Like most wargamers, every so often I get a rush of blood to the wallet and buy a new army (ARMIES in the most catastrophic cases) and start an entirely new project. In fact, every wargames project starts in this manner, but some are less successful than others…
One such failed project is my 28mm French Army for the War of Spanish Succession…
My good mate Jase was back from New Zealand for a few weeks and we went to the ‘Colours’ show at Reading and happened to linger a while in front of the Front Rank Miniatures trade stand…
Those Front Rank Spanish Succession figures looked utterly gorgeous…
Within minutes we’d spent all our cash on lead and were heading back to Wales, considerably poorer. However, as soon as we got home the figures were under the brush and the first units were looking absolutely spiffing…
Did I say that he was back for a few weeks from New Zealand…?
Well that was a bloody silly idea… How in the name of all that is holy were we meant to have a game?!
Well anyway, I managed to paint a cavalry brigade and an infantry brigade and every so often the mood makes me take the brush to them for a bit more work, but that soon passes… Maybe one day I’ll finish them off… They are VERY nice figures…
Above: The 1st Battalion of the Bourbonnais Infantry Regiment. At the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 [edited: NOT 1715, you idiot!], this regiment fielded two battalions as part of the Marquis de Nangis’ Brigade of the Marquis de Blainville’s Corps, along with a battalion each from the Foix and Agenois Regiments.
Above: The Bourbonnais Regiment in close-up. Note that this regiment was simply dressed in plain grey/white. The colour of French uniforms was actually the colour of unbleached wool and is theoretically white, but is often depicted as grey.
Most French infantry regiments had a distinguishing facing colour visible at the cuffs and/or distinctive stocking and/or waistcoat colours, but many were simply plain white/grey and Bourbonnais was one of these regiments. To get this colour I used a light grey (Humbrol 64) as the base colour and used the translucency of Humbrol’s white paint to get the grey show through – I didn’t mix up a grey shade.
Above: A close-up of the command group of the Bourbonnais Regiment. The regiment’s button & lace colour was yellow/gold and the drummers wore the ‘Royal Livery’ of dark blue with red facings, waistcoat and stockings, with white & crimson patterned coat-lace, which is repeated on the drum-belts.
Note that some of the Front Rank French officer figures are modelled with waist-sashes, which while common among other armies as the mark of an officer, weren’t officially a part of a French officer’s dress. However, I had to paint them somehow, so went for white with gold tassels, which was officially the pattern for the cravats attached to French regimental flagstaffs. I used cream as the base-colour for the sash, to give the white top-coat a subtly different shade, hopefully suggesting silk instead of wool.
Above: A rear-view of the Bourbonnais Regiment.Each French infantry battalion carried two colours; in the 1st Battalion one would be a King’s Colour, which was normally a white cross on a white field (yes, really…). The other colour was a Regimental Colour, which had a white cross with corner panels in various colours and designs. A regiment’s 2nd, 3rd and subsequent battalions each carried two Regimental Colours – only the 1st Battalion would carry a King’s Colour. Very occasionally a regiment might have a design (such as fleur-de-lys or a latin motto) repeated on both the King’s and Regimental Colours.
Note the grenadiers on the right of the line, with their leather grenade-haversacks. This was the age of grenadiers actually lobbing grenades – after this period hand-grenades went out of fashion for another 200 years and the term ‘grenadier’ was simply an honorific for an elite soldier who guarded the flank of the line.
Above: Soldiers of the La Reine Infantry Regiment. At Blenheim this regiment fielded three battalions and formed a whole brigade in its own right, that of the Marquis de Buzancois, part of the Marquis de Rosel’s Corps.
The facings and stockings of the La Reine Regiment were red, while the waistcoats were dark blue with white lace piping around the seams and button-holes. Buttons and lace were silver/white.
The soldiers shown on the right are the regiment’s Grenadiers. Later in the 18th Century, French Grenadiers would be easily identified by their tall fur caps, but at this time they wore cocked hats like the rest of the battalion (the whole Grenadiers du Roi Regiment did wear fur caps at this time, however). Grenadiers were distinguished by their moustaches, the additional lace on their coats and their grenade-bag and associated cross-belt.
Above: The de Levy Cavalry Regiment. At Blenheim this regiment formed one-third of Massenbach’s Cavalry Brigade (alongside the de Royal and de La Ferronaye Regiments), which formed part of the Marquis du Bourg’s Corps.
