Monday, October 12, 2020

Doc's French in Egypt Project: Part VII The Ottomans & Mamelukes

Having nearly completed the French part of my FiE Project I decided to review what I have, particularly the Mamelukes and Ottomans that I have also pretty much completed in order to see if there are any glaring gaps in the collection. The Ottoman/Turk/Arab force that fought the French so determinedly was quite different from any European army of the period and importantly, for wargaming purposes I had to have both the right mix of troops and well, considerable numbers if only to reflect the fact that in many encounters they outnumbered the French, sometimes by a considerable margin. What I found was the I had a shortage of artillery which, as I have discovered, the Ottomans were in plentiful supply with a wide range of both ancient and modern pieces and importantly, trained crews. The French found this out on several occasions - Desaix's squares came under intense and accurate fire from Murad Bey's artillery at Sediman while around the same time outside Acre Napoleon's besieging army also suffered at the hands of the plentiful and well-served Ottoman guns. With that in mind I've expanded the Turk's artillery park to include a modern 12 pdr and now a 4 pdr to go with the massive 24 pdrs (hauled by oxen!)








Followers of this blog may have seen the last few of the Ottoman big guns 'in action' before but I thought them worth including. At Embahbeh (Battle of the Pyramids) the Mamelukes had a large battery of these monsters entrenched, which the French were careful to avoid (before storming the position) - the noise alone must have been terrifying! The artillery crew are the delightful Brigade figures, the two big guns are old modified Warhammer guns! The 12 pdr is a slightly modified Gribeauvil and the crew are Empress Indian Mutiny which I think match in well. I reckon they're hajis (maybe British-trained former Sepoys?) recruited for jihad against the infidel French and sent over with the other Meccan fanatics! Not as outlandish as it seems - note also that it was the Meccans led by Mameluke Osman Bey who in March 1799 attacked and destroyed Desaix's Nile Flotilla at Benut including the brig l'Italie. The Meccans slaughtered the Flotilla including several hundred Legion Nautique Marines, Legion Greque (Greek) and the band of the 61st Demi-Brigade - in addition to the loss of Desaix' much-needed supplies! The French conquest of Egypt was most definitely not the one-sided affair (until they met the British of course) as suggested by many historians.

To give some idea of the full collection I've assembled all the Mameluke and Ottomans facing the French as follows: on the left the Ottomans then Mamelukes (from the right) below them.


Closest are the Ottoman Askinjis heavy cavalry next to the big guns then the bow-armed Sipahi light cavalry led by a Mameluke (suspiciously dressed like an Arab knight with his Bedouin retinue/escort!) Behind them are the jezzail-armed Sekkans - a light infantry of Balkan mercenaries (and crack shots apparently) who are in front of the red-coated Nizam e-Cedit (Ottoman European-style Regulars - their 'new army') and two regiments of real Ottoman Janissary (none of your 'Cairo' rubbish!) 

Behind the Mamelukes are the dead-eyed Meccan jihadi fanatics (in appropriate ISIS-like black) and behind them Egyptian regulars (or armed Fedahyeen peasantry - take your pick!) next to the slightly more regular Cairo Janissaries. Leading them all is the man himself Murad-Bey (another wonderful Brigade figure sculpted by Paul Hicks).

There are quite a mix of figures reflecting how long I've been collecting them! Some of my favourites are the old Old Glory Mamelukes which were made close to 50 years ago! (antique collectibles maybe?) including this terrific mounted emir.

In no particular order the rest of the Mameluke horde in detail.







And now the Ottomans and various Turk types.








Below are Old Glory Ottoman Janissary, Sekkans which are Perry's Bashi Bazooks from their Sudan range and the last are Brigade (US) Ottoman Nizam e-Cedit from from their Napoleonic range. 



I think that'll do it for the Ottomans and their Mameluke madmen mates for now. I've got a few more French to finish and have to start planning the wargame scenarios and lists for play-testing. I'll be taking a break from the project for a bit while I fill various paint orders including some rather lovely Indian Mutiny figures. Conscious too that I have to set aside a block of time to kick-off my WWII Vichy French in Syria project - that I need more paint orders to pay for! (Shhh - don't tell the Memsahib!)

