Home Forums Horse and Musket Napoleonic Minifigs Horses- Adapting and Utilising

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    Avatar photoOotKust

    Disclaimer- I know, I know, many will not care less about the subject or figures used. Following on from a thread elsewhere I continued to explore so this is a personal treatise that just may, help others.

    This is merely my way of devolving information about the little things that can change armies… in this case how the ‘variety’ of horses used/ needed can be ‘adapted’ a little from the basic/ designated kinds- ‘Their Use and Care’ perhaps a bit eccentric. But I could repost the whole article with pics (small) if any interest is shown.

    I love Minifigs. It’s a great-looking collection.

    So said the great man!

    Well, ok, maybe, but I continued to exercise my needs so earlier this year I requested a couple of samples in a ‘filler’ order of new casting figures from the manufacturer, http://www.miniaturefigurines.co.uk/Home.aspx aka Caliver Books (the licensed owners of..).

    More or less a treatise on using the Miniature Figurines Limited (UK) Napoleonic and associated range of 25mm horses for wargaming.

    Having been a modeller and wargamer for over 50 years you get to know stuff, and want to do things that break the mould. This includes discovering that what manufacturers make, or describe, ain’t necessarily so.
    Whether this applies to other ranges like 15mm I do not know as I am long out of that scale, being that most figures are sold in ‘sets’, the adaptations being suggested may be more problematic. See what fits so to speak.

    With that in mind I offer a few thoughts on using them for a French army (in my case Consulate/ early Empire 1805 to 1807 and beyond perhaps for others). So things also change when ‘going backwards in time’.

    The Minifigs range is well documented on web site (only a few horse pics tho); in an old 1980s actual published catalogue (£3-00 I think) and a digitised version of same. As I have all 3 on tap, I can cross check the old catalogue photos in A4 size easily. So if you dabble, it is well worth finding.

    Further Explanation of Thread

    While my focus is the French 1805 Grande Armée, I do utilise horses from all  other nations where these are quite literally, a near copy or close enough to what the French used.
    This is probably the most notable amongst the horses used for Generals, staff and mounted regimental officers.

    A note on the photographs, taken of my own collection- some have been stripped from previous paint jobs, others new and untouched straight from the manufacturers.
    The number of the scale ruler cutting mat nearest the horses head is the same as their ‘N’ number in catalogue- rather than annotating all the pics myself. N being for Napoleonic of course, not Horse!

    I have taken to the options (thankfully made later) standing and walking poses opposed to the charge ‘a l’outrance’* poses of most of the cavalry corps.

    • *Weird fact- seen in many an English tome describing ‘fast’ cavalry charges made by whomever, the word in origin apparently has no such connotation! Ironically first identified in modern dictionaries as a 1819 origin- MW and others define it as ‘excessive (French) and to the limit and unsparingly’.
    • “à outrance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary

    The Horses (1)

    Over time the style of horses, representing differing status, role or just a different ‘type’ made me look further afield.

    Reaching out to the Seven Years Wars catalogue outside the Napoleonic for a change (after 50 years- can you believe it?) I found S 3 and S 8- respectively for staff and the other for an ‘Eastern’ type mount for Polish ‘liaison’ officers.

    Seven Years Wars- S3 Long pointed schabraque
    For ‘staff’ (Etat-Major etc.) and ADCs I wanted that plainer, wind-swept look of someone who had ‘a home or office’ and didn’t need to carry his own materiel in a portmanteau, as so many of the ‘regimental’ steeds have.

    This figure is actually perfect and I wonder why it wasn’t cross-referenced a long time ago. Now I accept that not all the romanticised illustrations of the military are accurate, however fashion was known to play a part in uniforms and horse furniture as well.

    Hussar SYW

    Compare with Napoleonic version- The actual officers horse N 16 French Officer Chasseur/Guard Lancer is the most ubiquitous and widely used horse for any light cav officer, NCOs, ADCs and even generals with suitable added painted lace.

    And heavy cavalry generals are known to have used them pre-Empire. Thus these are certainly NOT just for ‘Guard’ troop types.

    Ok not a huge difference. But useful in certain applications.

    Seven Years Wars- S8 Irregular Cavalry Horse (Square Cloth)

    Perhaps by title but I could see a use where the ‘Eastern’ influence could be used to differentiate between the normal French tack when deploying a body of ‘advisers/ translators/ guides’ – officers of various ranks (ex-Legion of Danube 1800 etc) of Polish or Galician origin as attached to the various corps of the Grande Armée down to Division level.

    The rolled coat over (possible) holsters and the additional tied bags alongside the flat portmanteau/ blanket over a basic rectangular horse blanket appealed.

