More Napoleonic French Allies (Saxon & Westphalian Cuirassiers)

My painting since November has been a bit random, consisting mostly of Napoleonic bits and pieces that I’ve been wanting to paint for a while, but kept getting knocked back while the big Seven Years War and American Civil War projects got in the way.  Chief among these are some new figures that were released by AB Figures during 2021 (Chasseurs à Cheval of the Young Guard, Westphalian Cuirassiers and Saxon Hussars) and some odd regiments that we’ll need later in the year for a planned refight of the 1813 Battle of Dresden.  Fortunately there is some overlap in these two groups, but I’m also painting the odd regiment that tickles my fancy along the way.

The Saxon Zastrow Cuirassier Regiment has been sitting in my lead-dungeon for about 20 years, having once again been taken from the very first spin of the mould, along with some Saxon Garde du Corps and Chevauxlégers (my lead addiction was quite severe in those days).  I painted their comrades of the Garde du Corps about six years ago

Although the Royal Saxon Army had something of a poor reputation throughout the period, the Saxon cavalry and especially the heavy regiments (Garde du Corps, Leib Cuirassiers and Zastrow Cuirassiers*) were absolutely superb. 

* There was also initially the Carabinier Regiment, though these were disbanded in 1810.

In 1812, the Garde du Corps and Zastrow Cuirassiers, along with the Duchy of Warsaw 14th Cuirassiers and Hiller’s Saxon Horse Battery, were grouped as a brigade under the command of the Saxon General von Thielmann, which in turn was part of Lorge’s 7th Cuirassier Division of Latour-Maubourg’s 4th Cavalry Corps.  Von Lepel’s brigade, consisting of the 1st & 2nd Westphalian Cuirassier Regiments and a Westphalian horse battery, formed the other half of the division.  At the Battle of Borodino, Lorge’s Division with Thielmann’s brigade at the head, won eternal fame in mounting a colossal charge against the counter-attack in concert with other formations, thus enabling the Great (or ‘Raevsky’) Redoubt to be taken (with some cavalrymen actually entering the redoubt), though in the process losing around one-third of their strength.

After being effectively destroyed in Russia, the Garde du Corps and Zastrow Cuirassiers were re-formed and fought again at Dresden and Leipzig, before defecting to the Allies.

Tony Barton’s sculpting has certainly done these superb horsemen justice and in my opinion they’re among the very best of his models, which is probably why I now have far more than I need!  As previously discussed, most of my Napoleonic wargaming is ‘grand tactical’ using Napoleon’s Battles rules, where each unit represents a brigade.  Age of Eagles rules are set at the same command-level and we’ll be using AoE for our forthcoming Dresden game.  Consequently, I only really need a single unit of 12-16 figures to represent the whole Saxon cuirassier brigade, but what the hell…?

As with the rest of the AB Figures Napoleonic Saxon range, these are modelled in the late-war uniforms issued in 1810.  These were VERY different to the very old-fashioned uniforms worn during the 1806 and 1809 Campaigns.  I will eventually ‘need’ to get an early-war Saxon army for those campaigns (primarily to go with my as-yet-unpainted 1806 Prussian army), which I will probably do using the very nice Eureka Miniatures range.  Oh yes, and a Seven Years War Saxon army is also on the cards… I can handle it… Can’t I…?

The 1810 uniform of the Zastrow Cuirassiers was predominantly white (replacing the traditional pale straw colour previously worn by Saxon heavy cavalry), with yellow collar, cuffs and tail-turnbacks, white metal buttons and brass shoulder-scales.  The cuffs were normally hidden by white leather gauntlets.  Breeches were white for full dress, though pale buff deerskin breeches or grey wool breeches were worn on campaign.  The helmet was predominantly brass, with a black leather visor edged in brass, brass chin-scales, a black woolen crest and a black fur ‘turban’.  In full dress a white plume would be added to the left side.  The cuirass was enameled black, edged in yellow cloth and it lacked a back-plate.  Belts were white with brass fittings and scabbards were steel.  Shabraques, holster-caps and and square valises were yellow, decorated with the royal cypher and edged in lace, which was predominantly white, though with very narrow lines of blue and yellow (I took the view that from a distance the edging just looks white).  Cloaks were pale grey with a yellow shoulder-cape and were often carried rolled over the front of the saddle.

Officers had silver epaulettes, lace and shabraque edging.  They also had a gold plate, chain and picker on the cross-belt and golden laurel decoration running around the turban of the helmet. 

