Tuesday, 23 October 2007

The Kinburn Dragoon Regiment

I've begun getting to work in earnest on the smaller of the three dragoon regiments of the Advanced Corps, namely the Kinburn Dragoons. To the right are are images of the flags it carried (drawn again by James D. Gray). Below right is the coloured standard (white cross in center). Above it is the first (colonel's) standard.

On the left I've added an image of a trooper of the Kinburn Dragoons as featured in one of Bryan Fosten's plates in the Osprey publication, The Russian Army of the Napoleonic Wars (2): Cavalry 1799-1814 by Philip Haythornthwaite. I have always found the Russian cavalry uniforms of the time to be quite elegant compared to the showy garb of some other nations of the time, and this illustration conveys that very well. The dark green sets off the yellow facings nicely.

I prefer a darker green for my Russians- the original green was almost black when new, and although it would fade over time, I still feel that a lot of Russian miniatures out there are painted a shade of green that end up being too light- or too bright- for my tastes. While allowing for the effect of scale colour, I go for a very dark green (although I may highlight with something lighter, especially when only a small amount of green may be showing- between straps for example).

Painting cavalry can be a pain what with the straps and trying to get a horse to- well, look like a horse! But the biggest chore is to remove flash and to actually glue the riders to the horses. It almost always takes some filing and tweaking to get a good fit between the two. I cannot stand having a big gap of space between the equine posterior and the saddlecloth!

In the case of the Kinburn, I am modifying the officer figure as I like to model some variety between the regiments. A few troopers will be wearing forage caps or bandaged heads instead of helmets for the same reason.

I will have two, six-figure squadrons of the Kinburn Dragoons. The Kharkov and Kiev Dragoons will each field four squadrons- a lot of dragoons in this army!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Reading material for a long weekend!

In the course of a discussion I had with "Suvoroff" (James D. Gray) about various books on the Russian Army, he mentioned one I had not in fact heard of before- "From Serf to Russian Soldier", by Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter. It is a scholarly account of the soldiers of the Russian army during the first part of the 19th Century.

Although it is out of print, I promptly did an Internet search and was able to find a copy through Amazon. I immediately ordered it from the Tacoma Book Center in Tacoma, Washington. It arrived in my postbox here in Tokyo just four days after ordering- which was pretty impressive.

I will be adding my thoughts about the book to this post once I have had the chance to read it through. So tonight, I will pour myself a glass of vodka, crank up my compilation of Russian regimental marches for some suitable BGM, settle down in the armchair and immerse myself in the Russian army!

Revised Painting Chart

One of the great things about having a blog is its ability to attract the attention of fellow enthusiasts, and the exchange of information that results.

Recently, I have had the pleasure of corresponding with Mr. James D. Gray, aka "Suvoroff". A contributor to the General de Brigade Napoleonic rules forums, he is a clearly dedicated aficionado of the Russian army. On top of that, and going from the photos he has sent me of his collection of second-generation 15mm Minifigs 1812 Russians, he is also evidently a very fine painter!

His knowledge, and his willingness to share it, have been a great help.

The results of his input can be seen in the new flags you can see in my revised painting guide. He reminded me that for those regiments that were around when the 1797 patterns were issued, they would most likely not have received the 1803 pattern until the old 1797 patterns had worn out. In many cases, this meant until the end of the wars.

James was kind enough to send me images that he had created of the 1797 pattern flags for the regiments in question, and has given me permission to post them on my blog.

So, click on the link and you can see the new "plumage" of the IXth Corps. Only the Kourinski and Iakoutski regiments, both formed after the 1797 regulations had been superseded, are to carry the 1803 pattern. The rest are to fight under the more varied 1797 issue flags.

I am very pleased with the changes, as they will make for a much more colorful force that would have been the case had they all been bearing the 1803 pattern. In particular I find the black and pink colours of the Kozlovski Regt. to be striking, and they are my personal favorites.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to James for his generosity- many thanks, Suvoroff!

Monday, 13 August 2007

Orders of Battle

A lot of time was spent on selecting an appropriate Order of Battle. In the end I relied mainly on the orbats found in the appendices of George Nafziger’s Napoleon at Leipzig and Napoleon at Dresden. It was clear that there were a lot of changes in the composition of Langeron’s Army Corps- and in the IXth Corps itself- in the time between the beginning of the Leipzig campaign and the invasion of France- this seems particularly to have been the case with the cavalry, where divisions were split up, separated, and reunited only to be split off again according to the strategic demands of the situation.

It was also very clear that attrition took its toll over the months, and the number of men- and of battalions- decreased steadily over time. On paper, a Russian division was to consist of up to six regiments for a total of fifteen battalions of 640 men each. By Leipzig, it seems the average Russian regiment consisted of about at no more than 475 effectives.

Again, what I was looking for was an organization that would give me a good-sized wargaming force, along with a reasonable contingent of cavalry to help fend off the minions of Napoleon. In the end, I settled for the orbat provided in the Leipzig book. The number of battalions in the division at that time, and the cavalry that made up the Advanced Guard under Rudsevitch, added up to a balanced and reasonable force (read: not TOO expensive) to collect.

There were some inconsistencies in some other sources. Digby Smith’s excellent book on the Battle of Leipzig has the Kursk regiment in place of the Iakoutski regiment in the 15th Infantry Division. While certainly there were some instances of regiments and even brigades being reassigned from one division to another (for example, the 12th and 22nd Jaegers were originally from the 13th Division), the Kursk Regiment should normally have been with the 10th Division under General Osten-Sacken. As the Iakoutski regiment “reappears” in later orbats with the 15th, and the 10th Division did not appear strong enough that it could “donate” battalions to other corps, I decided to stick with Nafziger and keep the Iakoutski as an original member of the line-up for the 15th Div. Besides, I already had the flag!

