25 August 2008

Highland Units: 79th and 42nd

The 79th in line and square, this is a big unit with 18 figures and was in the second brigade of the first division commanded by Major-General Nightingall of Wellington's army at Fuentes de Oñoro. 

The Cameron Highlanders served in Egypt as noted on their regimental colours. Painting of the tartan is described in the previous post. You can just see that the "Cameron of Erracht" kilt is composed of blue, dark green, light green, red and yellow colours. My haphazard painting of this kilt is shown in the previous post

The 42nd, The Royal Highland was also in the 1st Division, 2nd brigade. This units has 11 figures representing 390 men at the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro. You can just see that the drummer is wearing a red kilt, the Royal Stewart tartan. In the Battle from Corunna, there were 620 men in the 42nd.

The Black Watch also served in Egypt in 1801 (see the sphinx on the regimental colours. They were sent to the Netherlands during the ill fated Walcheren expedition. There kilt is the government sett with a red overstripe. The drummer however wore a red kilt (the Royal Stewart pattern)

Painting Tartan

I used this website to get from which to get tartan patterns. This really shows what an hopeless painter I am, but the final result from a distance worked out ok and gives a general impression of what colours are in the tartan.

Regal Blue base coat to start. It is amazing how sloppy things look when you blow up the photo.
Dark Angel Green Stripes. All the paints used here are GW, including the new washes they have put out which I think are great.

I then paint Goblin Green spots where the dark green stripes crossover.
Red Core Stripes (now starting to develop an unsteady hand)
Desert Yellow Stripes (very unsteady hand), lets hope the next step can fix this as the whole job now looks awful.

Asurmen Blue Wash seems to fix all the mis-steps above, but still leaves the impression of all the colours being present in the tartan.

18 August 2008

British Commanders

Lord Wellington and his 2 ADC's. These are Foundry figures, aside from the ADC that you can barely see who is from the Redoubt collection.  The Prussian looking ADC is inaccurate for May 1811 and probably belongs to the Battle of Waterloo era.

Major-General Sir Thomas Picton, officer commanding the 3rd Division. He is modeled here in mufti as his uniform got left behind, unfortunately this was during the Battle of Waterloo. All figure manufacturers (this is a Front Rank figure) seem to model Sir Thomas this way and he is a highly distinctive figure, so I thought I would overlook this historical inaccuracy. 

Brigadier-General Robert Craufurd, officer commanding the Light Division. This is a Foundry figure. Described by his fellow officer "as brilliant as some of the traits of his character were, and notwithstanding the good and generous feelings which often burst forth like a bright gleam of sunshine from behind a dark and heavy cloud, still there was a sullenness which seemed to brood in his innermost soul and generate passions which knew no bounds." (George Napier)

This Colonel Beckwith, officer commanding the 95th Rifles. He commanded the 1st brigade in Black Bob Crauford's Light Division in the Anglo Portuguese army under Wellington. This is also a front rank figure. I could not find a source for mounted British Rifles figure, but wanted to indicate that he was a brigade commander so posed him with a horse.  I got the idea from this website, I only wish I could paint that well.

16 August 2008

French Commanders

This is Marshal André Masséna, Prince of Essling, Duke of Rivoli with 2 ADC's. He was the officer commanding The French Army of Portugal. He was called back to Paris after losing the battle. The figure is a Redoubt which is a little unusual for me as most of figures are Front Rank or Foundry. He has his Marshall's baton and he is painted in what I think would be pretty standard dress for a French Marshall, unlike shall we say that worn by Marshall Murat.The 2 ADC's are Front Rank. It seems you can paint a French Napoleonic ADC what ever colour you like. I found this website which has numerous reproductions of the French soldier napoleonic uniforms, including multiple commanders and ADC's. The British ADC's are quite boring in comparison.

To the right is Major-General Louis Henri Loison with his ADC, these are Front Rank figures. He was the officer commanding the VI corps of The Army of Portugal.

General de Division Jean-Gabriel Marchand commanding officer of the 2e Division in the VI Corps. The ADC is a Redoubt figure. There is not a whole lot of choice in standing ADC's.

Brigadier General Louis Lepic, officer commanding the Imperial Guard Cavalry Brigade in the Army of the North under Marshall Bessières. This is a nicely sculpted Front Rank figure. I am not sure if General Lepic should be in a Hussar uniform, but it is what I had. He came up through the Guard Grenadiers.

Brigadier General Etienne Lamotte, officer commanding the cavalry in the VI Corps. He is also a Front Rank figure. He is dressed here as an Hussar, but he came up from the 4th Dragoons. The total men in the cavalry brigade of the VIth corps was 334 men and officers.

