Some Napoleonic French Allies (15mm AB Figures)

Everybody needs friends.  Doubly so if you’re French…  So here are some allies for Napoleon.

These are all AB Figures 15mm (the kewl kidz call them ’18mm’ nowadays, but they were 15mm when I bought them.  That’s inflation for you…).  Most of these have been painted in the last couple of years, since the Waterloo Bicentennial brought me back to Napoleonic wargaming.

All my stuff is based and organised for Napoleon’s Battles (now in its 4th Edition), which is a ‘grand-tactical’ ruleset, where each unit represents a brigade or large regiment.  I paint one representative unit to represent each brigade.

The Duchy of Warsaw

Above:  To start us off is the 15th Infantry Regiment of the Duchy of Warsaw.  Identifying who was wearing what and when in the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw is something of a nightmare, so I recommending getting Mr Rawkins’ magnificent e-book on the subject.

[Edited 25 Feb 21: Sadly I’ve just heard on the grapevine that Mr Rawkins passed away in December 2020 and the website is no more, so I’ve removed the link. 🙁 ]

Note that it was simply the ‘Duchy of Warsaw’, NOT the ‘GRAND Duchy of Warsaw’!

Above:  I used a spare French Guard Lancer officer here to  produce a generic Duchy of Warsaw cavalry general.

Above:  Duchy of Warsaw Foot Artillery.  There is something very appealing about this relatively simple uniform of dark green with black facings piped red and white cross-belts over the top.  The artillery of the Kingdom of Italy wore a very similar uniform in the same colours, but these have a coat cut in Polish style, with short lapels.  The Italians wore coats cut in French style.

Polish guns were just like the French, in that they were polished brass with carriages painted ‘olive-drab’ and metal fittings painted black.

Above:  The Duchy of Warsaw Horse Artillery wore the same colours as the Foot Artillery, but the coat was a single-breasted jacket in the same style as that worn by the Polish Chasseur a Cheval regiments.  This was topped off with a single cross-belt, a waist-belt suspending a cavalry sabre in a steel scabbard and a black cavalry busby with red pompom and dark green bag.


Above: It took some considerable digging, but after several years I finally found a description for the uniform of a Hessen-Darmstadt general!  The single-breasted coatee was dark blue, with red collar and cuffs and blue turnbacks, all heavily edged and decorated with silver ‘foliate’ lace, akin to that worn by French generals.  Epaulettes were silver and the waist-sash was mixed silver & red.  The bicorne hat was unlaced and had a white ostrich-feather edge.  I couldn’t find any information on the shabraque, but went with blue, edged silver.  I used a spare French general figure.


Above:  The Westphalian Horse Artillery of the Guard wore a uniform very similar to that of the French Horse Artillery of the Line, so I’ve used French figures for these chaps.  Like the French Horse Artillery, they wore a dark blue uniform with red collar, cuffs, turnbacks and trouser-stripes, epaulettes, plumes and shako-cords with yellow-metal buttons.

However, unlike the French they wore red waistcoats with yellow hussar-lace and a pair of yellow lace bars on each side of the collar and on each cuff-flap.  Cross-belts were pale buff, though the waist-belts appear to have been white.  The Westphalian national cockade of white & blue was worn on the front upper edge of the shako.

Most sources describe the guns as being the same as the French, but some sources suggest ‘yellow stripes’ or ‘yellow spokes’ on the wheels.


Above:  Like the Polish artillery, there’s something about the uniform of post-1810 Saxon Foot Artillery that I find very appealing.  The 1810 Pattern coat was cut in the Germanic ‘Spencer’ style that had already become military fashion in Bavaria and other Confederation of the Rhine armies.  The coat was green (the exact shade of which varies depending on what you read or see – I’ve gone for a slightly bright ‘French Dragoon’ green), with lapels, collar, cuffs and turnbacks in red, with yellow metal buttons and without lace.  Shako cords and carrot-shaped pompoms were red, while trousers were grey.  In full-dress the trousers could also have red piping at the seams.

