Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Peninsular War, A New History - Charles Esdaile

Having just finished reading Charles Esdaile's book on the Peninsular War, I thought I would share my thoughts.

This book was first published back in 2002 and my copy is a first edition hard back that I picked up as a second hand copy for a very reasonable price. I certainly got more than my moneys worth.

This excellent book is probably the first of the more modern treatments of the subject to focus more on the socio-political aspects of this war with more of an overview of the battles which have been well covered and detailed in other histories such as Oman and Gates. That is to say that the major battles, important as they are, are not overlooked but very carefully placed in the context of the political situation at that time.

One thing that clearly differentiates this Napoleonic theatre from the others of this period is that we are dealing with a war within a war, with multiple campaigns and shifting alliances throughout the period of 1808-14 and Esdaille is able to capture the tumultuous changes that affected both Portugal and Spain; both absolutist monarchies with a strong influence from the church and an almost serf like relationship between peasants and the ruling elite. The war was to cause a dramatic shift of power in both countries and lead to a popular movement to more liberal inclusive regimes that would sow the seeds for further strife and internal conflict in both countries but particularly Spain, as the army developed a taste for intervening in civil conflict. In addition both countries would lose the control and wealth they originally had coming in from their extensive American colonies, and see the reducing of Spain to a minor power in European affairs.

Into this pot of fermenting conflict the armies of the two most consistent of enemies, Great Britain and France, jousted with each other seeking to take advantage of the shifting initiative as the wider war within Europe allowed for one side or the other to attempt to gain a knock out position.

Esdaile seamlessly develops the narrative of the tension between the allies Britain, Portugal and Spain who fought hard to suppress their dislikes of each other by focusing on their common hatred of Napoleonic France and he describes this tension ebbing and flowing with military success and failure; with the final perverse situation of seeing Wellington grab the ascendancy over French arms with his dramatic victory at Salamanca in 1812 and to see the liberation of vast areas of Spain only to drive an even deeper rift between the British and the Junta in Cadiz as the Spanish government felt more able to focus on the liberal constitutional changes it wished to pursue instead of pursuing the British desire to see them focus on rebuilding a more potent and disciplined Spanish military able to support further military operations.

Wellington began to become more suspicious of Spanish motives as the liberals within the government tried to control his moves by offering him the command of Spanish forces but have his operations subject to their approval. This was resisted but the eventual promoting of Wellington to Generalissimo only caused deep resentment with certain senior general officers in the Spanish army and created more trouble than the benefits such a move would have seemed to have had the potential to offer. This mutual mistrust and dysfunction would see Wellington dispense with the services of his best Spanish troops at the border with France as he decided that the poorly supplied and supported Spanish troops could not be relied upon not to go on the rampage in France, "bringing ruin on us all" as he described.

Esdaile also gives plenty of detail and evidence to reveal the truth behind the two edged sword that was the guerrilla war. There is no doubt that the war of the knife caused much loss and strife to French forces in areas such as the Basque region and in Catalonia where when coordinated with allied action was most advantageous to the common cause. However many of the roving groups turned out to be no more than gangs of ruffians free to commit crimes and atrocities on friend and foe alike for their own personal gain. In addition such irregular forces proved a drain on Spanish manpower for the regular army as soldiers preferred the free and more liberal ways of the partisan and were thus very happy to avoid conscription or simply desert at the first opportunity.

The Spanish authority sought to curb the excesses of the best groups and rid themselves of the worst by carefully issuing army commissions to guerrilla leaders thus bringing them in under regular command, giving them access to supplies, but controlling their numbers and activities in accordance to the national benefit.

