Napoleon Had Five Hundred Marching Soldiers…

“Napoléon avait cinq cents soldats, Marchant du même pas.”

I painted a far larger number of figures for the BFFFWP group build than I actually sent (only the four figures). One of the sets that I was working on with an eye to submitting to the project was the Strelets French Infantry in Advance set. I only had a box in the first place because my local retailer was sadly closing down and selling remaining stock at stupidly cheap prices. I had little intention of painting them any time soon until the BFFFWP spurred me into action.

Well, it’s a typical Strelets set, with its distinctive sculpting style and emphasis on plenty of character in the poses. Strelets actually brought out two sets of these marching French Napoleonic infantry, resulting in no less than 24 different poses of soldiers simply marching with their musket! The other feature of this set is that they are made to look distinctly campaign weary and footsore; wearing greatcoats, sometimes covering their shakos from the vicissitudes of the weather and occasionally even sporting patches for their threadbare uniforms.

Certainly not the prettiest set ever produced, they are nonetheless easy to paint and make for an effective and evocative display of marching Napoleonic soldiery. Painting these troops put me in mind of a song I learnt in my French class at school; “Napoléon avait cinq cents soldats“. I’m ashamed to say that my knowledge of the language isn’t great but I well recall reciting this song – I was delighted to learn it for fairly obvious reasons! I might not have “five hundred soldiers marching” and they’re most certainly not in step, but I might just like them enough to paint the full 96 in my possession…

Strelets French Infantry Advance. Just another box and a half to paint...
Strelets French Infantry Advance. Just another box and a half to paint…
Not sure what the French version of the old marching song "It's a long way to Tipperary" is, but these guys are singing it...
Not sure what the French version of the old marching song “It’s a long way to Tipperary” is, (It’s a Long Way to La Rochelle, maybe) but these guys are singing it…
Strelets French Infantry Advance.
Strelets French Infantry Advance.
Strelets French Infantry Advance
Strelets French Infantry Advance
Strelets French Infantry Advance
Strelets French Infantry Advance
Marching off to the front...
Marching off to the front…

As a postscript to the above, I found the following nugget of information on the web about the “Napoléon Avait Cinq Cent Soldats” song:

[After singing the first verse in full] Then the second time you drop the last syllable from the Napoleon line: “Napoléon avait cinq cent sol—“
The last line (Marchez en même temps) is sung with full gusto.
The third time, you drop the last two syllables and successively down the line to the song’s conclusion.

I’ve been singing it all day but I will get that song out of my head eventually…

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