Carbine Cavalrymen

I confidently announced in my last post on the Nappy Cavalry Project that my next regiment from the HaT Swedish Cavalry box would be the Smaland Light Dragoons. I then promptly picked up the Scanian Carabineers and began work on that regiment instead. I’m a bit like that. Capricious.

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A Carabineer, ( Carabinier or Carbineer) was originally a French word intended to indicate cavalry armed with carbines, a lighter firearm than the longer musket. Although originally a concept for light cavalry, it seems that Carabineers were frequently equipped as medium or heavy cavalry. Napoleon’s French Carabiniers were eventually armed with a brass-lacquered cuirass, and the British version, called the Carabiniers, were otherwise known as the 6th Dragoon Guards, technically a medium-heavy cavalry formation.

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Anyway, the Swedish Scanian Carabiniers were a heavy cavalry formation and were distinguished by their very broad-brimmed bicornes and tall white plumes. They had separate uniforms for undress (yellow uniform) and service dress (blue uniform). I’ve opted for the latter for my figures.

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Just the two poses, one with carbine in hand (appropriately):

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…and the other figure with sword drawn:

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At least I get to paint a different horse after the previous 24 Swedish cavalrymen required the very same duo of horse figures! Apparently, the standard Napoleonic Swedish cavalry horse would barely pass as a pony, today. However,

“…the Cuirassier Corps and the Scanian Carabineers – the two Swedish heavy cavalry regiments – were to have horses exceeding 1.45m in height. Any colour of the horse was generally accepted, but for the heavies – the Cuirassiers and Carabineers – they had to be of dark colour.”

So, some dark-coloured mounts are required. They will be next up to paint, although – truth be told – I’ve a few other things on the painting table at the moment competing for my attention…

Swedish Carabineers (4)

Swedish Carabineers (2)

 

 

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The King’s Horse Guard (Nappy Cavalry Project Regiment #28)

My second regiment from HaT’s Napoleonic Swedish Cavalry is The King’s Horse Guard (Konungens Livgardet till häst). The box contains just the 1 pose of this regiment, reproduced in 3 figures which I’ve doubled up via the purchase of an extra box. So it’s not so much a regiment, as a squadron – but enough to guard a Crown Prince at any rate!

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Their horses are a chestnut-coloured selection of Swedish Warmbloods, a breed used by  today’s successor regiment to the Livgardet till häst in ceremonial duties. In Napoleonic times, any reasonable pony often would have had to suffice but I’ve been generous to this exclusive guard detachment and referenced their modern equivalents with this colour of mount.

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Having the same pose is not a problem with this group, I think. With swords drawn and advancing calmly at the walk, they look entirely like a guard regiment out on royal duty or parade. A more energetic action pose would have been less appropriate for these royal dandies.

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The unusual mid-light blue uniform (I’ve used Vallejo Andrea Blue) and distinctive headgear with white plume and facings make them a decorative addition to my project. It seems that selecting a shade of blue wasn’t just a problem for me. Regarding the modern regiment, Wikipedia says that;

The colour of the parade uniform worn by the cavalry was in the 1950s changed to match the officer’s “mid-blue” shade: (a slightly lighter colour) for all ranks. In the 1990s, the colour was again changed, apparently in error, to a royal blue colour. The shade for other ranks is now to revert to mid-blue, while officers will retain “middle blue, slightly lighter.”

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Before the regimental biography commences, I perhaps ought to ponder on which regiment to tackle next in the project. I’m determined to clear the box (at least at some point) and there are three regiments remaining: the Småland Light Dragoons, the Scanian Carabiniers, and the Skjöldebrand Cuirassiers. All look quite interesting… but I’ve randomly chosen the Småland Light Dragoons to be the 29th regiment in the project!

 

 


Biography: The King’s Horse Guard [Sweden]

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HaT’s own website contains a great overview of the Swedish cavalry during Napoleonic times including an extensive section by Björn Bergérus on the Horse Guards which I respectfully reproduce below.

Taken from an original text by Björn Bergérus, Stockholm, Sweden 2005-2006.

This unit originated in Finland (based in Borgå/Porvoo, very close to Helsinki). The unit was promoted to Guards’ status – Lätta dragonerna av Livgardet (The Light Dragoons of the Life Guards) – after the bloodless coup d’état of the Swedish king Gustavus III. In 1793 the unit was renamed Livhusarregementet (The Life Hussar Regiment), and in 1797 Livdragonkåren (The Life Dragoon Corps) and finally got the name Livgardet till häst (The Horse Guards) in 1806.

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Contemporary illustration of a 1798 uniform of the Konungens Livgardet till häst.

The unit was composed of three companies (later called squadrons) of 50 men each. When inspected in 1771 the commander found “that all dragoons were made up of Swedish or Finnish, all happy, well spirited and particularly beautiful people”.

