just in time.

They are nice castings from Old Glory. As usual the wagons are solid and well proportioned. They came with 6 horses and 3 riders each, which is a bit much for the bases, so I have only used four on each.

The cassions were undercoated green, the black metals parts painted then a magic wash. The horses were undercoated brown, some detail added, then magic washed too.

The spare riders will be used to make some Dutch Belgian limber drivers, with a different uniform painted.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Generals de Division and Brigade

Undercoat the horse colour
I am a bit short on Generals for my French Brigades and Divisions. There isn't a wide choice of generals in 10mm, and the sizes vary a bit.

Pendraken make a some mounted line officers in their 1809 range. I thought I could use them with a little paint conversions. The uniform is a little different to the 1815 style, but they would do as proxies. They had four styles - Bicorne, Shako, Shako with surcoat and a Guard Grenadier officer. I know that Generals didn't wear shakos, but it makes it easier to see who is who on the table.

Glued onto bases ready for texturing and flocking
I bent a few arms and heads to have some variety and cut a few swords off. I undercoated them brown, black and white - mainly the horse colour to speed things up. A quick block in the colours, lots of gold trim and black magic wash.

I based most of the singly on a 15mm square base for Brigade Generals, and a few in pairs for Division Generals on 20mm squares.

I ended up with 4 Division Generals and 12 Brigade Generals. One Division General will be for Drout and there are four Grenadier Generals which will be for the Imperial Guard Brigade  Leaders.

Now I need to find some more variety for the Corps Commanders and Cavalry Commanders. I have some Old Glory French leaders, but they are a lot smaller in body. Maybe the 3 foot rule will be on my side. I might ned to do some conversions for the Cavalry ones.
General de Division Drout with Generals Friant, Roguet, Morand and Michel 
General Foy with Tissot and Jamin
General Bachelu with Husson and Campi
General Donzelot with Schmitz and Aulard
Generals de Brigade Bauouin and Soy waiting for Prince Jerome to arrive