On the Benno’s Figures Forum website, I recently entered the monthly figure painting ‘duel’ against the mysterious Mr X. The aim is that we both paint exactly the same figure, take two photos of it, let the ‘referee’ post our pics, and then put it to members of the forum to vote for the best.
The figure we elected to tackle was one of Zvezda’s Black Hussars of Frederick the Great. Mr X didn’t have the figure in question to hand so I sent him one of mine via a go-between in Holland (to retain his anonymity).
Mr X is an undoubtedly talented artist and has deservedly won many of the duels this year. His figure was first class and as the votes came in we were virtually neck and neck until the final day of the week’s voting.
And the winner was…
…yours truly, by a mere two votes. Hurrah! A famous victory for the troops of Suburban Militarism!
As the finishing touches were applied to my Perry Miniatures hussars, I discovered an interesting fact. The regiment that I have painted, the 19th Hussars, were known by the nickname of “The Dumpies”. Apparently, this was an unflattering reference to the below-average height of men in the regiment.
With its origins as an Indian army regiment (the 1st Bengal Light Cavalry), regulations concerning height restrictions were more relaxed than in other British cavalry regiments. As a consequence, the greater proportion of shorter men in the regiment earned them the nickname ‘The Dumpies’. Being a chap of shorter stature myself, this sounds like exactly my sort of regiment!
It seems that the 19th Hussars might have also acquired a more inspiring nickname; “The Terrors of the East”. At a mere 28mm in height, I personally think that “The Dumpies” is a name perfectly suited to my three hussar figures.
There are still nine more hussar figures in this range available from Perry Miniatures, Six of them feature more dynamic poses (charging) and the remaining three include a trumpeter, an NCO and an officer. I fully intend ‘at some point’ in the future to purchase these too and add them to my other ‘dumpies’.
As for my next painting assignment which I’ve been making plans for – all will be revealed in a forthcoming post…
It’s been a sad weekend for me. Receiving the news that my beloved 1-year-old cat Morris had been sadly hit and killed by a car, was a real blow. We shared a close bond, he and I, and I’ll sorely miss the little chap. I loved his comical ways, even when as a kitten he mounted a surprise sortie and captured and ran off with some of my plastic soldiers!
At such times, I find my hobby can be a welcome distraction and a consolation. Indeed, through these sad circumstances, I’ve nonetheless managed to carry on and progress with my 19th Hussars. I also managed to find some more depictions of the regiment rooting about my cigarette card collection, including (left) this fine illustration of the regiment’s Kettle Drummer issued by Gallaher in 1898 and (right) a corporal of the 19th Hussars from a collection called “Soldiers of the King” issued by Ogden’s in 1909.
On the 1898 card it can be seen that the 19th were known as Princess of Wales’s Own, yet by the time of the Ogden’s cigarette card issues they had become the Queen Alexandra’s Own Royal Hussars, following her husband King Edward VII’s accession to the throne after the death of Queen Victoria.
Back to the figures – below are a few photos to show the results of my progress. It’s difficult to see clearly on my photographs but I’ve tried to recreate the key dress features particular to this regiment, such as the yellow lines on the white bag on each busby. There are no plumes on these fellows who appear sculpted more ready for battle than parade!
The horses are now primed and awaiting the first lick of paint. An update of their development to follow…
The 19th Hussars began life as the 1st Bengal European Light Cavalry in 1858, having been raised by the East India Company in response to the Indian Mutiny.
Very soon after, they were absorbed into the British army and became a regiment of the crown. Now designated as the 19th Hussars, they became the acknowledged successor regiment to the original 19th Light Dragoons which had been disbanded back in 1821. During the 1880s, the 18th Hussars fought in campaigns in Egypt and the Sudan, including the battles of Tel-el-Kebir, Abu Klea and El Teb.
The 19th later found themselves fighting in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, most notably at the Siege of Ladysmith.
At the conclusion of their service in the Boer War, the regiment formally became known as the 19th (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own) Hussars (after the wife of Prince Edward).
So, why the history lesson? Because my next figures will represent this regiment. Having a lifelong interest in the Victorian army, it is in this re-formed Victorian-era guise that I’m intending to paint the 19th Hussars. In a return to 28mm scale, I’m using Perry Miniatures British Hussars from their excellent “British Intervention Force” series set in the 1860s.
Inspiration for a choice of regiment to paint originally came from some examples of Richard Simkin’s depiction of the regiment found in my collection.
