Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Posts Tagged ‘Uniformology’

Cigarette cards revisited

Posted by Martin on May 24, 2011

No. 15: Officer, 1813, 5th (Brandenburg) Regiment of Dragoons.

No. 15: Officer, 1813, 5th (Brandenburg) Regiment of Dragoons.

Back in 2009, you may recall that I experimented with photographing a Prussian Landwehr drummer from a set of cigarette cards. At the time, I had it in mind to photograph the whole set and post them here on BfK but I never got round to it because I had white balance issues with the photographs. Recently, we upgraded our printer at BfK HQ to a swanky new wireless one that can also be used as a scanner. So, tonight, I dropped another one of the cards from the set under the scanner to see how it would turn out. I’ve got to say that the results are excellent and incredibly quick and easy to achieve.

So, for the record, this is card no. 18 of a set of 24 entitled “Napoleonic Uniforms” from Doncella (a division of John Player and Sons, Imperial Tobacco Limited). The set was issued in 1980 and it was probably actually issued with cigars rather than cigarettes. For your interest the blurb on the back of the card reads:

The painting from which this study is taken is entitled ‘Aftermath of the Peoples’ Battle of Leipzig, 16-19th October 1813′. It shows a mixed group of civilian and uniformed figures resting, tending the wounded and embracing each other after three days of intensive, close-quarter fighting in the streets of the city, at the end of which Napoleon was forced to withdraw across the Elbe to avoid encirclement. The officer polishing his sword wears a single-breasted ‘leibrock’ in the distinctive light blue of the Prussian dragoon regiments, with the standard grey overalls (trousers) worn by all ranks and a cloth cap, or feldmutze, often worn on campaign in place of the heavier shako. The cap band, collar and cuffs are in the regimental colour of black.

As I noted with the cigarette card of the drummer, there are some errors in the historical accuracy of the uniform information but the illustration is executed with some panache. I’d be interested to know more about the painting referred to in the blurb, if anybody has details.

Now that I’ve found a quick and way to get good quality images of these cigarette cards, you can expect the rest of the set to follow in due course.


Posted in Photography | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Inspiration for the Marie-Louises

Posted by Martin on April 19, 2011

The other day I mentioned the Rousselot plates as a source for illustrations of 1813 French line infantry in greatcoats. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity tonight to share with you the two specific plates I had in mind (plus it buys me a bit mroe time to gather my thoughts for my Salute report). So here’s the first of the two plates:

French line infantry 1813-14 by Rousselot.

French line infantry 1813-14 by Rousselot.

All six figures show here are of interest, of course, but the two wearing greatcoats (i.e. figures 4 and 6) are the ones I’m particularly going to focus on now. Figure 4 shows a voltigeur and it’s an interesting example of partial following of the Bardin regulations in that he no longer sports the sabre-briquet that elite companies carried prior to 1812. Many elite company soldiers persisted with these items of equipment after 1812 but clearly not this chap. However, he does disregard Bardin by opting for epaulettes on his greacoat. Notice also the “shaving brush” style pompom on the shako and the button holes in the bottom corners at the front of his greatcoat.

These button holes lead us nicely into consideration of Figure 6, which gives us a rear view of a fusilier. You can see the vertical strip of grey cloth with buttons at the top and bottom. The illustration clearly shows the purpose of the top button to hold the cartridge case in place. The bottom button is where those button holes from Figure 4 are intended to be fastened when the lower parts of the greatcoat are buttoned back. The fusilier wears an oilskin shako cover and his shako is adorned with a lentille style pompom in aurore (orange/pink) which is the colour used to denote the third fusilier company of the battalion (more about pompoms in a moment). Notice that both these figures wear white full-length trousers over their gaiters.

Now let’s consider the second plate:

More French line infantry 1813-14 by Rousselot.

More French line infantry 1813-14 by Rousselot.

From the greatcoat wearing point of view, four out of five of these figures are relevant. Starting with Figure 18, we have another fusilier for which Rousselot has followed an earlier Sauerweid illustration. The buttons on this double-breasted greatcoat look more like toggles to me and, on this occasion, the figure wears blue trousers that are more usually associated with light infantry (this gives me the excuse to do the same when I paint up some of my figures). Again, the shako is protected with an oilskin cover and topped off with a lentille style pompom. This time it’s blue to denote the second fusilier company of the battalion (though it seems a little darker than the regulation sky blue) but notice the white centre bearing a number (it’s a figure 2). It’s likely that only the first battalion of each regiment had pompoms that were of solid colour while other battalions in the regiment had white discs in the centre bearing numbers. My speculation is that the number denoted the battalion (I don’t have a source in my collection of material to confirm this).

