Thursday, 8 August 2013

Craig's French 12th Division

Hello, Craig sent me a post on his cracking French units and I am sure you will enjoy it! I'll let Craig take it from here . . .

French 12th Division – GdD Morand
As discussed previously, the principal formation that I have been building as the basis of my 1813 collection has been the Prussian I Corps. But as opponents can sometimes be hard to find, I decided that building an opposing force made reasonable sense, and would also alleviate the monotony that painting 24 battalions of landwehr can threaten. To that end I started looking for potential opponents for my Prussians in the 1813 campaign. Some prerequisites I had included that they should have fought in Germany in 1813, and that there should be a level of variety in the troops available. Painting a force exclusively of French line and legere, supported by chasseurs could quickly replace one source of monotony with another. 

It was those objects in mind that I came across the Battle of Wartenburg. This is a great battle, as it involves things I enjoy: 

A tactical challenge (an opposed river crossing);
A reasonable amount of troops, without being too large (a corps a side);
A variety in the French forces (a division each of French, Italian and Wurtemburgers); and
A Prussian force not dissimilar to the one I was building (it is the one I was building!). 

And so to balance my Prussian collection I embarked upon a parallel build of Bertrand’s IV Corps from the Autumn 1813 campaign. The constituent divisions 12th (Morand), 15th Italian (Fontanelli), and 25th Wurtemburg (Stockmayer) include allied forces, as well as allied cavalry (Hessian and Westphalian Cheveaux-Legere). The Corps was present for Bautzen, and Dresden. It was also at Dennewitz, Wartenburg, Katzbach, Leipzig as well as a bag of other smaller actions, and was the rearguard for the Grand Armee post-Leipzig (by which time the Wurtemburgers had switched sides).

Brigade Hulot
The first division to illustrate is Morand’s 12th Division. It is composed of three French brigades, each based upon an infantry regiment. It also has two supporting field batteries. The infantry regiments are 8e Legere, 13e Ligne, and 23e Ligne. The third brigade, commanded by General de Brigade Hulot is formed upon 23e Ligne, represented by 4 battalions (I, II, IV, and VI). The fifth battalion was a depot battalion and not fielded with the remainder of the regiment. I do not know where the third battalion was at this time. The Regiment served in Dalmatia and Italy during the 1809 campaign, and won battle honours at Wagram, Bautzen, and Dresden. 

I/23e Ligne is a pretty standard looking French line battalion of the period. It comprises 6 companies (four fusiliers, one of grenadiers, and one of voltigeurs). They all wear the regulation habite, with 1807 shako. Companies are distinguished by pom-pom colours. The grenadiers and voltigeurs, as the elite companies, have plumes, as well as a short sword, suspended upon a second crossbelt. The grenadiers have a red plume and cords, and blue piping on their collar. The voltiguers of the 23e Ligne have a yellow and green plume (normally voltigeurs have a green plume), with green cords, and a chamois collar piped red. The command element is identifiable by the eagle, officer and drummer figures.
I/23e Ligne
I have done this unit as a 24 figure battalion, with six companies of four figures each. I’ve based them as 8 figure stands, with one of them split between the elite companies, in order that I may remove the voltigeurs when deployed in the skirmish line (for which I have a duplicate skirmish base of four figures). These figures are all AB, and were amongst the first that I painted. Again I used a standard layered block painting style over a black undercoat of enamel spray. Highlight is limited to faces. Painting gear is largely 0 through to 000 brushes, and a mix of Vallejo and Tamiya colours.
The next battalion is II/23e Ligne. This battalion I wanted to have more of a campaign look. 23e Ligne spent much of its service at the far end of the Mediterranean, and as such was at the end of a long supply chain. For that reason, I can justify it having a less homogenous appearance. To that end I depicted it with a mixture of covered and uncovered shakoes, and a few bicornes thrown in. The AB Republican French in bicorne are a nice range, with some interesting poses not seen in the later Imperial French range. After 1812, eagles were only issued to the first battalion of each regiment, and a coloured standard was provided instead to subsequent battalions. The standard for second battalion is white. These figures are mostly AB, in firing poses, with a few Fantassin in the elite companies. When planning the battalion I imagined the ability to have up to half the battalion in firing poses, with alternate companies in loading poses, to capture the volley firing by peleton, as was the practice. This would also permit a second rank in loading or advancing poses behind it if required. That results in a 3 company frontage formation which is historically quite inaccurate. I’m not sure how to retrieve the situation, without expanding the number of battalions that I have.

II/23e Ligne
The third battalion in the brigade is IV/23e Ligne. I’ve given it a similar mixed uniform look to the second battalion, with more non-issue trousers and mixed head-dress. As the fourth battalion, it has a blue standard rather than an eagle. Casualty marker to the rear.

IV/23e Ligne
In order to rebuild the army after the disaster of 1812, the French called up a fresh class of conscripts, drew upon previous years, mobilised convicts and sailors, as well as the National Guard, veterans and invalids. In addition to creating new regiments to accommodate the new intake, Napoleon also expanded the number of battalions per regiment in order to maintain a degree of quality. Commander of regiments could be relied upon to provide a cadre of reasonable quality to battalions of their own regiment. The same could not be said if they were providing cadre to some other regiment. Some organisational behaviour does not change.

