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.
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.
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.
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.
Mörner Hussar Pelisse
Mörner Hussar Pelisse
Figures with sabres drawn and at the walk:
Figures waving sabres in attack:
In Full Dress:
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.
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.
Trooper of Blå Hussars Copyright: Franco Saudelli and Dr Marco Pagan
Trooper of Gula Hussars – Copyright: Franco Saudelli and Dr Marco Pagan
In 1762, the regiment was separated into two independent regiments known as theBlåand 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
…and the remainder have sabres drawn but are advancing steadily at the walk.
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.
The breeches are made of buff leather, as are the crossbelts worn by the other figures.
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.
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!
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!