As the terminally bored and bewildered followers of this blog will know, when not playing with myself I’ve been setting myself various painting challenges throughout the latest lockdown in order to keep the painting-mojo going while wargames clubs are closed and wargaming opportunities are non-existent. The sudden renewal of my interest in the Seven Years War prompted me to finally finish a couple of armies that had remained unpainted since the 1990s, starting with the Württemberg and Bavarian Auxiliary Corps for the Battle of Leuthen. So in the spirit of the ‘Movember Challenge’, I decided to set myself the ‘Württember Challenge‘ in November, followed in January by ‘Bavarianuary‘. There was also a concurrent Carmarthen Old Guard Lockdown Painting Challenge, so I also got some Russian Napoleonics finished, as well as some more Prussian and Imperial units for the Seven Years War. All in all, I managed to paint 552 foot, 3 horse and 12 guns (all 15mm) in three months, which is pretty good going for me! 🙂
All this frenzied SYW activity has prompted a renewal of interest for the period in the club. As part of this, there’s interest in a resurrected Europe-wide campaign like the epic campaign I ran at WASP in the 90s, so a couple of the lads are presently painting Russian armies, while Phil has anointed himself as ‘Shadow of God Upon Earth‘ and has just taken delivery of a gigantic Ottoman army that he now has to paint. However, we’ll need a few more armies for a Europe-wide campaign, so I’ve recently invested in a large French army from Eureka Miniatures that will be followed in good time by a British/Hanoverian army.
So with ‘Bavarianuary’ completed, I got stuck into ‘Frogruary’…
I always like to paint a historical order of battle, as it gives me a clear objective and satisfies my deep-seated obsessive-compulsive need to make lists and then tick things off the list. That then forms the core of an army and I can then add special or specific units for scenarios when required. I’m therefore painting the order of battle for the Battle of Rossbach, the only encounter between the French and Frederick the Great’s main Prussian army. Although it ended disastrously for the French, I’ve already got the Imperial and Austrian contingents for Rossbach and most of the French units turned up again at later battles in western Germany, so it’s a good place to start.
Here’s a little painting aide-memoire I made for myself, taking bits and pieces from the excellent Kronoskaf website and some stuff scanned and sent to me by my mate Jase Evans. This shows the first line of infantry regiments at Rossbach and served as my painting list for Frogruary. The regimental uniform is shown at the top, then the flags and then the drummers’ livery (where known) and any notes.
I had fourteen painting-days available to me during the month and I can usually churn out a 12-figure battalion per day on average, so I thought I’d paint all twelve white-coated battalions over twelve days (saving the Swiss for later) and then have two days left over to paint the artillery. In fact, the simplicity of the infantry uniform meant that I was able to gain two extra days, so used those days to paint all my French generals and ADCs.
Above: The first brigade to be painted was the Royal Roussillon Brigade, consisting of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Roussillon Regiment and three battalions of the Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment. French infantry brigades almost always consisted of four battalions and were known by the title of the senior regiment in the brigade.
Note that as my army is modelled on the early part of the war, I’ve used the Eureka French Infantry figures without turnbacks. This does give them a very old-fashioned look and aside from the style of officers’ hair/wig-styles, they are virtually indistinguishable from the troops who fought in the Wars of Spanish, Polish and Austrian Succession. The style of uniform changed very rapidly during the Seven Years War however, with tails being turned back, lapels being added and the grenadiers (who until this point were virtually indistinguishable from the rest) adopting the bearskin cap. These changes were already happening in 1757, though sadly Eureka don’t do any grenadiers in bearskin caps apart from the Grenadiers de France Regiment, who wore a very different style of coat. I will start mixing some other styles into my army, starting with the German ‘La Marck’ Brigade, which will have coats with turnbacks.
