Saturday 24 June 2023

2mm Napoleonic Troops in Review : The French


I’ve finally got to a semi-successful state with my test bases for the French right wing at Wagram in 1809, namely a representation of the main part of Davout’s III Corps in 2mm, so thought I’d show them all laid out together.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how things turned out, the 90x60mm ‘Brigade’ basing giving me the effect I wanted - a sense of Mass with multiple representative formations depicted.

The simplified painting system has been a little uninspiring to do, but I’ve snuck in a few bits of detailing where possible, principally on the cavalry blocks, although bearing in mind the large numbers of blocks required meant a factory-like production line that kept things moving along…..

The only snarling SNAFU was the temporary basing labels - the space at the rear of the base is 10mm deep - oh, how I laughed when I realised the printer tape I had only comes in 12mm depth, and what fun I had shaving off 2mm from each label after it was cut to size, after trying to get the text roughly central whilst allowing for a bit of space to add the flags…..etc, etc…. Aaargh ! - the fiddly waste of time I was trying to avoid came back with a vengeance - and on close inspection (be kind…), they are, well, a bit crap…. In future, I’ll definitely go to straight to a magnetic strip with corresponding metal paper label that is hand lettered, I think…..  !

Anyway, on to the troops themselves…. I  wasn’t able to depict every unit of Davout’s Corps in the end, but think I ticked off the majority, as well as some supports that were instrumental in his assaults across the MarchFeld - plus of course, the indulgence of a couple of ‘La Garde’ bases….

First up, from Morand’s Division, the Brigades of Lacour and L’Huillier, with Davout’s command stand sitting alongside:

Lacour’s Brigade featured 3 battalions of the 13th Legere, so I’ve used some skirmishers out front to represent the ‘light’ troops, and there is a single cannon to show integral artillery, whether regimental or attached divisional pieces. As to the thorny subject of representative figure/block ratios, I’ve dodged the issue by placing what looked good to my eye - Lacour featured six battalions, but my base looks like it might have only four or so - the two columns to the right, and the two in line to the left, but I’m happy enough with the abstraction…..or at least I’m not going to worry over it…..

Not to set up a precedent of course, L’Huillier’s Brigade also boasted six battalions, and I’ve managed to squeeze on six columns to look the part, and even though none of them were Legere, there are also a couple of skirmishing blocks… I guess I’m in the realms of no rhyme or reason as such, just a close enough representation that looks right to the eye. Given that the eventual magnetic basing labelling will allow the unit to change identity at will, it will give me plenty of options in the future, mostly generic and therefore more flexible.

Moving on, we see the three brigades of Friant’s Division with a separate Foot Artillery Battery:

 Again, more free-form use of blocks rather than being strict with the orders of battle, but some suitably ‘Napoleonic’ looking formations marching to victory, I think.

The Artillery base features four guns with limbers and a single caisson at rear - I could have squeezed six guns to the front, wheel to wheel, but I’d like to keep that option in the future for depicting Grand Batteries to make them more obvious on the tabletop.

The one thing that is so far lacking is separate command bases for the Divisional Commander - having used a small number of blocks for the Corps commander, I am still to decide what to put with the lower level leader - fewer blocks would be visually a bit underwhelming on what will probably be a smaller base, and again we come up against my labelling nightmare once again - manageable if the name is short, but horrendous if we come across something longer - maybe for each, just a suitably coloured base with ‘DIV” and a flag would do the job, but would be rather take away from the period flavour - something to ponder. 

( who said a project is ever truly finished…..?)   :-)

Rudely ignoring General de Division Gudin then, we go on to look at his brigades en masse with accompanying artillery:

Integral guns are depicted by either a single deployed cannon or a limbered piece - not being precious about it - just whichever will fit on the base without it looking too crowded !

That said, the bases can get pretty full-looking…. With the relatively small numbers employed in 1809 not too much of a problem, but maybe 1812 would be better served by 120mm wide ones…… 

Moving on to the cavalry, we have Montbrun’s Division of Pajol and Jacquinot’s Brigades, backed up by Grouchy’s with its singular Brigade:

As much as is practicable in 2mm, I’ve followed the uniform colours that should be apparent for each unit, and there is a rough count of one block/strip per historical squadron from the order of battle - where space permits, some limbered horse artillery accompanies.

I think that although the process for the mounted troops is a bit more involved/laborious, it pays dividends in being able to suggest the sweep of their movement across the base - again, pretty pleased with these as to my eye, they look the part.

Next up, Arrighi’s Heavy Cavalry, that at Wagram backed up the attack at Markgrafsneusiedl:

Lots of lovely Cuirassiers, watched by the circular base of the army commander - I think the image should be clickable for a close up view, to show the white horse out front bearing a certain Corsican in grey coat and black chapeau….. the ever-characterful RBG24 command base from Irregular proving its worth once more…

These heavies are accompanied by the Guard units that I couldn’t resist but try in my ‘test’ batch - as seen in previous postings, Old Guard Grenadiers and the Chasseurs a Cheval and Polish Cheveau-Leger - before they picked up abandoned Austrian lances and became the Lanciers !

I think that it is a wargaming rule that you have to have the Imperial Guard on the table, irrespective of whether they fought on the flank commanded by Davout, right ?……

To conclude, some closer-up shots of various bases:

And finally, the whole force tucked into its Really Useful Box - I didn’t manage to cover all the units from the right flank of the French at Wagram- there are some cavalry missing - Pully/Poincot’s Dragoons, as well as the Puthod’s Infantry Division of two Brigades made up of newly conscripted fourth Battalions, but I had to call a halt somewhere as my poor old eyes were just about giving out….as I suspected, covering the Napoleonic period in any scale can turn into quite the labour of love - to think that I would need to do four times the amount of blocks on show here to cover the whole Grand Armee - supposedly an easy option in such a small scale - sure has given me some pause for thought…..

Anyway, onwards and upwards - Next Post: The Austrians !