As the fourth year of Suburban Militarism on WordPress comes to a close and a New Year looms, it’s a time for reflection. Swedish Napoleonic cavalrymen; Ottoman Turkish artillerymen; Serbian and Austrian infantry of the Great War; Belgian Carabinier cyclists; 28mm Yeomanry figures based on illustrations by Marrion; Saxon Cuirassiers and not forgetting some Napoleonic Poles back in January.
So, here’s a brief pictorial overview of some of the figures painted over 2018.
Looking forward to 2019, I know well enough by now not to forecast my painting plans in any great detail as distractions lead me on to other unforeseen areas over the year! However, currently demanding my attention are:
My Ottomania project – now well under way with the artillery corps progressing nicely;
The Great War project – I have a number of excellent kits I intend to tackle as I continue to develop my WWI collection;
So far as the Napoleonic Cavalry Project is concerned, 2018 has been the year of Swedish cavalry. HaT’s five regiments contained within their Napoleonic Swedish Cavalry set have now all been painted over the course of this year. These regiments were;
I’ve enjoyed painting these Light Dragoons. Being perhaps the least remarkable of the five Swedish cavalry regiments painted this year, it would be forgivable perhaps if I found the painting almost a chore. Instead, it’s reaffirmed my love of painting Nappy cavalry; all that colour, detail and of course the horses.
Those details I mention have included painting a tiny silver and red badge on the centre of the shako in a nod to Småland’s symbol of the red standing lion with crossbow. There’s also yellow cord and a rosette plume holder.
There’s also yellow trim to be found on the shoulder flaps, facings, tunic and waistband.
The pouch belt is buff, not white, as are the overalls.
More yellow appears on the edge of the horses’ blue shabraques.
As with all the other regiments in this box, the poses were limited, the emphasis on the set being on providing a variety of regiments rather than poses. The two poses were nice enough, however.
Pose 1 – charging:
Pose 2 – At the walk:
There are plenty of other great kits I’m still intending to tackle in this long-term project, but with November looming, it’s probably the last cavalry regiment to be painted until the New Year. So, now it just leaves me to present the usual regimental biography!
Biography: The Småland Light Dragoons
This regiment began its history in 1543 when raised in Kronoberg and Kalmar. Called the Småland Cavalry Regiment, the regiment’s name referred to its recruitment area of ‘Småland’ – a province in the south-east of Sweden. During the Scanian War, the regiment took part in the battles of Lund (1676) and Landskrona (1677).
In its early days at the end of the 17th century, a ‘cassock’ had superseded the previous
buff coat and it was decided that the Swedish uniform should be only in one colour; the familiar Swedish blue. The regiment was also allotted grey greatcoats in 1701, with yellow lining, collar and cuffs. For headdress at this time, they wore a tricorn with a narrow gold braid edge. During the Great Northern War, the regiment fought at Klissow (1702), Pultrusk (1703), Warsaw (1705) and Holowzin (1708).
During the Seven Years War, the Småland cavalry took part in a number of minor engagements. One example is of a detachment of 50 men which joined a Swedish force despatched to chase away a force of Prussian cavalry reconnoitring the Swedish positions. During its approach of the Prussian scouting party, the Swedes were attacked by a large body of cavalry. The Swedish cavalry fled the field after firing a single volley. Another detachment of 60 men was part of the Swedish force defending the crossing at Nehringen which they did before undertaking a fighting retreat in good order without casualties.
In 1758 300 men of the Småland Cavalry Regiment, under Lieutenant-colonel Baron Klas Erik Silferhjelm, took part to the battle of Tarmow, being charged and routed by 5 squadrons of Möhring Hussars. Two days after this, four squadrons of the regiment took part in the successful defence of Fehrbellin against a Prussian assault.
In 1790, with the Revolutionary Wards looming, the Småland Cavalry Regiment (Smålands kavalleriregemente) became known as the Smålands Light Cavalry Regiment (Smålands lätta kavalleri- regemente). It was then subsequently renamed again in 1801 as the Småland Light Dragoons (Smålands lätta dragoner), being the subject of the HaT set of figures.
