Friday, September 19, 2014

Saxon Light Cavalry - Napoleonic Wars

While the Saxon infantry enjoyed a somewhat lukewarm martial reputation (perhaps unfairly), the Saxon cavalry arm was widely recognized as among the best in Europe. The oldest regiments had origins that dated back to the Thirty Years War! By 1800, the Saxon mounted arm consisted of nine regiments:

Garde du Corps:  4 Squadrons, 420 men
3 Heavy cavalry Regiments: 12 squadrons with 2,202 men
4 Chevauleger Regiments(some were called Dragoons): 16 squadrons, 2,936 men
1 Hussar Regiment: 8 squadrons, 1,065 men.


The Saxon Hussars were relatively late additions to the Army, raised in 1791. The original uniform was a white dolman with light blue collar and cuffs piped white, white pants, crimson and white "barrel sash", light blue pelisse with black fur and white lace and belts. The original headdress was a black mirliton with a light blue "wing", edged in white. The sabretache was light blue with white trim, and bore the crowned royal cipher in white and red.


In 1806 the hussars adopted the shako with white plumes and cords and plumes, and the dolman became light blue. Traditional black Hungarian boots with white lace and tassels were worn. The shabraque was light blue edged in white from the inception of the unit. NCO's were noted to have white fur trim on their pelisses.


The trumpeter's distinctions include a red dolman, light blue shako with a red plume, and  white and light blue trumpet cords.  Officers (seen alongside the trumpeter) substituted silver for white in all cords, lace, trim, etc, and had a black base to their plumes. 

Saxon Light Cavalry Regiments, 1800 - 1815

Regiment
Facing Color
Buttons
Prinz Clemens*
Light Green
Yellow
Prinz Albrecht
Dark Green
Yellow
Prinz Johann
Black#
Yellow
von Polenz
Light Blue
Yellow
*The Prinz Clemens regiment was converted to Uhlans in 1811; in 1813 their tunic changed to light blue with black facings piped in red. In 1815 the tunic changed again to red with light blue facings. Lance pennons white over green, but later red and white and red and green were reported.
# This regiment had the shoulder straps and turnbacks piped in light buff. 
The Prinz Johann and von Polenz regiments were disbanded in 1813.


This is the Prinz Johann Dragoons in their 1810 uniform, with their sharp looking black facings. I wasn't aware of the odd detail of the light buff piping to the shoulder straps and turnbacks when I painted them years ago. They carry yet another variety of the unique and attractive Saxon standards.  


The shabraque is red with a yellow edge, and a central stripe in the facing color. The Osprey and Nafziger says they were "in the facing color decorated with the electoral cipher". Other sources (see the post on the Saxon Line Infantry for listing) show something like the above, often with a wolves' tooth border of triangles in the facing color piped in white or yellow. I suspect from reviewing the many plates that the facing colored shabraques were associated with the pre 1810 uniforms, and the red ones with the later uniforms. Breeches were buff earlier, with white or light grey piped red as seen above noted later in the era. Prior to adopting the shako in 1810, a small bicorn was worn, decorated with a white or yellow lace edge, white cockade and plume. 


Unusually for German Cavalry, the trumpeter wears reversed colors - a black tunic faced in red, along with the red plume typical of German trumpeters of the era. The Osprey says the shako itself was red as well. I found no plates depicting that, however. As with the Infantry,. all the cavalry figures are vintage Minifigs.


This rather interesting map makes clear just how much territory the Kingdom of Saxony lost as a result of the Congress of Vienna. Also interesting is the combined territories of the Saxon Duchies. The red outlines are the borders of the constituent states of the modern German Federal Republic (Bundesrepublik Deutschland)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Austrian Napoleonic Hussars

The Hussars were the first light cavalry of the Horse and Musket era in Europe, and as the originals, the Austrian (or more properly, Hungarian) Hussars set the model for all of the rest. The origin of the term is uncertain, but the most commonly accepted explanation is that was derived from a Hungarian word meaning "one in twenty", as selected for military service by lot. As such, non uniformed Hungarian Hussars dated back to at least the early Renaissance era. In the Holy Roman Empire (and later Austro-Hungarian Empire following the dissolution of the HRE in 1806), the Hussars were recruited exclusively from the "Hungarian" territories of the empire.