Juan Martin Diez - El Empecinado, one of the more successful
and regular guerrilla leaders of the Peninsular War

The book is a long read covering the whole war in 509 pages, but I found the different perspective it offered the English reader on the war a refreshing insightful experience and would highly recommend it to the serious student of this period. Charles Esdaile even takes a moment at the end to outline other areas not covered in the English studies that warrant further research and although I did not entirely buy in to his analysis and conclusion on the relationship of the Peninsular War to the final outcome of the Napoleonic war as a whole, I would have no hesitation in recommending this history as a thoroughly well researched and presented read.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Napoleon's Maxims - II, Plan of Campaign

"In forming the plan of a campaign, it is requisite to foresee everything the enemy may do, and to be prepared with the necessary means to counteract it.
Plans of campaign may be modified ad infinitum according to circumstances, the genius of the general, the character of the troops, and the features of the country."

Perhaps the most classic illustration of this maxim in practice is the memorandum and subsequent plan of campaign as proposed by Sir Arthur Wellesley in 1808 to the British government in which he contradicted Sir John Moore's previous declaration that Portugal could not be held against French invasion, but went further to describe its role as a base to support ongoing operations, building up the Portuguese army and to aid the Spanish in ridding them of French occupation and eventual pursuit of French forces into France itself.

Following Wellesley's return to Portugal in 1809 with his plan accepted by British ministers he immediately set its principles into action by a fast campaign that ejected Soult from Oporto causing him to lose all his baggage and guns in the process, and then to turn south to link up with the Spanish Army of Estremadura to attack and destroy the next potential threat, namely, Victor's I Corps in the Tagus valley.

Whilst pursuing the objective of securing Portugal as a base of operations he had already predicted the likely victory of Napoleon over Austrian forces in the Danube campaign of that year and had given orders for work to commence on the construction of the lines of Torres Vedras, predicting that the Emperor would return in 1810 to deal with the British in Portugal once and for all.

The Lines of Torres Vedras - A master stroke in campaign planning
Of course Napoleon didn't lead the force, selecting Massena to command the army of 65,000 men later to be reinforced by a further 10,000 men as he methodically manoeuvred his force to and over the Portuguese border. The unlucky fall of Almeida was counteracted by the surprise ambush at Bussaco ridge which allowed his new Portuguese formations to gain confidence and battle experience whilst severely denting the morale of the enemy. Wellesley confidently predicted he could hold the line against 100,000 French troops but that with a maximum of 360,000 troops in the whole peninsula, the French would find it impossible to hold their gains whilst prosecuting their invasion.

The defence of Portugal in 1810-11 would become a model that was studied by the Russian General Staff and used to define their own plans to overcome a French invasion the following year, on a much larger scale. The campaign of 1812 would prove the turning point and directly influence events in the peninsula

All the points described in this maxim, foresight, preparatory counteractions, modifications due to circumstances, genius in the commanding general, making full use of the character of the troops and features of the country shine out in Wellesley's, later Wellington's plan of campaign and is a classic exemplar of why he ranks as one of the great captains

Napoleon's maxims I Frontiers

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Birds and Bees - Garden Wildlife

It took Carolyn several blurred attempts to finally catch one of these guys in action
Following the recent visit from our local dragonfly catching flying ants on the wing, Carolyn decided to grab some pictures of our other regular garden visitors this summer.

I think the laws of flight still suggest that the bumble bee being able to fly is impossible, so this picture of the humble bumble bee defying science only adds to the wonder of these amazing insects. We have had some lovely garden blooms this year and the bees have had a feast among the various blossoms.

This chap on the other hand was more than happy to have his picture taken
The USA may have its bald eagle, and the Australians their Emu, but in a recent poll of the British public choice for a national bird, as we don't have one too date, the favourite response was the plucky little Robin (Erithacus rubecula). These little chaps and chapesses, as both male and female look the same and only the Robin knows the difference, are very bold little birds and will land at your feet when working in the garden, walking close to as if they own the place and you are the visitor.

In their flashy red waistcoats, they are instantly recognisable and the affection they hold with the British public defies the protests of others who proclaim more larger powerful looking examples of British bird life. Personally I love this little redcoat and delight when he or she fearlessly lands close by as if to say "you do know whose place this is?"