Saxon guns were polished brass and the carriages were stained black, producing a very dark grey shade.  Metal fittings were painted with yellow-ochre (the idea being that the yellow banding on black would reflect the coat-of-arms of Saxony).

Above:  I make no apologies for posting a few photos of this next unit, which is probably my favourite Napoleonic unit; the Saxon Garde du Korps.

Above:  While the Army of Saxony was fairly indifferent in terms of quality and was occasionally downright awful, the Saxon heavy cavalry (i.e. the Garde du Korps, Leib Cuirassiers and Zastrow Cuirassiers) were absolutely superb and among the finest cavalry in the world at the time.  The Garde du Korps and Zastrow Cuirassiers in particular, won immortal fame alongside the 14th Polish Cuirassiers, in storming the Great Redoubt at Borodino on horseback!  A feat possibly unique in military history?

Above:  Not only are they epic units to wield in a wargame, they are also some of the most beautiful models to come from the talented hand of Mr Barton.  The Garde du Korps are modelled here as they fought at Borodino, with cloaks rolled en bandolier over the shoulder as limited protection from sabre-cuts and with the fancier items of uniform such as white helmet-plumes and shoulder-scales removed.

Note that I do a fair bit of arm-bending when painting charging cavalry regiments.  Tony Barton himself has said that the limitations of the moulding process means that he can’t do the full range of charging poses that he’s like, so he often models figures that are designed to be (carefully!) bent, to produce a more realistic charging pose.  Anyone who has painted AB Austrian Hussars will know the officer figure with his sabre held out straight at the side – I often see this painted just like that, slashing away at his neighbouring hussars (!), but he is specifically meant to be re-posed! 🙂

Above:  The yellow-cream shade of the Garde du Korps’ coat was something I wanted to get ‘looking right’.  It’s very difficult to know exactly what colour historic uniforms were, as time and age alters the colour of surviving uniform dyes and the paints of those artists who recorded them, but these coats seem to have been a deep yellow-cream shade: perhaps not as pale as the ‘pale straw’ of 18th Century Prussian Cuirassiers, yet not quite yellow-buff or even canary-yellow I often see them depicted on the wargames table and in modern artwork.

My primary guide to the coat-colour is this plate from a series of plates on the Saxon Army that was published in 1810, at exactly the time that the army was receiving its new uniforms.  These plates were very carefully preserved and seem to have retained their original rich colouring (as best as can be ascertained), so would appear to be the best possible guide to the original colouring.  I spent a fair bit of time mixing buff, yellow and white until I was happy with the colour.  Thankfully there was only one such regiment, as I probably wouldn’t be able to match the shade!  Note also that the regimental facing colour was quite a bright, royal blue.

Above:  The Garde du Korps trumpeters wore red coats with blue facings and blue/yellow lace.  At the shoulders they had red ‘swallows’ nests’ with a lace lower-edge.  They also carried silver trumpets on white cords and helmet crests were red.  However, I made one error, in that their horses should be black, just like the rank-and-file.  Somewhat unusually, it was the officers who rode greys in this regiment, not the trumpeters.

Above:  This Garde du Korps officer figure is a single-piece casting and has to be one of my favourite all-time models.  As mentioned above, the officer here should be riding a grey horse, not the trumpeters!  Ah well…

I highlight black horses with a very, very dark brown (a touch of red-brown added to black), while the tails and manes are highlighted with a very dark grey.

Note that for some reason, Tony Barton didn’t do standard bearers for the Saxon cavalry, which is a shame.  He tends not to model them when there is historical evidence that they didn’t carry them in battle (e.g. French light cavalry and British cavalry).  I’ve got no information either way with regard to Saxon cavalry, but I had one broken sabre in the unit, so decided to turn him into a standard-bearer. 🙂  The standard is by Fighting 15s.


Above:  Here we have a Baden general, which is produced from a spare French general figure.  Baden generals wore a dark blue double-breasted coat with silver buttons and epaulettes.  Cuffs, collar and turnbacks were red.  The collar and cuffs had silver lace edging and silver foliate lace decoration.  There was also a strip of silver lace down the edge of the buttoned-over lapel.  The waist-sash was mixed silver, gold and red.  The cocked had had a silver scalloped lace edge and white ostrich-feather trim.  The cockade for generals was black instead of the usual yellow/red Baden national cockade worn by Baden troops.