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In the bloodless coup d’état by Gustavus III in 1772, the unit’s commander Jakob Magnus Sprengtporten took a force of some 1.000 men and sailed to Stockholm from Finland to support the king. Due to poor winds, however, he arrived only some two weeks after the successful coup d’état. The king was nevertheless very grateful and made 100 men of the unit into the King’s personal bodyguard to reside in the capital of Stockholm. Sprengtporten was also made the commander of both the Foot and Cavalry Guards. The new guard unit was given the name Lätta dragonerna av livgardet – the Light Dragoons of the Lifeguard. History tells that the old guard regiments – the Life Regiment and the Foot Guards – found it hard to regard the dragoons as their equals with resulting petty disputes between officers and even coming to blows between the troopers.

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Swedish king Gustavus III

In 1777 the two parts of the regiment – in Sweden and Finland respectively – were amalgamated to the Stockholm area, counting four squadrons of 200 men total. In 1793 the name was changed to Livhusarregementet – the Life Hussar Regiment. At the end of the 1790s the unit was reduced to two squadrons and the name changed to Lätta livdragonregementet – the Light Life Dragoon Regiment.

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1783 incarnation of the Lätta livdragonregementet uniform.

About 90 troopers from the regiment were present during the campaign in and around Swedish Pomerania (North Germany) against the French in 1805-07. The campaign was fruitless, as the troops eventually had to retire before a more numerous French foe. The commander Löwenhjelm and four troopers still got medals for bravery for a delaying action during a crossing of the river Elbe.

The regiment’s name was changed again in 1806 to Konungens lifgarde till häst – the King’s Horse Guard – or simply the Horse Guards.

The regiment also fought in the Russo-Swedish war of 1808-09. One squadron took part in a landing operation against Turko/Åbo that resulted in hard fighting that is said to have lasted for 14 hours. The commander von Vegesack writes of the Horse Guard that they “fought as a guard should fight; they have with the greatest manly courage endured the renewed attacks of the enemy and never fallen back a single step”. Many troopers were mentioned for their good conduct during this battle, like trooper no. 4 Lind, who had “shot nine Russians, and freed himself and five men of the militia from captivity”.

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Cornet Carl Fredrik Reinhold von Essen dressed in the uniform of the King’s Horse Guard, 1808. Painting by Carl Fredrik von Breda.

Later during the summer of 1808 a new landing attempt was made to cut off the Russian supply from their bases in the south of Finland. Three reduced infantry regiments, a battery of guns and two squadrons of Horse Guard took part. The landing force was soon engaged by the Russians, but could give support to another Swedish brigade at Lappfjärd under the Swedish General von Döbeln (immortalised by the Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg). After a successful engagement the Horse Guard could pursue the fleeing Russians. Von Vegesack then joined the main army and took part in the battle of Oravais close to Vaasa in Western Finland September 14th 1808. Here some 5-6.000 Swedes-Finns faced some 6-7.000 Russians – the only major battle of the Russo-Swedish war 1808-09. At first it looked good for the Swedish-Finnish, but the battle finally ended in a Russian victory.

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Contemporary print of the action at the captured the city of Umeå, Russo-Swedish War of 1808-09.

During the winter of 1808-09 four squadrons of the Horse Guard were stationed on the Åland Islands, between the Finnish and Swedish mainland. Here several small skirmishes took place with Russian Cossacks – often on the frozen ice between the small islands. During one of these events, a trooper named Kämpe of the Horse Guards (Kämpe meaning ‘fighter’ in Swedish – soldiers were often given these short “soldiers’ names” that were easy to remember) is recorded to have cut one Cossack in the throat and broke his lance. The Swedish defenders were eventually forced to retreat over the frozen waters from Åland to the Swedish mainland before the advance of more numerous Russians. The Horse Guards covered the retreat, and was engaged several times in small skirmishes with harassing Russian Cossacks.

In August 1809 a final Swedish push was made with a landing designed to take back the town of Umeå on the Swedish mainland. The Swedish force was composed of 7.000 men, more numerous than the defending Russians. Two squadrons of the Horse Guards were present, although fighting on foot. The Swedish command was as slow and hesitant, as the Russian commander Kamenski was eager and determined. The Swedish suffered from not having mounted cavalry as scouts and overestimated – as usual – the strength of the Russians. After some fighting the Swedish chose to retire and re-embark – the landing having been a failure. Five troopers of the horse guards nevertheless got medals for bravery.

With the peace in 1809 Finland was lost to Russia and made into a Grand Duchy under the Russian Tsar. A total of 24 medals of honour had been awarded to the men from the Horse Guard during the war.

The regiment was seriously decimated by the war – upon inspection the regiment had 95 horses present of which 34 were rejected for further service and about the rest they were said to be “very poor, due to serious fatigue, cold and – for the horse’s maintenance during the end of the campaign – a far too inadequate supply of food”.

