Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Spoilt for choice

Posted by Martin on February 5, 2012

Today I’ve got some more eye candy to share with pictures of Peter F’s own painting of several new packs for the Calpe Route March French infantry set. In no particular order these are the battalion command pack, a foot officers pack and a pack of head variants for the fusiliers.

Calpe Route March French infantry - head variant pack.

Calpe Route March French infantry - head variant pack.

Calpe Route March French infantry - battalion command pack.

Calpe Route March French infantry - battalion command pack.

Calpe Route March French infantry - foot officers pack.

Calpe Route March French infantry - foot officers pack.

Work is still under way on the painting notes to go with these figures, so Peter has mentioned a few useful pointers in relation to these packs that I’d like to pass on to you.

Firstly the pack of head variants for the fusiliers includes a couple of figures wearing the pokalem. This item of headwear replaced the bonnet de police with the introduction of the Bardin uniform regulations on 1812. For some reason, many modern observers think of it an an ugly item of kit (not an opinion I share personally) but it was popular with the soldiers for its comfort and warmth. My own additional comment on the pokalem is that it was made from blue cloth and the piping was almost always red. Note though, that one Knotel plate shows a “Marie Louise” voltigeur sporting a pokalem with yellow piping.

Peter has used the Rigo plates as the basis for the battalion command pack which consists of three NCOs, a drummer, a fanion bearer and an officer. The fanion bearer was always a senior NCO chosen by the regimental Colonel. Regulations stipulated a guard for the flag made up of the Fourier NCOs of the second and third companies of the battalion. These details are important as they determine the colours of the shako lentilles – you can pick the colour of the flag carrier but his guard has to have lentilles in light blue and aurora (a pinky orange). Rigo also points out that all flags (including the eagle) were carried within the second company of the battalion so that the flag would end up more or less in the middle of the battalion once it was arrayed in line. So this is something to bear in mind when basing your figures, especially if you tend to put the flag carriers in one of the company bases. If you do so, the rest of the company has to have light blue lentilles. The second senior NCO in this pack is one which Peter intends to use with other companies in the battalion just for a bit of extra variety. A final note from Peter on this pack is that the rank marking of a Fourier was a single diagonal golden stripe on the upper part of each arm. Since they were corporals, they should also have had two diagonal stripes in yellow or aurore on the lower arm, although this practice declined after 1808.

My own observation on this battalion command pack is that it provides some more welcome variation. The pose of the drummer is different to his fellow in the regimental command pack and there’s no reason why they couldn’t be swapped over. I’ve got a soft spot for drummers, so I’ll probably have several in each battalion! The officer in the battalion command pack also provides a variation from the one in the regimental command pack – not least because he wears on of my favourite French uniform items, the surtout. This blue jacket with a single row of buttons up the front and no lapels was very popular with officers for its unfussy practicality. In theory, the surtout should have been entirely blue but various illustrators have depicted it with red variations for cuffs, collar and turnbacks over the years. I’ve seen combinations of these items either entirely red or piped red, so don’t feel afraid of painting to suit your tastes.

Lastly, a few comments from Peter about the officers pack which contains two fusilier officers, one grenadier officer and one voltigeur officer. The fusilier officers are again dressed in the surtout with greatcoats worn “en bandolier” across their chests as protection against sword cuts. The voltigeur officer is perhaps the most interesting figure in the pack. He displays the full panoply of gear stipulated by the 1812 regulations – officer’s rucksack, carbine de Versailles, officer’s cartridge pouch for said carbine and sword. In writing to me about this figure, Peter reminded me that we saw an example of this carbine in the small museum at Le Caillou when we visited the Waterloo battlefield last year in the company of Paul Meganck. That weapon was displayed alongside a Vernet plate showing a voltigeur officer carrying an example of one. Carle Vernet was commissioned to produce a series of pictures to illustrate the Bardin regulations, so he’s as close as you can get to an official contemporary illustrator but even that didn’t insulate him from errors. The plate in question (which I’ve reproduced below) shows the voltigeur officer wearing a fusilier’s habit-veste! I have a photo I took of the carbine we saw at Le Caillou which I’ll include in one of my Belgian Campaign reports in due course.