Carolyn's fine study of Britain's favourite bird

Monday, 24 August 2015

1/8e Regiment de Ligne

The 8e Regiment de Ligne was the most senior French line infantry regiment at Talavera.

The 8e Ligne could trace its lineage back to 1776 and the 1er and 3e battalions of the Regiment de Champagne.

In 1791 it was retitled the 8e Regiment d'Infanterie soon to be retitled during the turbulent times of the revolution, 8e demi-brigade d'Infanterie de Ligne in 1796, formed from the following units:

3e demi-brigade de Bataille (1er Battalion, 2e Regt. d'Inf, 5e Bat Vol. de l'Aisne and 5e Bat Vol de la Cote d'Or
1er, 2e and 3e Bataillons Volontaires de Lille
1er Bataillon auxillaire de l'Eure
1er Bataillon auxillaire de l'Aisne

In 1803 with the rise of Napoleon the regiment was retitled 8e Regiment d'Infanterie de Ligne under the command of Colonel Jean-Francois-Etienne Autie.

The 8e Ligne could boast a record second to none when it entered Spain with the battle honours of Austerlitz, Jena and Friedland to its credit and Colonel Autie at its head.

Interesting illustration of the 4e bataillon fanion, this battalion was sent
to join the forces operating along the Danube during the Austrian 1809 campaign
The uniform characteristics of the 8e Ligne appear to be a standard look of French infantry, pre 1812 with various forms of cuff flap illustrated from red in the Otto manuscript to white as seen in the Bucquoy plates illustrated here. The Otto depiction shows the voltigeur in 1807, with plain green plumes and epaulettes but with a unique green and yellow shako chord. The plate above would suggest otherwise by 1809. As with all this stuff you end up making an educated choice on what to depict.

Perhaps the most distinctive part of the uniform was the shako plate of the 8th which is consistent with all the depictions showing an Eagle of various designs.

I can find no references to the look of the musicians other than Rousselots  interpretation of the Drum Major in 1809 showing a pink crimson facing to the lapels, so will opt for that colour on my drummers

Other sources used in this post;
Napoleon's Line Infantry, Osprey Men at Arms - Philip Haythornthwaite, Bryan Fosten
French Napoleonic Line Infantry - Emir Bukhari
Napoleon's Soldiers, The Grande Armee of 1807 (The Otto Manuscript) - Guy C Dempsey Jr.
Napoleonic Armies, A Wargamers Campaign Directory - Ray Johnson
Talavera, Wellington's First Victory in Spain - Andrew W. Field

Sunday, 23 August 2015

French Infantry Painting Tutorial - PDF

Just a short note to let you know that I have pulled together all the pictures together with a few notes on the techniques of the recent series of posts covering how I paint French line infantry.

It's all in a pdf and much more handy for keeping digitally on an IPad or printing out for reference.

Just look in the right hand column under My Resources and Downloads.

Hope that is useful

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Painting War - Napoleonic British Army

Last July I reviewed the Painting War - French Army publication featuring the work of Rafa Perez which made a welcome addition to the painters guide library for Napoleonic enthusiasts.

So it was with a certain amount of anticipation that I felt when I immediately ordered my copy of the follow up edition looking at the British, KGL and Portuguese troops of the period featuring the work of Jose Antonio Bustamente.

The book layout follows the format of the previous title, with sections covering a general painting guide to standard parts of the uniforms and equipment, painting horses, doing base work and rank insignia. These are then followed with individual sections looking at particular subjects and the peculiarities involved in painting them.

