Some More French Napoleonic Allies

It’s all been a bit wordy and rather ‘Jungle Green’ around here just lately, so I thought I’d throw some Napoleonics in to brighten the place up a bit!  As has been mentioned here before, everyone needs friends and that’s doubly true if you’re French, so here are some Germanic allies for Napoleon.  These are mostly from the darkest crypts of my collection and some were painted nearly 30 years ago.

This article is also brought to you by the letter ‘W’…

The Kingdom of Westphalia

The Westphalian Army is one that I really need to expand, but I’ve been holding out for the day when the sainted AB Figures sculptor extraordinaire Tony Barton adds some full-dress Confederation of the Rhine figures to the range.  He has recently added some infantry figures with covered shakos which would be suitable, as would the recent release of 1815 Young Guard figures, but I’m hoping that he might also eventually add some Confederation infantry in bearskins and full shako-ornaments (as well as some Westphalian Kürassiere and horse artillery).  Once upon a time he sculpted these little beauties for Battle Honours and I painted one solitary regiment of Westphalians (the 5th Line Infantry Regiment).  I’d love to have more of these figures, but they disappeared from Battle Honours’ listings years ago and I’ve lost track of who actually sells the range these days.

Westphalian infantry regiments initially had differently-coloured facings (the 5th initially had yellow facings), but in 1810 all regiments changed to dark blue facings with brass buttons.  Drummers’ livery varied by regiment, but the drummers of the 5th had sky-blue coats with yellow facings and yellow/red lace edging and chevrons down the sleeves.

The style was very French, though the coat was of the square-lapelled ‘Spencer’ style, which was used by a lot of Confederation of the Rhine nations and which was eventually adopted by the French Army (as the Habit-Veste) with the Bardin Uniform Regulations of 1812.  

Organisation, headgear and company distinctions were wholly French: Grenadiers had scarlet cords, plumes and epaulettes (the 1st Regiment’s grenadiers had bearskins).  The Voltigeurs had green cords, green plume with yellow tip and green epaulettes with yellow crescents.  The four Fusilier companies in each battalion had white cords and pompoms coloured by company; 1st – sky-blue, 2nd – white, 3rd – yellow and 4th – green.  Fusiliers initially had white shoulder-straps piped in the facing colour, but from 1809 or 1812 (sources vary) could also wear dark blue epaulettes with white crescents.

The Westphalian Army wasn’t issued with Eagles and just used spear-pointed gold finials for its flags.  Staves were black and the infantry flags were modelled on the French 1804 Pattern infantry flag, though with dark blue corners and German inscriptions.  As these were painted waaaaay back in the mists of time (about 1992ish) you’ll note that I was still painting all my own flags at this time and the base is painted old-skool grass-green with a dry-brush of yellow.  I’ve re-done a lot of my old bases to my ‘new’ standard (new in 1997, anyway) of dark earth, dry-brushed sand and patchily flocked, but these are some that have thus far avoided being altered.

I’ve posted these here before as I only painted them a couple of years ago, but my only other Westphalian unit is this battery of Westphalian Guard Horse Artillery.  Unlike other Westphalian units, they wore the French-style coatee with exposed waistcoat, so are identical in style to pre-1812 French Horse Artillery.  Most uniform details are the same as for the French, except that the shako had the white/blue Westphalian cockade, the collar was scarlet with two bars of yellow lace on each side, the cuff-flaps had two bars of yellow buttonhole lace, the waistcoat was scarlet with yellow hussar-braid and the cross-belts were pale buff (the waist-belt seems to have been white though). 

Guns were French Year XI Pattern, though manufactured in Westphalia and were painted the usual French olive green with black metalwork and brass barrels, though some sources suggest yellow ‘stripes’ on the wheels or yellow spokes.  I’ve stuck with plain olive green, as it allows me to swap the (loose) gun models around between the French and Duchy of Warsaw.