Voltigeur musician and officer by Carle Vernet.

Voltigeur musician and officer by Carle Vernet.

The grenadier officer in the foot officer pack carries a pistol on his shoulder. Rousselot goes on at length about the regulation requiring that each officer have a brace of pistols in his kit but points out that he could only carry them (it seems) in the pockets of his turnbacks. Another point worth noting is that the officer’s rucksack proved so popular that it was one of the few Napoleonic innovations to survive the Bourbon restoration. The Rousselot illustration showing this pack is, in fact, one of his plates on the French army of the Restoration.

So I hope that whets your appetite. I’ll be adding these packs to the Calpe website imminently and soon you can expect news of the remaining packs that will complete the Route March set including mounted officer packs, more head variants and what Peter has termed a ” cherry on the icing” pack that will probably include a falling casualty, an enthusiastic figure and a voltigeur cornetist.

13 Responses to “Spoilt for choice”

  1. More most excellent painting references. Thanks Martin & Peter F. I really like the way Peter F. paints his own creations.

    I’m impatiently 8O) waiting for some of these to turn up in my letter box though I should look at them and then put them away so that I can get some more work done on my WD3 painting entry!

    I can understand where Peter is coming from with the cast on furled and covered fanion in the battalion command pack but I still wish that the figure was provided in such a way that I could easily attach my GMB fanions. My guys are route marching from a battlefield reserve position in the battle to the front lines … preferably with their colours bravely snapping in the wind. After all many of them wont necessarily be marching back again … especially if my WD3 painting competition firing line landwehr get hold of them!! 8O))

    BTW, guess who has painted and based his 2nd fusilier company – the one with light blue lentilles. And it doesn’t contain the battalion’s flag bearer. D’oh! I’m not sure what I’ll do about that.

    von Peter himself

    • Martin said

      Thanks von Peter. I also have a little rethinking to do on my 2nd company painting! And mine’s compounded by it being for my own La Bricole competition entry.

      • FWIW I think I have decided what to do with my completed 2nd fusilier company – the one without a flag bearer. I will repaint the light blue lentils to be the purple of the 4th fusilier company. I can then paint a second 2nd fusilier company with flag bearer. Quite brilliant if I don’t say so myself.

        Of course it’s a much easier fix when you’ve only painted 2 companies of fusiliers to date. 8O)

        Now where did I put those WD3 painting competition Landwehr figures?!

        von Peter himself

  2. Jeremy Dorling said

    These look very nice – as usual!

    Are the officers and battalion command figures available? I don’t think they are listed on the website?

    • Martin said

      Hi Jeremy, as I’ve said at the end of the post, I’ll be adding these packs to the Calpe Website very soon. |’m just waiting for Peter to confirm the product codes for these three packs. However, if you can’t wait, I expect a call or e-mail to Peter F. will enable you to order these figures anyway.

  3. Rob said

    As always, Peter F’s painting is just great. And these route-march french are a fantastic bunch of sculpts. Can’t wait to see the mounted officers.

    And a bright side to the end of the route march models it wondering what calpe will have coming next! Hopefully 2012 brings prussian march attack musketeers, more french and the long awaited saxon artillery!


  4. Ralph Hart said

    Thanks for some interesting details regarding Colour parties and their location..Needless to say I have being doing it incorrectly all these years – D’Oh!

  5. arteis said

    Maybe the ugliness of the pokalem is more in the wearer than the hat! Here’s me with one:

  6. Giles said

    I have the same problem – a whole division of French infantry with the eagles and fanions carried by the battalions’ first companies. There’s a deceptively large amount of detail in the Bardin uniforms, particularly with regard to piping. I hadn’t realised until relatively recently that the red piping on turnbacks was dropped, and presumably the white piping on collars (or red on the voltiguers’ yellow collars). However, I tend to agree with you, Martin, that painters/gamers shouldn’t feel too worried about these things, not least because a certain amount of older uniforms would I’m sure have remained in use for a while.

    Beautiful figures and painting, as always from Mr F.

    Best wishes


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