    Other Officers

    Again samples ordered because I’d not considered these particular ones before, although British types [N6 for example] have been the mainstay of my ‘unadorned’ Generals/ Command horses for decades!

    First, N 1 British Life Guard/Heavy Dragoon (Walking) though I believe MF have reversed the ‘gait’ designations on these two. This one certainly appears to be the ‘Standing’ version.

    The long horse blanket, with or without lace painted in, reminiscent of many Revolution/ Republican officers horses; holsters present (can be trimmed off) and short sheepskin cover frequently in use across the Continent as well.

    Even the round valise/ portmanteau typical.

    Variant N1a  Brit Life Guard (Standing) but looks like ‘Walking’ to me. No difference in tack.

    Lastly N2A Brit Scots Grey (Walking)

    I haven’t used either of the N2 or N2A before however the ‘revolution’ era Carabiniers seemed to have used something quite similar, so I am keen to use them as a different rank perhaps in an eclectic new unit- far from the ‘orchestrated’ uniforms of ‘parades*’.

    *Must be careful on this point- the ‘elite’ Brigade of Carabiniers (caserned at Luneville- what about 60 miles from Paris?)- were the first regiments in the Imperial Procession in Paris to the Coronation in December 1804!

    Here ends perhaps, a modest flirtation with variations… yes I ordered more so they shall appear!
    regards -davew

    Avatar photoOotKust

    The Light Cavalry

    Easy one first. Let’s look at the light cav so necessary and popular among gamers.

    Light Cavalry- N 14 French Chasseur/Hussar/Line Lancer (Charging) and N 14a French Chasseur/Hussar/Line Lancer (Standing).


    The normal pose cited as charging, or galloping perhaps as best modelled is a long stride pose that does create a few concerns with basing models. However it is a useful and generic horse as described for troopers, elites and some variation of Revolutionary units. Also can be used for variety if making ‘mounted’ gunners for early/ nearly all French horse artillery.

    While the ‘Standing’ model isn’t for every unit, they can be mixed in.
    Where I need and use these are amongst the many generals and command elements that exist- not galloping around the games table but in need a quiet and reflective stop and view of other events.

    So trumpeters, guards or guides get these horses. The sheepskin wasn’t all that widespread in pre-Napoleonic years, so other horses come into use as well.

    A variation I indulge for ADC’s horses is the other shown- N9 British Light Dragoon (Charging) horse with rounded schabraque corners. (There is also the N9a British Light Dragoon (Walking) variant.

    Not typical ‘Empire’ but certainly they were seen under French during the Revolution and Consular-1805 campaign. You can also cheat and paint the effect of a rolled/ folded up corner of normal schabraque which is often depicted in artistry.

    The next model is N 15 French Guard Lancer/Scout Lancer (Cantering) and N 15a French Guard Lancer/Scout Lancer (Standing).


    As cited these are directed as ‘Guard’ horses. However, many other units and corps also used the plain schabraque and in particular officers and NCOs, ADC’s and some entire units who had alternative sources of supply used them. (Home Guards/ militia and of course other European states (Baden etc).

    Again the walking version is preferable for ADCs and command figures. While not a lot of officers would carry a portmanteau, it seems the sensible ones did carry them if they were likely to be separated from their supply lines or dinner table- and what self-respecting light cavalier wouldn’t be out marauding anyway?

    Our third version are the actual officers horse N 16 French Officer Chasseur/Guard Lancer


    is the most ubiquitous and widely used horse for any light cavalry officer, often NCOs, ADCs and even generals with suitable added painted laces.
    Even heavy cavalry generals are known to have used them pre-Empire. Thus these are certainly NOT just for ‘Guard’ troop types.

    Our next addition, the ‘specialist’ horse furniture N 17 French Officer (Leopard Skin Type/Galloping) and N 17a French Officer (Leopard Skin Type/Standing) of wealthy and elite officers.

    http://IMG_4911_H by

    You will find these amongst all those other light cav types above- again and later into the Empire more used by commanding officers, ADCs to Corps commanders and Marshals, as well as elite company officers etc.
    Even the odd cuirassier general/commander used them in the Rev-Consular and Empire periods! [Which is not a subtle way of saying you can give your figures a variation which was used in artwork we see!]

    This brings to a close the most commonly seen tack, horse furniture as it is known, in the French and satellite armies.

    Avatar photoOotKust

    Minifigs Horses- Adapting and Utilising. © dww 2021-23. All Rights Reserved.

    See the full catalogue album by DaveW, on Flickr.

    Important Note
    For the illustrations I have teken myself rather than annotating all the pics the number of the scale ruler cutting mat nearest the horses head is the same as their ‘N’ number in catalogue-  N being for Napoleonic of course, not Horse!