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During the campaigns of 1813-14 the Horse Guard mainly served as escort and bodyguard to the newly elected Crown Prince of Sweden, the former French Marshal Bernadotte, now commander of the allied Army of the North. The Horse Guard also functioned as a recruiting base for dispatch riders. In Germany the regiment also got new beautiful light blue hussar uniforms made up by the fine tailors of Berlin.

After the short war with Norway in 1814 the Horse Guards were stationed in Fredrikshald, Norway, for some two months together with other Swedish troops to guarantee the peace treaty, in which Norway accepted Bernadotte as their king, joining a union with Sweden that lasted until 1905.

Notable campaigns: Swedish Pomerania (1805-07), Russo-Swedish war of 1808-09, War of the Sixth Coalition (1813-14).

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Horse Guards of the Swedish King

Having despatched the Morner Hussars, the 27th regiment in my project, I have been turning my attention to one of the other four regiments in HaT’s Napoleonic Swedish Cavalry set; the Royal Life Guard.

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Immediately noticeable are their peculiar headdress with it’s woollen crest and turned up side which ends in a white plume.

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The colour of the uniform is a light blue, the exact shade of which seems to vary from illustration to illustration. Consequently, I’ve opted for what I thought was an attractive shade of mid / light blue from Vallejo called Andrea Blue.

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Just a mere 6 troopers with a single pose this time, so it’s a quicker process (each box only containing a token 3 of these figures). I toyed with the idea of twisting a few heads for variety but left them as they are as I rather liked the uniformity.

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The regiment is described on Plastic Soldier Review as being the Royal Life Guard. The regiment was called a number of names over its history but by 1806 was known as the Konungens lifgarde till häst or King’s Horse Guards.

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The Life Guards of Sweden are a successor regiment to the Royal Life Guard of the Napoleonic era. Today, in Stockholm, these ceremonially dressed troops can be seen acting as ceremonial guard and protecting the Royal Palace.

Much like the ceremony in London, the guard take part in their own regular Changing of the Guard. The colour of their uniform bears some similarity to the Napoleonic forbears that I’ve been painting.

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I am using the exact same horses from the HaT Swedish Cavalry box that I used for the mounts of the hussars, so I’m well familiar with them by now. Today, the modern mounted Life Guard have up to 75 Swedish Warmblood (chestnut/sorrel) horses in their stable.

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Unlike the British Life Guards, the Swedish variety accept females within their ranks.

These horses are specially bred by The Swedish Horse Guard Association which acts to maintain the traditions of the Swedish guards. I’m not certain whether their forbears in the Napoleonic period also rode this specific type of horse, that’s assuming that appropriate mounts could ever be found in time of war, but I’ve referenced this tradition by mounting my figures on horses of a similar colour. The finishing touches to these horses are still being painted on but I’ll share them soon in a coming post (with riders) when the whole lot are finished.

Mörner Hussars (Nappy Cavalry Project Regiment #27)

It’s been a while coming but steady progress has been made on this latest regiment which, at 18 figures, may well be the largest I’ve so far attempted. Painting 18 of everything certainly makes for a longer painting process. Thankfully, the figures were pleasurable to paint.

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The three poses for the regiment work well, but that might be considered a little insufficient for a force of 18 figures. Furthermore, there are only two horse poses and, I know I’ve said it before, the horses are good rather than great.

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Six figures are on the charge with sabres waving. They wear their pelisse and have blue overalls, suitable for being on campaign. Another half-dozen are hussars wearing buff breeches rather than blue overalls. They also carry their pelisse over the shoulder. Black fur trim on their pelisse was unique to this regiment in the Swedish cavalry.

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Figures with sabres drawn and at the walk:

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Figures waving sabres in attack:

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In Full Dress:

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There’s still another four, yes four, regiments from this set to produce, though none will be as numerous as the Hussars. The next one in the box I thought I’d tackle is the Royal Lifeguard, numbering a mere 6 figures. From the largest regiment in my project to the smallest! Six is a suitable number for a royal bodyguard unit, I think.

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A few more photos of my finished figures and then an overview of the Mörner Hussars history in the usual Regimental Biography.


Biography: Mörner Hussars [Sweden]

The regiment was first established in 1758 as the Swedish Hussar Regiment (Svenska Husarregementet). It was located at Bonarps Hed in the province of Skåne, in the southern tip of Sweden.

In 1762, the regiment was separated into two independent regiments known as the Blå and Gula Husarregementet (i.e. the blue and yellow hussar regiments, see respective illustrations above). These two were merged back to one in 1766 with the name Husarregementet. At this time, it’s strength was approximately 400 men divided into eight squadrons. Intrestingly, the famous Prussian Marshall Blücher originally served with the Blå Hussars during the first campaigns of the Swedish Field Army in Pomerania, his family originally coming from the area.

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Swedish Cavalry:  A Mörner Hussar (right) with Carabiniers.