I’ve just the three hussars to paint as a toe in the water. If I’m pleased enough with the end result, I may expand the regiment. Updates on painting progress to follow…
The Russian Lifeguard Dragoons are now finished and they can join their sister regiment the Lifeguard Cossacks which I completed back in 2015. These Zvezda figures are very elegantly sculpted and beautifully proportioned. The sculpting is so subtle, however, that painting them effectively has been a real challenge. I will admit to liking a little bit more crispness in my sculpting than I’ve found in this set. But with some effort, the end result is satisfying and the Lifeguard Dragoons can proudly take its place as the 23rd regiment in the project.
Let me state – I am not a fan of pegs and holes when it comes to assembling plastic 1/72 scale figures. Maybe I’m just ham-fisted when it comes to putting these things together, but I’m not feeling confident that they would survive any careless handling. To get the riders on the horses, I found it far simpler to cut off the pegs and just rely on glue instead. After coping with some traumas, I used glue and a little modelling clay on the base of the horses to better secure them to the stands which comes with the set.
Some horses (possibly down to my assembly mistakes) look like they are in the process stumbling head first into the ground!
Another horse pose I managed to get to stay in place solely thanks to glue alone, the two pegs proving insufficient to keep it upright.
Aside from three boxes of standard troopers, I also bought a “Command” set of figures which supplied an officer, a flag bearer and a trumpeter.
I foolishly misplaced the sword, sabretache and scabbard for the flag bearer. Instead there’s a hole ready on his thigh to attach the scabbard should I a) locate it, or b) replace it with another substitute. Additionally, I should confess that I wasn’t able to source the correct flag for this regiment and so simply resorted to choosing my own design!
Much as I admire this set I’m pleased I’ve finally got this one under my belt.
With this set now completed, I’ve painted three Russian regiments in a row; the Astrakhan Cuirassiers, Sumy Hussars and now the Lifeguard Dragoons, all of which were manufactured by Zvezda. As wonderful as Zvezda’s figures are, it is perhaps time for a change of country and manufacturer?
I’m hoping to attempt a set next with some really crisp details but I’m still prevaricating over the next regiment, so expect an announcement soon. Until then; it’s time for the usual pictures and regimental biography…
Biography: Lifeguard Dragoons [Russia]
The Lifeguard Dragoons were established in 1809 from squadrons previously belonging to the Grand Duke Constantine’s Uhlans. Taking their inspiration from Napoleon’s Dragoons of the Imperial Guard, it took its place in the Tsar’s Lifeguard Cavalry Corps alongside regiments of hussars, cossacks, cuirassiers or ‘Lifeguard Horse’.
Whilst they might have lacked some of the prestige or dramatic uniforms of the Hussars or Cuirassiers, they were were undoubtedly well trained, disciplined and considered superior to other Dragoon regiments of the line.
Present at the battle of Borodino, the Lifeguard Dragoons were under Uvarov’s 1st cavalry corps, together with other Lifeguard regiments (the Lifeguard Cossacks, Lifeguard Uhlans and Lifeguard Hussars). During this 1812 campaign, they would get the chance to meet their inspiration, Napoleon’s Dragoons of the Guard. In one incident, the Lifeguard Dragoons ambushed and destroyed two squadrons of French Guard Dragoons. A force under General Ivan Dorohov, which included Cossacks and two squadrons of Lifeguard Dragoons, attacked French convoys and transports capturing 1,500 prisoners. The French countered with a small force which included 150-250 French Old Guard Dragoons which were then subsequently ambushed and destroyed at Bezovka by two squadrons of the Lifeguard Dragoons. To French General Caulaincourt, this annihilation of 150 dragoons was greeted in Napoleon’s headquarters with more dismay than “the loss of 50 generals.”
After Napoleon’s ejection from Russia, the long campaign began which would ultimately push the Napoleon all the way back to Paris. In Kulm in 1813 the Lifeguard Dragoons spearheaded the massive cavalry charge against Vandamne’s infantry. The dragoons attacked the front and ran down one regiment whilst other regiments concentrated on the enemy’s flanks. In April 1813 the dragoons were awarded with St. George standards.
In the great battle of Leipzig in 1813, the French cuirassiers routed them in the cavalry battle fought near Gulden-Gossa’s ponds. The following year, the Lifeguard Dragoons fought in the massed cavalry battle of Fère Champenoise for which they achieved the Russian military awards of 22 St. George trumpets.
Notable Battles: Borodino, Bezovka, Kulm, Leipzig, Fere Champenoise.
