Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Mounted Hessen-Cassel Jaeger(s)

I am well aware that in English they are called "Jagers" or "Jaegers", the latter form being the more correct one. However in German the plural of "der Jäger" is "die Jäger". So I prefer to use the term without the letter "s" in the title.
Among the Jägers from Hessen-Cassel (then spellel with "C") was one company of mounted soldiers. They wore the same green coats, faced crimson and green waistcoats, brass buttons, black three cornered cocked hats with green cockades as their colleagues serving on foot.
But they had some pieces of uniform and equipment becoming a cavalryman – although they were not regarded as cavalry. They had “white” (buff) leather breeches, black knee-boots with spurs, and a steel-faced light cavalry sabre.
Illustration fron "Uniforms of the American War of Independence" (p. 203)

When fighting they would dismount, the horse was only used for mobility. In this case the high boots with spurs and the long sabre would certainly have proved a nuisance. However, they were mostly used as scouts and couriers, only in some cases serving as a “fire-brigade” (cf. Johann Ewald’s diary).
Contemporary pictures do not exist. But there was a manuscript from 1786, some plates of which were preserved as copies when the original was destroyed in WW2. They were reproduced in Georg Ortenburg's book "Das Militär der Landgrafschaft Hessen-Kassel zwischen 1783 und 1789", Potsdam 1999, the Jägers depicted in plate 30.
Figure of a mounted Jäger's uniform from Ortenburg's book
As was to be exspected there are no figures of mounted Jägers, not even with the Perry brothers. Only one company of non-fighting soldiers is not a temptation for any producer, I think.
So I had to take refuge to tinkering. I bought three SYW Prussian dragoons at Foundry's. As it turned out when they arrived they are a bit chunky in the body. But that reduced my scruples of destroying nice figures by cutting, sawing and filing.
Two of the dragoons lost their swords, one soldier kept his, it was only bent into a sabre. The sheaths had to be lengthened by gluing on remains of sabres from the scrap box. The picket-poles were cut off altogether using a Dremel, and the muskets were shortened to the length of the famous German Jäger rifles. One man had even cut his right arm off with a jig saw, which was replaced by an arm with a carbine from the "spare parts box".
I didn't bother changing the form of their hats. So the outcome of my attempts to produce mounted Hessen-Cassel Jägers is not optimal. But they will be good enough for the gaming table, I think, being recognizable by the colouring of their uniforms, housings and holsters, serving as couriers and scouts.

Having taken the photographs I realized that I had forgotten to paint the red centres of their hat tassels. Please imagine these when looking at the pictures.


ColCampbell50 said...

Nicely done modifications.

It may be just the way the combination of your camera and blogger, but the coats look blue to me on my computer screen. I hope that's not the case in "real-life."


Fridericus said...

I have meanwhile exchanged the photos. It was the daylight on a sunny day and my primitive camera that prodiced the blueish effect. Sorry for that.