…And they’re finished: 3rd London Rifle Volunteers!

The third vignette of groups of Victorian Rifle Volunteers is now completed. It took a little longer than planned thanks in no small part to the unwelcome appearance of a gastric virus which has laid me low for a few days. Feeling a little better today, I charged for the finishing line by finishing the basing and popping on the plaque. I feel pretty satisfied with these figures, although the blue shading on their puttees hasn’t really come out on the photographs as I’d hope.

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3rd London RVC (12)

At the last moment, I decided to dispose of the usual distance marker and so just have them all blazing away on a local range.

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One of the things that I do like about these Perry Miniatures figures is the ability to create one’s own poses by twisting a limb or positioning some figures to suggest a narrative.

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I particularly like these two figures below, depicting a sergeant and a private deep in conversation while their officer issues some instructions behind them to the group.

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Likewise,although I was initially unsure whether a figure (2nd from right below) would work, but now appreciate how he appears to be gazing off down the rifle range after the target, assessing his shot.

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3rd London RVC (7)

These figures came with backpacks which I chose to retain, seeing as the group on the cover of the book “Riflemen, Form!” which inspired my choice of corps could also be seen wearing their full kit. Also, their facings are described as being buff coloured, not yellow, and so I repainted the collars. Their cuffs are shown on the colourised photograph as being black or navy blue, not buff, and I’ve retained this simply to match the photo as much as possible. Oh – and, ah, …I’ve just realised that I need to finish the shoulder straps!

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So far in my Victorian Rifle Volunteers project I’ve depicted three corps:

My Victorian Rifle Volunteers Project has at least one more group to come before the end of this year. And this next group I intend to depict as being in action against a real enemy rather than shooting defenceless targets out on the rifle range! Students of Victorian military history may therefore be able to guess the rifle volunteer corps I have in mind – others will have to wait to a forthcoming post!

Update: 3rd London Rifle Volunteer Corps…

We are not armed to carry war
To near or distant land
To steep the smiling globe with gore
Or prowl with hostile band.
But we are trained with trust above
To guard our native coast,
Our Queen, our fame – our home we love,
And those we love the most. 

Alfred Richards, “Our Volunteers”, 1860.

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In progress but getting there – man of the 3rd London RVC

As I indicated in recent post, my third subject for my Victorian Rifle Volunteer project is the 3rd City of London RVC, a small group of whom featured on the cover of a book on the topic of the Rifle Volunteers that I’d been reading; Ian Beckett’s “Riflemen, Form!” My figures are nearing completion, yet there’s still plenty to do including much of their equipment, and of course their base (being another rifle range on a wooden plinth).

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This figure is supposed to be looking down the rifle range after taking a shot?

One of the key instigators of the early Victorian rifle volunteer movement was a journalist, playwright and poet called Alfred Bate Richards who personally enlisted 1000 men to form the ‘Workmen’s Volunteer Brigade’.

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A sergeant.

This brigade later became formally known as the 3rd City of London Rifle Volunteer Corps, the same depicted by my figures. Its uniform was scarlet with buff yellow facings and brass buttons. In January 1862, Richards came in for some ridicule when he proposed changing his men’s original kepis and shakos headdress to a bearskin and a red plume, despite the financial difficulties experienced by his corps. Eventually, they adopted the Home Service pattern spiked helmet seen worn by these figures.

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Richards was also active in raising money to send a force of volunteers, the ‘British Legion’, to assist the Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi in his campaign of liberation. Many of the ‘Garibaldi Excursionists’, as the Legion was known, were members of the new Rifle Volunteer Corps, perhaps some even from his own 3rd London RVC. This attracted controversy, particularly when the politically neutral government sought to discourage moves for the 3rd London RVC to personally entertain Garibaldi on a visit.

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Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1861.

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The men were generally less well-off than some other London RVCs recruited from the professions and middle classes, although some financial support was received from the City of London and the Livery Companies.

