Soumy 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 Soumy (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: Soumy 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 Soumy 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 Soumy Hussar Regiment’s own 4th Squadron. Later that year, the Soumy 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 Soumy 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 Soumy 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 Soumy Hussars were attached to the III Cavalry Corps under Barclay de Tolly, positioned in the centre.

In 1813, the Soumy 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 Soumy (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 Soumy 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 of Sumy which is dedicated to the Soumy Regiment, information can be found here. Now there’s a location for a Suburban Militarism Day Trip!

Some Soumy Hussars – A Painting Update

This is just a quick progress report on my Zvezda Russian Soumy 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 Soumy 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 Soumy 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 Soumy Hussar
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Russian Hussars – Left: Akhtrysk Hussar; Centre: Izoum Hussar; Right: a Soumy Hussar.

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