#FEMbruary Challenge Complete: Catherine the Great!

My contribution to the FEMbruary challenge, a 28mm metal figure of Catherine the II of Russia is now finished! Here is the great lady herself astride her grey; Brilliant.

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In a previous post, I observed how this Bad Squiddo figure was cleverly based upon an original portrait of the empress painted by a Swede named Vigilius Eriksen. You can observe below just how my figure compares with it’s original inspiration:

I’ve based her on a kind of rough track, complete with grasses and flowers, on her way to suggest to her husband Peter III that he should maybe consider abdicating in favour of her. Something about the sharpness of her glittering sword lends further weight to her suggestion…

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I used a shade of blue for her sash appropriately called “Royal Blue”, which I think looks the business.

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Getting her face ‘satisfactory’ was an interesting challenge what with me not being used to painting female faces. It’s always easier to create an acceptable looking face when it’s covered over with a luxuriant moustache or bushy beard! That’s one terrific thing about FEMbruary – guiding me into neglected territory. I’m pleased to say that – no doubt thanks more to the sculptor than the painter – I think the face looks suitably feminine.

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Catherine’s long hair can be seen to cascade down her back, tied with a black bow.

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And after that admittedly modest submission, and with the end of February fast approaching, I bow out of #FEMbruary. If FEMbruary in some way encourages more women into the hobby; encourages more appropriate female miniatures to be manufactured; or just enables us bloke modellers to reconsider female figures and their portrayal more carefully, then all to the good.

I urge visitors to check out the realistic female miniatures on Annie Norman’s splendid Bad Squiddo Games site and also check out some of the other participants terrific work:

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Diamond Geezer

Just a quick update on my progress with my FEMbruary challenge – Bad Squiddo’s Catherine the Great and her horse “Brilliant”. The latter’s name refers to the Russian word for diamond. Well, the sculpting is a real gem, for sure (groan…).

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Brilliant – Catherine II’s grey

I’m not used to painting greys at 28mm, or in metal for that matter, so I’ve had to go back and re-adjust my paint job a couple of times. There is supposed to be a very slight dapple effect on the coat, but it’s got lost a little with those readjustments. Hopefully, the end result is satisfactory.

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Still a couple of things I’d like to do get Brilliant’s face looking slightly better. Unlike in Eriksen’s painting of Catherine the Great on Brilliant, I painted them in a light colour instead of black. This is correct for a grey – and what’s more, I am rather sad and very fussy about these things!

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I must confess that reproducing freehand all that rich, ornate embroidery seen on the saddle cloth isn’t something I’m a natural at. And it probably shows too, but it’ll do!

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Catherine herself is, I’d say, half to 2/3rd’s done. Her face and hair are up next, with plenty of other details still to do. All will be revealed when she’s finally finished and glued on to the back of Brilliant!

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The #FEMbruary Challenge!

I’m pleased to say that it appears that my previous post on the heroic female soldiers of Serbia has been particularly well-timed. Not only does it coincide with the 100th anniversary of the first piece of legislation extending voting rights to women in the UK, but it also coincides with #FEMbruary.

It was my friend from the Imperial Rebel Orc blog who drew my attention to FEMbruary – a painting challenge for this month intended to “celebrate females and highlight the dismal fact that our hobby is so male dominated“. The idea for the FEMbruary painting challenge has apparently originated with Lead Balloony.com. Well done, sir! A fine suggestion.
https://leadballoony.com/2018/01/29/more-eru-kin-and-the-fembruary-challenge

Suburban Militarism occasionally posts on topics related to women’s often overlooked role in conflict, military art and military history. Furthermore, this blog loves a communal challenge, and so I’ve ‘signed up’ to FEMbruary – a time for painting some female miniatures that celebrate, not demean, women. There was just a small matter of finding an appropriate female figure to paint, though. Not only are there not enough females in the hobby, there’s not enough female figures which are realistically proportioned and non-sexualised. Step forward, Bad Squiddo and the Dice Bag Lady!

