Monday, 22 September 2014

The Piedmontese: Austria's Allies - Part 1 Artillery

One of the interesting parts of James R Arnold's Marengo and Hohenlinden book that grabbed my imagination was his reference in the Austrian Offensive in Italy chapter of his book to Piedmontese allies who fought alongside the Austrians against the French.

"To supplement the army of Italy, the Austrians hired a substantial Piedmontese force. Some of the soldiers were veterans of the Sardinian Army that had opposed Bonaparte in 1796. Four National and ten Provincial infantry battalions, each with an authorised strength of 876 men, composed the core of the Piedmontese contingent. Along with the cavalry and artillery, there were 14,389 Piedmontese troops in Melas' army."

Although these troops were never anywhere close to being involved in the battle of Marengo I really wanted to include some in my collection. Unfortunately there are no miniature manufacturers producing dedicated figures for this army, so what was I to do?

First off I visited the amazing TMP (The Miniatures Page) website and asked the question in the Napoleonic message board, and the suggestion was to use Saxon infantry from 1806. These were almost perfect compared to the illustrative references I found online - the main difference being the collars, but as I will be using 15/18mm figures then I was happy to forgive the discrepancies.

There were two manufacturers that I found that produced suitable miniatures. The first was Eureka, available from Fighting 15s in the UK. Their Saxon range is great, and although the figures are slightly slim they have a very elegant feel to them, and had everything I needed to make a start.

The other range was Old Glory, which is available from Timecast. Old Glory is one of those ranges that people seem to either love or hate. I've built a few battalions of Austrians using their figures and I'm happy with how those turned out, but there are clearly different sculptors in their ranges. Their Saxons have been sculted by a different person, and are larger figures, closer to the newer 18mm figures in scale. They are also one of the Old Glory ranges that draw criticism for there strange poses, even though they some fantastic detail work.

I decided to go with the Old Glory. This was for two reasons. The main was cost, but the other was that these were to represent Piedmontese soldiers who were of poorer quality, and I kinda felt that the poses looked less disciplined than the elegant figures from Eureka. The other reason was cost. Old Glory figures are quite cheap.

I've painted a few as a start and was happy with how they looked. But something kept distracting me, and that was a question about the artillery. What guns would they have used? Again, TMP was an invaluable resource, with Artillery guru Steven Summerfield being the biggest help.

Again there was no clear miniature suitable for the purpose of showing a Piedmontese artillery piece - which should be a 3 pounder Mountain gun apparently - so I had to make do.

I used a Blue Moon 4-pdr French gun, trimmed some of the carriage, narrowed the axel, and built a basic representation of the quick-fire mechanism using green-stuff.

I've painted and based my first (of two) artillery pieces, along with an artillery gun crew in the lighter artillery uniform which I hope is correct for Piedmont. The gun, and Saxon figures are not perfect but I think it are good enough at this scale. The figures are Eureka, and I can see where I need to do a little bit of touching up on the details. Any comments would be welcome....

Here are some of the Piedmontese infantry that I've started....

The Village of Marengo Part 3 - The Tower

Yet again real life has taken its toll on my Marengo project. A new job has eaten severely into my free time, and there's been very little improvement to my finances to allow any decent purchases - all that Austrian cavalry I need will have to wait a little longer.

But over the last month or so I have made some progress, but again time hasn't been kind enough to let me post on my blog until now.

So here is an addition to my Marengo village scenery. The missing tower, which I knew next to nothing about. I'd actually started the model before being pointed in the right direction for some accurate reference by Dave Hollins, and I have to wonder why I haven't already got myself a copy of his Marengo 1800 book from Osprey.

The Tower at Marengo was apparently used for breeding silkworms, which is something else I was totally ignorant off, and there is great photographic reference to the building in Dave's book. Unfortunately, as I said, I'd started the model before seeing the reference and my Tower is fairly different to how the real one looked. But I'm justifying the difference so that I can use the model as any Northern Italian building, or possible even for any future Peninsular projects.

So here is the latest scratch-built building, again built from spare mounting card, food packaging and balsa wood, and painted with indoor wall paint from samplers I had lying around the garage.

I hope you like it.

And all the buildings together...