1st (Royal) Regiment of Dragoons [Nappy Cavalry Project Set #8]

Readers of my previous posts will note that I’ve expressed some disappointment about the quality of this Waterloo 1815 set, mostly this is simply because their standards have been so high. Now that the set is finally finished, I can say that I am quite pleased with the result and all the considerable effort now seems worthwhile. One of my little gripes was that the hard plastic made parts brittle and ironically this observation was tragically proven to be true when I dropped a figure (on to a soft carpet) when preparing to take some photos of them. The result was a broken sword which I’ve now hastily glued on for the purposes of these pictures…

Trumpeter, Officer and troopers.
British 1st Royal Dragoons trumpeter, officer and troopers.

To finish on a positive though, these figures are undoubtedly a fine looking set so long as the modeller is prepared to spend some extra time and effort preparing and painting them. I do think they’re an improvement on the now rare alternative British Heavy Dragoons set produced by HaT, Waterloo 1815’s being more dynamic and offering better sculpting. As such, they’re a welcome and essential addition to the Napoleonic cavalry range.

You may notice that all the horses I’ve painted are of the same type; dark bays. This is deliberate (not laziness…) as the Royals have been reported as riding on dark bays and so I’ve taken that suggestion literally.

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1st (Royal) Dragoons.

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These two figures came with separate arms to glue on. It certainly required good glue to keep them in place, but I like the end result and it allowed me to alter the angle of the arms to create slightly different poses.
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Ouch! A casualty of enemy fire.
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Trumpeter. The horse hair is red instead of black, which I believe is correct for British heavy dragoons.
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Another view of the trumpeter.
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Officer (I did two and this is the one without the broken sword…)

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Biography: 1st (Royal) Regiment of Dragoons [Great Britain]

The 1st Regiment of Dragoons traced its origins back to a troop of Parliamentarian veterans from the English Civil Wars. This troop expanded and became the Tangier Horse (named after where it had first seen service). The regiment was then variously disbanded and reformed until it eventually became a permanent regiment known as the 1st Royal Regiment of Dragoons. Numbered the 1st on account of it being the oldest line cavalry regiment, it was commonly known as simply “The Royals”.

It served at the battle of Sedgemoor in the Monmouth Rebellion, at Dettingen in 1743 (where it captured the standard of the Black Musketeers), and later also at Fontenoy. From 1809, the 1st Dragoons served in the Peninsula campaign, most notably in the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro where it rescued two captured guns.

At Waterloo, the regiment was one third of the Union Brigade; a formation made up of the Scots Greys, the Inniskillings (an Irish regiment), and the Royals themselves (representing the English part of the Union). Their initial charge at Waterloo was aimed against D’erlon’s corps as they assaulted Wellington’s centre, but the spectacular charge of the Union Brigade utterly broke and dispersed this corps. In the process, the regiment captured the eagle of the French 105th Line Regiment and helped secure 2,000 prisoners. In continuing on to attack Napoleon’s artillery batteries, they were counter-attacked by French cavalry whilst badly blown and disorganised. The brigade was consequently driven back with heavy losses, and Ponsonby, their brigadier, was killed.

They went on to serve in the Crimea, the World Wars and elsewhere. The Royals, as the oldest regiment in the British Army, became a prestigious Guards regiment in 1969 when it amalgamated with the Royal Horse Guards (known as The Blues). The merged regiment formally became known as the Blues and Royals. It now comprises, along with the Life Guards, the prestigious Household Cavalry regiment; the most senior in the British Army. The Blues and Royals today supply a unit based in central London and can be seen on ceremonial occasions, such as Trooping the Colour. They wear dark blue uniforms, dragoon-style helmets with red plumes, and silver cuirasses – a style which is perhaps an echo of the napoleonic era. On their uniform, the charge at Waterloo is still commemorated with an arm badge depicting a French eagle.

Battle Honours: Dettingen, Warbung, Beaumont, Fuentes de Oñoro, Waterloo.

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The Bird Catchers

The figures from the next regiment in my Nappy Cavalry Project are nearly finished, so I just thought I’d post a preview of them before the final touches and basing.

These are painted as the British 1st Dragoons of the Waterloo era. They were known as “The Royal Dragoons” and, after Waterloo, also by the nickname “The Bird Catchers”. This was a reference to the capture of the 105th French Line Infantry regiment’s eagle by the Royal Dragoons at the battle of Waterloo. This eagle was displayed alongside the other eagle captured at Waterloo (by the Scots Greys) recently, an event timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary.

