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)

More Mamelukes…

I’ve made some real progress on the Italeri Mameluke figures this past week, the 25th regiment in the Nappy Cavalry Project. These are beautifully sculpted figures, as fine as any other plastic 1/72 set out there.

Mamelukes A (10)

Though they are a pleasure to paint, it’s been a slower and more complicated process than painting regular forces due to the great variety of colours required and which differ from one figure to the next.

Mamelukes A (11)
Mameluke standard bearer

With the exception of the red trousers (saroual) and headgear (cahouk), each figure requires a different colour scheme. Starting each single figure required some wardrobe decisions to be made, I felt like an insecure lady deciding what to wear on a first date!

Mamelukes A (6)

Hopefully, I’ve made some reasonable choices.

Mamelukes1 (6)

It’s been interesting to paint the unusual accoutrements: the turbans; the daggers; the beautifully curved scimitars; and the pistol holders wedged into the waistbands.

Next for those horses, a task which one might think I’d tire of. I still enjoy painting them, thankfully, and these Italeri horses seem as well sculpted as their riders. Updates to follow in due course. I’m looking forward to painting those arabic saddles. With luck, I might even get the whole regiment finished before my forthcoming summer holiday in July!

Mamelukes A (14)

Mamelukes A (13)

Mamelukes A (4)
A not-quite-finished bugler. He’s the only one with a white plume and green headgear.

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.

 

1er Régiment de Chevaux-Légers Lanciers (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #20)

For a light cavalry regiment, it’s been very heavy going getting these figures to completion. More lead than ‘légers’, one might say! Attempting 16 figures rather than my more usual 10 has made for slower progress. There’s lots of detail in the sculpting. Consider also the addition of attaching the separate lances with arms, and you may appreciate how the task takes longer than usual.

french-line-lancers-final-23

The set looks so good however that, although my momentum flagged once or twice, it was never an onerous paint job. Waterloo 1815 make some beautifully sculpted figures, both men and horses included, some questionable horse poses aside.

french-line-lancers-final-18

I was hoping to maybe produce at least one more regiment before Christmas but, having taken a while with these lancers, it looks unlikely I’ll complete one before the end of the year. Nonetheless, I can announce that the next regiment in the Nappy Cavalry Project will be… Russian Cuirassiers by Zvezda!

Anyway: those photos of the French 1st Lancers regiment:

 


Biography: 1er Régiment de Chevaux-Légers Lanciers [France]

Napoleon’s decree of 1811 created nine regiments of lancers. The easiest way to achieve this quickly was to convert one of the many existing regiments of dragoons. Consequently, the 1st Regiment of Dragoons duly became the 1st Regiment of Lancers (Cheveau Legers Lanciers).

The 1st Lancers soon participated in the 1812 invasion of Russia, initially covering the crossing of the Elbe before joining the 1st body of Reserve Cavalry of the Grande Armée. The first squadron took part in the battles of Smolensk and La Moskowa, where the squadron leader Dumanoir led charges.

Following the disastrous retreat from Moscow, the regiment reformed from conscription and the remnants left at the depot, immediately taking part in the Leipzig campaign of 1813. As part of the 1st cavalry corps of the Grande Armée, it fought in the battles of Dresden, Leipzig and Hanau.

During the following campaign in 1814, the regiment was part of  1st cavalry corps’ defence operations during the retreat to Paris. The 1st Lancers distinguished themselves during the battles of Vauchamps, Reims and Paris.

After Napoleon’s exile, the Bourbon regime renamed them (partly reformed with elements of the 9th) to become known as the Régiment des Lanciers du Roi (n°1) and retained this royal title up until the inception of the Hundred Days Campaign in April 1815, when the reference to the king was duly dropped once more.

During this their final campaign, they formed part of Baron Subervie’s 5th Cavalry Division, partnering the 2nd Lancers in the Colbert’s 1st Brigade. Deployed inconclusively on the French left during the victory at Ligny, it proceeded to follow up Wellington’s retreat to Waterloo, even attempting an unsuccessful charge during a thunderstorm.

On the 18th June 1815, Colonel Jacquinot led his 415 men of the regiment on the extreme right flank. It saw little of the serious fighting experienced by the 5th and 6th Lancers in countering the Allied Heavy Cavalry charge. Instead, the 1st Lancers did assist in confronting the Prussians as they emerged out of the Bois de Paris to threaten Plancenoit, attempting to check the irresistible advance of Bulow’s Corps.

After Waterloo, the 1st lancers were disbanded on Christmas Day 1815. The majority of men and horses were incorporated in the new 8th regiment of Chasseurs à Cheval de la Côte-d’Or. Lancers did not completely disappear from the French army, however, the reorganisation of 1815 stipulated that the last squadron of each regiment of cavalry be armed with lances.

Notable Battles: La Moscova, Dresden, Leipzig, Vauchamps, Ligny, Waterloo.

french-line-lancers-final-1

Herd Mentality

I’ve been painting lots of horses recently, a veritable herd of them in fact. I admit that it has been slow progress on the French Line Lancers set. I think painting up to 17 horses in one go is one factor in this slowness, but the herd is nearly finished. I’m reasonably happy with their progress but I can’t help but feel that I do better work in the summertime when there’s far more light than in these gloomy, dull November days in Britain.

Here’s “the herd” awaiting some final attention before their riders get attached.