The Grand Duchy of Würzburg

The Grand Duchy of Würzburg (which had briefly been part of Bavaria from 1803) was formed in 1805 as part of Napoleon’s new Confederation of the Rhine or Rheinbund and as such, was required to provide the Rheinbund with an infantry regiment of two battalions.  The Würzburg regiment was designated as the 3rd Rheinbund Infantry Regiment (though some sources seem to be confused, alternatively suggesting that they were the 7th or 8th Regiment).  Würzburg also raised a company of artillery (eight captured 6pdrs, being either Austrian or Prussian guns) and a squadron of chevaulégers. 

In 1809 the infantry regiment and artillery company were sent to Spain and suffered catastrophic losses.  By the end of the year they had been reduced in strength by two thirds.  Consequently, the 2nd Battalion was disbanded and amalgamated into the 1st Battalion, which spent the rest of the war in Spain.  A new 2nd Battalion was raised in 1812, closely followed by a 3rd and 4th Battalion.  The new battalions spent 1812 in Poland, but in 1813 the 2nd & 3rd Battalions took to the field as an infantry regiment of 1,800 men with the Grande Armée in Germany, fighting at the Battles of Bautzen and Leipzig with Brayer’s Brigade of Durutte’s 32nd Division, Reynier’s VII Corps.  The 4th Battalion remained in Poland as a fortress garrison, while the Chevaulégers Squadron, consisting of a little over 200 men, served with MacDonald’s XI Corps (being brigaded with the Italian 4th Chasseurs à Cheval) and fought at Lützen, Bautzen, the Katzbach and Leipzig.  

The infantry battalions were organised along French lines, with four Fusilier Companies, a Grenadier Company and a Voltigeur Company.  These were initially dressed in the uniforms of the pre-1803 Würzburg Army, which was essentially identical to the Austrian infantry uniform of the period, being a white single-breasted coat with scarlet facings, brass buttons and a black leather helmet with brass front-plate and reinforcing.  The only noticeable difference to Austrian infantry was that the woollen helmet-crest was plain black instead of the Austrian black & yellow.  However, unlike the Austrians, the elite companies eventually adopted French-style distinctions; namely a plume on the left-side of the helmet and fringed epaulettes on the shoulders.  These were scarlet for Grenadiers and green for Voltigeurs.  The Fusilier companies had no differentiating distinctions.  The drummers followed the Austrian style of having the same uniform as the rest, except for scarlet ‘swallows’ nests’ laced with white.  Drums were brass with red/white striped hoops.  The Artillery Company had Austrian-style brown uniforms with scarlet facings.

Like many other French-allied contingents in Spain, supply problems meant that they soon changed to French-style uniforms with shakos.  Shako cockades were yellow/blue/red (yellow outermost).  The 1st Battalion in Spain seems to have retained the single-breasted coat style and the elite company distinctions remained the same (plain red plumes and epaulettes for Grenadiers and plain green for Voltigeurs), though with yellow shako-cords for all companies.  The Fusilier companies’ pompom details are unclear (sources variously show white pompoms, sky-blue pompoms or nothing at all being worn apart from cords and cockade). 

Back in Germany, the newly-raised battalions adopted a white French-style pre-1812 light infantry coat with scarlet collar, lapels, cuffs and turnbacks, with white cuff-flaps and shoulder-straps piped scarlet.  Buttons were brass.  All Fusilier companies had white shako-cords and pompoms.  The Grenadiers had shakos with scarlet cords, plumes and epaulettes.  The Voltigeurs had green cords, yellow plumes with a green tip and green epaulettes with yellow crescents.  Sources are split over whether the Voltigeur plume had a white or green pompom at its base.  Sources are also split over whether the drummers continued with a white uniform, decorated with scarlet swallows’ nests, or changed to a more ostentatious sky-blue uniforms with scarlet facings and yellow lace edging.  Drums were brass, with hoops recorded as being either red/white striped as before or yellow/blue/red striped.  It may be that the 1st Battalion in Spain continued with the old colours, while the new battalions adopted the sky-blue uniform. 