Anyway, here they are, prior to a more formal unveiling soon:

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Scarlet Fever

Having had some days off, I’ve been able to devote some time to tackling all those figures wearing scarlet that I mentioned in the previous post.

The Quiberon Expedition troops have progressed. I’ve realised that the Strelets figures don’t quite match the uniform that’s been depicted on the French royalist émigré regiments. I’m intending to carry on regardless and hope to slap on the paint in such a way that the difference will be less obvious. The regiments I’m hoping to depict are:

Emigre
The Loyal Emigrants Regiment.
The Royal Marine Regiment.
The Royal Marine Regiment.
Royal Louis
The Royal Louis Regiment.

I aim to paint the latter by using Strelets’ French Infantry in Egypt set when it comes through the post. With still plenty of paint to add, here’s how some of the figures are looking so far:

Loyal Emigrant Regiment
Loyal Emigrant Regiment troops
Loyal Emigrant Regt.
Loyal Emigrant Regt.
The Royal Marine Regt.
The Royal Marine Regt.
The Royal Marine Regt.
In progress: Men of the French Royal Marine Regt.

The 28mm Perry figures have taken a back step while I’ve concentrated instead on the British Heavy Dragoons set by Waterloo 1815. After their terrific Prussian Hussars that I painted earlier this year, this set, I must admit, has been a disappointment. Firstly, the detail on the figures is nowhere near as crisp and clear as previously. I’m not sure whether it is a problem in the sculpting or with the mold, but it’s simply not as beautifully detailed, instead being a little bit smooth and vague. This makes for greater difficulty (for me at least) to get a decent paint job out of it.

Trumpeter of the 1st Dragoons (The Royals)
Trumpeter of the 1st Dragoons (The Royals)

The horses are also poor, there being only a miserly two poses for the entire set! The detail is again less distinct and crisp than the wonderful figures of their previous sets. But my biggest bugbear is that the riders simply didn’t fit on the horses! Feedback from a friend on Benno’s Figures Forum suggests that this problem might simply be restricted to me, and I’ve unluckily received a bad kit! For other’s sake, I hope so. I wouldn’t wish on anybody the endless brutal hacking away with a craft knife that I had to employ! The horse figures are badly disfigured as a consequence of this, but at least they (more or less) fit the riders now.

British Heavy Dragoon by Waterloo 1815
British Heavy Dragoon by Waterloo 1815

I don’t want to trash the set completely as, despite my complaints, I think the figures are beginning to look okay with paint on them, especially when compared to work from certain other manufacturers. And I’m glad to see that the sculptor has depicted the docked tails that was a feature of British Dragoon horses. Furthermore, the hobby was crying out for another decent Napoleonic British Heavy Dragoons set to replace the now very rare and rather basic old HaT versions. And I think that the troopers can still be considered an improvement, but, given Waterloo 1815s previously high standards, for me this set has been something of a let down.

And the scarlet painting continues as my young daughter insists I spend time in her “nail bar”…

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Next post: Yet another Suburban Militarism day out!

A Study in Scarlet

Having despatched those Italeri French dragoons with their fine green uniforms, I’ve now well and truly moved into “redcoat” territory. In fact, I’ve found myself tinkering with no less than three different sets of model soldiers all of whom are wearing British scarlet!

Whenever I initially basecoat a figure using scarlet, it always immediately looks far too vivid. I have to tell myself that once shading and highlighting are applied they will start to look a little more as I intend them to. Or so I hope.

The Quiberon Expedition figures I mentioned in a recent post are now underway. They will be a little tricky to paint but, as with all Strelets, despite being an acquired taste, they have plenty of charm and character.

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Strelets British infantry being painted as a Royalist French emigre regiment in the Quiberon expedition.

I’m also tentatively having a go at my very first 28mm scale figures. These are early Victorian British soldiers from Perry Miniatures wearing (my personal favourite headgear) the Albert Shako. Being bigger figures they seem at first easier to paint but, at the same time, there’s nowhere to hide for any mistakes or lack of precision!

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Perry Miniatures British Line Infantry from their “British Intervention Force in North America 1861-68” range.