Characteristic features of Hussar dress include the dolman, a tight fitting, extensively laced upper garment, and the pelisse, a heavily braided and fur lined jacket.  The pelisse could be worn over the dolman, or slung over the shoulder jauntily. Unlike the Hussars of most other nations, the dolman and pelisse of the Austrian Hussars were invariably the same color. Hussar dress also included tight fitting pants, usually also decorated with lace/braid, and tasseled boots. The Hussars also had a unique accouterment, the sabretache, a sort of small pouch which hung suspended from the waist belt by three straps, the front side of which was often highly decorated, especially for officers.  In the Austrian Hussars, the colors of the shako varied by the regiment, which really makes them stand out on the tabletop, and was different from  the usual practice for most other nations. Finally, Hussar dress usually included a barrel sash around the waist. In the Austrian Hussars, all regiments used the same black mixed with yellow (reflecting the colors of the ruling Hapsburg dynasty) for the barrels sashes as they did for the braiding on the rest of their uniforms, while alternating bands of contrasting colors was the norm for other hussars.

Regimental Distinctions, Austrian Hussars  1802 - 1815

#
Regiment
Dolman &
Pelisse
Pants
Shako
Button
1
Kaiser Franz
Dark Blue
Dark Blue
Black
Yellow
2
Erzherzog Josef
Light Blue
Light Blue
Bright Red
Yellow
3
Ehz. Ferdinand Carl
Dark Blue
Dark Blue
Pike Grey
Yellow
4
Hessen-Homburg
Parrot Green
Poppy Red
Bright Blue
White
5
Baron Ott
Dark Green
Carmine
Bright Red
White
6
Blankenstein
Light Blue
Light Blue
Black
Yellow
7
Liechtenstein
Light Blue
Light Blue
Grass Green
White
8
Kienmayer
Parrot Green
Poppy Red
Black
Yellow
9
Frimont
Dark Green
Carmine
Black
Yellow
10
Stipcicz
Light Blue
Light Blue
Grass Green
Yellow
11
Szeckler
Dark Blue
Dark Blue
Black
White
12
Palatinal
Pike Grey
Light Blue
Black
White

* like other Austrian regiments, the names of the hussar regiments were subject to change with changes of the Regiment's Inhaber. 

Knoetel gives Kornblumenblau (Cornflower Blue) for the dolman, pelisse  and pants of regts # 6 and #12, and Ashgrau (Ash Grey)  as the color of the shakos of the 3rd regiment. Funken gives the same in French equivalents. Pike grey has a very decided blue color to it which ash grey dies not. "Parrot Green" has now been shown to have been a rather ugly, light greenish yellow color.  Evidently, units with light colored pelisses generally had black lambskin on them, while units with dark colored pelisses had brown lambskin, although the Osprey states that this was not invariable, and that white or fox fur linings were also used at times.


HR #1, Kaiser Franz. This unit has rather conventional black shakos, unlike most of the other Austrian Hussar regiments. 


The sheepskin covered saddles worn over the shabraques were generally black for the Hussars, although white was not unknown. here I have given the Trumpeter white and the rest of the unit black. 


The valise carried at the back of the shabraque was red, generally without ornamentation. These Foundry figures were just finished this week. 


Colors used in painting HR #!:
Dark Blue Dolman/Pelisse - Delta Ceramcoat Prussian Blue, slightly thinned 3:1.
Grey pants:  CC Dolphin Grey (light grey with a slight bluish hue)
Brown fur on Pelisse: CC Brown Iron Oxide dry brushed with CC Bambi Brown.
I used CC Straw Pale for the cords etc, which were of mixed black and yellow braided cord, but really at this distance would have appeared more of this kind of dull yellow color.


The border pattern of the Austrian shabraques is not easily painted - here I went for a broad yellow stripe (Valejo Deep Yellow), with a central black line, and an inner white stripe (should be white bordering the yellow on both edges, but that's more than my poor eyes could take!)


This is HR #4, Hessen-Homburg. Their bright blue shakos make a striking contrast to the somber black of HR #1!


Like most other cavalry of German nations, the trumpeter is distinguished by the red plume on his shako, and very little else. The trumpet cords are the same yellow mixed with black as used on the pelisse, dolman, breeeches, and shako. 


Colors used for HR #4:
Parrot Green Dolman:  60/40 mix of CC Leaf Green (a rather yellowish light green) and Crafters Lemon Yellow (a light yellow), thinned about 3:1 (paint ; "wet water")
Pants:  CC Poppy Orange
Shako CC Blue Lagoon
The white buttons contrasting with the black mixed with yellow braiding can be seen in this picture as well.


I could perhaps have used an even more yellow shade for the "parrot green" of the dolman and pelisse for this unit, but I couldn't bring myself to make the shade quite that ugly!