VI/23e Ligne
The fourth infantry battalion is VI/23e Ligne. This was one of the new battalions raised in order to expand the army. I’ve used figures in great-coat, including the Fantassin “Marie-Louise” in pokalem forage cap. This gives it a distinctly “under-equipped” look which is appropriate for 1813-14. To identify it a little more clearly. I’ve adopted a technique I used in my Prussian reservist battalions. On each stand, I have kept a cadre figure in habite and shako. You might be able to spot them in the rear rank. The standard for sixth battalions is yellow. I’ve used some coloured paper.
In the rules we use (General de brigade). Skirmish elements are a critical part of any infantry force, and are typically represented when deployed by duplicate skirmish bases. One of the distinguishing features of GdB is that skirmish elements (either light companies of line regiments, third ranks, or companies of light infantry) are not deployed by battalion, but instead detached to form brigade skirmish screens, which are managed as a single unit until recalled. We like this feature.

Skirmish screen

In order to expand the artillery, and reportedly to steady so many unseasoned troops, in 1813 the French re-instituted regimental artillery. The “Cannon company” was comprised of two light field pieces, manned by infantrymen with some rudimentary training in how to serve and maintain the guns. It seems that it was more for moral effect than any distinct tactical advantage. I have replicated this here with gunners in the infantry uniform. The distinction is the red and black pom–pom.

Regimental cannon company
The last element of Brigade Hulot for the commencement of the Autumn campaign is an 8lb foot battery. Additional units would be added as the campaign went into its final stages. The battery includes a 10” howitzer. I’ve used Fantassin artillerymen in greatcoat for this battery for variety. They are also much easier to paint without piped lapels and turnbacks.
Foot artillery battery
Each battery has a limber.
Artillery limber
I also created a casualty marker using an OG casualty figure I was given. I cut and twisted a spare wheel to create a distinctly artillery casualty scene.
Casualty marker
For the command element of this brigade I have created a small base which adheres to my standard two mounted/ two foot figures for brigade command bases. I’ve included a sapper figure on this base, along with and ADC in greatcoat. At closer inspection I think the paint job looks a little rougher than I’d like. One of the challenges of painting in summer is the speed with which the paint dries on the brush, creating a glugginess. I’ve only recently learned to keep refreshing the brush with water, and mixing a little excess water into the paint to maintain viscosity.
General de Brigade Hulot
So that is the first exposition on my Franco-Allied IV Corps. These figures were painted across a period extending from 2001-2006. 
Complete brigade
The skirmish screen is in the foreground, in the centre of which you can see the voltigeur officer and hornist command base. To their rear are the II, and IV battalions in line, and to the rear is I and VI battalions in column of divisions (two company frontage). GdB Hulot is between the two rear battalions, and the battery is deployed to the flank in the distance.


Gonsalvo said...

A fine looking group of units, depicted in a progressive slide from the "regulation" appearance.

I think the units with half the stands "firing look great; why even think of changing them? I like some of my units in the firing pose, although many gamers don't due to issues with the bayonets sticking out, and the appearance in Column formations. Still, *shooting*, inaccurate as it was, was their primary form of combat!

You probably already know all of the following but I'll mention it anyway. :-)

Plumes were of course no longer "officially" allowed for the Grenadier and Voltigeur companies and by 1813, the state of the army and treasury was such that they probably were rare in actual fact as well... not that it would stop me from having them any more than it has Craig!

Yellow is also the distinctive color of Voltiguers, not actually green - their epaulets and plumes can be quite varied. although usually fairly uniform within a unit - yellow over green, green over yellow, all yellow, red over yellow and yellow over red. When the Voltigeurs have only a pom pom or very short "carrot" plume, it is usually just yellow. Shako cords for the Voltigeurs (again, by 1813 non regulation and probably becoming rare, although that wouldn't stop me either) could be yellow, green, or even white for the Voltigeurs.

Bicornes, aside from officers, were pretty much gone form the army by late 1809... but by 1813 who is to say what they might have scraped out of the depots in the press to raise a new army of 100's of thousands from scratch, eh?

You can have some fun with the uniforms of the drummers if you like - prior to the introduction of the "Imperial Livery" (which has all musicians in green coats with complex yellow/green/black red "Imperial Lace" decorations, it was common for drummers to have the lapels and sometimes other facings in different colors, including Royal blue, green, crimson, aurore, etc, sometimes with gold or other piping. By 1813, new units probably would be much less likely to sport the Imperial Livery, allowing some of the earlier variants to creep back in where local cloth supplies allowed!

My own units are all painted for 1809, when all the frills were still in vogue and per regs... and they just carry all of that with them to 1812, 13, 14, and 15... and don't turn in their shakos for bicornes for the earlier years, either! :-)

Looking forward to the Italians (who make a very nice contrast to the French, and saw a LOT of action), Wurttemburgers, and allied cavalry!


fireymonkeyboy said...

Nice to have a group committed to this kind of project.


Ken said...

Hi Craig/Paul

It's nice to see a man with a plan! All those AB's are great.



John (VonBlucher) said...

The figures look great. I've always liked how Paul did his Russians with advancing and firing poses. I have always liked either advancing or march attack myself, the reason being that we've always had games where one or both armies have to march onto the field of battle. We play allot of campaigns and not set piece battles.

Ray Rousell said...

Excellent looking figures Craig, keep it up!!

DeanM said...

Great looking troops - very realistically portrayed. Dean

Craig said...

Thanks lads, your generous support is indeed encouraging. Gonsalvo, I agree with you on the uniforms. As this regiment, and it's sister, the 13e Ligne spent much of their time from 1809 in Dalmatia, I felt I could justify some of the older embellishments. You wil(in my world)l be entertained to see that the 1/8e Legere voltigeurs still sport their colpacks!
I took my painting guide from Osprey.

paulalba said...

Hi Craig, this is a great looking French army, if my own when I come to do them look half as nice I will be happy! The different head gear in the units is very nice touch!