Sunday 31 May 2015

1/24e Regiment de Ligne

Never let it be said that JJ's Wargames doesn't have a sense of poetry. As you know the object is to "paint to play" and units get done in order of that requirement, but sometimes things happen that make you smile, and as I was putting this post together a thought occurred to me. This is the first battalion of the 24th regiment, but it is also the first battalion of 24 battalions to complete the French forces at Talavera, about six months work., The reason it was selected is that the three battalions of the regiment are required to move on to the next scenario in the Talavera series, looking at the ill considered dawn attack on the 28th July.

The most senior line regiment in General de Division Francois Amable's division and the second senior, after the 8e regiment, in the French army at Talavera was the 24e Regimrent de Ligne with their 1st, 2nd and 3rd battalions, led by Colonel Baptiste Jamin.

Established in 1773 from the combined 2e and 4e battalions Regiment Royal and raised in the region of and associated with Brie, the regiment would see several reformations during the revolutionary period as a demi-brigade;

1793: 24e demi-brigade de bataille (formed from the following):
  • 2e bataillon 12e Regiment d'Infanterie
  • 3e bataillon Volontaires de la Somme
  • 10e Bataillon Volontaires de Reserve
  • 2e and 4e bataillons Requisition d'Amiens

1796: 24e demi-brigade d'Infanterie de Ligne (formed from the following):
  • 5e demi-brigade de bataille (1er Bat 3e Regt d'Inf, 2e Bat Vol de l'Aube and 10e Bat Vol des Vosges)
  • 206e demi-brigade de bataille (1er Bat Vol de la Meuse, 9e Bat Vol des Vosges and 5e Bat Vol de la Vienne)
before emerging in 1803 as the 24e Regiment de Ligne under Colonel Jean Baptiste Pierre Semelle who was also General de Brigade. 

Left - Fusilier Sergeant of the 24me Ligne with 15-20 years service, illustration
by Dionisio Alvarez Cueto

With a greater focus paid by many wargamers and historians to the campaigns of Napoleon in north and eastern Europe it is easy to forget that many of the most experienced and senior regiments/battalions in the French army were serving in Spain, and it is little wonder that Napoleon was compelled to draw down on this experience as his remaining veterans were wasted away in the campaigns of 1809 and 1812.

With the humiliation of the Emperor and French arms following Bailen in 1808, Napoleon was not messing around when he led nearly 300,000 French troops in the second invasion of Spain in the November of that year. These troops included the veterans of Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau and Friedland in the campaigns spanning the years 1805-07. Not surprisingly they cut swathes through the Spanish armies massed on the River Ebro, and when Napoleon departed in December to prepare for a coming war with Austria, most of these veterans remained to complete the subjugation of the peninsula.

The 24e Ligne, in July 1809, represents those veteran regiments having been at Jena, Eylau and Friedland and it's 4th most junior battalion would be involved in the Danube campaign at Essling and Wagram whilst its three senior battalions were at Talavera. It can therefore be seen what a stern test the allied army would be facing when the 24e Ligne attacked en mass, as these soldiers certainly knew their jobs.

The illustration by  Dionisio Cueto of the Sergeant of the 24e shows a man who would have served during the glory years of the Empire with his two red long service chevrons displayed above the single gold chevron for his rank, indicating fifteen to twenty years service. He is in conversation with a Tiraillieur (Voltigeur in Legere battalions) of the famous 9e Legere the "Incomparables", an epithet gained  after their battle turning performance at Marengo. Both veteran regiments were in the same brigade and spearheaded the night and dawn attacks on the Cerro de Medellin.

French infantry units of this period tended to display slight variation to the standard look, with drummers and musicians still dressed according to the whim of the colonel and little items that differentiated the regiment from its colleagues, typically the design of the shako plate. To identify these for inclusion in model units is all part of the fun and I will attempt to illustrate some of them as we go.

I have two references other than the Cueto work, the primary source being the Otto manuscript that shows all the regiments that were in Victor's divisions at Talavera in 1807, two years prior, in Hamburg and probably underpin the other two in this post. The ones that stand out are the red cuff slash on the tunic as illustrated in the Cueto and Rousselot pictures, this normally being blue, and the little red splay above the yellow pompom of the voltigeurs plume in my other illustration by Rousselot.