These are absolutely lovely figures, all marching in the standard and rather old-fashioned French drill pose of the period, with the left hand grasping the neck of the musket-stock and the musket carried at the slope on the left shoulder. The officers and NCO figures are very similar, but have longer sword-scabbards and are either carrying a spontoon or a musket in the crook of the right arm, with the officers being distinguished by a gorget at the throat and a slightly different design of spontoon-blade. My one criticism is that the metal used by Eureka, while giving exquisite casting detail, is rather soft when compared to the tougher but more grainy pewter we used when casting AB Figures in the UK. This means that the thin flagpoles are very bendy and need replacing before I start (I use 0.8mm brass rod).
Above: The 1st Battalion of the Royal Roussillon Regiment. French uniforms of the period are reasonably well-documented, but there are still some massive, yawning gaps in our knowledge. The thorniest one is the subject of drummers’ livery (more of which later), but the second one is facing colours. Very occasionally, the facing colour will be precisely described, albeit usually in archaic terms, but more often than not they’re just described for example, as simply ‘red’, which going by old paintings of French soldiers, could be anything from pink to dark crimson!
In the case of Royal Roussillon, the cuffs, collar and waistcoat are simply described as ‘blue’, which in most cases with the Royal French Army means a ‘royal blue’ shade. Most depictions of Royal Roussillon show quite a light shade – probably akin to the light Turquin blue worn as the coat-colour of German regiments in the French Army. Soldiers from Royal Roussillon are shown in a painting from 1748 that was presumably painted from life, an extract of which is shown here on the right. I’ve mixed up this shade using Humbrol 25 blue, 89 mid blue and 34 white.
Note that as a Royal regiment, the drummers wore the King’s Livery of blue with red facings and red/white lace in a ‘chain’ pattern. No other nobles were permitted to use blue as the ground colour for their livery.
Above: The observant will have noticed that the 1st Battalion of the Royal Roussillon Regiment is depicted in the painting at the top of this page. However, that painting actually depicts the North American theatre where the 2nd Battalion of the regiment was stationed, so the painting isn’t actually correct. The 1st Battalion of any French infantry regiment carried a white Colonel’s Colour, paired with a coloured Ordonnance Colour, while the 2nd and subsequent battalions each carried a pair of Ordonnance Colours. The painting therefore shows the pair of colours that would have been carried by the 1st Battalion in Europe, rather than the 2nd Battalion in America.
Note also that in the majority of regiments, the central cross would be plain white, meaning that the Colonel’s Colour was usually a very boring white cross on a white field. However, the cross of both colours here is decorated with fleurs-de-lys. The flags are by Fighting 15s.
Above: The Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment was actually a German regiment in French service (‘Deux-Ponts’ = Zweibrücken), though when raised at the start of the Seven Years War was initially dressed very much in French style, with an unbleached wool coat faced red (for which I’ve used Humbrol 60 signal red), rather than the Turquin blue coat of most German regiments. A German-style uniform of Turquin blue with crimson facings and much more elaborate flags were authorised almost immediately, but the new uniform doesn’t seem to have appeared until 1760 at the earliest, while the new flags possibly weren’t delivered until after the war. The uniform changed again after the Seven Years War, with the facing colour changing again to yellow, so the Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment of the American War of Independence looks very different to this one. The waistcoats are described in most sources as white, but some say ‘possibly yellow’; give me an inch and I’ll take a mile, so I’ve done mine in yellow. 🙂
Note that unusually for a Royal regiment, the King authorised the Duc des Deux-Ponts to dress his drummers in the Duc’s own livery. However, nobody seems to know what this livery looked like, so I’ve just done them in the King’s livery.
Above: The Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment started the war with two battalions, but this was very soon increased to three. French brigades were almost always maintained at four battalions, hence they were paired with the single-battalion Royal Roussillon Regiment. In 1758 this increased again to four battalions, but in 1760 was reduced back to two battalions. The flags here are printed by Maverick Models, who produces an excellent range of flags and also gives options for ‘textured effect’ and even a self-adhesive option, which is something I’ve not seen since the days of Revo Flags in the 1980s. He also very kindly offered to re-size them to my specifications, so I went for something a little larger – 20mm at the hoist instead of 15mm. This makes them a bit bigger than the Fighting 15s flags, but there was some historical variation in any case, with surviving examples ranging from 6 feet 6 inches to 9 feet square.