Subjects covered include:
Centre Company Fusilier 27th Foot 1806
Centre Company Fusilier 36th Foot 1808
Captain 95th Rifles 1808
Sergeant Centre Company 2nd KGL in Great Coat 1811
Sergeant Light Company 3rd Guards 1809
Standard Bearer (Ensign) 43rd Foot 1809
Portuguese Cacador 6th Regt 1810
Brunswick Oel Jager 1813
Portuguese Grenadier Sergeant 23rd Infantry 1814
Fusilier Grenadier Company 92nd Highlanders 1815
Gunner Royal Artillery 1811
Gunner Royal Horse Artillery 1811
British Artillery Cannon 1811
Portuguese Trooper 8th Cavalry Regt 1810
Dragoon 5th Dragoon Guards 1812
Trumpeter, 2nd Life Guards 1812
Lieutenant 16th Light Dragoons 1815
Officer, 1st KGL Hussars 1815
Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington 1812
Aide de Camp, Captain 7th Royal Fusiliers 1814
Sir Thomas Picton 1815
Sapper, 7th Royal Fusiliers 1811
Drummer 2/39th Foot 1811
Drummer 92nd Highlanders 1815
Lieutenant Royal Navy 1805
Royal Marine 1812
Surgeon 57th Foot 1813

I think you will agree a fairly extensive selection which gives a good spectrum of different uniform types, and is good stuff.

An improvement I noticed is that this title has a credit for an English proof reader, Major Michael Koznarsky, which seems to have removed some of the interesting prose of the previous title and makes it an easier read.

I have to say though that I was a little underwhelmed by this follow up title for a few key reasons.

I can't say I was taken with Jose Bustamante's painting style or basing technique. I know this is a personal view and others may find it great, but it didn't have a "wow" factor for me and I feel that is important to grab the reader and get them wanting to dive in and find out more. I flicked through the book and being slightly disappointed put it down and came back to it later to see if I was missing something.

The other issue for me is that British uniforms of this period may seem familiar to the general Napoleonic enthusiast, but there are, as with the other nations, peculiarities, that in 28mm and to an extent 18mm can and, to my mind, should be illustrated.

Firstly, Jose uses a Vallejo base of Burnt Cadmium Red, mid coat Carmine Red/white mix and scarlet highlight for what is described in the general section as the coat. However British infantry officers and soldiers wore different quality coats, with the better off officer version being a more scarlet hue and the common soldier having a more faded orange based cheaper tunic, that faded even more in the peninsula. In 28mm this is easily replicated with the officers and sergeants standing out from the common soldiers with their more deeper scarlet tunics.

The illustration of the 27th Inniskilling fusilier, is ok but fails to show a soldier from a buff faced battalion with his more typical buff coloured cross belts. In fact all belts are described as white, which they were not.

The illustration of the Portuguese Grenadier Sergeant of the 23rd Infantry has him still wearing the early war barretina shako, depicting a soldier of this type in 1814, when the Portuguese stove pipe shako would have been more likely.

I was a bit surprised at the colour shade for the British cannon which looks a bit strange in the light grey and bright gunmetal finish depicted. I would have expected a more bluer grey choice.

The choice of the blue for the water canteen seemed a bit to purple in hue for my taste with a more lighter blue being the colour used on the real examples I have seen

The section on insignia could have covered off the variation in British battalions around their headdress for example. There are lots of various illustration of shakos with small bugle horns above or below the standard Line Infantry shako plate denoting a light company man, or the 28th Foot with the badge at the back in recognition of their stand at Alexandria, or the red hackle carried by highlanders of the 42nd Foot (Black Watch), or the elite company wings carried by all companies of fusiliers.

And finally, with a book covering the British and Allied troops in the Peninsular War, where was the Spanish brown cloth worn by all sides in the conflict? Other than the standard brown Cacadore, not one subject was shown in an item of brown  replacement clothing.

So in conclusion, this new title is ok to a point but I think you will need to look at other material to get a more complete idea of the look of these troops.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Napoleon's Maxims - I, Frontiers

"What then is a maxim? The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines the term as coming from the Latin adjective maxima, "greatest": A general truth drawn from science or experience; principle, rule of conduct."
Dr David Chandler

Amongst other reading I am currently browsing through Dr David Chandler's "The Military Maxim's of Napoleon".