Painting Technique

This is my painting area. It is actually a loft over our bedroom. I use 2 lights, 1 halogen and 1 CFB. This gives me pretty even light, there are further halogen spots in the ceiling, it does get a little hot up there as it is the 4th floor in a old Victorian. As you can see it is an absolute mess, I am usually a little more tidy.

I feel I am an indifferent painter, I like to be accurate in respect to uniform, but at the same time would never have the patience to paint like these great amateur painters (Quindia Studios, Roly's Wargames Cabinet). I am more excited to see the fully based painted unit on my wargames table.

I use a pretty basic painting technique, doing a unit of figures (12-18) at a time by gluing them on 2 ft sticks. I use a black primer. I liked GW chaos black primer, but they recently changed the formulation (so what else is new) so I now use a automotive primer. This is followed by a white dry brush over the full figure, this really pulls out the details for me and makes the figure much easier to paint. I then either do another dry brush with the required colour or lately I have been experimenting with the new GW washes over the white drybrush, but more about that later. I sometimes supplement this with a lighter shading or darker washes or inks, but a lot of the time I do not need to, as the black primer with a white dry brush followed by the colour gives you fairly nice shading. I then do the straps, bags, guns, etc.

I use GW elf flesh on the face and hands followed by their sepia wash, this is good for me as I have no interest in colouring in eyes etc. I then use a matt varnish and finish by doing the base.

A prize to ever can identify the object stuck in the right side of the lower shelf.

Scales and Basing

Scales, basing and figure manufacturers appear to be an area of much discussion in the Napoleonic wargaming world. Just search any of these words on The Miniature Page website. There appears to be no end of debate and aside from choice of rules, nothing at times seems so much acrimony among the war-gamers.

So after much thought and knowing I was going to get it wrong (or at least knowing that 50% of the wargaming community would disagree), I decided to go with the following. This was influenced by several decisions I had already made.

First, I was going to go with 28 mm figures because I like to paint and that was the main reason I had started the hobby. I did, however, want to war-game and knowing that the figure size was a primary determinant of the table size needed, I was going to have to jam as many figures as possible on the smallest base that I could. It seemed that war-gamers with 28 mm figures had 20x16 foot tables and I was never going to be able to fit a table that size that in my attic, thus the drive to use as small a base as possible. The third factor was that I wanted to get the unit divisions done as soon as possible and had decided on a 1:50 figure ratio, I wanted to maneuver battalions and the Le Feu Sacre rules seemed the best for me. Finally the look of it was important to me, I did not want to have units in line that looked square on the terrain, so I decided on single rank basing. With this and at least 4 bases for each infantry unit, I could easily form and more importantly be seen to form line, column and square. Cleverly this allowed me in the future to change the figure ratio to 1:20 (General de Brigade rules set) by just doubling the number of bases and arraying them behind each other essentially to end up with a double ranked figures (A long way off I suspect).

Infantry Basing: I found that most infantry battalion units were going to be 10-16 figures, so to get a minimum of 4 bases it was obvious that I would have to fit 3 figures to each base. Simple experimentation revealed that the appropriate base was to be 40 x 20 mm. I had also decided to base light troops on the same sized base but in 2 figures rather then 3, thus being able to detach them as skirmishers. Command stands were a bit of a challenge, as I wanted to use mounted figures as the colonel in chief, and one can not fit a horse on a 20 mm deep stand, so I had to use a 40 x 40 mm stand, with the flag bearer and the musician on the same stand. So each British or Portuguese battalion ended up having 3-6 (depending on the size of the battalion) 40 x 20 mm bases with one 40 x 40 unit command stand. I did something slightly different with the French units, as I wanted their mounted colonel to represent a regiment rather then a battalion. Look at the orders of battles for French units and you see that unlike the British, 3-4 infantry battalions of the same regiment were grouped together. So the regimental colonel was represented by a single mounted figure on a 40 x 40 mm stand. The Chef de Batalion was represented on a 40 x 20 mm stand with the flagbearer and musician. Otherwise the French Infantry units were based exactly the same (the one basing requirement of all rule sets) as the British units on 40 x 20 mm stands (French units were more uniform in size so in most cases the a battalion was represented by 4 stands, with 3 figures on each stand aside from the elite companies like the voltiguers represented by 2 figures per 40 x 20 mm stands)

Cavalry Basing: Easy, 2 horses on each 40 x 40 mm stand, with the unit command figures integrated into the unit. Most cavalry regiments are made up of 4 stands in my army (400 men)

Artillery Basing: As much as I tried I could not get an artillery piece on a 40 x 40 mm stand with figures so I opted for 50 mm square stands with the number of figures representing the number of guns, i.e. each figure representing 2 guns. In most cases, each artillery battery has 6 guns. Most of my artillery units (batteries) are therefore on 50 x 50 mm bases, with 1 cannon and 3 artillerymen.

