Tuesday, January 29, 2019

31e Legere - Early Imperial French Light Infantry in side plumed shakos

This newly painted regiment of Old Glory figures was needed to complete my 8th French "Division, each composed of 4 Line and 1 Light Infantry "Regiments".

The Legere, especially in the early years, often emulated Light Cavalry dress. I have tried to paint almost all the little details of their elegant uniform... the white piping on the red collars and the blue cuffs, the red cuff flaps with pewter buttons, the piping often worn on the seam of the pants, etc. 

The Legere are fun to paint because of the many details of their dress that might vary from regiment to regiment, particularly for the Chasseur and Voltigeur companies. I have this regiment's Voltigeurs with red over yellow plumes, yellow epaulets with red "crescents", yellow shako cords, and chamois collars piped red.

The Chasseur companies of this outfit have red over green plumes, green epaulets with red crescents, and green shako cords (and green lace on the top of the boots).

This regiment was raised during the Consulate, in 1803, and it is the first that I have painted in the side plumed shakos often worn by the Legere regiment in the early years of the Empire. 

I have used highlighting to bring out the fringes of the Epaulets on the chasseurs and carabiniers... bright green and orange, respectively, and the same for the plumes.  The flag is an old Signifer production... the flag sheet says "copyright 1992"! 

The puppies a week ago, at age 8 1/2 weeks. All but two have gone to their new homes now (the four boys), while the two girls will stay with us, one of them belonging to my daughter the newly minted Veterinarian, and the other to us. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Heroes of the Tyrol!

Josef Speckbacher, commanding the "brown coat" Division of my Tyrolese forces. 

Some more very purple prose, from
"The Heroes of the Tyrol, 1809":


    HOFER, full of confidence in the protection of Heaven, had resolved upon an early attack on the morning of the 25th. He encouraged his followers by the religious motives which so powerfully influenced himself, and he spoke to men whose hearts responded to his own. The priest, Joseph Alber, on the evening of the 24th addressed the riflemen on the Schiinberg in a similar strain, and with the additional authority which his holy office imparted, exhorting them to prepare themselves by penitence and the confession of their sins for the mortal struggle. The enthusiasm of the Tyrolese was at its height; and it was as men resolved to conquer or to die in a holy cause that they rushed forward to the attack. The advanced posts of the Bavarians were furiously assailed ; and though advantageously placed, well commanded, and bravely defended , the troops were driven back by the impetuous onslaught; by midday Speckbacher had won the Patschberg, and pushed forward to Aldrans and Ampass. Had the attack in all quarters been simultaneous, the results of the action of the 25th might have proved more decisive; but either through the premature impetuosity of the right wing, or a want of combination not surprising in so motley and undisciplined an army, the troops under the respective commands of Speckbacher and Reissenfels (it is said) were pursuing their victorious advance before the remainder of the forces could be brought to bear upon the enemy. It was not long, however, before the battle became general along the whole line, and raged with varying success for the entire day, the close of which saw the armies in nearly the same positions they had occupied at the beginning. The Bavarians could not drive the Tyrolese from the heights; and the latter, after repeated attacks upon the enemy’s centre at Wiltau, which was well protected by artillery, found themselves unable to'gain a footing in the plain. A heavy rain which came on in the afternoon finally put a stop to the conflict, the result of which was far from decisive, though on the whole it was favourable to the Tyrolese. Nothing, however, but speedy and complete success could avail an army constituted as was the peasant force. Without military discipline, short of am munition and provisions, and wanting in every thing that could render a prolonged contest possible, to them delay must prove defeat, while to their adversaries it must ultimately give the victory. 

I have painted the "yoke" of his companion's garb to suggest the elaborately embroidered "dirndl" often worn by Austrian women. The flag is that of Tyrol. 
    Prodigies of valour had as usual been displayed. Fore most in the van of the left wing the fiery Haspinger led the rifle-companies to the storming of the heights of Natters, which were more than once lost and won during the day. In the heat of the battle two Bavarian officers had been captured, and were brought to the Capuchin. His quickly recognised them as the same who, nine months before, had led him prisoner from the cloister of Schlanders to Klausen. 
“Was I not a true prophet,” he said, “when I warned you that one day you might fall into my hands? You shall want for nothing under my care.” And the good father gave instant orders to have them conducted to the nearest village, and treated with all courtesy and kindness.

    The loss on the part of the Tyrolese was extremely trifling, while that of the Bavarians was from three to four hundred killed and wounded; nevertheless Hofer was disappointed at the result of the day, and the scarcity of powder and provisions was a discouraging circumstance. Deroi, on his side, felt the critical nature of his position, in a land bristling on all sides with enemies, and with little prospect of present reinforcements. He endeavoured, therefore, by a display of friendly dispositions, and a willingness to enter into negotiation, to induce the Tyrolese either to lay down their arms or to come to some accommodation. His overtures were fruitless, and nothing remained but for each side to prepare once more to measure forces. Hofer was looking hourly for the promised cooperation of Teimer and the Upper Innthalers, who were to have menaced the rear of the enemy in Innsbruck, but had been hindered in their movements by coming into conflict with the body of troops under Arco already mentioned.

The costume, pose, and features of the Speckbacher sculpt are obviously taken directly from those of the Speckbacher memorial. Many consider Speckbacher to have been the ablest of the Tirolese rebel commanders. 

    Valentin Tschoell was despatched to Botzen to endeavour to procure reinforcements and supplies, and in the mean time a council of war was held by the peasant chiefs in the little inn upon the Schiinberg, Hofer’s head-quarters. The commander sat thoughtful and serious, if not somewhat sad; for he felt that with him rested the entire responsibility of the fate of his country, and of those brave men who had so confidently followed him to the field. Speckbacher was as usual undiscouraged by any adverse circumstances, and full of daring hopes. He was for a speedy renewal of the conflict. Others, more cautious, were for awaiting Teimer’s coming. Opinions were thus divided. Hofer still kept silence. At this moment, it is said, an aged man, of low stature, and with hair as white as the mountain snow, came forward into the circle. He stepped up to the table at which Hofer sat, and stood facing him. In a deep hollow voice, but in tones of fiery earnestness, the stranger uttered these words: “ You must not give battle be are Monday the 29th of May, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.I tell you this in the name of God and of the Holy Virgin. On that day fight, and I promise you the victory.” After pronouncing these words, the old man withdrew, and was no more seen. None knew him, nor whence he came, nor whither he retired. All gazed in silence and astonishment upon one another. But on Hofer’s soul the appearance and words of the venerable stranger had made the deepest impression. He rose from his seat, his whole countenance beaming with enthusiasm: “As the old man has said,” he exclaimed, “ so shall it be.” Then, raising his hands and eyes aloft, he prayed the Lord of heaven and earth to grant victory to their arms, and vowed that the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus should thenceforth be solemnly celebrated through out the land, in thanksgiving for the grace which, as he firmly hoped, would be vouchsafed to them."

