Saturday, April 5, 2014

British Napoleonic Infantry - The 7th and 23rd Fusiliers

The antecedent to the British 7th Infantry Regiment, in our era known as the Royal Fusiliers, was formed in 1685. It was originally raised to serve as a guard for the artillery train and thus was armed with flintlock Fusils instead of the usual matchlock muskets, which were hazardous around loose powder. It acquired its name and number in 1751.

The precursor to the 23rd British Infantry Regiment, "the Royal Welch Fusiliers" was formed in 1689, making it another of the oldest regiments in the Army. It was designated as the Welsh Regiment of  Fusiliers in 1702, and was awarded the Royal title in  1713. Their badge was the 3 feathered cap of the Prince of Wales. A regimental peculiarity was the keeping of a goat as a member of the regiment, ranking as a corporal, and always named "Billy"!

The final Fusilier regiment at the time of the Napoleonic Wars dates back to 1678; it was designated as a Fusilier unit in 1691, an named the Royal North British Fusiliers in 1712, and was numbered as the 21 st Regiment in 1751. After our era it underwent another name change to the Royal Scotts Fusiliers in 1877, keeping the 21st number until regimental numbers were abolished in the British Army in 1881.

The 7th Infantry Regiment, "Royal Fusiliers"; the White Horse of Hanover appears on their regimental standard (by GMB).

The bearskins were not worn on campaign, but who can resist them? Besides, without them, the only real Fusilier distinction is that all the companies have the solid white plumes of Grenadiers.

Being a Royal regiment, they of course have the dark blue facing color which appears on the collars and cuffs. I think I have made an error by giving them dark blue wings as well... it seems that may have been unique to the three regiments of Foot Guards. 

The back of the bearskins had a solid re patch - if these were Grenadier bearskins, a white grenade emblem would appear as well. Supposedly the Fuiliser bearskins were shorter than those worn by actual Grtenadier companies for full dress, but these Old Glory figures have rather large ones anyway (which I like). 

As the Old Glory figures come 30 to a bag, the extra 12 figures were used to make a second unit, the Royal Welch Fusiliers. The regiment was another of the long established regiments in the British army, which accounts for the achaic spelling. It was "corrected" to Welsh after the Napoleonic era, but later changed back to the original, old fashioned spelling as a mark of respect for the unit's long history!

The uniform of the 23rd Regiment differed only in minor details from that of the 7th (chiefly related to the pattern of the lace on the chest and the worsted running through same), which are essentially inapparent even in 28mm scale. 

I have substantial Welsh ancestry (my maternal grandfather) and even a Welsh middle name. I am given to understand that Englishmen consider the Welsh to be almost as ":frugal" as the Scots. In keeping with that, I have given the King's color of the 7th regiment to this, the 23rd! I imagine the proper color would have the feather cap of the Prince of Wales or a Welsh dragon badge somewhere on it.

These will likely be the last British I paint until after Historicon in July, unless I get all the remaining painting needed for the games that I am running there done ahead of schedule. After that the focus will be very much on finishing everything I need for the battles of Waterloo and Ligny to be run at Historicon 2015.

The British Grenadier's March

Some talk of Alexander,
And some of Hercules
Of Hector and Lysander,
And such great names as these.
But of all the world's great heroes,
There's none that can compare
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row,
To the British Grenadier.

Those heroes of antiquity
Ne'er saw a cannon ball
Or knew the force of powder
To slay their foes withall.
But our brave boys do know it,
And banish all their fears,
Sing tow, row, row, row, row, row,
For the British Grenadier.
Whene'er we are commanded
To storm the palisades
Our leaders march with fusees,
And we with hand grenades.
We throw them from the glacis,
About the enemies' ears.
Sing tow, row, row, row, row, row,
The British Grenadiers.

And when the siege is over,
We to the town repair
The townsmen cry, "Hurra, boys,
Here comes a Grenadier!"
Here come the Grenadiers, my boys,
Who know no doubts or fears!
Then sing tow, row, row, row, row, row,
The British Grenadiers.

Then let us fill a bumper,
And drink a health to those
Who carry caps and pouches,
And wear the louped clothes.
May they and their commanders
Live happy all their years
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row,
For the British Grenadiers!


  1. Still scary to see you painting red coats.

    1. LOL, you mean *British* red coats, as opposed to Danish, Swiss, etc! :-)

      Believe it or not, my British army is up to 220 men strong now!

    2. Deceptively easy to amass big forces stealthily, is it not?

    3. It is, if you try to paint at least one hour every day!

  2. Top looking figures and a nice bit of history too—as we have come to expect from you! :)
    The King's colour was less distinctive than one would think:
    I have to agree, who could possibly field them without the bearskin?!

    1. Thanks, James. The King's color iof thbe 23rd s interesting, with the three feathered coronet of the Prince of Wales in the center of the field; their regimental color is chock a block with various emblems/badges, though!

  3. Well done, another great post and another great looking unit!

    1. Thanks, Phil. I enjoyed painting them up until where I had to add all the white lace, LOL!

  4. I like them! Fusileers in bearskin are especially nice.

  5. Thanks! Wouldn't have them any other way! :-)

  6. Nice - I have 12 of these - a kind TMPer sent them to me for free when I posted a request for some. I suppose he had them as left overs like had. Best, Dean

  7. Thanks, Dean.

    Yes, if you do a unit of 18, that leaves a dozen left over - your gain!

    Indeed. that's part of why I am thinking I will use Perry for my one Highland unit - I don't *want* an extra dozen figures to paint tartan, etc on! :-)

  8. Lovely work Peter. The 23rd has always been my favourite British Army unit after first visiting their museum in Caernafon when I was seven or eight.

  9. Thanks, Lawrence!

    That makes another thing to see when I eventually make it to the UK, and especially, Wales!

    Cymru fo am byth!