Command Basing: In the Le Feu Sacre ruleset, army, corps, division and in some cases brigade commander stands are critical. I used a pretty simple scheme:
Army commanders are 3 mounted figures on a round 50 mm in diameter stand (see Wellington and Massena above)
Corps commanders are 2 mounted figures on a 50 x 50 mm stand (see Loison above)
Divisional commanders are 1 mounted and 1 standing ADC on a 50 x 50 mm stand (see Crauford and Picton above)
Brigade commanders are 1 single mounted figure on a 50 x 50 mm stand (Beckwith is with his horse, try to find a mounted 95th rifles officer out there)

15 August 2008

Fuentes de Oñoro OB


Masséna had followed the British back to Lisbon the previous year, until arriving before the Lines of Torres Vedras. He determined against storming this extensive double line of interlocking fortifications. After starving outside Lisbon through a miserable winter, the French withdrew to the Spanish border with the British-Portuguese army following them.
Having secured Portugal, Wellington set about re-taking the fortified frontier cities of Almeida, Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo. Whilst Wellington besieged Almeida, Masséna reformed his battered army and marched to relieve the French garrison in the city. Wellington chose to check the relief attempt at the small village of Fuentes de Oñoro. Wellington left his line of retreat exposed in order to cover all routes to Almeida: he felt this risk was justified because the French would not have more than a few days supplies whereas he had more than that. The British, Portuguese and Spanish army had 34,000 infantry, 1,850 cavalry, and 48 guns. The French had 42,000 infantry, 4,500 cavalry and 38 guns.


Masséna's army was organized into four corps and a cavalry reserve. Louis Loison's VI Corps had three divisions, led by Jean Marchand, Julien Mermet and Claude Ferey. In Jean Andoche Junot's VIII Corps, only Jean Solignac's division was present. Jean-Baptiste Drouet's IX Corps included the divisions of Nicholas Conroux and Claparede. Louis-Pierre Montbrun headed the cavalry reserve. A 1,700-man cavalry force, which included units from the Imperial Guard was also present at the battle under the command of Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières. The two divisions of Jean Reynier's II Corps hovered off to the northeast threatening Almeida.
Wellington commanded six infantry divisions, Charles Ashworth's independent Portuguese brigade and three cavalry brigades. Brent Spencer commanded the 1st Division, Thomas Picton the 3rd, William Houston the 7th and Robert Craufurd the Light Division. Stapleton Cotton commanded John Slade's and Frederick von Arentschildt's brigades of cavalry. Edward Howorth supervised four British and four Portuguese 6-gun batteries. William Erskine (5th Division), Alexander Campbell (6th Division) and 300 Portuguese cavalry under Count Barbacena were detached, facing the French II Corps.