24th Ligne Voltigeur 1807-08 (Fig 5) illustrated by Rousselot

My 1/24e Ligne are composed of the excellent figures from the AB range, with the Eagle colour from GMB flags. These chaps in their pre 1812 uniforms with shako covers and gorde water canteens really capture the look of the French veteran infantry that marched the length of the River Tagus in 1809.

Other sources used in this post;
Napoleon's Line Infantry, Osprey Men at Arms - Philip Haythornthwaite, Bryan Fosten
French Napoleonic Line Infantry - Emir Bukhari
Napoleon's Soldiers, The Grande Armee of 1807 (The Otto Manuscript) - Guy C Dempsey Jr.
Napoleonic Armies, A Wargamers Campaign Directory - Ray Johnson
Talavera, Wellington's First Victory in Spain - Andrew W. Field

Next up, the second battalion of the 24e Ligne and a report on our annual trip to Chez Chas in North Devon for a Korean War, Chain of Command game set for next weekend, plus some D-Day commemoration activities.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Painting Psychology - The reward process in painting

Detailed whites on the Colonel of the 24e Ligne
I, probably like most wargamers, have a painting routine and technique that has become habitual. I may try out an occasional new colour combination or multiple shading every now and then, but like most humans, I fit the stereotype of doing what feels comfortable, again and again.

However I do credit myself with thinking about why I am doing things the way I am doing it as I am in the zone as they say, and a thought came into my mind about what I was doing with my current project, the 24e Ligne.

The first seven figures on the left show what I was doing before changing the process at figure eight with grey straps and lapels ready for the next session.

The pictures, I quickly grabbed at the end of a session show progress on the first battalion. I should say that I haven't painted French line infantry for years now, and as with all new subjects it takes me time to work my way around a figure working out what needs highlighting and what colours to use. When it's new, I am constantly stopping to refer to picture references, that I don't do quite so often as the subject becomes more familiar. I think I can now paint British infantry in my sleep!

I use a three colour system that starts with a basic process of applying the base shades in a block painting process, and I always start with the flesh areas, the coat colour, then other major colour groups, muskets, back packs, greatcoats, trousers, water bottles/canteens. The final block shade is usually black, where I get to tidy up the figure and lay a base for the metal parts that usually sit on another colour.

What follows then is a highlighting process with two increasingly lighter shades. I would usually break this process up into sessions of one to two hours depending on what else had to be done and how good my pod-cast list was.

I happened to be in the second session of these chaps, which had all the principle block colours done, the black, the first highlights except the white bits. I then started on the Colonel pictured above, shading over the grey and buff areas with off white, and then moving on to the other command figures and the first fusiliers. Working the white, as I call it, can be very intense as the small detail of straps and waistcoat areas is quite precise and my progress slowed dramatically.

I then thought, hang on, when I finish this session, I want to come back to a completed section, and I was not going to be able to do that at this pace. So I decided to just focus on the large areas of white that were relatively easy to get done, namely the trousers and shako covers, and leave the lapels, straps and turn-backs to the next session, after all I would be doing white lacing last and that is even more intense.

When I finished the last shako cover and put the work down I had an immediate feeling of success and completion, looking forward to coming back with just the detail work to do, which I know will "break the back" of the project.

Now I am relaxing and thinking about the process, I realise that is what I would normally do with other figures I have painted but I guess the novelty of the subject matter threw me off my SOP (standard operating procedure), but it has made me realise why I do things in a certain way to get that feeling of achievement by finishing a section of painting and if you find this useful it might help you.

So on with the 24e and I hope to get these chaps done in the next couple of days.

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Jurassic Coast - World Heritage Site, May Bank Holiday Walk

My home town of Exmouth is on one end of a World Heritage site, namely the Jurassic Coast, with cliffs that span the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, about 180 million years of geological history.

I have put links at the bottom of this post for more information.
The cliffs just along from Orcombe Point at Exmouth
With some fantastic weather over the May Bank holiday, Carolyn and I decided to stick a flask in the bag and walk the beach from Orcombe Point in Exmouth, to Sandy Bay, over the cliffs and back to Exmouth.

