Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sikh Wars Interlude

While we work out our next clash on the Kokoda trail, I had to do a few 'jobs' that were required for my bodyweight in FPW Prussian & French lead.  Suffice to say I have two enormous (well, by my standards anyway) armies 14 battalions (@24 & 18 figures each!)  artillery batteries and 3-4 cavalry regiments plus commands.  Thats a lifetime's worth of painting of course and I will be concentrating on the Prussians first. BUT - there is a price to be paid for such frivolity.  The painting of  (my lead pimp) Doug's small mountain of Sikh cavalry.  I must confess, if it were not for the threat of divorce and financial ruin, I would seriously consider collecting Sikh Wars/Indian Mutiny figures (I seem to have painted an army's worth as it is!)  They are lovely figures too - all Foundry and some of the earliest of the Perry brother's handiwork (when Foundry was their day-job).  Michael has a real love of the period, even illustrating Ian Heath's Osprey on the subject (The Sikh Army 1799 - 1849) - my painting reference for most of these figures.

Sikh Cuirassier Jamadar (General) - my first and favourite of the Foundry figures.

Should have put more gold braid detail on the saddle cover - but I had too many more to paint!

The Sikh cavalry were as formidable as their infantry and the Sikh army, known as the Khalsa,  very nearly inflicted defeat on the British - after one such Pyhrric victory the Viceroy of India, Lord Dalhousie remarked: "A few more such victories will loose us the Empire!" Didn't help that the British general, Gough, was also an idiot.  His use of 'Tipperary tactics' - frontal charge with bayonet - cost the British thousands of casualties.  The Sikhs, as well as good infantry and well-armed, mad cavalry, possessed quite a large number of guns.  Sikh gunners were describes as 'huge' - most six foot or over, well drilled and utterly fearless.  As well as not having to face them, I am relieved to say the job for Doug did not entail painting dozens of Sikh guns and crews!

Perry-designed (?) Sikh cuirassier finished - & Doug can do his own basing!
And the trumpeter. As per European fashion: sans cuiras

Prominent amongst the cavalry arm were various types of irregulars.  The British found them to be very tough customers and often better armed than they were.  Like many Sikhs utterly fearless but as cavalry, virtually uncontrollable on the battlefield.  Bit too charge-happy to be really useful - fortunately for the better-disciplined Brits.  The next lot are Ghorchurras - armed with a medieval mix of armour, chain-mail, wickedly sharp scimitars, a variety of knives and even reflex-bows (powerful enough to punch through armour) and pistols or muskets.  The guys I've painted here are jamadars or commanders but I've got another bunch of irregular cav to go as well (he does extract his pound or two of flesh does our Doug ;-0 )

Yes folks, that IS a Rohan shield (with a few obligatory sword notches in it)
Other side, Ghorchurra commander

Another of the Sikh wildmen: a Ghorchurra Khas sowar (unit commander/NCO)

Not to be outdone for the period were (of course) the British.  The following is a British cavalry commander - could be a general or could be an officer (very Hodson's Horse-like; a young Hodson himself perhaps?)  Nice figure - not Foundry, as far as I can tell.

Last by certainly not the least (over a dozen more lancer types and more irregs to paint up!) are the Sikh Dragoons.  There were a number of Sikh cavalry units that copied the British and were organised and drilled in the classic European way.  There were a number of Europeans who fought for the Sikhs and organised these units.  One French Napoleonic veteran, General Jean-Francois Allard, not only commanded a Sikh army but sourced and brought over the carabinier-type cuirasses to equip the Sikh heavy cavalry (pics at top of blog).  But these are not they.  These are the dragoons m'Lord - nasty beggars that ride away then turn around and shoot you - very unsporting eh what?

Foundry figures again - very nice too.
And their jamadar - similar uniforms to the Brits but black leather webbing to go with a snazzy red turban!

Well that's it for the Sikh Wars cavalry for now.  I have a few more to do including the famous lancers but they will have to wait (sorry Doug!) as we have to try and avoid defeat on the Kokoda track - likely my next post but hopefully not weeks away this time round!

Remember to click on the pics for enlargement and leave a comment if you want.



  1. Interesting write up and very nice figures. Looking forward to seeing the lancers.


  2. Good write up - I must confess a good deal of ignorance about the Sikh wars and your article was a nice intro to some of the forces. Of course I need a new army/period like I need a .....

    Excellent painting also

  3. Beautiful work on some very interesting figures there, Doc. Regards, Dean

  4. Lovely work Doc. Can you ask Doug please about the mounted British Officer. I'm assuming he is Old Glory, but it would be lovely to know.

    Thank you,


  5. Thanks all, had a bit of a decision to make about the skin tone, Sikhs being generally lighter. In the end I used Coat d'arms 'Suntanned Flesh' with a couple of coats of their 'Ink Flesh Wash'. Helen - I can confirm the British officer figure is Old Glory - possibly a Hodson's Horse officer - from the British army in India circa mid - 1800s.


  6. Great stuff, Doc. I agree - it's a great period and lovely figures. In fact, I have a load of these figures in the loft somewhere. I was about to launch into the Sikh Wars when Foundry pulled the range and it because unavailable for some years. It's back now, but of course I've moved on...


  7. Thanks Doc very much for replying.