Sieg oder Tod! Black Brunswick Hussars

This week I slipped back into Napoleonic’s and painted my 1809 Brunswick Hussars. In 1809 the hussars formed a substantial part of the Duke’s forces. At the battle of Gefrees they numbered around 300 sabres which is the same number of men as both the, admittedly heavily under strength, Brunswick infantry battalions could muster at the battle. The hussars seem to have a good reputation though noticeably they came off second best in a couple of early skirmishes, along the Saxony-Bohemia border, against Johann von Thielmann, due to poor scouting or failure to place pickets when in camp.

These miniatures are from Steve Barbers miniatures which currently includes 1809 infantry, Jaegers and hussars with artillery apparently in the works to make them probably the most comprehensive range of 1809 Brunswickers in 28mm I can find. As with the infantry I painted up painting these miniatures was really an exercise in trying to paint black so it doesn’t look flat.

Zanzibar Regular Artillery

The British trained Zanzibari Regular army had a limited number of modern artillery pieces supplied by the British. I decided that my Zanzibari field force needed an artillery piece to accompany the infantry. Not long after its foundation in 1877 the British gifted the Zanzibari’s 500 Snider rifles and 7 Whitworth guns. Joseph Whitworth had invented, in 1853, an unusual Polygonal rifling system which he combined with a breach loading system to create a 12pdr and 3pdr cannon. His guns were considered by the British board of ordnance but in the end they went with William Armstrong’s design. Whitworth’s guns, especially the 12pdrs, did see service in the American civil war and the War of Triple Alliance.

The problem I found with the Zanzibari guns was working out which type of gun they had received. Peter Abbot in his book on Colonial Armies in Africa just states “Whitworth guns” . Chris Peers in his book on East African armies goes further and describes “Light Whitworth guns”. I haven’t managed to track down any primary source detailing the nature of the guns. The 12pdr Whitworth guns seem like a heavy piece of ordnance for an army operating on mainland Africa in the 19th century when everything had to be transported by porters. The 3pdr would fit Chris Peers description of light better (see the video below of reenactors firing a 3pdr Whitworth gun). While I was researching the two latter guns I discovered a possible third option the Whitworth muzzle loading mountain gun. In 1867 a 2pdr Whitworth gun had been on display at the Paris Universal Exhibition, where it was described as “designed to meet the want of a light field piece adapted for easy and rapid transit across mountainous or broken country, or for accompanying the evolutions of detached bodies of troops”. It seems this gun saw some limited service in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877 and six of them ended up in Bulgarian service where they are described as 45mm muzzle loaders. This gun would seem ideal for an army operating in Africa especially as the 2pdr seems to have been able to be broken down into loads to be transported (see pictures below)

Miniatures wise a couple of manufacturers make a 12pdr Whitworth but 3pdrs and mountain guns are sadly non existent in 28mm. In the end I had a spare Wargames Foundry Askari gun which seems to a be a generic small mountain gun so I decided to use that for lack of anything better. I didn’t have any crew so I converted a couple of metal Copplestone Regular Zanzibari miniatures (guys with the rammer and bucket) and a couple of Plastic Perry ACW artillery crew with Plastic Perry Mahdist fez heads to crew the gun. I painted the gun barrel brass in hindsight black would have been better as all Whitworth guns were steel construction. In the end the miniature works though its maybe not historically correct as I would like.

The Sultan of Zanzibar’s Lancer Bodyguard

Yet another unit for my never finished Darkest Africa project. I’ll admit this unit is something of an enigma first off I have found no written evidence of this unit during my research into the Sultan of Zanzibar’s army in the 19th century. I only found out about this unit from Peter Abbot’s book of Colonial Armies in Africa where he states there is photographic evidence of such a unit but adds no more information. However internet searches did turn up several black and white photos and one colour picture of lancers in Zanzibar.

After finding these photos I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have some lancers in miniature. First off there is no evidence these soldiers ever fought a battle, if they ever did, the most likely candidate is the Anglo-Zanzibar war of 1896 (famous as the shortest war in history). This war was the result of a power struggle between the increasingly influential British and the Zanzibari elite over who would chose the next Sultan following the death of Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini. Khalid bin Barghash declared himself sultan with the backing of the Zanzibaris, but against the wishes of the British who wanted to chose their own Sultan, he received the full backing of the previous Sultan’s palace guard which included infantry, artillery and most likely the lancer bodyguard. By contrast the British trained Zanzibar Regular army sided with the British. The war/battle itself pitted the palace guard and their artillery against a British naval squadron with predictably one sided results.