A long sandy beach with Sandy Bay just around the corner up ahead
The cliffs along this stretch of beach show off the different layers of rock strata and are constantly prone to rock falls, particularly after periods of heavy rain fall. It's easy to see the most recent falls as the rocks littering the base of the cliffs vary in colour from the red of the new fall, to the light grey, very often covered in sea weed and barnacles, showing the older falls.

These cliffs are prone to constant rock falls - unbelievably some "grockles" (holiday makers) were sat among the rocks!
This is dinosaur country, and I remember school trips along this coast at towns like Beer and Lyme Regis to hunt for ammonites, commonly found among the rocks that litter the beach. In fact I still have a few examples of treasured finds in boxes in the loft!

Liopleurodon ferox, once roamed the waters off Exmouth!
Perhaps there would have been a lot fewer paddlers around off Exmouth and Sandy Bay if Liopleurodon still lived locally.

A fly past as we walked the beach - nice day for it
As we made our way along the beach we were treated to a fly past of several light aircraft obviously out on a rally or something. As a former fair weather pilot I could see the attraction.

View from the cliffs walking back from Sandy Bay to Exmouth
Sandy Bay is a holiday home beach site and was "heaving" with May Bank holiday makers so we quickly made our way through the masses to get up on to the cliff path heading back home.

Budleigh Salterton, just in view, tucked behind the brambles, left and Sandy Bay holiday homes, right
 The views from the cliff path were stunning , the sunny day giving great visibility over Lyme Bay.

The view towards Teignmouth
The cliff path has been upgraded since the registering as a World Heritage Site, with information posts along the route, explaining specific areas of interest and illustrating examples of the local wildlife that can be seen.

Magpie in the flower meadow
As we got closer to Exmouth we came up to the beautiful flower meadows that are protected from grazing animals. The result is nature filling the field with local wild flowers providing great habitat for other creatures and a stunning carpet of colour.

The Magpie above was obviously enjoying bug hunting and since the ban on shooting them, they are a very common site.

Green Winged Orchid
Apparently the Green Winged Orchid is a local special plant, that we saw highlighted on one of the sign posts. A great food source for the bees and Carolyn spotted loads of them in the same meadow.

As kids, we used to play up on the cliffs and I can remember the old gun bunkers that were home to several large pieces of artillery during WWII, manned by the Exmouth Home Guard, of which Carolyn's Grand Dad was a member. On returning to Exmouth, years later, I went looking for my former play haunts, only to find absolutely no sign of them. They had long since fallen victim to the ravages of time and the constant cliff erosion.

The needle, unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 2002
An area we had always taken for granted as a nice place to walk and picnic and see interesting stuff was finally accorded proper recognition and protection in 2002 with the erection of the needle at Orcombe Point in Exmouth, by Prince Charles the Prince of Wales in 2002 recognising the World Heritage status.

Exmouth beach looking up the mouth of the River Exe with the Haldon Hills and the edge of Dartmoor beyond -
God's Own Country!
I have lived in the town for nearly forty years, pretty much my whole life, and it is easy to take for granted the beauty of the area that you are familiar with and see day to day. You just have to take the time and really look at your surroundings to appreciate it fully, and with the sun shining, and England winning the Test at Lord's it really was a great May Bank holiday.

A bit of cloud cover towards the end of the afternoon, looking towards Dawlish

Nice to have a little break from the painting, but the 1/24e Ligne are well under way so they will be next up.

Sunday 24 May 2015

3rd "Prince of Wales" Regiment of Dragoon Guards

In 1685 the Earl of Plymouth raised a troop of Cuirassiers in response to the Monmouth Rebellion. See my post from December 2014, covering the rebellion and Battle of Sedgemoor. 

In a previous post I covered the history of the 4th Queen's Own Dragoons that could trace their history back to the Monmouth Rebellion.

4th Queens Own Regiment of Dragoons

Unlike the 4th Dragoons which had been raised in support of the Duke of Monmouth's ill fated expedition, the Earl of Plymouth's regiment was part of King James' army sent to suppress the rebellion, and following the fall of King James in 1688 was merged with other units to form the 4th Regiment of Horse in the new army of King William III.

Thomas Windsor Hickman - 1st Earl of Plymouth 1627 -1687
Gainsborough Old Hall 
The regiment saw active service during the War of Spanish Succession in Europe serving under the Duke of Marlborough. The various actions are a a roll call of the Duke's victories; Schellenburg, Blenheim, Ramilles, Oudenarde and Malplaquet.

