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.
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.
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!