Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Mortar revised

This is the model of a French 10 inch Gribeauval mortar by Front Rank. It is a nicely sculpted model of the most modern mortar of the period. I must say I really like it. However, ...
... a drawing of the original piece reveals that the model has got two major flaws: The handle on the barrel is missing, and so is the powder chamber. The latter is absolutely nessessary, because the powder for the ignition must be kept in place over the ignition hole when the barrel is elevated. And the handle is needed in the process of elevating the barrel, and to lift the barrel onto the carriage. Barrel and carriage were transported on sparate carts!
So I had to do some tinkering again.
The handle was not so difficult to make. A bit of brass wire of the right diametre bent into the right form. That was it. To glue it to the barrel proved a lot more tricky. But with the help of a bit of modeller's putty this problem could be solved. I mixed a tiny ammount of two-component-glue, dipped the ends of the handle into it, and put the thing into its position.
(In this case this was done after painting the thing.)
The powder chamber was modelled with a bit of grey stuff. Not really a difficult job.

The colouring was easy: The barrel was painted as bronze, with black in the muzzle and near the powder chamber. The wooden parts of the carriage were painted blue in the customary French colour, and the iron parts black.
I am quite content with the result. Of course it would have been easier if the modeller had not forgotten the two items on the barrel!

Green Mountain Rangers

As you know, it all began with the Green Mountain Boys, who lived in today's Vermont. They got their name from the mountain range of the Verts Monts which are part of the Appalachian Mountains. The range extends about 400 km in north-southerly direction. In the 18th century there was a conflict about land properties between New York and New Hanpshire about land beyond the mountains. And settlers who had been granted land properties by the latter, refused to accept the authority of New York, and defended their homesteads violently. They formed an unauthorised militia - today you might even call them a band of terrorists.
The Green Mountain Boys immediately joined the revolution, under the command of Ethan Allen. They later formed the basis of the Vermont militia that selected Seth Warner as its leader.
When a new regiment of 500 men was authorised by Continental Congress in 1776, Seth Warner was made colonel. They were called the Green Mountain Rangers, also known as Warner's Extra-Continental Regiment..
Their uniform consisted of black  cocked felt hats, green coats faced red, buckskin breeches and waistcoats, coarse woollen stockings, heavy low shoes, checked or white shirts. In the field they mostly wore hunting shirts over their coats, or instead of them. Their arms were English or French muskets, some had American rifles.
Officers wore a golden epaulet on the right shoulder, a crimson sash, sabre and boots. They carried light fusils or muskets when in the field.

The Green Mountain Rangers

When I thought of forming this regiment, I chose various Perry, Foundry and Front Rank figures mixed together, in order to create the impression of this unruly bunch of fellows. There are uniformed men, others in rifle frocks, rather civilian looking coats, and even in shirt sleeves. Most are wearing cocked hats, but also slouched hats, and even strawhats and worsted caps can be seen.
 Colonel Seth Warner on horseback is seen wearing a green hunting shirt.
Seth Warner
Two surplus ensigns have been transformed to officers wielding a pistol and holding a musket. (As American regiments didn't carry a national flag, but most packs contain two ensigns, they were somehow useless, but found their destination now.)
There was no problem with the colours as they are well known: Green field, with blue canton with 13 white stars:

The Colours and Musicians Group

Friday, 26 October 2012

Régiment de Foix

The regiment which recruited in the province of Foix in southern France (on the foot of the Pyrenees), was established in 1684. It fought in many wars, and in 1776 it was sent to the Caribbean, where it captured the island of Grenada from the British. For the Franco-American attempt to take Savannah in the autumn of 1779 under Lieutenant General Admiral Jean Baptiste Charles Henri Hector, Comte d'Estaing , a battalion was formed of detachments drawn from the regiment. This is why my battalion contains grenadiers of the 1st battalion and chasseurs of the 2nd battalion.
Which of the two colours this composed battalion carried is not known.
 I decided to take the drapeu d'ordonnance (regimental colours), since the purely white drapeau de colonel (King's colours) seemed too boring to me with all that white.
I even violated historical truth further in giving the battalion the colours of 1780 which show the words "FIDELIS FELIX FORTIS" (Faithful Fortunate Strong) - just for a change, well knowing that the colours the regiment might have carried at Savannah probably showed the earlier version.
From 1776 to 1779 the uniform was the usual white, with green cuffs and lapels, a yellow collar, and brass buttons. This uniform was probably still worn at Savannah because the regiment came from the West Indies and would probably not have had a chance to get the new uniform prescribed in the Royal Warrant of 1779.
As figures I chose the Perry ones in the uniform of 1776.
My soldiers wear a tricolour cockade: over the white cockade of the French King, they have added a black ribbon for the Americans, and a red one for Spain. This was usually done by the regiments from the West Indies, in honour of their allies.
The colours
Colonel, reading his orders


Thursday, 25 October 2012

British 3pdr galloper gun

Here it is, all Front Rank - with the exception of the slightly oversized ammunition boxes. I chose the smaller barrel (the model comes with two differently sized barrels), and declared it to be a 3pdr.

This galloper gun was used circa 1740 in the United states. It weighs 600 pounds.

