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.