Above:  The Baden Foot Artillery wore a uniform almost exactly the same as that worn by Bavarian artillery, being a dark blue ‘Spencer’ coat with black collar, cuffs and lapels, red turnbacks on the tails and yellow-metal buttons and shoulder-scales.  Some sources describe red piping on the black facings, just like the Bavarians, though other sources do not show this.  I’ve opted for the plain black without red piping.  Belts were white.

Breeches were grey, worn with black gaiters.  The black leather helmets were of Bavarian style (being slightly different to the high-crested helmets worn by Baden infantry), though had an Austrian-style (roughly triangular) brass helmet plate on the front as opposed to the small oval badge worn by the Bavarians.  There was brass reinforcing up the sides and around the brim.  The yellow/red national cockade was worn on the left side and in full dress was surmounted by a white plume.

Baden guns were polished brass and the carriages were blue-grey with metal fittings painted black.

Note that these are actually Battle Honours Bavarian artillery figures, modelled by Tony Barton before he formed AB Figures.

Above:  The Baden Light Dragoon Regiment was a very well-regarded cavalry regiment that saw quite a bit of action in the main theatres of war.  In 1809 they were brigaded with the Hessen-Darmstadt Chevauxleger Regiment as the cavalry reserve for Massena’s IV Corps, seeing action at Eggmuehl (where they also provided escort for Napoleon), Aspern-Essling and Wagram.  In 1813 they were one of the largest cavalry regiments in Napoleon’s reformed Grand Armee and were brigaded with the French 10th Hussars as part of Ney’s III Corps, fighting at Luetzen, Bautzen, Gross-Beeren, Dennewitz and Leipzig.  Consequently, they’re a very handy regiment to have as part of a French army, even if you don’t have a Baden contingent.

I actually painted these nearly 20 years ago (where does the time go…?) for the first of three AB Figures Wargames Weekends, when we did an epic refight of the Battle of Eggmuehl (known as Eckmuhl to the French).  As that game was fought at 1:20 ratio, using General de Brigade rules, this is a VERY big unit compared to my usual offerings!  I’ve since kept 20 figures and rebased them for Napoleon’s Battles while giving the remaining 14 figures to a friend.

The uniform of the Baden Light Dragoon Regiment was almost identical in style to those worn by Bavarian cavalry regiments and I therefore used AB Figures Bavarian cavalry figures.  The only bit of ‘fettling’ required is to clip the shoulder-scales off the shoulders and file them down into pointed shoulder-straps (the officers and trumpeters require no fettling).

Coats, overall trousers and shabraques were all sky-blue, with red facings, trouser-stripes and shabraque-edging.  Shoulder-straps were sky blue, piped red.  Trumpeters had red shabraques with white edging, plus red swallows-nests on the shoulders and white lace edging to the facings and chevrons running up the sleeves.  Trumpeters also had ‘false sleeves’ handing down their back (like the Bavarians) which were edged with white lace.

Officers wore silver shoulder-scales and a silver aiguillette on the right shoulder.  Belts were black leather with silver edging and decorations.  Officers also had silver edging to their shabraques.  Senior officers wore black plumes.

The black leather helmets were of Bavarian style, with white plumes and silver reinforcing up the sides and around the brim of the visor.  There was also a silver band across the front, with a silver oval badge and a silver chain above.  A yellow and red national cockade was worn on the left, just below the plume.  Belts were white.  Trumpeters plumes were of a hanging, horsehair panache style, with red at the top and white at the bottom.

Anyway, that’s it for now!

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Minor States, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Some Napoleonic French Allies (15mm AB Figures)

  1. Excellent collection there. They are lovely figures and paint up so well.

  2. Tony Miles says:

    Very nice collection.

  3. Pingback: More Napoleonic French Allies (Saxon & Westphalian Cuirassiers) | Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.