*The Feast of the Sacred Heart, as celebrated throughout the Church, would certainly not have fallen that year on the 29th of May. The writer has been unable to account for this difficulty.  Possibly there may be in Tyrol some additional day celebrated in its honor.

Andreas Hofer himself; the banner, based upon a historic flag of a Tirolese Schutzen company, bears, appropriately, an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

    The report of the wonderful old man, and of his prophecy, spread rapidly through the peasant host, and raised the hopes of this religious people to the highest pitch of confidence. Henceforth not a man left the camp to return to his home; strong in the conviction that they fought under the special protection of God and of our Lady, they awaited the appointed day with impatience, ready alike for the crown of victory or of martyrdom. Historians have not hesitated to apply to the Tyrolese, and to Hofer himself, on this and on other occasions, the epithet of superstitious, but surely with some injustice. Whatever may be our opinion of the old man and his prediction, whether he really spoke moved by the Spirit of grace, or from the fervour of his own enthusiastic hopes, it matters not. The Tyrolese believed the former, and if on slight and insufficient grounds, then, at most, may they be taxed with credulity. But credulity is not superstition, though often confounded with it. The masses are always credulous; and happy that people whose credulity runs in a pious channel! Believing the message, there was no superstition in their confidence. Their hope was in God and our Lady. He only is superstitious who puts his trust in lying vanities instead of the living God. 

    Valentin Tscholl’s expedition to Botzen had been successful in procuring assistance from the townspeople in the shape of money and provisions. Wagons of ammunition also, which the riflemen of the Pusterthal had obliged the retreating Austrians to abandon, made their welcome apearance on the Brenner; and Buol himself, who seems to have been but niggard of his assistance, was induced to forward a supply of powder. Of bullets there was not the same scarcity. Women and children were indefatigable collectors, and were often seen handing them to the combatants in the very heat of the battle. The provisions also arrived most opportunely. Speckbacher, in particular, was thus enabled to keep his men together, who, being for the greater part in the immediate neighbourhood of their homes, were in the habit, for the purpose or under the pretext of procuring food, of straggling back every evening to their families. From time to time fresh companies kept dropping in to swell the host, and were received with shouts of exultation and brotherly greetings by their countrymen.

    Meanwhile a messenger from Hormayr reached the camp with the news that the men of the Obererinnthal were successfully en aged with the troops under Arco, at Scharnitz and the Luitpass. As the enemy were likely, however, to give them enough to do for another day, he advised that no attack should be made upon Deroi before the 30th. Teimer could not hope to efect a junction with them sooner. The Austrian officer, Roehle, the bearer of the message, found Hofer on the Schonberg, employed in the homely ofice of giving fodder to his horse, and enforced Hormayr’s written advice by word of month. But Hofer’s determination remained unshaken. He relied more on the promises of the wonderful old man than on the counsels of the intendant; and had he even placed no faith in the former, prudence would have fully justified his reluctance to sacrifice the favourable moment of enthusiasm to the prospect of addition to numerical force. The sure trust of victory was much more than worth any reinforcement which Teimer might bring. Hofer accordingly made but brief reply to the arguments of the imperialist, who was desirous to know what rejoinder he should bear to his superiors: “ My best greetings, Herr Hauptrnann, to the intendant, and you may tell him you found the Sandwirth, Andreas Hofer, at his friend Etschmann’s house, at Schupfen, giving fodder to his horse, with whom he shared his meal, and drank to your good health. I have nothing more“ to say in reply.” With these words, he gave the officer a friendly squeeze of the hand and walked away. Roehle was at a loss to account for this behaviour, till Ertl enlightened him as to the true situation of affairs. Although Hofer, however, took no notice of Hormayr’s missive, he wrote the following characteristic letter to his countrymen of the Oberinnthal: “ Dear brothers of the Oberinnthal, for God, the Emperor, and dear fatherland! Early to-morrow we rush to the assault. We mean, with the help of the Mother of God, to capture or beat the Bavarians; and we have espoused ourselves to the sweetest  Heart of Jesus. Come to our help! If, however, you choose to be wiser than the divine foreknowledge, we shall bring it to pass without you.—-ANDREAS HOFER, Commander-in-chief.” 

The Hofer sculpt is similarly inspired buy the Hofer memorial statue in Innsbruck. 

    This address did not fail of its effect. Hofer knew his men, on whom the flourishes of rhetoric were lost, and to whose hearts you must speak if you would move them. Hormayr’s pompous appeal, and flowery style, had fallen meaningless on the ears of rude Alpine hunters and shepherds; the thirty- paged proclamation of the King of Bavaria, a regular official production, scarce perhaps one of the armed peasantry encamped before Innsbruck on that 28th of May had so much as read; but Hofer’s few lines were intelligible to all.

    Had Deroi been aware of the enthusiastic confidence of approaching victory which animated the Tyrolese host, prudence would have dictated a strictly defensive line of operations; such, indeed, would have been the wisest course he could have anyhow pursued under his present circumstances. To attempt to win the heights was as difficult and hazardous for is troops as it was for the Tyrolese to force their way into the plain, where the artillery and cavalry of the Bavarians gave them an overwhelming advantage. But Deroi seems to have placed great reliance on the courage and discipline of his soldiers, and he had received, besides, some little reinforcement of men and artillery, which Lefebvre had sent back from Salzburg. He knew that his opponents were very ill supplied with ammunition, and that the Austrian regular troops were few in number, while the Tyrolese riflemen, formidable upon their hills, were unprovided with the bayonet for a hand-to-hand encounter; with the rest of the native militia he thought to make light work. 

