Friday, April 3, 2020

Maréchal Suchet et ses compagnons

Louis Gabriel Suchet was born in 1770, near Lyon, and looked to follow in the business of his father, a quite successful silk merchant. However, he caught the Revolutionary fervor, and joined the Lyon national guard. By 1793, he was a Lieutenant Colonel, and fought at the siege of Toulon, coming to the attention of General Bonaparte.  He later commanded the 4th battalion of the 18th Demibrigade, part of the Army of Italy, and during the 1796 campaigns fought with distinction at Dego, Lodi, Borghetto, Castiglione, Peschiera, and Bassano. As part of Massena's Division, he fought at Arcola and Rivoli. 

In 1798, he served as Chief of Staff to General Brune in Switzerland. and later that year was finally promoted to General de Brigade, and served as Chief of Staff to the Army of Italy under Joubert. While listed among the officers to take part in the Egyptian campaign, he ultimately wound up returning to Italy, subsequently commanding a Brigade in Massena's Army of Switzerland where he again distinguished himself; he later became Massena's Chief of Staff. In 1799, when Joubert was placed in command of the Army of Italy, he allegedly made having Suchet as his Chief of staff a condition of accepting the post. Unfortunately, Joubert didn't fare well in Italy, and against the advice of Suchet and others, gave battle at Novi, where the French were decisively beaten by Suvorov and his Russians, Joubert himself being killed early in the battle. With the return of General Bonaparte from Egypt and the subsequent Coup d' etat of 18 Brumaire 1799, Massena was appointed to command the Army of Irtaly. By that time, Suchet had left for France, but was convinced to take a command under him. 

Monsieur le Marechal is a Front Rank figure, and the colonel accompanying him is Foundry. In Spain, Suchet's command included some Swiss troops, so I have painted the colonel in a uniform suggestive of a Swiss regiment, in part to make Suchet's base stand out from the crowd! 

During the 1800 campaign in Italy under Massena, Suchet commanded  the center with 12.00 men. Under presuure from Melas's Austrians, Massena and the left wing were forced to retreat to Genoa, where he famously held the city as long as possible before capitulating on June 4th, Soult commanding the right wing was captured, and Suchet retreated to Nice. As Melas advanced, he was forcesd to withdraw to the ,line of the river Var, defending the French interior. Melas occupied Nice on May 13th, but Suchet and his men, although greatly outnumbered, succesfully held the line of the Var for 10 days. The arrival of Bonaparte in his rear eventually compelled Melas to withdraw, and Suchet re-entered Nice on May 29th. He pursued the Austrians vigorously, moved into the Tenda pass in early June, and defeating an Austrian force under General Elnitz several times, reached the Genoa river., and crossed into the plain of the Bormida river. In the process, his forces captured 15,000 men, 30 cannons, and 6 standards. 

Suchet had hoped to command a Corps in 1805, but instead lead an excellent infantry Division,  first under Soult and then under Lannes. His Division held the Santon mound at the Battle of Austerlitz, where it fought with distinction. During the 1806-1807 campaign, Suchet's Division was part of the V Corps under Lannes. It was one of the first to fight the Prussians (at Sallfield), lead the second  attack at Jena, and fought at Pultusk and Ostrolenka. he was sent to Spain in 1808. Interestingly, Suchet married Honorine Anthoine de Saint-Joseph  a niece of both Joseph Bonaparte's wife, Julie Clary, and Bernadotte's wife, Desiree Clary, on 16 November 1808.They had three children: The arranged marriage was a happy one, and his wife evidently often accompanied him on campaign, 

The center figure is an ADC to a General de Brigade, as evidenced by the blue brassard on his  right  arm (just like the sashes of their commanders, the brassards were red for an ADC to a General de  Division and white for those of a Marshal).  The mounted officers (colonels) wee included in the command packs of some recently purchased Foundry French line infantry. As I don't use mounted colonels in my infantry units, they were surplus. I have put them use as ADC's or temporary commanders of smaller forces. 

Described as "reserved, methodical, and dependable", Suchet was one of the very few to perform well and enhance his reputation in Spain. With the approach of war with Austria in 1809, Suchet was finally given the independent command he had sought since his days in Italy. He was appointed to command "3 mediocre  Divisions ", which would become the Army of Aragon. He lost his first (and only) battle with Spanish regulars to General Blake at Alcaniz on May 23, 1809. The men were ill fed, all but unpaid, and undisciplined. Suchet took measures to improve all three, as well as to work with the population of the province, respecting their religion and customs. He became by far the most successful of the French military governors. Less than a month later he defeated Blake twice at the battles of Maria and Belchite. He collaborated in the siege of Saragossa, at the conclusion of which he was actually thanked by the Spanish authorities. He went on to gradually subdue most of Catalonia as well, culminating in the successful siege of Taragona (May - June 1811), and a Marshal's baton for Suchet at last  on July 11, 1811. 