The regiment at this time had adopted a Russian-type shako with long yellow cords. On the shako was a yellow Swedish cockade and a cap plate featuring the provincial coat-of-arms. Swedish cavalry favoured buff instead of the more common white belts. Their standard was yellow with the heraldic sign of Småland, the standing lion with the crossbow, in red.
In 1806, it received another new name; the Småland Dragoon Regiment, (Smålands dragonregemente) . In 1812 part of the regiment was converted into infantry – Smålands dragonrementes infanteribataljon (the Infantry Battalion of the Småland Dragoon Regiment).
The converted infantry battalion later became part of Karlskrona grenadier regiment. The remaining cavalry received its final name change to the Smålands Hussar Regiment (Smålands husar- regemente) in 1822. The regiment was located in Eksjö and was disbanded in 1927.
2018 has so far seen me add another five regiments to the now 30-strong Napoleonic Cavalry Project which was begun back in 2015. In what will probably be the final cavalry regiment produced this year, I’m finishing off the remainder of my 2 boxes of HaT’s Swedish Napoleonic Cavalry. From this kit, I’ve previously painted;
All of which just leaves my final Swedish regiment – the Småland Light Dragoons.
In the contemporary print above, the regiment is shown in 1807 wearing a long-tailed navy blue coat with yellow facings, buff-coloured riding breeches and black shakos. Around the waist is a yellow cord sash. The black shako is shown with a peak and this is also reproduced in the sculpted HaT figures yet in this is not visible in Preben Kannik’s illustration of the regiment of 1808 (found in “Military Uniforms of the World in Colour”).
This style of shako reproduced by Kannik, with a tiny – almost non-existent peak – is seen in another contemporary illustration of a Swedish cavalry regiment; the Nylands Light Dragoons of the same year. From these illustrations, the shako appears to have yellow cord around it, something which is reproduced on the HaT figures. The rest of the uniform appears very similar to HaT’s sculpted figures with its waist length coat, although HaT’s troopers are wearing campaign overalls rather than riding breeches.
The horses supplied by HaT are of course very familiar to me, being the same already used for the 18-strong Mörner Hussar regiment and also for the King’s Horse Guard.
Aside from the headdress, the uniform looks closest to the Scanian Carabineers which I painted earlier on in the year. For that reason, I toyed with painting them with yellow coats instead. This was an undress uniform colour adopted for Swedish cavalry regiments for field duty resulting from wearing the reverse colours of the full uniform.
In the final event, I decided to reproduce the same blue coats wonderfully depicted by Danish illustrator Preben Kannik. His “Military Uniforms of the World in Colour” book was a regular source of pleasure during my childhood and indeed continues do so right up to today. It contains many uniforms or regiments I’ve painted previously in the project and also, it must be said, regiments which I still intend to attempt.
The Småland Light Dragoon figures are already well under way, so I hope to have something to share on progress reasonably soon.
My latest venture into WWI figures is complete. HaT’s choice of figures is an inspired one, the Belgian army’s bicyclists being both an interesting and somewhat neglected subject. Much like Belgium itself, the bicycle’s contribution to the Great War can be easily overlooked, yet both played a small but nonetheless significant role in the conflict. Mark at Man of Tin blog, however, has mentioned that the same figures have at least been previously produced in 15mm scale by Peter Laing.
HaT’s figures are a great attempt a reproducing something which I imagine is extremely complicated to replicate on a 1/72 scale plastic sprue; a bicycle and a rider with rifle over the shoulder.
That said, some poses I found easier to construct than others and the figure requiring both of their fiddly arms and handlebars all attaching and gluing together was far beyond my ability to make look acceptable! The four separate poses supplied in the box are below:-
I’ve based on them on what I hoped would look something like a flat dirt track, a little off-roading which would be well within the capability of these Carabiniers on their ‘Belgica’ cycles and made even easier by Belgium’s flat landscape.