The flowery narrative notwithstanding, some sources claim Hofer was no where near Innsbruck at the time of the 2nd Battle of Berg Isel.!

    The plan of the battle arranged between Hofer and Ertl was to avoid an immediate assault upon the enemy’s centre, Where the Tyrolese would have to fight to disadvantage, but to attack them vigorously on their wings; and thus, with the cooperation of the Oberinnthalers (upon which Hofer still reckoned in the course of the day), he trusted to be able to surround and overcome the main body. On the evening of the 28th, Speckbacher distributed to his men a large quantity of both meat and drink at his own house. A detachment of Bavarians had crossed the bridges of Hall and Volders, and it was his first object to drive them back to the opposite side. Early on the morning of the 29th, accordingly, Speckbacher and Straub fell furiously upon the enemy at Volders, and forced them to retreat to the left bank of the Inn. Leaving Straub to remove the bridge, which he effected notwithstanding the fire of the retreating enemy, Speckbacher hurried to the assistance of the Austrians at the bridge of Hall, which the Bavarians had crossed, and, under the protection of several pieces of artillery, not only held their ground, but threatened to push their advantage further. Speckbacher's arrival was opportune. The struggle was fierce and desperate. In the heat of the battle, a young woman was seen boldly advancing to strengthen her countrymen with a refreshing draught of wine, a flask of which she bore aloft upon her head, while she held a pitcher in her hand. A bullet penetrating the vessel, the wine began to pour down upon her neck. No way discomposed, she let down the flask from her head, and coolly making use of the hole as a tap, suffered the liquor to pour into the pitcher, calling out to her countrymen: “ Quick, quick, before a second shot comes, which might make an end of wine, flask, and waiter.“

* A very similar incident is related as having taken place at the Second butt e of the Berg Isel, where a young and pretty girl is re.presented as stopping the hole in the wine-flask with her finger, until a second shot came and struck her the ground. They may possibly be versions of the same story.

Perhaps the "Lady in Green" is the same as the maiden in the story? 

    As Speckbacher, brandishing his sabre, was heading a second attack upon the bridge, to his astonishment he beheld his little son Anderl by his side, who, having escaped from his mother, had run down to take a share in the battle. The heart of the brave man was filled with terror at the danger of his child; and his first impulse was to lay him with his face upon the ground, to protect him from the fire of the enemy. The spirit of the young Anderl, however, like that of his father, was not easily checked; and although he bade him make the best of his way home, Speckbacher again saw him lingering near him as he was preparing to head a third onslaught, and it was not until he had given him a smart blow or two that he succeeded in driving him away. The child, it is true, kept out of sight; but he still lingered in the vicinity, and scooping out the bullets from the ground with his knife, filled his hat with them to present to his father after the battle. The third tremendous attack of Speckbacher, who, it is said, earned for himself that day, by his fiery impetuosity, the surname of Der Feuer- Teufel (“ the Fire-Devil”), was successful in effectually driving the Bavarians back to the left bank, who for their own protection now partially destroyed the bridge; while Reissenfels, with his Austrians and the Tyrolese under Gasteiger, stormed the castle of Ambras, the Patschberg, and the bridge over the Sill. The Bavarians, however, returned to the charge, and succeeded in retaking the bridge over the Sill, and in forcing the Tyrolese to retreat from the Patschberg. A reserve body under the Austrian Dobrawa and the Tyrolese Stuffer restored the fortunes of the day in that quarter, and maintaining possession of the Sill Bruck, enabled the right wing to cooperate with the centre later in the day.

     It was at the centre that the decisive struggle must eventually take place. As the main body under Hofer and Ertl slowly advanced along the Iselberg road, the enemy withdrew their advanced posts, and concentrated their forces on the heights of Natters. Thither several rifle companies were despatched, under the leadership of Father Joachim, supported by some Austrian Jagers under the brave Colonel Ammann, a Tyrolese by birth, who perished on that glorious day. Father Joachim wore the habit of his order, the brown robe and the cord of St. Francis; a small black cross, with which he assisted the dying, was enclosed in a little purse or bag, which he bore upon his breast; that cross saved his life that day, and turned away the only bullet which struck the heroic monk. His long beard fell in thick curls over his bosom; a tall mountain-staff, with an image of St. Francis carved on the top, was his sole weapon. Foremost in the post of danger, wherever the rain of bullets fell thickest might this holy standard be discerned as long as the fight lasted. The Tyrolese rushed with ardour to the attack of the heights, where they met with an obstinate resistance from the foe, whose position was defended by two pieces of cannon. After two hours’ hard fighting (from seven o’clock till nine), the Bavarians were driven from the heights of Mutters and Natters, and by eleven o’clock the Galwiese was swept clear, and the enemy compelled to retreat into the plain.

Father Joachim Haspinger, variously styled "Der Rothbart", or "The Capuchin". 