And this is how a galloper gun was moved by Hessian artillerymen
Well, at second look the carriage looked a bit too sturdy for a light galloper. I could have exchanged the wheels of course. There are spare wheels without the iron clamps which look a bit lighter. But I had already assemled and painted the thing. So I left it as it was.
As you can see clearly in the above picture, I put the crew on extra bases which are inserted into the main base (with the help of magnetic tape). So I can remove casualties.
rear view
front view
On the base I added an enemy cannon ball buried in the mud, as you can see in this picture.
The officer had no sword. Probably left it behind in Britain. So he got a new one, made of flattened brass wire.

Meanwhile I have found out that I made two mistakes in painting my figures:
1) The turnbacks were red, only became white after 1780.
2) The ammunition pouches were of white leather (not black as I painted them).

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Gentleman Johnny

Portrait by Joshua Reynolds (1766)
 The ill-fated British general John Burgoyne was born in 1722. At the age of 15 he purchased a commission in the Horse Guards, stationed in London. As his duties were light he was able "to cut a figure" in High Society, with a love for stylish uniforms, which earned him the nickname "Gentleman Johnny". Not long, and he had run into heavy debts, forcing him to sell his commission.
But John returned to service in the army. He first saw action in the Seven Years' War, participqating in several battles. But he is best known for his part in the American Revolutionary War: During the Saratoga campaign, the overconfident lieutenant general John Burgoyne was forced in 1777 to surrender his army of 5,800 men to the Rebel general Horatio Gates, being surrounded and outnumbered. Burgoyne was heavily criticised on his return to Britain, and never got another active command.
Surrender of General Burgoyne by John Trumbull (1822)
His surrender proved a turning point in the war, since after this victory France recognised the United States, and entered the war on February 6, 1778. This French aid finally led to Cornwallis's capitulation at Yorktown.
Figure by Front Rank

Régiment de Touraine

The regiment had been established in the 17th century in the province of Touraine (capital: Tours on the river Loire). It had fought in all wars since then and was among the forces that Saint Simon brought from the West Indies to Yorktown. At this time it was commanded by Colonel H. Liamont, vicomte de Poudeux. You can see him in front of his regiment.
The regiment with full flank companies

Colonel H. Liamont, vicomte de Poudeux
The regiment had two batallions (1,000 men), and was not brigaded together with any other regiment. It was stationed on the left flank. 
The uniform consisted of the traditional white coat, waistcoat, breeches and garters. The facing colour war a light pink, which appeared on the cuffs and the linings of lapels, collars, shoulder straps and on the badges on the turnbacks. At least this was the uniform according to the new regulation of 1779.
Fusiliers and Chasseurs (left flank of the regiment)
 Whether the regiment already wore it, is doubtful as they came from the Caribbean and probably would not have had the time to adopt the new outfit. But I decided to have them in this uniform because I needed an attacking regiment for the storm on the Star Redoubt at Yorktown, and the Perry figures of attacking Frenchmen show the cut of the more modern uniform. The horizontal pocket flaps are wrong anyhow: As the regiment had silver buttons, the pocket flaps ought to be vertical. But there are no  figures which show these. And I have given up the idea of absolute accuracy.
Of course there are other flaws that I cannot be held responsible for - or only partially: The chasseurs wore their hair tucked up (and not in a queue as the figures do), and their bayonette scabbards ought to be on the left side next to the sabre, and they did not have epaulettes, of course. Well, I could have scraped off the epaulettes, I could even have remoulded their fashion of wearing their hair. But shifting their bayonet scabbards to the other side would have been too much for me. So I left the figures as they are.

The most common hair colour in central and southern  France is dark brown or black (and was more so at a time of limited mobility). So I painted my soldiers from the Loire Valley with dark brown (Van Dyke brown) hair.
The colours of the regiment were the traditional of one per batallion. The first batallion carried the King's Colours, a white cross on a white field, the second batallion the regimental colours, showing the white cross and coloured quarters, in this case blue-orange-green-red. The tassels repeat these colours. By the way, the flags are my usual do-it-yourself product, using steel rod, wine bottle metal covers, and heads by Front Rank.
The King's Colours
Regimental Colours
At Yorktown this regiment took part in the attack on the Fusilier or Star Redoubt to the Northwest of the town, which guarded the coastal road from Williamsburg. This may well have been a feint to divert the attention of the British from the digging of the 1st parallel in the south. The redoubt was defended by 120 men of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and 40 Royal Marines. The French attacked three times. In vain: It was a rather bloody affair, the French were repulsed and suffered heavy losses.

However, this seems to be the economy of strategy. What counts is success, not human lives. And Yorktown was a success: It put an end to the war and finally resulted in the Independence of the United States. Thanks to the French artillery. And perhaps even to the sacrifices of the Régiment de Touraine.

New French Limber

I have just finished one more limber for my French artillery park. It is a combination of various products:
Horses and driver (who got a queeu added) are from Dixon Miniatures painted as a French artillery driver with light blue facings. The limber itself is a product of Martin Leesch from Radebeul in Germany, who does very accurate models. It originally belonged to his "L'artillerie Napoléonienne - Obusier de 8 Système de l'an XI". And the 4pounder in travelling position is a very detailed and precise model by Zens Nürnberger Zinnmodelle. The firm does no longer exist. But I managed to lay my hands onto some remnants at the Kulmbach Tin Figure Fair (Kulmbacher Zinnfigurenbörse) in 2011.