A rainy afternoon in the shed of arcane delights
Posted by Martin on November 2, 2008
I’ve just spent several days away from home visiting my sister and her family. By happy coincidence, she lives only a 30 minute drive from Calpe Towers. So, on Saturday afternoon I met up with Peter F. for a bit of a chinwag. Peter’s writing a formal announcement about progress but ahead of that I’d like to share a few things we discussed and looked at together.
Firstly, Peter has received samples of the new GMB Saxon flags from Grahame. These flags are certainly intricate items and Grahame obviously put a lot of time into them. I’ve seen four different packs for four of the infantry regiments though the catalogue numbers indicate that all the regiments will be covered; each pack includes two flags – an “Avancierfahne” for the first battalion and a “Retirierfahne” for the second battalion. The flags are based on the pattern issued in 1811 which has the merit of being easier to research accurately but, if you’re a stickler, begs the question of what flags were carried by units in 1813. That’s because many Saxon flags were lost in Russia during 1812. I think there are three possible answers to that conundrum: a). some units may not have carried a flag ; b). some units had replicas of their 1811 flags produced and issued or c). some units reverted to use of pre-1811 flags. But which unit did what is a matter of conjecture for me at present and would require significant research to resolve.
Putting such quibbles aside, these GMB flags are beautiful pieces of work and I don’t think you’d find many people with the requisite knowledge to object if you chose to issue them to your 1813 Saxon infantry battalions.
The next Prussian release from Calpe will be a set of four mounted high command figures. I think they are supposed to represent four specific senior Prussian commanders but I ran out of time to ask Peter which ones. One looks rather like Yorck to me and you can bet your bottom dollar that one will be Peter’s favourite Prussian general Bulow but I’ve no idea about the other two. I’ll aim to post photos of my samples here later in the week so that you can make your own guesses ahead of Peter’s official release notes.
I had been hoping to inspect the full set of greens for the Saxon march attack line musketeers set but they were away from Calpe Towers for mould making. I’m not going to dwell on the details of the mould making saga here because I think that’s something best covered by Peter in his forthcoming official announcement. But what I do feel able to talk about is some of the castings I’ve seen. Previously, I’ve shown photos of three of the figures in covered shakos here on BfK. In addition to those, I’ve now seen castings of two NCOs (one enthusiastically urging colleagues forward; the other marching with a blanket roll worn bandolier style); a standard bearer, a drummer and a sapper. All five are really handsome looking fellows. I’ve also seen WIP on the sculpting for three mounted officers: one in a bicorn with his sword arm held high; a second in a covered shako with a shouldered sword and the last in an uncovered shako holding his sword across his chest. I think the latter is my current favourite.
Aside from Saxon musketeers, Peter’s done a huge amount of research on Saxon artillery pieces with the help of Dr. Stephen Summerfield (co-author of the recent treatise Napoleonic Artillery). They’ve uncovered a significant amount of source material, drawings, photographs and illustrations that supercedes all previous English-language understanding of Saxon artillery. Saxon equipment is very distinctive with several unique and surprising features while still being designed to use the same ammunition as the French artillery of the period. Using this data, Peter briefed the supplier he usually uses to construct artillery pieces to produce a howitzer, an
8-pounder 6-pounder cannon and a 12-pounder cannon. I’ve seen castings for all three – they’re very impressive indeed and I reckon they’ll cause quite stir when they get released. Meanwhile, research work is in progress for both limbers and caissions.
Finally, while we’re on the subject of artillery source material, Summerfield and Dawson have worked together again on a new book about French artillery published by DP & G Military Publishers. The book has the slightly misleading title of French Artillery of 1824 but it actually covers the Napoleonic period. It’s quite a hardback epic at 300 pages of A4 with 51 line diagrams and 14 colour plates!