In the Swedish provinces of the Duchy of Pomerania in what is now Germany, the regiment was primarily responsible for guarding and patrolling the borders. In 1772, under King Gustav III, the regiment was transferred back to mainland Sweden, and was first placed in a number of cities on the west coast and rotated to other western Swedish cities thereafter.

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Mörner Hussar, 1792,

In 1797, the name was changed again to the Horn Hussars (Hornska husarregementet), being named after the regiment’s colonel, Samuel Horn. The Horn Hussars continued to transfer to various locations during this time including, Halmstad, Malmö, Helsingborg, Ängelholm, Ystad and Simrishamn.

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Illustration of Mörner Hussar, 1796.

The Napoleonic Wars demanded an increase in the regiment’s size and the number of squadrons rose to eight in total, with up to 100 men per squadron. In 1801, the regiment was named the Mörner Hussars (Mörnerska Husarregementet), when Hampus Mörner became head of the regiment.

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Hampus Mörner. The man himself in a cuirassier uniform. Miniature by Domenico Bossi, 1796.

A less than glorious episode for the regiment is remembered with some irony as being the Battle of Klågerup. In 1810, Sweden enacted sweeping army draft regulations to increase its supply of forced recruits. Many groups in society were exempt, however, with the burden therefore falling on the poor. In 1811, anger amongst this group finally resulted in the so-called Klågerup riots.

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Memorial for those killed in the Klågerup riots 1811.

Major Hampus Mörner went with 150 men of his hussar regiment and two cannons to face a mob of about 800 at Klågerup. Mörner’s troops tried to persuade them to leave but they wouldn’t disperse and the major launched an attack which killed about 40 of the rebels. 100s more were wounded, captured and imprisoned, with a ‘ringleader’ publicly being executed in Malmö.

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The Battle of Bornhöft (1813). Painting by Per Krafft the Younger.

More gallantly, on December 7, 1813, the regiment played an important role in the Swedish victory in the battle of Bornhöved in Schleswig-Holstein. Crown prince Charles John led a division to pursue the retreating Danish army. This division under the commander of the Swedish cavalry, Anders Fredrik Skjöldebrand, included the Mörner Hussars . Having been carefully spared any serious engagement hitherto by the Crown Prince, all of the Swedish cavalry was desperate to finally see some combat. Such frustration apparently bubbled over when they disobeyed orders and rode straight at the Danish army.

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Contemporary illustration of the Mörner Hussars laying into the Danish rearguard at the battle of Bornhöved. Note the fleeing Polish lancers, top right.

The cavalry soon caught up and clashed with the Danish rearguard which included Napoleon’s famous Polish lancers of the Guard. By the evening, the Swedes encountered the main Danish army at Bornhöved, a 2,500 strong Danish force which included infantry, cavalry and artillery. With nightfall close, it seemed as though a suicidal frontal cavalry assault upon the Danes was unlikely. Having dispersed the rearguard, however, the 471 strong Swedish cavalry, including the Mörner Hussars commanded by Colonel Bror Cederström, immediately attacked and forced the Danish army into retreat.

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The Mörner Hussars at the Battle of Bornhöved, 1813.

Remarkably, the charge of the Mörner Hussars at the battle of Bornhöved was to prove to be the last time a Swedish regiment fought in a battle on foreign soil outside Scandanavia. Mörner’s nephew, Colonel Bror Cederström, had effectively been the leader of the regiment since 1804. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the regiment consequently became known as the Cederströmian Hussar Regiment (Cederströmska Husarregementet). In 1822, it was called the Crown Prince’s Hussar Regiment (Kronprinsens Husarregemente) and despite further temporary name changes, would retain this title until final disbandment in 1927.

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Colonel Bror Cederström

Notable battle: Bornhöved.

Swedish Morner Hussars (3)

Mörner Hussar Regiment – Progress

Just thought I’d share progress on my latest Napoleonic cavalry figures – the Mörner Hussars. There are eighteen of these to keep me busy, but they’ve been coming along easily enough.

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My Mörner Hussar Regiment – coming along steadily

The entire group of eighteen figures are made up of just three poses. Here are the half-dozen figures which wear breeches and Hessian boots with a black fur-lined pelisse hung over the shoulder:

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The remaining dozen have blue overalls on their legs with black leather knee patches. They fully wear the pelisse and have the streamer wrapped around their Mirliton hat. Half of them are waving the sabre in mid charge:

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…and the remainder have sabres drawn but are advancing steadily at the walk.

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I went a little wrong on my painting of the figures wearing overalls, unsure of what I was looking at (overalls, breeches, or a mixture of both). This resulted in my repainting the legs twice over before I was sure I was correct. One or two swear words may have been uttered during this time.

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Hessian boots still require some work.

The breeches are made of buff leather, as are the crossbelts worn by the other figures.