Au revoir for now.

'Doc'

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Doc's French in Egypt (Armee L'Orient) project Part VI: the army nears completion

 Although started well over six years ago it was not until near the end of last year that I finally got my act together and finished collecting for the French army in Egypt, making my last purchases earlier this year and beginning to paint and base them all. Having just finished another battalion of the 9eme de Ligne (in Kleber) I have taken stock of everything I have for the Egyptian campaign so far. There are two more Demi Brigade's of figures which I will do as the 4eme Legere (in Kleber of course!) and a generic DB in 'tenue de disembarcation', as well as an 8 pdr battery (crew in Kleber) and a small unit of Guides or Chasseurs to finish up the French. Unfortunately I have had to give up on the Nile Flotilla idea for now - although a 28mm version of the D'Italie fighting off the hordes of Arabs in armed Dhows does appeal... 





So thus far there are:

        21eme Legere (2 x bttn @ 18)

        9eme Ligne (2 x bttn @ 24)

        88eme Ligne (1 bttn @ 24)

        61eme Ligne (1 bttn @ 24)

        4eme Legere (1 bttn - in Mirliton @ 18)

        Legion Nautique (1 bttn @ 24 plus gun & officer, four crew)

        Foot Battery (2 x 6 pdrs, 8 crew)

        Total: 174 infantry, 3 guns & 13 crew

        Camel Corps (Dromadaires)  (12 mtd, 14 dismounted)

        14/15eme 18/20eme Dragoons (12 mtd, 14 dismounted)

        7eme bis Hussars (8 mtd)

        Guides (a Cheval) (9 mtd)

        Horse Battery (2 x 4 pdrs, 8 crew)

        2 Mtd Generals plus Guide escort (3 x mtd) 

        Total: 44 mounted, 28 dismtd, 2 guns & 8 crew

This leaves a total of 48 foot, 9 mounted, 3 guns and 12 crew left to do. Plus another mounted general - or two - to finish my Armee L'Orient! They are faced by an even larger Ottoman/Mameluke force which apart from another gun or two is all ready to go and smite the infidel (insh'Allah)! 

The most recent French unit completed is the 9eme de Ligne in their bright red Kleber uniform. All Perry's metals. I have already made a battalion of that Demi Brigade in 'dis-embarcation uniform' as there is some conjecture that some of Desaix' infantry may have marched up the Nile before they had all been clothed in the new Kleber cotton uniforms.




I had intended to showcase this in November at the local club for the Little Wars 2020 convention but the Wuhan Flu pandemic put paid to that plus the restricted hours currently allowed now for games (just two!) means this won't happen before mid to late 2021 at the earliest.  Hopefully this will allow me to try a few test games first using the General de Brigade rules as a base as GdB have a number of Ottoman/French-in-Egypt scenarios. 









While I still have the little armed sloop and crew there are other technical difficulties including that I will have to make some Nile river sections up for it - I have neither time nor resources for that just now so as other projects beckon (WWII Vichy French in Syria, for example) so I've decided to put them on the back-burner as it were and just field the unfortunate Naval Legion fighting as land-lubbers. While they were much better at hand-to-hand (armed with a ferocious array of weapons and the early 'trench broom' blunderbuss) they had little of the discipline required of well drilled infantry so how they'll go in square against charging Mameluke maniacs on the wargaming table remains to be seen!




In truth I've blown the pensioner's budget (don't tell the Memsahib!) on getting virtually an entire Perry's Vichy (in Syria) army for my WWII Syria project. Just waiting for the last part to arrive which should give me a platoon each of French and Senegalese infantry plus a 75, Tanake Dodge Armoured Car and Somua R35(?) light tank - pretty much the entire shootin' match. Woohoo!  I've also acquired a WWI 1914-15 German army that requires a little tidy-up paint etc. The upshot is I really don't have the time or funds to do a Nile Flotilla (or another Revolutionary French army) - short of a LOT of painting commission work (all in prospect for the moment) so [sigh] a hard decision had to be made... the Flotilla is sunk for the foreseeable! O la vache!  On the plus side the French in Egypt project finally nears its completion.

Au revoir mes amis - until next time. 

Doc