Following the end of the war, the next thirty years were comparatively quiet and saw the the regiment
converted to Dragoon Guards, as the 3rd Dragoon Guards in 1741 and accorded the title of  "Prince of Wales Regiment of Dragoon Guards" in 1765.

The regiment landed at Lisbon  between the 22nd and 27th of April 1809 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Granby Thomas Calcraft and were re-acquainted with the successors of their old foes from 1685, the 4th Queens Own Dragoons in the new British Heavy Cavalry brigade under Major General Henry Fane.

The brigade and the regiment took its first steps on to the stage that was the Peninsular War when it marched into the Tagus Valley in the summer of 1809 to see action if somewhat limited when it formed part of Sir Arthur Wellesley's cavalry reserve at the Battle of Talavera. The 3rd Dragoon Guards would go on to become a veteran regiment in the Peninsular War and would see service at Talavera, Albuera, and Vittoria and would join the British army in Belgium after Waterloo.

3rd Dragoon Guards Trooper circa 1811
by Bryan Fosten
All British heavy cavalry, through out the Napoleonic wars were armed with the 1796 pattern heavy cavalry sabre.

The 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sabre - note the hatchet tip to the blade

This weapon has been described as a poor design, certainly when compared with the Light Cavalry pattern of the same year designed by the great cavalry leader General Le Marchant.

All British cavalry were trained to use the cut with infantry and on first contact with cavalry, really only using the point when enemy cavalry turned, presenting their backs. The sabre was a devastating weapon to be cut with but was less likely to kill than when using the point, as was French practise.

The hatchet end of the blade designed to encourage the cut was unusable as a point to kill and some soldiers, like Sergeant Ewart of the Scots Greys, made field modifications by having the farrier grind the weapon to a point.

My 3rd Dragoon Guards are composed of figures from AB

Major General Henry Fane with the Heavy Cavalry Brigade - 4th Dragoons and 3rd Dragoon Guards

Other sources used in this post
Wellington's Military Machine - Philip J Haythornthwaite

So the with the British heavy cavalry done, I just have two battalions of line infantry, some artillery limbers and a few general officers to do to complete Wellesley's British army. However the next few months will see the start of work on the twenty four battalions of French line infantry, and the seven battalions of Spanish infantry from Bassecourt's Division.

So next unit up is the first battalion, 24e Regiment de Ligne, the senior line regiment in General Ruffin's division.

Friday 22 May 2015

Muskets & Tomahawks - Hawk Eye and the Ladies

Hawk Eye and the Ladies painted by Tom.
As you will know the French Indian Wars and Muskets & Tomahawks have featured previously on JJ's Wargames and the occasional work both Tom and I have done for our friend Steve who is building a very nice collection of 28mm figures.

Steve asked me to paint these at Xmas just after I had finished the redcoats, but with the Talavera plans laid down, and a lot to get done, these characters were likely to have been on the back burner for a while.

Tom loves this period and the rules and immediately volunteered to paint these up as a break from Early Imperial Romans and his third year university studies which, with exams happening at the moment, have severely curtailed his painting - which explains why the Romans have had no additions since January.

With a bit of free time, Tom decided to get these character figures finished over the weekend and I think he has made a cracking job of them.

The colours he has chosen are quite stunning and I know he was working on getting a lighter tone on the the two ladies. Female flesh tones are quite tricky but I think these ladies look the part as well as slightly nervous about their chances of making it across the table.

I am pleased to say that Tom has his last exam today and the next unit of Roman Auxiliaries are on the stick so onwards and upwards.

The Figures are part of the Conquest Miniatures range supplied by Warlords here in the UK.

Anyway. I hope you like these chaps Steve.

Next up the 3rd "Prince of Wales" Dragoon Guards

Wednesday 20 May 2015

4th "Queen's Own" Regiment of Dragoons

The 4th "Queen's Own" Dragoons could trace their history back to 1685 and the Monmouth Rebellion, the first campaign of a series that could be grouped together as the Jacobite Wars in Britain that culminated with the the last battle fought on British soil at Culloden in 1746.

I covered the details of the Monmouth Rebellion and the Battle of Sedgemoor in my post from December 2014.

