Loyal Emigrants and Royal Marines

Two of my regiments in the Quiberon Expedition project are now finally finished; the Loyal Emigrants and the Royal Marines. Just leaves the Royal Louis Regiment (also known as Le Régiment d’Hervilly) to finish off and then it’s on to the final figures which will be the artillery.

These Strelets boys are not the prettiest figures, and converting the regiments probably doesn’t do them any favours either. However, I think they look okay and make for a interesting and different topic to explore. Not much more to add other than say in my very best Franglais – “Ici, ils sont les régiments Quiberon d’expédition!!”

The Loyal Emigrant Regiment:

Le Régiment d’Hector  (The Royal Marines):

In other news; I’ve added a new page to Suburban Militarism dedicated to Strelets’ Crimean War series of figures. The plan is to get back to painting some of this range and build up my armies, displaying them via links on the new page. Given the huge numbers of figures and diverse sets for me still to paint, this is likely to be an ongoing project lasting some considerable time!

Revisiting The Quiberon Expedition Project

Some time last year, I took a little time out from the Nappy Cavalry Project to have a stab at something which had its genesis in a visit to the St Barbe Museum in Lymington during my holiday in 2015.

The museum explores the history of Lymington and the New Forest and during my visit, I discovered a reference to the Quiberon Expedition. This was a royalist invasion of France in 1795 via the Quiberon peninsula by émigré, counter-revolutionary troops in support of the Chouannerie and Vendée Revolts. Some of the expedition force was based in and set forth from Lymington. I made some progress (see original report here) but had to get back to the Nappy Cavalry Project. I think it’s about time I finally finished what I started!

St Barbe Museum
The St Barbe Museum in Lymington

The St Barbe museum, I’ve since discovered, was formerly the St Barbe National School built in 1835. St Barbe (St Barbara in English) was also the location of a battle during the Quiberon Expedition. It seems that this is coincidental as the founder of the school’s charity was named John St Barbe. There’s a pleasing connection between my figures and the genesis of the name of the now nearly-200-year-old building of the museum.

DSCF7954 (2)
The museum’s own illustrated guide to the French royalist troops based in Lymington.

The display in Lymington’s St Barbe museum which had first pricked my interest contained the above illustration depicting these Lymington-based 1st Division forces. It is these four illustrated regiments which I’ve painted using their drawings as my guide. I’ve elected to utilise Strelets’ British and French infantry in Egypt sets. Inevitably, I’ve had to make some fundamental compromises to some of the uniforms, simply making the paint do the work wherever the sculpting differs from the illustration. The following is a brief guide to the regiments that I’m depicting:

The Quiberon Expedition Force

The royalist forces amounted to a meagre 5437 men divided into two divisions. The first division commanded by Field Marshal Louis Charles d’Hervilly (3600 men); the second division, consisting of almost 2000 under Charles Eugene Gabriel which was to follow a week later, followed in turn by the Comte d’ Artois and 10,000 British soldiers which were to land and occupy Saint-Malo. It is the troops of the 1st division that my project has focused on.

The 1st division of the expeditionary force consisted of five regiments of French emigrants, most of them being royalist insurgent survivors from the siege of Toulon, others being enlisted republican POWs who had secured freedom on the basis of fighting for the royalist cause (the loyalty of these former prisoners would be open to question therefore). The force was comprised of:

  • Le Régiment d’Hervilly – comprising soldiers of the former Royal-Louis Regiment, republican POWs and sailors. (1316 officers and men)
Quiberon updates (4)
Royal Louis Regiment
  • Le Régiment d’Hector –  forming the Royal Marines. (700 men)
Quiberon updates (6)
Royal Marines
  • The Royal Artillery – of men mostly from Toulon (600 men with 10 cannon)
  • The Loyal Emigrant Regiment – 2 companies mostly of decorated veterans (250 men)
Quiberon updates (7)
Loyal Emigrant Regiment

Each of the regiments have been painted in groups of a dozen or so. These progress pics demonstrate there’s still much to do, but the colour scheme is visible. I’ll show the finished troops once these regiments are finally completed. I’ll be using the Strelets French Artillery in Egypt set for the Royal Artillery which I’ve yet to start, but they are next on the “To Do” list.

Suburban Militarism goes on holiday (part 2)

Not only did I pay a visit to Hurst Castle, but I also had the pleasure of spending a day at the Royal Navy’s Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth. Suburban Militarism is not a naval blog, so I won’t dwell too much on the visit, suffice to say that seeing Admiral Nelson’s HMS Victory, the Tudor-era wreck of the Mary Rose, and the pride of the Victorian navy’s HMS Warrior was a truly special day out.

The Royal Marines fell under the auspices of the navy in 1755, but prior to that were formally part of the army. As such, I feel justified to include something on them here – as Kipling said; “soldier and sailor too”! On board and below decks on the dark HMS Victory, I did sneak a photo of a uniform of the Marines. It’s easy to overlook how much a part these infantrymen played in the victories of the Royal Navy. The infantry element of the Royal Marines were known as the Red Marines on account of their infantry-style scarlet coat, sailors sometimes rudely referring to them as the Lobsters!

An example of the uniform of the Marines taken on board HMS Victory herself!
An example of the uniform of the Marines taken on board HMS Victory herself!

Later in the week we paid a visit to the local museum in the town of Lymington. I was pleased to find some fascinating information referring to the Quiberon Expedition of 1795, an incident in the French Revolutionary Wars. This was a counter-revolutionary pro-royalist invasion of France by a legion of emigres, sponsored by the British government. Lymington, being a port town just up the river from the Solent and English Channel, was an ideal base for the training and provision of these French exiles prior to an invasion. The museum, which also sold a cheap information booklet on the episode, helpfully depicted the uniforms of the royalist regiments with watercolours on a laminated sheet which I photographed and reproduce below: DSCF7954 (2) The Royal Louis Regiment wears the pre-revolutionary white common to the royal French army. The Royal Marine and the Loyal Emigrants wear British scarlet, a consequence of having been supplied and equipped by the British government, something that would not help their cause with the French population once the invasion was mounted. The invasion, though initially successful with assistance from the Royal Navy during the channel crossing, fell foul to indecision and infighting between the invasion force and the local Chouan forces. The Chouannerie was a royalist uprising in western France and the Chouans, often fighting using guerilla tactics, would remain a thorn in the side of Republican France right up until 1815. DSCF7955 (2) The uprising ended in bloody defeat with the capture of over 6,000 Chouans and emigres, 750 of whom were executed by firing squad. Some 2000 were evacuated by the Navy back to England, many facing hardship and destitution as they settled back into the Lymington area. Interestingly, Strelets have produced a kit of British infantry wearing the foreign service style uniforms that the emigres (and some Chouans) were shown equipped with. So, I have purchased a cheap copy of this set and may have a go at some point reproducing a company from a royalist emigre regiment.

Strelets “British Line Infantry in Egypt”.

Suitably inspired by my holiday, I am now able to return to finishing off my French Dragoon regiment that I began before I left. More on that as it progresses!