Despite the lack of evidence of actual combat I still figured they’d make and interesting unit for my TMWWBKs Zanzibar armies especially as cavalry are non existent in my Darkest Africa armies. They could support my British trained Zanzibar regulars, could form part of the palace guard in some 1896 what if scenarios. The could even possibly find a place in my early Zanzibar armies as Richard Burton mentions Sultan Sayyid Majid bin Said Al-Busaid had a bodyguard clothed in cast of British uniforms as early as the 1850s.

Looking at the photos a few things stood out. First the unit wasn’t overly large probably no bigger than two dozen at most. The unit seems to have divided into two smaller units one on Bays or possible black horses and the other on white or grey horses. The uniforms seemed to be white trousers and a dark blue, or possibly black jacket. Head wear seems to have been an Indian style turban or some sort of Kilmarnock or service cap. The only weapons seem to be a lance and a sword.

Looking around, for suitable miniatures, I thought Wargames Foundry Crimean war Turkish lancers weren’t a bad fit. I had to replace their heads with Fez luckily I found some decent head replacements in the Woodbine designs WW1 separate heads range selecting the Indian Turban and Kilmarnock cap heads. For an officer I took a Perry Miniatures mounted Egyptian officer from their Sudan range and mounted him on a Foundry horse. The paint job is a little speculative as I only only had black and white photos to work with but I think I’m on pretty solid ground with the jackets and trouser colours and I threw in some red because red was a popular colour in Zanzibar Arab flags (The Sultan’s personal flag being the famous plain red flag). Anyway this is what I ended up with and I’m pretty chuffed how the turned out.

Black Brunswickers 1809

Another update on the Napoleonic project. Having taken a short break to paint Zanzibaris for my never ending Darkest Africa project I’ve jumped back in to the Napoleonic era with the first battalion of Black Brunswickers. The Brunswick Free Corps were heavily involved in the Bohemian theatre in 1809 and then famously after the peace treaty between Austria and France, to end the war of the fifth coalition, the Duke of Brunswick refused to make peace with Napoleon instead marching, and fighting several engagements along the way, his men to the North German coast to be evacuated by the Royal Navy. The Duke of Brunswick hated Napoleon with a passion his farther was killed fighting with the Prussians in 1806 and his Duchy was then mostly incorporated into Napoleon’s Kingdom of Westphalia under its King Jerome Bonaparte. He continued to resist Napoleon right through to 1815 were he died at Quatre Bras.

The Brunswickers are a great little force for using with 1 hour wargames rules due to their small size. Initially in 1809 they consisted of a regiment of hussars, two (under strength) battalions of infantry organised like Prussian fusilier battalions, a company of rifle armed Jäger and a horse artillery battery equipped with Austrian guns. Later a third battalion of infantry was added. During the march to the sea the Brunswickers picked up a squadron of Uhlans who seem to have been Austrian regulars as well as swelling their ranks with captured Westphalian soldiers after the Battle of Halberstadt.

1809 Brunswick troops wore a different uniform to those that served with the British in the Peninsular war after 1809 and in 1815 during the Hundred Days which is a slight problem as most 28mm ranges of Brunswickers are for 1815. The Perry’s do a limited range of 1809 fusiliers but luckily Steve Barber Models has a nice range of Infantry, Jäger and hussars in 1809 uniform (with artillerymen in the works) So that’s were I decided to get mine.

Uniform wise the main thing (regardless of year and uniform details) is Black is the predominant colour of Brunswick troops, which quite honestly sped my painting up no end, compared to the Bavarians I painted these guys uniform is so uncomplicated my main challenge was to highlight the black items in more than one colour to stop them looking to monotone. To achieve this uniforms were highlighted with a warm grey while belts pouches and Shakos were highlighted with a cold blue. I think it worked quite well so I’m happy how these miniatures turned out.

Next up I have the Hussars to paint….. though I was so enjoying painting the Mark Copplestone Zanzibari Regulars that I’ve now found myself painting two projects at the same time alternating between the two… so errr… next weeks painting might not be Napoleonics at all.

Return to Zanzibar

Having finished my Bavarians I decided I needed a little break from painting Napoleonic uniforms and paint something a little simpler. As it happens Northstar ran a January sale were they discounted Mark Copplestone’s Darkest Africa range among others it was to good an offer to miss so grabbed a few more miniatures for my never ending sub Saharan African colonial project. Among those miniatures were some Zanzibar Regulars which with a simple uniform and practically no equipment seemed like a stress free paint job. At some point I plan a whole blog post on the Sultan of Zanzibar’s “new ” army, but briefly in 1877 the British helped the Sultan create and train a small uniformed army to help him gain better control of his mainland subjects and suppress the slave trade. Unlike the Sultans previous irregular soldiers these men were uniformed and armed with breechloading rifles. Like all Copplestone miniatures these were a joy to paint (so much so I started on another unit) but now I need to get back to the Napoleonic miniatures.