    Once, indeed, they made a furious effort to regain them; for a moment the Tyrolese were shaken, and some began to fall back. Ammann knew that at that critical moment all their hope was in Haspinger: “ We are lost,” he cried, “ if you cannot stop the fugitives.” Father Joachim needed no encouragement. He precipitated himself into the midst of the retreating body, seized two of the number by the arm, and in a voice of thunder, “ Brothers!” he exclaimed, “ was this what you promised when you began your march, and when you this morning received a general absolution? Did you not pledge yourselves to shed the last drop of your blood for the Church of God and your rightful monarch? Farewell, perjured men; I shall meet you yonder, to accuse on at the tribunal of God! Farewell for ever!" he shouted once again as he turned and rushed alone to wards the advancing foe. “ No, brothers, this shall never be,” was the cry that broke from the Tyrolese ranks; “we cannot forsake our Feldpater;" and with renewed heart they returned to the charge. The bullets whistled thick around their leader, they singed his hair and his flowing heard; but none touched him. At one moment his death seemed imminent. A Bavarian soldier rushed forward; and, with a curse on his lips, shouted out, “ Now I have you!” at the same time drawing back his bayonet to give the father a mortal thrust. “ Not so,” replied Haspinger, as he warded off the stroke by a powerful low with his staff, which broke off the image of St. Francis from the top. With no other weapon for his defence, the next moment would have seen him pierced through and through, had not a rifleman, perceiving his danger, fired over his right shoulder, burning thereby a portion of the father's beard, but laying the Bavarian dead at his feet. A detachment of the enemy close at hand fired upon Haspinger and his follower, but not a shot told. An impression that the singular protection of Heaven surrounded him, and that saints fought invisibly at his side, gained possession even of the Bavarian soldiers, who, brave as they were, shrank appalled from the strange form of the Capuchin, and from. the curse which they believed his fiery eye darted at them. What, then, may be imagined was the enthusiasm of his countrymen and spiritual children, inflamed and encouraged by every inspiring motive that can stir the heart of man, and specially the heart of a Tyrolese, to whom he by turns held out the strong help of God and of our Lady, the assured forgiveness of their sins, and the martyr’s imperishable crown! Men died on the field of battle as if they had a foretaste of the beatific vision. “Fight on bravely, brothers,” exclaimed one who fell at Father Joachim’s side, as he raised himself on one arm from the ground; “see, heaven opened ;” and he expired with his eyes uplifted, as one who beheld a vision. Another was mortally wounded by a shot as the Bavarians were pressing forward. Haspinger wished to bear him away: “ Think only of victory,” said the dying patriot, “and let me lie here. I shall be dead ere the Bavarians have reached me.” But not for an instant did Haspinger forget his higher vocation in the exciting exercise of the strange calling which circumstances had forced upon him; one moment leading a furious charge into the very cannon’s mouth, the next on his knees upon the blood-stained ground, whispering in the ears of the dying man the last words of consolation and forgiveness, and holding before his eyes the image of the Redeemer. No, never for one moment did Haspinger forget the priest and the religious in the soldier and the patriot: this is his highest glory, and that which stamps his singular and exceptional vocation with the surest mark of the approval of Heaven.

An old Austrian Ordinarfahne (Courtesy of Bannasek flags, a few decades ago!) provides the banner for Haspinger's command stand, leading the "black coat" Division. It was not until I read this narrative that I learned his habit should be brown instead. 

    The success of the two wings enabled the central body to progress forward. The Bavarians gave way, and gradually fell back from their positions on the Iselberg. Eisenstecken and his Tyrolese poured down the slope of the hill, and hurled them back upon their rearguard in the fields of Wiltau. General Deroi in person rallied them, and brought them back impetuously to the charge. In the plain the balance was in favour of the Bavarians: here their deadly artillery came into play, and their strong body of cavalry could deploy effectively. Deroi, an experienced as well as a resolute officer, had previously made an accurate survey of the ground; a detachment accordingly, concealed by a wood, made a circuit by a hollow way, and turning the right flank of the Tyrolese, were close upon their rear, and opened their fire before the latter had become aware of the manoeuvre. For a brief space it seemed that the Bavarians were about to recover their lost ground; but the danger, far from disheartening, roused to the utmost the spirit of the undaunted mountaineers. From every height a storm of bullets burst upon the advancing columns; while the Austrians, with Ertl at their head, who had taken up a position by a tall cross upon the high road, emulating the intrepidity of the peasantry, rushed back to help in driving the assailants from the heights. Once more were they swept back into the plain under the walls of the abbey of Wiltau; and the hospital in Innsbruck could no longer contain the wounded and the dying, who were borne in great numbers to the monastery of the Servites.

    Still the day was advancing, and the main object was not accomplished. Although the Bavarians had failed in keeping possession of the high ground, and were driven back with great loss at every repeated attempt to recover it, yet all the valour of the Tyrolese could not make any effectual impression on their centre, and neither the main body nor the left wing could take up an permanent position on the plain. Still Teimer and the Oberinnthalers did not make their appearance. Their cooperation in sufficient force early in the day would probably have produced very decisive results, as the Bavarians would thus have been taken in the rear and attacked in front simultaneously. They seem to have had no intimation of the risk, and were themselves probably anxiously looking to the Zirl road for Arco’s expected assistance. The enemy were, in fact, repulsed but not beaten, and their great error during the day was decidedly their obstinate courage in resuming the offensive, which entailed only considerable bloodshed on their own side, and great waste of ammunition. For a while, however, fortune once more seemed to incline in their favour. Reissenfels had been driven back from Ambras, though a division of the Austrians still held their ground on the right wing, and Speckbacher bravely maintained his position at the Patschberg. The main body of the Bavarians made a furious, and at the first a successful, charge upon the Iselberg; Hofer, in that moment of danger, displayed an heroic energy and courage which were decisive of victory, yet as it were trembling in the balance. Messengers were despatched in every direction, to Ampass and to the Gallwiese, to summon all to a general attack. With his sword in one hand and his rosary in the other, not the least esteemed weapon of that true soldier of God and of his country, Hofer in person led his followers to the charge. Their enthusiastic valour bore down all opposition; with the cry, “For God, for Tyrol, and the Emperor!” the heroic peasantry rushed forward; and the same cry burst from the lips of those who fell. It was no fierce war-whoop, but a self -sacrificing dedication of themselves to a holy cause. Against a spirit such as animated these men, mere human velour an military discipline contend at a disadvantage. The Bavarians, as a body, were gallant men and well-trained troops. The Tyrolese were much more; each was a hero with a consecrated arm, though many a one might wield but a pitchfork or a. club. The main body of the enemy was driven back upon Wiltau, while shouts of victory from both right and left witnessed to the success of their countrymen in all quarters. But this final struggle cost them two brave men: Ammann, who fell Wounded in the head b a spent ball, and expired in the arms of Haspinger; and Count von Stachelburg, who fought among the volunteers from his own estates, having refused to take a post of authority. “I will not command,” he had said, “but lead them on by my example ;” and when entreated by some not to expose his person so recklessly; “I have but one life,” was his noble reply, “and in the cause of God, of the right, and of Austria, I will not spare it.” He fell, leaving four daughters and seven sisters to deplore his loss, and struggle with the hardships of poverty.

