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. 


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

French In Egypt Project Part V: The Guides and a Legere

 I took a little break after the last post to do some landscaping duties as She Who Must Be Obeyed 'guided' so it was only appropriate that, as mentioned previously I made up a unit of Guides. These are the famous Guides de l'Armee d'Orient. They were the forerunners of the Consular and later Imperial Guard and consisted of about 700 men in seven companies (four mounted, three foot) under the newly-minted Chef de Brigade Bessieres! Originally meant to be force protection for the commander as well as a bodyguard they were also scouts and messengers (in such hostile territory messengers required a strong mounted escort). In Egypt Napoleon relied increasingly on their scouting abilities and the mounted Guides themselves became the first French units to adopt Egyptian clothing particularly turbans and voluminous light coloured hooded cloaks that provided protection against the cold desert nights.  The figures are once again those made by Paul Hicks for Brigade. The only problem was that none had any of the aforementioned cloaks as seen with some of his Dromadaires (also see my first French In Egypt post) so I got out the old Milliput and sculpted my own!

With three auxiliary companies (one half-company of mounted light artillery, two of foot) the Guides, supposedly a miniature corps, in theory numbered over 1,000 but even with the auxiliaries were never much more than the original 700. The reality in Egypt was that by 1 January 1799 there were 294 mounted and 268 foot Guides with an additional 71 Guide artillery. The Egyptian campaign was a hard one for the Guides with 200 Guides (100 each mounted and foot) returning with Napoleon (and Bessieres!) in August 1799 and only 190 foot and 90 mounted returning to France in 1801. All those returning joined the newly formed Consular Guard. Although not part of Desaix' force an interesting lot that were well regarded and a must for any Armee de l'Orient! 

Some of the figures that I collected were light infantry in Mirliton (headgear usually associated with light cavalry), possibly Trent figures still sold by North Star. The Legere Demi-Brigades that were in Egypt included the 4th, 7th, 21st and 22nd but while I could find evidence of some in tenue de disembarcation with Mirliton I could not identify which Demi-Brigade they belonged to (or how long they retained the headgear) so I came up with a uniform worn by the 14th in 1798-1801 that could have easily equated with one of the Legere in Egypt. To add to that and complete the unit (which came without command figures) I converted an officer figure from an old Foundry Austrian and a Cornet from one of the Perry pre-1810 French plastics using Mirliton heads from their French Hussars box. While the Legere tended to use drummers at this time they also had some with hunting horns so I chose that option. Quite a nice figure and fits in well with the rest of the Legere lads. 

En Avante! - quite a trick to run AND blow your horn but I have actually seen Italian Bersaglieri do just that so the very animated running figure is not a totally outlandish choice as it would seem in my opinion. You'd have to be fit to trot across the desert in that clobber anyway! 

The Armee De l'Orient is getting close to completion with only about five units left to go - still a stack of figures just not quite the lead mountain I started out with back in January.  

Click on the pics to get a better look and feel free to leave a comment if you like (or if you no like!) 

Till next time. 

Au revoir


PS: It never ends - the next project just kicked off before this finished with the arrival (woohoo!!!) of my recently purchased Perry's Vichy French intended for my long-planned WWII Syrian Campaign.