Regiment de Toulouse (Lace Wars)

Introducing the fourth in my series of French infantry regiments from the War of the Spanish Succession, the Regiment de Toulouse!

Described by C.S. Grant’s “Armies and Uniforms of Marlborough’s Wars” as having light blue stockings, cuffs and collars. With wide variations as to what ‘light blue’ could be interpreted as, I’ve chosen a shade I simply liked the look of.

At Blenheim, under Tourouvre’s Brigade, the Regiment de Toulouse consisted of two battalions in a total of 1000 men.

The officer looks pretty relaxed, but then his large wig could probably stop a well-aimed musket ball or two.

His sergeant looks a little more animated, bellowing orders at his men.

Pleasing figures once again from Strelets. I was a little concerned that being sideways on the sprue would make them less effective to painting, but I think they’ve come out very nicely.

I may boring regular visitors with these figures, but I am enjoying this project very much. My desire is to continue with another regiment but something tells me that I should go for some variety and do something else for a bit. So, I’m at that pleasurable stage of wondering what to paint next. I’ve certainly plenty of figures to choose from, so I better go and check out my enormous unpainted pile!

A Field Day!

It’s a Field Day for my Lace Wars legion! At the suggestion of Suburban Militarism friend and follower Markus Sharaput, I thought I’d parade my 2020 vintage War of the Spanish Succession troops as an indication of overall progress:

The Royal Scots – “Damn forward fellows with a bayonet!”
The Regiment de Champagne advance with typical French elan.
The Foot Guards convincingly demonstrate that frilly lace is no defence against hot lead.
Right back at you! The 1st Poitou let loose a shattering volley in reply.
Ooops, looks like somebody forgot to load and is hastily putting it right…
The Foot Guards prepare to halt the onward advance of the Champagne.
The Regiment de Montfort in action. Their black flag reminds me that I really need to get around to finishing something…
Patiently awaiting a flurry of lead ball are men of Sankey’s Regiment.

Well, the good news for the French is that reinforcements are on their way! As I type this, another regiment of white-coated Gallic infantry is already well advanced with paint. More on that anon…

Le Regiment de Champagne Marche!

“By the left… (wait for it, wait for it!)… quick march!”

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been very happily painting more Strelets French infantry figures from the War of the Spanish Succession. Being mostly a shade of white, it might be thought that these could become a little dull to paint. On the contrary, with a number of different poses to choose from, and being so nicely sculpted, I’ve been very content to keep on painting these.

I’ve previously painted two firing lines for the following regiments:

Crack open the bubbly for my latest addition to the Sun King’s steadily growing army – the Regiment de Champagne. The uniform is virtually all white (or more particularly a white-grey) even including the hat lace (which I now realise my source book informs me is yellow but, hey….) The only concession to any colour is a small glimpse of their red waistcoat.

Another key difference is that these men are all marching rather than firing. What’s more, they’re marching in step, which was apparently not a practice that had been adopted by the French army by this time. Nevertheless, I’ve used the same pose to give them that extra visual cue of being a single regiment.

The pose is a well-animated one by Strelets and I like it. Rather than stiffly marching forth, these Champagne soldiers have something of a swagger about them suggesting either an easy confidence or a bone-tired weariness, or even both.

As with the previous regiment, I’ve settled on Vallejo Sky Grey for the coat’s base colour. It contrasts nicely, I think, with the more wholly white looking stockings (actually Vallejo’s off-white).

Les Beatles, “Route de l’abbaye”, non?

I’ve painted an officer for the regiment to also join the march. It’s another very nicely sculpted officer by Strelets and I like him!

The regiment’s sergeant:

Strelets have been issuing / developing a number of new boxes of French WSS infantry in recent weeks including;

  • “French Grenadiers”
  • “French Musketeers on the march” (which strangely only partially includes marching figures)
  • “French Pikemen” (another odd one given the generally accepted notion that pikes were virtually abandoned as a weapon by this time).
  • French Musketeers Firing”

Both the “firing” and “march” sets have been the subject of pretty intensive criticism over the markedly short muskets, virtually musketoons. I’m keeping well out of this particular nerd’s bun fight, but basically it seems Strelets believes that French musketeers had these short muskets but many others do not. The “firing” set also features the old ‘matchlock’ musket rather than the newer ‘flintlock’, the former (like the pike) all but abandoned by the time of the WSS. Controversy aside, the sculpting is remains top notch and the pike and matchlock figures could at least stand for some earlier conflicts.

For me, it’s back to the War of the Spanish Succession and I’ll just conclude with some more views of my ‘Champagne’ boys.

Big Wigs

I’ve been happily painting up another French infantry regiment from the War of the Spanish Succession. As these near completion, I’ve also been casting my eye over some other figures from the same Lace Wars period which could nicely enhance my collection.