    Between four and five o’clock in the afternoon Teimer and his troops were descried at Kranebitten, upon the left bank of the Inn; but the time for effectual cooperation was gone by. He had scarcely eight hundred men with him, the remainder being still engaged with the troops under Arco; and besides, the Tyrolese had now been brought to a stand by the failure of ammunition. His appearance, however, was highly discouraging to the Bavarians, who had themselves begun to experience the same scarcity; for not only was the communication thus intercepted with Scharnitz, but their position was becoming every moment more critical, as the circle of their foes was closing around them, and no hope could any longer be entertained of the expected succour from Arco. So closely were they now invested, that a failure of provisions was imminent: they had lost a large number of men, among them many officers whom the Tyrolese rifiemen had picked out from the heights*, while the peasant force, whose loss had been comparatively insignificant, was swelling in numbers every hour. 

* On Hofer asking an old Passeyr sharpshooter, the redoubted Joseph Auer, that evening, how many he might have killed during the day, the peasant, who had stationed himself on the Berg Isel, provided with four rifles and ninety-six bullets, three boys being kept loading for him, answered in his broad patois: “ Of my bullets three only remain; and say I missed three times with the rest, may I have no part in the kingdom of heaven if I did not keep back the greater number for officers."

As a priest, Haspinger had to be given special permission to accompany the Tirolese insurgents as a leader. 

    The Tyrolese and Austrian officers thought to profit by this state of things to induce Deroi to capitulate. If the negotiations failed, the delay might at least afford time for the arrival of a fresh supply of ammunition. Ertl accordingly, hoping to play again the part which Teimer had enacted not long before, sent the adjutant of his regiment, Lieutenant Woetzler, with a trumpeter, to the Bavarian advanced posts, to propose a parley. Woetzler was conducted blindfold to a house in the city, where he had an interview with General Deroi, surrounded by his staff. The conditions proposed by Ertl were severe, including that of laying down their arms. He urged the perilous nature of Deroi’s position, besieged by an hourly increasing hostile force, and represented the prudence of signing an immediate capitulation with the Austrians; since so great was the excitement of the peasantry and their confidence of triumph, that by the-next morning it would probably be no longer in General Buol’s power to restrain their fury. The latter menace, it must be confessed, was somewhat of a flourish, since, if the truth must be told, General Buol, vainly solicited by the Tyrolese to lend more effectual assistance, was comfortably housed at that moment, as he had been all the day, far away from the battle-field, in the inn upon the Brenner. Deroi unequivocally rejected the propositions, but expressed a willingness to agree to a suspension of hostilities for four-and twenty hours. The interval spent in this attempt at negotiation had been well employed, and the Bavarian outposts more closely hemmed in, while all eyes were looking out anxiously for the supplies. At last the ammunition-carriages made their appearance, to the joy and exultation of the Tyrolese; the postillions urging the horses full gallop, at the peril of their lives, down the declivity of the Schoenberg. The Tyrolese and Austrians were in no humour, therefore, to grant the proposed suspension of arms; and Speckbacher in particular, who had lost very few men, and had observed that the enemy’s ammunition began to fail, was exceedingly averse to discontinue active operations. As evening was fast setting in, however, Peter Kemnater came to him, on the part of Hofer, to tell him that the latter had agreed to a short truce, which the increasing darkness, indeed, seemed of necessity to prescribe. When Kemnater proceeded to observe that it now became a question whether it were most advisable to force the Bavarians to capitulate or to allow them to make their re treat, “They must surrender, or they fall,” exclaimed the uncompromising Speckbacher; “ so say I.” 

The Haspinger Denkmal;  located in Klausen, Sudtirol. 

    Accounts differ, but the loss of the Tyrolese and Austrians on the 25th and 29th may be estimated at about 100 killed and 150 wounded. It is still more difficult to ascertain the loss of the enemy; but following the most trustworthy authorities, we may reckon the number of the prisoners at about 400, and that of the killed and. wounded at 1500. One point, however, is certain, that the loss of the Bavarians greatly exceeded that of the patriots, and was, moreover, irremediable under the circumstances in which they were placed.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Tirolese wooden artillery... and the lead up to the (2nd) Battle of Berg Isel

The weaknesses of the Tirolese Rebels included their lack of Cavalry and Artillery; the later they made up to a small degree with some wooden cannon!

I found yet another romanticized account of the 1809 rebellion on line, this one quite lengthy, "The Tyrolese Patriots of 1809", by Harriet D. Thompson, published in London in 1859. The following chapter sets the stage for the (2nd) Battle of Berg Isel.


    CHASTELER having given orders for the evacuation of the Tyrol, had himself proceeded to Bruneck on his way to join the Archduke John. A subsequent message, how ever, from that prince acquainted him with a change of plan. The line of communication with Villach was now interrupted; moreover, it had been decided that Tyrol was too important a position to be abandoned, if it could possibly be maintained, a fact which ought to have had greater weight from the beginning. so solemnly made to its generous peasantry, they seem to have entered little into the account. From first to last Tyrol was regarded simply as a position to defend, and the faithful loyalty of its inhabitants but a convenient assistance towards that object. Chasteler’s irresolutions were far from being terminated by the revocation of the late order, and his hesitation was increased by the existence of two parties around him, the one in favor of retreat, the other of prolonged defense. His adjutant Veider and Hormayr belonged to the latter class; while General Marschall, and others of his stain , had nothing so much at heart as to leave “this accursed land and the companionship of peasants.” Such was the miserable pride which infected more or less most of the superior officers, men chiefly of aristocratic rank and prejudices. Chasteler was also discouraged b the consciousness of having lost the confidence of the Tyrolese, and by the mortifications he had experienced; while at this very juncture he was unfortunately cast down, to a degree scarcely conceivable, by the sight of Napoleon’s proclamation against himself. Chasteler’s valor in the field was unquestionable, whatever might be his deficiency of rapidity in movement and energy in counsel; but so inexplicable is the heart of man, that a spirit which would: have risen in the hour of battle, and before the face of the enemy, quailed at the perusal of the piece of paper which Teimer handed over to him in the place of the expected agreement.

