Strelets French Army Sledge Train (set 1)

My Strelets French Army Sledge Train is now finished with snow freshly dusted over the scene. The end result looks suitably cold, I think. Or maybe it’s just the deteriorating weather outside having that effect on me?

In the sledge there is a driver wearing a Polish Czapka, an officer wearing a cocked hat and another man wrapped in a luxurious fur coat. This chap holds a keg and is sitting on a locked casket. Notably, he wears a pair of spectacles. His hat is a bit of mystery to me. If not a specific piece of military headdress, it could be anything stolen or purchased simply to keep his head warm, so I’ve just painted it blue.

I mentioned in my previous post that the driver figure could in no way be made to ride the horse or sit in the sledge without something to sit on. Imperial Rebel Ork suggested I made something out of green stuff, sculpting anything is always a risky strategy for me! At the last minute, I decided to use a 1/72 scale wooden box from my childhood collection of Napoleonic French Artillery. The box was perfect but the driver still didn’t sit well as his legs were too far apart, even after I rashly cut his toes off (which I now put down to frostbite, you see…). He’s leaning a teensy bit far back for my liking,  but as he’s about to wield a whip, I can just about say ‘he’ll do’.

Those walking behind include (from foreground to background below):

  • An infantryman in great coat wearing a Polish Lancer’s discarded czapka.
  • Another infantryman carrying on his back a small drummer boy and his drum.
  • A dragoon with a blanket around his shoulders and without any footwear.
  • At the back, a Chasseur of the Guard amputee using a staff as a crutch.

You may just be able to pick out the sledge tracks in the snow? It looks a little more convincing to the eye!

There’s a convincing sense with these figures or struggle and hardship, particularly now they’re painted and in the snow. Little things that I was pleased with are lost to the camera in these pics; the wooden floor of the sledge and the casket, to name but two.

I think my favourite figure is the soldier carrying the drummer boy and drum on his back. It’s quite a complex piece of sculpting which comes out very well after applying some paint. All the figures look good, though, I think. The barefoot dragoon is convincingly cold with the blanket, for example.

Napoleon himself adopted the use of a sleigh when he abandoned the remnants of the Grand Armee on its retreat from Moscow, so it really was the best way to get around in the snowy conditions.

“It’s a long way to Lithuania…”

I mentioned how much I liked Strelets emaciated pony. The suffering endured by the horses taken on campaign with Napoleon was truly appalling. Virtually all of Napoleon’s 200,000 horses died from starvation, wounds, injuries, exhaustion or, increasingly during the terrible retreat, at the hands of starving men desperate to use them for food.

Even in the opening weeks of the campaign, many thousands of horses died in a great storm. The outlook for this poor, struggling pony in my scene is probably as bleak as for the men walking on behind.

You may notice from the pic below that the horse is moving off to the left. This is simply a feature of one of the poles connected to his harness being longer than the other! But if anyone asks – the horse is very deliberately turning left…

I’ve also added another dozen men to my growing collection of painted Strelets Marching French infantry figures, currently now over 50 strong. It’s a long-term aim of mine to finish both boxes in the coming years and build a 100-man marching column to accompany the sledge train.

Settle down, grab your popcorn – it’s time for a short movie:

Watch a feline Cossack attack my marching column of French infantry!

There’s a second set of the French Army Sledge Train with different figures which I may source for next year’s wintry hobby painting. And finally – just a few last pics showing the marching column making its way across the icy wastes of my lounge carpet:

10 thoughts on “Strelets French Army Sledge Train (set 1)

    1. Many thanks! I’ll swap you my sledge for your Retreat from Moscow masterpiece any time…!

      With Strelets, it’s often hard to make out on the plastic what the sculptor has intended. Initially, it took me a little while to realise that the man was carrying a drummer boy. I love those little creative details, though, that Strelets are not afraid to attempt.

      That Retreat from Moscow scene of yours is superb, btw. Love the little details, the muddy roads, the crows in trees, the cossacks and wolves threatening the retreat. Great work.

      Cheers, Marvin.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks mate ! I’m with you on the way Strelets make their figures and although sometimes they can be a bit chunky if one wishes to use with other makers figs., but as I use then en masse and they tend to blend in ,I must say you are observant I didn’t think my photos showed the crows ! . I’m interested in what used for snow as I used Woodlands on this one and then a combination of Woodlands and a dusting of bicarb on the Coruna one, which in hind sight would have been better on the tree as bicarb is so much finer and the ants won’t eat it as the guy that used icing sugar found out ! ha ha true story though ! .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I use Woodlands soft flake snow for my scene. That’s funny about the icing sugar! 🙂 I did hear somewhere about bicarb maybe absorbing moisture from the air over time and turning to mush. Maybe I’m I’m wrong about that – hope so! Hopefully the Woodlands is pretty durable stuff though. Cheers, Marvin.

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      1. That’s interesting about the bicarbonate ,I normally put a Perspex cover over my dio’s But the guy who does them messed up and so this one has remained exposed to Melbournes damp winter with out any mushy effect so fingers crossed but I wouldn’t try it up north in the tropical areas where every thing turns to mush !!,so stick with the Woodlands to be sure ! Rgds Pat .

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