Revisiting The Quiberon Expedition Project

Some time last year, I took a little time out from the Nappy Cavalry Project to have a stab at something which had its genesis in a visit to the St Barbe Museum in Lymington during my holiday in 2015.

The museum explores the history of Lymington and the New Forest and during my visit, I discovered a reference to the Quiberon Expedition. This was a royalist invasion of France in 1795 via the Quiberon peninsula by émigré, counter-revolutionary troops in support of the Chouannerie and Vendée Revolts. Some of the expedition force was based in and set forth from Lymington. I made some progress (see original report here) but had to get back to the Nappy Cavalry Project. I think it’s about time I finally finished what I started!

St Barbe Museum
The St Barbe Museum in Lymington

The St Barbe museum, I’ve since discovered, was formerly the St Barbe National School built in 1835. St Barbe (St Barbara in English) was also the location of a battle during the Quiberon Expedition. It seems that this is coincidental as the founder of the school’s charity was named John St Barbe. There’s a pleasing connection between my figures and the genesis of the name of the now nearly-200-year-old building of the museum.

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The museum’s own illustrated guide to the French royalist troops based in Lymington.

The display in Lymington’s St Barbe museum which had first pricked my interest contained the above illustration depicting these Lymington-based 1st Division forces. It is these four illustrated regiments which I’ve painted using their drawings as my guide. I’ve elected to utilise Strelets’ British and French infantry in Egypt sets. Inevitably, I’ve had to make some fundamental compromises to some of the uniforms, simply making the paint do the work wherever the sculpting differs from the illustration. The following is a brief guide to the regiments that I’m depicting:

The Quiberon Expedition Force

The royalist forces amounted to a meagre 5437 men divided into two divisions. The first division commanded by Field Marshal Louis Charles d’Hervilly (3600 men); the second division, consisting of almost 2000 under Charles Eugene Gabriel which was to follow a week later, followed in turn by the Comte d’ Artois and 10,000 British soldiers which were to land and occupy Saint-Malo. It is the troops of the 1st division that my project has focused on.

The 1st division of the expeditionary force consisted of five regiments of French emigrants, most of them being royalist insurgent survivors from the siege of Toulon, others being enlisted republican POWs who had secured freedom on the basis of fighting for the royalist cause (the loyalty of these former prisoners would be open to question therefore). The force was comprised of:

  • Le Régiment d’Hervilly – comprising soldiers of the former Royal-Louis Regiment, republican POWs and sailors. (1316 officers and men)
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Royal Louis Regiment
  • Le Régiment d’Hector –  forming the Royal Marines. (700 men)
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Royal Marines
  • The Royal Artillery – of men mostly from Toulon (600 men with 10 cannon)
  • The Loyal Emigrant Regiment – 2 companies mostly of decorated veterans (250 men)
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Loyal Emigrant Regiment

Each of the regiments have been painted in groups of a dozen or so. These progress pics demonstrate there’s still much to do, but the colour scheme is visible. I’ll show the finished troops once these regiments are finally completed. I’ll be using the Strelets French Artillery in Egypt set for the Royal Artillery which I’ve yet to start, but they are next on the “To Do” list.

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