Sunday, 17 August 2014

French Voltigeurs – 1812

 French Voltigeurs based on 40x40 bases. 
Only two figures per bases to signify skirmishers.
Figures are all Victrix.

Yet again I return to the baneful field of the Moskova to add to my Borodino collection, this time to start work on the French infantry. 

At Borodino no less than 120.000 men of La Grande Armée were present under Le Tricolore, and I decided that the first units to cross the painting table would be the ones initially committed in the attack on the fleeches. So accordingly I’ve acquired the GMB flags for the 57th and 25th infantry regiments, part of Davout’s 1st Army Corps, as both units were at the very front of this first push at Bagration’s defences.

Before painting the line infantry figures, I wanted to do up a few units of French Voltigeurs. These skirmish specialists would be applied en masse as a swarm in front of the charging infantry columns, a tactic somewhat perfected by the French, and thus a natural addition to my collection.

A Funcken plate showing French fusiliers, grenadiers and 
voltigeurs in the period 1806-1810.

The Voltiguers were men chosen for the small physical size, their agility and their expert marksmanship. Their main tactical function on the battlefield would be to spread out thin and screen the enemy forces with a constant and harassing fire, enough to keep an annoying level of stress in the ranks of whomever the French were fighting.

The main armament was the 1777 musket, weighing in at 4,65 kg and measuring 1,53 metres in length and using a 17,5 mm calibre ball. This weapon was only reliable up to 110 metres, and thus inferior to many of the weapons of the other European armies at the time. Despite some attempts and modifications, the French infantrymen often threw away their issued musket when they had gotten their hands on a foreign weapon after a battle.

The voltigeur units had no tambours, only cornets.
The hunting horn on pouch a clear reference to role of the light infantry.

In terms of uniforms, the light infantry wore the standard habite-veste but with small modifications to the colors of for instance the epaulettes. Also the Light infantry was first to adopt the Hungarian Chakot.

Deployed for battle, a French battalion would field its fusiliers in the centre while grenadiers would be to the right and the voltigeurs to the left. Two or three regiments would form a standard brigade, while two such brigades would form a division.

Close up of one of the bases.

In the initial charges on the fleeches at Borodino, the French divisional commander Compans, choose to attack the Russians using a small wood as cover for his advance. This skilful move was however repulsed and the brave Compans himself wounded in this opening move.

The Russians, who understood that the attack was no feint, started to pour in reinforcements. At the same time Davout, a legendary Marshall of France who was no stranger to peril, rode forward personally leading the 57th in the subsequent charge. He succeeded in pushing back the Russians and capturing the outpost. 

A unit of French voltigeurs inch forward 
while skrimishing with the enemy.

Bagration would have none of it, and immediately committed both a regiment of hussars and the heavier cuirassiers in and effort to push back the determined French infantry. This called for yet a French counterattack, which was ordered without delay, and the 1st Cavalry Corps made a crushing charge, repelling the Russian horse. This jabbing back and forth at the fleeches later spiralled out of control, and the centre of the Borodino battlefield would eventually suck in both Ney’s and Davout’s complete forces and reserves. 

Voltigeurs on a river recon - Wagram campaign.

But the French Army had finally got the long waited chance to fight the Russians, and Napoleon, in my opinion not showing too much of his characteristic tactical genius, was determined to grind it out with a simple frontal charge on a defensive position. Something the Russians were all too happy to accommodate.

Next up the classic charge of the French Cuirassiers and the push on the big redoubt.

Thank you very much for reading!

29 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, appreciate the visit and comment!

      Delete
  2. Oh my, these are beautiful! Just looking at all the work that goes into the braiding and hat, I'm reminded why I've never painted Napoleonics. I love the historical background as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much Monty, and I tell you - these Victrix minis are half the work compared to their metal counterparts. Amazing sculpting which makes the painting so much easier. Happy you enjoyed the read and thanks for dropping by :0)

      Delete
    2. Fascinating! While I think much more highly of plastics than I used to, I did not know you could get BETTER results. That is high praise indeed.

      Looking forward to your next round of painting!

      Delete
  3. Stunning! Man, you can really paint a handsome figure! Your voltigeurs are first rate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words Jonathan, coming from a fellow period enthusiast like yourself they really mean a lot. I guess the only problem with this unit is, that it can't participate in your excellent Pollo-scenarios, which would otherwise have suited them well. I'll be adding more Napoleonics these coming months. Mainly for my 1812 Borodino collection, but also earlier Prussian and Russian stuff for Eylau and Austerlitz - looking so much forward to getting started on these. Prussians are from Forgotten & Glorious Minis while the Russian are ex-Victrix now Brigade Games metal. So stay tuned Mr. Freitag!

      Delete
  4. As all have stated, beautiful and stunning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it's always a pleasure to read that people have enjoyed ones work and posts, so thanks a lot for dropping by for a read and a comment!

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Pleased that you liked them, thanks!

      Delete
  6. Magnificently painted Napoleonics Soren and a good read

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris, the Victrix plastic kits are really well done. If one can look past the initial gluing and assembly, then they are really amazing to paint. Happy you liked the result!

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by and for your kind comment Michael!

      Delete
  8. Very interesting historical background, stunning paint job and beautiful pictures...excellent work!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much Phil, I'm really enjoying the Funcken books I bought in Paris. They are an incredible source in information and imagery. Will post more plates as the project moves forward.

      Delete
  9. Great looking troops and bases. Good Show!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Eric - always nice to see a new face on the blog. Happy you liked the result of the painting. Bases are from Victrix too by the way.

      Delete
  10. Wow, these are striking! Very clean looking with all the details picked out. Superb painting Søren.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cheers mate, happy you like them. See you at the club soon hopefully, it's been too long since we've been gaming!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very nicely done and great background info as well!

    Christopher

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Christopher, happy to hear that you liked the little write up too :0)

      Delete
  13. Beautifully done - exquisite painting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by for a read and leaving these kind words!

      Delete
  14. Replies
    1. Thank you very much Franck, and I tell you I look very much forward to getting some of those new Prussians I've bought from you painted up as well. It will be a pleasure to get into the whole Eylau-period with some of Queen Louise's bravest. I hope to have them up on the blog shortly!

      Delete
  15. Great stuff. My own Frenchies are for 1812 as well :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Stephen, I'm very happy that you're seconding my choice of period here. It seems to me at least, that 1812 is truly the moment that tested Napoleon's abilities, as he was perhaps faced with the best foe he would meet, namely the vastness of Russia. I just love how history repeats itself!

      Delete