Saturday, April 23, 2011

Grand Duchy of Warsaw: Cavalry

The Grand Duchy of Warsaw, created as a result of the Treaty of Tilsit in July, 1807, was one of Napoleon's most enthusiastic allies/satellites. The Grand Duchy, its citizens hoping for full restoration of an independent Poland,  contributed forces to his armies out of proportion to the relatively small population of the Duchy (although it was augmented by portions of formerly Austrian Galicia at the end of the 1809 conflict with that nation).  This was particularly true of the Cavalry arm.
Unlike other nations, rather than being numbered by type, all of the Cavalry regiments of the Grand Duchy were numbered sequentially without regard for type at all. All regiments ultimately had four squadrons, totalling a little over 800 men on paper, except for the regiment of Cuirassiers, which never had more than two.

These quintessentially Polish troops wore dark blue kurtka jackets, with collars, cuffs, and turnbacks in regimental colors. There was piping around the collars, cuffs, and pockets, and also on the outer sleeves of the arms, as well as the back of the jacket. Breeches were dark blue with a double band down the outside seems, also piped in colors assigned to the various regiments. These were quite complicated, and rather than trying to list them here, I'll simply note that they are referenced here, along with wonderful plates of all of the cavalry of the GDW here on the Histofig site.  Along with George Nafziger's Poles and Saxons of the Napoleonic Wars (Emperor's Press, 1991) these form the main references for the material presented here.
Th Uhlans formed the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 15th. 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st cavalry regiments of the Grand Duchy. The last 4 regiments were raised in 1812 from portions of old Lithuania, once part of the Kingdom of Poland, "liberated" in the course of the invasion of Russia.

The first unit up is the 2nd Uhlans. These are Minifigs, probably among the last of a great many that I have painted over the years. At the advice of the late Charlie Sweet, by this time I was labeling the underside of the Command Stand of each unit with the units name, date painted, and my name, so I know these fine fellows go back to early 1997. The trumpeter in reversed colors is taken directly from an illustration in Nafziger's book.

Here are the 2nd Uhlans once again as they ride through a village in Russia. The colors of the lance pennons varied among the different regiments, and once again Nafziger's book has a listing of this information.

 A rear view of the 2nd Uhlans, as well as a broader view of the village itself. These are all Hovels buildings, with the no longer in production Flex-terrain roads.

This unit is the 19th Uhlans, with their primary facing color being yellow. Once again, I'm partial to trumpeters in reversed colors, and this regiment's trumpeter sports a rather striking yellow uniform faced in dark blue. The flag was hand painted.

Minifigs just like their sister regiment, these chaps were from Lithuania. All of the Lithuanian regiments evidently had the light blue over white lance pennons, and their czapskas had a knight in white on the brass plate, this being the ancient emblem of Lithuania.

This view of the 19th  from behind shows the top of the czapskas. Evidently the Elite companies of the lancer units often had red plumes, not shown here. Some also had bearskin around the Czapska.

Chasseurs a Cheval
The Polish Chasseurs at first wore a dark blue kurtka jacket until it was changed to dark green in 1808; the 5th regiment evidently retained the dark blue coats until 1810. The regimental facing colors appeared on the cuffs, collars, piping and turnbacks, and were Poppy Red for the 1st Regiment, Orange for the 4th Regiment, and Crimson for the 5th Regiment. In 1813, the 1st Chasseurs were equipped with lances and the 4th regiment converted to Uhlans.

These figures represent the 5th Regiment, which had Crimson facings. I've interpreted that here as a more mauve/raspberry "Polish Crimson" hue. The uniform was very similar to that of their French counterparts, aside from having yellow metal buttons, etc., in place of white.

The troopers here are Old Glory, while the Elite Company and the Trumpeter figures are Foundry. Flag is GMB. Unlike the Uhlans, I stated these horsemen in November and just finished them this week; they'd been about 80% done for several months while I worked on other things.

 The white uniform jacket of the trumpeter with the same facing color as the rest of the jacket is taken directly from the plate on Histofig; they show a white colpack, and as I didn't have a suitable figure for that, I went with a white shako with speculative crimson trim. Definitely makes the unit stand out a bit from its French counterpart. Note also the elite company figure in colpack with red plume, cord, and epaulettes, the bag or "flame" on the colpack being in the facing color, here Crimson.

 One last picture of the 5th Chasseurs a Cheval, perhaps looking for informants in the village?

There were two regiments, the 10th and 13th. Both wore dark blue dolmans, with red collars and cuffs. The 10th regiment had yellow buttons and cords (gold for officers) and black fur on the pelisse, while the 13th regiment had white buttons and cords (silver for officers), and white fur on the pelisse.

This is the 13th Hussars of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. I painted this unit up in just barely a week! I got started on it because we needed a unit of Polish Hussars (and one of Chassuers) as part of the huge Borodino we're planning for 2012, under the guidance of Czar Barry.

When I read up on the Hussars and saw the illustration of the uniform in Nafziger's book, I knew I *had* to do the 13th regiment with their light blue shakos (the 10th has boring black). Nafziger's illustration has one error in that it shows the trooper with the black fur worn on the pelisse of the 10th regiment, rather than the white fur, as seen here, appropriate to the 13th.

The uniform of the Trumpeter (spectacular, isn't he?) is from the Histofig site, except that they again show a colpack, dark brown fur this time, with white over light blue plume. Having no trumpeter figure in colpack, I substituted a shako with a bit of extra trim and a light blue over white plume. Note the mixed red and white cording in his shako, pelisse, and dolman, again following the illustration on Histofig.

One final view of the glorious 13th Hussars. The Elite company is wearing the red plume. These are Old Glory figures (French Hussars Charging), painted as Poles.  GMB flag once again.

CuirassiersThe Polish Cuirassiers were numbered as the 14th Regiment, and were raised from the Cuirassier regiment of the Galician- French army. Initially they wore white breeches and a white coat with poppy red collar, cuffs, and turnbacks, the first two only piped in white. The helmet was similar to that of the French Cuirassiers. By December, 1809 they were wearing a uniform all but identical to that of the French units, with a dark blue coat faced red. The buttons were yellow metal/gold for officers, with that and the gold epaulets worn by officers being the only obvious difference from their French counterparts. From December 1810 to April 1812, it was converted to a Chasseur a Cheval unit at the order of he King of Saxony, before being returned to Cuirassiers again at the order of Napoleon. And no, I didn't paint up a unit of these guys!


We had a good time running the Gorodetschna scenario (using Field of Battle) at HAVOC in Massachussetts a couple of weekends ago; there is an illustrated account on Czar Barry's blog at . I do have to give special thanks to Convention Director Bruce Carlson, as I managed to leave my camera behind, and he and his staff were able to find it for me and mail it back, enabling me to take the picture you see here now. Thanks again, Bruce and all the guys from Battlegroup Boston, for a great convention!

The scenario book, 1809: Blunders on the Danube, is completed and awaiting final cover designs, after which it can hopefully be printed soon. I'll share more when there is something more definite.

Good Gaming,



  1. Very nice Peter,
    I intend to do some Polish troops for my own 1812 project eventually.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks, Paul. I checked out your blog and enjoyed it as well! I have 72 OG Vistula Legion troops to paint this summer - dark blue faced yellow in various combinations... and the drummers I get to do in reversed colors, so *yellow* coats, whoopee! :-) Might even do the "Canaries" (Neufchatel Battalion) to go with them as Light Infantry, especially as both units were often brigaded with the Imperial Guard. Another guy suggested I do some Krakus, too. Hmmm!