Friday, 4 April 2014

Tirailleurs Algériens or “Turcos” – 1870


En avant! Turcos charging with full backpack & camp equipment

Inspired by my visit to the French Army Museum at Les Invalides, I decided time had come to get cracking at a unit of French troops very iconic of the Franco-Prussian War – the Tirailleurs Algériens. 



Turco with the iconic huge French backpack

I wanted to build a unit portraying the Turcos wearing the abnormally huge backpacks often shown in the paintings of Detaille and Neuville. This meant a conversion involving three different manufactures - and some Green Stuff.


Step 1: Perry ACW Zouaves

These colonial troops from French Algeria first raised in 1841, saw initial action in the Crimean War, were they would also get the nickname, Turcos – or Turks – due to their resemblance with the Turkish allies also participating in the Crimean campaign along the Imperial French and British forces.

Step 2: Turco heads from Forgotten & Glorious.
I choose these due to the high Fez and the mix of African heads.

The Turcos fought in all the Second Empire’s mayor campaigns from the Crimean, to Magenta and Solferino in Italy, to the Mexican Adventure and on to the final battles of The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.

Step 3: backpacks from Secret Weapon Miniatures

In one of the early engagements of the Franco-Prussian War, at the battle of Woerth 6th August 1870, the 2nd Regiment of Turcos would play a key role in the French defences.  They would prove their quality and bravery beyond what is called for, as the massed infantry attacks of the Bavarian and Prussian columns hit the blue line like a tidal wave.

Step 4: Adding the big tin canteens made from Green Stuff

Before the battle the 2nd had set up camp on a wooden hilltop with a nice overview of the coming battlefield. Colonel Suzzoni mustered 2.216 men and 84 officers in the camp, ready to meet the awaited onslaught of the approaching enemy. 

Step 5: Painting! Backpacks including added tent poles
made from painted metal wire

The French high command, lead by veteran commander Marshal MacMahon, had scouted this area for a defensive fight. They wanted the Germans to attack them here, at these “positions magnifiques”, as the hills would offer some protection against the murderously effective German Krupp artillery and also give the French Chassepot rifles a clear field of fire into the slopes below. 

The colonial units were lead by French officers 

 The German coalition had divided their forces into three army corps. The 3rd army corps facing MacMahon was lead by the heir to the Prussian throne, Crown Prince Frederick.
The Germans enjoyed a significant advantage in number of troops and artillery at Woerth - roughly 3-1. They would make these odds count in a crushing pincer strategy leading to the defeat and retreat of MacMahon to Chalons.

Turcos on the prowl

When the Germans attacked, they massed their artillery into grand batteries biting away bit by bit of the center while pouring forward troops, enveloping the French defenses, and breaking MacMahon's flanks. The 2nd Tirailleurs Algériens, part of Lefebvre’s 2nd brigade, held their position at enormous costs (80% losses). Upon receiving orders for retreat, the now mortally wounded Colonel Suzzoni secured the regimental flag, and the surviving 8 officers and 441 men of the 2nd could start the long demoralizing retreat to Chalons. MacMahon had lost this very important battle, and the door was now open to Paris.

Thank you for reading.

26 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Jonathan - compliments to your blog as well. You've got yourself yet another follower.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Andrew! More on the way as soon as I can get the time to sculpt the tin canteens.

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  3. Splendid paint job and a great post, congrats!

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    1. Glad you liked it Phil! Will probably visit the Woerth battlefield in May, so look out for a complete post of this important opening chapter of the Franco-Prussian War.

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  4. Stunning work you put in to the minis, looks so, so good !

    Best regards Michael

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    1. Thanks Micke! Inspired by your ventures into conversions it was yet another brave experiment in Green Stuff. Glad you liked it - hope to have the complete unit up before too long, but as you know all too well, my plate is more than full of projects :0)

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  5. Wow! These are truly excellent – both the painting and the modelling is superb.

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    1. Thank you very much for the kind words Jonas, what I said to Micke goes for you as well. Inspiring stuff you both put out there. Hope to present a good Franco-Prussian gaming opportunity for the local gang, once I have a handful of units for each side.
      I'll be visiting the actual Woerth battlefield next month, so data will be at hand for a decent scenario write up:0)

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  6. That is sensational work, really very impressive.

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    1. Thank you so much Michael, nice with some appreciated baby steps made in Green Stuff!

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  7. Truly fantastic result. I am now a follower.

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    1. Happy to hear - glad you liked the post and the blog :0)

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  8. Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliment and the read, happy you liked the result!

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  9. Another new period - good to see I'm not the only butterfly in town ;-)

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    1. Haha, indeed - or perhaps more like a hummingbird(!) But I promise you there is a grand plan behind it all ;0)

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  10. Excellent work on the turkos! Conversion as well as painting is absolutely top notch.

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words and the visit. If you're also into this period then keep an eye out, I'll be posting more Franco-Prussian stuff soon!

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  11. Wonderful work Soren: you are going to make a lot of envious guys as no manufacturer makes them that way; I am impressed and gladly surprised that our heads fit so well on Perrys' Zouaves Bodies

    Cheers

    Franck

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    1. Merci Franck - the heads worked like a charm, adding the right sized fez and the correct character to the faces. Now you know why I needed all those extra Turco heads ;0) One day you and I will simply have to play a Franco-Prussian game, see if we can chance the fate of the brave lignards!

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  12. Great work.

    To bad the first picture is somewhat blurry.

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    1. Thanks Engel, I'll post some more pics once the complete unit is ready. Hopefully some with better sharpness then!

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  13. Fabulous. I must try your idea out myself!

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    1. Please do, it certainly adds some variety to the Foundry minis I've got, and fits well in size with NorthStars Prussians. Impressive Franco-Prussian collection you've shown on your blog. You've got yourself an extra follower - will keep my eye out for new Turcos then :0)

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