Uhlan Regiment No. 1 (Merveldt) [Nappy Cavalry Project Regiment #32]

My 32nd regiment in the Napoleonic Cavalry Project reaches its completion with the basing of Merveldt’s Uhlans (Uhlan Regiment No.1). The figures are by Mars about whom’s merits I discussed in a recent post.

I won’t pretend that they were the easiest paint, and I can’t exactly say that they’re perfection incarnate, but I do reckon I’m satisfied with the end result! It’s good to have some Austrians as part of the project at last.

The most tricky aspect of the figures was perhaps the attachment of the lances to the figures. The hands were very indistinct and so I simply attached some old Esci Polish Lancers versions to the hand area with a blob of glue. Job done.

The curious horse poses allow for only certain figure combinations. Hence, one horse appears to be charging hard into the ground, presumably felled by a bullet. The only figure which satisfactorily sits with this equine this the man leaning backwards in a kind of counter-balance. Three of these figures means that a quarter of my regiment is in the process of being felled by a volley! It makes for a unique, dramatic and interesting pose, though.

The rearing horse allows for two standing figures, who, in another pleasing pose, appear to be desperately holding on to their agitated mount by the bridle. This was likely a not uncommon situation in battle.

A spare figure without any horses left to hold I simply gave a lance to, thrusting his weapon in the air and urging his comrades on… or perhaps admiring it… or waving it for attention… OK, possibly an unconvincing pose!

“Hang on, this looks like an Esci lance to me…”

Austrian Uhlan officers would not have had lances and so I’ve attached a sword which came with the Mars set to one of my officers but left the other simply gesturing heroically to his men. They have black pouch belts with gold edging.

The remaining figures include this one urging his horse forward and thrusting the lance.

Also, there is the figure with his arm held high in the air. Another slightly curious gesture, but not a bad one by any means once the lance is attached.

So that concludes regiment number 32 in the old ‘NCP’. Slated as the next regiment in the endless project are some figures which may see me make a return to painting some French cavalry. More on this anon. Until then, I continue the tradition of a sort-of-biography of the latest completed regiment.


Regimental Biography: Uhlan Regiment No. 1 (Merveldt) [Austria]

Austrian Uhlans were effectively Polish lancers and were dressed as such. Their country came under the leadership of the Habsburgs after 1772 when that empire gained part of the territory (Galicia). The first uhlan unit, the “Uhlan Pulk” was raised in 1784 with 600 men intended for use against a rebellion in the Netherlands. Later it was renamed the “Uhlan Freicorps”.

A Richard Knotel illustration of a Merveldt Uhlan in 1813.

In 1785, this unit was sent to Vienna and broken up into various uhlan units attached to a variety of chevaux-leger regiments. The first Uhlan Regiment, No.1, was raised on 1 November 1791 from those Uhlans existing in the Kaiser, Karaiczai, Lobkowitz and Levenehr chevaux-leger regiments.

Austrian 2nd Uhlans. Watercolour by French military artist, Henri Boisselier an example of which can be found at: https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:248368/

This 1st regiment of Uhlans were known as Merveldt’s Uhlans in 1796, after the regiment’s proprietor (a position similar to that of honorary colonel), Maximilian, Count von Merveldt. Merveldt garnered considerable experience in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars against the French and he was considered a very able commander of cavalry, rising to the rank of general.

The No.1 regiment’s headquarters moved over the years, in 1791 it was based in Sárospatak in Hungary, ending the Napoleonic wars in St. Floeian, near Linz. It’s recruiting area was Galicia and most of the uhlans therefore were made up of either ethnic Polish or Ukrainian men.

Preben Kannik’s fabulous illustration of a wounded man of the Austrian Merveldt’s 1st Uhlan Regiment.

Uhlan Regiment No 1, as with the three other Austrian Uhlan regiments, wore jackets of green (initially ‘grass green’ but later ‘dark green’) with red facings. The pennons on their lances were black over yellow. Trousers were also green with red stripes with the lower part covered in black leather near the boots, although grey overalls could be worn when on campaign. The sheepskin over the saddles appears to have been black, though this is open to question. The only regimental distinction was the colour of the czapkas; No.1 having yellow czapkas and numbers 2, 3 and 4 being green, red and white respectively.