    While the Austrian general was still in this state of painful indecision, Hofer had hastened to Brixen; and learning of the general retreat which had begun, repaired to Bruneck to join his entreaties and representations to those of the defense party. Chasteler was moved, and returning as far as Muehlback, sent orders in various directions for a renewal of active operations. Buol, who within the space of a few days received no less than fifteen conflicting orders from his commander-in-chief, was remanded to the entrenchments of the Brenner; a position of so much importance, that its non-occupation by the Bavarians, while they had a favorable opportunity, would be quite unintelligible, did we not call to mind how thoroughly they were satisfied that all opposition had been put down by the terror of their arms an the merciless chastisement they had inflicted. Hofer, who on this occasion received from Chasteler a sword of honor and a beautiful pair of Turkish pistols taken from the Bavarians, summoned once more the peasantry of the Passe r. Burggrafenamt and Vintschgau rose at his call, and the concourse of armed peasantry towards the Brenner swelled every hour. The men of Passeyr, as usual, were forward in zeal and daring. “ No worse than death can befall us,” they exclaimed, “ and what other prospect have we any way? Better meet it with arms in our hands, fighting against the enemy, than be abandoned, with all we have, a sacrifice to their fury.” The enthusiasm was shared by noble as well as by peasant. Count von Stachelburg, the last of his name and race, tore himself from the arms of his family to die a hero’s death but a few days later at the Berg Isel. The Baroness Sternbach gave up her jewels ans sold her cattle to advance the patriotic cause; she herself even made her appearance armed and on horseback, and inflamed the courage of the patriots. These, however, are but specimens of the many acts of self-devotion, in that most heroic episode of modern times, the Tyrolese war, which have passed unrecorded for want of a pen to chronicle them, and the very memory of which will perish with the present generation.

Picture of a wooden gun in a museum in Salzburg, era uncertain.

    Chasteler’s resolution did not endure long. He suddenly recalled his dispositions, and countermarched his troops to the frontier at Lienz, with the view of effecting a junction with the Archduke. News which he had received of the advance eastward of the army of the Viceroy of Italy was, it appears, the ostensible reason for this change. When Buol showed Hofer at Sterzing, on the 22d [of May, 1809], his commander’s written order in justification of his withdrawal from the asses of the Brenner, it is said that the patriot. leader rushed home, and casting himself on his bed, wept like a child. They were no ignoble tears, however, which fell from Hofer’s eyes; they were the tears of a generous and devoted spirit, wounded to the quick at the requital which the fidelity and self-sacrifice his country had met at the hands of those upon whose grateful consideration it had so strong a claim. They were tears of disappointment at seeing Tyrol forsaken at the most critical moment by a force quite sufficient, in combination with its own population, to have freed the land from its invaders. They were the last, perhaps, that be shed for this cause; for from this time we may date the prominent part which, as general leader, Hofer took in the liberation of his country. To this post he was entitled by the letters of the Archduke, appointing him commander-in-chief of all the Tyrolese forces, both in the north and in the south; and in this capacity he now came forward with decision and authority. 

    Disappointed on the one hand in the sanguine expectations they had at first entertained of Austrian support, they must, on the other, have felt that for nearly all that had been accomplished they were indebted to themselves. Why should they, then, despair? Tyrol could and would defend herself. She could trust herself, she could trust Hofer, the simple, the genuine, the loyal, the true, the living representative and embodiment of the feelings, the principles, and the virtues of an uncorrupted, independent, and self-relying people. Hence Chasteler’s final retreat moved them comparatively little; and the absence of Hormayr, who was engaged at that time in a somewhat unsystematic and unaccountable course of wanderings up and down the country, formed rather a subject of relief and congratulation. Very unfavorable reports were, indeed, current concerning the intendant, which ascribed to him the design of providing for his safety by timely flight; and a long stay which he made in Nauders, near the borders of Switzerland, lent a color to the imputation. These calumnies, as his friends assert, originated with Reugger, the magistrate of Nauders, an uncompromising adherent of Bavaria, who would have seized both Hormayr and Teimer, had not the former been beforehand with him, and sent the major with an armed force to arrest the official himself. This individual, it is said, put about the reports in question, adding that Hormayr had collected all the remaining treasure in the land, with which he intended to make his escape. Some affirm that Hofer was so carried away by the reports current at the time, as actually to issue an order for the apprehension of Hormayr; but by the intervention of Frischmann, a firm friend of the intendant, satisfactory explanations were exchanged, the order was speedily with drawn, and an understanding reestablished. Be this as it may, Hormayr and his friends attributed his stay on the frontier to an attempt to obtain the colaboration of the Swiss cantons, to forward a rising of the Vorarlberg, and to obtain supplies of corn and ammunition. It is difficult to pronounce a fair judgement upon a man who, although undoubtedly often falsely suspected, and assuredly guiltless of any treacherous intent, is to this day no object of grateful veneration to his countrymen. He was talented, busy, wordy, and active; but it must he confessed that little in proportion seems to have resulted from his exertions, and) his name has failed of being associated in Tyrol’s recollection with the glories of her patriots of 1809.

    We must now return to Speckbacher. We left him, on the 19th, upon the heights counting the Bavarian army. Thence he returned to the Judenstein; but on the morning of the following day he must needs be astir again, and repair to Hall, that he might ascertain to what sort of conditions “those learned gentlemen of Innsbruck” had submitted. Hall was occupied by the Bavarians; but Speckbacher laughed at danger, and was a veritable knight-errant for romantic courage. Striping off his shoes and stockings, and sticking a little shabby hat upon his head, that he might pass for a beggar, he ventured into the town to learn the news. Here he was informed of the humiliating terms which had been imposed upon the men of the capital, as well as of the codifying street sermon which Wrede had addressed to them. As he was about to depart, he was observed by a Bavarian soldier whom he had made prisoner on the 13th, but who had effected his escape. Speckbacher’s noble features could not easily be either disguised or forgotten. The soldier laid hands upon him; but in an instant a heavy blow of his mighty fist and a shake of his powerful frame freed the bold Tyrolese from the gripe, and before his foe could rise from the ground, the mountaineer had cleared at a spring the adjoining wall of a churchyard, and was bounding back to his hills.

