Von Beeren Cuirassiers [Nr. 2] (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #24)

Prussian Cuirassiers are a set that I’ve had in my possession for a few years now, a purchase from a closing down sale. Having painted them I can declare that they’re a fine set – although perhaps they’re bodies, and heads in particular, are a little bit on the large side. Plenty of nice crisp detail by Italeri makes for a pleasurable painting experience.

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Italeri Prussian Cuirassier

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It’s been good to return to Italeri figures once again, and Prussians ones at that. I’ve particularly enjoyed painting something a little different from the other regiments; those bicorne hats and yellow jackets add real variety to my collection.

My ‘head-swap’ officer seems to look okay, although I originally intended to give his arm a twist downwards so that he’s not strangely holding out a piece of paper to his right. I like to think I can get away with it as his arm makes it look like he’s gesturing instead.

The trumpeter meanwhile wears a bicorne with a red crest and a white plume with a red tip, in addition to red shoulder markings:

So after that rather enjoyable kit, I’m wondering which cavalry regiment to tackle next in the project and I confess to being somewhat undecided. Furthermore, I fancy taking a brief break from Napoleonic cavalry; a change being as good as a rest, as they say. There’s plenty of figures of all types lying around and waiting for attention here at Suburban Militarism, so watch this space for developments on that.

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So, as is traditional for the Nappy Cavalry Project, here’s a few more photos and a regimental biography of my finished Von Beeren Cuirassiers below!

 


Biography: Von Beeren Cuirassiers (nr.2) [Prussia]

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The 2nd Cuirassier regiment in the Prussian army had its origins in 1666 at a time when early Prussian cavalry was simply designated as being Regiments of Horse (Regiment zu Pferde). Raised variously in accounts by either Colonel Count von Russow or Major-General von Pfuel, it immediately went on to serve in a variety of European theatres: against the French in Alsace; the Swedes in Pomerania; and against the Turks in Hungary.

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Trooper from the Cuirassier Regiment No. 2, circa 1757.

Garrisoned in Brandenburg, it consisted of 10 companies in 5 squadrons. During the War of the Spanish Succession, it fought in the great battles of Oudenarde in 1708 and Malplaquet in 1709. In the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), it fought at the battle of Chotusitz, breaking through and routing two lines of Hungarian infantry regiments. In 1745, it took part in the battle of Hohenfriedberg where it destroyed a Saxon regiment. Later that year, it also broke through enemy lines at the battle of Soor with other cuirassiers and captured the Graner Koppe heights and 22 guns.

By the time of the Seven Years War, the regiment was wearing a tunic of ‘lemon yellow’ underneath its black cuirass, in contrast to the off-white of other cuirassier regiments. It took heavy casualties in the battle of Lobositz but recovered to also take part in the Battle of Kolin where it led the charge of a brigade, scattering several enemy infantry regiments. Later, it was involved in the disastrous Battle of Kunersdorf, losing over 200 men and being routed from the field.

In 1790 came the order that all cuirassier regiments were to abandon the cuirass. However, Von Beeren’s regiment were granted the distinction of retaining their yellow tunics which they had been wearing since at least the time of Frederick the Great. That yellow tunic had earned them the nickname “The Yellow Riders” (‘gelbe Reiter’).

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No.2 Regiment’s uniform at the time of the 7 Years War, prior to the abandonment of the cuirass.

Up until 1806, cuirassier units bore the name of their colonels, also called the Proprietor (Inhaber). In October 1805, Karl Friedrich Hermann von Beeren (1749-1817) became the regimental Colonel in Chief, succeeding his predecessor Generalmajor Schleinitz. As was the custom therefore, the regiment took the new commander’s name and became Cuirassier Regiment Von Beeren (Nr 2).

Armed with the pallash (a straight-bladed sword), Prussian cuirassiers enjoyed greater prestige than other cavalry such as the dragoons, uhlans and hussars. Being heavy cavalry, the men and horses were larger, stronger and were expected to charge en-masse to crush the enemy with their sheer momentum and force.

In 1806, as political tensions with Napoleon’s France were at their height, Prussian Cuirassier officers from the elite Garde du Corps famously inflamed the situation further by ostentatiously sharpening their swords on the steps of the French embassy in Berlin.

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Cuirassier officers sharpening their swords on the French embassy steps, Berlin, 1806.

However, the woeful state of both staff and tactical organisation in the Prussian army was to be brutally exposed by Napoleon’s army during its subsequent invasion of Prussia. The Prussian cuirassier regiments were distributed throughout the entire Prussian field army – making it very difficult to co-ordinate large-scale, en-masse cavalry charges on the battlefield and greatly nullifying their effectiveness.