Another illustration by Boisselier of Austrian Uhlans; No. 4 (left) and No. 2 (right).

At Austerlitz in 1805, a handful only of Merveldt’s Uhlans were in the 1st Cavalry Brigade, otherwise the regiment was not represented. During the 1809 War of the Fifth Coalition, the regiment fought at Ursensollen-Amberg. One detachment was at the blockade of the Oberhaus fortress. Parts of the regiment were also involved in the Regensburg battles and later at Stadt am Hof. In July 1809, they were in Bohemia and fought against Saxons in the battles of Gefrees and Nürnberg.


Napoleon I. 1809 vor Regensburg by Albrecht Adam. Wiki Commons.

Merveldt’s Uhlans did not take part either in the Battle of Aspern-Essling, being instead kept in defence on the Danube later harassing the French rear lines of communication. After the Battle of Wagram, it retreated to Bohemia when the campaign ended.

 Wojciech Kossak’s “Austrian Uhlan of Savona“, 1891.

The 1st regiment towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars was fighting in the Northern Italian campaign of 1813-14 alongside its sister uhlan regiment No.2 (Schwarzenberg). Consequently, having largely missed out on the key battles of Austerlitz and Aspern-Essling, they were also to find themselves absent from the decisive Battle of Leipzig in 1813. The regiment’s namesake, Count von Merveldt, however was present at the ‘Battle of the Nations’, where he was unfortunately captured when wandering too close to Saxon troops.

In Italy, his regiment continued to do great service however; patrolling, reconnoitring and, as can be seen in the following brief quote I discovered about the Battle of Feistritz, also putting the enemy to flight!

… Austrian Generalmajor Speigel responded quickly, and a very successful charge of the Merveldt Uhlans encouraged the French to withdraw.

The Defense of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Northern Italy, 1813-1814, G.F. Nafziger, M. Gioannini

Notable Battles: Austerlitz, Ursensollen-Amberg, Regensberg, Gefrees, Nürnberg, Feistritz.

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Men are from Mars…

A quick update on my Mars Austrian Uhlans. The figures are almost there, but there is a little more work to do including some paint still to be applied on the Czapkas amongst other things. The horses are next up on the painting table and also looming is the question of lances.

I’ve decided that the lances provided by Mars require too much effort removing from the flash. There are also no pennons provided and so would require their manufacture. Consequently, I’ve opted to source some lances from another set, possibly from some of my old Esci Polish lancers. The next challenge will be how on earth to affix them to the figures, the hands being extremely vague and amorphous!

Mounting them on horses will be another interesting challenge, a couple of the poses and postures being a little strange, I think. It makes for an interesting and different figure, however.

Aside from these technical issues, I’m pleased with how they’re looking now they’ve got some paint on them. An update, hopefully with mounted and lance-armed uhlans, to come in due course.

Martian Uhlans

A glance through my venerable Napoleonic Cavalry Project tells me that since 2015, I’ve attempted sets from 6 different manufacturers representing 7 different nations. My next set of figures brings both a new nation and manufacturer to the project.

Mars Scots Greys – which Plastic Soldier Review confirms as being copies of original figures by Esci.

Mars are a Ukrainian manufacturer who, I believe, started out producing copies of other manufacturer’s figures (Matchbox, Revell, Esci, etc.) Although I can’t verify claims, some believe that this was effectively piracy of other companies’ work. However, in the plastic model soldier world, some felt that even this bootleg reissuing of out-of-production old sets at least made some old figures, often much in demand by hobbyists, available once more and was so to be welcomed. It’s a contentious issue for sure and one perhaps left to the lawyers to pass judgement over but since (I think) 2009, Mars have been making their own sets instead.

The quality of some of their own-brand work has been criticised as being disappointing by Plastic Soldier Review, amongst others, with PSR saying of one set; “This set is typical of Mars output in many ways. The sculpting is not attractive and the poses quite flat, with some of the faces being particularly messy. Accuracy is good and the selection of poses is adequate if uninspired. The subject itself is unusual and not widely known…”

Mars Lithuanian Medium Cavalry

Once again, however, criticism should perhaps be tempered by the fact that in today’s trading climate, a plastic soldier manufacturer is out there producing sets at all. Furthermore, as PSR suggested, Mars have often concentrated on eras overlooked by other companies, including an extensive 30-Years War range, Crimean Tartars, and the Lithuanian-Teutonic wars (see above). Fancy some late-Mycenaean Light Infantry anyone? Mars has that covered too!

