Friday, November 7, 2014

Saxon Napoleonic Light Infantry

The Saxon army was very late in incorporating light infantry into its forces. Starting in 1793, each line infantry company designated 1 corporal and 9 privates as regimental Sharfschützen, to which were added 2 officers and 3 drummers. Their only uniform distinction was a 12" tall green plume on their Bicorn. In 1802, the Schützen were pulled from the line regiments and organized into 2 battalions; the drummers were replaced with buglers. However, they did not fight organized in this manner in 1806-1807. In May 1808, a more permanent organization was finally established for the two Schützen battalions, each having 4 companies, each with 174 men and officers. They still wore their white regimental uniforms, with the bicorn and green plumes. The 1809 campaign was fought with these 2 Light Infantry battalions, von Metzch and von Egidy. In late 1809, a company of Jäger was added, which were equipped with their own rifles. 

In the reorganization of the Saxon army that took place in 1810, the Light Infantry were expanded into two Light Infantry regiments, the 1 st regiment being known as Light Infantry Regiment Le Coq (commandedb by Oberstleutnat von Egidy), and the second as Von Sahr (commanded by Oberst von Tettenborn). Each Light Regiment had a book strength of 1,653 men.

The Light Infantry finally got a modern uniform in 1810, being of the same overall pattern as the new Line Infantry uniforms. It included a black shako with a brass plaque on the front, brass chinscales, a dark green plume, cords ,and flounders, and a white national cockade at the front. NCO's had a brass band around the top of their shakos. Officers had gilt fittings on their shako, gold lace, silver cords and flounders, and a gold edge to the polished black leather visor. The officer's shako had a top band in gold in a "clover leaf" pattern. Considering the arms of Saxony, and the period illustrations, I suspect this was more in the same pattern as the "Bend of Common Rue" as seen on the Saxon arms. The same pattern was seen on the shakos of Line infantry officers.

The new jackets were dark green with black rounded cuffs, collar, and lapels. These were all piped in scarlet, as were the dark green shoulder straps and turnbacks. Buttons were brass, belts were black. Pants were dark grey with a scarlet stripe decorating the outside seam, and scarlet "points" decorating the fronts. Packs were dark brown calves's skin with black straps, black slings on the muskets.

Officers jackets were double breasted with long tails, and gold piping. Pants for Officers were dark green with gold piping and Hungarian knots for full dress; on campaign either dark green with a black stripe, or dark grey with a scarlet stripe down the outer seams. Musicians had brass horns and green epaulets piped red (probably more like shoulder wings in the German style, I suspect). Drums were green with black leather fittings, and green/white diagonal striped rims. Horns had dark green cords as decoration. 

The single company of Saxon Jäger had a similar uniform, with the collar being dark green with a black collar patch, piped in scarlet, and the turnbacks being light green, piped in scarlet. Their shako had a brass hunting horn instead of the Royal Cipher plate used by the Light Infantry. 


Saxon Light Infantry (Leichte Infanterie, still sometimes referred to as Schützen, to be as confusing as possible!) 1810 - 1813. Vintage Minifigs once again, painted about 25 years ago. 


The ugly silver thing is my attempt to use epoxy putty to convert a Standard bearer into a Pioneer with axe. The Perry Brothers clearly have nothing to fear from me, LOL!  Despite the label, this is actually the Von Egidy (or LeCoq) Light Infantry; the Jäger were but a single company as discussed above


This shots shows the black facings trimmed with scarlet the best. The drum was painted according to the information I had available at the time; see the text for correct details!


The sapper figure has the brass band on his shako indicative of an NCO. The red cords on the drummer's shako would be correct for a Line unit, but not for this Light regiment; I should change that (easy to do), as well as painting the base edges! 