Top down view of HR #4.
These two units of Foundry Hussars just added to my painted collection are a consequence of attending Historicon 2012. While there, Joe and I were perusing the flea market one day, and came upon old friend, Freddie Avner, who was trying to offload some surplus lead there. Among the items on the table were the castings for a  28 figure regiment of Foundry Austrian Hussars with command. As seen here, the figures are very nice, but neither of us needed anywhere near that many hussars (we both field "regiments" of 8 figures, and there were not enough command figures as well). After a little calculating and finagling, we bough the whole lot from Freddie and split them between us, including the command figures, 14 each. If we each then purchased a pack of Foundry Austrian Hussar Command figures in the future, we'd each then have all the lead necessary for 2 new hussar  regiments; the spare hussar figure could be used as an aide on a command stand. It took a while, but the results are now before you!


The Regiment in line - the officer has gold cords in place of the black mixed with yellow, as well as an extra gold band on the upper part of the shako. 



I went with a simpler shabraque edging for this unit, just a broad yellow stripe with a central black line within it. These are Foundry figures once again. As the Austrian Hussars didn't carry standards, Foundry doesn't even make a Hussar standard bearer figure.


This colorful unit is HR #7, Lichtenstein. the bright green shakos are quite striking, no?


These are really vintage Minifigs, among the first of their "new" Napoleonic ranges. I remember painting them well - it was November, 1975, and I had finished painting them as a tension reliever while studying for midterm exams. I wanted to spray then with the usual varnish, and went out onto the fire escape in my dorm to do so. Unfortunately, it was a cool, very humid day, which resulted in my first experience of the dreaded varnish "frost", which really wrecked the paint jobs. I spot touched them up here and there before eventually deciding to completely repaint them several years later. Grrr!  Now we know ways to reverse this dreaded occurrence, or even better, never spray on varnish on  humid days!!


On the simple but effective sculpting of the Minifigs, painting the cords yellow with black dots works OK to suggest the mixed yellow and black braid. 


Yes, I know I said the Hussars didn't carry standards, but if I were the Kaiser, mine would.... and so these do, too! I attempted a more elaborate shabraque edging here - white black-yellow-black-white, the black being drawn in with an India ink pen. . 


This rather more somber, over-sized regiment is HR #3, Erzherzog Ferdinand Carl d'Este.


HR #3 wears essentially the same uniform as HR #1, except for the light grey shako. I have also painted this regiment with its dark blue breeches, While I painted HR #1 with the standard light grey cavalry breeches of the Austrian army, which were an option for field wear by the Hussars. 


These Minifigs once again carry a standard per my personal preference for same.


The Sabretache was red with a yellow and black border. It bore the crowned Imperial Cipher, "F2 until 1806, then F1 when Holy Roman Emperor Francis II became Austrian Emperor Francis I.


Here is HR #5, Baron Ott, with their striking scarlet shakos.


These rather large Essex figures were painted about 7 years ago.


Like most of the rest of the Austrian army in 1809, they sport the "field sign" of a cluster of oak leaves on their shakos.


Most of this unit wears their pelisses over their dolmans.


The dark red pants are another colorful element of this regiment's costume!




Written a little after our time (1875), but the rousing "Hungarian Attack March" by Franz Liszt is worth a listen for mood music!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Saxon Napoleonic Line Infantry

During the Seven Year's War, the electorate of Saxony was invaded by Prussia , with Frederick II taking Dresden. Heavy financial contributions were levied on the populace, and the Saxon army was trapped in the camp at Pirna. The troops were taken prisoner, with many of the soldiers being incorporated into the Prussian army. Saxon territory was devastated during the 7 years war, and by a famine following the war. In 1806, the Prussian army again invaded Saxony as a prelude to its declaration of war with France. Some say the Saxon Army was dragooned into fighting with the Prussians, and others say it voluntarily joined them. With the defeat of the Prussian Army and its Saxon  "allies", Elector Frederick August III of Saxony joined the Confederation of the Rhine, and was elevated to King of Saxony, with the title Friedrich August I.

Like most German states of the time, Saxon Territories were somewhat disjointed, but totaled 1,994 square leagues, including the great cities of Dresden and Leipzig. As a league was about 3 miles, that translates to an area of roughly 18,000 square miles. For comparison, this corresponds to roughly the same area as the US states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island combined (i.e., Southern New England). The Population of Saxony was 1,680,908 in 1750, dropping to 1,6333,000 following the 7 Year's War, and losing another 65,844 in the famine that followed. By 1785 then population was up to 1,941,806, and grew further to approximately 2,300,000 by 1808.