    On the night of the 21st, some of his followers had the good fortune to intercept a French dispatch at Volders, which was translated for them by a priest. From this document it appeared that Napoleon urged the immediate withdrawal of the main body of the army, as soon as the subjugation of the Tyrol was effected, as he stood in need of its cooperation at Vienna. The patriots were greatly inspirited y the certainty thus afforded them of the speedy retreat of the enemy. The bitter hatred of the country people had been aggravated by the brutal behavior of the soldiers quartered amongst them, who seized their cattle, deprived them of their arms, and even hanged and shot them without provocation. What would they profit by the Bavarian king’s declarations of clemency, supposing he should be disposed to exercise mercy towards them? His oficials were sure to render his best intentions nugatory, and they would once more be subjected to a tyranny the gelling nature of which they knew from experience. Specbacher did not fail to take advantage of this disposition to stir up the peasants to a new rising. The destroying angel Wrede (he said) was about to pass from the land; the first surprise and terror were now over; the imperialists would follow the example of the Tyrolese, for they were not really wanting either in goodwill or in courage; and thus all their losses would speedily be re pair-e . Every where his appeal met with a favorable response: the peasantry were ready to join in the enterprise, provided the Sandwirth [i.e., Hofer] were willing to act as their leader.

    The indefatigable Speckbacher now set out in search of Hofer. It was the evening of the 22d (Whit-Monday), when, accompanied by his two faithful servants, George Zoppel and Simon Lechner, each with his ride on his shoulder, he took his way along the Ellbogner road to wards the Brenner. They rather bounded and ran than walked, so impatient were they of delay. In all the villages they found the peasants highly incensed at the system of terrorism practised against their brethren in the Unterinnthal, and eager to renew the struggle. Two men from Ellbogen and Steinach, who, however, were unarmed, joined the little party. The five reached Mattrey after nightfall, and here they stumbled upon a Bavarian mounted patrol of near a hundred men, who had been sent out to reconnoiter the entrenchments on the Brenner. Had the Bavarians sus ected that at that very time the passes had been all abandoned by their defenders, they would hardly have neglected to send a stronger force to take possession of a post of such importance. Again, had these men pur sued their march, the fatal discovery would have been made; a discovery which must have been destructive of the present hopes of the patriots. But Providence had ordered it otherwise, and five men, or rather three, for two (as has been observed) bore no arms, were destined to chase a hundred. Favored by the darkness, Speck~bacher and his companions placed themselves in ambush close to their track, and fired upon them. Loading again. rapidly, they quickly recommenced the same maneuver from a fresh quarter; several of the cavalry fell dead or wounded, and the rest, believing that they had to deal with a strong body of riflemen, effected a hasty retreat. When all was once more quiet, and Speckbacher had made sure that his stratagem had fully succeeded, he and his com anions lost no time in pursuing their way. They ar rived a little after midnight in the village of Gries, where they found a. body of Austrians about to march, who had just withdrawn from the defenses of the Brenner, their general, Buol, having preceded them. Speckbacher at once repaired to their quarters, and waking up the officers, assailed them with urgent entreaties to return. Lefebvre was to leave Innsbruck that very day, and the Innthal was ready to rise and appear in arms the moment it should be awe of the cooperation of the Austrians. The opportunity was a golden one. The officers were not ill-inclined; but the had no orders, or rather they had orders to a contrary effect. Accordingly they gave an undecided answer, and advised Speckbacher to confer with Hofer.

    He found is brother patriot in the inn of the Brennerbad, on the Schoellberg. With him were several other leaders from the neighboring valleys, who had not acknowledged the capitulation conclude at Innsbruck. With the Sandwirth also was Eisenstecken, his adjutant and right hand man, whose zeal and activity at that juncture did opportune service. For with impassioned energy he, as well as Speckbacher, importuned the Austrians* with such success, that many were induced to sign a paper which he had prepared, in which the imperial officers were invited not to abandon the Tyrol, but to remain and serve under Hofer. Hofer and Speckbacher had soon come to an understanding, and the 25th was appointed for an attack on the Berg Isel. Speckbacher immediately hurried back to make preparations; but even his herculean strength was well nigh exhausted, for ever since the 13th of that month he had scarcely snatched a few intervals of brief slumber. He accordingly got a lift from the post-master as far as Mattray, where he was once more on foot pursuing his way.

*The stirring scene of Eisensteckcn fraternizing with the Austrian officers is represented in a picture hanging in the Innsbruck museum.

    Meanwhile Chasteler, hindered from joining the Arch duke in consequence of the actions at Tarvis and Malborghetto, sent fresh orders to Buol to re-occupy the passes of the Brenner, at the same time resigning to him his own command in the Tyrol under the plea of ill health. Speckbacher’s appeal to his countrymen on the right bank of the Inn was eminently successful. From one village to another, over hill and valley, to secluded hamlets and scattered farm-houses, the energetic leader sped unremitting during the whole of the 24th, and wherever he. came there was life and the stir of war. But how was the information to be conveyed to the inhabitants of the left bank, whose co operation was a matter of importance, and whose position would enable them to threaten Deroi’s rear? The bridges were all in the hands of the Bavarians, who, mistrustful of the peasants, strictly examined every individual who crossed to the other side. An expedient suggested itself. Speckbacher sent his trusty maid-servant, Notburga, over the Volders bridge; she was searched, and nothing suspicious being found about her, was allowed to proceed. George Zoppel followed close 11 n her heels, accompanied by his master’s house-dog, a large poodle, under whose Woolly hair the appeal to the inhabitants of the left bank was concealed. While the guard were engaged in their scrutiny of Zoppel, the maid whistled to the dog, who bounded on to join her, and was presently followed by her fellow-servant. By this means the document was safely conveyed to its destination. So wily a device deserved to have had some great result. Speckbacher had taken care to place matters in their most encouraging light, speaking confidently of the probable cooperation of the Austrians, and exaggerating their numbers and the imposing strength of their artillery, which he had seen on the Brenner, while he made slight account of the Bavarian force. His hopes of thereby exciting confidence were, however, disappointed; the appeal produced but little effect. The terrible destruction of Schwaz was yet too fresh in the minds of the peasantry, and they felt they could place but small reliance on the support of the military. The salt-workers of Hall, whom so lately we beheld tumultuously endeavoring to constrain Chasteler to lead them against the enemy, had returned to their work, and seem to have been unwilling to abandon their employment for a doubtful chance. Some little stir was made in a few places, but no result of any importance attended Speckbacher’s exertions in this quarter.