I suppose I should explain why I’m using two flags per battalion instead of my usual single flag, as two flags in every 12-figure battalion is rather ostentatious… Basically, it’s because in most cases, there isn’t a lot of visible uniform detail to tell one regiment from another, so the flags are a key element in that. However, in the vast majority of French regiments, the Colonel’s Colour is basically a plain white flag, which looks very boring and really needs to be paired with an Ordonnance Colour I noticed this when my friend Jase Evans painted his SYW French army back in the 90s and decided that if I ever did them, I’d give them two flags per battalion. The British are another case in point – they just don’t look ‘right’ without a King’s Colour and Regimental Colour in every battalion.
Above: The La Viefville St Chamond Regiment, like so many others, officially had ‘red’ collar, cuffs and waistcoats. However, the shade is usually depicted as crimson or a dark pink shade and in the 1770s officially became ‘crimson’, so that’s what I’ve gone with (for which I used Humbrol 153 insignia red). It’s only very subtly different to the usual poppy red, but it helps to break the monotony. The drummers’ livery for the regiment is described simply as ‘yellow’. Nothing more is known, so I added crimson lace to the yellow coats.
Above: The La Viefville St Chamond Regiment, like the vast majority of French regiments, wore coats made of unbleached white wool. Variations in region and quality meant that the exact colour of the coat could sometimes vary slightly from regiment to regiment, but the colour is usually depicted or described as ‘pearl-grey’, ‘drab’, ‘beige’ or ‘cream’. What it was not was dyed a uniform shade of grey, which is what was once depicted in older uniform books and wargames armies. When I did my 28mm French troops for the War of Spanish Succession, I used the translucency of the Humbrol white enamel over a Humbrol 64 light grey base to successfully achieve that shade. However, the current recipe for Humbrol seems to be more opaque and makes it look too bright white. I’ve therefore mixed a touch of Humbrol 64 light grey into the white and am very pleased with the resulting shade.
Above: The Cossé-Brissac Regiment, like so many others, had red collar, cuffs and waistcoat. Although many regiments had very similar uniforms, they were sub-divided by the regimental ‘metal’ colour (i.e. buttons and hat-lace) and each regiment had its own unique placement of buttons on the breast, cuffs and tail-pockets. While officers had true metal wire lace, the hat-lace of the rank-and-file was ‘false gold’ or ‘false silver’ lace, being a combination of silk, wool and sometimes metallic wire. To be honest, it doesn’t look very metallic in reality, so I simply use yellow or white paint for the rank and file as it looks much better than trying to use metallic paint.
The drummers’ livery for the Cossé-Brissac Regiment was yellow, with black cuffs and silver/white lace.
Above: The Cossé-Brissac Regiment. The gaiters for all French infantry regiments were made from bleached canvas, each secured with buttons up the side and a brown leather garter below the knee. In paintings and reenactor photos they often look whiter than the coat, so I’ve used a basecoat of Humbrol 103 cream and the highlight of pure white. The garter is Humbrol 98 chocolate brown.
Above: The Piémont Regiment, being a large regiment of four battalions, was a brigade in its own right. Being the fourth most-senior infantry regiment of the French army, Piémont was regarded as something of an elite corps. However, that didn’t help them at Rossbach when, at the head of the French column, they became the target of virtually every Prussian gun, suffering over 1,000 casualties in just that single day!
The regiment was somewhat monochrome with black cuffs, white waistcoats and no collar, particularly when combined with their simple black and white flags, but I think they look rather striking.
Above: Although not a ‘Royal’ regiment, the Piémont was a provincial regiment rather than a ‘Gentleman’s’ regiment, so its drummers wore the King’s livery.
I should mention that hat-cockades at this time generally did not identify the national affiliation. This happened during the 1770s, when all French hat-cockades were ordered to be white. At the time of the Seven Years War the majority of French hat-cockades appear to have been black, but evidence is sketchy at best, with white and sometimes other colours appearing in paintings, descriptions and anecdotes. There is however, reasonably good evidence for the Piémont Regiment having white cockades.