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HaT have produced a nice, if not spectacular, set of figures. The yellow-topped mirliton looks pleasingly unusual. The streamer (or flamme) I think should be black with yellow trim on the side I’ve painted it, not yellow as I have them, but – well –  I’m sticking with it for now! The detail is a little hazy on the braiding but I’ve done my best to bring it out and the overall effect is OK, I think.

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Taken as a large group, I think they’ll look quite impressive when mounted. With the Mörner Hussars riders nearly painted, their herd of horses will take their turn under the brush. And when I’ve finally completed all that, I’ll share what will be the 27th regiment in my Nappy Cavalry Project!

Hej då!

Marvin.

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Napoleonic Swedish Cavalry

Following on from the recent return to my Napoleonic Cavalry Project, I’m continuing the momentum with a kit that I’ve had lying around for a few years now; HaT’s Napoleonic Swedish Cavalry.

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My assistant and my latest box – two boxes of this will be used.

Actually it’s ‘kits’ (plural) rather than kit (singular) as I’m attempting two packs of the same set. The reason being that the set contains not one but five different examples of cavalry regiments. It’s a remarkable approach; to have so many different examples of troop types within one box. Furthermore, it’s unusual also that the set is produced with specific rather than generic regiments in mind. Although there is nothing recorded on the box, according to Plastic Soldier Review, HaT’s Swedish cavalry contains the following regiments pictured illustrated below on the back of the box:

  • Royal Lifeguard (middle top row)
  • Scanian Carabiniers (1st and 2nd figures, top row)
  • Skjöldebrand Cuirassier (4th figure from left, top row)
  • Småland Light Dragoons (last figures on 1st and 2nd rows)
  • Von Mörner Hussars (first three figures 2nd row)

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Some of these regiments are represented by only a few figures per box (the Royal Lifeguard and the cuirassiers); others by half a dozen (the Light Dragoons and Carabiniers); whilst the “Von Mörner Hussars” given a more generous nine. Buying a second box has therefore allowed me to double the size of these regiments into a more respectable amount.

I can announce that the first Swedish cavalry regiment that I’m attempting (and the 27th in the Nappy Cavalry Project) is the Mörner Hussar Regiment, (Mörnerska husarregementet) the most numerous regiment with 18 figures from the two boxes.

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Richard Knotel print of a rider of the Mörner Hussar Regiment, 1813.

Two of the hussar figures wear their fur-lined pelisse, the other having it over the left shoulder. This figure also has the distinction of wearing a ‘streamer’ attached to their mirleton hat. The other two have it wrapped around the hat instead and doubtless, therefore, less of a nuisance.

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Mirliton with streamer

The Mirleton hat is the first one attempted in the project. It was also known as the Flügelmütze or Flügelkappe and was another piece of typically outrageous hussar dandyism. It came into fashion around 1750 but by the turn of the century was becoming obsolete or ‘old hat’, if you will. The fact the Swedish hussars still employed this headgear in the Napoleonic period was a consequence of Sweden’s poor economy which meant that old-fashioned uniforms were worn for longer and only replaced when completely worn out.

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Swedish cavalry with mirliton headgear

The three hussar figures depict different legwear too. One figure wears buff leather breeches and Hessian boots (as in the figure above right). The two other figures are wearing blue overalls with, curiously, black leather knee patches – these can be seen in the Knotel print seen previously.

HaT, I’ve said before, are a manufacturer with an impressive range of topics. The sculpting runs short of the tremendously high quality of Zvezda or Italeri at their best, in my opinion. However, the figures are still neatly done and I think this Swedish set looks like they could be fun to paint. The most marked difference between HaT and Zvezda can be seen in the horses, I think, an area where Zvezda’s sculpting really excels whereas HaT is simply OK.

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Hat Morner Hussars

Nevertheless, with the kind of diversity such as HaT have packed into this box, I’m looking forward to developing them and seeing how they turn out. Furthermore, this is the first time in the project that I’ve attempted a regiment from Sweden, adding further variety to my collection. Having already made a start I’ll be updating as soon as I have something worth sharing!

Leib-Kurassiere Garde (Nappy Cavalry Project Regiment #26)

I can now just about sign off my box of Zvezda’s Saxon Cuirassiers. I say ‘just about’ because there are some holes requiring filling in. These holes appear on the horse furniture and are to attach the carbines. Sadly, I found the carbines to be a pain in the ass to fix to the figure and so abandoned all but five of them. Even then I didn’t get the pegs into the holes!

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Fiddly firearms aside, the rest of the kit is very impressive and is yet another set that Zvezda can be very proud of. My only quibble might be that some of the detail is just too subtle, all of which makes bringing the detail to life so much harder! Hopefully, I’ve not done them a disservice.

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You may notice all of the figures are looking to the side, something which aided the production of the figures within the mould, no doubt. I could have perhaps given the heads a twist for variety but actually I like the poses well enough.

