“King George Commands And We Obey”: My SYW British Army (Part 2: Generals & Artillery)

It’s taken me a whole year due to various other ongoing projects, but this month I’ve finally finished enough British and Hanoverian troops to put on the table opposite the French army I completed last year! 🙂 

I completed seven British infantry battalions in May least year, followed by the Hanoverian Footguards and the first Hanoverian brigade, then a second Hanoverian brigade and some Hessian and Schaumbrug-Lippe troops.  However, my ACW demo game then took all my time until December and I then faffed around on various other projects until April, when I FINALLY got stuck into the waiting pile of British and Hanoverian cavalry, artillery and generals.

As discussed before, I’ve been using the order of battle for Minden 1759 as my painting ‘to do’ list, as it includes a good mix of British, Hanoverian, Hessian and Brunswicker troops, as well as the odd Prussian and Schaumburg-Lipper.  The British contingent at Minden is roughly half the size it became in the latter half of the war, so it’s a good stepping-stone toward completing the whole army (even if the British cavalry refused to get ‘stuck-in’ at Minden…).

At Minden the cavalry regiments of the Allied Right Wing were commanded by Lieutenant General Lord George Sackville, who also took personal command of the First Line.  This formation consisted of the Colonel Carl von Breydenbach’s Hanoverian Brigade, comprising the Garde du Corps (1 Sqn), Grenadiers à Cheval (1 Sqn) & Breydenbach Dragoons (4 Sqns) and Colonel John Mostyn’s British Brigade, which contained the Royal Horse Guards (3 Sqns), 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards (3 Sqns) and 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons (2 Sqns). 

Lieutenant General John Manners, Marquess of Granby commanded the Second Line, which consisted of Colonel Granville Elliot’s British Brigade, comprising the 3rd (Howard’s) Dragoon Guards (2 Sqns), 10th (Mordaunt’s) Dragoons (2 Sqns), 2nd (Royal North British) Dragoons (2 Sqns) and Colonel von Bock’s Hanoverian Brigade, with the Bremer Horse (2 Sqns) and Veltheim Horse (2 Sqns).

Sackville was in fact the overall commander of British troops in Germany, though at Minden was only in direct command of the British-Hanoverian cavalry of the right wing.  However, Sackville disgraced himself during this battle, repeatedly ignoring orders from the Commander-in-Chief, Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick to charge the enemy.  As a consequence, Sackville was sacked and returned to Britain, where he continued to protest his innocence, demanding trial by Courts Martial.  In 1760 he got his wish… and was found guilty, expelled from the Privy Council and cashiered from the Army…

By 1763, Sackville had quietly wheedled himself back into good odour, winning favour with the new King George III and being re-admitted to the Privy Council.  This portrait (right) was painted in 1766 and he is clearly wearing Army uniform, but it isn’t clear which regiment (if any) he was re-commissioned into.  In 1769 he inherited the fortune, estate and title of Lady Elizabeth Germain, widow of the 7th Duke of Norfolk and thereafter used the title Lord George Germain, presumably in an attempt to distance himself from the disgrace he had brought to the Sackville name.  His new-found wealth and power saw him rise in 1775 to the post of Secretary of State for the American Department and therefore having overall responsibility for the suppression and defeat of the American Rebellion.  Somewhat inevitably, his mishandling of the war led directly to the catastrophic defeats at Saratoga and Yorktown and the ultimate loss of the American colonies.  After the war and suffering from ill health, he was quietly ‘promoted out of the way’ to the House of Lords, though died soon afterwards in 1785.

There was no stipulated uniform for General Officers in the British or Hanoverian Armies at this time, so generals usually wore versions of their own regimental dress.  Sackville was Colonel of the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays), whose uniform (shown right) had buff facings (including lapels) and small-clothes and yellow ‘metal’, including an aiguillette on the right shoulder.  Horse furniture would be buff with gold edging.

This is a lovely British General figure by Eureka Miniatures, who appears to be holding a pocket-watch.  I’ve painted him in the uniform colours of the 2nd Dragoon Guards, but this could be an officer from any one of a number of British regiments with buff facings and gold lace.  Note however, that as a cavalry officer, Sackville should be wearing his sash cavalry-style, over the left shoulder.  Sue me. 😉

As mentioned above, Lieutenant General John Manners, Marquess of Granby, commanded the Second Line of Sackville’s command at Minden.  Following Sackville’s dismissal he was appointed as overall Commander of British Forces in Germany, which soon more than doubled in size, from 7 battalions and 14 squadrons to 20 battalions and 29 squadrons.

At the Battle of Warburg in 1760, Granby rushed his 22 squadrons to the battle at the trot for over two hours before launching a devastating charge on the French left flank.  During the charge his hat and wig flew off and the sun gleamed off his bald head, giving the British troopers a very clear marker to follow!  The incident gave rise to an English saying, “Going at it bald-headed” (meaning to rush in (perhaps recklessly) without fear of the danger) and the moment is wonderfully captured by Eureka Miniatures.

The French Maréchal de Broglie was mightily impressed by this dashing British cavalryman; so much so that he commissioned the greatest portrait artist of the age, Sir Joshua Reynolds, to paint this now-famous portrait of the Marquess of Granby.

Known to be a gallant, humane and charitable officer (as depicted in this painting of him giving charity to a wounded soldier of the 61st Foot), Granby’s popularity with the British public was enormous and it has often been said that more British pubs are named for him than for any other person.  This was partly due to his habit of setting up retired soldiers from his regiment with an inn as a form of pension, but also probably due to his undoubtedly popularity.  However, following various political intrigues and poor choices, Granby died in 1770 penniless and pursued by creditors, though greatly mourned.