The figures I have in mind are from Strelets’ Court and Army of Peter the 1st (aka the Great), some of which (above) I used for this year’s FEMbruary challenge which included the Empress Catherine, two ladies of court, an officer and some guards.

The figures I’m planning to paint this time are described by Plastic Soldier Review as being:

Boris Sheremetyev (1652-1719)

Perhaps Peter’s best commander.


Baron Pavel Shafirov (1669-1739)

“Another senior government minister who became a privy councillor. He successfully negotiated a treaty with the Ottoman Empire but eventually fell from grace.


‘Officer of Cavalry’

“Carrying a very short, stubby sword and apparently wearing a cuirass under his coat, so perhaps an officer of cavalry?

You may note that I’ve removed his odd-looking “very short, stubby sword” so that he simply stands to attention. Helpfully, the end of his scabbard is hidden under his arm, so the absence of a sword won’t be a problem.


To accompany these ‘bigwigs’, I’ve assigned some additional guards to be painted also:

Part of the attraction for painting these personality figures is that they offer some possibilities for creating personalities of an imagi-nation of some sort. I’ve been thinking of how my burgeoning collection of early-18th century armies could be used to game the military travails of such an imaginary nation. Indeed, I have a specific nation in mind, but more on this perhaps in a future post…

Before and after: another Russian musketeer awaits attention with the brush to join his comrade.

More Soldiers of the Sun King

After a brief hiatus, I’ve been dipping into the Strelets Lace Wars figures once more by adding the Sun King’s army with another French Regiment. Introducing the Regiment de Poitou, which in the Blenheim campaign consisted of a small battalion in Prince Isenghein’s Brigade.

They wear the usual white-grey coat with blue cuffs, white gaiters and a tricorne with yellow trim. I think they make a nice contrast to their sister regiment, the de Montfort.

Regiment de Poitou
Regiment de Montfort

I’ve used the other loading and firing figures which came with Strelets French Fusiliers (Early War) box, using the same two figures to further emphasise the regimental distinction.

I’m pleased with my officer figure who carries a spontoon. This figures fully justifies the “Lace Wars” label with his exuberant wig, frilly white neckerchief, white fur trim on the tricorne and lacy sleeves. Unfortunately, I seem to have yet to paint his white gloves which remain a distinctly less-than-foppish-dandy shade of black. I’ll reach for the brush soon to put that right!

I’ve not fussed with the shade of grey-white worn by the regiment and I think they look better for it. At John of Just Needs Varnish suggestion, I’ve staggered the two ranks in the firing line, front firing rank to the left and rear loading rank to the right, so the bases still line up;


The loading pose:


The firing pose:

I know that Strelets are working hard on the production of more WSS boxes including the very recent release of French grenadiers and marching musketeers. Some British cavalry masters have already made an appearance on their website too. Distribution in these troubled times remains a problem however, so modellers and wargamers may have to be patient for a while yet.

Regiment de Montfort

Presenting the Regiment de Montfort, a Walloon/Spanish auxiliary regiment consisting of 2 battalions of upwards of 1200 men. Part of the Marquis de Montfort’s brigade, the regiment was present at the battle of Blenheim.

My first French Infantry regiment makes uses of two poses from Strelets new French Fusiliers (Early War) figures. The title on the box is something of a conundrum as the uniform is perfectly serviceable for the entire duration of the conflict!

The box also contains two other firing and loading poses similar to these figures which I will use for another French regiment. Also in the set are some command, advancing and kneeling figures. Knowledgeable people may point out that French infantry at this time fought in three ranks, not two. In terms of basing, I just based them all individually, forgetting previous good advice to stagger the figures on the bases – which was more than a bit dim of me!

This officer figure carries a spontoon but lacks a gorget below his neck, an essential device of rank for the time. Nonetheless, a lovely figure in a great pose.

My loading figures are cleverly pictured biting off the end of their cartridge ready to pour powder down their musket. A very effective pose with good facial features to boot.

The French at this time wore coats of Pearl-Grey, a light coloured coat in an off-white hue. I’ve seen many interpretations of this shade and in the end simply went for a very light grey which I hoped would work. I admit that my feelings vary between “a little too grey” and “satisfactory”, but I shan’t lose any sleep over it!

I won’t be pitching straight into another French regiment for a little while as I’ve recently signed up for Ann’s Immaterium’s April challenge to paint up some of my other many, many unpainted figures from the pile.

Crustacean Cavalry

I sincerely hope all visitors are staying healthy and following the advice during this horrendous pandemic. During this difficult time, any slight sense of normality is welcome and it’s more comforting than ever to occasionally engage in the act of immersive act of figure painting. I’ve been finishing off my Les Higgins War of the Spanish Succession cuirassiers.

