Hälsinge regt.

An update on these with WIP on the officers, which are conversions based on Spanish napoleonics by Perry. Perry have a number of different command packs for the Spanish which can easily be converted to look like they are wearing Swedish uniform, either the m/1802, the m/1806 or m/1807, with or without plastrons (the Spanish uniforms seem to have gone through similar changes during these years).

I will do enough for three small battalions of the Hälsinge regiment. Normally I have done standard battalions of only 16 figures, but these will be of 24 men. Reason for that is that they will, God willing, be participating at Salute 2022 (in April)!

These have a very simple blue and white color scheme, which is good as I need to do quite a few of them. Thanks to Chad for the templates for the flags!

Fighting retreat at Kauhajoki

Finally the Swedish and Russian armies met on the field of battle last night. We created a highly fictional game based on the Fighting retreat scenario in the 1st ed Black Powder rule book. We were rusty on the rules, the board was clutterered with slightly too much terrain, and Napoleon and Ney had to fill in as commanders on the Swedish side (partly due to an unfortunate loss of figures through crashing on the floor…). But it was great fun to be back around the games table! The game also demonstrated that 10-12 units a side is more than enough for a standard sized table. Hopefully we will be able to re-fight this one soon with some tweaks here and there. As I have planned to paint at least 4-5 more units for each side in the coming months, a scenario for a larger battle is also likely – although I dont know how that can be done without a significantly larger table!

Rules-wise, we decided to use as few special rules as possible. We counted line infantry as just that with no additional special traits. Jägers counted as rifle armed, and as skirmishers and sharpshooters. The cossacks were counted as unreliable. We did follow some of the suggestions from the Rebellion supplement book. That meant that infantry did not use squares, attack columns or mixed formations and that brigades would break only when more than half of their units were broken. As can be seen jägers formed separate units in skirmish formation.

These changes (compared to a normal Napoleonic game) reflect the form of warfare which was typical of the war in Finland. What we need to work on for the future is how to deal with wooded areas, cover etc. There are some suggestions in the Dark and Bloody Ground supplement that perhaps are worth looking at, such as a type of open woodland category of terrain. Many battles in Finland were fought on terrain which was at least half-covered by woods, just like in North America in the 18th century.

The armies were composed as follows:

Swedish 1st brigade and cavalry

Swedish army

1st brigade

2 battalions of line infantry (Björneborg & Åbo)

2 small units of jägers (Karelian jägers)

1 6-pounder gun

2nd brigade

3 battalions of line infantry (Savolax & Västmanland/Hälsinge)

2 small units of jägers (Savolax jägers)

2 3-pounder guns

3rd brigade (vanguard posted at the Russian end of the board)

2 small units of jägers (Savolax jägers)

4th brigade (Cavalry brigade)

1 squadron light dragoons (Nyland dragoons)

1 squadron light dragoons (Karelian dragoons)

Russian 1st brigade and cavalry. The artillery, the commander of the Russian cavalry and the dragoons are all in 1812 style kit. Grodno hussars would have been more appropriate, but they are still a WIP!

Russian army

1st brigade

2 battalions line infantry (Petrovsk & Sevsk musketeers)

2 small units of jägers (26th jäger regt.)

1 6-pounder gun

2nd brigade

2 battalions line infantry (Velikie Luki & Mogilev musketeers)

2 small units of jägers (23rd jäger regt.)

1 6-pounder gun

3rd brigade (cavalry brigade)

1 squadron of dragoons (Kargopol dragoons)

1 squadron Don cossacks

Obviously, the Russians were severely outnumbered, but their objective was to move at least half of their units off the table at the Russian end of the board (past the two small units of Savolax jägers posted on the road).

A handful of jägers stand between the Russians and their escape!

The game opened with a surprisingly strong advance by the Swedish 1st brigade, while the 2d became bogged down in the wooded hills on the right flank. The Russian 1st brigade tried to hold off the advancing Swedes, while the 2d tried to dislodge the Savolax jägers who were guarding the road. However the jägers held out for 3 turns of fighting, partly due to the fact that the Russian cossacks proved unable to follow their orders to charge them. By that time the Russian 1st brigade were already wavering in the face of the Swedish assault. We decided to call the game a draw, as the Russians had not withdrawn any units from the table, but neither had the Swedes succeded in really breaking the defending Russian infantry.

Nyland dragoons

Finished with the first six figures! I will probably never do a large number of Finnish cavalry. These were the most numerous of the Swedish cavalry in the Finnish war of 1808. On a whole, there was very little cavalry, especially on the Swedish side, with about 750 dragoons out of an army totalling almost 20 000 (the army of Finland) at the outbreak of hostilities. The miniatures are Perry 28mms.

Grodno hussars 1808

Here is a first attempt at a Grodno hussar for the war in Finland in 1808. The miniature is a Perry hussar in 1812 model uniform, but with a head from a Brigade Games russian 1805 musketeer added. I also added the shako cords with green stuff. In this way the model looks pretty close to what they would have worn in 1808, I think. By that time, the carbine had been dropped, and it seemed appropriate with the “campaign look” of the Perry figures. I am slightly unsure about the color and look of the shako cords; in some pictures they look more like a colored band around the top of the shako. I reckon this will have to do: the conversion was relatively simple, and should not be that hard to replicate on the rest, which means no more than 5 or 11 more figures like this one.

Västmanland regt.