Personal Note:  I was especially pleased to discover the existence of the Von Egidy Light Infantry unit in the Saxon Army. When I started my practice 30 years ago, one of my earliest patients had that rather unusual last name. He was well into his 80's at the time and not in terribly good health, My wife (a Physical Therapist, like the late Donald Featherstone) also treated him, and we wound up become friends outside of the professional relationship. It turned out that Mr. Von Egidy was born in Desden, and collected Zinnfiguren in a limited way (at least compared to my collection of "military miniatures"). When we bought our house, he and his wife were frequent visitors. He ultimately wound up deciding to have a hip replacement due to severe pain, which I opposed due to his high potential operative risk, but OK'd when it was clear how miserable he was from it, and after he and his family made it clear that they accepted and understood the risks involved. The last time that he was over to our home before his surgery, he insisted on going down the cellar stairs to see my collection, despite how difficult it was for him to do so. Having been advised of his intent in advance, I had set up my table with a grand representation of the Battle of Dresden in his honor. He was thrilled with the spectacle, and easily picked out the Altstadt, Neustadat, the river Weisseritz etc from his childhood memories of the city. Sadly, my reservations proved all too appropriate, and he never got out of the hospital after his surgery (at a much larger institution). My wife and I missed him terribly, although we remain friends with his widow 25 years later, herself now in her 90's. I had started my Saxon Army after making Mr. Von Egidy's friendship, and the Von Egidy "Jagers" were on the table for his inspection at his visit. He was insure if his family was related to the Saxon officer who headed the unit, bit it is hard to imagine that he wasn't! Anyway, I never fail to bring him to mind whenever these fellows grace the tabletop!  Möge Gott Sie nah an seinem Herzen immer  halten, Herr von Egidy!

19 comments:

  1. Another wonderful post mixing historical/uniform background and a fine looking wargames unit.
    The personal story adds another dimension. I'm sure that it brought a tear to your eye as you typed it as it did to mine reading the tale. Marvellous. Here's to you Mr von Egidy.
    Our great hobby has so many layers, n'est pas?

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  2. Thanks, James.

    You could see the smudges on the coputer screen, eh? Yes indeed it did bring a tear to my eye as I typed it. Mr. Von Edigy was a very successful artists and art dealer in NYC, and as another reminder of him we have a lovely painting in our living room... and I have his flats in my basement, which I really should do something with!

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    1. You are a wonderful person Peter. Long may you blog!

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  3. More very useful reference material on the Saxons, Peter. If I gamed more in the later campaigns, I would be very tempted to field them. Heck, my 15s rarely get out onto the gaming table and even more rarely does the collection venture into the 1813 campaign. Even then, it is mostly a Russian/Prussian alliance.

    Your von Edigy anecdote certainly is a touching story. I was afraid of the outcome as the story built. What a shame. Having some of his old Zinnfiguren and a painting must bring some solace. What a fantastic way to keep an old acquaintance in mind; through their figures. The lesson for me is to ignore your advice at my own peril.

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    1. The earlier Saxon uniforms are quite colorful as well, although looking decidedly antique by 1809!

      I was at peace with his decision - he made it knowing the risks and placing a higher value on his quality of life to be improved post op that quantity. His son gave a wonderful eulogy for him at his funeral, heard in St Mark's Episcopal church In our town (see Bridgewater pics).

      As far as memorializing some of the fallen in our lives through our units, that reminds me - I owe my late Dad some Engineers. Those Gringos 40's (28mm) Genie of the Guard might be just the ticket...

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  4. Nice and touching story, and great looking unit...

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  5. Nice entry, Peter. Very interesting backstory on your friend. Sorry to hear he did not make it. Pat's similiar procedure went smoothly and has never looked back after she had it done. I can imagine he was in a lot of pain.

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    1. Thanks, Joe. Total Hip Replacement (THR) is an operation one of my much respected Orthopedic colleagues refers to as "A gift from God", and that really isn't too far from the truth. It can and has radically improved the lives of many of my patients suffering from severe hip arthritis. My reservations about my friend's surgery were based upon his overall frailty, a subjective measure that trumps all but very serious heart, lung, kidney or liver disease as a predictor of poor surgical outcomes. Obviously, I was not happy to have been right in his case!

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  6. A wonderful and touching story! And it's hard to go wring with either Saxons or vintage MiniFigs.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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  7. Good post. Nostalgia is so bittersweet.

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  8. Thanks, Mike, and yes, it can be!

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  9. Thanks for yet another very enjoyable post Peter, and especially the reminiscence about Mr. von Egidy. I for one have become more fascinated by the German approach to wargaming (and board games in general) and would love to see a quick post of those flats one day. Lovely stuff.

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  10. I peruse your blog quite a bit (I'm an enthusiast for anything having to do with the Piquet family), but loved this post in particular. Thank you.

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