“Mother Russia, Rain Down, Down, Down!”: My Napoleonic Russians (Part 1)

First my apologies to all lovers of Olive Drab, Jungle Green and Crabfat Blue, as it’s all been a bit overloaded with the lace, brightly-coloured coats, facings, buttons, muskets, sabres and tricorns of the 18th Century around here just lately.  So just to break the monotony, here’s some TOTALLY different lace, brightly-coloured coats, facings, buttons, muskets, sabres and shakos of the Napoleonic Wars… 🙂

As mentioned in my Review of 2020, I’ve got a large Napoleonic Russian Army, but an awful lot of it is pretty ropey, partly because I used dodgy models before AB Figures built up their range, but also because I’ve picked up a few other collections along the way.  The age of a lot of the painting also meant that my mate Jase’s hand-painted flags had turned dark brown due to his choice of varnish and a lot of mine had broken off through rough handling.  They were also based for three different rule-sets, which always made things awkward when playing games.  I actually bought tons of AB Figures Russian cavalry and artillery about 20 years ago and I also bought hundreds of replacement Russian flags from GMB Flags about five years ago, but had never got around to sprucing up my Russians! 

When lockdown started last March I finally resolved to re-base around 500 figures, replace all the flags and paint some fresh models, especially cavalry and artillery!  The infantry above represents only around half of my Russian infantry and the whole army, including all the cavalry, artillery and generals, fills two three-tier toolboxes like this one.  

Above:  As discussed last May, I made a start on my new Russians with some AB Cossacks.  These are probably some of my favourite figures of all time!  

Above:  However, the posing and the cast-on lances simply wouldn’t stand up to game-play for very long, so I replaced them with steel spears by North Star (which are sadly no longer in production) which have the twin advantages of being very strong and very sharp, so act as a deterrent to ham-fisted players…

Above:  I’ve still got another three units of Cossacks to paint, but I was feeling the itch to paint some Russian Cuirassiers, starting with the Military Orders Regiment here.

Above:  One of my objective games for that bright, sunlit day when we get out of Lockdown (well, once I’ve shaken off the hangover from going back to the pub…) is the Battle of Liebertwolkwitz, which was a large cavalry-battle fought on 14th October 1813, two days before the titanic Battle of Leipzig kicked off on the same ground.  The Russian 3rd Cuirassier Division, commanded by Generallieutenant Ilya Duka, fought in that battle, attached to the Advanced Guard of the Allied Army of Bohemia and consisted of two brigades, each of two regiments.  Generalmajor Gudowich’s Brigade consisted of the Military Order Cuirassiers and the Little Russia Cuirassiers.  I’ve therefore picked the Military Order Regiment to represent Gudowich’s Brigade.

Above:  The regimental facing colour for the Military Order Cuirassiers was black, which is visible here on the collars and shabraques, as well as the piping of their shoulder-straps and tail-turnbacks.  The regimental ‘metal’ colour was yellow, so the officers have gold buttons and epaulettes and shabraque-edging, while the rank and file have brass buttons and yellow shabraque-edging.  The standard is by Fighting 15s.

Above:  Another view of the Military Order Cuirassiers.  Russian Cuirassiers, in common with Prussian cuirassiers of the period, had previously lost their cuirasses, though got them back thanks to the renaissance of the cuirass in French military fashion.  Russian cuirasses were enameled black with red cloth lining, as shown here, though some regiments had polished steel (possibly captured from the French).

Above:  A rear view of the Military Order Cuirassiers.  Note that trumpeters had a red crest to their helmets and wore a laced coat without cuirass.  Trumpeters’ lace was normally in the facing colour, though the Military Order Regiment had a mix of black and orange lace.

Above:  The Novgorod Cuirassier Regiment.

Above:  Duka’s second brigade was commanded by Generalmajor Levaschov and consisted of the Novgorod and Starodub Cuirassier Regiments.  I can never resist potting the pink, so I’ve gone for the Novgorod Cuirassiers to represent this brigade.

Above:  The regimental facing colour for the Novgorod Cuirassiers was rose pink, which again is visible on the collar, shabraque and piping of the shoulder-straps and tail-turnbacks.  The regimental button colour was white, so the rank-and-file had white metal buttons and white shabraque-edging, while the officers had silver buttons, epaulettes and shabraque-edging.  However, note that the metalwork for helmets remained brass for all regiments.

Above:  The Novgorod Cuirassiers in closeup.  The standard is again by Fighting 15s.  Note that the standard of all regiments had a green stave and gold finial.

Above:  Rear view of the Novgorod Cuirassiers.  The trumpeter’s lace is pink, matching the facing colour.

Above:  The Soumy Hussar Regiment.  In keeping with the Liebertwolwitz theme, the bulk of the cavalry at that battle was provided by Generallieutenant Count von der Pahlen’s Cavalry Corps (actually a strong division).  The first of Pahlen’s brigades was commanded by Generalmajor von Rüdinger and consisted of two regiments, the Grodno Hussars and the Soumy Hussars.  I’ve therefore gone with the Soumy Hussars to represent this brigade.