Bavarian Command and Casualty Markers

The final finishing touches to my first finished force are a command base and casualty markers for my Bavarians. As mentioned before I’m planning on using Neil Thomas One Hour Wargame rules for my solo games. In these rules units take hits rather than casualty removal to show the gradual degradation of units now I could have used paper and pen or just placed counters by units to record this but I thought I’d jazz it up a bit by having dice holding bases with casualties modelled on it to record hits. I realised when I was taking photos I didn’t do a base for the artillery battery so that’s a job for another time.

The One Hour Wargames rules don’t require any command bases but I have a few ideas for house rules one of which is to bolt on the old classic DBA D6 command and control rule to add a bit of friction to the rules. To allow me to do that I’ve painted up a command stand with a couple of junior officers and a General Lieutenant der infanterie having a chat.

As mentioned before on my blog in my chosen campaign of Bohemia/Saxony/Westphalia in 1809 the Bavarians had a very minor part to play contributing a scratch battalion made up of three depot companies from the three different regiments and a small battery of two guns. As I had so many Victrix Bavarians and I felt it was a waste not to use them I’ve ended up expanding the Bavarians into a small brigade of four battalions (the light battalion acting as skirmishers) and a artillery battery. I now have to decided what nation to paint up next I have Victrix French and Austrians that I could start on but my 1809 Black Brunswickers from Steve Barber have recently turned up in the post and I’m itching to get started on them.

3rd (and last ) Bavarian Battalion

Well it took a bit longer than expected but here is my last Bavarian Battalion despite having some time off at Easter I actually found less time to paint than when I’m working (thanks garden and house and all those annoying things that needed sorting). This is the 2nd battalion of the 8th infantry regiment whose uniform was pretty much the same as the 4th regiment except for the buttons which were gold rather than silver. This unit used up the last of the plastic Victrix miniatures with the numbers made up with Front Rank metals. I had to do this because, unlike the Perry brothers, Victrix don’t sell their command frames separately wish is a shame and I think missing a trick on Victrix’s part. That’s the Bavarians just about done now with just a command base and some casualty markers left to paint this week. I love the Bavarian uniform but I’ll admit I don’t enjoy painting it that much so I’m kind of glad these guys are finished now.

Bavarian Artillery

To take a break from Bavarian infantry I decided to paint up some artillery. In reality the single Bavarian battalion in my chosen campaign were supported by two captured Austrian 3pdr guns crewed by some men from an artillery depot company. Seeing as I’ve already turned the one battalion in a four battalion brigade I figured I would make the artillery into a regular 6pdr battery.

The guns and gunners are all Front Rank and really fun to paint. It was interesting having painted a number of hard plastic miniatures recently how much easier the metal ones were to paint. I think there were a couple of reasons for this the metal miniatures have much deeper or raised details than the plastic miniatures and the Front Rank miniatures being of an older era have exaggerated features as opposed to the more in scale plastic miniatures all of which just makes it easy to pick out the details..

With the Artillery painted I just have one battalion (half plastic Victrix half Front Rank metals), which will be this weeks project, and then a command base and some causality markers for games to finish my Bavarian contingent.

Second Bavarian Light Infantry Skirmishing Unit

Another week and another batch of Bavarian infantry. I’m guessing people might be getting a little bored of them now but I’m finding the once a week blog posting is helping to keep my output up so I will keep posting pictures of yet more Bavarians for the moment. With these guys done I have one more battalion of 16 infantry, an artillery battery and a command base and some casualty markers left to paint. I think next week I will paint the artillery as a change of pace from all the infantry I’ve been painting. Not a lot to say about these miniatures really they are basically the other eight action pose plastic Victrix infantry again painted up as the same light infantry 5th battalion as the first skirmishing unit.

Another Bavarian Battalion

This is the 2nd battalion of the 4th infantry regiment to accompany the 1st battalion I’ve already painted. As the 2nd battalion there are some subtle differences to the 1st battalion. The Grenadiers red plumes were actually halved white in the 2nd battalions of Bavarian regiments. The other difference is the flag there were a few variations during the Napoleonic wars but in 1809 the 1st battalions carried a white Leibfahne and the 2nd battalion carried a blue Ordinarfahne (personally I prefer the Ordinarfahne). I also decided to make the 2nd battalions officer walk instead of riding a horse. Right more Bavarian light infantry to paint for next week.