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Painting figures which are almost entirely white and black, like the Leib Cuirassiers, means limited opportunities for shading and highlighting nice, bright colours. Monochrome figures can also look pretty plain on photos as shading detail largely disappears under my budget camera lens.

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Nonetheless, it’s hard not to like this regiment’s uniform which stands out nicely in contrast to other cavalry regiments in my project. The black cuirass, which was looking far too shiny in my last post, has been dulled nicely with a lick of matt varnish.

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You may notice that I’ve added some purple/blue flowers (Lavender? Forget-me-nots?) to the ground across which they’re charging. There’s a nice touch of springtime about them – which is precisely what seems to be sadly absent from the UK so far this year (as I look out of the window it continues to be cold, grey and wet).

The command figures in the set are as follows:

The Officer:

He wears a more ornate cuirass (I shared a picture of a real example in my previous post) with lots of yellow braid and a black crossbelt. He also has a white plume which came separate on the sprue and required attaching on – amazingly I did this without any trouble! I realise now that I still need to paint his pistols which are attached to the horse furniture.

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The Flag Bearer:

The regimental standard features a white background with white and red fringes. In the centre is a wreath of leaves surrounding a yellow and green striped shield with a green diagonal stripe underneath a crown. On the reverse is the King’s cypher.

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Saxon Cuirassiers (31)

The Trumpeter:

The Leib trumpeter is mounted on a grey, as is usual for cavalry regiments, and unlike the rest of his regiment does not wear a cuirass. The helmet crest is red, as is his jacket with a white collar – in reverse colours to the regiment. The trumpet is brass and has a white/blue/yellow cord attached.

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To end with, some more images and the usual regimental biography!


Biography: Leib-Kurassiere Garde [Saxony]

The regiment had its origins in 1680 as the Count von Promnitz Regiment. As such, it was one of the oldest cavalry regiments to be raised across Germany.

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After combining with the Crown Prince regiment 20 years later, it was to change it’s name a number of times. In 1735, it was known as the Kürassier-Leib-Regiment with the Elector of Saxony Friedrich August II as its colonel. Respective Saxon sovereigns continued this tradition until the final dissolution of the regiment in the 20th century. In 1764, it became the Kurfürst-Kürassier-Regiment and then was known by a number of minor variations upon that name thereafter. On 23 July 1734, the Saxon cuirassiers lost their previous red coats and received a white field coat instead, a change in colour which reflected the political alignment of Saxony with Austria. This new colour was to remain with them for some time.

The regiment rode principally black, dark bays and greys. As a rule, the darker-coloured horses were placed in the front rank, while the lighter-coloured horses were posted in the second rank. The cuirassiers had armour but it was often left it in the depots during wartime.

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Saxon Leib Cuirassier (7 Years War)

In the course of its history, the regiment participated in many battles and campaigns. It’s first real combat came as part of a force relieving the siege of Vienna, in 1683, which was being besieged by the Turks. In 1688, it took part in the Palatinate War of Succession and then in the 1701 Spanish War of Succession. It also fought in the Silesian wars of the 1740s, notably taking part in the battles of Hohenfriedberg and Kesselsdorf. In the following Seven Years War, it was briefly forced into Prussian service resulting in large-scale desertion by its troops who refused to serve the Prussians.

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Saxon Leib Curassiers c.1791

By the time of the 1806 Jena Campaign , the regiment was still known as the “Kurfürst” (or prince-elector’s) regiment and fought in the great defeat at Jena. After that disastrous campaign, the “Kurfürst” became known as the Regiment König-Kürassiere, (König = king) as a consequence of Saxony being elevated to the status of a Kingdom within Napoleon’s creation of the Confederation of the Rhine.

On 24th June 1807, the Regiment König-Kürassiere changed its name once again, achieving prestigious ‘Guard’ status to be known as the Leib-Kurassiere Garde. This was a reward for its most distinguished performance for Napoleon at the battles of Heilsberg and Friedland in 1807.

Napoleon and French Cuirassiers at Friedland, 1807.

Despite the losing many of its finest horses to the French army following the Jena defeat, Saxon heavy cavalry was considered excellently trained, exhibiting a professionalism long admired by other nations.

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pre-1810 Saxon Leib Cuirassier

On 22 Feb 1809, the Saxon army was mobilized again and the missing horses were replaced in time for war with Austria. The regiment subsequently impressed Napoleon at Wagram where the Leib Cuirassiers drove its Austrian Cuirassier counterparts from the field, inspiring Marshal Bernadotte to say “I have always counted on you but today you have surpassed my expectations!“.

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The Battle of Wagram

After 1810, the uniforms of the Saxon heavy cavalry changed significantly. The former Bicorne hat became a brass helmet featuring a brass comb with black woollen crest and white plume. A black fur turban wrapped around the helmet with officers wearing an additional gold oak leaf pattern overlaid. The regiment wore a black half-cuirass (only the front plates) lined red to match their facings.