Each battalion carried two flags (yes, I know I’ve only shown one here, but it’s a small unit), with all flags being of an identical standard pattern.  This was a yellow field, with Grand Duke Ferdinand’s ‘F’ monogram in red, surrounded by a wreath on the obverse and his arms, again surrounded by a wreath on the reverse.  Both sides were edged with red, white and blue triangles.  The stave was striped red and white, barber-pole style (Ferdinand was Italian, after all) and had a gilt finial.

It’s not clear if the 1st Battalion and Artillery Company in Spain ever received the new French-style uniform or if they continued to use their old Austrian style of coat.  However, the Knötels painted a Würzburg gunner (shown here) circa 1812, wearing a French-style uniform in brown, with scarlet facings and distinctions, with brass buttons and shoulder-scales.  It’s not clear if this uniform was adopted by the Artillery Company in Spain, or if this was the uniform of a new company being raised in Germany. 

The Würzburg Chevauleger Squadron initially wore a uniform virtually identical to the Austrian Chevaulegers, in dark green with scarlet facings.  However, the helmet had a plain black woollen crest and a black plume tipped with scarlet on the left side.  By 1812 the helmet had been replaced by a shako with the same plume (over a scarlet pompom) and scarlet cords, while the coat had scarlet fringed epaulettes added. 

The Würzburg Infantry were among the first AB Figures I ever painted back in the early 90s, for a club demo game of the Battle of Bautzen.  As with the Westphalians, I was still painting my own flags and painting the bases green!  I got them slightly wrong, as the lapels are line infantry, square-ended style, not light infantry pointed-style, but in my defence, this was pre-internet, so my sources were very limited!

The Kingdom of Württemberg

Way back in the last century, I was co-opted to scenario-plan and umpire a series of very large Napoleonic games; first for AB Figures (who were then based here in Wales) and then for Dave Brown, the General de Brigade author.  The first of those epic games was the Battle of Eggmühl 1809, which was fought at 1:20 ratio on a 16×16-foot table (actually three parallel tables) and exquisite terrain over two days.  The scenario after-action report later appeared in Wargames Illustrated and I took most of the scenery and troops up to Newark for a photo-shoot with Duncan MacFarlane, the genial then-editor of Wargames Illustrated.  The end result appeared in Wargames Illustrated No. 153 (June 2000) and I think spilled over into the following month as well.

There was one slight problem… A pivotal moment in the battle was when Von Hügel’s Württemberg Light Infantry Brigade (closely supported by Von Wöllwarth’s Württemberg Cavalry Division) stormed the bridge at Eggmühl and ejected the defending Grenzer, thus clearing the way for Napoleon’s heavy cavalry reserve to deploy onto the battlefield.  However, AB didn’t make any Württembergers…

Thankfully, the sainted Mr Barton came to our rescue and produced a range of Württembergers just in time for the game! 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever painted such a quantity of figures in such a short space of time, but I managed to paint two 32-figure Jäger battalions, two 32-figure Light Infantry battalions, 64x skirmishers (16 for each battalion), two four-gun artillery batteries, a brigade headquarters and a load of casualties in about three weeks!  However, I really don’t now need all those troops for my own collection, so I’ve actually given around half of them away to a friend.

Here’s the 1st (König) Jäger Battalion.  Purists will notice that these are actually in the 1812 uniform.  The shako worn in 1809 had green fabric inserts and a tall green plume, as shown here on the right.  In full dress the lapels were also coloured black and had white buttonhole lace.  By 1812 the shako had been simplified and the lapels had changed to dark green, edged white, without buttonhole lace.  The uniform for the 2nd (Neuffer) Jäger Battalion was exactly the same, except buttons and officers’ metalwork was yellow metal instead of white metal.