Elector Frederick Augustus II of Saxony (r. 1734 - 1763) also became King of Poland in 1750. Saxon rule didn't benefit Poland particularly, and after his death in 1763, the Polish crown (an elected position ) passed to Stanislaw August Poniatowski. Internal and external intrigues lead to the First Partition of Poland in 1772 between Prussia, Russia, and Austria, to be followed by a Second Partition in 1793, and a Third Partition took place following the defeat of Kosciuszko's rebellion in 1794. Poland and Saxony would become re-associated following the creation of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw by the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807.

The reputation of the Saxon infantry was mixed. I suspect that may be at least as much due to political issues as anything else. In 1806, despite being at least partially press-ganged, the Saxons performed no worse if not better than their Prussian counterparts. Of course, Napoleon was eager to have Saxony join the budding Confederation of the Rhine, so playing up the Saxon martial  abilities would also be shrewd politics on many levels. In any event, he was so successful in converting Saxony to the French cause that the King of Saxony was his next to last supporter (after Denmark), and suffered almost  as much as a consequence at the Congress of Vienna, losing about 40% of its territory and population (to Prussia, of course). The collapse of the Saxon infantry under Bernadotte at Wagram certainly wasn't one of the finest moments in Saxon military history, but the fact that Bernadotte had made himself thoroughly persona non grata with Napoleon, and subsequent events involving him meant that much of the abuse heaped upon him rubbed off on his Saxon troops as well.

Organization of the Saxon Line Infantry

Just as the history of Saxony extends back before 1500, the Saxon army had been in place for quite some time. The basic composition of the army at the start of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars dated back to that established in 1763. There were ten regiments of Line Infantry, plus the Leib-Grenadier-Garde. There were reorganizations in 1778, 1797, and 1810. In 1797, each Regiment had a staff of 14, comprising 1 Chef (Chief), 1 Oberst (Colonel), 1 Oberstleutnant, 2 Majors, 1 Regimental Quartermaster, 2 Adjutants, 1 Regimental Judge, 1 Regimental Field Surgeon, 1 Staff Field Surgeon, 2 Cadets (Faehnjunker), and 1 Provost. Each regiment had 2 battalions, each of 1 Grenadier and 4 Musketeer companies; in practice the Grenadier companies were commonly brigaded together into Grenadier battalions. Each company had: 1 Captain, 1 First Lt., 1 Second Lt., 1 Cadet (not in Grenadiers), 3 Sergeants, 1 Quartermaster, 1 Field Surgeon, 8 Corporals, 3 Drummers, 2 Fifers, 2 Sappers, and 150 privates.  Thus a company had 174 men total, and a full regiment had a paper strength of 1,784 men. The 1810 reorganization resulted in disbanding 4 of the Infantry regiments and redistributing the men to the remaining outfits. This resulted in an increased company strength, each having 180 privates. This brought the paper strength of a 10 company regiment with staff up to 2,043. Once again, the Grenadiers were usually brigaded together into separate 4 company battalions.

Uniforms of the Saxon line Infantry

The Saxon Infantry changed the color of their jackets from Dark Blue to White in 1765 (probably a reaction against being press-ganged to fight for Prussia during the 7 Years War!). The regimental distinctive colors appeared on the collars, cuffs, and lapels. The turnbacks were left white. Pants were white, as were belts. A small black bicorn was worn until 1810, when a French style shako was finally adopted. The bicorn had a white pom pom with the center in the facing color, and a white cockade. NCO's had gold or silver lace on the hat according to the button color of the regiment, and the hair was worn powdered and in a queue until 1808.  Grenadiers wore a black Austrian Style bearskin with a brass plate bearing the arms of Saxony; the fabric on the back was in white and the facing color. The regimental Schuetzen had green plumes on the bicorn and carried rifles. The 1810 shako had a brass plate on the front with the crowned royal Cipher, "FA", and was completed with white cords and cockade, and a white plume tipped with the regimental facing color. Grenadiers had red cords and plumes on their shakos, as well as red epaulets and sword knots.

* Knoetel says the 1810 uniform had facing colored piping on the shoulder straps and on the white turnbacks as well. 