Figure 19 is similar but offers us two points of interest: the neck flap of the oilskin shako cover is folded down to protect the figure’s neck and the trouser legs are rolled up above the bottom of the gaiters, presumably in an effort to avoid getting them covered in mud. Rousselt credits an earlier Peter von Hesse illustration as the inspiration for this figure.

Figure 21 is another one that Rousselot based on Sauerweid as source material. It shows a rear view of a grenadier. Again blue trousers and an oilskin shako cover are in evidence. As with the voltigeur in the previous plate, a “shaving brush” style pompom is depicted. This elite company soldier still carries the sabre briquet in breach of the Bardin regulations. Notice the plume strapped to it and the cloth cover on the cartridge case.

Lastly, we come to Figure 22 for which Rousselot followed a Beyer illustration. This figure demonstrates yet more interesting variations: a traditional spherical pompom, a single-breasted greacoat, little red tabs on the collar of the greatcoat (NB: he’s a fusilier, so the red doesn’t signify grenadier company status in this instance) and the common practise of tying cord round the bottom of the trouser legs as a counter-meaure against the elements.

You can see that there’s a wealth of ideas and variation across these two plates (and the Knötel plate I posted the other day) that match well with the forthcoming Calpe French. I’ll be distilling these ideas into my paintwork over the next couple of weeks as I paint up some sample figures.

Posted in French Infantry | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Homage to Pommerania

Posted by Martin on April 11, 2011

Pommeranian drummer work in progress.

Pommeranian drummer work in progress.

It’s time to unveil what else has been lurking on my painting desk lately. The limelight has been hogged by Westphalia but alongside a commission for that Prussian province, I’ve also been quietly chipping away at another commission for a different province: a small set of figures representing troops of the 2nd Prussian line infantry regiment (AKA the 1st Pommeranian infantry regiment).

For those of you interested in uniformology, one of the Richard Knötel plates provides good coverage (Band XXIII, Plate 16) but it’s a rather rare one and I don’t have a digital version I can share. Another good source of information is Peter Bunde’s Brigade Uniform Plate 142. Unlike the reserve and landwehr infantry, the line infantry regiments’ uniform details are relatively straightforward. The uniform for the 1st Pommeranian infantry regiment followed the standard Prussian line infantry pattern with white being the distinctive provincal colour used for cuffs and collars. The shoulder straps for this regiment are also white because it is the first (i.e. most senior) regiment from the province.

The picture here shows my work-in-progress on a drummer and this is the one figure in the batch that has given me some difficulties in terms of historical accuracy. There are two problems that I’ve had to tackle: the shoulder swallow’s nests and the drum hoops. As you can see, I’ve already plunged in on the shoulder swallow’s nests. Normally, these are in the provincal colour with white piping but the hard to answer question was what should happen when the provincial colour is also white? I was faced with a choice of two options – to do everything white or to follow what is shown in Stephen Summerfield’s excellent book Prussian Regular & Guard Infantry 1808-1840 Vol 1: Line & Guard 1808-1814 which depicts a musician of the regiment with red-piped-white shoulder swallow’s nests. I’ve no reason to doubt Stephen’s research and he claims his illustration is after Herbert Knötel (though I’d be interested to know which specific plate). So red and white it is!

That still leaves me with a dilemma over the drum hoops. I’m fairly confident that they, too, would have been red and white but sources conflict on the matter of pattern. Some indicate alternate dog’s teeth triangles while others suggest alternate diagonal stripes. Luckily, this will be almost the last part of the figure I paint, so there’s time yet to come up with an answer. Can any of you point me at a reliable source? In the worst case, I’ll pick Peter F’s brains at Salute next weekend.

Posted in Commissions, On the Workbench | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Another batch of Saxon resources

Posted by Martin on September 3, 2010

Trumpeter of the Prinz Clemenz uhlan regiment

Trumpeter of the Prinz Clemenz uhlan regiment

I’m gradually getting there with the slow process of making my Saxon Army Resources available. The latest additions are 18 illustrations from the extensive German cigarette card collection of German uniforms created by Herbert Knötel and Martin Lezius. There are a couple of unusual and interesting ones in this set that cover troops I’ve not seen illustrated elsewhere. These include a drum-amjor of the Konig regiment, a trumpeter of the Prinz Clemenz uhlans wearing a Polish-style czapska, a standard bearer of the von Polenz chevaulegers and an artillery train soldier.

Plenty to enjoy!

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