Ordered to subdue Valencia by Napoleon, Suchet bottled up General Blake in that city in January 1812; after only 7 days the city fell, and Suchet captured 18,00 Spanish regulars, along with Blake himself. Napoleon responded by naming him Duke of Albufera. He held his opwn through most of 1812, but as Wellington advanced, and troops were drawn off to the Emperor's armies in Germany. Despite another victory at Molina del Rey in January 1814, Suchet and his few remaining men finally returned to France in March 1814. He met the returning King Ferdinand of Spain near the border, who thanked Suchet for his benevolent conduct. he served the Bourbons under the restoration, but supported Napoleon when he returned to power in 1815. He was appointed to command the French Army of the Alps and was stationed near his birthplace in Lyon. He prevented that city from being dacked by the allies. After Napoleon's defeat (some have argued, with justice, that Suchet would have made a far better chief of staff to Napoleon than Soult), he was dismissed by the Bourbons (although later restored in 1819, He tried to persuade Ney to flee the country, offering him money, a passport, and an escort. Suchet died in relative obscurity in 1826; the following month the citizens of Sargossa attended a mass for his soul in their cathedral. 

Suchet's grave in Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery (from Wikipedia)
Napoleon, asked while on St. Helena,. which of his generals was most skillful, answered "That is difficult to say, but it seems to me that it was Suchet..." Brigadier Peter Young stated of Suchet "he was a general of great ability, the superior in military skill to all but Massena, Davout, Soult, and perhaps Macdonald." "Few indeed of the 26 could equal Suchet's record, whether for military ability or personal integrity."

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Kingdom of Orbajosa

We are making a somewhat halting start to a new Imaginations campaign using the Warpaln 5/5 map cards, Theater of War by Piquet/Brent Oman for Army level conflicts in a fashion not yet entirely clear, and Piquet: Les Grognards for the actual battles, and other suingle figure type  rules for various alarums and excursions, skullduggery, and the like. In an effort to completely baffle the Tin God (Joe), I elected my new country to be based upon Spain rather than France under the Consulate. Hey, it's a good excuse to use my relatively new and colorful Spanish Napoleonic Army more! Each country's nominal Army is around 25 units of generally suspect quality. Naval matters await further specification. 

Flag of the Kingdom of Orbajosa.

Brief Background:

The modern day Kingdom of Orbajosa had it's origin in the latye 15th century, when control the last of the country was regained from the S'Mores following the successful Siege of Pomengranada by El Sid. This, along with the discovery of the New Woprld and an influx of oprecious metals from the mines therein, triggered off the "Siglo de Gordo" (The Fat Century; sort of like Fat Tuesday, but lasting a lot longer...a lot closer to two centuries, in actuality, ending in the late 17th century, but whatever) during which literature flourished and great churches and palaces were constructed. Unfortunately. the inflation caused by bulk importation of silver and gold ultimately devastated the economy, and the country fell from being the leading power of the day to its present status of a backwater. The principal economic activities is the growing of fruits and vegetables; Garlic from Ogajosa is world famous, and featured on the flag. Fishing, mining, and metalworking are other industries favored in Orbajosa. The coutry is more than 98% Catholic. In general, the population twends to be fairly poor, but are fiercely proud (for reason generally unapparent to outsiders).  

Cast of Characters:

Gonzalo I Cebolla, el Rey

Maria Apio, la Reina, aka Doña Perfecta

Rosario, daughter of Gonzalo y Maria

Diego, son of Gonzalo y Maria

Manuel de Gordo, Principe del Pedazo, Prime Minister

Don Carlos Inocencio, Foreign Minister

Don Pepe Pimienta, Minister of War

Don Juan Berza, Interior Minister

Don José Maíz, Commerce Minister

Don Pardo Guisante, Finance Minister

Mario Mazanilla, Minister of the Navy

Leading Generals

Cesar Calabazo

Fernando  Frijol

Pablo Patata

Luis Legumbre

Bartolo Brócoli

Lorenzo Lechuga

Vicente Zanahoria (said to have some remote Fuddlamder relatives)

Map cards laid out; the Top is North;the lower row of cards to the South is part of Fuddland, and the country evidently extends another two rows of cards South from there. 