Trumpeters had yellow coats with white facings and no cuirass.  Their helmet-crests and plumes were red and their trumpets were silver.

Horses were ‘dark-coloured’, though the most black were apparently picked out for the Garde du Korps.  Trumpeters rode the same colour horses as the rank-and-file.  Officers’ horses could be any colour and according to anecdote, greys were a common affectation, as they were in the Garde du Corps (and which I got wrong when I painted that regiment!).

Tony for some reason hasn’t modeled any standard-bearers for the Saxon cavalry.  I know that he generally doesn’t model standard-bearers when there was a general order banning standards from being carried on campaign (e.g. all British cavalry regiments and French light cavalry regiments), but as far as I can determine the Saxon heavies carried their standards on campaign.  Therefore, as with the Garde du Korps, I’ve converted one of the troopers to a standard bearer.  The standard is by Fighting 15s.

As mentioned above, the second brigade of Lorge’s 7th Cuirassier Division in 1812 was formed by Von Lepel’s Westphalian Cuirassier Brigade, consisting mainly of the 1st & 2nd Westphalian Cuirassier Regiments.  This time I was a little more restrained in my figure-buying and only bought the 12 figures I really need to represent the brigade on the tabletop!  However, the two regiments had markedly different uniform colourings; the 1st Regiment wore white uniforms with pink facings, while the 2nd Regiment wore blue uniforms with orange facings.

My motto has always been “When in doubt, pot the pink”, so the 1st Cuirassier Regiment was clearly going to be my first choice!  In addition to the pink facings, the white coats do make them stand out from the (French) crowd.

As mentioned above, the coat was white with pink collar, cuffs, tail-turnbacks and lapels.  The cuffs would normally be hidden by white leather gauntlets.  Buttons were white metal and the tail-turnbacks were decorated with white grenade badges.  The shoulders were adorned with scarlet fringed epaulettes in the style of French cuirassiers.  The cuirass was also of French style, being a full back-and-breast plate of polished steel with brass fittings and having a red cloth lining, edged with fine white piping.  However, some sources show only a black-enameled breast plate being worn (perhaps captured Austrian items?).  Breeches were white for full dress, but on campaign would be pale buff deerskin or grey wool with a pink stripe down the outside seam. 

Helmets were very similar to the French, having a steel bowl with a black leather visor edged with brass, brass chin-scales, brass ‘comb’ and a black fur ‘turban’.  In full dress a red plume would be added to the left side.  Instead of the French-style horsehair mane, Westphalian helmets were topped with a black woollen ‘roach’ or ‘raupe’ crest and the front was decorated with a shield-shaped brass badge. 

Shabraques were pink, edged white with a white grenade badge at the rear corner.  The saddle and holsters were normally covered with a black sheepskin, edged in pink vandycking.  Belts were white with brass fittings and scabbards were steel.  Officers wore silver epaulettes, had silver lace shabraque-edging and often had additional gilded decoration on the breast plate.

Again, Tony for some reason hasn’t modelled a standard-bearer for the Westphalian cuirassiers, so I’ve used a French Late Carabinier Eaglebearer, cut off the eagle (which will no doubt come in handy for a French unit needing one) and then drilled out his hand to take a new stave of brass wire.  The standard itself is by Fighting 15s.

The trumpeters initially wore reversed colours, which for the 1st Regiment consisted of pink coats with white facings and white epaulettes.  The facings were edged with lace, which was white with a thin central stripe of blue.  There were also nine bars of lace across the chest, extending from the buttons and buttonholes.  Trumpets were brass with cords of mixed blue & white.  The trumpeters’ uniform changed in 1812 to dark blue coats for both regiments, faced in the regimental facing colour and laced as before, though this coat probably wasn’t worn until 1813. 

In terms of headgear, the trumpeters initially wore helmets crested and plumed in white, with a brown fur turban.  The headgear seems to have changed sometime around 1812 a black colpack with bag in the regimental facing colour and white cords, plume and lace, plus the national cockade of blue & white.  However, there are depictions of trumpeters in the early uniform wearing colpacks and trumpeters in the late uniform wearing helmets, so perhaps the colpacks were for parade dress?  AB make both types, so I arbitrarily decided to go with a pink coat and colpack combination.

That’s it for now.  I had another small playtest game of Tricorn last week (below), so the scenario and game report will be up soon, along with my first draft of the Tricorn quick-reference sheets and conversion notes for Shako.


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

2 Responses to More Napoleonic French Allies (Saxon & Westphalian Cuirassiers)

  1. Steve J says:

    Impressive work as always and nice background info too:).

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