Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Marins de la Garde Imperial

Originally part of the Consular Guard, Napoleon incorporated the sailors’ battalion into the Imperial Guard on becoming emperor in 1804. At that time the battalion consisted of 5 crews totalling 818 officers and men with each crew commanded by a ‘capitaine de fregate’.

Their first assignment was to join the force at Boulogne earmarked for the invasion of Britain but when this was called off they travelled to Austria where they were present at Ulm and Austerlitz. The battalion subsequently fought at Jena, Eylau and Friedland during the campaigns of 1806-1807.

After Tilsit they were sent to Spain where they suffered heavy losses at Bailen, with many becoming prisoners. Because of this the unit had to be rebuilt from scratch in 1809 but with only a single crew of 150 men who fought at Wagram as gunners.

In 1810 more crews were added and the battalion rose to a strength of over 1,000 in time to take part in the invasion of Russia. Only 85 of its officers and men returned to Germany following the campaign but it was brought up to strength again in time to fight at Leipzig alongside the Young Guard.

A small detachment of sailors accompanied the emperor in exile to Elba and during the Hundred Days one crew of 150 was re-formed and fought at both Ligny and Waterloo. The unit was disbanded in August 1815.

My own unit of Marins has a few Engineers of the Guard mixed in the ranks in recognition of the combined attack these units made at Ligny (and to give me an excuse to paint up some engineers). The unit is comprised as follows:

16 x FN/93 Marine (charging)
1 x FN/90 Officer (charging)
1 x FN/4 Colour Bearer (charging)
1 x FN/6 Drummer (charging) – Variant
1 x FN/180 Officer, reading map
1 x FN/177 Guard using pickaxe
1 x FN/178 Guard, digging with spade
1 x WN.10. Officer, charging
1 x WN.15. Officer, marching

I’m hopeful that this unit will be seeing action quite soon.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Last of the Marines (and engineers)

After a bit of a dry painting period I finally found time to paint the last few of my Sailors of the Guard. Shown here in the front are, FN/177 Guard using pickaxe (donated by Roy) and FN/90 Marine Officer, charging (donated by Mark). All that remains to do now is base them all.

When I started this unit a couple of years ago I was quickly distracted after painting just 3 figures and this is partly because most of the figures are reproductions rather than vintage figures. However in the end this has turned out to be an interesting unit to put together incorporating engineers and various command figures. The blue and orange uniforms also seem to come alive once the gloss varnish is applied.

Next I’m going to be painting a couple more French gun batteries and then it will be time to expand the Guard cavalry.

Friday, 30 March 2018

More Marston

Last week I was over at Tony’s playing out his excellent C&C Marston Moor game. I played a dashing Prince Rupert whilst Goya took on the role of the dastardly Parliamentarians. It was great fun as always and I was delighted to get to use Tony’s spectacular collection of 20mm ECW troops. Most of you will have already seen Tony’s blog post on the subject but here a few more photos from the day.

View along the huge table at the start of play - Royalists on the
left, Parliamentarians on the right. I hadn't realised just how
extensive Tony's collection is and was pleasantly surprised.
That's me (Prince Rupert) with my faithful hound 'Boye'. I was
fascinated by Tony's lovely model coach which apparently
housed the Earl of Newcastle. I think he may have been
snoozing in there as he took no part in proceedings.
After an enjoyable affair of cavalry on both flanks (I got the
upper hand on the left whilst Goya was victorious on the right)
I decided to attack with my infantry in the centre.
This was perhaps not the best plan as the Roundheads had
defence in depth but I felt it was worth a gamble.
With the cavalry on my right defeated by a certain 'Cromwell'
fellow I had to draw in a tight defence with infantry. The stout
chaps here were mostly Hinton Hunt - well of course!
At the end of play you can see there is little left of my army.
How will I explain this to the king?

I was particularly interested to re-fight Marston Moor as I had played this same battle as a demo game in the early 1970s using Minifigs armies put together by myself and a couple of wargaming school friends. I can’t remember who won on that occasion, but we had a clear-cut victory for the Roundheads this time.

Rewind 43 years and here's the same battle played (I think)
somewhere near Colchester. The Royalists (on the right this
time) are my collection of 'intermediate' Minifigs.