Joe's sketch map of the continent - A, B, and D are various non player territories. C is Orbajosa, E is S'Gottland (Greg), F is Dahara (Roger) and G is Fuddland (Barry, aka Czar Elmer) 

Political Map of the Northern part of the continent - all non-player states.  

Political map of the Orbajosa (pink), showing its four provinces, along with Bayern and Thuringia to my North.

Similar maps of Dahara, S'Gottland, and Fuddland have been promised but as yet the Royal Cartographers have been unable to locate same. 

Link to the Campaign page on Joe's blog. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

IR# 19 Alvinczy (Hungarian)

This is IR #19, FM Josef Alvinczy de Berberek.  Their recruitment district was the Fejer kreis, with headquarters in  Stuhlweissenburg in Central Hungary.

I have used Delta Ceramcoat "Carribean Blue" for their sky blue facings; the Hungarian trousers are CC Azure Blue, with the piping and Hungarian knots in CC Straw. Buttons are silver for this regiment. 

I love these Old Gloy figures, marching on campaign, The command figures I had were Hungarian, so I did paint conversion to make the rank and files Hungarian as well. Yhey were partb of the "300 Austrians". 

In 1809 the unit began the campaign in Italy in the IX Corps commanded by Gyulai. It fought at Sacile, Montebello,  The Piave,  The Tagliamento,  Papa, and Raab.

It was part of the forces under Erzherzog Johann marching on Wagram but arriving too late to effect the outcome of the battle.

These next shots were taken during a long sunny stretch a few weeks ago, not too long after sunrise to minimize shadows. 

I try to take all my pictures outdoors on a cloudy day; it makes a big difference in the photo quality. 

They were awaiting their flag from Adolfo Ramos.

Monday, March 23, 2020

New Arrivals...

    Yesterday we celebrated the occasion of my 65th birthday in low key, Covid-19 style, with just the three of us at home (and me being on call). Thankfully it was much less busy than Saturday, when among other things I had to tell several people that they tested positive for the damned virus. Anyway, there were still some fine gifts to be had. I certainly won't lack for things to do during my off time during this unusual period!

The Danish Army of the Napoleonic Wars has been an interest of mine for many years. The limited availability of quality information on this important force,. even in Danish, has been a challenge. This is the book I would have written and more. To say that it is detailed would be a gross understatement. If there is anything you wanted to know about the about the organization, uniforms, weapons, etc of the areas covered, the answers are pretty much here ( a second volume presumably covering the Cavalry, Artillery, and Militias is planned, and it looks like even a 3rd volume covering the Norwegian Army is planned.) I will have to update my existing blog posts on these troops based upon the information here. There are more than FORTY color plates in the book, in the "Peter Bundy" style as far as the depictions, although evidently the author is also the illustrator. I''ve read half the book already. It's not cheap but hardly outrageous for the quality, and Helion has frequent deals and discounts, and many other excellent titles). Very highly recommended if you have any interest in the topic! I've already read half of it since yesterday! 

While I am very set on Field of Battle as my Horse and Musket era rules (the 3rd edition was just finalized and should be available shortly),  enough wargames e-friends like them that I thought I would get a copy. Even if I never run them myself, I might want to play them at a convention (if and when they return), I couldn't find a copy at Historicon last year, and it took more than 3 months to get this copy (it was on back order). I am looking forward to reading through it! 

While looking for other items, I found these 25 mm siege Siege mortars, something I have rarely seen anywhere. So I picked up 2 packs of them (I took one as my Army Card renewal freebie). They will enhance my Vauban's wars set up.  

Another discovery browsing the extensive  Old Glory on line  Catalog were these items - a bag has 2 Pontoon wagons, each with 4 horses, and the other bag has 6 pontoons and 4 deck sections with 16 support pieces. Just what you need when confronting a crossing of the mighty Danube, or the lesser Isar!

These additions will allow me to use existing leftovers to raise another 4 units of French line  in the early uniforms (bicorne), plus a unit of converged Grenadiers to round out the Division

With existing lead on hand, these packs will allow me to add another 3 ECW Horse units, and another 3 units of Foote. 

I needed these command sets to raise the bulk of the "300 Austrians" - enough for 10 more units. I already ordered the required flags from Adolfo Ramos, and they are on their way here. Am I crazy or what? :-)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Erzherzog Karl von Österreich

Erzherzog Karl Ludwig Johann Joseph Lorenz von Österreich, Herzog von Teschen; (Archduke Charles in English) was born in Florence (Tuscany) on September 1771. He was the third son of  Emperor Leopold II, but was raised by his childless Aunt and her husband., in Florence, Vienna, and the Austrian Netherlands. This magnificent sculpt of Karl is from Foundry. 

