Tuesday, 29 December 2009

SYW Russian Cuirassiers

This is the start of a new project for 2010, painting up a Russian SYW army. This is the first complete unit I have actually based, the 3rd Curiassiers. I was unsure about the coat, as my sources (the ubiquitous Osprey, Pengel and Hurt and Mollo) don't agree, the first giving red collar, cuffs and turnback piped white while the latter two give buff with a 6" red border.

I really should make sure all the flock has been brushed off when I take a photo.
Having asked on TMP, I was directed to the fantastic http://www.kronskaf.com/ , which seemed to provide support for both, a Knotel print agreeing with the Osprey while the templates agree with the others. Since I shall eventually paint up 3 units of cuirassiers, I have decided to do one of each with the last unit still in "dragoon uniform" under their cuirasses.

Something else I will change on the next unit is the colour of the cuirasses themselves. Next time they'll get the blackened iron treatment.

Ooops - a bit of a gap there. Something to remember for the next unit.

They were fun to paint and made a change from what I usually do. I don't really know much about the Seven Years War, but a lot of the battlefields are within easy reach and I think I shall be making trips to several this year, starting with Kolin.

The unit together.

Still missing a standard. Unfortunately GMB don't do the 3rd Cuirassiers, so I'll have to find one from somewhere else, or just leave the pole bare and wait and hope.

Thanks for looking, and best wishes for 2010.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Náměšt' na Hané

Despite the symbolic value of starting my blog on the anniversary of Austerlitz, I can see that the idea was not thought through particularly well. The approach of Christmas and all that that entails (end of term marking, the obligatory Xmas parties, the horrors of Christmas shopping and suchlike) has meant I have had little time to sit down and sort through further pictures, let alone take the photos of my minis that I wanted too. Ach jo, as the Czechs would say (it's so much more expressive than Such is life).

Anyway, the weekend before Austerlitz there was a small display of militaria and reenactment at Náměšt', which is just down the road from where Sebastian, my son lives. Only a few hundred people there, and a very funny talk by the Uhlans I later took pictures of at Tvarožná. The display was very small, a few helmets, muskets/rifles and sabres ranging from c. 1750 to the Second World War, a couple of uniforms, and an Austrian flag.

Detail of the Austrian flag. I see the Bohemian lion, the eagles of Silesia and Moravia, the Hungarian arms and the Austrian - I really should identify the rest ... Austria is not really my forte but I think Seb will make me change that.

There was a uniform there labelled as French, 1810. Not very helpful. The czapska makes me fairly sure it's Polish, but I can't find the leaf pattern anywhere in my limited library (which includes this lovely book I just have to mention)

If anyone could help in identifying it I'd be very grateful...

The reenactment itself was more a demonstration of drill and an explanation of the uniforms. I was quite impressed by the turn out; they were almost all locals from the looks of things and showed a genuine interest in everything.

I, of course, gravitated towards the French. This gun got me thinking - it looks very light to me; I had always been lead to believe that they were painted a darker olive than this.

Seb showed where his loyalties lay, preferring to spend time with the "Austrian" reenactors. In fact, they were all from Ostrava...

Here's a final photo of the French infantry reenactment group. There were only 9 of them in total but what they lacked in numbers they more than made up for in enthusiasm. The youngest there was 14, a real Marie Louise!

Thanks for looking - hope it was of interest.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Neapolitan 1st Line

These are some of the first examples of a new unit being painted up for Lasalle. I have a rather large pile of French infantry waiting to be painted - both in the 1807 and Bardin uniform, and I need to decide which to concentrate on. I have painted a few of the lovely Perry figures up, now it's the turn of Victrix. Instead of painting up another French line battalion, however, I decided to paint them as the 1st Line Infantry of the Kingdom of Naples, sometime around early 1810.

Since I've got the Victrix 1804-1807 box as well (impulse buy - what else?), I was also looking around for a unit that might still be in the bicorne. Plate 58 in Uniforms of the Peninsular War, 1807 - 1814 has long been a favourite, and sprang to mind. I also wanted to practise a bit of painting white. I have long been a fan of the beautifully painted figures of ArchiducCharles and others on TMP, but have never really managed to capture the white they achieve. I have also been to a couple of re-enactment events recently, and have seen quite a variety of "whites", so I wanted to see if I could get close to any of them.

Notice the differing shades of white and cream in evidence here.

Another reason I chose the Neapolitans is the fact that I imagine they were rather low on the food chain when it came to resupply. Quite apart from the venal nature of the contractors of the period (I remember reading somewhere of one such who only escaped execution on the Russian campaign by crawling on hands and knees, grovelling at Napoleon's side over a distance of several kilometers!), I don't imagine that QMs then were much different to those today, their credo being "These are Stores. If we were meant to issue things, they'd be called Issues, wouldn't they?" This gives the perfect excuse for a bit of variety.

Pointing at it won't help, mon brave, it says here I don't have any shakos, so you can't have one. Come back in a few weeks and I'll see what I can do, hein?