Guided by the ever-knowledgeable Mark from Man of Tin blog, I checked out Bad Squiddo – a site dedicated to believable female miniatures! Quickly through the post came a perfectly sculpted figure together with a rather lovely Darjeeling tea bag to boot. My chosen FEMbruary figure from Bad Squiddo is one of the most powerful rulers of the 18th century; Catherine the Great of Russia!

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Born as Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, this German lady came to power after her ineffectual husband, Peter III, was assassinated. She proved to be an astonishingly successful ruler for Russia, reigning from 1762 to 1796. Catherine combined intelligence, shrewdness, an appreciation for the arts, knowledge of Enlightenment principles, and an autocratic ruthlessness whenever required. Like many other powerful autocrats, Catherine fed both her ego and her libido; she didn’t stint on palatial opulence and also enjoyed a long list of lovers.

She was also keenly aware of the need to dress to impress, or should that be Empress? Her magnificent dresses brought western fashions to the Russian court. In a subtle demonstration of her power, and to cement her relationship with army, some of these were military uniform inspired dresses and explicitly mimicked military fashions and colours of the day.

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Catherine the Great’s Uniform dress modeled after the uniform of the Life Guards Cavalry Regiment, St. Petersburg, Russia. 1789..
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Officer’s dress of Catherine the Great

For the Bad Squiddo figure, Catherine the Great eschews the fine dresses of court and appears in full military uniform, on a white charger with sword drawn.

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28mm Catherine the Great figure by Bad Squiddo Games

Catherine is wearing the full uniform of the Russian Life Guards. The Bad Squiddo figure (above) cleverly takes the Vigilius Eriksen portrait (below) as its inspiration.

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Equestrian portrait of Catherine II of Russia (1729-1796) – Catherine II of Russia in Life Guard Uniform on the Horse Brillante, by Vigilius Eriksen

The Eriksen portrait of her formed part of an enormous collection of paintings which Catherine acquired with the stupendous wealth that she enjoyed;

Among many portraits of the empress is Vigilius Eriksen’s Equestrian Portrait of Catherine II. She is on her horse Brilliant (Russian for “Diamond”) on the summer’s day in 1762 when she set out from St Petersburg to demand the abdication of her weak, stupid and unpopular husband, Peter III. Her backers included her lover, Count Grigory Orlov, and one of his successors, Prince Grigory Potemkin. Her sword is drawn, and she would clearly be happy to use it on her husband. Peter caved in, but within days had been murdered by his wife’s supporters. She claimed he had died of one of “his habitual haemorrhoidal attacks, together with a violent colic”. The Guardian

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Detail of Eriksen’s portrait of Catherine II of Russia.

The lady who wore that uniform, sword drawn and “happy to use it on her husband”, intended it to indicate to all of Russia that a more dynamic and stronger sort of ruler was about to take power. Catherine the Great was a supremely successful leader, subject to the same trappings of power as male leaders (opulence, sex, etc.). Autocrats and despots are hardly loveable. But this ruthless lady was very charismatic, with personal qualities and achievements that were extremely impressive. What’s more, she looks splendid in a Guards uniform to boot!

And with that grey horse, Brilliante, it’s time for me to get painting horses again.



For more info on #FEMbruary, visit:

Also, for some good female gamers and hobby blogs check out:

Lifeguard Dragoons (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #23)

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!

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Woah! Do we have a faller, here?

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.

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Glue defies gravity!

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.

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Officer, Lifeguard Dragoons.
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Trumpeter, Lifeguard Dragoons

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.

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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]

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

 

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Lifeguards on Duty

Tackling painting Zvezda’s Russian Dragoons has certainly been a challenge. In some ways it’s been a simpler task; the uniforms are far less complex than the Hussars I’ve just finished and there’s less of them to paint too (12 rather than 18).

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However, painting them has been more difficult in other respects. The figures are beautifully sculpted but the detail is so very subtle (occasionally almost non-existent on the chest) that applying paint effectively to the right places to pick out the features proves tricky.

