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…

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