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!