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But we like a challenge here at Suburban Militarism, and after some work I think these figures are rather impressive.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve chosen to paint the prestigious Lifeguard Dragoons, rather than one of the many other regiments of the line.

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This figure’s guidon and right arm are still to be glued into place.

There were as many as 36 different Russian dragoon regiments of the line, some having such exotic (to this Englishman at any rate) names as the Starodub, the Taganrog, the Arzamass, the Kazan and the Zhitomir Dragoons. They looked very similar to each other with their plain dark-green jackets but were distinguished by a wide array of different colour facings.

So far as I can tell, the Lifeguard Dragoons, being a part of the Tsar’s elite Guards cavalry, were the only Dragoon regiment to display a red plastron across the front of their jacket. I decided to paint this regiment so that I could make use of this little extra colour.

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Lifeguard Dragoons Officer
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Officer; rear view

The riders are nearly completed (being a much quicker task than those Soum Hussars!). Now for the horses which I have to report come with their own difficulties unique to this particular set; but more of that in my next update!

Soum Hussars (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #22)

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.

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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.

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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!

Some Soum Hussars – A Painting Update

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Crimean Cannons and Russian Reports

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An article recently published in the local paper was of particular interest to me. It brought to light the history behind two Crimean War Russian cannons that currently reside in my home city. I am well familiar with these cannons and indeed commented on them during a post about my visit to the Leicestershire Regiment museum in November 2015. The newspaper article about the cannons is here – Crimean Russian cannons brought to Leicester.

In the article it reveals how they arrived in the city;

“On January 23, 1858, almost two years after the Crimean War, a train pulled up in Leicester bearing two trophies in the form of Russian guns. They had been captured at the Battle of Sebastopol by the 17th Regiment of Foot – which later became the Leicestershire Regiment.

On the request of the mayor, shops, banks and major businesses had closed their doors. A great crowd gathered, lining Leicester’s main streets to see the captured booty. And the cannons, mounted on richly-decorated drays, with an escort of Yeomanry, were paraded through the streets to the museum.

And there they stood, a symbol of the military might of the Empire.

At one stage, there used to be a wooden plaque next to the cannons explaining their capture and the fact that they were presented to the city to commemorate the marriage of Princess Victoria – the eldest child of Queen Victoria – and Prince Frederick William of Prussia, the parents of Kaiser Bill.”

The reference to the 17th Regiment of Foot is a nice coincidence given my very recent figures of the regiment (albeit depicted in a guise 100 years prior to the Crimean War). Interesting too to read of the Leicestershire Yeomanry’s involvement. Having painted the Warwickshire Yeomanry, I’d like to depict the Leicestershire version sometime. It would be particularly nice perhaps to produce a diorama of the two Sebastopol cannon’s parade back in 1857, but that will have to remain just a pipe dream for now…

Meanwhile, continuing on a Russian theme, work continues slowly on the Napoleonic Soum Hussars regiment. I’ve already posted about the lengthy preparation required for these figures. Well, further retarding progress, I’ve decided to repaint all the hussars breeches as the original red colour that I’d painted, shaded and highlighted just looked far too light. Nevertheless, the process of painting these is very pleasurable. The figures are beautifully sculpted, it’s just a shame that the mould doesn’t reveal them in quite as crisp detail as I’d like. But I’m quibbling, painting these has reminded me of how much I enjoy painting hussars.

Here they are so far with their dolmans, plumes, breeches and a little of the braid already painted.

Updates to follow!

 

 

Hussars of the Tsar

This year, I have added a regiment of Russian Astrakhan Cuirassiers to the Nappy Cavalry Project and also finished painting the 17th Regiment of Foot for the 2017 Benno’s Figures Forum Group Build project.

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:

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My daughter kindly holds up my latest box of Napoleonic cavalry!

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’.