These gathered thoughts of the great man, complied by an unknown author, make fascinating reading for the Napoleonic enthusiast as much for the insight they give into the thinking of of one of the great captains of history. However, the forward written by Chandler makes clear that there is a danger of misunderstanding the meanings of these ideas, given the constraints of Napoleon's use of French and all its peculiarities of grammar with him being a Corsican and not a native speaker. The appropriate emphasis on a particular word or its precise meaning can mislead as much as inform.

In addition these maxims were not compiled by Napoleon, but taken from his writings and thus subject to contradictions, one to another, together with a lack of context. Napoleon was not a commander who used maxims to decide his conduct in one campaign or battle to another, rather he was more of an intuitive commander with a sound understanding of military principles and a thorough mathematical logic that underpinned his manoeuvres. Thus he did not write down his principles for his marshals, only tending to outline what he expected them to do from one situation to another. The letters sent to his step son, Prince Eugene, commanding on the Hungarian front against Archduke John during the 1809 campaign are an excellent illustration of his tutorial in military principles and likewise provide a window on the thinking of the man.

Prince Eugene at War 1809 by Robert M Epstein is a excellent read covering this period and the letters of instruction from Napoleon.

David Chandler illustrates the hazards of attempts by later military commanders to applying literally these ideas to later eras. This does not mean that the maxims are invalid with the advance of time and technology, more that they need to be considered in the context of the times they were written and considered taking into account the changes in capability that now apply that was not possible then.

The Napoleonic wargamer is not so constrained as we are trying to simulate the issues faced by commanders of the era and so it is a fun exercise to consider the application of these thoughts to our games and campaigns and look at the history of the Napoleonic wars and think of the occasions where these ideas applied or were miss-applied.

So I thought it might be fun to occasionally drop in a post on a Napoleon Maxim with some comment and an opportunity for discussion on its application from a wargamers slant. As these posts develop they will build into the collection of maxims with mine and hopefully your comments that will make an interesting reference for other gamers to browse and consider.

To get the ball rolling I present "Maxim I"  themed under Chandler's listing, "Frontiers".

The Frontiers of states are either large rivers, or chains of mountains, or deserts. Of all these obstacles to the march of an army, the most difficult to overcome is the desert; mountains come next, and large rivers occupy the third place.

My thoughts were that when reading how the Emperor directed his forces in the Peninsular War, very often dictating orders and grand strategy from Paris, Vienna and Moscow it seems to me that some of his marshals may have smiled reading this thought from their leader and mumbled to themselves "tell me about it!"

After deserts, of which you might include the vast sierras of Spain or vast open spaces in Russia, devoid of people and very often food stuffs when previously marched over, Napoleon lists the mountains of which Spain and Portugal in particular boasts multiple ranges splitting the country up with valleys occupied by mighty rivers swollen by seasonal rains and snow melt. The ideal country to defend against his legions.

Any Peninsular War campaign worth the name has to take these concepts into account when presenting challenges to the wargamer and Napoleon's pronouncement should be ringing in the ears as your troops have to deal with the depredations of guerillas or pesky Spanish armies regrouping to strike again from their mountain strongholds.

Not to just limit this idea to a Napoleonic theme, this categorising of terrain constraints would have been familiar to the ancients. One only has to think of the struggles the Romans had with the Parthian and latter Sassanid empires to see the truth in deserts and mountains being such a formidable barrier to invading forces. The latter campaigns of the Crusaders would again highlight these constraints and one only has to consider the build up of logistic support in the Gulf War of more recent times to appreciate the difficulty modern armies face when operating over these types of predominating terrain.

The current focus of this blog is the Talavera campaign and part of my current work has been to look at the history of the veteran French regiments that made up Victor's I Corps that spearheaded Napoleon's re-invasion in November 1808. A common theme has been to look at the plans made by Napoleon for the corps in its attempt to surround and destroy Blake's Spanish army south of Bilbao and then redirecting his forces at Madrid as the Spanish Army of the Centre was pushed aside.

