Saturday, 4 January 2014

Laval's Division at Ocana & Desk Tidy Part II

Not much to report this week. As I said a couple of posts ago my December resolution was to tidy my painting desk and begin to clear up some of the half finished projects that have been languishing there for some time. Hopefully if you compare the picture above with the picture below (the fact I need to point out that the above is "before" and below "after" rather indicates how little I've achieved!) you'll see a bit of a difference.

One of the things I've resolved is to work through my paint jars a bit before painting more - I was taken aback at just how many colours I had.

Unfortunately I had to go to work over the Christmas break - Archie came with me and here is a picture of him supervising me at my desk. He was very well behaved indeed whilst on the Tube and at work - all the girls in the office were saying to me "but you said he was a little b*****d and he is adorable" (they missed him sneakily tearing open a box of chocolate biscuits that had been left on a shelf at home the following day and tucking in). I'm also willing to rent him out to any young single men seeking a girlfriend - Archie is an absolute Babe Magnet on the Tube with lots of good looking young ladies chatting to him and petting him (I was quite jealous) whilst I was on my way to and from work.

I also spent a fair bit of time on the last post about 15mm artillery. The result is that I've only finished about a dozen Spanish provincial militia, and a couple of French voltigeurs marching in greatcoat (these two will allow me to finish off another French battalion). I've done a bit of this and that to various figures but nothing is completed.

I did succumb to the urge to buy some more lead (it was one of those "well I need 4 Highlanders in march attack and 4 skirmishing to complete a unit - what else do I need while I'm buying" moments) from Fighting 15s - so I added some Spanish colonels (as he is one of the few figures not pictured on their website I've included a front and rear shot below - in the flesh he is a very characterful looking Spaniard). One question about the pictures below - on his hat there is a vertical band at the crown, my first thought was that this was a mould line but I don't think that is the case - any ideas on how I should paint this?

My other purchase was brought about by a mixture of lust and frustration. The lust came from my desire to own some of the AB Jena Prussian infantry - these are some of the best figures Mr Barton has sculpted in my opinion but I can't really justify starting yet another army, so I've just yearned for them for several years. The frustration comes from the paucity of figures suitable for Laval's German Division (who fought in the Peninsula as French allies) in 15mm - as far as I'm aware, the only maker that covers all the units that make up the Division is Warmodelling (or as I still think of it - Fantassin). I find this quite remarkable - ok you only need a battalion or two from each country but I'd have thought there were enough people building armies for the Peninsula to make this viable - and several of these little nations contributed troops to Napoleon's armies in other theatres as well.

Laval's German Division at Ocana 1809
2nd Baden Line Regiment (2 battalions) - 992 men (121 casualties)
Frankfurt Line Infantry (1 battalion) - 450 men (40 casualties)
4th Hesse-Darmstadt Line Infantry (2 battalions) - 1,432 men (75 casualties)
2nd Nassau Line Regiment (2 battalions) - 1,201 men (71 casualties)
2nd Dutch Line Regiment (2 battalions) - 968 men (150 casualties
Hesse-Darmstadt Artillery - 4 guns

The above gives a total of nine battalions with 5,151 men - that is just over 250 men at the 1:20 ratio GdB uses.

Long time readers of this blog will know that my opinion of Fantassin is that some of their figures are really nice and some are horrible (quite frequently within the same pack), and that the metal they are made from is a b*****d to clean up. So, I'm dismissing Fantassin out of hand as a contender - probably unreasonable I know but I just won't have any more of them in my armies.

Of course this leaves a lead snob like me with a quandary. Few of these figures are available from "acceptable" producers ("acceptable" includes AB, BH, Eureka, Xan, Khurusan and CGM....and I can't really think of anyone else - I might buy my guns from Blue Moon but I wasn't wild about their infantry). And large (or small) scale conversions are beyond me, I'm afraid, so all the figures will have to be "out of the box".

Campaign Games Miniatures (CGM) specialise in the 100 Days campaign of 1815 so normally are not of much interest to me (although their French cavalry, whose uniforms didn't change much during the later Napoleonic Wars, are quite useful). But they produce some Nassau Line Infantry, and I don't think their uniform changed very much between 1809 and 1815 - so that is two battalions (60 figures) sorted.

But the rest are a problem. AB don't produce Badeners but do produce Wurtemburgers and Bavarians, both of whom have the right sort of helmet (more or less). The only other option is Battle Honours who do a pack of Baden Line Infantry advancing but I haven't seen these.

The AB Jena Prussians have pretty much the right uniform for the Hesse-Darmstadt troops if you are willing to make some (admittedly big) compromises. The unit started out their march from Germany to Spain wearing the bicorne and pack on left hip that you see on the AB Jena Prussian figures - however, whilst in France they swapped their bicornes for shakos and left hip packs (I've no idea what the right term for this item of equipment is) for French style packs. I'm sure there are probably some other more minor differences too - however, in the absence of credible alternatives, I'm going to ignore all that rubbish and paint them as they were when they left Germany.

I was very much inspired in this by the following photo from "Bryce / Greystreak" who painted a Hesse Darmstadt brigade for the big Wagram game a few years ago (before you ask the units in Germany retained their old gear and organisation until after Wagram). I saw these figures in the flesh then and would willingly have stolen them had Bryce turned his back at the right time! If mine turn out half as well as these chaps I'd be a very happy bunny indeed...

One interesting thing is that a regiment in the Hesse-Darmstadt army up to 1809 was made up of three battalions, each of four companies. There were two line battalions which wore dark blue jackets with (in the case of the Erb-Prinz) yellow facings, and a light battalion (also of four companies) wearing dark green jackets. Together these made up a regiment. On the way to Spain, as well as exchanging their equipment for French style items, the Erb-Prinz changed to a six company style battalion organisation - I'm assuming that two companies of the light battalion were subsumed into each of the line battalions as the grenadier and light company (and is probably the explanation for these two battalions each having over 700 men). I guess this means that both battalions will include both blue jackets and green.

Unfortunately, I simply bought a battalion pack from Ian at Fighting 15s without really considering the consequences of the above ie; that I should have bought two battalion packs of 32 figures, plus a bag of infantry in march attack, plus two bags of Jena Prussians skirmishing (for when they throw out the light companies as a screen) and probably a bag of casualties too (most of which will be absorbed into my Spanish army - I think at this scale you can probably get away that kind of substitution).

The Hesse-Darmstadt artillery battery will be crewed from my old Battle Honours Confederation of the Rhine figures (dark blue uniforms, faced black, trimmed in red) - above is another photo from Bryce's collection - he used AB Saxon artillery crew. Only two guns for Ocana in GdeB terms but that will use up a few figures in the lead pile at least - I have quite a lot of these figures.

Obviously, that still leaves several other nationalities to consider.

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