Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More Painting Challenge - 28mm Camel Corps Troops

The Camel Corps presents arms
The end is in sight for the third annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  I entered this year with ambitions of a high finish, perhaps top five, but as the end approaches and I get crushed under by the true painting machines of the hobby world I will be fortunate if I even finish in the top 15. 

Right now I am clinging to 11th spot, and this submission played a part in that.  These are dismounted camel corps figures from the Perry Twins' outstanding 28mm Sudan range.

Officer, NCO and musician in the front ranks
So far all of my Sudan painting, and the occasional games we have played, have all been set in the very early stages of the British fighting in the Sudan, featuring troops from General Graham's force based out of Suakin. These troops engaged in some intense scraps with the Madhist rebels, and almost came to disaster at Tamai when one of the brigade squares wobbled. 

But real "lead" in the story of the British war in the Sudan is the attempt to relieve General Charles Gordon in Khartoum.  Sent originally to oversee an evacuation of the capital, Gordon ended up leading a desperate defense of the city while the Madhi's hordes surrounded it.  I can't tell if Gordon ended up trapped there, or never really intended to leave due to pride, religious conviction or excessive confidence. As he rallied the defenders public pressure grew on Prime Minister Gladstone to send a relief force and save him.  Gladstone stiff-armed as long as could.

The camel corps had insane special "sword bayonets" issued for the expedition
The PM dithered, but ultimately a relief force was dispatched under General Wolseley.  Wolseley opted for a slow-moving plan to head up the Nile river, but also assembled a "flying column" that would try to cut the distance by crossing the desert direct from Korti.  This would be the Desert Column, and it's core would be the Camel Corps.

Love the bandoleers on these figures
Reading about the Camel Corps is very confusing - at least for me.  When I first heard of this formation I was shocked to think that the British army had maintained a corps of camel-riding troops in their own army.  But of course I was wrong - the Camel Corps was in fact composed of volunteers from all of the top infantry and cavalry units in the British Army.  They would fight bravely at Abu Klea and Abu Kru.  The commander, General Stewart, would die from wounds suffered in action. And it would all be for nought, as Khartoum would fall before help reached the city.

Red stripes on the puggarees of these fellows to represent the guards
The blizzard of detachments that blended into the camel corps still makes for very confusing reading, but near as I can tell there was a Guards Camel Regiment, A Heavy (and also at Light) Camel Regiment(s), and a Mounted Infantry Camel Regiment.  And when you consider the Mounted Infantry were already volunteers riding horses, who presumably instead volunteered to ride camels, it gets even more bloody confusing for me.

Another view of the guards
But regardless of confusion, the look of these figures cannot be beat.  Neck curtains, stained pith helmets, puggarrees, puttees, ammo bandoleers, goggles and cuckoo sword bayonets - all in a race across the crushing heat of the desert, in the face of fanatical rebel hordes, to save one of the of the Victorian era's great heroes. The epitome of imperial infantry!  These troops embody the look and feel of the Sudan campaigns.

Guard from the Heliograph Team
I hope to sometime run an Abu Klea game using the Black Powder rules.  I figure I will need about three units of these camel corps fellows for that, so this submission for Curt's challenge represents a start on that.  It includes 24 figures representing the Light Camel Regiment, and six more as a kind of down payment on the Guards Camel Regiment.

Another view of the guard
For the Guards I painted some red on the puggaree on the helmet - apparently one of the Guards detachments (Life Guards, I think) used this to distinguish themselves. 

These men also had initials for their "home" unit on their arms - I tried to make something of a representation for that on some of the figures, but it is beyond my skill - they just look like they have a shoulder wound.  Whatever - I will leave it for now - I can always paint over it later.  But you can see little red squiggles on some of the figures.

While I was working on these fellows I also came across the guard figure for the heliograph team.  Don't know why I had not painted him before, but here he is.

I have placed an order with the Perrys for more dismounted camel corps troops to round out the Abu Klea forces.  Hopefully we can try an Abu Klea game sometime in the fall!

3 comments:

DeanM said...

Great looking figures! Love the uniqueness of this unit. Best, Dean

Francis Lee said...

They are beautifully done, excellent.

Ray Rousell said...

Quality painting Greg, very impressive!