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Without its own drill hall, its parades were held variously at central London locations such as Regent’s Park, the Ditch of the Tower of London and at Gray’s Inn Square. Formal inspections and award ceremonies were held in London’s Guildhall, whilst their annual inspection was carried out at Horse Guards Parade (very prestigious!). Church parades were held at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street and the corps headquarters were at various locations within the square mile of the City of London.

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Alfred Richards recruited his friend, Major General Beatson of the Bengal Army, to be the 3rd London RVC’s honorary colonel for a period. Being a corps made up of generally less wealthy men than many other London corps, it was in need of a patron with money and Richards eventually persuaded a baronet to become its corps commandant and replacement Honorary Colonel, with Richards acting in the capacity as major and second in command.

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Officer with field glasses. He wears leather gaiters instead of puttees.

 

3rd City of London rifles helme
1878 Officer’s Home Service Pattern helmet of the 3rd London RVC.

Having a poet as their founder it was appropriate that their motto was a quote from the Roman poet Virgil; “Labor Omnia Vincit” (Work conquers everything). Another poet who was a vocal supporter of the Rifle Volunteer movement was the poet laureate, Lord Tennyson. He wrote to Richards congratulating him on having been a key instigator of the movement and added, “I hope you will not rest from your labours until it is the law of the land that every man-child born in it shall be trained to the use of arms.’ Quite a surprising aim, perhaps, for men of the ‘pen’ to be striving for widespread use of the ‘sword’!

Next update will hopefully include the based figures themselves, though with a couple of other projects on the go it may take a couple of weeks to finally get there. Oh well, “Labor Omnia Vincit”, to quote Virgil!

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Distractions and Plans

It’s been a little while since the last regiment (the Prussian Dragoons) were finished. Holidays and other commitments have delayed modelling progress a little. Oh well, I suppose that family and work are also important! First a brief reminder of what’s been painted so far:

Esci Hanoverian Hussars
Esci Scots Greys
Italeri French Hussars
Italeri French Chasseurs a Cheval
Italeri British Light Dragoons
Waterloo 1815 Prussian Leib (Death’s Head) Hussars
Zvezda Dutch Red Lancers
Italeri Prussian Dragoons
Italeri French Dragoons (nearly done…)

I’ve been tinkering with the French Dragoons and I daresay that they may even be ready by the end of this weekend. I’ve been somewhat distracted, I must admit. I’ve been taking stock and considering future painting plans. I confess that 9 cavalry regiments into the year, I’m finding myself eager to explore different topics and eras. The Quiberon Expedition and the Victorian-era Hurst Castle mentioned in my recent posts have pricked my interest. I’ve received the Strelets British Infantry in Egypt set and have tentatively prepared some to paint in my quiet moments.

Strelets British Line Infantry in Egypt.
Strelets British Line Infantry in Egypt.
Strelets British Line Infantry in Egypt.
Strelets British Line Infantry in Egypt.

I’m also longing to get back to some Victorian-era soldiers. I’ve been a member of the Victorian Military Society since the age of 13 and my interest in the era hasn’t waned over the intervening years. Strelets have produced a comprehensive Strelets Crimean War range that I’d love to get back to painting. But then, there are some terrific 28mm metal figures available. Yes – you read that right – 28mm! I’ve never attempted that scale before now… dare I step out of my 20mm comfort zone? I’ve worked with other scales before, my very first figure painting some years ago was with 25mm metal Prince August figures:

More Prince August Highlanders
More Prince August Highlanders
Prince August 25mm 10th Hussars
Prince August 25mm 10th Hussars
Prince August Napoleonic Highlanders
Prince August Napoleonic Highlanders
Prince August Prussian Infantry
Prince August Prussian Infantry

As you can see, I had a fairly ‘basic’ but clean painting technique. Enamel paints and gloss varnish used instead of the acrylics and matt varnish that I now have. Back to larger scales might require a change in technique. Something to seriously think about for 2016, perhaps?

Enough waffle and pipe-dreaming. Next post will hopefully feature the latest regiment in the Nappy Cavalry Project – the 17th regiment of French Dragoons!