At age 21 he commanded a brigade at the battle of Jamaopes (1792), was victorious at the battle of Neerwinden (1793) but defeated at the battles of Wattignies (1793) and Fleurus. As commander of all Austrian forces on the Rhine, in 1796 he prevailed over Jourdan at the battles of Amberg and Wurzburg, and defeated Moreau at Emmendingen that obliged his withdrawal across the Rhine. During 1799,  Karl defeated Massena at the 1st battle of Zurich, and Jourdan at the battles of Ostrach and Stokach, before being repulsed by Moreau at Messkirch. 

The Archduke first faced then General Bonaparte in 1797, when he managed the later stages of the withdrawal of the Austrians from the Italian theater. During the 1805 campaign, Karl commanded what was intended to be the main Habsburg army, and fought the French Army of Italy under Massena at the battle of Caldiero. It is debatable who won the battle tactically, but strategically the result was the withdrawal of Austrian forces. 

Were you to be introduced to Erzherzog Karl, you would properly address him as königliche und kaiserliche Hoheit (Royal and Imperial Highness).  Following the disastrous outcome of the 1805 campaign, Karl, who already held the the rank of  Feldmarchal, was appointed supreme commander of the Habsburg forces in 1806, and directed the reform of the Army. His exploits during the 1809 campaign are likely too well know to readers of the blog to be worth repeating here, but thereafter he effectively retired from military life (and later, finally married in 1815, having 4 sons and 2 daughters, in the Habsburg tradition of fertility!) .

Portrait of  Archduke Charles, by Thomas Lawrence, in the public domain (from Wikipedia). 
Karl died in Vienna in 1847.

The famous equestrian statue of Karl at the battle of Aspern-Essling, located in the Heldenplatz (Heroes Square) , in front of the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, by Anton Dominick Ritter von Fernkorn.  Karl is reputed to have scoffed at the design, saying "I am quite a small fellow, you know, and those colors are very heavy!" Photo by Brücke-Osteuropa - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 at,

Monday, March 16, 2020

Covid-19 CANCELLATION: Snap Con VII, "The Criosis on the Danube

For the past week the core planning group have been discussing the fate of this event given the Covid-19 pandemic. As some of you may know, I am a Family Physician myself and have been dealing with Covid issues daily for the past 2 weeks at least. It has become clear in the past few days that holding this event as scheduled would be unwise for health reasons. Indeed, the Governor of Connecticut today issued an advisory against meetings of even 10 or more persons, and has closed schools, restaurants, health clubs, etc for at least the next 2 weeks; I would be surprised if these closures lasted less than 2 months at minimum. I am still hopeful that we might run the event at Historicon in July, and have laready registered to do so assuming that it is held; I would give that 50/50 myself, especially for such a large gathering.

As almost all of the development work has been done for this event, I certainly hope to run it in the future here in Connecticut perhaps this October, and Historicon - if not in 2020, perhaps 2021?  We will see; we are living in very uncertain times, and that is likely to continue for many months at least. We will stay in touch once the situation clarifies and it becomes possible to make meaningful plans for future events. 

Meanwhile, this looks the be year I do more painting than usual...

Best wishes to you all, and stay well!


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

FML Franz Rosenberg and Cuirassier Generals

FML Franz Rosenberg - Orsini was from the Itian portion of the Hapsburg empire.

This Foundry figure depicts him as being rather portly. 

He commanded a Brigade under Herzerzog Karl in Germany, and a  wing of the Army of Italy at the second Battle of Caldiero in 1805. In 1809, he commanded the IV Corps, and fought at Eggmuhl, Aspern-Essling, and Wagram. 

I have paired him with the mounted Colonel of a Hungarian regiment, a figure that was part of the "300 Austrians, likely from Front Rank. 

FML Franz Rosenberg - Orsini. 

A pair of Cuirassier officers to lead the Divisons of these elite horsemen.

Note the elongated gold triangles on the chest of the Cuirasses, supposedly emulating the gorgets of other nation's officer corps. 

As my Cavalry regiments have 8 figures and Foundry cavalry figures come in groups of three, the two surplus officers are thus promoted to Field grade! 

One rides a Chestnut and the other a Bay. 

Different colors of flowering tufts also differentiate the two officers. 

It is difficult to tell, but the near figure wears the uniform of the green faced KR #4 , while the far figure wears that of the black faced KR #6.