On parade!


On parade! Troops of the American Civil War

I’ve been wargaming since the 1990s, and during that time have amassed many miniatures across a range of periods. However, I’ve never really catalogued them all, and some of them haven’t seen the light of day for many a year. So I’m now parading each army for inspection so as to take stock of what I’ve got. Some of my earliest wargaming figures were for the American Civil War. My original plan was to paint both sides in 28mm, but by the time I had finished these three units, my interests had moved onto other periods, and that was that! But they’re still beautiful units, and so I’ve kept them all these years for old time’s sake.   1st Maryland Infantry at Gettysburg At about 10.00am on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the 400 men of the 1st Maryland Battalion launched their attack on Culp’s Hill. They charged towards the Federal breastworks, but were eventually repulsed and had to fall back. By that time, they had lost nearly 50% of their number. The sacrifice of

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On Parade! Eighteenth century supply train and civilians

An army marches on its stomach, so they say. Thus no army is complete without its supply train. In the final installment of this inspection parade of my French army, let’s look at the supply train consisting of these four carts. And we’ll finish with some eighteenth century civilians. On the left is a four-wheeled ammunition wagon. Front Rank offer this with two different types of top – the rounded wicker lid as shown above, or the wooden one in the picture below.  On the right is a smaller ammunition cart drawn by one horse. It also has a wicker lid. The soldier walking alongside is in his red waistcoat, having removed his white coat. He is actually a French and Indian Wars miniature, with a hatchet in his belt. The supply wagon shown on the left is advertised in the Front Rank catalogue as a medieval cart. But I thought it would be totally suitable for the eighteenth century. I’ve added some sacks as cargo. The civilian driver is also by Front Rank, but I understand is quite an e

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On parade! Eighteenth century French artillery

The guns in my French army, all made by Front Rank Figurines, are wonderfully detailed models that were a joy to paint. Jean-Florent de Vallière (Director-General of France’s artillery) reduced the pieces in use to a set number of types of cannon and mortars. He also recruited Jean Maritz, who had designed and built a water-powered horizontal cannon-boring machine in Geneva. By 1732 the first Maritz cannon boring machine was operational in the foundry at Lyon, boring out the Model 1732 system equipment. These standardised pieces became known as the “Vallière System”.  Prior to the outbreak of the Seven Years War, the French army was equipped with the best artillery in Europe. But they were to be overtaken by Austria with their Model 1753 Liechtenstein system.    Source: Kronoskaf French gun carriages were initially painted red in the eighteenth century. But some time after the Vallière reform of 1732, the gun carriages were painted blue to distinguish them from the equipment of the supply train (cais

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On parade! Colourful French cavalry of the 18th century

My inspection parade of all the armies in my wargaming collection continues with French cavalry of the mid-eighteenth century. They’re certainly colourful en masse! These were all painted in the very early 2000s, so represent my level of painting at the time. But despite the fairly crude shading and detail, they do look really good on the table, and have in fact stood the test of time quite well. As with most of my armies, the basing hasn’t been done to align to any particular rules. I work the other way round – I adapt rules to suit my basing!   First up are the Colonel-General Dragoons. Dragoons were basically mounted infantry. Thus these Front Rank figures, with their boot-gaiters (‘bottines’), short red coats and muskets really look the part. French dragoons were equipped with tools, such as axes, bill-hooks or saws, instead of off-side holsters, and these are faithfully represented on these models. I particularly like the way Front Rank have posed the officer on th

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On parade: 18th century French light infantry

Continuing in our inspection parade of my eighteenth-century French army, we now come to the light troops. After a period of preoccupation with massed fire, light troops were gradually being re-incorporated into armies during this period. Marshal Saxe considered the aimed fire of light troops as being the only effective fire. There were always parts of the battlefield, woods, copses, hedges and buildings where they could be used to good effect. So of course my miniature French army had to have at least a couple of these pioneering units.   The Chasseurs de Fischer were established in 1743 by a former officer’s valet who made a reputation for himself guiding other valets in and out of the islands of the Moldau River to pasture the officers’ horses. The unusual cap worn by these troops is called a mirleton, more commonly worn by hussars than infantry during this period. The officer wears a fur trimmed jacket. This is how he is modelled by Front Rank, but I believe the fur trim was worn by

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On parade! 18th century French guards and grenadiers

Having previous inspected the French and foreign infantry in my eighteenth century French army, we now come to the guards and grenadiers.   These Gardes Françaises were the first Front Rank figurines that I ever painted. I still recall how surprised I was at how easy the job was made by the fine sculpting of the models. The Gardes Françaises were part of the King’s Royal Household. Their uniform was quite ornate, compared to normal infantry uniforms. For instance, the belt slung over the soldiers’ left shoulders was lined with lace. I have always admired Phillipotteaux’s famous painting of the Gardes Françaises at the Battle of Fontenoy (see my more detailed posting about this painting), so I determined to paint my soldiers as shown in Phillipotteaux’s work, rather than from other sources which differ somewhat. The flags for my minature regiment are by GMB Designs. I added white cravattes made from paper. All French regiments had these tied to the top of their flag staffs. No

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On parade! Foreign regiments of the 18th century French army

The French army included quite a few foreign troops, amongst them Swiss, Germans, Swedes, Scots, Italians, Netherlanders, and, of course, the famous Irish ‘Wild Geese’.   I wanted to portray one of the Irish red-coat ‘Wild Geese’ regiments in my army, and so chose the Regiment Lally, which was renowned for its service in India. I liked the combination of red with green cuffs. I had never really used the black undercoat method of painting before, but found it worked very effectively. The red coats  were quite difficult to do, however, as the red paint remained quite dull over the black undercoat. The flags are by GMB Designs flags.  If I recall correctly, I reversed the colours of the quadrants in GMB’s version of the flag, which I felt were wrong. Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about the Irish Guards in the British Army of the First World war. This poem harks back to the days of the Irish Brigade in French service, even mentioning the colonel of the Regiment Lally: WE̵

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On parade: French white-coats of the 18th century

The French army of the mid-eighteenth century was one of the most colourful: white-coated infantry, foreign regiments in blue or red, light infantry in green or beige, cavalry in all sorts of hues!  They might not have been the most effective army of the period, but – mon Dieu! – they dressed well. In my previous ‘On Parade’ postings, a series in which I intend to inspect every figure in my collection,  I’ve covered  my Napoleonic and fantasy armies. Now it is the turn of the eighteenth century French, the first historical army I painted when in the late 1990s I  returned to the hobby of wargaming after a twenty year hiatus. This army is mainly made up of 28mm Front Rank figurines. The 24-figure infantry regiments and 8-figure cavalry squadrons are not based for any particular rule-set. It is many years since I’ve had this army out on the table. When I began setting them up for my inspection parade today, it immediately came back to me just how charming Front Rank figure

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