Nevertheless, I am also still firmly committed to my ongoing 20mm Nappy Cavalry Project and have started my next regiment. You guessed it – they are also wearing scarlet! This is a new set only recently released by Waterloo 1815, the British Heavy Dragoons of the 1812-1815 era. I’m planning on painting them as the 1st Dragoons, also known as The Royals. I’ll provide more thoughts on this new set in a later blog entry.

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Base coat applied. A British heavy dragoon figure from the latest Nappy Cavalry Project regiment.

Erstes Leib-Husaren-Regiment (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #4)

“If they were not as disciplined and trained as dragoons, and not as strong and robust as the cuirassiers, the hussars were the most dashing…”

The fourth in my Napoleonic Cavalry series depicts a Prussian regiment; the 1st Life Hussars (in German: Erstes Leib-Husaren-Regiment).

1st Regt of Prussian Leib (Death's Head) Hussars
Prussian Leib (Death’s Head) Hussars
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1st Regt of Prussian Leib Hussars

They were popularly known as the Death’s Head Hussars (Totenkopf-Husaren) as a consequence of their macabre iconic badge. Waterloo 1815 is an Italian manufacturer who has produced two excellently sculpted sets of Prussian hussars, one of them specifically depicting the two Death’s Head regiments. Dressed all black with a skull symbol on their headgear, they made a grim and fearsome sight and were said to strike some fear into their opponents.

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As beautifully sculpted as the set is, the figures notably lack the carbine which would have been standard issue. Also, I believe that the hussars would have worn either the dolman or the pelisse, but not both as depicted. With such great sculpting as this, I can easily forgive such oversights. They would have usually worn an oilskin over their headgear but this set allows us to see the shako and death’s-head badge in all it’s glory.

1st Regt of Prussian Leib (Death's Head) Hussars

Another issue encountered was the inclusion of a flag which the Prussian hussars would never actually have carried into the field. Consequently, I embarked on my very first tentative ‘conversion’; namely removing the flag with a scalpel and bending the redundant arm into a more realistic position (see pics below). I was pleased with the result and so repeated the process for both the second flag bearer in the set and the extra trumpeter too.

Example1 Example2

So this set is something of an attractive fantasy in some regards; with the wildly flowing pelisses worn over the shoulders and those shakos left uncovered. In my painting, however, I often like to depict figures at their glittering best and am happy to sacrifice a little authenticity for some pristine glamour. I must say that I really enjoyed painting this set from start to finish. The black uniforms made for a pleasant change to other more colourful regiments and, I say again, the sculpting was wonderful. With another set of Prussian hussars to go from ‘Waterloo 1815’, I’m very much looking forward to painting those too.

For now, bring on the Prussian Death’s Head Hussars!

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Biography: 1st [Death’s Head] Life Hussars (Prussia)

On 9th August 1741, the Husaren-Regiment Nr. 5 (von Ruesch) was formed by Frederick the Great and was commanded by Colonel von Ruesch, from whom it took its name. It was active during the Second Silesian and 7 Years Wars and managed to distinguish itself in both. It continued to adopt the names of succeeding colonels (as was customary) until the 1806 Jena Campaign by which time it was known as Husaren-Regiment von Prittwitz. 

By the time of the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, the Prittwitz Hussars were the only remaining Hussar Regiment of the Prussian army still at full strength, thanks in part to not participating in the disastrous Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. In 1808, two “Life Hussars” regiments were then formed out of this von Prittwitz predecessor, divided into two regiments of four squadrons. Awarded Guard status (hence “Life” Hussars) they reported directly to the king himself. The nominal head of the regiment from 1808-1840 was therefore King Friedrich Wilhelm III.

The regiment was involved in a large number of engagements during the Napoleonic period, including notable battles of Eylau in 1807, Großbeeren and Leipzig in 1813, but were not present at the climactic battle of Waterloo. Notably, at the 1807 battle of Heilsburg, it captured the eagle of the French 55th regiment of the line. The regiment eventually entered Paris at the conclusion of the victorious 1814 campaign.

Their badge (the Totenkopf) continued in use after the Napoleonic Wars, both by German troops in the Great War and also certain SS troops during World War II. As such, adopted by the SS, the intimidating skull and cross-bones,the scurge of many a Napoleonic battlefield, finally found expression in what was perhaps its most sinister role.

Notable Battles: Eylau, Heilsburg, Großbeeren, Leipzig.