Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Garde Nationale Mobile

These two Mobiles are painted up using the
Francs-Tireurs box of 16 minis. 

This week I’ve been playing around with the idea of using the Eagles of Empire Miniatures boxes set of Francs-Tireurs as other French light units of the Franco-Prussian War. A perfect match in terms of uniform and equipment would be the ”Moblots”, or Garde Mobile – widely used during the Republican phase of the Franco-Prussian War.

The Eagles of Empire boxed set of 16 Francs-tireurs.

Even though the Imperial phase saw some of the biggest European battles of the late 19th Century, I really love the Republican phase and the desperate struggle France was fighting for political and military cohesion. This phase has also been widely romanticised in many fascinating images by French painters like Neuville and Detaille, wanting to underline the heroic but futile role of the French troops, and express reflection on France’s battered self-esteem in the decades after the devastating peace in 1871, where France ceded Alsace-Lorraine to the newly proclaimed German Empire. 

A unit of Garde Mobile charges into effective German rifle fire.

The Garde Mobile corners the sentiment of a people’s struggle as they were mass-enrolled into a poorly organized republican army, fighting the World’s most professional and well-lead force. A struggle mostly carried out at desperate odds, and with appalling weather conditions as the framework for almost any open battle they were engaged in.

The Mobiles are here seen mixed with normal Line infantry and Tireurs.
Not unusual for the desperate and confused battles of the Republican Phase.

The Garde Mobil was the brainchild of Napoleon III and his Minister of War, Adolphe Niel, as they in 1866 wanted to bolster the number of French troops available for mobilization. The looming power joust with the German Federation under Bismarck, had France at a considerable disadvantage in number of ready troops. The Garde Mobile counted 400.000 reservists, mainly drafted from the lower classes, as the richer had the opportunity to buy their way out through the “Remplacement” system. This loophole created political interest, and the Government Legislative Dept. tried to intervene in different ways, which unfortunately only resulted in poor education and armament for the Mobiles. 

The young reservists of the Garde Mobile.

Like the rest of the French army at the time of the collapse of the Second Empire, the Mobiles paid the price of the rotten leadership in France, with political and social reform lacking tenacity and direction. They fought bravely during countless desperate battles in the Loire, around Paris and in the North, and for that they should be one of the key ingredients in any Franco-Prussian War collectors Republican Phase army. 

Thank you very much for reading!

9 comments:

  1. Another great post about Garde mobile units, impressive and so important...

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    1. I agree Phil, the Mobiles for me are really the essence of the 1870-71 struggle, and they are captured so well in many of the beautiful painting of the period.

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  2. Great job on these!!! I hope to see them on the battlefield soon!

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  3. Nice post, the Republican phase is the most interesting period imo.
    Best Iain

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    1. Couldn't agree more!!! This phase has it all - from the daring Balloon escape of Gambetta to the battles around Paris and in the Loire and to the drama and tragedy of the Paris Commune... Thx for stopping by for a read!

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