Christingle Dragoons and Carolling Hussars

I need to talk about Christmas. I know – it’s far too early to do that, but I need to make some preparations, you see? A feature of the season, for Suburban Militarism at least, is the tradition of painting some suitably seasonal soldiers to parade on the mantelpiece among all the tinsel, Christmas cards and decorations.

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Yule Grenadiers in a snowy scene
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Men of the 1st Noel Regiment of Infantry

In previous years, I’ve exclusively painted soldiers from Revell’s Austrian Infantry of the 7 Years War. These troops have been painted purely for decoration in bright colours and the seasonal army so far consists of two infantry regiments. The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot were the first figures I produced some years ago. The Yule Grenadiers followed a couple of years ago. I’ve been quietly adding a handful of men to each of them each Christmas time.

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The Carolling Hussars

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This year, I thought I’d expand the seasonal army with the addition of another arm; the cavalry. Using Revell’s 7 Years War Austrian Dragoons and Prussian Hussars, I am creating the beginnings of two Christmas cavalry regiments;

  • The Christingle Dragoons
  • The Carolling Hussars

For the past week, I’ve been working on four figures from the Carolling Hussars using Revell’s Prussian Hussars. The uniform I’ve chosen is based upon a real regiment, the Puttkamer Hussars of the Prussian army. Originally named the White Hussars, they took on the name of their colonel Georg Ludwig von Puttkamer (who was subsequently at the brutal battle of Kunersdorf).

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A Puttkamer Hussar

I thought the Puttkamer Hussar’s all-white pelisse looked suitably wintry for my seasonal hussar regiment. For the ‘light blue’ dolman and overalls, I selected the colour turquoise. To add a little festive cheer to that all-black Mirleton headgear, I’ve glued on a little piece of tinsel!

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A Carolling Hussar in full charge, tinsel plume catching the sunlight…

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I haven’t painted Revell’s Prussian Hussars of the 7 Years War before now. They are as finely sculpted as other Revell cavalry I’ve painted such as the Napoleonic Life Guards.

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Finally, as with all my other Christmas figures, I’ve depicted them riding in snow (…deep and crisp and even)! My 11-year-old daughter has previously designed flags for both the Yule Grenadiers and the 1st Noel Regiment. On seeing my Carolling Hussars, she immediately requested that she design their colours too. To do this, I might need to attempt a conversion of one of the figures (not a skill of mine!), as Prussian hussars didn’t carry colours into battle during the 7 Years War and therefore don’t appear in Revell’s kit.

With Advent looming, I’ve already begun four more figures for the other Christmas cavalry regiment; the Christingle Dragoons. More on those figures soon. Hopefully, they should be ready in time to take their place on the mantelpiece here at Suburban Militarism, alongside hand-picked representatives of the Carolling Hussars, the Yule Grenadiers, and the 1st Noel infantry.

Who once said “Christmas isn’t Christmas without model soldiers”? Well, it might have been me…

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X-Men

X-Men

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.

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My painted Zvezda Black Hussar of Frederick the Great’s era

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).

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Another view of my hussar.

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!

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“Charge! For Suburban Militarism and glory!”
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To battle! My hussar of the 7 years war era.

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.

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Yellow Fellows

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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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