Please allow me to introduce myself…
I wonder how many blogs have started with the first line from Sympathy for the Devil for their introductory post? Thousands no doubt. Not that the lack of originality will bother the Duke of Plaza-Toro, whose enemies around the royal courts of Europe like to whisper that he is more than a little sympathetic to the creed of Beelzebub. He tells me he rather enjoys the notoriety.
So – Greetings and welcome! World Crisis in Miniature is the personal blog of His Grace the Duke of Plaza-Toro where he will duly describe his miniature military adventures with toy soldiers, ships and tanks to the interested reader and fellow devotees of the harmless, but alarmingly named, hobby of war-gaming. The Duke likes the sound of his own voice and will no doubt have plenty to say, but occasionally his humble servant, John Chadderton, might get a few words in edgeways.
Lets start with a picture (worth a thousand words they say…)
Here then is my first French National Guard battalion (c.1792-93) for the Wars of the French Revolution. All 28mm size figures from Eureka Miniatures (with a couple ‘drafted’ in from their American Revolution range), all painted by yours truly. They serve as a good introduction to one of my principal interests (the wars of the 18th and early 19th Centuries) and provide some idea as to my modus operandi.
At this early stage of the French Revolutionary Wars the quality of these rapidly recruited National Guard battalions was variable to say the least. Many units were hot beds of political radicalism, on occasion more than capable of shooting their own officers if it suited them. Their training was rudimentary, standards of equipment and uniform were indifferent, and their courage on the battlefield very brittle. Some battalions fought well, but many ran away at the first sign of trouble. Here I have attempted to convey all this. The figures have been selected and based in a suitably disorganised manner with some chaps marching, some breaking into a run, others dangerously firing from the rear rank and so on, while the officer (front and centre) vainly tries to keep control of it all.
The Eureka Miniatures range lets you pick and choose your figures to mix relatively smart French soldiers in regulation uniforms including gaiters, shoes etc with figures of a much more ragged appearance in tatty, incomplete uniforms – minus gaiters, shoes, and breeches (hence the period nickname “sans culottes”). Non-regulation trousers (often in fashionable stripes), coloured shirts, civilian hats and other personal items were common. So large was the number of French citizens conscripted into the National Guard to defend the new Republic that the army’s resources were stretched beyond breaking point and many citizens went into action in the civilian clothes they had arrived at camp in. To hint at this I added a figure to the front rank (the gentleman in brown) from Eureka’s “Age of Reason” American Revolution range of “Ragged Continentals” who is in suitably generic 18th Century civilian dress and not as discernibly ‘North American’ in appearance as some of the other figures they offer. He makes a good French citizen recruit and he has at least been issued with a musket – even these were in short supply.
The other figure I added from Eureka’s American Revolution range is the chap ducking forward (third in from the left) trying to avoid getting his head blown off by the overenthusiastic ‘marksman’ in the rear rank. He comes from the “Ragged Continental Infantry skirmishing” group of figure variants and I think he is just supposed to be running low and holding on to his hat, but when I first saw the figure he gave me the impression that he was ducking as if to avoid something. When I was planning the look of this battalion I suddenly recalled this figure and thought he would be an ideal addition to the unit’s chaotic demeanour. His civilian hat is perfectly in keeping, but his soldier’s coat isn’t quite right for a French soldier of 1792 (the model’s cuffs have no flaps). However once I’d painted him up in the familiar blue, white and red he passes muster. As it is, during this early period the army absorbed a plethora of independent volunteer units from across regional France, all wearing locally made uniforms that often did not confirm to official regulations, so the flap-less coat cuffs are probably not that anachronistic anyway.
Those familiar with the period may have noted the absence of any grenadiers (the supposedly elite company that formed part of the organisation of all these battalions). Usually distinguishable by their bearskin caps or bicorne hats adorned with tall plumes, I may decide to add them to this unit later (another base of four figures), but seeing as the common practice of the time was to detach all the grenadier companies from their parent units and combine them into special Grenadier Battalions in their own right I might as well just paint up a separate battalion of grenadiers at some point.
Well, I think that might do for the Duke’s first post. At a later date we will have a look at some of my Austrian battalions – arguably Republican France’s most constant opponent between 1792 and 1815 (after all, the French did guillotine their cake loving Princess…) and some of my current ‘work in progress’ projects. The Duke also likes to manoeuvre 1:72 / 1:76 scale tanks and command his 1:3000 scale battleships when the mood takes him and I have optimistically added tabs to the blog for them in readiness (but sorry – nothing to read there as yet). I suspect the Duke will have a few things to say about painting, model making and wargaming in general as we go. I am a total novice when it comes to blogging and I am just feeling my way around the technical aspects so please forgive any initial blunders. I will no doubt be adding features and sometimes removing them as I try things out. Comments are always welcome. I hope this first post was at least of some interest and that you will call again. The Duke keeps a very good wine cellar.