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During the War of the Fourth Coalition in 1806, Von Beeren’s Cuirassier regiment fought at the disastrous battle of Auerstadt as part of its colonel-in-chief’s brigade (Kuhnheim’s division). After the battle, the regiment withdrew with Blücher’s Corps whereby the majority of the regiment surrendered at Erfurt and Ratekau on November 7. As the regiment was not subsequently re-raised, it effectively marked the end of the regiment. However, seventy men and horses escaped to East Prussia where they went into forming the nucleus of the new 4th Cuirassier regiment.

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Defeated Prussian forces retreating after the disastrous battles of Jena-Auerstadt, 1806.

After the enforced Prussian military reorganization in 1806, cuirassier units were given numbers instead of colonel’s names. In 1808, Regiment Von Beeren had been incorporated into the Brandenburg Cuirassiers. Apparently, their famous yellow tunics were it seems retained and worn for some time thereafter.

No cuirassier regiments were present to see Napoleon’s demise at Waterloo. However, in 1815, Johann Carl Hackenberg watched Prussian cavalry ride through his home town of Elberfeld. This man had particular interest in seeing them as he was an artist who painted in colour all troops from 1813 – 1816. On the 2 February 1815, he observed the Von Beeren successors, the Brandenburg Cuirassiers, ride through the town wearing distinct ‘yellow cuirasses’. So it seems that even 10 years after the regiment’s destruction at Auerstadt, there continued, at least in some way, to be ‘yellow riders’ in the Prussian cuirassiers.

Notable Battles: Oudenarde, Malplaquet, Chotusitz, Hohenfriedberg, Soor, Lobositz, Kunersdorf, Kolin, Auerstadt.

Beeren Cuirassiers (32)

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Yellow Fellows

Prussian Cuirassiers 1b (3)

I’m about 80-90% finished on the 16 riders for Italeri’s Prussian Cuirassiers kit. They are certainly nice figures and look splendid in yellow. On the debit side however, the heads are a trifle oversized and the hats always seem to face the front of the body regardless as to whichever way the head is facing – which is a bit weird! To bypass this, I’ve chosen exclusively those figures whose hats are worn on the head at roughly the same angle.

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However, I resorted to a drastic head-swap operation for the officer figure. I cut off a trooper’s head and used a tiny section of pin to hold it all in place. I got a bit carried away with a hot pin resulting in – ahem – some slight melting! But I think he looks okay, nonetheless.

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Painting my chosen regiment, Von Beeren’s 2nd Cuirassiers, has been an unexpected challenge so far. Firstly, getting the yellow to look bright yet still vaguely akin to a natural fabric colour has been a learning curve. Secondly, some depictions of the regiment show a white crossbelt with red edges; my reproduction of this feature tested my painting skills considerably!

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The trumpeter had some variation in details requiring a red crest on his bicorne, a red tip to his plume and some shoulder detailing.

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I’ll be turning my attention to the horses soon. Curiously, I’ve painted these Prussian Cuirassier horses before in this project, having used them as modified replacements for the lamentable horses which came with Italeri’s Prussian Dragoons set (5th Prussian (Brandenburg) Dragoons (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #6)).

In addition to working on these figures, I confess I’ve been musing on other diversions and topics to explore. Heaven knows, I’ve got enough kits to turn my attention to, should I want to take a short breather from Napoleonic cavalry. More on this perhaps in a future post as my ideas start to take shape…

Bye for now,

Marvin

Yellow Fever

When I started the Napoleonic Cavalry Project back in the spring of 2015, eight of that year’s fifteen regiments were figures made by Italeri. Since then, some nine regiments and over 16 months later, Italeri have been entirely absent. Until now…

I’ve decided to return to Italeri after being tempted by their Prussian Cuirassier set. These cuirassiers depict the cavalry as they might appeared at the time of the destruction of the Prussian army at Jena-Auerstedt in 1806. This set is also the first Prussian regiment I’ve painted I’ve tackled in a while, since regiment #9 in fact, back in 2015.

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My ever-helpful assistant presents the latest box of figures. A cheap purchase courtesy of a model shop closure…

They are unique in the project so far in being the only regiment wearing a bicorne hat. British heavy cavalry would have also worn something similar around this time.

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Almost all the eleven Prussian Cuirassier regiments wore white uniforms in 1806, with the exception of only one – the 2nd regiment, known in 1806 as Von Beeren’s – and this is precisely the one I wish to paint simply because it wore very striking yellow coats (known as Kollets).