The Bavarian army during the War of the Spanish Succession initially included three cuirassier regiments (the Arco, Wieckel and La Tour regiments). This later increased to four with the raising of the Wolframsdorff Regiment. With their “lobster-tailed pot helmets” and metal cuirassies, these troops looked like something familiar from the previous century. During the English Civil War, the so-called Haselrig’s Lobsters wore this armour, not too dissimilar from the Bavarian cuirassiers of 60 years later:

Lobster cavalry armour of the English Civil War, Household Cavalry Museum, London. (my photo)

I’ve chosen to paint these Les Higgins figures as the Arco Cuirassier Regiment, led by Cavalry General Johan Baptist Graf von Arco. Although the numbers in the regiment could vary significantly, a Bavarian cuirassier regiment at this time could have anything up to 900 men, organised into 8 -12 companies.

All the Bavarian cuirassiers during the War of the Spanish Succession wore grey coats with colours of cuffs & lining being distinctive to each regiment. The Arco Regiment was distinguished by mid-light blue facings and horse cloth. The original Robert Marrion illustration below, originally depicting the Wieckel Regiment, has been doctored by somebody with Arco facings and posted online.

All my Les Higgins’ Arco Cuirrassiers are wielding a pistol, which looks a convincing pose, I think.

As soon as I took these photos and uploaded them I found a post-it note to myself with the words “cuff buttons” and “stirrups” written on it, not coincidentally the exact same things I’ve forgotten to paint on these figures! (my friend Pat will know that feeling well). Ah, well. I’ll attend to it in due course. Nevertheless, I’m feeling quite pleased with my first WSS cavalry regiment, and my first metal Les Higgins figures too.

Hoping all visitors to this blog keep themselves and their loved ones healthy and we get through this together soon. In the meantime, when I’m not figure painting, I’m NHS employed and so will be playing a very tiny part in the national response during this time.

Best wishes, Marvin.

Les Higgins Miniatures

I was very pleased to receive through the post recently samples of 20mm scale metal figures. These were a large group of recast Les Higgins figures, very generously supplied by their manufacturer, John Cunningham.

Caricature Combat! Co-founder Brian Marlow duals with Les Higgins (taken from the 1971 Les Higgins Miniatures catalogue as displayed on the Prometheus in Aspic blog).

The interesting story behind Les Higgins Miniatures is nicely recorded on the Vintage 20mil website. Founded in 1967, Les Higgins himself tragically passed away aged 49 in 1972. The company continued for some years as Phoenix Model Developments. The figures all belong to my recently favoured Marlburian period and include lovely examples of:

Musketeers

Grenadiers

Command figures

Cavalry

The group of cavalry caught my attention, examples of what I believe are;

  • a trooper of horse
  • a hussar
  • a French dragoon
  • a dragoon wearing a tricorne
  • a trumpeter
  • a horse grenadier
  • and a cuirassier with a ‘lobster’ helmet.

A very nice group of horses were also included for them to ride:

In addition to the Les Higgins figures were some examples from other 20mm manufacturers of yore; Alberken and Douglas Miniatures.

Alberken Miniatures:

Begun in 1964, Nottinghamshire-based Alberken was formed by Albert Horsfield and Ken Watkins, (whose main business was making “pie machines”)! The manufacturer name was a portmanteau of their first names. The figures are described on Vintage 20mil as being “thin in build, a bit static in pose, sometimes lacking in detail and stand around 22mm high and noticeably flat“. Albert Horsfield tragically died in a car accident just a year after forming and Alberken subsequently ceased production. Full story again on Vintage 20Mil.

Douglas Miniatures:

Douglas Miniatures were the forerunner to the manufacturer of the 54mm MJ Mode figures which I painted last year. Vintage 20mil states that the early Douglas Miniatures were “quite literally a ‘cottage industry’, with Johnston sculpting the figures in his own kitchen in Glenfield.” In a bizarre coincidence, I happen to paint all figures in my kitchen in Glenfield…

It’s interesting to compare a Les Higgins grenadier (left below) with an Irregular Miniatures version which also came through as a sample.

Left: a Les Higgins grenadier and Right: an Irregular Miniatures grenadier

So, I’m keen to see how these lovely old veterans paint up with a long view of incorporating some into my Marlburian armies. I thought I’d begin by having a go at some of Les Higgins’ cavalry figures, so I’ll post more on these when I’ve made some progress.

“We could perhaps be super-optimistic and see (international wargaming) as a future way of solving our international differences without firing a single, full-size explosive shot!”. And so say all of us…

The Female Dragoon: A Farewell to FEMbruary 2020

While painting 20mm British Horse figures for my War of the Spanish Succession armies, I’ve been enjoying the submissions from other participants in the 2020 FEMbruary challenge. With a nod to this, Mark at Man of Tin blog posted about a page he’d found on a copy of an 1893 edition of “The Girls Own Paper”.