Tony put a lot of effort into the research for this game which (along with the superb veggie-haggis, tatties and neeps lunch) was much appreciated by the players. His clever adaptation of C&C for the ECW worked very well and provided just the right period feel to the ebb and flow of the game. I very much hope I get to play another of these.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Marine Eagle-bearer

Thanks to Ken, who sent me details of the flag carried by the Guard Marines, I have been able to complete my eagle-bearer for the unit. I used a reproduction casting of FN/4 Colour bearer (charging) which is notably flimsy compared to vintage castings however as I’ve now run out of these he’s had to step in.

The whole time that I was tackling the flag I was wishing Wellington Man was doing the job for me as I knew I wouldn’t be able to produce anything like the two amazing flags he painted for me last year. However, I persevered and in the end I’m pretty pleased with the result which is the best hand painted flag I’ve done so far for this project (and yes Ken, I did paint tiny anchors in each corner of the flag!).

I was fortunate this week to receive from Roy a few more engineers including a lovely casting of FN/177 Guard using pickaxe. As with the chap with the spade the pickaxe needed a repair as half the axe head was missing. This was rectified with a lot of cursing and fiddling around with Magic-Sculp but I intend to find room to squeeze him into the ranks.

Finally as you can see, I also repainted the waistcoats on my officers red as I was finding the white jumped out too much. Looking at uniform prints on the web it would appear that both colours were in use for the marines but I thought the red blended in better with the rest of the unit.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Guard Marines Command

FN/145 Dragoon Officer (marching) - on the left
WN.10 Polish Officer (charging) - on the right
I’ve painted some command figures for the Guard Marines this week, nothing too taxing as there are only three of them. I don’t have any proper Marine Officers so I’ve had to improvise and use one Duchy of Warsaw figure and one French Dragoon figure as they seem to have the right sort of hat.

The drummer is a bit of a mystery and I can’t remember where he came from. The base has “HH” stamped on it but it’s not a figure from the original range so could possibly be a Clayton variant. It appears to be based on FN/6 Drummer (charging) with an added plume which was just what I need for the Marines. The sky blue uniform will add even more colour to this unit.

Next I need to finish the eagle bearer and then it’ll be on with the final six of the rank and file.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

The cabinet is back

The only casualty of our house move last year was my acrylic mirrored display cabinet which suffered a broken shelf. I can’t even blame the removals company because I broke it myself taking it off the wall in our old house.

It’s taken a whole year but I finally got around to replacing the broken shelf with a new piece of acrylic sheet which was a tricky and rather nerve-racking experience. Today I fixed it to the wall in my study and was finally able to get the Hinton Hunts out of their storage boxes and back on the shelves where I can see them.

The cabinet is very tricky to photograph because of the mirrored back so apologies for the quality of the photos but I thought some of you would be interested to see the collection en-masse. There are 600 figures on the shelves and I have another 200 or so that wouldn’t fit in.

The cabinet is 60cm wide by 50cm tall and has 6 shelves.
Repairs involved fixing a replacement bottom shelf and wooden
support strip. The tricky thing was trying not to get too much
glue on the clear acrylic.
Top Shelf - a mixture of British, Brunswick, French and
Prussian cavalry. You can see the mirroring effect on the
second shelf showing the backs of the troops.
Shelf 2 - the Poles are sharing a shelf with the Austrians.
Shelf 3 - mostly Prussians.
Shelf 4 - the Duke's finest on parade.
Shelf 5 - Vive l'emperor!
Bottom Shelf - French, Prussian and British heavy cavalry.

The question now will be which troops do I displace when I finish the Guard Marines?

Friday, 9 March 2018

Engineers of the Guard

FN/176 Officer, reading map
FN/178 Guard, digging with spade
I received a couple of vintage Hinton Hunt Engineers of the Guard figures quite a few years back (the Officer came from Don and the chap with the spade came from Mark). I got as far as restoring the damaged shovel head of one with Green Stuff and undercoating both but never got around to painting them as I couldn’t think of a use for non-combatants.

In the last few days though while looking up information on the Marins of the Guard I came across this in Mark Adkin’s Waterloo Companion “At Ligny, with the Engineers of the Guard, they (the Marins) formed a small assault column that stormed the eastern part of the village.” That seems like a very good reason to include them in the ranks of my Marins.