None of these units carried flags of any sort, but I tend to find that a mounted officer serves as a nice focal point for a unit if it doesn’t have a flag.  However, there aren’t any mounted Württemberg light infantry officers in the range, so I converted them from AB Figures Saxon mounted infantry officers simply by filing off the lower portion of their lapels to turn them into Württemberg-style half-lapels.

This is the 2nd (Brüselle) Light Infantry Battalion.  The uniform was of the same cut and style as the Jäger, though instead of their sombre black facings and belts, the Light Infantry had a very striking combination of sky-blue facings with buff belts and instead of green legwear they had white breeches or grey overalls.  The uniform of the 1st (Wolff) Light Infantry Battalion was exactly the same, except the buttons and officers’ metal work were white metal instead of the yellow metal shown here.

Purists will again note that these chaps are in the uniform worn in 1812.  In 1809 they would have had green fabric inserts in the body of the shako and scarlet plumes.

As all veteran wargames know, a newly-painted unit, regardless of elite status, will always perform badly in its first battle and this was certainly true of the Württemberg Light Infantry Brigade… Dave Brown threw them repeatedly across Eggmühl Bridge, only to meet volley after volley of double-sixes being rolled in their face!  The casualties were horrific and included both the brigade AND divisional commander.  In desperation, Dave finally the the Württemberg cavalry across the bridge, only to meet the same fate and the death of yet another Württemberg general… Never in the field of miniature human combat have so many double-sixes been rolled by so few… With the aid of an absolute crap-ton of casualty figures, I recreated this infamous scene in the pages of Wargames Illustrated, only for Duncan to then receive letters complaining about the amount of dead being depicted on our table… In response, we of course ensured that the next game (Auerstädt 1806) had CONSIDERABLY  more casualty figures on show… 🙂 

We didn’t actually need any Württemberg Line Infantry for the Eggmühl game, but the line infantry master figures arrived first from Tony, so they got painted first as insurance.  These would act as stand-ins if the light infantry and jäger figures didn’t arrive in time for the game.  In the event they never got used, but they’re certainly seen a lot of action in other games since.

The orange facings, white metal buttons and scarlet flag identify these chaps as the 2nd (Herzog Wilhelm) Infantry Regiment.  They wore helmets until 1813, whereupon they switched to a shako, which had a rear-peak like the Austrian infantry shako.  Some sources suggest scarlet facings, matching the flag, but the general weight of opinion seems to suggest orange.  While most Württemberg regimental flags matched the facing colour, that wasn’t always the case. 

Speaking of flags, I’ve just noticed that the paint has popped off the stave due to getting bent… Sigh… This was one of the first printed flags I ever used.  I had already painted a load of Minifigs Württembergers and painted the flags, but time here was short, so I used one of the printed flags sold at the time by Mike.  I think this was by ‘Flags for AB’, which became ‘Fighting 15s Flags‘.

Although I haven’t painted any Württembergers for 20 years, AB have just this week released a Württemberg Grenadier figure, so I might have to get a few of those to add grenadier companies to my battalions.  They wore a curious variation on the infantry helmet; instead of the ‘fore-and-aft’ woollen crest they had a transverse ‘ear-to-ear’ bearskin fur crest.  So from the front they look rather like Austrian grenadier caps, but still have the brass ‘comb’ running up the back.

Unfortunately, we didn’t quite receive ALL of Tony’s new Württemberg figures in time for the game and this included both the foot and horse artillery.  I therefore converted these Bavarian foot artillery figures into Württembergers by clipping off the Bavarian shoulder-scales and again shortening the lapels.  The helmet is slightly too tall for Württembergers, but the difference isn’t too noticeable.  AB did eventually produce Württemberg Foot Artillery figures, but I’ve just carried on using these.