On the 3rd of May, Masséna launched a frontal assault against the British pickets holding the barricaded village, while subjecting the British on the heights east of the village to a heavy artillery bombardment. The village was the centre of the fighting for the whole day, with French soldiers of Ferey's and Marchand's divisions clashing with the British redcoats of the 1st and 3rd Divisions.
At first, the French drove the British back under immense pressure, but a charge that included men of the 71st Highland Light Infantry reclaimed the streets and buildings lost earlier in the day. As the sun sank, the French withdrew and the village remained in British hands. The French had lost 650 casualties against only 250 British losses.
May 4 saw little combat. Both sides recovered from the ferocity of the previous day of fighting and reconsidered their options and battle plans. A French reconnaissance revealed that Wellington's right flank was weakly held by a unit of partisans near the hamlet of Pozo Bello.
Action began again at dawn on the 5th of May. Wellington had left the 7th Division exposed on his right flank. Masséna launched a heavy attack on the weak British flank, led by Montbrun's dragoons and supported by the infantry divisions of Marchand, Mermet and Solignac. Right away, two 7th Division battalions were roughed up by French light cavalry. This compelled Wellington to send reinforcements to save the 7th Division from annihilation. This was only achieved by the efforts of the Light Division and the British and King's German Legion cavalry.
Masséna, however, still aimed primarily at securing Fuentes de Oñoro. He sent forward massed columns of infantry from Ferey's division. The village, filled with low stone walls, provided excellent cover for the British line infantry and skirmishers, while the French were severely restricted in the little streets. At first, the French had some success, wiping out two companies of the 79th Highland Regiment and killing the regiment's commander, Lieut-Colonel Philips Cameron. But a counterattack chased Ferey's men out of the town.
Drouet launched a second attack on the town. This time it was led by three battalions of converged grenadiers from IX Corps. With their old-fashioned bearskin hats, the grenadiers were mistaken for the Imperial Guard. Again, the British fell back. Drouet threw in about half of the battalions from both Conroux and Claparède's divisions, seizing almost the entire town.
In response, Wellington counterattacked with units from the 1st and 3rd Divisions, plus the Portuguese 6th Caçadores. Led by the 88th Connaught Rangers Foot, this effort broke Drouet's attack and the tide began to turn. Low on ammunition, the French had to resort to the bayonet in a futile attempt to drive the British back. One party of 100 grenadiers was trapped in a tight spot and slaughtered to a man. Facing murderous volleys, the French halted and turned, being shot at as they withdrew, leaving their casualties behind. By sunset, French morale had plummeted and many companies were down to 40% strength.
On the threatened British right flank, the elite Light Division, well supported by British cavalry and artillery, made a textbook fighting withdrawal. For trifling casualties, they covered the retreat of the 7th Division and fell back into a stronger position selected by Wellington. During the retreat, whenever French artillery ventured too close, the British cavalry charged or feinted a charge. This allowed the infantry time to retreat out of range. If the French horsemen pressed the outnumbered British cavalry back, the British infantry formed square and their volleys drove off the French. When Montbrun called on the Imperial Guard cavalry for help, Bessières refused to commit his Horse Grenadiers, Lancers and Chasseurs to the attack.
This was a classic case of a combined arms force being able to fend off superior numbers of cavalry. Two incidents spoiled this otherwise fine accomplishment. One occurred when a British 14th Light Dragoon squadron pressed home a frontal attack on a French artillery battery and was mauled. In the second case, French cavalry caught some companies of the 3rd Foot Guards in skirmish order and inflicted 100 casualties.
The French artillery tried to bombard the new British line into submission, but they were outgunned by Wellington's cannon. Finally, with their artillery ammunition dangerously low, the French attacks came to an end. Wellington's men entrenched during the evening. After spending the next three days parading before the British position, Masséna gave up the attempt and withdrew.


Wellington had repelled the Army of Portugal, inflicted a great number of casualties (the number varies according to different sources from 2,200 to 3,500) for the loss of just 1,500, and was able to continue his blockade of Almeida. Another historian says there were 1,800 British and 2,800 French losses. Wellington however acknowledged how dangerous the situation had been, saying later, "If Boney had been there, we should have been beat." Wellington did not mark the battle as a victory. He considered that he had unnecessarily extended his line too far, putting the 7th and Light Divisions in danger.
Two nights after Masséna's withdrawal, General Brennier's 1,400-man French garrison of Almeida slipped through the British lines during the night. About 360 of the French were captured, but the rest got away when their British pursuers ran into a French ambush. This fiasco was blamed on Erskine and others. An infuriated Wellington wrote, "I have never been so much distressed by any military event as by the escape of even a man of them."
On reaching Ciudad Rodrigo, Masséna was recalled to Paris by a furious Napoleon to explain his actions (although Napoleon had issued the order to return prior to the battle). He was replaced by Marshal Auguste Marmont. Masséna set off for France with a vast sum of gold, stolen from Portugal and Spain. The defeated French marshal complained that Wellington "had not left him one black hair on his body—he had turned grey all over."

Taken from Wikipedia

May 3rd-5th, 1811

Anglo-Portuguese Army
Officer Commanding: Lieutenant-General Arthur, Viscount Wellington

Cavalry Division: Lieutenant-General Sir Stapleton Cotton
1st Brigade: (Maj Gen Slade): 1st Dragoons, 14th Light Dragoons
2nd Brigade: (Lt-Col von Arentschildt): 16th Light Dragoons, 1st Hussars KGL
Portuguese Brigade: (Brig Gen de Barbacena): 4th and 10th Portuguese Dragoons.

Infantry Divisions:
1st Division: Lieutenant-General Sir Brent Spencer
1st Brigade:(Col Stopford): 1st/Coldstream Guards; 1st/3rd Guards; 60th Foot
(1 co.)
2nd Brigade:(Maj Gen Nightingall): 2nd/24th Foot; 2nd/42nd Foot; 1st/79th Foot; 60th Foot (1 co.)
3rd Brigade:(Maj Gen Howard): 1st/50th Foot; 1st/71st Foot; 1st/92nd Foot; 60th Foot (1 co.)
4th Brigade:(Maj Gen Baron von Löw): 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th Line Batt. KGL, Light Batt. KGL (2 co.)
3rd Division: Major-General Thomas Picton
1st Brigade: (Col Mackinnon): 1st/45th Foot; 1st/74th Foot; 1st/88th Foot; 60th Foot (3 co.)