Napoleon's maxim clearly illustrates the constraints placed on his campaign by the terrain on the frontier between France and Spain. Again and again his forces failed to surround and destroy the almost immobile Spanish army groups as they were able to disperse and escape his cavalry in the surrounding mountains, only to regroup later. The drive on Madrid was opposed by a scratch force of Spanish troops in the Somosierra Pass and to some extent Spain's mountainous terrain helped Sir John Moore evade Napoleon's clutches as he pulled the pursuing French forces off to the Galician coast.

It could be argued that the final decider on the complete success of Napoleon's re-invasion in 1808 was the Spanish terrain and that perhaps only Napoleon could have achieved the level of success that was achieved given those constraints.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Piri Piri Chicken - The Taste of Portugal

One marinaded spatch-cock piri piri chicken
One of the really great aspects of having an interest in military history is getting to combine that interest with all the other aspects that go with it. Namely reading, writing, painting, travelling and getting to know the countries where all that history happened.

Part of that getting to know, is all about trying the food. When I'm touring in Normandy, its the Camembert and Calvados, when in Belgium its the Moules et Frites and when in Portugal its got to be Piri Piri Chicken, and I don't mean that stuff they serve in Nandos, I mean proper Piri Piri Chicken.

sealed on the griddle
Imagine my delight when following a post by Sara Seydak on her blog "My Neighbor Wellington" about Portuguese Sweets and deserts, she was kind enough to follow up on my comment and take a look at my favourite dish and the Portuguese way of preparing Piri Piri, together with its historical connection to Portugal.

Then finished off in the oven
Once Sara's post was up I was equally up for getting hold of some authentic ground Portuguese piri piri and mixing it with my oil to have it sat in a cupboard for about six weeks exuding all its loveliness into said oil. I then took a crash course, courtesy of the BBC cooking web site, in spatch-cocking chickens and put two of them in the fridge overnight marinading in my piri piri oil

Looking good
After a spell on the griddle and principle cooking time in the oven I finished off both chickens on the barbecue to add that cooked out doors final touch.

On the BBQ for that outdoor flavour finish
We really enjoyed the flavour and after kick of the piri piri which brought back a lot of memories of previous Portuguese holidays. Great fun.
If you want to have a go at Piri Piri Chicken, check out Sara's post in the link above and have a read of her blog that covers some really interesting historical facts and information about the history of the Peninsular War from a Portuguese perspective.

Friday, 14 August 2015

3/96e Regiment de Ligne

1/96e Regiment de Ligne
2/96e Regiment de Ligne

Subject of the recent painting tutorial on French Line Infantry, the finished third battlion of the 96e Ligne completes my second regiment of French line infantry in Marshal Victor's I Corps at Talavera and completes the infantry units in General de Division Ruffin's 1e Division.

In my post on the other line regiment in Ruffin's division I covered off not only the action of the 24e Ligne but the other units including the 96e Ligne, so don't propose adding to what was covered in that previous post. Follow the link below to see the post on the 24e Ligne at Talavera

24e Regiment de Ligne at Talavera

The 96e Ligne was the most junior regiment in General de Division Riffin's 1e Division, alongside the 9e Legere and 24e Ligne.

The regiment avoided serious casualties in the night attack on the 27th by becoming lost on the approach march on the left flank of the attack and forcing it to abort and return to French lines.

However the regiment would not be so fortunate on the 28th July when during the dawn attack by the division it was the follow up reserve regiment and became the subject of an attack by the 5th and 7th KGL Line battalions as General Sherbrooke, realising the French troops opposite him were not supporting the attack by Ruffin's division, wheeled the German battalions back to allow them to pour their volley fire into the exposed flank of the 96e Ligne. This may have been the occasion when Colonel Cales was wounded for the second time during his service in Spain.

The casualties suffered by the 96e Ligne during the Talavera fighting bear testament to their being in the thick of it, suffering the most casualties in Ruffin's division, 606 men versus 567 for the 24e Ligne and 457 for the 9e Legere.

Of that total, 39 men including 3 officers were killed, and 567 men including 19 officers were wounded.

