Monday, February 25, 2019

Painting Challenge Submission 12 - 28mm French Hussars, Franco-Prussian War

French Hussars for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.  28mm figures from Wargames Foundry.
There was a little gap in my painting production for Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. For whatever reason, the clients who retain the services of the firm where I am employed do not, apparently, pay me to paint! What's up with that? I mean, the world is a better place if we get more miniatures painted, is it not?

Some cavalry support for my French infantry...
Oh well. At least I'm back for this week. To the surprise of precisely nobody, the theme is, once more, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870! This is a unit of French Hussars, some cavalry support to counter the Prussian invasion.  The figures are 28mm from Wargames Foundry's excellent Franco-Prussian War range.

1e Hussars

Ah the dash, the derring-do, the romance of the French Hussars! Dolmans and colpacks galore, with lace and...what's that, you say? We are changing the uniforms? Mon dieu! Ce n'est pas possible...mais les prussien arrivent!

A French Hussar of the second empire - new regulation uniform.
When war with Prussia came in the summer of 1870, the French Hussars were in the process of getting new uniforms. The new uniforms were still quite flash, if not quite as flash as the lovely Hussars of yore (at least, in my opinion).  There was still lace, yes, but the new uniform had a coat and a kepi - more in tune with the infantry of the second empire than the cavalry of the old empire.

I do like the drama of the pose on the Commander in front.
Of course, the process of switching to new uniforms in the military was never smooth in the 18th century. In fact, I doubt it goes very well even in the modern day. But the administrative challenge would have been particularly acute in the middle of a war, one which sees your entire government defeated and then replaced with a whole new government, your capital put under siege and Prussian army groups swarming across your landscape. In the middle of all this it seems only one Hussar regiment actually received the new outfits in time, while others wore combinations of the new and old...I have painted these fellows as the 1st Hussars...or, at least, my best estimation.

Kepis all around...with a couple of exceptions...
You see, I didn't really pay close attention to my Wargames Foundry order the day I selected "French Hussars" from their 1870 range.  The sculpts showed up in the post as, low and behold, I see they are wearing the new uniforms! Thus I was plunged into all of the confusion of trying to find clear painting references on the Hussars, particularly for the new outfits.  The relevant Osprey book is, as you might imagine, quite the disappointment, chock full of course of many colour images relating to the numerous and varied elements of the useless Imperial Guard but otherwise showing little of the basic infantry, and nothing helpful for the Hussars.

The bugler retains some swish headgear...
The upshot? Well, what you see here in terms of the uniforms contains a healthy percentage of conjecture! On the plus side, I had all of my light-blue paints handy from painting the coats of the Turcos :)

A view showing the detail on the kepis...these are great sculpts, by the Perry brothers...of course!
The Franco-Prussian war saw one of history's greatest and most well-known cavalry charges - the "Death Ride" of Von Bredow's Prussian Cuirassiers at the battle of Mars-La-Tour. That notable event hogs the headlines, but the war was really a rough one for battle cavalry.  Between rifles like the Chassepot and the steel breech-loading artillery of the Prussians, a cavalry charge in the Franco-Prussian war led, more than anything else, to empty saddles and heavy losses.  The "Death Ride" excepted, ordering a cavalry charge, generally speaking, could buy a commander some time, and not much more...

For the Emperor!
It's always great to put another unit into a collection, but in this case, there is a bit of extra joy, as this will be the fifth 28mm unit for my small-but-growing Franco-Prussian War collection, meaning there  are now enough French and Prussian units for a small game of "Black Powder"! 


Phil said...

Most impressive details, excellent job and beautiful uniform!

Neil Scott said...

Great looking unit. You should try and visit the museum at Gravelotte. Full of uniforms and weapons for both sides

Dallas said...

Nice job dude. The game you set up for us on the weekend was awesome!

Wargames Foundry had some mega painting guides for the FPW in their very cool and way-OOP "Victoriana" book. LMK if you get stuck again and I'll take a look at it for you.

Ray Rousell said...

Top looking Hussars Greg!

DeanM said...

Wonderful looking FPW hussars!