I’m not sure whether the Officer with the map will be much use in an assault however the guy with the shovel looks like he could be dangerous to somebody's ankles in a melee. I thought they would add a little bit more colour to an already colourful unit.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Sailors of the Guard

I painted three Marins of the Guard back in 2015 but they were passed over in favour of various units for the Vintage Leipzig project and have languished in a storage box ever since. As my current objective is to paint French Guard units it seemed like a good time to dig them out and paint a few more.

I ended up making a few adjustments to the way I’d painted the original three after re-reading the Hinton Hunt painting instructions and looking at a few uniform illustrations on the internet. I’m fairly happy with the overall look now and have completed a further nine figures taking me to the halfway point for this unit.

It turns out that the Marins were not actually officially part of the Imperial Guard however at Waterloo they were deployed in their support, although only in Company strength. In my army they will be at full battalion strength and may even possess an eagle which seems fair to me even if not strictly speaking historical.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Young Guard – Completed

It’s taken slightly over two months but the Young Guard are finally finished. This unit has been a labour of love involving some serious flash removal and running repairs plus conversions and flag painting by Matt B as well as concentrated painting on my part.

Most of the figures here were vintage ones that the original owner bought direct from Marcus Hinton in 1965 (the remainder are Clayton’s). They had never been painted so the job of getting them table ready fell to me some half a century after they were cast - I hope I’ve done them justice.

For the record the figures are:
16 x FN/75 Voltigeur Guard (charging, one converted to drummer)
5 x FN/77 Voltigeur Guard (running at the trail)
2 x FN/70 Young Guard Officer (charging)
1 x FN/74 Young Guard Officer (marching)

One other unit finished this week was a Boer War British one painted for me by Matt G – click here to take a look on my Boer War in Miniature blog.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Young Guard Update #2

I’m falling a bit behind schedule on getting this unit fully finished. Last night I cut the plasticard bases and went through the frustrating process of trying to get the figures glued on in such a way as to allow the ranks to close up. This is always awkward with charging figures as they have to be angled so that the ranks can fit together in any combination.

During this process it became apparent that there are subtle differences between some of the castings. I’m not sure how many different production moulds there would have been in use by Hinton Hunt at any one time but I know I received figure variations within the same deliveries back in the 70s. Mostly these were variations in height and thickness but sometimes the body is slightly twisted.

Anyway, they are now firmly stuck in place with superglue and the final phase of production will be to paint the bases green. This is also quite a frustrating process as the quality of Humbrol paints is now so poor it will require three coats to cover properly. Once that’s done they will fall in again in front of the Emperor to ‘officially’ receive their colours.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Young Guard Update

Well, I did say I hoped I’d have them finished by the middle of February at the latest and I’m not all that far off – just three figures left to paint. However due to the fact that we have a couple of visitors over the next week (my hobby space is in the guest room) I may just miss that deadline.

This is the final officer figure for the unit gleaming under a coat of wet varnish - he is FN/70 Young Guard Officer (charging). There is a note in the Hinton Hunt catalogue that says “The Young Guard Officers FN/70 and FN/74 had the same patterns of uniform for Tirallieurs and Voltiguers, only the colouring differed”. This is quite handy although of course I have painted mine as Voltiguers.

Once the unit is completed and based I’ll try to get some decent pictures of them.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

A mini campaign and a battle with no name

Yesterday Tony and Goya braved the Perthshire snow to convene here at Hinton Hunt Towers for a game of Muskets & Marshals. The scenario was the result of a mini campaign played between them with myself acting as umpire. The campaign was set in a ficticious and nameless area of central Europe during 1813/14. The idea was to produce a game where each player had a say in what forces would be present and what terrain would be fought over.

This is the campaign map showing the location of forces just prior to the
battle. The divisons outlined in red are French and the remainder are the
Austro-Prussians. Each divison was slightly different in composition but
had 2-3 units and 1-2 batteries. The black box in the centre of the map is
the area selected by Goya for the battle. Most of the off-table forces were
 able to enter the game on turn 2 but some were restricted. Each square
 on the map represents one 2' x 2' terrain tile.