I think the poses are very good too. Maybe some extra dismounted poses would have been even better, with some carabiniers engaged in a fire fight, cycles lying flat on the ground? Can’t complain, though. Extremely fiddly assembly aside, these figures have been really interesting to research and good to paint – a great addition to my Great War project.
And with that, it’s time to look to the next painting task. I have many possibilities and kits coming out of my ears, so too much choice is the problem as ever. What’s more, there are also a few other posts to come to tell of my recent trips out and about. In the meantime, if you’d like to review the other WWI figures I’ve painted so far, feel free to visit my page on the Great War!
“The reasons of the success of the soldier-cyclist are not far to seek. In the first place it must be realised that his mount, unlike that of the cavalryman, is silent in progress. This gives him an enormous advantage over his noisy foe… But silence is by no means the cyclist’s sole advantage. He has a good turn of speed, which is a factor useful alike in attack and retreat.
“… the ability to take cover often spells the difference between victory and defeat, and here the cyclist scores distinctly. He has but to lay his mount down flat upon the ground and it is practically invisible.” Cycling Weekly Magazine, October 1914.
Cycling and Soldiering
Cycling and soldiering may at first appear to some to seem almost mutually exclusive. Cycling, particularly of the sort from over a century ago, may suggest a rather quaint pursuit. It may bring to mind scenes of gently wayfaring Edwardian ladies riding prettily through leafy English lanes, or middle class gentlemen with their tweed suits and flat caps. Yet, as the mass industrialised slaughter of the Great War began, cyclist battalions were a common feature in many armies. Indeed, the very first British army casualty of the Great War was to be a cyclist.
On August 21, 1914, in southern Belgium, a 17-year old British soldier named John Henry Parr was sent on a mission with another reconnaissance cyclist to obtain information on the German army’s position. While offering covering fire for his comrade, who escaped on his bike, Parr was shot and killed, thus becoming the first British soldier to die in the Great War. The Bicycle Times, “From the Archives – World War I: Cycling Into Battle”, 27 Dec 2016.
Germany, USA, Austria, Italy, Russia, Japan, France, Belgium and others all had their own cycling forces too. Great Britain had 14,000 cyclist troops in 1914. In the French and Belgian forces during WWI, an estimated 150,000 troops had made use of the army bicycle at various times. The practice was by no means exclusive to WWI, either. In fact, I painted some metal WWII Dutch army cyclists by Early War Miniatures for a Benno’s Figures Forum Group Build a couple of years ago. Surprisingly perhaps, the practice continues right up to the present day with some troops adopting the cycle for patrols even when deployed in global hotspots.
The use of the bicycle in warfare first began to be initially explored in the British army by militia and volunteers, not in the more conservative regulars. Cyclist manoeuvres involving volunteer units was first held in 1880 and repeatedly thereafter gathering support amongst those who could see in their use great tactical advantage, speed of movement, and affordability. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even argued the case for the Yeomanry switching from horse to cycles. Bicycles, it was argued, were silent and swift, increasing mobility on the battlefield for troops. They enabled soldiers to carry more equipment and were far easier to replace when compared to horses or vehicles and required minimal maintenance.
The Anglo-Boer War gave the first significant opportunity for the British army to explore the bicycle in warfare. It was used by both the British and the Boers, although it met with some opposition by disdainful cavalry commanders at the time. It also came in for criticism as some general staff questioned its ultimate value on the rugged terrain of the ‘trackless veldt’.