Above:  The regimental distinctives for the Soumy Hussars were a grey uniform with red facings, white lace and white metal buttons.  Officers initially had silver lace, but they were permitted in 1812 to have white lace, in order to ease the financial burden on junior officers (this was applied across the army, with silver sashes, shako-cords, etc, also becoming white, or yellow instead of gold).  However, the officer here is clearly a wealthy man, as he’s gone for traditional silver lace.

Above:  The Soumy Hussars in closeup.  Russian Hussars were issued with lances from April-May 1812, with 640 lances being issued to each regiment; enough for 64 per squadron, or the entire front rank, minus officers and NCOs.  Uhlan instructors were used to train the Hussars in the use of the lance. 

These lances were painted black, though were not officially fitted with pennants.  However, pennants were unofficially acquired by most (possibly all) regiments, though only a few colours are known.  The known ones usually conform to the colours of the uniform in some way (e.g. dolman and facing colour, facing and lace colour, pelisse and lace colour, etc).  Some regiments used captured Polish and French pennants.  I’ve been unable to discover what, if any pennants were used by the Soumy Hussars, so have gone for red-over-white, which conforms to the uniform colours, but also might be captured from the enemy.

When training with the lance, it was soon discovered that the carbine, being slung on the right side, interfered with the proper handling of the lance and so permission was given for lance-equipped Hussars to discard the carbine and its associated white cross-belt.  you’ll therefore notice that only the sabre-armed second rank here have these items and the lance-armed front rank have just the natural leather cartouche-belt.

Above:  The Soumy Hussars marching to the flank, showing off their shabraques, which were grey, edged with red vandycking.

Above:  The Olviopol Hussar Regiment.  I should add that these were the very first Russian Hussars to come out of the mould at AB Figures back in the late 1990s and in a moment of madness, I bought this regiment in charging poses.  I will NEVER normally buy charging lances, as the lances don’t last five minutes on the table before some ham-fisted idiot (usually me) bends the bloody things!  Ah well, they do look good…

Above:  The Olviopol Hussars were assigned to Generalmajor Schwanow’s Hussar Brigade.  The regimental uniform was very similar to that of the Soumy Hussars above, switching the grey jacket-colour for dark green.  One other minor difference was that the regimental sabretache was in the jacket colour (green), embroidered with the facing colour (red), whereas in the case of the Soumy Hussars, the sabretache was in the facing colour (red), edged with the lace colour (white).

Above:  The Olviopol Hussars were one of the last three regiments to receive lances (along with the Belorussia Hussars and Lubny Hussars) and probably received them in 1813.  Once again, I’ve been unable to discover any evidence for pennants, so have simply copied another wargamer and gone with green over white, which suits the regimental colours.

Above:  A view of the other side, showing the sabretache, bearing Czar Alexander’s ‘A’ cypher in red.  Note also the green shabraques with red vandycking.

Above:  A rear view of the Olviopol Hussars.

Above:  The Tchuguiev Uhlans.  Note that there are various spellings for this regiment in English (Tchugujew, Chuguiyev, etc)!

Above:  The Tchuguiev Uhlans formed half of Generalmajor Lissanevich’s Brigade, along with the Lubny Hussars.

Above:  The Russian Uhlan regiments all had very similar uniforms, all having blue as the basic uniform colour, with various combinations of red, raspberry red or white as the facing/cap/pennant colours and yellow or white as the button/lace & cord colour.  The Tchuguiev Uhlans had the uniform shown here, with red lapels, cuffs, cap ‘box’, shabraque edging and jacket-piping and white cap-piping, cords and ‘metal’.  The girdle was red with a central blue stripe and the pennant was red over blue, with alternating central stripes.

Above:  Another view of the Tchuguiev Uhlans.  Some Uhlan regiments were issued with standards, but this regiment wasn’t one of them.

Above:  A rear view of the Tchuguiev Uhlans.  Note that the Russian Uhlan cap, or czapka had a black, waterproof oilskin top, unlike the lancers of other nations who often had a coloured top with a lace ‘X’.

Anyway, that’s enough from me for now!  Next time I’ll post some Russian artillery and infantry.  In the meantime and much to Mrs Fawr’s disgust, I’ve been playing with myself on the dining-room table again…  Game report to follow…

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

17 Responses to “Mother Russia, Rain Down, Down, Down!”: My Napoleonic Russians (Part 1)

  1. Stuart says:

    would be very easy to mistake those for 28mm. I would have to say that is probably the best 15/18mm painting have ever seen

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks Stuart, that’s very kind, but there are definitely better painters than me! 🙂 A lot of the credit has to go to Tony Barton, whose exquisite sculpting does most of the work.

  2. Ken Natt says:

    Brilliant brushwork Mark.

  3. Paulalba says:

    Gorgeous collection!!!