And below is more or less what the finished figures will look like once I’ve concluded with those last bits of paint and glueing. These riders don’t fit on easily I note – (do they ever?) – and I’m expecting a bit of struggle to get them mounted!

It’s been a long time coming, but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with these lancers. Hopefully, they’ll be finished and photographed before the end of this week.

 

All Quiet on the Pastime Front

I admit it. There really hasn’t been much progress over the past couple of weeks with my lancers. Partly this has been due to the impact of domestic issues. My father suffered a minor stroke and, although it was thankfully minor and he’s recovering well, I seem to have lost my mojo somewhat since then. Bigger issues like family health seem to place more trivial things such as modelling soldiers into perspective.

I have, nonetheless, been able to basecoat most of the horses and paint / glue the lances. So, here’s a very quick view of some of those lancers with lances. I should point out that they do still need a little work.

There’s a flag bearer that’s still awaiting work on his flag. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find some time and get into gear soon. In the meantime, I’m being careful with those lances, they are all so delicate that I’ll be surprised if I don’t break some before completion!

 

french-lancers-ii-6
Flag bearer for the 1er Regiment de Cheveau-Legers Lanciers – sans flag!

 

France’s Lancers

In my last post on the latest regiment in my Nappy Cavalry Project, I suggested that the 4th Lancers were to be my choice for Waterloo 1815’s French Line Lancer set. However, I (mis)spent a sizeable portion of a morning off from work experimenting with mixed paints to reproduce the exact shade I required for the 4th. The conclusion of my experiments were never quite satisfying and so, rather than condemning myself to being unhappy with an incorrect colour, I elected to simply change my mind and pick another regiment.

Instead, I am tackling the 1st Regiment of lancers who wore red facings. The contrast between green and red is a pleasing one, and it means being able to simply choose one of my numerous red shades of Vallejo paint rather than mixing one up.

french-line-lancers-2

With 17 figures to tackle, this regiment has the feeling of being a project all of itself and will certainly take some time to finish. It’s a hobby, not a production line, so I’m happy to take all the time necessary. That said; they’re coming along nicely and already I’m approaching tackling the horses which I envisage will take a little longer to create.french-line-lancers-1

Did I say I’m nearly on to painting the horses? I was forgetting a number of arms and lances which are still attached to the sprue and awaiting paint. I’ve left these until now because the plastic of this set is particularly brittle and liable to snap. Leaving them until later reduces the risk of accidents!french-line-lancers-5

I think adding the lances will make a huge difference and I’m looking forward to seeing them finally painted and attached (this will probably be the focus of my next update). After all they’re not much of a lancer regiment without lances!

Tiny Lancer

 

dscf0892-3
French Napoleonic Lancer by Waterloo 1815 awaiting some attention with my brushes.

With the French Horse Grenadiers now despatched, it’s straight on to my 20th regiment in the Nappy Cavalry Project. I’m staying with Napoleon’s cavalry, but instead of a Heavy regiment of the Guard, I’m tackling a Light regiment of the Line; specifically I’m painting French Line Lancers 1811-15!

The figures are by Waterloo 1815 and were released last year, just a little too late to be included in 2015’s figures. I’m a big fan of Waterloo 1815. They’re not always completely historically accurate but this set (horse sheepskin shapes aside) is excellent. The sculpting on this French Line Lancers set is, as always, superb and wonderfully crisp. All of which makes for a rewarding painting experience for the modeller. I’ve chosen the 4th Regiment of lancers, known as 4ème Régiment de Chevaux-Légers Lanciers, purely because they sport burgundy-like coloured facings which I thought would make a nice change.

dscf0886-3
Sunny day outside. Maybe I should stop playing with soldiers and get out in the fresh air?!

Only the Red Lancers and Guard Cossacks have sported lances in the project so far, and after painting plenty of dragoons and hussars, it’s great to be having a go at some more lancers. There’s a lot of them too. Waterloo 1815 pack a whopping 18 riders into a box. That’s a lot of figures to paint for someone who was tackling just 10 at a time for the previous regiments, but nevertheless I’m going to attempt the lot!

french-lancers
“The Death of General Ponsonby” at the hands of French Lancers, (apparently the 4th Regt – coincidentally my chosen topic).

The only real moan on Plastic Soldier Review is that the horse furniture is wrong, the sheepskin being wrongly sculpted into a kind of shabraque. They recommend switching to horses from another set, but I’m tempted to stick with them, the sculpting of the horses heads in particular being so impressive.

lancers-horse
Horse from the Waterloo 1815 French Line Lancers set.

Watch out for progress reports.

Horse Grenadier Horses

Horse Grenadiers need horses! And here they are, black horses all. The now fully functioning Daler Rowney varnish is on (no more glossy nightmares as with the Life Guards) and they are just waiting for their riders to be glued on prior to basing.

As for basing them, I have been considering basing them in snow to replicate the conditions that the regiment found themselves in during their famous action at the snowy battle of Eylau in 1807 (see painting below).

horse-grenadiers horse-grenadiers-horses-5

I’ll make my decision and post the finished results hopefully some time later this week!

 

Buff and Nonsense

My Horse Grenadiers figures are nearly finished and so it’s soon on to the horses themselves. The new buff paint came through the post and, after some initial reservations about its consistency were resolved with vigorous shaking, I’m really happy with the result! I had to experiment a bit with the wash used in the shading but I got there in the end. So here they are;

Grey trousers are gone…

horse-grenadiers-6

And buff trousers are on!