The Neapolitans are thus a perfect choice. The unit is in a wide range of headgear, with some of them having secured the new shakos, others not. There is also a variety of cloth in use for trousers, waistcoats, and even a couple whose jackets have had to be replaced with the ubiquitous brown Iberian cloth.

I'm still not sure about the basing. I have some 60mm x 40mm Litko bases , but I'm not sure whether I should mount them on a 15mm or 20mm frontage. I'm a slow painter, and it's obviously cheaper to mount them 6 to a base, but I am leaning towards the 15mm. We'll see...
I'm still relatively new at this malarky, so any hints, tips or criticism (constructive or not!) most welcome. One thing I will say is the camera is the scariest critic of all - these figures seemed ok to me, but now I see them up close...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Austerlitz 2009 continued

More photos from the re-enactment. Again, apologies for the less than spectacular photography - I did ask for an idiot proof camera when I bought mine, but that does mean it's not equipped with the most powerful of lenses. Anyway, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (I hope!)

Preparing for the attack.

When the skirmishers can't stop them...

...it's time to plug the hole in the line.

"For what you are about to receive..."

Although the Austrian line disappears behind a wreath of smoke

The French come on "in the same old fashion", well, it works!

Cavalry on the flanks of the attack.
The attack goes in

It looks touch and go for a while, but it's sound and fury signifying...

...nothing; the Allies hold and the French are forced to retire.
The French fall back to remove that disruption.

While they do so the French guns open up again.


The Austrians prepare for the next attack...

... as do their Russian allies.

Redressing the ranks.

Some Grognards - veterans of Italy and Egypt?

The French line is now reorganised.

And the Allies are ready to meet them again.

More later and I'll put up some piccies of the 2005 show - snow, burning villages and many more participants.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Austerlitz 2009

The battle in full flow
Hello and welcome to the first post of a new blog. Given the name it must be fairly obvious that I am interested in a) Napoleon and all things Napoleonic and b) miniatures and miniature gaming, and I will admit that this blog is as much for me as it is for others; it is an attempt to make me more focussed in my painting as well as an opportunity to share my efforts with others. I don’t intend to limit myself solely to my passion for gaming though and I thought a good way to start off would be to post a report on Austerlitz 2009.

I live “next door” to Austerlitz. It was obviously not a reason for me to move here to Brno (the Czech Republic’s second city) but it is an added bonus – I could walk if I really felt like it as it’s only a few miles. I have spent a fair amount of time wandering up and down the battle field, but to be honest there isn’t all that much there. The Pratzen heights are now covered by the village of Prace, and the fish ponds between Telnice (Telnitz) and Měnín (Menitz) have been drained and replaced by the villages of Újezd u Brna and Žatčany, and a lot of the middle of the battlefield now lies under the D1 motorway. It is possible to walk down the banks of the Řička (Goldbach Brook), but much of the terrain has changed almost out of all recognition since 1805.
On the extreme left flank of the battle, however, it is still possible to climb the Santon hill and look out over a few fields, just to the south of the village of Tvarožná, imagining that one is seeing the advance of Bagration as Lannes did. And it is here every year that the re-enactment of the battle takes place. This time my 7 year old son, Sebastian, was keen to go, so after a hiatus since 2005 we caught the bus last Saturday and rode all of 15 minutes out to the site.

View Larger Map
This year it has been unseasonably warm, with temperatures in the double digits, so no mud or snow was in evidence, and turnout was lower than it has been, both of re-enactors (about 800 this year) and spectators, almost certainly for financial reasons– but this was not necessarily a bad thing, as there was more space to see things. No Mark Schneider as Napoleon this year either, which was a shame. But what was missing in numbers was made up for in passion from all involved. It was loud and smoky and chaotic and above all fun.

The French firing line in action - literally the fog of war.
Unfortunately the photos aren’t great. I had hoped to borrow a friend’s camera instead of using my little thing, but couldn’t get hold of the friend at the last moment. With Seb in tow I couldn’t charge around taking photos all the time either, and then, to my horror, my camera died (or the batteries did to be more precise). I suppose it was just as well, because after initial enthusiasm for the booming guns of the Austrian battery, Seb’s interest was beginning to pall and he declared that he wanted to leave. “After all,” he said, “it’s not like we don’t know who wins in the end!”

We saw these guys in Náměst na Hané the week before...
A view looking North over Tvarožná
The first of the Austrian guns being prolonged into position. The hill sloping up on the left is Santon, Tvarožná is down to the right.A few of the guns from the Austrian battery. Note how sparse the spectators are on the hill behind, not like 2005 at all.The Austrian Grenadiers take the field.As do some slightly anachronistic Russians.
Some more Austrians (well Hungarians) some of whom look remarkably well fed on army rations...

The skirmishing starts...

... as the French position themselves. In reality, the French were at the top of the hill and Bagration approached from below.

The French battery prepares for action.

More photos in the next post...