2nd Brigade: (Maj Gen Colville): 2nd/5th Foot; 2nd/83rd Foot; 2nd/88th Foot; 94th Foot
3rd Brigade: (Col Manley Power): 9th, 21st Portuguese Line
5th Division: Major-General Sir William Erskine
1st Brigade: (Brig Gen Hay): 3rd/1st Foot; 1st/9th Foot; 2nd/38th Foot; Brunswick Oels
(1 co.)
2nd Brigade: (Maj Gen Dunlop): 1st/4th Foot; 2nd/30th Foot; 2nd/44th Foot; Brunswick Oels
(1 co.)
3rd Brigade: (Brig Gen Spry): 3rd, 15th Portuguese Line; 8th Caçadores

6th Division: Major-General Alexander Campbell
1st Brigade: (Col Hulse): 1st/11th Foot, 2nd/53rd Foot, 1st/61st Foot; 60th Foot
(1 co.)
2nd Brigade: (Col Burne): 1st,2nd/36th Foot
3rd Brigade: (Col Madden): 8th, 12th Portuguese Line

7th Division: Major-General William Houston
1st Brigade: (Maj Gen Sontag): 2nd/51st Foot, 85th Foot, Chasseurs Britannique, Brunswick Oels (8 co.)
2nd Brigade: (Brig Gen Doyle): 7th,19th Portuguese Line, 2nd Caçadores

Light Division: Brigadier-General Robert Craufurd
1st Brigade: (Lt-Col Beckwith): 1st/43rd Foot; 1st/95th Rifles (4 co.); 2nd/95th Rifles (1 co.) ; 3rd Caçadores

2nd Brigade: (Col Drummond): 1st,2nd/52nd Foot; 1st/95th Rifles (4 Cos); 1st Caçadores

Independent Portuguese Brigade: (Col Ashworth)
6th,18th Portuguese Line, 6th Caçadores

Artillery: (Brigadier-General Howorth)
Royal Horse Artillery Troops of Ross and Bull (12 guns)
Royal Artillery
Batteries of Lawson and Thompson
(12 guns)
1st Portuguese Artillery Batteries of de Preto and de Rozierres (12 guns)
2nd Portuguese Artillery Batteries of de Sequerra and Rosado (12 guns)


Army of Portugal
Officer Commanding: Marshal André Massena, Prince of Essling, Duke of Rivoli

II Corps: General Reynier
1st Division : General Merle
2nd Division: General Heudelet
Cavalry Brigade: General Soult

VI Corps: General Loison
1e Division: General Marchand
Brigade Maucune: 1e,2e,4e/6e Régiment Légere (1250 men); 1e,2e,4e/69e Régiment de ligne (1590 men)
Brigade Chemineau: 1e,2e,3e/39e Régiment de ligne(1190 men); 1e,2e,3e/76e Regiment de ligne (1290 men)
2e Division: General Mermet
Brigade Ménard: 1e,2e,4e/25e Régiment Légere(1870 men);1e,2e,4e/27e Régiment de ligne(1810men)
Brigade Taupin: 1e,2e,4e/50e Regiment de ligne(1410 men);1e,2e,4e/59e Régiment de ligne(1600 men)
3e Division: General Ferey
Brigade Ferey: 4e,5e,6e/26e Régiment de ligne(1050 men);Légion du Midi(385men);Légion Hanovrienne(430men);4e,5e,6e/66e Régiment de ligne(1370 men);4e,6e/82e Régiment de ligne(1030 men)
Cavalry Brigade: General Lamotte
3e Hussars (170 men),15e Chasseurs å cheval (170 men)

VIII Corps: General Junot, Duke of Abrantes
2nd Division: General Solignac

IX Corps: General Count d’Erlon
1st Division: General Claparéde
2nd Division: General Conroux
Cavalry Brigade: General Fournier

Reserve of Cavalry: General Montbrun

Artillery: General Eblé: 32 guns

Army of the North
Officer Commanding: Marshal Bessiéres, Duke of Istria

Light Cavalry of the Imperial Guard: General Lepic
Polish Lanciers(370 men); Chasseurs å cheval(235 men); Grenadiers å cheval(190 men);Mamelukes(80 men)

Light Cavalry Brigade: General Wathier

Horse Artillery: 6 guns