The BSA and Military Bicycle Museum describes the types of bicycle used by the military:
“There were two types of military bicycle: the roadster and the folding bicycle. Armies experimented with bicycles from the earliest era, but they were not generally accepted until cycle design had evolved sufficiently to produce a robust machine capable of withstanding typical military use. Roadsters were ideal for dispatch riders. Folding bikes were used first by Italian and French armies, and the Faun design, patented in 1896, was used by various British manufacturers, culminating in BSA’s well-known WW1 Folding Bicycle.” The BSA and Military Bicycle Museum
Belgian’s Bicycle Battalions
With the advent of WWI, the thickly-roaded districts of France and Flanders meant that military cyclists would find the ground better suited for their wheels than combatants found in the South African veldt. The flat landscape of the low countries meant that Belgium in particular was an ideal environment for military cyclists and they were well used in the initial stages before the static stalemate of the trenches set in.
Four Carabinier battalions of the Belgian army had attached companies of cyclists. They wore a distinctive uniform with a somewhat old-fashioned peaked hat similar to a kepi. Their cycles were the “Belgica” which was a foldable cycle. This allowed the bicycle to be slung across the shoulder when encountering difficult terrain.
A dedicated military cycling school in Belgium provided troops with specific training in reading maps, reconnaissance and communication techniques, as well as the mechanical skills needed to maintain the bicycles. Innovation with the military bicycle was rife:
While attempts to convert them into actual weapons by mounting machine guns on handlebars and makeshift sidecars ultimately failed, the bicycle did prove to be very adaptable during the war. Bicycle ambulances were created by welding two bicycles together, side by side, and placing a stretcher in between them. Tandem bikes allowed for a primary pilot to sit at the front and a gunner at the rear. And some bikes were rigged to tow machine guns and other small artillery into position. The Bicycle Times.
The German invasion of Belgium began on 4 August 1914 and their own Jaeger cyclists went ahead of the infantry with leaflets requesting calm from Belgian civilians. Reconnaissance was often made by bicycle but the cyclist troops were also often hotly engaged, being the first into contact with the enemy. At the very first battle in Belgium, at Halen, the Belgians successfully repulsed German cavalry attacks with a force which included a company of 450 cyclists. Their concealed massed rifle fire inflicted large casualties upon the Germans.
Model soldier manufacturer HaT has recently produced a couple of WWI cyclist sets for German Jaeger and Belgian Carabinier cyclists, and it’s the latter which I’m currently working on for my latest edition in my WWI project.
The cycles themselves are already painted, as you can see below, and are simply awaiting their riders which I’ll be presenting as soon as I’ve finished painting and mounting them on their bikes!
The fourth regiment of the five contained within HaT’s Swedish Napoleonic Cavalry box are now painted. Cuirassiers now join the Swedish Hussars, Horse Guards and Carabineers already despatched, leaving just a regiment of Light Dragoons remaining.
Plastic Soldier Review confidently state that the figure I’ve painted is a “Skjöldebrand Cuirassier”. I am uncertain as to whether this identification has been drawn from their own research or from HaT’s own release information, as the box itself doesn’t contain any specific information about the figures. Personally, I’ve not discovered any reference to a “Skjöldebrand Cuirassier” Regiment as such. Anders Skjöldebrand was however a Swedish cavalry leader, and the cuirassier corps was under his command during the Leipzig campaign, but the question remains as to what to actually call this figure’s regiment.
HaT’s own site contains an excellent monograph on the Swedish cavalry during the time of the Napoleonic Wars and is well worth a read for those who may be interested. It refers to the somewhat wordy Livregementsbrigadens kyrassiärkår – or, in English, the “Cuirassier Corps of the Life Regiment Brigade”. So, I have labelled these figures as belonging to the slightly more succinct Life Regiment Cuirassier Corps.
As with my King’s Horse Guards, only the one pose to paint for which is supplied only three to a box. I’ve doubled this to six with two box purchases. No messing about with the basing for me, this time. Just a little parched brown grass of the kind I’ve become used to seeing on my lawn this summer!
Not being a wargamer, I always appreciate my figures on parade or in a similar resting pose and this figure and horse pose does the job nicely. An occasional modest twist of the head has enabled them to reclaim a little individuality. I was tempted to paint a white crest for an officer, but stuck with troopers instead – I’d need a few more troops to command before I raise one from the ranks.