I’ve praised Zvezda figures so many times on Suburban Militarism that there’s no call to do it again. Hopefully, their very well sculpted figures do all the talking. Preparation is key with Zvezda figures, coating them in PVA glue really helps the paint to stay where it should.
The Soum (or Sumy) Hussars regiment took over a month to complete and I must confess that the length of time required to finish them was not due to any lack of painting hours on my part. Having 18 figures to paint with so much detail (and no military arm does detail quite like Hussars), meant that there was a big investment in time required to get everything painted. Raising a Hussar regiment was supposed to be more costly than with most other cavalry – and I can vouch for that, in time required to paint them at any rate!
All of which sounds like a grumble, which it certainly isn’t. When figures are this good, it is never a chore. Furthermore, I can hardly complain at having a very generous 18 figures to paint; nobody is forcing me to paint them all! I’ll go as far to say that these Russian Hussars are amongst the very best figures to grace the Napoleonic Cavalry Project and, hopefully, I’ve done them enough justice.
Photos aplenty and some kind of a regimental biography below:
Biography: Soum Hussars [Russia]
Hussars had existed in some form in the Russian army since the mid-17th century. However, by the time of Catherine the Great they had been disbanded. The Soum Hussars (or “Sumy” Hussars)came into existence in 1765 when the Ukrainian Slobodian Cossacks were disbanded and then re-formed into a number of new Hussar regiments.
At this time, a Russian Hussar regiment consisted of 2 battalions with 5 squadrons in each. A squadron had 150 hussars, a commanding officer (captain or rotmistr), and 2 subaltern officers (a senior lieutenant or poruchyk and a lieutenant — cornet). A regiment’s total strength could reach 1,500 sabres.
On June 13, 1806, by a decree of the Military Collegium, the Grodno Hussar Regiment was formed using as its basis the Soum Hussar Regiment’s own 4th Squadron. Later that year, the Soum Hussars joined the Russian army’s intervention in the Prussians war against the French. They featured in the Battle of Czarnowo on the night of 23–24 December 1806 and in the Battle of Pułtusk two days later under Major General Koschin’s cavalry brigade. The Soum Hussars were also present at the battle of Friedland in Generalmajor Lourkovski’s brigade alongside the Elizabethgrad Hussars and some Lithuanian Uhlans.
At the time of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, the Soum Hussars were in the 1st Hussar Division, together with the Grodno, Elizabethgrad and Izoum regiments. They were subsequently in action in the main theatre of operations during the war of 1812. At the great battle of Borodino, the Soum Hussars were attached to the III Cavalry Corps under Barclay de Tolly, positioned in the centre.
In 1813, the Soum Hussars saw action in battles throughout the 1813 campaign and in the great ‘Battle of the Nations’ at Leipzig. This extract from Osprey’s account of Leipzig suggests something of the desperate ebb and flow to the fighting as experienced by the Soum (or Sumy) Hussars during this campaign.
“The French grand battery forced the Sumy Hussars to fall back and the first French cavalry attack started… the Sumy Hussars charged the leading French regiment and forced it back. The second French regiment then threw back the Russian Hussars but its advance was halted by the Prussian Neumark Dragoons who in turn were thrown back by the next French Regiment. In the meantime, the Sumy Hussars had rallied…”
As Napoleon retreated after Leipzig, the hussars followed and entered France in 1814. After encounters fought throughout that campaign they marched triumphantly into Paris with the rest of the Allied forces.
After Napoleon’s defeat, many hussar units were awarded collective decorations in honour of their exploits in the War of 1812: St. George’s trumpets (musical instruments awarded for valour) were awarded to the Soum Hussars regiment. The trumpets bore the inscription: “For Distinguished Service in Defeating and Ousting the Foe from Russia in 1812.”
Notable Battles: Friedland, Borodino, Leipzig.
Note: There appears to be a small single-room museum located in the city Sumy which is dedicated to the Soum Regiment, information can be found here. Now there’s a location for a Suburban Militarism Day Trip!
This is just a quick progress report on my Zvezda Russian Soum Hussars, the latest regiment in my Nappy Cavalry Project. I’m rapidly getting all the details added but there is so much of it on these figures that it will take some time to get it all painted, that’s not even to mention all the pelisses, lances and horses still to do!
Sculpting is excellent by Zvezda (as usual) but it isn’t always revealed post-mould in as crisp a detail as it deserves, I feel. This makes for a tricky paint, but perseverance is rewarded by some great looking figures.