  4. Martin Radcliffe says:

    Those look truly fantastic! I think the Russians are possibly my favourite Napoleonic army so I’m looking forward to seeing the inf. and arty.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Martin! I haven’t done much new infantry yet, to be honest. Only a grenadier regiment. I was going to paint some Jagers last week, but my entire stock of uniform green was a bad batch and was all solid in the tins! 🙁 The green has now been replaced, so I’ll paint them this weekend before ‘Frogruary’ starts, because it’s only going to be SYW French from then onward.

  5. Bloody fabulous I must say Richard!

    I do like your cuirassiers particularly the Novgorod chaps in the night pink facings. I think I will add them to my list for the upcoming Perry miniatures release.


    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Matt! Yes, when in doubt, always pot the pink first… When not known as ‘Jemima’ I’m known as Mark… It’s complicated…

  6. Paul Smith says:

    Hi Mark

    Yet again another great and interesting blog! One thing I do not understand is how you manage the huge painting (and excellent it is) output – are there really two of you?

    And is that Shiloh/Pittsburg landing I see at the bottom?

    Cheers Paul

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Hi Paul,

      One or two of these armies are from a while back – the SYW Swedes and Prussians were painted in the 90s! 🙂

      But besides that, I do have a very understanding employer, who would FAR rather I was painting on the job than sleeping or staring at electronic devices. I only produce one or two 24-figure units (or 12/16-figure cavalry units) per week, which isn’t really that much, but over the course of a year, that’s a lot of models! 🙂

      Yes, it is indeed Shiloh. 🙂 I’m currently soloing the eastern half of the battle (Rich Hasenauer’s ‘The Hornet’s Nest’ scenario).

  7. James Fisher says:

    Mark, your painting continues to astound and amaze and I agree with Stuart; one would swear that they are of a larger scale. Not only beautifully painted, but excellent lighting for your photographs. Jaw-droppingly good!
    Regards, James

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks James, but the credit must go to Tony Barton for his sculpting and Wales for its endless sunshine…

      OK, I might have made up that last bit… It was sunny for one day, anyway… OK half a day… OK it was stopped raining and the sun came out just long enough for me to take some photos.

      More recent photographs, such as the SYW Bavarians, were taken in work, under the lovely new desk-lamp the boss bought us for Christmas! 🙂

  8. Pingback: “Mother Russia, Rain Down, Down, Down!”: My Napoleonic Russians (Part 2) | Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog

  9. Mike Boggs says:

    Mark, First off let me say I an impressed in the way you paint your figures. I am constantly looking at photos on the blog to help me in getting back into painting and wargaming. I am currently working on the 1812 Alexandria Hussars and I have some questions looking at the Soumy and Olviopol Hussars you painted. Question #1. When reference is made to Russian Red Leather for the straps and cartridge pouch. Is this a reddish brown color such as Vallejo Hull Red, Burnt Cadmium Red or Red (70.926)? I noticed you used a lighter brown. Question #2. As far as the shabraques are concerned for the hussars, I have seen references in pictures, paintings, other painters work and re-enactors of the shabraques with white piping. Can you tell me if the white piping disappeared between 1809 and ruffly 1819? Question #3. What brand of paints do you use and do you do a lot of color mixing to get the desired color you are wanting?

    Again I enjoy your blog a lot and it is really inspiring.

    Cheers Mike

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks Mike, much appreciated! 🙂

      I learned a VERY long time ago, not to get too hung up on exact shades of colour, especially when separated from the originals by centuries. 🙂

      The red leather is just my standard ‘orangey’ red leather shade – Humbrol 60 base with a 62 highlight. For a darker shade I used 160 base with 60 highlight (which funnily enough is the colour of most of my horses).

      I very rarely worry too much about matching the exact shade, ESPECIALLY when I’m going to have to paint entire armies in the same shade. I think the Saxon Garde du Korps were an exception, but they were a single unit, so I didn’t have to worry about having to duplicate the colour again later. My colour-mixing is generally limited to adding a bit of black, white or yellow to taste. I use Humbrol enamels, as I’ve used them since the 1980s and know exactly which tin to use for which job, without even thinking. The ONLY different paints in my paint-box are ‘Liquid Leaf’ enamel metallics and a couple of Vallejo acrylic purples (Humbrol don’t do a decent purple any more). Wherever possible I just like to use paints ‘out of the tin’ without mixing faff.

      As it happens, I was recently researching Russian cross-belts for the Seven Years War, as they’re variously depicted as various shades of red brown, buff or pale straw, so I was wondering if there was any logic to it. According to a very learned Russian scholar on TMP, this all stems from a mis-interpretation of the term ‘Red Elk Leather’. People have taken it to mean ‘red leather’, but in fact it means leather taken from a species known as the Red Elk! 🙂 In fact it was whitened, but not very effectively, leaving it typically a pale buff colour… I love historical confusion like that… 😀

      Re the Soumy and Olviopol Hussars, I painted them according to the sources available to me at the time; namely Knoetel, Osprey, Hourtoulle and The Internet. Since then I’ve discovered Viskatov, who shows the Soumy Hussars as having inner piping of white and outer piping of red around the vandycking. In the case of the Olviopol Hussars the outer piping is white and the inner piping is green. But then I HATE painting piping… Doubly so around vandycking…



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