This article is most certainly ‘of its time’ yet it contains many inspiring and fascinating stories about “Women Soldiers”, much of which I was familiar (Hannah Snell of the Carnatic Wars, and the Dahomey Amazons) but one account in particular caught my eye. The article mentioned Christian Kavanagh (aka Welsh, Davies and ‘Mother Ross’) who had led a “strange and decidedly romantic career“.

1706 illustration of ‘Kit Kavanagh’ – Public Domain

This “cross-dressing” lady had joined the British Army in 1691, in pursuit of her reluctantly enlisted husband. After fighting in the Battle of Landen and wounded in the ankle, Christian (or Kit) was released from capture and joined the Royal North British Dragoons (Scots Greys). After serving for many years she was said to have been wounded at the Battle of Schellenberg and later found her husband among the French prisoners after the Battle of Blenheim. With her husband now in a relationship with a Dutch lady, they remained simply regimental comrades until Kit was badly wounded at the Battle of Ramillies.

It’s possible that this ended her military career, although Wikipedia have her searching for her husband’s body at the Battle of Malplaquet. It is said that when her gender was discovered by a surgeon, she was nonetheless given a military pension by Lord Hay and ended her days as a Chelsea Pensioner, presented to and honoured by Queen Anne, and eventually buried with full military honours.

Her tale was recounted at the time to author Daniel Defoe and subsequently published as “The Life and Adventures of Mrs Christian Davies“.

As with many old tales, this story has been no doubt subjected to embellishment and myth, but the core of the tale must undoubtedly be true and many similar tales of surreptitious female enlistment into armies exist across different nations and eras (for and example, see my post on Heroic Female Soldiers of Serbia). Even today, the tale of Christian Kavanagh continues to inspire new tales such as this ‘delightful and fun’ work of fiction based on her life, “The Double Life of Mistress Kit Kavanagh” by Marina Fiorato.

The War of Louis Quatorze blog posted on this same story appropriately last February.

All this chimed nicely with my latest venture painting a Marlburian horse regiment. Admittedly, they’re a regiment of horse not dragoons, but when I do paint some, then perhaps I’ll add a feminine touch to the face of one figures so that my own Trooper Davies can secretly take her place in my army too?

“An Audience with Empress Catherine” #FEMbruary 2020

I have now completed my submission for the 3rd Annual FEMbruary Challenge! I posted on my FEMbruary figures recently and promised that I’d share something which ‘would complete the scene more fully’. Well, I went a little further than planned…

Entirely coincidentally, Catherine the first is the 2nd Russian empress called Catherine that I’ve painted for a FEMbruary challenge, Catherine the second (the Great) being painted back in 2018:

I had some real trouble with basing. At first, I just glued the figures to pennies with modelling clay as usual without thinking of what Catherine and the ladies of court might be standing on. Then I spent time, filing down the clay and adding some PVA glue to smooth the surface. Next I painted a tiled floor which looked great apart from being hopelessly uneven!

So I scrapped that and went back to the drawing board. I found some cheap HO scale mosaic card floors which I though might look the business in some kind of a stately garden.

Adding some hedges and flowers, the palace garden idea took shape. My Capability Brown talents in full flow, I made a gravel path alongside a hedge. Helpfully, my Strelets Roman Senate set also came with a roman statue which I added to my design. I wasn’t sure how to paint a marble statue but a little cream colouring with satin varnish seems to have worked well enough?

Aside from the statuary, there are the two court ladies I presented previously; one a lady glancing with a fan and the other patting her lap dog.

A woman of the nobility observes the general’s greeting.
“There’s a good boy!” – said Catherine to General Repnin…

The other characters that I was planning to introduce are also from Strelets’ “Court and Army of Peter I” set. The Russian general is bending to kiss the hand of Empress Catherine, a fact correctly identified by a commentator on my last post.

There’s also some guards from the same set, veterans of the Great Northern War, which I’ve painted up to watch over her imperial highness. I know the early Strelets figures aren’t to everyone’s taste, but I do love the expressions on these guys.

Finally, you may have noticed the large house in the background. This is courtesy of Paperboys on Campaign 18th Century buildings book, which I had purchased recently anyway with a view to placing some of them on the wargaming table, their scale apparently being far more suitable to my 20mm figures than the 28mm they’re originally designed for.

The building is unfinished but I only needed the rear facing the garden. It’s far too small for any of the grand St. Petersburg palaces of course, but perhaps it will stand for a wing or even a little ‘out-building’ in the grounds of one?

And with that, like a genuflecting general, I bow graciously out of FEMbruary. Don’t forget to check out the other varied and fabulous work being created across the blogosphere for Alex at Leadballoony’s FEMbruary by checking out his original post here –

A sample of these glorious creations include;

My young daughter shows she’s a FEMbruary supporter by helpfully adding a sky effect in the background of my photo!