With my infantry battalions slowly taking form, and with more cavalry finished than I think I'll need right now, it's time to look towards the combat arms that I have neglected completely this far. Napoleon's own favourites, the thundering battering rams of the battlefield - the artillery.
I'm going to explain a bit about the different types of artillery that were involved on the battlefield. This will help me make my plans for my army clearer for myself, but maybe they'll also be helpful for you if you are new to the world of lobbing large balls of metal far distances at the start of the 19th century.
By 1812 the French had cannon operating on several organizational levels. Most infantry regiments had their own guns, each division would likely have a battery or two of artillery, and on top of that there would be several batteries in the reserve artillery of each Corps. It can get a bit confusing, so I decided to organize what I have and also plan ahead to make sure that I don't make too many mistakes when buying these impressive pieces.
Napoleon experimented with regimental guns already in 1809. To bolster both the impact and morale of his regiments he sprinkled out light cannon to give them some extra local firepower. This unfortunately had tactical disadvantages, since the guns could hinder the troops both when moving on the battlefield and during marches.
These were mostly smaller guns, by now completely outmatched in regular batteries. The regular infantry in 1812 were, according to my research, largely equipped with 3-pounder cannon captured from Austria's impressive record of military misfortune. As far as I know these cannon came with or without a strange kind of fork-like attachment at the front.
It looks like some kind of insidious alien life form. Anyway. Looking at the order of battle for the I Corps, the full strength regiments (those with five battalions) had four light guns. Digging deeper in my books, Digby Smith puts these as 3 pdr guns, 14 in total for the regiments of the 1st Division.
A pretty common convention for artillery seems to be to use one model to represent two guns. With four guns per regiment, that means I'll need to paint up two guns for each set of five battalions. This sounds easy!
I've already scouted my artillery crew. First I have a mix of Warlord and Foundry crew that I've already painted, yet haven't attached to any guns:
I'm perfectly fine with having a bit of a hotch-potch look to these regimental gun crews, as I imagine them being in the thick of the fight and probably replaced a fair few casualties along the road from the rank-and-file troopers. To fill up a potential six gun crews, I've also ordered some extra artillery gun crews from Perry Miniatures. It'll be a nice mess!
The guns were trickier. Front rank have Austrian 3 pounders, but they they're the kind with the weird forks on them. A few miniature makers in America have them as well, but those I ruled out due to shipping and customs. Finally, I found that Eagle Figures have 3 pounders as well, and from the pictures I think they are a tad sleeker than Front Ranks. If anyone has any reasons why I shouldn't do it, I'll probably settle on getting the 3 pounders from Eagle.
The 2nd Division, that is all four (15h light, 33rd and 48th line and the Spanish Joseph Bonaparte line) regiments together, were supported by two artillery batteries under Chef de Bataillon Cabrié, the II foot battery of the 7th foot artillery regiment and the V horse battery of the 3rd horse artillery regiment.
Both batteries had two howitzers each, with the foot battery also fielding six 6-pounders and the horse battery fielding four. Keeping to two guns per model, I then need two howitzers and five 6-pounders.
The horse artillery crew is thankfully already in my hands: three crews and some mounted officers from Foundry, all in lovely full dress. Maybe a bit flamboyant for 1812, but we all have our guilty pleasures.
For the foot artillery crew, I'm tempted with going with Avanpost. I have bought several artillerymen from them already, though I haven't painted them yet. Given the small number of miniatures involved it's not as big of a splurge as say, getting a whole infantry regiment of those lovely sculpted miniatures.
Finally, the guns themselves. If I'm already ordering from Avanpost, I'm thinking of getting the missing guns from them as well. The guns are actually quite competatively priced, the fragility of resin should be less of an issue with the bulky carriages, and finally there's the option of getting the barrels cast in bronze. Which is just plain cool.
These extra three batteries that supported the entire I Corps? Let's just say that I'll worry about them when I've painted a few more divisions. Which will take years.
All the Cool Extras
Collecting artillery means more than just cannon. There are the limbers that you attached them to when moving them, the horse teams for the limbers, the caissons with the ammunition and the horse teams for them, and generally a huge amount of logistics involved. While these make great visual impact on the tabletop and are useful for showing if guns are prepared to operate or not, I'm going to prioritize putting together the actual infantry battalions and batteries first. Then I'll probably revisit the idea of putting together some of these integral part of the artillery arm.
