Mamelukes of the Imperial Guard (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #25)

Italeri have produced a number of very impressive Napoleonic cavalry kits and I’m pleased to have finally tackled their Mamelukes set; possibly one of their best.

Mamelukes final (28)

It has involved painting a lot of detail in a large range of colours, which in turn has meant a much larger investment in time to produce them. Was it worth it? I like to think so, they are unique in my collection and looks pleasingly colourful.

Mamelukes final (24)

Mamelukes final (12)

Whilst it’s taken quite a while to get them painted, but the sheer exotic value of their turbans, scimitars, etc, etc, has kept me going.

Mamelukes final (14)

The Mamelukes made up a very small force in Napoleon’s cavalry, but the impact of their fame gave them an importance far beyond their limited numbers, and it’s no surprise that Italeri and HaT (amongst other manufacturers) have featured them in their range.

Mamelukes final (6)

Well, I can now place these figures into the cabinet with the other Nappy Cavalry Project regiments. And that means I can finally get on with packing for my much-needed summer holiday! Until I return, I send my very best wishes to all readers of this humble blog and leave you with the usual regimental biography and photos!

Mamelukes final (9)

Now, I wonder if there are any regimental museums where I’m going…


Biography: Mamelukes of the Imperial Guard [France]

Mamelukes final (27)

The word “Mameluke” is an Arabic term meaning ‘property’, indicating the status of Mamelukes as being slaves. Since the 9th Century, the Mamelukes were an influential military caste of slaves which rose to become a power in Egypt eventually ruling as the independent Mameluke Sultanate until 1517, and thereafter ruling as vassals of the Ottoman Empire.

In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte led his French ‘Army of the Orient’ to invade Egypt to both protect French trade and threaten Britain’s own. The most formidable force in the Egyptian army was undoubtedly the Mameluke cavalry. Equipped in an almost medieval fashion, sometimes including chain mail and iron helmets, they were expert horsemen and swordsmen. Armed with curved sabres of very high quality, they could out-fence most conventional cavalry and were observed to have actually sliced through French muskets.

Mamelukes final (22)

Napoleon soundly defeated the Mameluke army at the Battle of the Pyramids where he repelled their massed cavalry attacks. The formidable Mameluke cavalry had impressed him, however, as the only effective arm of the Egyptian army. Consequently, on the 14th September 1799, French General Kléber established a mounted company of Mameluke auxiliaries which were soon reorganised into 3 companies of 100 men each known as the “Mamluks de la République”. In 1803, they were again organised into a single company attached to the Chasseurs-à-Cheval of the Imperial Guard.

c4efd8cd3244b746918367e744f9e85e

Whilst the officers were occasionally French, the rest of the force were at various times made up of Greeks, Egyptians, Circassians, Albanians, Maltese, Hungarians, Georgians and Turks (amongst others. All were armed with a brace of pistols; a long dagger tucked into their waist sash; a mace; and later even a battle-axe.

The Mamelukes served in Poland, Spain and in Russia, fighting at the Battle of Wagram and most notably at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 where the regiment was granted an eagle and its roster increased to accommodate a standard-bearer and a trumpeter. Service in Spain led to a famous painting by Francisco Goya depicting their charge against the uprising of the citizens of Madrid on 2 May 1808, a massacre which in part led up to the Peninsular War.

621px-El_dos_de_mayo_de_1808_en_Madrid
El dos de mayo de 1808 en Madrid By Francisco de Goya

In 1813, losses accrued over many campaigns meant that the Mamelukes were inevitably reinforced with Frenchmen who were designated as ‘2nd Mamelukes’. Of the 2 companies of Mamelukes, the 1st was ranked as Old Guard and the 2nd as Young Guard.

CHARGE MAMELUKS AUSTERLITZ

On his return to power in 1815, Napoleon issued a decree stating that the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Guard would include a squadron of Mamelukes. It is not known whether they formed a complete squadron at Waterloo, or simply attached themselves as individuals to various units; Mamelukes were almost undoubtedly present, however.

Mamelukes final (3)

Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1815, there were widespread reprisals against individuals or groups identified with the defeated Napoleonic regime. These included the small number of Mamelukes who were still in the army. Eighteen of them were massacred in Marseilles by vengeful Royalists while awaiting transportation back to Egypt.

Monsieur Ducel Mameluke de la Garde  1813-1815.
Monsieur Ducel Mameluke de la Garde 1813-1815.

The brightly coloured Oriental dress and exotic weaponry of the Mamelukes gave them an influence far beyond the small size of their regiment; an influence felt beyond the battlefield into fashionable society! The Mamelukes loyalty to Napoleon was never questioned and they, fatally for some, became synonymous with him and his empire.

Mamelukes final (23)


Notable Battles: Austerlitz, Wagram, Waterloo.

Mamelukes final (1)

Advertisements

Mamelouks de la Garde impériale!

