The chasseurs à cheval, or "mounted hunters", were the most numerous of Napoleon's light cavalry. They were the eyes and ears of the army as it moved, ready to scout ahead or to counter the enemy's irregular forces. In a pinch they could dismount and fight with their carbines, though their main role was not to act as hard-hitting attackers.
In Sharp Practice 2, they are as cheap and disposable as cavalry comes - unable to break through a prepared opponent, but able to threaten weaker targets that are left unguarded, or to pounce on an unvary opponent who leaves an exposed flank or a unit without loaded muskets.
While the hussar regiments might have more panache and fame at the start of the Napoleonic Wars, the simpler gear of the identically armed chasseurs meant that the latter rapidly increased in numbers as the Empire grew. This means that you're never wrong adding a few units of these to your French force.
The chasseurs did not have as much variation in their uniform as the hussar regiments, and instead relied on a system of facing colours on the cuffs, collars and turnbacks. You can find a guide to the facings here:
Warlord Games Plastic Chasseurs
So, I found myself with a lot of plastic chasseurs from Warlord. First, I picked up a bunch of sprues on last year's sprue sale. After that, I bought a lot that included another box of chasseurs. And after that, just as I had glued together and spray painted primer on my first two units, Perry Miniatures posted a pre-view of a box of plastic chasseurs! In uniforms more suitable for the Russian campaign! With enthusiasm more or less sapped, these sorry troopers sat in my cupboard for about a year, while I went on to paint other units.
But with our first campaign closing in, I needed more light cavalry. Necessity being the mother of all painting inspiration, I set my mind towards quickly painting them ut to a tabletop standard, ready to offer at least some protection from all those pesky Cossacks. It also helped that I had recently seen a local player paint up a unit, and he managed to make them look very nice indeed.
So what were my initial problems with these sculpts? They might be nitpicks, but:
1) Warlord made these with sabretaches (the flat bag hanging on the left side of each rider), and they are molded together with the scabbards so that it's not easy to just remove them. Now, the chasseurs in the imperial guard kept their sabretaches, and I've seen a few drawings of regular chasseur officers using them as well, but then some of the officers were pretty much dressed like hussars altogether, including pelisses. But it's really hard to find evidence of regular chasseurs using theirs, especially not after 1808.
2) The carbines are made to stick out in a way that makes it hard to put these on a 20mm/cavalryman frontage, which is what I've been using for the other units.
3) After a couple of units, I'm getting a tad bored of Warlords same two horse sculpts that are used for all of their French Napoleonic cavalry.
On the other hand, chasseurs are a great option for quickly painting cavalry, as the uniforms are super simple compared to almost all other cavalry uniforms of the time.
8e Régiment de Chasseurs à Cheval
Originally raised in 1792 as the 8ème régiment de chasseurs à cheval ci-devant Guyenne, by 1812 this regiment was sent into Russia as part of Grouchy's III Cavalry Corps, in GdD Chastel's 3rd Light Cavalry Division. They fought with 4 squadrons at Borodino, forming a light cavalry brigade together with the 6th Hussars, which I also plan to paint up.
The reasons for choosing the 8th regiment were simple: they fought in the same Corps as the 7th Dragoons I've already painted, and their pink facing colour looked like it'd make an interesting look!
I painted them very similarly to my lancers, and the uniforms are very similar, yet simpler. I chose to do them as the first squadron, meaning that one unit of eight were the elite first company (with colpack hats and red plumes), and the other unit got shakos. Since I could not find any references for the imaginary sabretaches, I went the simple route of just painting the regimental number on them, similar to the campaign sabretaches often used by hussars.
I used the metal officers that come with the Warlord box. The trumpeter got an inverted scheme, so that his coat is pink. The flag bearer got a flag from GMB designs.
Overall they ended up pretty decent. Not nearly my favourite sculpts, but I'm happy to add them to my growing cavalry support now that I'm done with them. If I started an army now I'd probably hold off on these and see if the Perry box comes out soonish, and paint up some lancers or hussars in the meantime. However, if you are dead set on gettin your chasseurs now, and prefer plastic over metal, you can get these to look pretty fine.
And yes, I'll probably end up painting the 2-3 Warlord chasseur units I have left, but as mentioned above - my Perry cuirassiers and hussars (as well as my Warlord hussars! And Murawski lancers) are definitely more tempting at the moment.
I've been hesitant to settle on the flags for my French force, but I finally decided to order a bunch of them from GMB Designs. The reason I waited for so long was primarily since I was not sure on which flags to get. Initially I found a lot of conflicting information, some stating that the 1804 ("diamond") flags were used throughout the campaign, and others stating the 1812 ("tricolor") flag. With the help of TMP and one of the Napoleonic Wargamer Facebook groups, I ended up going for the 1812 flag. One key point was a Russian book with drawings of all flags captured in 1812, and all of them were of the tricolor 1812 type.
Flags for the 1812 campaign is a cloudy issue to begin with, as Napoleon had ordered the regiments to be more careful to avoid more eagles being captured. That meant that only one battalion per regiment would carry an eagle, while the rest would carry a fanion, a simple coloured flag. The cavalry, especially the light cavalry, would leave their flags in the depot altogether. Of course, some commanders were more interested than others in following these orders, and as far as I know there are no complete records on which regiments used fanions or not, so in the end you can pretty much decide on which way to go. Me, I'll be using flags and eagles on my cavalry squadroons, because it looks good. But I also got a couple of fanions for my infantry, so I'll add some of them too.
The flags were pretty simple to use. I cut them out with scissors, and painted gold around the edges on the back, to avoid the white to show through when they're glued together. Then I applied plenty of PVA glue to the back of the flag, and carefully folded them around the flagpoles. Then, while still wet, I folded the flags a bit, to make them billow in the wind.
The only problem I had was that some flagpoles were a tad too short, so the flag ended up a bit frayed at the top where it met the eagle, which mas most notable on the line infantry miniature. I applied a few brushstrokes of blue to the spots where the white of the paper stood witness to my forceful struggle, and it turned out ok.
We are gearing up for the SP2 campaign set in Russia 1812, and when I made my lists I noticed just how many officers I will need! In the campaign I will be able to split my force into several parts, so I could use a bit of overlap, using the same model for several different officers. But that's not so fun, is it? I had two officers left from a Warlord French infantry box, so I painted them up as a center company officer (the green plume guy) and a grenadier officer (the red pompon guy). The mysterios giant is a voltigeur miniature from the Flintloque game, and he'll play the part of my spy, until I can get something more suitable. I've been using him before in a pinch when I don't have enough Voltigeur NCOs.
These guys were left over from other painting batches, so I took the time to paint them up as well. They will shore up my lack of NCOs among my fusiliers and voltigeurs, as you can easily turn a normal French infantryman into a NCO by adding stripes on the arms. Neat! They are all from Warlord's plastic French Infantry box, except the Perry voltigeur on the far left.
I squeezed in a third unit of grenadiers as well, this time mainly Perry plastics, but supported by the odd Warlord plastic Late French Infantry and a piper from Front Rank.
Another Perry plastic addition to the force. This is my second unit of voltigeurs in skirmishing poses. I have a lot of voltigeurs already, but these will look so much better in my skirmish screens than the ones in march attack poses that I've been using until now. A third and fourth unit would be nice too, as I usually try to screen every line formation with 1-2 units of skirmishers, but it's a big step up.
Now I need to pour over my campaign army list, and see if there's anything I'm missing! Cheers,
"Glory is fleeting,