Above: With the white-coated infantry done, I moved onto the artillery for a splash of colour. These chaps are depicted with their coats, belts and swords removed and working only in their red waistcoats, which makes painting them a very easy process.
Above: As I’ve got a massive stash of guns by Old Glory 15s, I decided to use those instead of buying guns from Eureka. I was looking forward to a nice phalanx of lovely red guns and had been saving an old tin of Humbrol 60 signal red for the purpose, as it was from an old bad batch that was much darker than the usual bright shade. However… Once again, I have learned not to just read the Osprey book, but to check online for the latest research… 🙁
Had I read Kronoskaf more closely, I would have learned that the French were painting their gun-carriages blue from at last 1741 and possibly as early as 1732! 🙁 Oh well… these artillereurs are clearly traditionalists…
Above: A couple of the Eureka gunners had bloody enormous rammers that were impossibly floppy and would never be able to stay stiff for long on the table, so needed drastic surgery…
[…Which reminds me; do the French have a word for double-entendre…?]
The huge artillery-tools are perfectly accurate for the larger calibre guns, but I wanted something a bit shorter and less prone to bending and breaking, so I cut off the heads, drilled them out along with the hands and replaced them with brass rod. In retrospect I should also have done the same to the men with shorter tools, as they are also ridiculously floppy…
[oh for goodness’ sake…]
Above: I did six guns and crews in all; four light guns and two heavies. Here are the two heavies, including the converted rammers. I gave the light guns three crewmen apiece – partly to accentuate the difference in calibre, but mainly because I’m a cheapskate.
Above: Lastly here are Les Generaux! One army commander and staff, six divisional commanders and two ADCs. Unfortunately, in painting these I may have just started the Great Gold Paint Famine of 2021…
Above: “Sir! Here’s the menu from the local Ottoman take-away. What do you want and do you want to go halves on the rice?”
A close-up of my Army Commander (the central mounted figure). I’ve painted him as a Maréchal de France, so he has three rows of gold lace on his cuffs, as well as lots of extra gold lace up the seams of his sleeves and down his back. The uniform for French general officers had been standardised by this time, namely a royal blue coat, heavily laced with gold, with red waistcoat and breeches, but despite orders from the King to dress themselves properly, generals were still often a law unto themselves and waistcoats, breeches, etc could be different colours such as yellow or blue, and/or made of rich materials such as velvet.
Standing at the front-left are two dismounted Lieutenant-Generaux; note the two rows of lace on their cuffs. It’s bloody difficult to paint at this scale and with my middle-aged eyesight, but the gold lace should be ‘volute’ or zig-zag in style. the other three figures on the base are Aides-de-Camp, who at this time were ordered to wear a very plain, all-blue uniform with very simple gold lace buttonholes on the breast and cuffs, though senior officers could wear a strip of gold lace all the way down the breast, as modelled by the mounted ADC on the right. curiously, the Osprey book shows an ADC in a plain blue coat without lace and red waistcoat and breeches, yet the text describes the regulation uniform shown here. There’s no explanation, but he might be a supernumerary ADC, paid for by the general from his personal funds rather than by the King (these were permitted).
Above: Another Lieutenant-General supervises the deployment of his troops as another pair of Lieutenant-Generaux chat in the background.
Above: Yet another Lieutenant-General supervises his troops as he dabs his nose with a hanky (I do like this figure). Behind him a pair of Aides-de-Camp look on as a Maréchal-de-Camp (i.e. a brigade commander, identified by the single row of gold lace on his cuff), armoured with a steel cuirass beneath his coat, draws his sword and prepares to run away…
Anyway, that’s it for Frogruary as we start the month of ‘Marsch!’, which is devoted to painting all things vaguely Germanic, starting with a brigade of Swiss (German-speaking, obviously) and a brigade of Germans in the service of King Louis XV. They’ll probably then be followed by some more Prussians…
Anyway, that’s it for now. But this isn’t just goodbye, this is ‘Bonjour‘. Bonnet du Douche and Chambourcy Nouvelle!