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The Leib-Kurassiere Garde remained at home in Dresden during the 1812 invasion of Russia, acting as a royal escort to their king. Only the Von Zastrow and Garde du Corps guard heavy cavalry went into Russia. After this terrible campaign, it was the only Saxon heavy cavalry regiment which remained intact.

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The losses experienced during the war of 1812 forced the Saxon army to consolidate its heavy cavalry. In February 1813, a provisional cuirassier regiment was formed of men from the Von Zastrow and Leib-Kurassiere Garde regiments. As the 1813 Leipzig campaign developed, this regiment fought alongside the French at the battles of Bel Hautzen, Reichenbach, Dresden, Bautzen, Ostrand and Leipzig against the Prussians, Austrians and Russians.

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Saxon Cuirassiers and Russian Guard Cossacks

During the Battle of the Nations (Leipzig), 4 squadrons of the provisional regiment took part in an attack where they captured a Russian battery of 12 cannons and engaged the Russian dragoons that came to its aid. French service ended with Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig. In 1814/15, now liberated from French control, the Leib-Kürassier-Guard took part in Field Marshal Blücher’s campaign against France leading to Napoleon’s eventual abdication.

The provisional regiment, which had absorbed the Leib-Kurassiere Garde, was to eventually become known as the 1st Royal Saxon Guards Heavy Cavalry (Garde-Reiter-Regiment) until finally disbanded on 31st March 1919, after the First World War.

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Saxon Garde-Reiter Regiment c.1907

Notable battles: Hohenfriedberg, Jena, Heilsberg, Friedland, Wagram, Dresden, Leipzig.

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Leib and Kicking

Thanks to the woeful bank holiday weather here in the UK, I’ve had plenty of indoor time in which to progress my Saxon Leib Cuirassiers. These are now, I’m happy to say, very well advanced. The riders are about finished, less the stirrups and spurs.

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The excellent, not-to-say generous, old-style Zvezda kit comes with a flag bearer, an officer and trumpeter. The officer has a white plume and a wonderfully ornate cuirass to distinguish him from the hoi-poloi of the rest of the regiment.

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I’ve given him a black crossbelt as 1) I believe that it was worn by Saxon cuirassier officers, and 2) quite frankly I preferred it to other possibilities. The officer also has gold wreath of leaves around the front of his helmet, not really visible on this photo. His cuirass has a brass royal cypher and studs around the edge. I found an example of one on the internet:

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As with the rest of the regiment, he has only a half-cuirass, the back being left unprotected to reveal his white coat.

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The Trumpeter wears reverse facings (i.e. a red coat and white collar instead of the exact opposite for the rest of the regiment). He does not wear a cuirass and has a distinctive red crest on his helmet. He has brass trumpet with ornately woven cord attached.

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The flag bearer has a flag which is, I believe, supposed to represent the Von Zostrow Cuirassiers. However, I understand from my research that the Leib regiment’s flag was very similar, all but identical but for colour differences and so must have looked much like my ‘attempt’ below. On one side of the flag in the centre, surrounded by a garland of leaves, is the Saxon coat of arms – a yellow and green striped shield with a green diagonal stripe under a crown:

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A closer view of the arms of Saxony

On the other side is the royal cypher surrounded by leaves under a crown. I admit that I wasn’t sure about the crossbelt for the flag bearer and so elected for black with gold trim.

Saxon cuirassiers in progress (32)

The rest of the men wear a plainer uniform with black crests, white crossbelts and the black half-cuirass. They lack the brass shoulder straps seen on the officer which I believe is simply a rare oversight by Zvezda.

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The collars and turnbacks are red with yellow trim and the cuirass is lined with red.

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I have to say that when I spend far, far too long than is sensible shading and highlighting all that white clothing and black crests to my satisfaction – it’s disappointing to find that virtually none of it shows up under the camera! You’ll just have to believe me when I say they look a little better to the eye…

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One other thing that I’ve noticed is that under the camera my cuirasses look more of steel gunmetal colouring than black. My approach is to mix black with gunmetal paint to get the required shade. This worked well but is at the cost of losing some of the metallic shiny surface. I’ve tried to restore the metallic sheen with a little gloss varnish but I now find that it reflects the light under the lens and now looks too metallic! I may add a little thin matt black paint to reduce the reflection a tad.

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Next on the painting table will be their horses. These are sturdy and well-sought-after Holstein horses – perfect for carrying their heavy cuirassier riders. Although Napoleon plundered the regiment for these Holsteins for his own cavalry in 1806-07 campaign, we can assume that they have since arranged remounts. I believe that the regiment would have had dark bay and black horses. I’ll make an exception for the trumpeter who will ride the usual grey.

Well, I’m loving being ‘back in the saddle’ painting Napoleonic cavalry, I have to admit!