Still, as the Kursk regiment does not appear in any of the orbats for the 10th Division, I would be interested to know what happened to them- burned up at Lutzen and Bautzen, perhaps?

The artillery was another area where I had conflicting information, and many batteries seem to have been attached and re-attached to units, or put into reserve, depending (understandably) on the needs of the moment. Here I settled with Nafziger and decided to field two batteries, one heavy line battery and a light battery of the Horse Artillery. Likewise, I have included the third battalion of the Riajski Regiment, which sometime between the opening of the campaign and the battle of Leipzig, seemed to have disappeared from the order of battle- most likely being disbanded to provide reinforcements for the first battalion.

Rogues' Gallery

I have added a link to a pdf showing the commanders of my Russian force (where pictures are known). The pictures are from the collection of portraits of many of the higher-ranking officers who fought in the 1812 campaign at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, via my copy of "The Russian Officer Corps of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars" by Alexander Mikaberidze.

This is one of the best and most enlightening books out there on the Russian army of the time. The best thing about the book is the human "face" it gives to an army still pretty much seen as one of automatons. Recommended!

I had run into a hitch when researching the officers. There is no doubt that the commander of the IXth Corps was Generallieutenant Olsuvief. However, I found to my surprise that there were two of them in the Russian army of the time, and my question was, which one commanded the corps up to and including the Battle of Champaubert? Okay, I confess I can be pretty anal, but as I wanted to identify the commanders appropriately I may as well get it right- and I do love a mystery!

The candidates were: 
 Zakhar Dmitrevitch Olsufiev I (1772- 1835), and his younger brother, Nikolai Dmitrevitch Olsuvief III (1779-1817).

Any cross-referencing or web searching was not made easier by about the half-dozen variations in the spelling of "Olsuvief" that I have mentioned earlier. A picture accompanying Tranie/ Carmigniani's description of Champaubert in "Napoleon 1814- La Campaign de France" showed a portrait of Nikolai Dmitrevitch.

The entry for Zakhar Dmitrevitch Olsufiev in "The Russian Officer Corps in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars" has him as the one who was captured at Chaumpaubert following the steamrolling IXth Corps received at the hands of the Corsican General. However, his biography of Nikolai Dmitrevitch Olsuviev has the younger brother leading the IXth Corps at Brienne up to Vauchamps and Paris- clearly not the same general who would have been captured, and furthermore Nikolai is mentioned as serving at Kulm and Dresden in 1813. Yet the IXth Corps was not present at these battles, being with the Army of Silesia north of Leipzig at the time.

Although I suspected the correct entry was for Olsuvief the Older, I wasn’t yet convinced. Finally I sent off an inquiry to the Napoleonic forum on the web, and Mr. Mikaberidze was kind enough to reply that it was, in fact, big brother Zakhar who commanded the IXth Corps. He had noted the inconsistency in the text, and had earlier sent a correction to the publishers- who then failed to include it in the final version. He also provided further information on who commanded what was left of the IXth Corps after Champaubert (General Kornilov). Case closed, and a big “dostevedanya” to Alexander Mikaberidze!

Russki Painting Guide

I have added a painting guide to my blog (see sidebar). I had originally thought that the Russians would be an oh-so simple army to paint, but when I got down to the details, I realized that there was more complexity in painting the Russians than I had first imagined. The information was out there, but it was spread over a number of different sources making easy reference difficult.

I needed an easy schematic for painting the Russians, so I created this combination of an order of battle and painting chart on Word, and converted it to a pdf file. Those out there painting a Russian army may find it useful. Feel free to let me know if there is anything you disagree with.

It was a lot of fun to work on!

Sunday, 14 January 2007

What it's all about...

I have long had an interest in the Russian Army of the Napoleonic wars- some of the first ever metal miniatures I got for wargaming were 25mm Russian grenadiers back in 1972-, and when I decided to build up a Russian army in 28mm using the excellent Front Rank figures, I had already decided that I would do one based around a historical order of battle.

No guards for me. I wanted a typical infantry and cavalry force that reflected the average Russian military force of the 1813-14 period.

I decided on a force from Langeron’s Army Corps in General Blucher’s Army of Silesia. The Russian IXth Corps, consisting of the 9th and 15th Infantry divisions- with supporting artillery- under the command of Generallieutenant Z.D. Olsuviev.

The IXth saw much action from the Katzbach, through Lowenberg, Leipzig, the siege of Mainz and on to the crossing of the Rhine. In France it was at Brienne and then went on finally to its virtual annihilation at the Battle of Champaubert on February 10th, 1814. I wanted to celebrate a formation, which reflected the up-and-down fortunes of the Allies as a whole, and if its commanders were no military geniuses, they were by no means incompetents. The soldiery frequently lived up to their reputation for steadfastness and bravery, all the while being a very, very long way from home!

It is also a good choice from a wargamers standpoint. Although nominally a “corps”, by the time of Champaubert it was, after the attrition of almost a year of combat, little more than the size of a division- and a weak one at that.

For cavalry, I chose the Advance Guard from Langeron’s Army Corps, under Generalleutenant Rudzevitch, to which the 15th Division of the IXth Corps was attached (and from the command of which he had been promoted). Through this direct link with the IXth Corps, this gave me the chance to field dragoons, mounted jaegers, and of course cossacks. What is a Russian army without cossacks?

This is proving a very interesting- if at times frustrating- project to research and to work on, and entailed a surprising amount of detective work for an army that is generally considered to be a fairly straightforward one to paint and collect.