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I’ve never painted a yellow-coated soldier before, and have little idea how to go about shading a yellow. I’ve had a few dry runs with some spare figures and finally decided to paint over my usual black primer with some beige paint to make it easier to cover with the yellow. Then, after the application of some Vallejo Sun Yellow, I’ve shaded with a little Vallejo Desert Yellow (a light brown-yellow colour). The result is subtle, but I like it and think this has achieved about the best result I’ve managed so far, so I’m going to stick with it and press on.

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The main reason I had steered clear of this set until now was that I was unhappy with the way the sculptor had left the bicorne facing the same way regardless of whichever way the rider was looking, leaving the hat acting like some kind of compass needle! The understandable explanation was to accommodate the hat into the narrow mold, however it all looks quite absurd to have everybody’s hat always facing the same way and so I’ve simply used the figures whose heads (and hats) more or less face in the same direction.

One last thing; you may notice that these cavalrymen are missing something which might be considered an essential item for cuirassiers : namely a cuirass! This is because Prussian Cuirassiers abandoned the armour in 1790. The adoption or abandonment of the cuirass by cavalry was often subject to conflicting opinions. Some felt that cuirasses;

  • were too cumbersome in a melee;
  • or were so heavy for the horse and rider to wear that it slowed them down and made unhorsed men very vulnerable (Wellington described the sight of fallen French cuirassiers as looking like helpless turtles flipped on to their backs);
  • or placed a premium on finding enough large, strong horses to carry the extra weight;
  • or were not worth the extra expense;
  • or ultimately were useless as they didn’t stop musket balls. They most certainly didn’t stop cannonballs, either…
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A cuirass of the 2nd Carabiniers worn by the desperately unfortunate 23-year-old François-Antoine Fauveau.

Others felt however that;

  • the cuirass provided an enormous advantage against enemy cavalry sabres;
  • they made for an intimidating sight, creating the heaviest of heavy cavalry;
  • they reduced casualties and made the wearer feel safer, thereby boosting morale.

There were, perhaps inevitably, those who preferred to adopt a compromise solution of wearing only half of the full cuirass. In such cases, only the front half was worn as it was often felt that having protection on the back might encourage the practice of cowardly retreats!

Now to get back to my ‘yellow jackets’. I’ll be posting updates in due course.

Marvin

Featured Figures: Frederick the Great’s Musketeers

…and continuing with my 7 Years War era Prussian infantry showcase, the final two regiments are the Kalckstein and the Braunschwieg (or Brunswick to anglicise it) Regiments. Being musketeers, these are all sporting the tricorne hat (the third option of headgear that came with the HaT sets). Again, all uniform and flag information came from the excellent 7 Years War Project website.

Firstly: the Brunswick Regiment:-

 

…and the Kalckstein Regiment:-

 

Featured Figures: Frederick the Great’s Fusiliers

Gah! That winter cold is still lingering! Never mind – here is the second regiment in my Prussian 7 Years War project from 2014; introducing the Munchow Fusiliers. As fusiliers they are wearing the fusilier mitre, shorter than the taller grenadier version. These were supposed to be made up of smaller men but, aside from their caps, in every other respect they were essentially the same as other infantry musketeers.

This fusilier regiment was raised by Colonel von Münchow in 1740. As with all the other regiments, I’ve shown the regiment flying its Colonel Colour (or Leibfahne). My painting technique for white uniforms has changed slightly and so I would have done them slightly differently now, but I think they look alright. I struggled to find any concrete information on the colour of the drums other than general guidance that they could be any colour, so with considerable artistic licence I opted for purple.

Next regiment to be showcased will be the Brunswick Regiment of musketeers!

Featured Figures: Frederick the Great’s Grenadiers

Whilst making good process of putting together my Victorian artillery battery, I’ve had the wind taken out of my sails by a mild seasonal cold. Somewhat enervated, I felt unable to pick up the brush and do justice to any figures, so instead thought I might give some exposure to some finished figures hitherto overlooked on the blog.

In 2014, I spent the better part of six months painting figures from HaT’s then newly released Prussian Infantry range. I did post at the conclusion of this project in November 2014, but the photos were inadequate and I kept meaning to produce better ones. The HaT figures came with a choice of headgear: tall grenadier caps, fusilier mitres or musketeer tricornes. Naturally, I thought I’d paint all three! In fact, making use of five boxes, I created four regiments of nearly fifty figures each.

