Wednesday, August 12, 2020

French in Egypt Project - part III: nearing completion (sort of)

My French in Egypt project has made further progress with more infantry, cavalry and artillery added to my 'Armee l'Orient': an extra battalion for the 21st Legere DB (historically they had three) plus one of the 61st Ligne DB which together with the mauve coats of the 88th completes the representation of Desaix' original infantry force. 

For cavalry there is a small unit (8 figures of unknown make - Eureka? Trent? ??) of the 7th bis Hussars which I have done in their tenue de embarcation - basically their original European uniform with the conical mirliton. 

Like the rest of the French army they soon wore out or replaced their heavy European uniforms but I'm guessing for the cavalry like the Hussars their first priority was obtaining suitable horses (most arrived in Egypt sans cheval ) so they still could have had mirlitons etc, at the time of the Desaix expedition down the Nile. For the purists there are a lovely line of Perrys French Hussars in their Kleber clobber with peaked shakos etc. which they wore by 1800.  For my cavalry force (still a regiment of Guides/Chasseurs to go) I also have the gorgeous Perry's French-in-Egypt Horse Artillery. Really superb figures and beautifully made guns and equipment. To complete the artillery compliment I will have another two 6pdr Foot artillery (in Bicorne) and two with crew in Kleber. Those in bicorne are currently on the painting table.

For the infantry of the 61st DB I used the Perrys figures I'd ordered but found I did not have enough in elite uniform so had to literally make them up from their very useful box of French Elite Companies (1807-1814) using their metal bicorne heads and some green stuff for neckflaps which seems to work. Currently awaiting my final order from Brigade of more wonderful Paul Hicks sculpted infantry (in Kleber) with enough elites in bicorne and some dismounted Dragoons (they fought as much on foot in square as on horseback - nobody wanted to mess with ferocious mounted Mamelukes in hand-to-hand!) 

Above includes the grenadier company (of about 60-80 men, one per battalion) in bicorne which they favoured over the Kleber leather casket - some even kept their bearskins which must have been hell to wear and maintain in the desert! The last one above is of the Demi-Brigade sharpshooter unit which was the forerunner of the Voltigeur light infantry company. The Demi-Brigade battalions were reorganised in Egypt into one elite (grenadier) and five line companies as opposed to one (smaller) elite and eight(!) line companies so I've made mine 24 figures on six 4 figure stands, with the elites/sharpshooters on two figure stands to represent their ability to skirmish although those tactics were not much called for in Egypt!

Last but not least - the Horse Artillery. Ironically they rode but the guns were pulled on limbers operated by a contracted civilian service. At that time in France the artillery train service was being organised as a part of the military but this was not the case with the Army of the Orient. Perrys show them in plain mustard-coloured tunics and bicornes without ornament which is a pity as somehow I have THREE limbers with riders in plumed bicornes etc. I may make one up with a bit a scalpel work as a civvy haulage a la Egypt! 

Sacre Bleu! Les Mamelukes - tirrez mon braves!

Nearly done with the force so far now consisting of 4 x bttn @ 24, 2 x bttn @ 18, 1 x bttn @ 16 of infantry, Dromadaire & 1 x regt @ 12 and 1 x regt @ 8 (bis!) of cavalry, 2 x 6pdr guns (Horse Arty), 1 x 6pdr with Naval crew (5) & 10 dismounted Dromadaire, two mounted Generals. 
O la vache!

Its starting to take shape now which is good as our local sports club at which our wargaming group used to meet has just announced they're coming out of Covid lockdown and resuming operations so hopefully not too long before we can stage a decent game again. Hopefully.

Cheers, Doc


  1. Fabulous figures, Doc. Love the look of the odd casquettes and mirlitons - definitive of this expedition/campaign. Again, love seeing your work for this period.

  2. Thanks for your kind words Dean - I'm gradually getting there! Just waiting for Lon's last package (my order from Brigade) to find its way here so I can complete the army.

  3. Great stuff Doc, my own project has stalled somewhat due to the lack of gaming thanks to our old friend C19 :-( Your post is a great source of inspiration.

  4. Thanks Stu! Glad to be of service!

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