In the end it was Tony (Napoleon) who made the aggressive moves to bring about a battle and Goya (Blucher) who got to choose the battlefield. Because Tony had initiated the battle he was obliged to attack the Prussian held town while Goya’s outnumbered Austro-Prussian army awaited reinforcements. It resulted in what appeared to be a scenario stacked in the favour of the French who began the game with a 4:3 advantage in numbers over the allies. This is how it went.

The view from left-centre of the allied line at the start of play.
It was nice to be able to field my entire Prussian cavalry
contingient in this game. The French are massing in the distance
to attack the allied right.
Grouchy's 2nd division had the honour of opening the batting
for the French. They advanced rapidly towards the town
with skirmishers deployed.
This is Ney's 3rd division who found themselves placed
squarely across Blucher's right flank due to some nifty map
manoeuvring by Tony.
Grouchy's lads get stuck in and troops on both sides begin to
fall. Once again the skirmishing proved fun and fairly effective.

Austrian reinforcements entered on the extreme allied left at
the same time as Nansouty arrived with the French heavy
cavalry division. The result was the audible whir of many
tiny sabres (and the rumble of dice).
Two or three turns in and the battle is in full swing. French
chasseurs have just seen off Goya's hussars in the foreground
while the attack on the town develops in the middle distance.
The obligatory black & white shot to see the fighting in
full Charles Grant mode.
There is metal carnage now around the town with toy soldiers
falling over in rapid succession. Napoleon is calling forward
his Guard infantry although they could do with dressing those
The 4th Swiss and the converged Grenadier battalion storm
the Prussian gun line and sweep away the gunners.
The Swiss and the Grenadiers now attack the town but are
brutally repulsed.
Through the smoke and haze Ney brings up more columns but
these too are dashed and broken by the defending Prussian
fusiliers. With time up I delcared a somewhat surprising win
for the allies.
An unusual scenario that I would never have dreamt up off the cuff but it led to an interesting game. My thanks to Tony and Goya for indulging me.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Glossy Young Guard

I’ve been making a fair bit of progress with the Young Guard Voltigeurs although this has slowed somewhat in the last few days. I’m optimistically hoping to have the whole unit finished by the end of the month (or by mid-Feb at latest).

I finally took the plunge and bought some Winsor & Newton Artisan Gloss Varnish as recommended by Wellington Man and Ilkley Old School. Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know about my various varnish problems. Originally I was using Humbrol Satincote but as the quality of this product decreased I have been travelling more and more towards full gloss. I thought that if any troops deserved to be 'proper shiny' it should be the Guard.

The figures pictured are FN/77 Voltigeur Guard (running at the trail). These 5 plus 1 officer will make up one of my 6 figure companies, the others will be comprised mostly of FN/75 Voltigeur Guard (charging). The running at trail figures here are all vintage castings but 4 of them had miscast musket butts which had to be extended by using some extra muskets I had lying around. It was a bit of a fiddle and I’m hoping the ends won’t drop off in action.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Old Guard for a New Year

Work on the Young Guard continues while a host of foot
Chasseurs wait patiently in the background.
Spurred on by the arrival of the foot Chasseurs I have decided to make 2018 the year of the Old (and Young) Guard. My rather ambitious plan is to paint all my remaining Imperial Guard foot figures so that at the end of the year I will have 2 x units Old Guard Grenadiers, 2 x units Old Guard Chasseurs, 1 x unit Young Guard and 1 x unit Marines of the Guard.

It’s a great plan but to make it happen I will have to paint 113 figures which although it may not seem a lot is a tall order for me when you consider that last year I only managed to paint 49 Hinton Hunt’s. Even when you allow for the fact that 7 of those were mounted figures (let’s count those as 2 foot figures) and if you add in the 27 figures painted for my Boer War project and 14 figures painted for my WWII western desert project (not anywhere near as time consuming as Napoleonics so let's count those as half a Hinton Hunt) it still only comes to the equivalent of 76 figures.

This means I will have to resort to some production line painting methods (not a favourite of mine) and also stay focused (so no tanks but maybe a few Boers) if I’m going to achieve my aim. To get things moving I have cleaned up and primed the rest of the Young Guard unit and lined up my new paint brushes ready for action.