My 3/96e Ligne are composed of figures from AB and the third battalion fanion is from GMB Flags.

The 96e Ligne with Colonel Cales at their head completes my second regiment of French line infantry
Next up work moves on to the line regiments in General Lapisse's 2e Division starting with the most senior French line regiment at Talavera, the 8e Regiment de Ligne.

Wargame Bloggers Quarterly Vol 2, No 1

Wargame Bloggers Quarterly Vol 2 Issue 1

A great free bit of summer reading is ready for downloading

Monday, 10 August 2015

French Line Infantry Painting Tutorial Part Three - The Second Highlight

Warlord Games box art really captures the look of French line infantry pre 1812
French Line Infantry Painting Tutorial Part One

French Line Infantry Painting Tutorial Part Two

So finally we have reached stage three which is the best stage in my opinion, as this is where we get to really bring out all the detail and accentuate the character of the figures, helping to show off what the sculptor put into the originals.

The object again is not to cover the two previous shades, but simply to apply small amounts of the highlight to those areas that are nearest to the light. So for instance, note how the Prussian Blue/Off White mix is used along the outer most areas of the sleeves of the jackets in the figures above and by carefully brushing of the folds in the elbows we can show off the creases.

Likewise I have only applied the silver to the bayonets, not the rest of the musket metal work, because in the glint of the peninsula sun, the eye would be drawn to the bayonets of the infantry.

The tops of the shakos and the heels and soles of uplifted boots can be brought to life with a few careful lines of dark grey to draw the eye to these exposed areas of black leatherwork.

The application of the third colour choice can really make the figures pop and take them to another level with very little work. The white straps and lapels have a subtle shading by applying the full white to the tops of the belts and creases thus accentuating the darker shades around them.

With Napoleonic infantry the two things that can really make or break all your hard work are the Colours or flags and the basing. They are like frames to a picture and will repay you in heaps for applying attention to them

Note the shorter edges are cut into to record the outer cut markings, before cutting the longer edges

I really like the GMB range of flags and the French fanions are perfect additions to my second and third battalions.

One thing I have adopted as a habit when cutting these out is to cut in on the shorter end marks, before cutting fully along the long edge. This is because as soon as you cut the long edge, you will loose the guide marks for the short edges and by putting cuts on both sides it is easy to cut them completely, still following the original marks.

Once carefully folded, edge to edge it should look like the one below.

With a little application of PVA glue to the centre the cut flag is easily positioned on the staff and pressed firmly together. The next stage is to apply a suitable wave in the shape and allow it to dry.

One thing that will really let your flags down is not painting the edges. I am always amazed when I see this and in this case a simple application of gold along the edges covers any white paper and completes the look.

I covered off basing and how to do it in a previous posting and the links are below, covering my preferred bases and the texturing of them when I did a regiment of Portuguese dragoons.

My Basing Standard

Basing Tutorial

This process is the final but no less important stage, as a great looking base will show off a nicely painted figure and hopefully the composition of your groups will stand out, having arranged your figures in the order of painting on the sticks, as mentioned earlier.

For example, the figure falling forward has been placed next to a fusilier who is glancing to his right as if acknowledging the shock of seeing his comrade falling wounded. Likewise all the different shades of trousers and greatcoats are mixed on each base to give that uniform lack of un-uniformity.

Figures arranged and glued to the bases
The base groundwork applied and drying
The bases have had all three shades applied and now just need a bit of static grass to bring then to life

Et voilà, the finished battalion, ready for its parade shots and mustering with the other two battalions in the regiment. With better lighting you will be able to see more fully the fruits of the work, so I will be posting the parade shots of this battalion when I look at the role of the 96e Ligne at Talavera.

All done and ready to face their first battle
So this battalion completes the sixth battalion and marks a landmark with 25% of the work on the French infantry finished. I hope these three tutorials are helpful, certainly the feedback would suggest they are. I still have some allied infantry units to do, so I may do something similar for the Spanish and British. Let me know what you think.