    The slackness of the peasantry of the left bank was, however, compensated by the eagerness displayed else where. The right bank was all alive with patriotic ardor, and Hofer’s summons was received with a like enthusiasm. The bold sons of Meran and Passeyr armed at his call; the peasants of Algund marched with their leader, Peter Tallguter, a man of few words and bold deeds; Schalders, which in April had mightily cooperated in the destruction of the enemy on the Eisack, sent her contingent; and Max's also, where repose the relics of the apostle of the land, holy Valentine, and Schoenna and Partschins, and Schloss Tirol, the Roman Teriolio, that immemorial seat of dominion, around which lingers the veneration of the people, and which he must hold who would lay claim to their allegiance; nor were the men of the Pusterthal wanting, those assiduous rearers of cattle, who feed upon oatmeal that they may have rye to give to their oxen; nor the bold Vintschgauers; nor the dwellers in the wild secluded valley of Groden, who speak a language of their own; nor the Sarnthalers, who came with gay red cloaks flung over their shoulders, their holiday attire; the peasants of Sterzing, and the children of the ancient Brenner, brave as in the days when they checked even the legions of imperial Rome, flocked also to his standard, and, the bands of Rodeneck and Kastelruther; and finally, for an end we must make, however reluctant to omit any, the patriots of Latzfons, Villanders, Barbians, and Velthurn, the last under their gallant young leader Anton von Gasteiger. The chief leaders of the southern bands were the brothers Feller of Rodeneck; Peter Mayr, the noble inn keePer of the Mahr; the fiery Kenmater, innkeeper of Schabs; and the warlike student Ennemoser; to these Count von Stachelburg joined himself as a simple volunteer. At the head of all stood the Sandwirth, Andreas Hofer, and by him his impetuous adjutant Eisenstecken, and the Capuchin Haspinger, all on fire with the love of God and of fatherland, whom men called the “Rothbart,” from his long, flowing, red beard.

    These bands, forming the main body of the army, commanded by Hofer and suported by a column of Austrians under Ertl, were to direct their attack upon the centre of the enemy’s position on the Berg Isel; while its left wing, in which were nine companies from the Burggrafenamt, with some Jagers and Austrian cavalry, were to march against the Gallwiese. When the question was raised who was to head the attack, Flarer, the leader of the company from the village of Tirol, stepped from the ranks, and declared that this post of honor had be longed from time immemorial to the riflemen of his native lace. The earnestness with which he claimed this privilege drew tears of admiration from the eyes of many of the bystanders. The right wing consisted of above 1000 "riflemen, led by Speckbacher, and supported by a body of Austrians under the command of Reissenfels. Speckbacher extended his line from the bridge Volders to wards the Patschberg Hill, which rises below the Patscher Kofel, whose cone-like summit soars to the height of above 7000 feet, crowned with a giant tomb or altar of heathen times.

    The numbers of Tyrolese, Austrians, and Bavarians respectively, are variously stated. Some reckon the Tirolese militia under Hofer at only 6000, and the Austrian military at 800, with but five or six pieces of artillery; while they estimate the Bavarian force at 7000 or 8000 men, with the addition of 900 cavalry, and 20 or 25 pieces of cannon, which gives even numerical superiority. to the latter. Others again state the numbers of the peasant force as amounting, by the evening of the 28th, to no less than 15,000 men, with 1,200 regular troops to support them; while they will not allow that the force in Innsbruck exceeded 6000. A few facts, however, may be stated with certainty: first, that Buol, pleading the fatigue of his soldiers from marching and countermarching, only sent a small portion of his troops to the support of the peasantry; secondly, that whatever may have been the comparative numerical amount of each army, the Bavarian forces had the advantage of being composed entirely of well-disciplined troops, under experienced leaders; while their artillery was undoubtedly immensely superior to that of the Austrians, no account giving to the latter more than a few field-pieces. The real advantage which the Tyrolese possessed, and which more than compensated for every deficiency, was a moral not a physical power. It was the love of country which animated them, and above all, it was the love of God and zeal for the faith, their most precious inheritance, which, with a bond indefinitely stronger than that of discipline, united together men untrained to the tactics of warfare, and the great majority of whom had never fought side by side before that day, nay, who had never fought at all, save with the mountain-storms or the wild denizens of their native alps.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hobby Plans for 2019

No, I am NOT starting a massive Napoleonic Campaign, LOL!
(Map by Alexander Altenhof - Own work. (from Wikimedia Commons)


After 2 successive over budget years, I really need to do better in  2019. I will increase the allowance to $1800, or $150 per month, and hope to come in below that. The only lead I have in mind to purchase for sure in 2019 are the Murawski Baden Artillery and Baden Light Dragoons, probably accompanied by a Duchy of Warsaw Horse Artillery battery.


The main theme this year should be whittling down the Lead pile. With no major project on the drawing board I(at least at present), I expect painting output may fall this year as well. 

1)  Once again, the lead for a large Macedonian Army I picked up several years ago is high on the list. Perhaps I should plan to run a game with them; A game with TTS at HAVOC in April or at Historicon might be a viable target. 

2) Add the elite companies and an early Legere unit to flesh out an early Imperial  French "Division" of 5 units in Biciorne/side plumed shakos for the Legere. I have more than enough lead on hand for a second such "Division" as well. 

3) Paint some of the backlog of Great Italian Wars troops. Play testing daft versions of TTS, 2nd edition, if Simon proceeds with same, could provide some needed incentive there!

4) Start work on the ECW reinforcements I bought a year ago, with an eye towards running Soggy Bottom with FK&P.

5) Avoid starting any new projects! 


Try to hit at least 12 games run/assisted with/played in this year. Get in at least one more game from the Lannes campaign. Run at least 2 Tyrolese games at Historicon, maybe a game at Jared's game club, HAVOC, and/or EllisCon. Hopefully assist and play in rather than run a Campaign in a Day at The Portal again this spring. 

Maintain about the same number of Blog posts - circa 80 - 100 per year. 


I have several sets I want to try out, some perhaps even solo the first time, including Galleys and Galleons for my 15 mm Renaissance ships, Grand Fleet Action in the Age of Sail, and Steven Whitesell's Neil Thomas OHW inspired "Eagles Cheaper than Brain Cells". Also maybe some play testing on Brent Oman's revised "Season of Battle" campaign rules. 

Gratuitous Puppy Picture - 6 weeks old.
"Can we come out and play?  Can we, can we, huh?!"