Work in progress on the Swedish Västmanland regiment. As you can see, the Swedish units wore different colored uniforms compared to the Finnish regiments. Västmanland’s is a bit extra difficult because of the white piping on the yellow on the cuffs, collar, turnbacks and plastron. However, despite these details, these are still easier to speed paint than the Russians from Brigade.

Russian artillerymen

Working on a few Russian artillerymen for 1808. These are Casting Room miniatures (sold by Foundry). They are generally a little beefier, especially arms and legs, than Perry and Brigade Games. but they work OK. The shakos as sculpted had the crossed cannons on the front, but that was only introduced later (as far as I know). So I changed that with green stuff, which turned out pretty well. This particular pose is the best of the range I think.

Swedish army in Finland of 1808 (so far…)

OK, some of you may have seen these pictures elsewhere before, but for those of you who havent, well, here is my progress on the Swedish army in Finland of the 1808 war against Russia. I currently have seven 16-man infantry units, one cavalry unit, and a few artillery and officer figures all based and ready for the games table. The plan is to used them for games of Black Powder and Sharp Practice, most likely more of the former to begin with.

I have e-mailed Warbases and asked them if it would be possible for them to custom-make some movement trays without gaps, so that I could based the close order infantry, especially the marching figures, closer together. As they are based right now, they are really too far apart for close order Napoleonic battalions. Well see what they can provide. If they cant make trays like that, I have a few bases exactly like that from Laser cut (I think thats what they are called) that I might use. Unfortunately, they dont do magnet holes, so I dont know if Ill just glue them permanently to the trays…

In the pipeline for this project is more infantry (one more unit primed and part painted), more cavalry (one more unit close to finished, see below in a recent post), and a couple of more commanders (one primed and ready to be painted). I also plan to do more artillery, but as I want to have limbers and artillery wagons for all artillery pieces for gaming purposes, limbers are a slight problem. Apart from being a bit of a pain to assemble in themselves, in this case I need to convert Austrian limbers and artillery caissons to look like Swedish ones, and that will take a bit of work. So thats perhaps a little further in the future.

Petrovsk regiment – converting Warlord plastics for the 1808 campaign

These are some figures from Warlord Games’ plastic Russian Napoleonic Line Infantry 1809–1814 set. As Warlord advertise, they are sculpted with the 1809 style uniform. I am painting my Russians to fit the 1808 campaign in Russia. So can the Warlord plastics be used for this campaign? Yes and no. At the time of the Finnish war, the Russian uniforms and equipment were changing. Basically, they were still in the model 1805 uniform, as seen in other posts featuring the Brigade Games minis, but they had dropped the waist belt and queue (“pig tail” hair style).

The Warlord set is slightly different from the Brigade Games figures in three important aspects: the shako, the belts, and the backpack. To be 100% historically accurate, you would need to do quite a few modifications to the Warlord figures. I have made these as a compromise, doing some simple changes to make the Warlord figures work better for 1808, although purists would perhaps disapprove!

Shakos

The Shako on the Warlord figures is the reinforced shako which was just coming into use in 1808. This has leather reinforcing bands around the top and bottom as well as diagonally across the shako. The shako also features a grenade badge on the front, which was also new at the time. Before that, the shako had a round cockade on the front instead, as seen clearly on the Brigade minis. Most problematic are the attached white cords which hang from the shako. These were only used from 1809 onwards. Fortunately, the grenadier shakos in the Warlord set do not have any cords (unclear why?) so these can be used, and the plume is easily removed if you want to do regular musketeers as I have done. I have also used the heads with shako covers. Shako covers were not officially issued to Russian troops until later in the Napoleonic wars, but improvised covers may have been used to some extent. It does seem to me to be a very reasonable thing to do, as the weather in Finland was terrible at times, and the shakos quite flimsy. That was indeed the reason why the reinforced bands were added. So in my view, having a few musketeers with shako covers is quite OK even for 1808. Of course, you could also remove the grenade badge and green-stuff a round cockade in place of it instead.

Belts

In 1809, the Russians started wearing cross-belts which tie the backpack straps together across the chest and distribute the load. The Warlord figures are sculpted with this detail, but it can be easily removed with a knife. On some of the figures it may be a good idea to fill in with some green-stuff or something like that, but that is also quite easily done.

Backpacks (the difficult bit…)

Brigade Games musketeers on the left, with cylindrical packs. Perry 1812 jägers with new square backpacks on the right.

Lastly, we come to the backpacks. In the summer of 1808, the Russian army started to issue square-shaped backpacks. Before that, they used a cylindrical pack carried diagonally on the back. This looks completely different to the newer version. Most Napoleonic figures available (such as Perry, Front Rank, Foundry, Warlord, etc.) have the new backpack. The Brigade Games figures do have the old style backpack, and so does the old Casting Room range sold by Foundry. Despite the fact that the new backpacks were regulation issue from mid 1808, few, if any, Russian troops in Finland would probably have worn them. Most of the regiments had been on the march from the early spring, although some also arrived as reinforcements later on (including my example, Petrovsk, if I am not mistaken). So, to be perfectly correct, the Warlord figures should have their backpacks removed and exchanged with cylindrical ones. I havent tried this yet, maybe I will in the future. However, I do feel that converting a whole units’ worth of figures in this way may just be unrealistically laborious.

Soon after writing this post, I did try to make a cylindrical backpack out of green stuff. I am not good at modelling green stuff. I struggled for an hour or so, but was not pleased with the result. And to do that 100 times over? No thanks…