Adding to the time it takes to paint this regiment is the fact that Zvezda provide an astonishingly generous 18 figures per box! Contrast that with HaT’s more usual 12.
I have to admit, time isn’t an issue as I’ve been enjoying painting these hussars so much I’ve been idly wondering if I could buy some more boxes and maybe paint another regiment, or a whole division, or even all 12 regiments!
But then a check of the internet reveals that this kit is now very difficult to source indeed, no doubt a victim of its success. So perhaps it will just have to be the one regiment unless Zvezda reissue the set!
Plenty still to do, (pelisses, straps, facial hair, stirrups, etc. etc.) before I tackle the regiment’s mighty herd of 18 horses!
What to tackle next? Why, more Napoleonic cavalry, of course! So, I’ve picked up my box of Zvezda Napoleonic Russian Hussars which are my 22nd Nappy Cavalry Project regiment. I originally intended to have a go at these before Christmas, but there was something of a problem with these figures, so let me explain:
Now – I find Zvezda figures need special preparation before painting, which I forgot to do. I charged on carelessly! Without some pva glue as an undercoat, I find my careful paintwork can just fall off the figures at the slightest touch. Having neglected to do this before spraying my primer, I now found I had the problem of removing all the flaky paint again. Although the paint flakes off easily, it does so unevenly, such that I struggle to completely remove it. I’ve tried scrubbing the figures with toothbrushes and also leaving them to soak for days in both Dettol antiseptic and bleach; none of these techniques were entirely successful. I’ve now tried blotting the figure with sticky Blu-tac which does indeed lift the paint off – but it’s hard and slow work.Finally, I’ve managed to clean up the last few figures ready to ‘begin again’.
All fairly dull stuff, I’m sure anyone will agree who’s reading this! So, a far more fun thing to do, I find, is to decide upon which of the many colourful Russian hussar regiments I want to depict. I was pointed in the right direction very kindly by “matgc“, a talented Brazilian painter on Bennos Figures Forum (and I urge anyone to visit his excellent blog ‘My Ever-Growing Armies’ and view his own wonderfully vibrant Zvezda Hussar figures).
There were 12 Russian Hussar regiments in 1809, each wearing their own unique array of colours which is just what I love about Napoleonic cavalry. Out of these choices, I whittled them down to these preferred options (with their brief uniform descriptions):
The Pavlograd Hussars – Dark Green dolman / Turqoise pelisse / Yellow braid / Dark Green trousers
The Elizabethgrad Hussars – Grey dolman / Grey pelisse / Yellow braid / Dark Green trousers
The Soum Hussars – Grey dolman / Grey pelisse / White braid / Red trousers
The Izoum Hussars – Red dolman / Dark Blue pelisse / White braid / Dark Blue trousers
The Olviopol Hussars – Dark Green dolman / Dark Green pelisse / Yellow braid / Red trousers
Hmm, choices..choices… Of the other regiments, some wore black or brown dolmans which look terrific, including the said matgc’s chosen regiment,the Akhtyrsk Hussars. However, having previously painted Prussian Hussars wearing both black and brown dolmans, I fancied a different colour for my cavalry collection. So, my choice is…
The Soum Hussars! These hussars are in grey with red trousers (see contemporary prints below). Perfect – I’ve not got a cavalry regiment in grey and red! I’d better shake up my bottles of grey paint in readiness…
Russian Hussar regiment info courtesy of the very splendid “Blunders on the Danube” blog – visit it here.
The beginning of a series of regular blog posts displaying images from “British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century”; a set of trade cards issued by Badshah Tea Co. of London in 1963.
#1 The 10th Royal Hussars
“Our picture shows the colourful uniform worn by the officers at the time of William IV. The 10th Prince of Wales’ Royal Hussars were raised as Dragoons in 1715, converted to Light Dragoons in 1783 and finally to Hussars in 1811.”
I reported recently that my British Heavy Dragoons regiment made it into the excellent Benno’s Figures Forum newsletter. Well…it’s happened once again!
This time it was my Silesian Hussars that made the ‘headlines’. Actually, my figures sort of made the headlines twice over. The picture at the top of the newsletter depicts the diorama display of the Benno’s Figures Forum Famous Waterloo Project, for which I humbly contributed 4 figures earlier in the year. Clicking on the picture below should take you to the full newsletter.
Once more, I can only say that I’m very pleased to see that they were considered worthy of inclusion and it gives me great encouragement to continue with the project. Now – must get back to painting those British Horse Guards…