After some dithering over the choice of the next regiment in my Napoleonic cavalry project, I can announce that it will be Napoleon’s Mamelukes of the Imperial Guard by Italeri.

Mamelukes
My ever-helpful assistant presents the latest box of cavalry to paint.

Part of my wariness with this set was down to tackling a regiment somewhat out of my comfort zone. Firstly, they are from Egypt and a far cry from the European cavalry of which I’m familiar.

Mamelouks_à_la_charge_-_Raffet
Mamelouks de la Garde impériale à la charge by Auguste Raffet

Secondly, they are irregulars and as such don’t wear a uniform dress, never mind the traditional Napoleonic European style uniform. But I paint military uniforms – that’s what I do! Before I hyperventilate any further, here’s a useful guide to their dress which suggests some general uniform guidelines:

During their service in Napoleon’s army, the Mamluk squadron wore the following uniform: Before 1804: The only “uniform” part was the green cahouk (hat), white turban, and red saroual (trousers), all to be worn with a loose shirt and a vest. Boots were of yellow, red, or tan soft leather. Weapons consisted of an “Oriental” scimitar, a brace of pistols in a holder decorated with a brass crescent and star, and a dagger.

After 1804: The cahouk became red with a brass crescent and star, and the shirt was closed and had a collar. The main change was the addition of a “regulation” chasseur-style saddle cloth and roll, imperial green in color, piped red, with a red and white fringe. The saddle and harness remained Arabic in style. The undress uniform was as for the Chasseurs-à-Cheval of the Guard, but of a dark blue cloth.

So that gives me something to go on. They are certainly going to take longer to paint given their disparate colour schemes. One thing is for sure, the figures are beautifully sculpted by Italeri, possibly amongst their finest. The figures are very large for the scale, but this will be of more concern to a wargamer than a mere figure painter like myself.

Painting oriental irregulars certainly provides a different challenge, and it’s one I’m looking forward to. I’ll post updates once I’ve got something to show, until then here are some images of Mamelukes as it seems these exotic horsemen were a favourite of artists over the years.

François-Antoine_Kirmann,_chef_d'escadron_des_mamelouks_de_la_Garde_impériale_(1808-1811)
François-Antoine Kirmann, chef d’escadron des mamelouks de la Garde impériale (1808-1811).
Mamelouks_au_défilé
Mamelouks de la Garde impériale au défilé by Felician Myrbach (1853-1940)
Capitaine_français_des_mamelouks
Capitaine français des mamelouks de la Garde impériale by Ernest Fort (1868-1938)
Porte-étendard_des_mamelouks_(E._Fort)
Porte-étendard des mamelouks de la Garde impériale.

 

Loyal Emigrants and Royal Marines

Two of my regiments in the Quiberon Expedition project are now finally finished; the Loyal Emigrants and the Royal Marines. Just leaves the Royal Louis Regiment (also known as Le Régiment d’Hervilly) to finish off and then it’s on to the final figures which will be the artillery.

These Strelets boys are not the prettiest figures, and converting the regiments probably doesn’t do them any favours either. However, I think they look okay and make for a interesting and different topic to explore. Not much more to add other than say in my very best Franglais – “Ici, ils sont les régiments Quiberon d’expédition!!”

The Loyal Emigrant Regiment:

Le Régiment d’Hector  (The Royal Marines):

In other news; I’ve added a new page to Suburban Militarism dedicated to Strelets’ Crimean War series of figures. The plan is to get back to painting some of this range and build up my armies, displaying them via links on the new page. Given the huge numbers of figures and diverse sets for me still to paint, this is likely to be an ongoing project lasting some considerable time!

Quiberon Update

Whilst taking a little time out from painting my latest Nappy Cavalry Regiment, I revisited my Quiberon Expedition venture that I’d first begun after returning from holiday in July. I’ve previously posted some progress pictures of the Royal Emigre Regiment and the Royal Marine Regiment, but I’ve also recently begun the Royal Louis Regiment too.

For the other regiments I’d been using Strelets’ British Infantry in Egypt set, but for the Royal Louis troops, I needed the Strelets’ French Infantry in Egypt set instead. Neither of the Strelets sets are perfect for the Quiberon uniforms, but with the strategic application of paint, at 20mm tall I fancy I can almost get away with it. The Royal Louis Regiment features the pre-revolutionary white uniform, but I could use the same figures for their adversaries, the revolutionary French troops themselves.

this2
In progress… the Royal Louis Regiment.

this

DSCF8382

With one more regiment still to paint (the Royal Artillery also with Strelets figs) I’m hoping to maybe have a selection of these troops ready by the end of the year or possibly by the beginning of the next. In the meantime, it’s back to those Cossack boys…

Strelets French Artillery in Egypt box (with assistance from my daughter).
Strelets French Artillery in Egypt box (with assistance from my daughter).