The set’s Hussars, Light Dragoons and Horse Guards share the same type of horse in two poses. My previous regiment, the Scanian Carabineers, had a single horse pose specifically for themselves and the same applies to these Cuirassiers. Plastic Soldier Review assures me that “all the saddlery and cloths are correct for the allocated units”. I trust them!
What I’ve enjoyed most about painting HaT’s set has been the variety of eccentric uniform styles that the Swedes adopted. The final regiment to tackle however, (whenever I get around to them…) wear a relatively straightforward light dragoon uniform for the time with a shako for headdress. What might make these a little more distinctive is the uniform colour – but more on that whenever I decide to tackle them.
Now for the biography which this time, I admit, has been a particularly tricky one to research…
Biography: The Life Regiment Cuirassier Corps
This regiment had its origins as far back as the year 1667. The Mounted Life Regiment was created from an pre-existing cavalry regiment from Uppland which itself could claim a regimental history going back to 1536. During the Scanian War, the regiment distinguished itself at the Battle of Lund in 1676.
At the beginning of the Seven Years’ War, the regiment was stationed in Uppland and 4 companies (540 men) were part of the expeditionary force sent to campaign in Pomerania. The following year, 800 men of the regiment were sent over to Pomerania to reinforce the Swedish expeditionary force campaigning against Prussia. In November, a detachment of the regiment was at the Combat of Güstow.
In 1791, the Cuirassier corps of the Life Regiment was formed. At this point, I refer to the following information on this is respectfully reproduced from the HaT website from information on “The Swedish Cavalry during the Napoleonic Wars” written by Björn Bergérus:
The Cuirassier corps… was formally created in 1791 when the former Mounted Life Regiment was split into three units, the Cuirassier Corps, the Light Dragoons Corps of the Life Regiment (in 1795 re-named the Hussar Corps of the Life Regiment Brigade) and the Light Infantry Battalion of the Life Regiment Brigade (in 1808 renamed the Grenadier Corps of the Life Regiment Brigade).
The Mounted Life Regiment had its recruitment area all around lake Mälaren. For the cuirassiers in particular the recruiting area became the original area of Uppland, reaching north from Stockholm to around Uppsala. The unit was present during the campaign in Germany 1813 and was part of the Swedish cavalry present at the battle of Dennewitz, September 6th 1813. The Swedish general Skjöldebrand was ready to charge but was held back by Bernadotte, who figured that the French would fall back anyway, which they did.
The Cuirassier Corps was the only Swedish unit equipped with cuirasses. They would have started the period with a single front-plate, which was later changed to a full front- and back plate. The cuirass would although have become a bit out of fashion, and it is unclear how much it was really worn. When not wearing the cuirass, the unit had a full dress uniform, very similar to the uniform of the Scanian Carabineers, but with white collar and cuffs. Furthermore, for field duty, all Swedish cavalry regiments had an undress uniform, generally made in reverse colours, which for the Cuirassier Corps meant a white jacket with dark blue collar and cuffs.
By today’s standards, [the Swedish cavalry horses] would barely pass as a pony. However, the Cuirassier Corps and the Scanian Carabineers – the two Swedish heavy cavalry regiments – were to have horses exceeding 1,45 m 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. The preferred colour of the horses for the trumpeters was white or grey for all regiments.
I’m grateful to HaT and Björn Bergérus for this information as discovering anything on the Swedish cuirassiers was proving particularly difficult!
Notable battle: Dennewitz.
A Footnote about Anders Skjoldebrand…
As I’ve mentioned, Plastic Soldier Review listed these figures as being Skjöldebrand Cuirassiers, so I thought it worth a brief mention about who this Skjöldebrand actually was.
Anders Fredrik Skjöldebrand (1757 to 1834) was an “unusually versatile talent”; at various times being a Swedish count, a military general, and a statesman and minister. He began his military career as a cornet in the South Scanian Cavalry Regiment in 1774, and was later promoted to lieutenant in the East Gothic Cavalry.