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Steel-plated Saxons

Taking a break from the First World War, I thought it about time to dip back into the old Nappy Cavalry Project (the last regiment in the series – the Mamelukes – being painted in July of last year). The set I’ve chosen to paint is a box I’ve had lying around for a couple of years or so but never got around to painting them. Finally, the time is right to tackle Zvezda’s Saxon Cuirassiers.

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Thank you, young assistant. Presenting the latest in the Nappy Cavalry Project!

The figures are of Zvezda’s usual exceptional standard. These cuirassiers bear an uncanny resemblance to my Russian Cuirassiers of the same era which I painted over a year ago (see below example).

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Both Russian and Saxon cuirassiers wore white coats with headgear of brass helmets and a black comb. Both also were protected by a black cuirass. By chance, both nation’s cuirassiers found themselves on opposite sides in the Russian campaign of 1812, including the great battle of Borodino. The Saxons, as a part of the Napoleon-sponsored “Confederation of the Rhine”, accompanied the 1812 campaign and fought alongside the French until their defeat at Leipzig in 1813.

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Saxon heavy cavalry after 1800 numbered three Guard regiments, two of which – the Leib and the Von Zastrow regiments – were issued with front cuirass plates coloured black (there was no back plate worn).

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Saxon Cuirassiers – Leib Regt (left) and Von Zostrow (right)

So my choice is between these two; the Leib Regiment with red facings and the Von Zastrow with yellow (as illustrated above). As my previous Russian Cuirassier figures of the Astrakhan Regiment also wore yellow facings, to better differentiate I’ve chosen the Leib Curassiers as the 26th regiment in the project.

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In the Nappy Cavalry Project, I like to see as much variety as possible. This latest kit is certainly the first regiment from Saxony – which is good – but visually they will look similar to Zvezda’s Russians, even with facings coloured red. One area that I can differentiate them further, however, is in the riding overalls. My Russians wear campaign grey overalls on their legs whilst the Saxons are shown in buff on the cover of the box. This was their original colour prior to 1810, but the trouble is that most contemporary illustrations I’ve found show them wearing either grey overalls again or parade-ground white breeches.

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So, in keeping with the central figure shown in the wonderful old Richard Knotel illustration of the Leib Cuirassiers above, I’m opting for white breeches. I’ll simply paint over the row of buttons on the side of the legs. Not being a war-gamer, I’m happy that they look more ready for the parade ground than the battlefield. The red-jacketed trumpeter and shabraques should add a further dash of colour too.

Painting has begun already, so expect an update when they’re more progressed.

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Voilà les Poilus: French WWI Infantry (1914)

You’ll be pleased to note that this will be the last of my ‘franglais’ titles for a while because the French infantry are all finished. After posting on the machine gun teams from this set, I hereby present the remainder of my box of Caesar French WWI Infantry from 1914 (apologies for the slightly dingy photos lacking in daylight – I hate this time of year):

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Yep, these Caesar figures are very impressive. The proportions are good and the sculpting and mould are too.

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French WWI infantry Caesar (13)

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The only downside is that the soft plastic has allowed the rifles to occasionally bend and I have been unable to put them back into the correct position without them just bending right back again! I wouldn’t expect that the poilu on the left below will hit a great deal at any range…

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Aside from the machine gunners, the box also came with a small group of infantrymen lying prone on the ground. I’ve placed these together on the same base in a kind of firing line. Half of them are loading and the other half firing from behind a small rise in the ground. Despite the cover, the German army will have an easier time identifying where they are thanks to the bright red kepi on their heads. Furthermore, the kepi will not offer much protection when the bullets fly. The dull, all-metal Adrian helmet is yet to be adopted…

The officer I’ve painted with a blue cover over his red kepi, which is I believe named the ‘Saumur’ version,  which was usual by the time of the Great War. He has binoculars in  a case; a sword, which was pretty useless in modern combat; and a revolver, which was more useful in close combat. He has been sculpted blowing a whistle, a nice touch by Caesar as it was a vital communication tool on World War One battlefields. He also has spurs on his ankles which horse riding company commanders such as captains or lieutenants would have had. My rank cuff stripes of gold lace have been too widely spaced, I reckon.

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French officer blowing a whistle. Would have been handy for refereeing duties during the 1914 Christmas Truce…

This nicely thought out set also came with an interesting ‘walking wounded’ figure. He has presumably received a bullet or shrapnel wound to the left arm and been subsequently treated at a dressing station behind the lines. On reflection, I might get a bit bloodthirsty and add a little seeping through red paint to one or two of them white bandages. Convincingly, they have had their backpacks and weapons removed prior to receiving their treatment at the front. Presumably, they will be transported off somewhere to convalesce – lucky buggers!

So that’s the Caesar French poilu ticked off; the third group of figures from the First World War. Going through my embarrassingly excessive collection of soldiers, I’m in the process of considering what to do next and will no doubt reveal all soon.

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