I did eventually paint some pukka Württemberg Horse Artillery figures, as seen here.  The folded-down lapels should probably have yellow lace edging and may well be faced with black cloth.  I also clearly forgot to finish off the cartridge, which should be an iron ball fixed to a linen cylinder – I forgot to paint the linen bit.

Württemberg guns are described as ‘buff-coloured’ (with black iron fittings and brass barrels), though these are a little pale for my taste.  If I’m feeling bored, I might re-paint them in a darker shade.  It has been suggested that this ‘buff’ colour might simply have been plain varnished wood.

Württemberg generals were pretty indistinguishable from their French equivalents, except for the yellow/black/red national cockade and the general officers’ sash, which was coloured silver, gold and red.  I’ve therefore used an AB French general and his staff consists of officers of jäger, light infantry and horse artillery (for the latter I’ve used a line infantry officer).

When Mike decided to sell off his Napoleonic collection in 2005ish, it was slightly complicated as I’d painted quite a lot of it for the three mega-games and various other bits and pieces along the way, but no money had ever changed hands; he’d give me the figures, I’d paint them for the game and they’d all go into the box together.  However, he very generously gave me a ton of stuff, including all the Württembergers, which included some units painted by a very talented painter called Neil Mullis. 

Neil uses a very simple and effective painting technique; starting with a black undercoat, he just blocks on the colours, using no highlighting or shading whatsoever.  Many have tried to use this method, but Neil is the only person I’ve ever seen to truly master it and his use of colour is often very striking.

I should mention that this is the 2nd (Herzog Heinrich) Chevauxléger Regiment.  AB also do figures for the 1st Leib-Chevauxlégers, which have the older-style helmet with horsehair mane and plume.  However, they’ve never done the third Württemberg cavalry type, the Jäger zu Pferde which made up half of the Württemberg cavalry arm and had the same uniform cut and helmet as these chaps, though with short light cavalry boots.  However, most people I know just use these figures and ignore the wrong boots!

I originally had 34 of these fellas for a full regiment at 1:20 ratio; four squadrons of eight figures (officer, trumpeter and 6x troopers), plus an HQ of two figures.  However, that’s far more than I need, so I’ve kept 20 and given the rest to a mate.  I’ve also turned one of the waving/pointing officers into a standard-bearer with the aid of some brass wire and a flag by Fighting 15s.

Here’s a rear-view showing Neil’s horse-painting technique, which is totally different to his figure-painting.  He uses a heavy washes of colour onto a white undercoat and it looks very effective.

Anyway, that’s enough Napoleonicking for now!  That said, I recently won an astounding victory as the Spanish (!) against the French oppressor (or ‘Phil’ as I know him), so I might write about that next time… 🙂 

Arriba España! 

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

8 Responses to Some More French Napoleonic Allies

  1. Jason says:

    Great article again Mark.

  2. Doug says:

    bloody lovely. A unit of Wurttembergers was the first 15mm figures I ever painted. Little Jacobite miniatures ones. Lovely uniforms, and Funcken was about the only reference available. I suspect they were all wrong.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Doug!

      Yeah, it was Funcken for me too, along with the Nafziger booklet (who didn’t seem to disagree with Funcken to any great degree).

  3. Martin Radcliffe says:

    Excellent- the Wurttemburg light troops look particularly good.

  4. James Fisher says:

    Bright and beautiful for sure. Nearly thirty years ago you were already churning out gems!
    As Doug said, the access to quality books and other information about uniforms has blossomed over those years hasn’t it? Then there is our realisation that colour of uniforms and matériel is an ever moving feast when one mixes natural dyes with the weather and rigors of campaign.
    Regards, James

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Yes indeed! I still love my Funckens, but they’re more of nostalgic value nowadays! 🙂 They certainly were heady days in the late 90s, when the internet exploded and sites such as the Napoleon Series and Dallas Gavan’s Napoleonic blog appeared. The amount of research and information available just exploded overnight (along with the Napoleonic flame-wars…).

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