I’ve been keen to showcase the completed Lifeguard Cossacks, but I’ve been held up waiting for my fake snow to come through the post. Late this afternoon, it finally arrived and so I’m now eagerly scattering snow about like a stagehand in “Frozen: the musical”.
Will post pictures of these wintry cossacks, the 11th regiment in my nappy cavalry project, shortly…
When I was part-way through painting the Zvezda Lifeguard Cossack set, I thought this might well be one set I’d struggle to get to grips with. Now it’s virtually complete, I am feeling much more satisfied. They’re pleasingly colourful troops armed with those unusually long red lances and look good now finally mounted on the horses.
Ah, the horses…
…the horses I’ve tried to depict are of the Don breed, a Russian horse from named after the river that runs through the Steppes. They were commonly employed as horses for the Cossack cavalry being renown for their stamina on campaign. It seems that the Don can be a variety of colours, but their chief characteristic color was chestnut with a brown / gold sheen. Some have black manes, others are chestnut-coloured. So, I’ve been mixing paint, experimenting with shades and checking the internet for examples to compare them to. Not sure whether I’ve ended up with Don horses or maybe I’ve just created a new breed?!
You may notice from the following photos that their bases are looking somewhat white. Although I they are in no way finished, the resemblance to snow isn’t entirely accidental as I’m hoping to produce a suitably wintry scene for these Russian cavalrymen…
Getting a bit literary for a little while here at Suburban Militarism. Whilst I was putting the finishing touches to the Cossack Lifeguard figures, I found a poem written about Cossack cavalry by Jessie Pope. Pope was a poet born in my local area, coincidentally. In the early 20th century she wrote a number of pro-war ‘jingoistic’ poems which were in stark contrast to the work of the now more famous soldier-poets such as Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Indeed, Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum est” was initially dedicated to Pope as a direct retort to her brand of war-glorifying poetry.
Whilst her work might be a poor guide to the reality of horror on the western front in WWI, her poem “A Cossack Charge” makes for a darn good introduction to my developing Zvezda cossack cavalry figures, I like to think…
Cossacks they’re coming!
The eager hoofs are drumming,
On glinting steel the autumn sunlight glances.
The distant mass draws nearer,
The surging line shows clearer
An angry, tossing wave of manes and lances.
Nearly finished these riders, and so it will soon be on to those cossack horses.
“The Lifeguard Cossacks are going into fight
as if they were coming to a wedding.” – Tsar Alexander
So far, I’ve painted Napoleonic cavalry regiments from the nations of France, Prussia and Great Britain. I couldn’t tackle the final regiments in the project without covering at least one from Russia as well. I’ve got a box of Zvezda’s Russian hussars but I’ve elected to attempt their Lifeguard Cossacks first instead. With their red coats, blue trousers and armed with lances, I suppose it could be said that they closely resemble those Red Lancers that I’ve previously painted (the only other Zvezda set that I’ve tackled). I found a reference to the Lifeguard Cossacks capturing some red lancers during the Russian campaign – that must have been a confusing encounter!
Once again, the Zvezda sculpting looks good and I’m eager to bring these famous Russian life guards of the Tsar to life. The cossacks are light cavalry and most famous for their very great skills in both horsemanship and warfare. They were feared and admired by other nations armies, and by Napoleon in particular who got to see their effectiveness at first hand when they fully contributed to the eventual destruction of his Grand Army.
There were a number of cossack ‘hosts’ that provided troops to the army of the Russian tsar. The most famous regiment was the elite Lifeguard Cossack Regiment and this is what I’ve chosen to depict. I have enough spare figures for another full regiment in the future such as a regiment of Don or Astrahan cossacks.
These photos are just a preview of progress made on them so far. There’s a lot of work, corrections and improvements still to do aplenty!