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Zvezda Russian Hussars – primed and ready to go (finally…)

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…

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A Soum Hussar
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Russian Hussars – Left: Akhtrysk Hussar; Centre: Izoum Hussar; Right: a Soum Hussar.

Russian Hussar regiment info courtesy of the very splendid “Blunders on the Danube” blog – visit it here.

Astrakhan Cuirassiers (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #21)

The 21st regiment in my ongoing series of Napoleonic cavalry are a very fine set from the excellent Russian manufacturer, Zvezda. I’ve praised these figures in previous posts and, now that they are finished, that praise has proved entirely appropriate, I think. The sculpting is first class and the poses are good. The final result is an excellent addition to the project’s ranks.

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I needed a little extra preparation to ensure that the paint stayed on the figures, but it was worth the attention as all seems to have stayed on without any problems. The riders fitted the horses without any trouble as well, which is always a bonus. Painting 16 figures, rather than 10, in one go has certainly added to the time taken to finish them, but it was worth doing and never felt onerous.

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Having confirmed what I already knew about Zvezda supplying excellent figures, I am minded to tackle the remaining Napoleonic cavalry regiments in their catalogue. These include the somewhat similar looking Saxon Cuirassiers and the Russian Hussars, the latter being my next intended regiment in the project. This may have to be relegated to the back burner for now however, as my next paint job will be my RedBox 18th century British infantry figures intended for the Benno’s Figures Forum Great Miniature Figures Parade!

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In addition to the other ranks, you’ll see that I’ve painted the regiment’s trumpeter with his red plume and ornate uniform (sans cuirass); their officer and also their guidon bearer holding the black and yellow regimental flag. The sculpting on the flag appeared to show details that appear only on the flags of two other Russian cuirassier regiments; the Emperor’s and Empress’ Cuirassiers. The Astrakhan Regiment had a slightly different design which I’ve tried my best to approximate! Anyway, here’s plenty of images of the figures comprising my latest regiment in the project – the Russian Astrakhan Cuirassiers!


Biography: Borodino and the Astrakhan Cuirassiers [Russia]

The Astrakhan Cuirassier Regiment was formed in 1811. Russian Cuirassier regiments wore similar uniforms with a black cuirass and white coats, differing only in the colour of their collars, cuffs and turnbacks. For example, the Glukhov Cuirassiers  wore blue, the Novogorod wore pink, the Emperor’s cuirassiers wore red and the Empress’ sported a light blue. The Astrakhan Cuirassiers, named after the city in southern Russia on the Volga, wore a distinctive yellow. Together with the Emperor’s Life Guard and Empress’ Life Guard regiments, it comprised the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Cuirassier Division of the Russian Army under Major General Nikolay Depreradovich.

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Contemporary print of an Astrakhan Cuirassier

During Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, the Astrakhan Cuirassiers greatly distinguished themselves, most particularly in the great battle of Borodino. During the fight for the Semenovsky ravine, the French cavalry corps under La Tour-Maubourg engaged the remnants of hard-pressed Russian troops who were defending the Bagration fleches (defensive earthworks). The French cuirassier division broke into the rear of the Russian Guards regiment’s squares. To assist the guards at this critical moment, the Astrakhan Cuirassiers arrived along with other Russian cuirassier regiments.

astrakhan-cuirassier-regiment
The Astrakhan Cuirassiers (right) engage the Saxon Garde du Corps at the battle of Borodino.

Barclay de Tolly, the Russian Field Marshal, praised their bravery during this engagement, reporting later that “the great loss of men and horses killed or wounded [did not] disrupt their ranks, each interlocking each time in order.”

The bloody battle ended in the complete reverse of the French cavalry – thrown back over Semenovsky stream. However, the Astrakhan regiment had suffered very heavy losses: after the battle of Borodino, only 95 of them remained ready for duty out of a previous total of around 400.

In August 1813, the entire regiment was awarded the prestigious Order of St George with the inscription “For distinction in the defeat and expulsion of the enemy from Russian territory in 1812“.

Notable Battle: Borodino.