Sunday, 2 April 2017

My French Napoleonic Army Begins

It has brewing for decades. I once had a 1/72nd scale ESCI(?) plastic British Napoleonic army in my late teens. With this I played quite a lot of WRG Rules 1685-1845. I threw them away 15 yrs ago at least as they were disused and I could paint much better. I could also afford lead now. 

I decided 2017 would be the year to scratch that Napoleonic itch that had been bothering me since around 1988. I had always wanted to do Napoleonic wargaming well. I had prevaricated for years due to what could only be called a schism in rules of this period and subsequently basing. Every time I was ready to order figures I couldn't decide what basing to use ... so I collected something else. 

Finally the seal had been broken and I have (with some promoting from the League of Ordinary Gentlemen) to go to a 32 figure unit. The 40mm x 30mm bases were pretty obvious (or smaller ones that can be added to make this size) as it seems to be as close to standard as you can get in this fractured period. 

Mini manufacturer was also easy for me. I don't like the high cost going with AB and I've had some issues with their Ancient range - chiefly inconsistent scale within a range. After a little looking I found CGM and have not looked back. I really like this range for many reasons. Almost no flash is almost a 'royal flush' as far as I'm concerned with miniatures. After I received my first order I then found out what a nice bloke Dermot is and thats that. 

My interest in the period is in the later years - 1813-1815. The romantic image of France and Napoleon fighting for its very existence has lured me in. The constant amount of enormous battles makes it a rich period. Napoleon' 1814 campaign is also of great interest as he returns to form and comes close to saving his rule in France. The increased proficiency of Allied armies - including a resurgent Prussia - simply makes things more interesting to me. 

In terms of rules I place my faith in Sam Mustafa who I have followed with great pleasure through the Seven Years War - Might and Reason and Maurice. It would be Blucher for me. I also have long thought I wanted to play a large scale Napoleonic wargame which I believe suits the period best. It relays the scale of the period, the combined arms tactics and the major innovation of the period - the self reliant corps structure. 

Above are what I intend to be a veteran infantry unit. Flags have been freshly received by Maverick. I am quite pleased with their product. The above is the 46th Line - even though my units will represent whole brigades I find modelling particular units interesting. 

Here are the Young Guard 3rd Voltigeurs. I am very interested in the Young Guard who were very numerous and so actively engaged throughout the late war period. These were the shock troops of Napoleon's forces and he did not hesitate to use them. While the Old Guard are the best they were fewer in number,  handled with more care and not as frequently engaged. I'll have three of these Young Guards units in the end. 

Dragoons - the 6th. I chose my units be comparing the OOB's of 1814 battles and the Army of the North of the Hundred Day campaign. If units were present in both (or if not both then 1813 would do) then these would be represented in my army. 

Dragoons for me exemplify the way I collect armies. They were the most numerous of French cavalry regiments. And yet, these and not fairly represented in the armies of wargamers. Usually people will collect the flashy and most tabloid units (eg: how many FOW armies are filled with Tigers and Panthers while the humble Panzer III was still numerous but because it's stats won't bring you victory on the table no-one uses them.) I like to try and make armies out of the units that were actually there. This explains why I collect Young Guard over the Old - and why I intend to use at around 4 conscripts. 

Young Guard ... with flash. I'm not great at photos and I also often dislike what it does to my figures - it reveals my flaws as a painter. This is about as good as my painting gets. It took me ages and I'm very happy with the appearance. 

Foot Batteries. These are outclassed in Blucher by Heavy and Horse but I again intend to put more of these into the field because that's how things were done. These represent 8 pdrs. Who can spot a problem with the assembly of these cannon? 

My recent painting efforts. Right is the 6th Light. These will also represent a veteran infantry unit. By 1814 there were not many light regiments left and many of the recruits were not suited for such a role as France was, by this time, scraping up almost anyone to fill the ranks. 

On the left is ... I think the 93rd. I mixed 50% greatcoat foot with 50% normal uniform line infantry. The greatcoated foot were placed in the middle of the formation to represent conscripts filling out the ranks while experienced troops led the formation. I have made two such foot units. 

Here are the 15th Line. Also a unit made from combined veterans and conscripts. 

I have added a small label to the back of each unit. I began this practice back in 2010 with my SYW armies. I find it adds depth to the painting experience by researching a real unit rather than just grinding out more painting. On the table top favourites soon emerge and you remember the battle when the 15th held the bridge or such and such. It develops character to the army and simply makes wargaming more fun for me. Your troops develop a life of their own. 

I have a bugger of a time getting a good image of my dragoons. In each they don't look too good but I assure you they do look good on the table top. In each image I can detect a blade of flock stuck to a helmet rim of sword blade and the painting looks clumsy. Hey, it probably is clumsy compared to many people but I like the unit. 

That's it for now. Five foot, 1 cavalry and 2 gun batteries. I decent start. I'm in this for the long haul as this is only about 40% of what I intend to do and soon I'll be starting either a Prussian or Russian force as an opponent - I always paint two armies. I wrote much of this for me to explain to my future self what I was thinking at the time. I can hopefully, in future, become nostalgic over a project that will be finished one day but seems fairly daunting now.