So there! My plans are done and I'm feeling quite relieved and organized. Even though there will be a few guns involved it doesn't feel overwhelming, and I'm glad to have the shopping list in order. Please feel free to mention if I've done any major mistakes! Otherwise, let's keep working on those infantry battalions.
The French army, unlike many other armies, kept the older idea of trained to operate both as mounted and foot soldiers. Sometime fighting on foot was a forced choice due to lack of horses: in 1805, horseless dragoons prepared for the eventually cancelled amphibious assault of Britain, expecting to simply seize mounts after crossing the Channel. At other times it made more sense to fight dismounted due to tactical circumstances. In Spain, where dragoons formed a unusually large part of the French cavalry forces, rocky terrain, guerilla ambushes and urban fighting made the tactical flexibility of dragoons more useful than other types of cavalry. The downside of this flexibility is that they could be derided as being neither as good at cavalry shock attacks as purebred impact cavalry, nor as deft at skirmishing as they infantry's voltigeurs.
To succeed in this role they were equiped with musketoons instead of carbines, which were almost as long as regular muskets. They also didn't carry the heavy pallasch swords or armour of the cuirassiers.
I found this troupe of dragoons, half-finished, in a box of tanks when diggin through my lead pile. I got them with the purpose of making a more interesting cavalry army for Sharp Practice without making it, you know, mounted. With foot dragoons, mounted dragoons and some horse artillery I'd have a thematic force for smaller skirmishers.
Converted Foot Dragoons
These are probably my personal highlight of the gang. They are conversions based on Victrix infantry bodies and Perry dragoon heads. A true button-counter would react to the dragoon jacket, which would have slightly shorter tails, but I think it works. These guys came prepared for foot combat, and have ditched their riding boots for more sensible shoes and trousers instead of breeches. A lone member of the 1st (elite) company has tagged along, red plume and epaulettes showing his status.
Converting foot dragoons is a nice option since you're bound to be left with extra dragoon heads if you get one or more boxes of Perry's dragoons. The box also comes with a few foot dragoons, but not enough for a Sharp Practice force and no command miniatures on foot. With a few regular infantry miniatures and a simple head swap, you'll end up with a much beefier line-up.
If you try this conversion you'll notice that the biggest hurdle is the plumes and backpacks fighting for space. Looking back, I think I should have simply cut off some of the plumes a bit, and recreated them with green stuff.
The yellow facing means that they are from the 7th, 8th or 9th regiment. I really like how the green and yellow worked together, and might have to add them as a mounted unit further down the line.
Brigade Games Dragoons
These models are really nice, representing dismounted dragoons still in riding boots skirmishing. I ordered these a long time ago, and since then Brigade have released horse handlers as well. These would also dismount and keep the horses out of view of the combat, such as behind a hill or a copse of trees, yet still close enough for their comrades to quickly pull back and retreat if overwhelmed. That means they would serve as perfect deployment points for this force.
The officer with the coat and the drummer are Victrix bodies with Perry heads. The other two are from Brigade. Together they will add some much needed leadership.
Can I just point out how infinitely superior these musicians with reversed uniform colours look, compared to the imperial livery adopted with the Bardin uniform? What were they thinking. Let's just say that I'll keep on trying to avoid Imperial livery for my army if I can manage.
This mounted guy from Brigade is sold as an officer, but I'm not sure why he has no epaulette. Anyway, he stands out well enough with his choice of a blunderbuss instead of a musketoon.
A Drove of Dragoons
Overall I'm pretty happy with finishing these dragoons off. There's nothing like finding a half-done project and being able to get a table-top ready unit or two in a fraction of the time it would take to do them from scratch.
If I'd add anything to complete them it would be some thematic deployment points such as horse handlers, and maybe just a few more dragoons, mounted or dismounted. I'll also do some more horse artillery for the Big Boy division project, and they'll fit right in.
Click the images below if you want larger sized pics. Cheers!
"Glory is fleeting,