The 4th Dragoons therefore have a link to the South West of England where they were raised and merged with other troops raised in Bradford as a single regiment of dragoons named, Princess Anne of Denmark's Regiment of Dragoons, in honour of Princess Anne, daughter of King James II.

The regiment fought in Portugal and Spain during the War of Spanish Succession, was back at home during the Jacobite risings of 1715 and was present at Dettingen in 1743, the last time a British monarch, King George II, personally led his troops.

Battle of Dettingen

Returning to home duties in 1748 the regiment gained its rank of forth in the listings in 1751 and gained its prefix "Queen's Own" in 1788 after Queen Charlotte, King George III's wife.

Queen Charlotte 1744 - 1818
The 4th Dragoons were landed between the 22nd and 27th of April 1809 at Lisbon and were brigaded with the more senior 3rd Dragoon Guards under Major General Henry Fane forming the first British Heavy Cavalry brigade in the Peninsular War.

Their commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel Lord Robert Edward Henry Somerset who would go on to command a cavalry brigade in the Peninsula and the Household Cavalry Brigade at Waterloo.

The dress of British Heavy Cavalry and the 4th Dragoons in particular as illustrated by Histofig

Like their French counterparts, the British heavy cavalry spent the Battle of Talavera held as an exploitation/covering force, moving from the British centre to the left flank to cover threatened areas. The casualties of three men killed and nine wounded indicate that they were drawn close enough to the action in the latter sector, when Anson's brigade charged the French squares in the northern valley.

This rather modest start to their participation in the war doesn't give any hint to the pivotal role they would have in shifting the moral ascendancy British cavalry would achieve over their French opposite numbers as the war progressed. On the 25th May 1811, at a little hamlet called Usagre, they were in the lead of the charge of General Lumley's cavalry force that completely surprised and ambushed the French cavalry rearguard, under the very experienced but very shocked General Latour Maubourg, following the Battle of Albuera. Things would never quiet be the same following this action and we have it and others to look forward to in future posts.

The 4th Dragoons would go on to become a veteran Peninsula regiment serving at Talavera, Busaco, Albuera, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees and Toulouse.

British heavy cavalry regiments were subject to regulations on horse colours, although I take the view that peace time regulations soon gave way to campaign reality and regiments involved in a war as long the Peninsular campaign would have struggled to keep to them. That said I'm sure, given the choice, commanders would attempt to apply the regulations and with newly arrived regiments such as the 4th Dragoons would probably have been equipped accordingly.

The other peculiarity with British cavalry, in general, was the docking of tails (nag-tailed), although the heavy regiments may well have moved away from that style during this period. The Household Regiments didn't dock and it seems that other heavy regiments might have followed suit. The docked tail certainly became a recognition peculiarity that helped to distinguish British cavalry at distance from their French counterparts particularly after the 1812 uniform changes that introduced shakos and helmets very much like the French style.

13th Light Dragoon illustrating the docked tail

So the General Orders for horse colours issued on the 10th August 1799 from Horse Guards has been my guide, with the caveats mentioned above. Note the direction that trumpeters were not to be mounted on greys.


The heavy cavalry, with the exception of the two regiments of Life Guards and Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, are to be mounted on nag-tailed horses. 
  • The First, or King's Regiment of Dragoon Guards; the First, or Royal Regiment of Dragoons; the Third, or King's Own Regiment of Dragoons, are to be mounted on black nag-tailed horses.
  • The Second, or Queen's Regiment of Dragoon Guards, are to be mounted on nag-tailed horses of the colours of bay and brown.
  • The Second, or Royal North British Regiment of Dragoons, are to be mounted on nag-tailed grey horses.
  • All other regiments of heavy cavalry on the British establishment are to be mounted on nag-tailed horses of the colours of bay, brown, and chestnut.
  • The custom of mounting trumpeters on grey horses is to be discontinued, and they are in future to be mounted on horses of the colour or colours prescribed for the regiments to which they belong.
Harvey Calvert,

Horse Guards

10th August, 1799."

My 4th Dragoons are composed of figures from the AB range, appropriately mounted on browns, chestnut and bay horses.'sCavalry/c_4thDragoons.html

Other sources used in this post
Wellington's Military Machine - Philip J Haythornthwaite
British Napoleonic Uniforms - C.E. Franklin
Osprey, Wellington's Heavy Cavalry - Bryan Fosten