The Marquess of Granby was Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards (‘The Blues’ or ‘RHG’), who uniquely among British cavalry regiments of the era, wore blue coats instead of red and who can be seen following Granby in the charge above.  I’ll cover the RHG in more detail next time, but the regiment had red lapels, cuffs, smalls and horse-furniture.  For officers this was all heavily laced in gold.  The regiment was mounted on black horses, but I’ve gone with a bay horse to match the Reynolds painting above.  Buff smallclothes were a fashionable affectation for British officers of the period (the regulation RHG smallclothes were red) and Reynolds depicted him wearing such items, so I’ve gone with that.

The RHG (and two regiments of Horse) were issued with cuirasses upon arrival in Germany and these were normally worn under the coat, as depicted in the Reynolds portrait (and in the Sackville portrait above), though its worth mentioning that armour was a frequent and fanciful ‘knightly’ affectation added to officers’ portraits and was not typically worn by generals in the field.  Nevertheless, Granby is here depicted with the steely ‘pigeon breast’ of a cuirass under his coat.

There are a couple of slight errors with the Granby figure.  First, the lapels should be of the ‘full’ style worn by Regiments of Horse, which went all the way to the bottom of the coat.  You can see these in the portrait of Granby and the David Morier painting of an RHG trooper (right).  The model has the ‘half’ lapels worn by British infantry, Dragoon Guards and Light Dragoons during the period.  Second, Granby is for some reason modelled with two sashes; one over the left shoulder and one around the waist.  He should only have one sash.  However, neither of these two very minor quibbles detract from what is a magnificent model! 🙂

At Minden the Royal Regiment of Artillery (RA) had two ‘brigades’ (batteries) of artillery; one of six 12pdrs and one of nine 6pdrs.  In Tricorn that would equate to two models, but I decided to get an extra 6pdr for a bit of flexibility and to suit other orders of battle.  As it happens, Eureka don’t make a British 12pdr, so I used their 9pdr model.  Eureka guns are all suitable ‘meaty’, so it looks the part.  I tend to use three crew figures for light guns and four crew for heavy guns.

In terms of crew figures I started with Eureka figures, but wasn’t very happy with the lack of pose-variation, so as an experiment, I bought a pack of twelve Blue Moon crew figures to man the battalion guns.  By happy circumstance, the Blue Moon and Eureka figures are an almost perfect match in terms of size and sculpting-style, so I’ve totally mixed them up.

The RA uniform of the period is clearly shown in this extract from the David Morier painting of the RA on campaign in the Low Countries in 1748 (shown in full at the top of this page).  The rank-and-file had dark blue coats and smallclothes, with brass buttons, red lapels, cuffs and linings, all heavily laced in yellow.  Officers had basically the same uniform, except with red smallclothes, gold buttons & lace and crimson sashes.  Belts were buff, while the belly-box and scabbard were black with brass fittings.

Gun-carriages were painted grey, while the ironwork was painted black.  There are also some interesting details shown in the painting above: First, gun-carriages usually had a crowned GR cypher painted on the right-hand side of the carriage, roughly alongside the touch-hole of the gun.  This can be seen alongside the gunner reclining against the wheel.  Second, the gun as what appears to be ’12 Ps’ painted in white further back along the trail, which no doubt means ’12 Pounds’ for the calibre of the gun.  Third, the gun in the background, which is viewed from the opposite side, has only ‘No.6’ painted in white on the trail, suggesting that all the guns in a company would be individually numbered.  I must confess however, that I absolutely HATE painting guns, so mine are invariably slapdash and entirely devoid of markings! 🙂

Almost all British infantry battalions were issued with a pair of battalion guns.  These would be crewed by RA personnel, but could use infantrymen for muscle-power when required.  From 1760 the two British combined grenadier battalions in Germany, who had not previously had battalion guns, were issued with one or two guns.  Highland battalions were only issued with 1pdr ‘Amusettes’, which were like very heavy muskets (akin to the ‘punt-gun’ used by wildfowlers), being usually mounted on light, manhandled wheeled carriages.

Prior to the Seven Years War, battalion guns had typically been 3pdrs, but like the Prussian Army, the RA had largely upgraded them to Light 6pdrs by the start of the Seven Years War.  Being blissfully unaware of this, I ordered some 3pdr guns from Blue Moon and was quite surprised to discover that the models are absolutely TINY!  Ah well, at least they’re easily identifiable on the table as being battalion guns… 🙂

That’s enough for now!  British cavalry, Hanoverian cavalry and Hanoverian artillery to follow soon, as well as Ferdinand of Brunswick and his staff.  We’re also doing an epic refight of Leuthen on Thursday, so there’ll be plenty of pictures of that soon! 🙂

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Eighteenth Century, Painted Units, Seven Years War & War of Austrian Succession, Seven Years War British & Hanoverian Armies, Shako Rules, Tricorn (18th Century Shako Rules). Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “King George Commands And We Obey”: My SYW British Army (Part 2: Generals & Artillery)

  1. Jason says:

    Excellent article as usual Mark. Keep up the great work!

  2. paul hughes says:

    Another great article, and a superb looking army! I do enjoy your posts.
    Interesting about the origin of the expression “going at it bald-headed” – the only option I’ve had for a good many years now.
    I’m already looking forward to the next instalment.

  3. Pingback: “King George Commands And We Obey”: My SYW British Army (Part 3: Cavalry) | Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog

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