Monday, April 5, 2010

French III Corps in 6mm, Part 2

...In which our protagonist finally gets around to posting about things that he can't even really pretend are new, since he already showed them last month.

Beurmann's Brigade, comprising the 4th and 28th Chasseurs à Cheval. I'm opening the post with this base not because it's the most interesting, but because it comes first alphabetically.

Yes, once again I've fallen behind in blogging, so here I am finally showing the brigades for Ney's corps at the Battle of Borodino that were already finished almost a month ago. Actually, as I alluded to in the intro, these bases all appeared in last month's 6mm French Napoleonics Eyecandy Extravaganza, so it's not even like I'm delving into never-before-seen content here, either. The fact is, that while I generally plan for great things here on Mike's Leadpile, I only have so much time to devote to this hobby, and when time is tight, I usually opt to paint the next batch of figures!

Chasseurs à Cheval, by Adler Miniatures. There are a bunch of different codes covering these troops, and, as you might guess from the above picture, I painted a bunch of them together and lost track of which models belong to which product codes.

The good side of my tendency to paint-first-and-blog-later is that I generally have a backlog of new stuff to blog about. The bad side is that no one gets to see any of it until long after the fact. Oh well; one of these days I'll try to catch up.

Adler FNC 10C - "Chasseur Shako". This command group features corded shakos, which none of none of the troopers seem to have; but then, like most of Adler's cavalry, they are so well sculpted that I can forgive a lot. The trumpeter/colour bearer also works much well for the French, since all of their cavalry seems to have carried colours of some kind.

At any rate, this time I get to show off my newest batch of cavalry. The huge number of different uniforms Adler offers for each troop type, combined with their by-the-strip purchasing options can cause problems-- at least if you're like me, in that you make one huge order rather than a number of smaller ones, don't really make any notes as to which figures are intended to represent what, and then work on projects sporadically with months-long stops and starts. I'm still not certain as to whether I'd originally intended to mix headgear within each "regiment", as I did with Davout's cavalry, or go for uniform headgear, as I did this time around.

Adler FNC 3A - "Chasseur, habit, colpack" (I think). Lovely figures, useful for elite regiments or companies who retain this older-style headgear. The coloured "bag" provides great contrast and helps these figures to stand out at a distance.

On the plus side, at least I'm not the only one who's confused; after nearly 200 years of research and argumentation, no one's really sure who was actually at the Battle of Borodino. For this first base I gave General Beurmann the 4th and 28th regiments of Chasseurs à Cheval; Beurmann's actual brigade probably comprised the 4th and one or more regiments from Württemberg. Where the 28th was, I'm not even sure-- although apparently several of its officers were killed at the battle, so one might infer that they were at least present.

One of the challenges of 6mm is trying to make the uniforms bright enough to attract notice without making them the wrong colour. For more somberly-clad troops like these, bright highlights like the yellow facings of the 4th regiment can help to create contrast and liven up a formation; even so, this bunch is on the verge of being too dark.

Another ongoing problem has been the French army organization. For anyone not versed in this sort of thing, this warrants an explanation. More or less how it works is this:

  • several soldiers = a platoon
  • several platoons = a company
  • several companies = a battalion
  • several battalions = a regiment
  • several regiments = a brigade
  • several brigades = a division
  • several divisions = a corps
  • several corps = an army
That's how it works in theory, anyways. This level of organization conferred logistical, strategic and tactical advantages over armies not so organized that contributed to French military ascendency in the early Napoleonic period. It worked so well for the French that everyone else copied it (well, except for maybe the British, who pretend they didn't). Some armies, namely the Russian, were even pretty consistent in applying this organization. The standard Russian division in 1812, for instance, always comprised six regiments of two battalions each.

Gengoult's brigade, with the 24th light infantry regiment and the 1st Portuguese regiment.

Not so the French. Napoleon was pretty notorious for rearranging his orders of battle, taking battalions, brigades, or even divisions from one commander and reassigning them to another. This allowed him to give more responsibility to his better commanders and less to his lesser, and also helped to confuse enemy espionage and reconnaissance-- but for the wargamer it can be pretty annoying!

Adler BN 4B - "Centre comp Belgic advancing". Again, I've used British troops in the "Belgic" shako to represent soldiers of the Portuguese legion wearing the barretina. The ankles on this particular code are quite fragile, and although my order arrived intact at my doorstep, I had several casualties while preparing them for painting.

I've complained before about the inconsistent number of battalions in a regiment and regiments in a brigade in French armies. I've even tried to impose order on chaos by making each base a brigade of two regiments, irregardless of actual historical composition. It was a struggle I thought I was winning, fool that I was. Yet now, as I pass the halfway mark for finishing Ney's III corps, the weaknesses of my plans begin to show. You see, Marshal Ney had only half as many troops as Marshal Davout in reality-- but Ney is on course to end up with more bases!

Gengoult's brigade from behind. Both the French and British/Portuguese on this base are in "advancing" pose, but the minute differences from one advancing pose to another can clearly be seen.

So what to do? I guess one of the advantages of French infantry, at least in 6mm, is that it's pretty generic. I could go back and beef up Davout's I corps to the appropriate number of brigades, sacrificing the easily-organized "always-two-regiments-to-a-base" system for something more accurate, and no one would be the wiser (well, except for anyone who's bothered to read this far, since I've just told you). But that would involve more time, effort, and money...

Adler FNC 6A - "Lancer, helmet". The lance shafts on these models are pretty fragile, and a few of the ones in my collection have undergone amputation.

I've mentioned previously how I didn't really start this project with any particular rules in mind. In fact, gaming with this bunch at all is, for the moment, a distant consideration, as renovations-in-progress have taken up all my space. Completed units are left to reside ignominously in re-purposed Ferrero Rocher trays, or, at best, taken out for the occasional parade on a 2'x2' card table. So do I really need to go back and expand formations that I've already set aside as finished? Especially when I've already expressed doubt as to how far in this project I'm even going to get?

Mourier's Brigade, with the 11th Hussars in the lead, followed by the 6th Chevau-légers. The lancers' shiny gold helmets really stand out nicely on the tabletop, while the pelisse, or decorative coat worn over one shoulder by the Hussars also makes a good accent.

Then again, what does need have to do with anything in this hobby?

The Lancers' pennants also help create contrast.

Next time: some Russians


  1. You are always doing so lovely little men. Like the dynamic basing style.

    But I have a strange question:
    Are the Canadian cents not round? They look angular.

    1. The date sheet of this school is looking good and they manage the schedule so well. Most schools did not work on date sheet and students crying for this purpose but essayheaven service make your task excellent. but open school is working so nice and it is very helpful.

  2. I think Canadian cents are round nowadays; to be honest I haven't really paid attention. Certainly in 1987 they had flat edges, as the pictures show!

  3. I must have browsed your blog at least once a day for the last month or so ..

    Oh how I wish my pile of Adler Prussians could end up looking as magnificient as your Frenchies (and Russians too no doubt).

  4. Mike, some beautiful bases as usual; the detail on the 11th Hussars uniforms is superlative; and loving the hay cart on the Gengoult base - little works of Art these!

    It was always a big project to take on, but even if it is never totally completed to your satisfaction - isn't that sort of the point? i think it is the need to keep tinkering that motivates most of us to continue!
    Anyway, please don't leave us all without our eye candy by changing direction now, will you! :-)