Chronology of Saxon Infantry Regiments 1793-1815
IR #
Regiment Name
Raised
Later Names/Dates
-
Leib-Grenadier Garde
1729
N/A
1
Kurfurst
1670
Koenig  1806
Garde Regt 1815
2
aus dem Winkel
1741
von Sanger 1798
von Cerrini 1808
disbanded 1813
3
Prinz Anton
1701

4
Prinx Clemens
1704
von Steindel 1812
disbanded 1813
5
Prinz Maximillian
1701
von Oebschelwitz 1806, disbanded 1810
6
von Nostitz
1742
von Thummel 1802
von Burgsdorff 1808
disbanded 1810
7
Prinz Freidrich August
1711

8
von Low
1682
disbanded 1813
9
Prinz Xaver
1723
von Oebscelwitz 1806
Disbanded 1810
10
von der Hyde
1748
von Ryssel 1800
von Bunau 1805
von Bevilaqua 1806
von Dyherrn 1808
disbanded 1810
11
von Niesemeudchel
1673
vacant 1810-1813
12
von Lindt
1730
von Rechten 1801
Disdfamnded 1813


Saxon Line Infantry Facing colors, 1765 - 1815
Regiment
Facing Color
Buttons
1
Red
Yellow
2
Red
White
3
Dark Blue
White
4
Dark Blue
Yellow
5
Yellow
Yellow
6
Yellow
White
7
Light Green
Yellow
8
Light Green
White
9
Light Blue
Yellow
10
Light Blue
White
11
Purple-Red
White
12
Purple-Red
Yellow
Garrison
Black
White



IR Prinz Maximillian  wearing its yellow facings on the collar, cuffs and lapels. I have also painted the turnbacks in the facing color. Although completely logical, this is incorrect; they should be plain white (or perhaps white piped in the facing color - see above). Odd, but that's the way the uniform was! Note the red plume and cords for the drummer, even though he is not a member of a grenadier company. 


The standards of the Saxon units were of a unique design, the most distinctive feature being the regimental border patterns. All of their flags bore the crowned and wreathed royal cipher "FAR" on one side, and the arms of Saxony on a mantle on the reverse. This regiment's border pattern has red, yellow and green


This is IR Prinz Friedrich August on the advance. The entire style of their 1810 pattern uniforms and rank distinctions are now along French lines.


IR  Prinz Friedrich August with its light green facings (once again, the turnbacks should have been left white). Note the completely different border pattern on the standard from the earlier regiment


Lie all of my Saxons, these are 25mm Minifigs,"French" figures with just a paint conversion to make them into 1810 Saxons! They were painted well over 25 years ago.


IR Prinz Xaver with its light blue facings. Note yet another distinctly different border pattern on the standard. This regiment was actually disbanded in 1810, but I especially liked this border pattern. 


As usual for the Saxons, he drummer has shoulder "wings" in white piped with the facing color, and the drum rims are in the facing color as well. 


The Arms of Saxony are seen well here - Barry, Sable and Or, a Bend of Common Rue. Rue is a bitter  herb cultivated in the past as a condiment and medicine, now largely found only in flower gardens, having blue-green leaves and yellow flowers. 


IR Koenig in attack column, showing off its bright red/scarlet facings. 


Note yet another distinct border pattern on their flag; the unique designs really make Saxon flags stand out on the tabletop. All of the flags were hand painted, so I was very pleased with how they look.


Another view of Saxon IR Koenig.


Sources for this and forthcoming posts on the Saxons:

Poles and Saxons of the Napoleonic Wars, George Nafziger, Tom Devoe, Mariusz T. Weslowski. Emperor's Press, Chicago IL, 1981.

Napoleon's German Allies (3): Saxony 1806 - 1815., Otto von Pivka and Richard Hook. Osprey Publishing, London, 1979

L'Amrmes et les Uniformes des Soildats du Premier Empire, Volume 3, Liliane and Fred Funken

Flags and Standards of the Napoleonic Wars, Keith Over.

Hanbuch der Uniformkunde, Richard Knoetel. Leipzig, 1896.


And online:

Grosser General Staff site - nice plates on many of the German states, including the Saxons:
http://www.grosser-generalstab.de/sturm/sturm220.html

Histofig plates and text on Saxon Army:
http://empire.histofig.com/-Royaume-de-Saxe-.html

Brefreiungskreige site - awesome collection of the plates of Knoetel, Saurweid, Leinhart and Hummel, and more!
http://befreiungskriege.wordpress.com/saxon-army-resources/

Plates of the Saxon Army 1805-1806
http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/c_saxon1805.html

Histunif site Saxon pages - includes detailed sketches of the Heavy cavalry lace and shabraque edging patterns, and reduced images of all of the fantastic Peter Bunde plates (used with his permission, the full, detailed plates and text are all available commercially from Peter)
http://www.histunif.com/confederation/Saxe/saxe.htm