15 figures – 12 horses? The answer is that a choice of riders is offered.

Mars have largely steered clear of the ever-popular Napoleonic period, yet they have produced a few cavalry sets; Russian Dragoons, Russian Uhlans and Austrian Uhlans. The latter are particularly interesting as, to my knowledge, no one has produced Napoleonic Austrian cavalry with the sole exception of HaT’s early Curassiers and Chevauxleger sets in 1998/2000. For such an important participant to the Napoleonic Wars, this seems a real oversight (Great Britain has 11 sets with two more slated for release). Furthermore, it’s been said that during the Napoleonic Wars;

“Austrian cavalry was considered the best in Europe, and one of the best of the time anywhere”

(Fisher and Fremont-Barnes “The Napoleonic Wars”)

The ‘best Napoleonic cavalry in Europe’ surely needs a place in the Nappy Cavalry Project, but can Mars’ Austrian Uhlans figures justify that inclusion?

The set is a bit of an enigma in parts but there’s some real quality there for sure. Even PSR grudgingly admitted that “the sculpting of this set exceeded our admittedly low expectations.” The ‘riot of flash’ of the sprue for the weapons reported by PSR seems to be also present on parts of the figures too for me and I’ve had to spend some time trimming and cleaning them up – never a skill that I excel at!

It’s curious that whilst their Austrian Uhlans seem good, Mars’ Russian Uhlans set doesn’t quite match the same degree of quality. I can only really appreciate the standard of these Austrian’s once I’ve painted them up, so I’ll share how I get on and maybe you can judge for yourself!

Martian horses, lots of flash on their noses but otherwise I think look pretty good.

So, for regiment number 32 in the Napoleonic Cavalry Project I will be attempting the Austrian 1st Uhlan Regiment (Merveldt’s Uhlans) who, like all Austrian lancers, were made up of Polish men.

Wish me luck!

British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century: The 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons

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. 


#20: The 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons

“Our picture shows a sergeant of the “Inniskillings” wearing a small badge above the chevron representing Inniskilling Castle. The regiment, raised in 1689, received the above title in 1690 and amalgamated with the 5th Dragoon Guards in 1922.”

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Sites of interest about the Inniskilling Dragoons:

The Enniskillen Castle Museum tells the story of the town of Enniskillen’s two regiments, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.

Some 10 years or so ago, I painted some Waterloo-era Inniskilling Dragoons from the 25mm Prince August home-casting range. I will upload some photos one day…

A good summary of the regiment’s history here on the website “British Cavalry Regiments of the 19th Century”.

British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century: The 17th Lancers

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. 


#19: The 17th Lancers

“Raised in 1759 as Light Dragoons, this regiment was then converted to lancers in 1822. In 1922 it was amalgamated with the 21st lancers to form the 17th/21st Lancers. Round about the date 1830, an officer of the 17th Lancers would have worn this uniform.”

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Officer, 17th Lancers, c.1830.


Sites of interest about the 17th Lancers:

National Army Museum page on the 17th Lancers, known as the Duke of Cambridge’s Own and nicknamed the ‘Death or Glory Boys’.

The truly excellent museum of The Queen’s Royal Lancers and Nottinghamshire Yeomanry includes many terrific exhibits and uniforms on the 17th Lancers, its precedents and sister regiments. It’s based in Thoresby Park which is near Perlethorpe in  Nottinghamshire. I wish now that I’d posted a Suburban Militarism Day Trip post about this after my visit…

I have painted some 17th Lancers from Strelets’ Crimean War range. I will upload some photos one day but until then here’s the Plastic Soldier Review of the figures.

Finally, something different. A YouTube video featuring the music of the regimental Quick March “The White Lancer”!

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

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

french-line-lancers-final-23

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

french-line-lancers-final-18

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

french-line-lancers-final-1

Herd Mentality

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

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

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

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

 

All Quiet on the Pastime Front

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

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

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

 

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

 

France’s Lancers

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

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

french-line-lancers-2

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

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

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

Tiny Lancer

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Horse from the Waterloo 1815 French Line Lancers set.

Watch out for progress reports.