Return of the Knight
Cuirassiers are an interesting type of cavalry, in that they broke off from previous military development. Armour use had peaked in the late Medieval and Renaissance times, with knights in elaborate full plates playing the role of the ultimate shock troops. But by the 17th century, and especially the 18th, cavalry lost that role and wore less and less armour, and no longer being the battering rams of the battlefields.
But during the Napoleonic wars, the heavy cavalry returned to the role of previous ages, especially in the countries that clad them in heavy cuirasses. While not bullet proof, especially at short range, it gave them a definite advantage in close combat. The French cuirassiers also used pallasch sabres instead of the normal cavalry sabres. These long, straight and heavy swords were designed to be pointed at the target similar to a lance, skewering it using the full impact force of the charging horse rather than using cutting movements.
For a brief period of time it was as the knights of old had returned. Several battles were swayed by a successful attack of these, the heaviest of cavalry, and they became iconic for the French cavalry.
Cuirassiers in Sharp Practice 2
So is there a real need to make these for my SP2 force, given that I already have dragoons?
Their cuirasses means that each unit ignore the first kill they suffer in fisticuffs (close combat). They are also Impact Cavalry, unlike the dragoons. Dragoons get 7 dice/unit in fisticuffs when they have moved at canter, and only one extra die when at gallop. Impact Cavalry, however, get 9 dice at canter and a whopping 12 if you can work them up into a gallop.
This means that not only do they hit much harder than other cavalry, especially at gallop, but their opponents are also at a clear disadvantage from the beginning. So unlike Dragoons, you have a decent chance of overturning regular infantry in line formation with a front charge, especially at gallop.
Now, since I say this, they will undoubtably fail miserably when I charge with them for the first time. Or, they will be littered by cannon fire. But one glorious day, they will throw away any restisting Russians like they did at the Shevardino Redoubt!
Cuirassiers in Russia 1812
Napoleon brought a large number of Cuirassier regiments with him to Russia, while other theaters (especially the Peninsula) had much fewer. Of the 14 regiments existing in 1812, only the 4th, 7th, 13th and 14th were not called up as far as I know.
This means that I naturally would have to paint up a few at some point, and by chance some found their way to me through a used minis lot I bought. One box of Perry plastic heavy cavalry (that can be made into cuirassiers or carabiniers) and two blisters of metal cuirassiers, one command and one with regular troopers meant for a total of 20 minis to paint.
The regiments differ in facing colour, so I would have to settle on which one to paint. I have already painted the 2nd lancer regiment, and they formed a brigade together with the 10th cuirassiers at Borodino, which I use as my main reference point, so the 10th it is! Looking up the chart on Napolun, I found out they have a pink facing colour.
The painting was pretty straight forward, though I ended up using both several books and websites as references to get things right.
One thing I got stuck on was the saddle cloths, were some paintings have the regimental number, and some have the "grenade" symbol. I was told when doing my research (but don't quote me on it!) that the number was more common earlier on, and by 1812 it would be more likely to be the grenade. Also, the straps on the portmanteau are sometimes shown as black and sometimes white. Again, these changed over time, so black straps would be more suitable if you paint numbers on the saddlecloths, and vice versa. Now, I'm not 100% sure this is correct, so please make a comment if you know more about these things!
Artistic Freedom? In my Napoleonic Wargames?!
In my research on the 10th cuirassiers I also found this extremely nice image of a trumpeter from the regiment. That's when I was sold on settling on this regiment.
Now, that's a badass looking uniform. However, it's also a drastically different uniform than the metal one in the Perry command set. He wears a bearskin (with a side plume!), and a jacket with no chevrons. The Perry trumpeter is clearly wearing the "Imperial Livery" - a kind of musician uniform that was used by both French infantry and cavalry after the Bardin uniform had been implemented, which means around 1812 to 1813 depending on circumstances. Let's just say that I don't like it as much:
In the end, I went with a kind of Frankenstein type uniform, where I painted up the Imperial Livery in white and pink. Now, this is not based on any historical accounts.However, it's also surprisingly common for regiments, especially before the implementation of the Bardin uniform, to put together unique uniforms for their musicians, so I don't feel too bad about it.
That said, I swear to go back one day and make a proper, bearskin-totin' trumpeter for this regiment. I just need to look up which body would be most suitable. Maybe something in Perry's new chasseurs-a-cheval box?
First out, the plastic ones. I'm still struggling with photos, and this time I used a black paper background in a diffusing photo tent box thingy. Better or worse than before?
(Click for larger pictures)
Next up are the metal troopers. Now, the good thing with these compared to the plastics are that the poses are just great, they are really lunging forwards where the plastic ones are more stiff with straight backs. However, there's a clear downside in the sabres, which are very exposed and easily bend. One of them have already visible chipping on the metal paint. For me, the plastics clearly win out for playing, while the metal ones were more enjoyable to paint.
Here are the metal command pack from Perry. First the Trumpetstein, then a Brigadier (NCO), and finally an officer (I'm using him as a Captain).
Next up are the command from the plastic box. I learned an important lesson here: don't assume that the flag will fit! I got the flag from GMB Designs, and annoying enough it's about 1-2 mm too short to fit. I had to crunch it up a bit, which is visible up close.
While crunching it up, I learned lesson #2 for today: don't water the PVA glue too much when affixing paper flags! The force involved made the flag tear up at places, exposing the white paper under the print. I managed to hide it a bit with paint, but up close you'll see it. Hrmph! Not the experience you want at the final stretch of a project like this.
I forgot to order a flag for the 2nd lancers last time. But now they finally got one, so that they can look nice and proper next to their new buddies:
That was a long entry, but I'm happy to see them painted up. Now I'm pretty close to my goal this Summer: to have painted up at least half of the Napoleonic calvary that I've bought. Only some... 120 or so left! Let's get cracking, and see you soon!
"Glory is fleeting,