He was present in the Russo-Swedish War taking part in the Battle of Karlskrona. In 1789, he then managed to serve at sea and fought in the sea battle of Öland. In the Napoleonic Wars, having risen to the rank of General, he was present at the battles of Dennewitz and Leipzig. In command of the Swedish cavalry (which included the Morner Hussars and Scanian Carabineers), he later won a victory at the Battle of Bornhöved (December 1813) and participated in the war on Norway the following year. He died in 1834 in Stockholm.
The third regiment from HaT’s Swedish Napoleonic Cavalry set is ready for parade. A pleasing dozen of figures to paint with their large bicorne hats and clear, crisp sculpted details.
Obeying the information I uncovered, I depicted them all riding ‘dark coloured’ horses; painting up some bays, dark bays and black horses.
Just the two poses, but I quite liked the relaxed look of the figures. Below – one of the carbine carrying troopers.
Uniform colours were blue coat, yellow facings, buff-coloured crossbelts and breeches. Sabretaches appeared to be blue with three yellow crowns. Shabraques, likewise blue with yellow edging. The bicornes are shown with a tall white plume.
I’ve suggested before that HaT’s horses are OK without reaching the superb sculpting of some others I’ve painted, but after applying some paint, I do think they look good and have gone up in my estimation a little.
So that leaves two more regiments to paint; Cuirassiers and Light Dragoons. Last time, I indicated which regiment from the box I was going to paint and then painted something different. So, this time I simply say – expect news of another Swedish regiment soon! In the meantime, the usual regimental biographical information.
Biography: The Scanian Carabineer Regiment
This regiment was first formed in 1676 and named the Blekinge Regiment of HorseBlekingska regimentet til häst. Commanded by Hans Ramsvärd, the regiment was also known as Ramsvärd’s regiment to horse. They fought during the Skåne war, including the battles of Lund (1676) and Landskrona (1677).
In 1679, the regiment was permanently transferred to Scania, in the southern tip of Sweden, despite being initially associated with the Blekinge province. Ljungbyhed, a town in the northwest of Skåne (Scania) was the base for the Carabineers.
When the Great Northern War began in 1700, it was transferred to the Baltic States before then campaigning in Poland and Russia in the years up to 1709. During this time, the regiment took part in the Swedish victory over the Saxons at Kliszów (1702) and then later in the terrible defeat by the Russians at Poltava (1709). The survivors of the regiment surrendered with the rest of the Swedish army at Perevolotjna, but a group also accompanied King Karl XII in his flight to Bender in modern-day Moldova.
The regiment subsequently participated in most of Sweden’s wars during the remainder of the 18th century. In 1757, the entire regiment was part of the expeditionary force sent to Pomerania under Field-marshal Mathias Alexander von Ungern Sternberg. On November 18 1758, a detachment of the regiment was part of General von Lingen’s force at the combat of Güstow. It served in the successive Pomeranian campaigns until 1761.
In the latter part of the century, the name was changed to be the Southern Scania Cavalry Regiment (Södra skånska kavalleriregementet), before becoming the Scanian Carabineers in 1805. In this guise, it took part in the final stages of the Napoleonic Wars, during the 1813-1814. The only other heavy cavalry regiment in the Swedish army at this time were the cuirassiers.
The Scanian Carabineers later changed its name in 1822 to the Scanian Dragoon Regiment. This name was then retained until the final decommissioning of the force in 1927.
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.
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.
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.
Just the two poses, one with carbine in hand (appropriately):
…and the other figure with sword drawn:
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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]
HaT’s own website contains a great overview of the Swedish cavalry during Napoleonic times including an extensive section by Björn Bergéruson the Horse Guards which I respectfully reproduce below.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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”.
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).
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.
Immediately noticeable are their peculiar headdress with it’s woollen crest and turned up side which ends in a white plume.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.