This regiment had grey/white coats with red facings and gold/yellow buttons and lace (this was a VERY common uniform combination for the French Army of this period). Shabraques were most likely red, edged yellow, though one source suggests yellow edged red.
Above: The de Levy Regiment’s command group in close-up. Note the exquisite modelling that Front Rank put into these figures – particularly the texture of the officers’ wigs, the creases of the cloth and the details of lace, buttons and buttonholes. The quality of casting also equals the quality of modelling. Note also that the officers’ coats are open to reveal breastplates rather than waistcoats.
Above: Another view of the de Levy Regiment, showing the regimental Guidon (cavalry colour). All the flags shown here are by GMB Designs.
Note that French cavalry tactics of the period emphasised the use of massed volleys of pistol-fire at short-range, hence my choice of pistol-armed figures. The French cavalry generally did not perform well and generally suffered at the hands of cavalry trained to deliver a full-blooded charge with cold-steel, such as the cavalry of Sweden, Prussia and Great Britain.
Above: A rear-view of the de Levy Regiment, showing the details of the trumpeter’s uniform, which was the livery of the regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief, the Duc de Levy. Note the ‘false sleeves’ on the back of the coat; these were a common feature of cavalry trumpeter’s uniforms throughout the 18th Century.
Above: The de Royal Cavalry Regiment served in the same brigade as the de Levy Regiment above. Note that these regiments were usually very small; normally only two squadrons apiece, with no more than 240 men.
Above: The de Royal Regiment’s uniform was dark blue, faced red with gold/yellow buttons and lace. Quartered black & white hat-cockades are also described for this regiment. Shabraques were probably dark blue with aurore (i.e. pinkish yellow-orange) edging, though black edging is described in one source.
Above: The de Royal Regiment’s trumpeters wore Royal Livery, which was very much like that of infantry drummers described above: dark blue with red facings and crimson & white patterned lace. This regiment’s trumpeters are also recorded as having crimson & white hat-feathers, as shown.
Above: A rear-view of the de Royal Regiment, particularly showing the back of the trumpeter’s coat.
Above: “All For One And One For All!” These fine fellows barely need any introduction: they are of course, the legendary King’s Musketeers Regiment (Les Mousquetaires du Roi) of ‘The Three Musketeers’ fame. Although this regiment barely left the confines of Versailles during this entire period, it was seeing these figures that made me HAVE to build this army and they were consequently the first unit I painted.
Above: Thanks to the BBC, people nowadays expect to see these chaps wearing strange leather fetish-wear, but in reality they wore this spectacular uniform of red coats with blue tabards emblazoned with a sunburst, cross and fleur-de-lys.
The term ‘Musketeers’ confuses a lot of people, as it suggests that they were an infantry regiment. In fact they, along with the single squadron of Horse Grenadiers, were the ‘Dragoon’ (i.e. mounted infantry) element of the King’s Household Troops (La Maison du Roi) and as a result were issued with infantry-style muskets for dismounted work, as well as pistols and swords for mounted shock-action and they also had drummers rather than trumpeters. The French Army of this period still used Dragoons primarily as mounted infantry, using horses for mobility but fighting primarily on foot. However, the majority of armies were increasingly using Dragoons as shock cavalry and the Mousquetaires du Roi also tended to be used as shock cavalry on the rare occasion they appeared on the battlefield.
Above: The Mousquetaires du Roi had two squadrons, though these were much stronger than those of the line cavalry, roughly twice the strength, in fact. The squadrons were defined by the colour of their horses, with the senior squadron being the ‘Grey Squadron’, and the junior squadron the ‘Black Squadron’.
Above: The Grey Squadron had gold/yellow buttons, coat-lace, hat-lace and shabraque-edging. Tabards for both squadrons had silver/white lace edging and crosses with gold/yellow fleur-de-lys, though the sunburst behind the cross was different for each squadron; the Grey Squadron had a red sunburst, edged white. Note that drummers’ tabards were very heavily decorated with strips of lace.
Above: A rear view of the drummer, showing the details of the tabard.
Above: The Black Squadron had silver/white buttons, coat-lace, hat-lace and shabraque-edging and gold/yellow sunbursts on the tabard.
Above: A close-up of the right-hand side, showing the details of kit. Note the powder-flask, suspended by a crimson & yellow cord.
Above: Close-up of the left-hand side. I should note here that when painting black horses, I always highlight them with a little red-brown mixed into the black. For tails and manes I highlight with a very dark grey.
Anyway, that’s it for now. My next instalment will be our latest ACW game – a refight of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, 1862.