While having a look online to see if I could source some more information on the Coptic Legion in Egypt I found these rather nice flats from a company called Glorious Empires (http://www.gloriousempires.com/). They supply a good selection of 54mm unpainted miniature flats for the Egyptian campaign and there are some interesting uniforms within the set...
Left to right: Foot Guides, Coptic Legion, Dromadary Corps
Left to right: Grenadier, Line Drummer, Greek Legion
Left to right: Marine Infantry, Maltese Legion, Line Infantry
Left to right: Officer of Demi-brigade, Marine Infantry
When I posted my pictures of the 21e Legere in Egypt someone was asking about a battalion of local Christian Coptics that fought for the French. This, as usual, sent me off on a tangent when I should be researching troops for Marengo.
I found this...
The Coptic Legion (Légion Copte / Légion Cophte)was part of the French infantry, and their uniform was indistinguishable from the uniform of French infantry except in colour.
The Coptic troops wore a bicorne made from sheep’s hide leather, and dyed black, with a red horse-hair plume falling from it; and possibly the tricolour cockade fixed to its left side, as all troops in the French Armee d’Orient were required to wear.
They wore yellow trousers made of unbleached linen, and short (calf-length) gaiters of either black or white colour, along with black boots.
They wore a white waistcoat, and over this a green (Dartmouth green) coat that was to buttoned straight down the front. The coat’s collar was either red or yellow; while its cuffs were yellow. The epaulets were red.
They each had a cow-hide knapsack with black straps to contrast with the habit-veste.
I also sourced a few images of these troops, along with one showing the Greek Legion as well. One of the images shows contradictory white straps.
When I was deciding which era of the Napoleonic Wars to focus on, one of the options was the French invasion of Egypt. I visited Egypt about 18 years ago and one of the things that stuck with me was the graffiti on the ancient relics left by French troops. I already had a knowledge of ancient Egypt when I visited, but I could only imagine what it was like to see these sites for the first time having come from Revolutionary Europe.
Not only was the venue for this campaign of the Revolutionary Wars fascinating, but also the troops that took part. With limited resources the French Army had to re-equip its troops with whatever was to hand. This meant that the army began the campaign wearing the standard uniform of the period, then changed to a new design in the French colours that was more suitable to the climate, and then had to replace those with a multitude of different coloured uniforms due to a cloth shortage - the Kleber Ordinance.
When I decided I was going to paint a battalion of infantry for this campaign I had a look through the various sources that I have - Osprey's French Soldier in Egypt 1798-1801 and Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign 1798-1801, and Uniforms of the French Revolutionary Wars 1789 - 1802. There were a few choices that caught my imagination, but one that really inspired me was the 21e Demi-brigade Legere - especially the illustration in Uniforms of the French Revolutionary Wars 1789 - 1802 of the black soldier and its description; 'the ranks of the 21st were made up of Negro slaves bought by Kleber from Abyssinian slave dealers'.
The figures I used were from the excellent Napoleon in Egypt range from Fighting 15s, which used to be owned by Black Hat. They paint up really easily and looked great. I must admit I made a small error in painting these and painted the flask/gourd strap white instead of a rope colour. I'll have to examine if I can repair that mistake. I also painted all the facings/cuffs etc in yellow, but some of these should be orange due to a lack of yellow cloth, and even some pink mixed in for the same reasons.
So here they are, finished all except for a flag, which is in progress and should be designed and printed in the next week or two.
Here is the illustration that inspired the battalion...
And some other illustrations. The drummer image was found after I had finished painting the unit and shows a uniform matching the colour of the rest of the unit, but I had read that musicians wore a reversed colour scheme. This uniform is different from the figure so I'm happy to have the yellow jacket.
While still trying to get the painting mojo back over the holiday I was unfortunately taken ill and ended up spending some time in hospital. All was fine and I had nothing to worry about, except being careful what I eat for the rest of my life, or suffer from stomach issues. But the worst thing was that I lost any painting momentum I had managed to get back, and sitting painting for any length of time still gives me stomach pains.
So I had to start small again. No 32 figure battalions. No cavalry squadrons. Just a couple of guns.
There were bought cheaply off eBay and were listed as Blue Moon 3 pounders. The crew were included, and were as described, but the guns look different to what is shown on the Blue Moon website - mostly the wheels that are not the same. Anyway, they were cheap, so they got painted.
For these I went a bit risky with the crew. Not big risky, just a little bit. I gave some brown trousers!! And I painted an infantry officer as an artillery officer so I had an artillery crewman wearing a helmet!!! Controversial or what? I've always liked the look of the artillery in helmet, and though the helmets probably never made it onto the field, I felt I could get away with it for one officer.
That's me finished 7 artillery bases but I still have to have 23 guns in my army, so loads still to do. The ones that I have already done were from Warmodelling and were 6-pounders pretending to be 3pdrs, so these may be replaced.