Some trivia: Never mind those lofty grenadier caps, Frederick the Great’s father was obsessed by having the tallest grenadiers, apparently cherry-picking the very tallest soldiers from other regiments for his Grenadier Guard, regardless of their soldierly qualities…

Next post in this series of Frederick the Great’s 7 Years War infantry regiments – The Munchow Fusiliers.

But here is the first regiment, the prestigious Grenadier Guards with their spectacular gold caps.

4th Hussar Regiment (1st Silesian) [Nappy Cavalry Project Set #9]

I’ll say it again; I really do like the sculpting on these Waterloo 1815 Prussian Hussar sets. I’m also glad that I chose the 4th regiment as a subject, because it’s been interesting to produce brown-uniformed Napoleonic cavalry.

I was a bit lazy though and really didn’t deal with all the flash on the horses before I started painting but, that aside, I’m still pleased with how the regiment has turned out.

Without any further waffle, here’s the finished figures for my ninth regiment in the project, together with the usual regimental biography.

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Biography: 4th Hussar Regiment (1st Silesian) [Prussia]

The 1st Silesian Hussar regiment was formed on 15th November 1741 at the instruction of Prussian King Frederick II. It was originally designated the 6th regiment of Hussars and named after the commanders of the regiment, though apparently known colloquially as the ‘Brown Hussars’. These hussars saw action in the 2nd Silesian War, the 7 Years War, the Bavarian War of Succession and the French Revolutionary Wars.

Serving in the 1806 and 1807 campaigns against the French, the regiment was present at the battle of Heilsberg, prior to the decisive battle of Friedland itself. Following the Peace of Tilsit in 1807, the Silesian Hussars were then subject to the same extensive reconstruction being then applied to the whole Prussian army. In 1808, they were known as the Lower Silesian Hussars and then later in the year as the 1st Silesian Hussars, being now officially numbered as the 4th Hussar Regiment.

It was then compelled, along with the rest of the Prussian army, to take part in Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia (their allies in the previous conflict). They were present at the battle of Schlock, being on the receiving end of British gunboats who’d penetrated upriver to assist the Russians. They then fought in the minor engagement of Wolgund in Latvia resulting in a Prussian victory, and also at the later reverse at Dahlenkirchen.

In the Leipzig campaign, and now opposing Napoleon once again, the regiment saw action at Königswartha, Dresden, the siege of Wittenberg, and elsewhere, before taking part in the decisive battle of Leipzig itself. On their way to capture Paris in 1814, they featured at the battle of La Fere Champenoise, where mass cavalry charges broke infantry squares and captured part of the Young Guard.

By 1815, in the Hundred Days campaign they were under the leadership of Major Von Englehardt and had an attachment of around 30 mounted jagers. The 4th Hussars fought at the desperate battle of Ligny as part of 1st Cavalry Brigade of Von Ziethen’s 1st Corps. This brigade suffered particularly badly from being exposed to artillery fire, losing nearly a third of their number by the time of their rather late arrival at Waterloo (around 7:30pm). Numbering barely 270 men across it’s three squadrons, it was perhaps well that the 4th Hussars were actually required to contribute very little to the final victory that fateful day.

Notable Battles:
Heilsberg, Schlock. Wolgund, Dahlenkirchen, Königswartha, Leipzig, La Fere Champenoise, Paris, Ligny, Waterloo.

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Finishing Touches…

Those Silesian Hussars are nearly done. I do love these Waterloo 1815 Prussian hussars sets. Even if there are small historical accuracy errors and some horse poses are occasionally questionable, the sculpting is still terrific. I realise now that I’ve been a but lazy and that I should have trimmed the flash on the horses and figures more. Never mind, too late for that and I’m still pretty pleased with them.

With a few touches still to do, it’s been a nice sunny day so I took them straight out into the garden. Formal blog post to come, but in the meantime, here’s a preview.

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Send in the Browns

A guiding principle behind this year’s Nappy Cavalry Project has been the notion of variety. Different types of cavalry sporting different colour uniforms is the theme. Thankfully, there’s few more colourful eras for the military modeller than the Napoleonic. In deciding which next regiment to paint, I was eager to get back to some more flamboyant-looking hussars after all those dragoons. These Prussian Hussars by the Italian manufacturer Waterloo 1815 were purchased earlier in the year along with two other hussar sets. The first Waterloo 1815 hussar set that I painted back in May was the Leib “Death’s Head” Hussars, a regiment dressed in intimidating black dolmans with white braid and a skull and crossbones on their shakos.

