Friday, 5 September 2014

The Infernal Brigade – 5th French Hussars

Chaaarge!

Inspired by the excellent “Sons of Mars” painting by American artist and military painter Keith Rocco, I decided on the 5th Hussars as the perfect starting point for adding a unit of these colourful and dashing cavalrymen to my French Napoleonic collection.

"The Sons of Mars" by Keith Rocco.

The 5th had strong historic roots back to the American Revolution where they fought the British and to the Revolutionary Wars participating at the important battle of Valmy. During the Napoleonic period and the War of The Third Coalition they famously charged alongside the 2nd hussars at Austerlitz, clashing with the Grand Duke Constantine’s Uhlans. The trumpeter of the 5th, Joseph Pincemaille, actually managed to capture the Uhlan’s regimental commander. 

Joseph Pincemaille perhaps?

Later during the War of The Fourth Coalition the 5th got brigaded with the 7th Hussars, and came under command of the legendary light cavalry commander, Lasalle. The nickname “Infernal Brigade” was given to Lasalle’s units after Jena, when they hung like wild hawks over the fleeing Prussian infantry, cutting down all that stopped for a pause.

French Hussars in all their splendor.
Plate by L. & F. Funcken.

Legend also has it, that Lasalle with 500 men from his Infernal Brigade managed to have the fortified city of Stetting, with its garrison of 5.000(!) men, surrender to him, simply by pointing to his men and claiming them to be the avant-garde of an approaching army. The Prussians didn’t want any of that, and laid down their arms in spite of their current 10:1 advantage. Such was the reputation of this fearsome brigade.

Great details on the small cavalry flag offer by GMB.

Originally formed in 1780, the 5th became part of the later modernization of the cavalry. Before the Napoleonic wars the French army had 13 hussar regiments. However these had been reduced and refitted into 10 regiments by 1803. As part of the modernization the shako was introduced in 1804, whilst the elite companies would stand out by wearing a colback. 

Napoleon inspecting the ranks - 5th is to the right.

The standard uniform consisted of the very characteristic dolman worn with the pelisse hanging over the shoulder. Wintertime would see them also wearing the pelisse, to add extra warmth with its fur edgings. Down to the left hang their sabre-tache. This exotic note to their Hungarian DNA was individually decorated for each regiment.

Rear shoot offering a good view of the white pelisses.

Weaponry would include the characteristic curved sabre for the light cavalry, a standard issue 1786 short musket and a not insignificant amount of chevalier’s pride and dash.

Thank you very much for reading!

28 comments:

  1. Thanks for the historylesson. I knew some of it already, but not all. You learn something new everyday!

    I love your painting style too. Very, very nice!

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    1. Thanks Johnny, they certainly are one of the more known units, but I found some new info. on the hussars in the Funcken Napoleonic books, which was quite helpful to the write up. Glad you liked it!

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  2. Outstanding paint work on those Hussars Soren, truly wonderful, in all details.

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    1. Thanks you very much Chris! The Rocco painting made for great inspiration, and it's hard not to enjoy painting the Perry plastics, their level of detail is really half the work done.

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    1. Thanks Stephen! Happy you liked them.

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  4. Another great post and excellent work, love this unit!

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    1. Thanks Phil, it's a joy working on such an iconic unit with the legend of Lasalle and all that, so I put some extra time into this one. Very glad you liked the result and write up - Now I'm off to do some Eylau Russians and Jena Prussians from FG Miniz. I love these early imperial campaigns - when the French were winning ;0)

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  5. Now THAT is a great looking unit! Beautiful painting. In particular I like the pelisses. /Mattias

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    1. Thank you very much Mattias - Now, I know that you've got some great Napoleonics too, so If you ever want to tackle a game of Black Powder, you know where to find us!

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    2. My Napoleonics have been on pause for some time. But as with all great projects they tend to pull you back in. And recently I've felt the urge to add some Swedes and French to my 1813 project. We'll see if they manage to push their way to the top of my painting queue. It's fierce competition for that number one spot. :-) Posts like yours surely help their chances though!

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  6. And commanded by Meuziau at Borodino

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    1. You're quite right - according to my trusty old source (The Histoire & Collection Book), they may even have charged the Great Redoubt and the Russian Cavalry posted to its rear. Now, the loss of Lasalle in 1809 was a great one, and I often wonder what history would have looked like, had Napoleon had Lasalle in 1814 or 1815. He was, together with Murat, one to shift the fate of battles.

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  7. These Hussars are definitely a feast for the eye! I'm impressed how much character you managed to squeeze into every single one of them. I'm pretty sure they'll be a real eyecatcher on the table.

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    1. You're very kind to say so Moiterei, and I do look forward to gaming with this collection. Few things beat the drama of the Napoleonic era. I need 4-5 more coalition units, but I've got a friend at the club painting Austrians, so between us I think we'll have enough for a decent scenario within a month or two. Will get back shortly with Prussians (F&G Miniz) and Russians (Earlier Victrix metal, now Brigade Games).

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  8. Fantastic looking Hussars! Truly masterful painting.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by for a read and a comment Dean, glad you liked the minis!

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  9. Stunning work with the painting brush... great models and lovely bright colors well done!

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    1. Thanks Phil, it really took some time to find just that right tint of blue for the unit. Glad you liked the final outcome :0)

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  10. These are wonderful! Tracy & I have the fifth photo as the wallpaper on our laptop :-)

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    1. Hi Richard - thank you for visiting the blog and leaving such a nice comment! It's been a while since I've got any ACW stuff done, but I recently bought a set of Iron Brigade minis awaiting some attention, and I'm looking forward to painting these with your excellent podcast as the backdrop! Best regards from Stockholm.

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  11. Great brushwork and enjoyable and educational post. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Jonathan, happy you liked the read too. Those Funcken books are filled with interesting info on each troop type - so thought I'd translate and post it up here, as I make my way through the ranks of The Grand Armée.

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  12. Fantastic work on these Søren – really, really nice painting. Great colours on the horses as well.

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    1. Thanks Jonas, appreciate it - those Perry plastic horses are about the best I've worked with. The sculpting is very clear and allows a nice distribution for washes and clearly marks areas to later highlight. It's about half the work done before you even start.

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  13. OMG, what a great painting - you are a master!!
    Peter

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    1. Thank you very much for these kind words Peter, I'm humbled here. Glad you came by for a visit and liked the unit. Cheers

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  14. Ouch, these look fantastic! Really inspiring unit

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