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Prussian 1st Leib Hussars

Waterloo 1815s’ other Prussian Hussar set presented me with a number of possible Prussian regiments to depict, all of them wearing shades of either black, blue or green. But there was one exception; the Erstes Schlesisches Hussaren-Regiment (or 1st Silesian Hussar Regiment), which unusually adopted a brown dolman and pelisse. I couldn’t resist the opportunity of attempting a Nappy cavalry regiment wearing a brown uniform, so my choice was made. Regiment number 9 will be the 1st Silesian Hussars!

I found myself fretting about getting the right shade of brown; I’m just not used to painting brown uniforms! Nothing I had in my paint collection seemed quite right and buying a new colour is always a risk, so I eventually elected to mix my own shade from the browns in my collection which I think looks similar to what I intended. The 1st Silesians had a yellow braid on their brown uniforms and this set, unlike the Leib Hussars version, depicts the shakos covered in oilskins (with the exception of the officers). I’ve set to work on the uniform using various combinations of brown and this is the result so far with other details applied but still needing a little more work.

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Hussar of the 1st Silesian Regiment. Work still to be done but they’ve certainly come along way over the weekend.
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Sabretaches still to be done amongst other things…
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After the figures, then I’ll be turning my attention to their horses.

All in all, I think they’ll make a nicely contrasting addition to my growing collection of Nappy cavalry regiments. As the old song goes, ‘send in the browns’! (Don’t bother, they’re here!) 😉

5th Prussian (Brandenburg) Dragoons (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #6)

Cyanometry – that’s a measure of the ‘blueness’ of the sky. At times, whilst painting this regiment, I wished I could have applied cyanometry’s ‘Linke Scale’ to those Prussian dragoon litewka coats. I’ve been agonising about getting the shade right ever since I started them. The staggering variety in shades of blue was complicated further by the sheer variety of blues depicted in other images. Research suggested that supply issues meant a considerable variation in the shade of blue actually used. My Greek friend Andreas reassuringly informs me that mine seem ‘about right’, aiming to be similar to Bavarian infantry blue. But, when I applied the varnish, my barely ‘about right’ shade maybe darkened a little…

Enough! I’m sticking with my blue now and that’s all there is to it! … To recap: the figures are Italeri’s apparently unloved “Prussian Light Cavalry” set. The horses that came with this set were so unlovable that I substituted them for Italeri’s Prussian Cuirassier horses instead. As a conversion, I added a few clay-modelled accoutrements to make them look a “bit” more like dragoon mounts.

Prussian Dragoons (1) The final result? I think the figures themselves, aside from some anatomical flaws, have real character and I’m quite pleased with them. They’re a nice contrast in both colour and style to the other regiments that have been tackled up to now.

The modest conversion process also provided a different challenge, especially my mounted jager figure:

Mounted Prussian Jager
Mounted Prussian Jager

And here’s the rest: Prussian Dragoons (14)

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Italeri Prussian Dragoons (8)

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Biography: Nr 5 Brandenburgisches Dragoner-Regiment (Prinz Wilhelm)

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The regiment was reformed after 1806 into the Brandenburg Dragoon Regiment Nr. 5 on the 16th of October, 1807. Comprising squadrons of the former 5th Cuirassiers and of the 1st Prince William Dragoons.

In 1812, they were sent to Russia as part of the Prussian contingent compelled by Napoleon to accompany the Grande Armee on his invasion of Russia. The regiment saw few major encounters during the 1812 campaign and losses amounted to 35.

The following year, as the Coalition embarked on the Leipzig campaign against France, the regiment saw much more fighting. As part of the 1st Brigade, III Corps Reserve Cavalry, it was part of Swedish King Bernadotte’s Army of the North, fighting at Gröss Gorschen, Borna and Bautzen. The regiment was heavily involved at Dennewitz where the French were defeated. It is credited with riding over numerous French and Württemberg squares, a French battery (capturing four guns), and routing a Polish Uhlan regiment, securing flags and wagons along the way. As Napoleon was eventually forced to retreat to Paris, the 5th Dragoons were present at Oudenarde, Antwerp, Soisson and Laon.

1815 saw the regiment in the 1st Cavalry Brigade of 1st Army Corps, fighting in Belgium and France. Having been involved in the Prussian defeat at Ligny, the brigade as a whole was only at 2/3rds strength. When 1st Brigade joined the fight at Waterloo late on in the day, only the 5th Dragoons charged, routing disorganised French battalions in the final minutes of the battle. In the aftermath of Waterloo, a final minor action at Villers-Cotterets saw the regiment catch the fleeing French and capture artillery and munitions.

Notable battles: Dennewitz, Laon, Villers-Cotterets, Waterloo