    Also note that the ‘A’ variant (for Alternative?) horse are not all the same pose type either. A very few are ‘reversed’ as to poses.

    Part Two – Commanders, Other Officers and Regimental Officers and ADC’s.

    I’m being cautious and not heading these as ‘Generals’ horses, as while that is one area of application, and perhaps singlely important in games, there are many other types of ‘officer’ abundant in the period who utilised identical or close looking equipment. Some are associated by type or by ‘regiment’.
    This is where your own individual research comes into play.

    While humans like to adopt the notion that once things are ‘made’ there is an unbroken continuum, this period shows us that nothing, not even cast in stone (or lead in this case) is ‘fixed’ forever.

    While several of the most useful and popular officers horses are given earlier, we’ll touch here on a wider variety. However let’s start with the easiest first.

    N 33 Napoleon’s Horse, a much gilded horse blanket and decoration that is useful for him (original seen in Musée d’ armée), but also other senior, meaning Marshals and ‘dignitaries’, or commanders-in-chief.

    http://IMG_4908_ N33_H]

    Yes I have an unused one left!

    With a suitably dark crimson colouration (they were not scarlet) and a toning down of the fringes and lace, any commander-in-chief can use these to differentiate them from subordinate generals.

    The fringes can be slightly filed down gently, or even ‘filled-in’ with modelling putty to a degree that makes them less ostentatious.

    Now, looking at both the catalogue and range of horses, you will note that Minifigs, rather bizarrely I think, doesn’t specify many ‘Generals’ horses to use.

    Yes they do make a ‘recommendation’ in the print catalogue, but who apart from me uses one?

    Sure you can do your own research etc. but still strange that given the development of our hobby, so much is supplied ‘ready to go’ except identification of these important animals. So what to do?

    Well thankfully we are covered.
    So what do ‘plain generals’ use? Well it’s not exact as the French design but so close no-one will know- the classic N 6 British Officer Heavy Cavalry (Holster/Walking) and N 6A British Officer Heavy Cavalry (Holster/Standing)- see next photo below for N6A.

    N 6A British Officer Heavy Cavalry (Holster/Walking)

    It is a smaller horse blanket, classic two (double) tiered holster caps with lace.
    Note that Minifigs didn’t make the ‘A’ variant an exact copy of the ‘N6′ per note above!

    N 6A British Officer Heavy Cavalry (Holster/Standing) and N 12 Variant

    While Minifigs recommends N 12 French Officer Dragoon/ Cuirassier/ Carabinier horse (see below) with triple tiered holster caps for ‘Generals’, this really only applies to a smaller proportion, and later period subset of them. Shown here with comparative N6A type.

    So this N6/ 6A are the go-to horses for most French Generals, commanders, regimental officers and most of the ‘staff’ known as ‘Etat-Major’ across the structure of armies-

    as Chiefs of Staff,
    their assistants Adjutant-Commandants (renamed by Consul Bonaparte from Adjutant-General (a term that lead to much confusion apparently),
    and their staff subordinate officers or ‘Adjoints’, and the various (unless depicting ‘corps’ type dress) supporting bodies and corps.

    But like having a single figure to represent a lot of generals it does get tedious looking at them. So N 6A British Officer Heavy Cavalry (Holster/Standing) presents, as noted a standing horse suitable for the variety and need for ‘support’ officers.

    The distinction between the two is the design of the horse blanket being longer and more pointed corners, with distinctive double row of lace not shown on the ‘N6′. Add corner lace embellishments depending upon your period of depiction.

    Adjoints would come to be treated similarly to the ‘Aide-de-camp’ corps and use more of the N15/16 Cavalerie legere type of equipment by regulations*. [*Noting that regulations could and were completely disregarded where expense or distance became factors].

    It is useful for mainly cavalry generals and the staff- the ‘Reserve’ made up of Cuirassier regiments; Dragoon brigades and Divisions; and the all important ‘corps’ of La Garde Imperiale, where every regiment was commanded by a General officer* (certainly from 1806), while some senior ranks of their cavalry regiments also used them. A rather mixed bag (more to follow on this). Again I prefer to show commanders in more static poses than galloping around the field!

    To drive home the ‘differences’ you can choose to paint out or not paint the second layer/ line of lace depicted by the N6A to downgrade the effect.

    Conversely this horse is useful also for trumpeters and officers of the Garde ‘Grenadiers’. Why? Because I believe they erred in their research when they recommend an associated horse, N 13 French Officer Empress Dragoon/Horse Grenadier.


    This horse is similar to the N12 horse, but with curved triple tiered holster caps instead of angular.
    Now, this is the correct horse type for Guard “Empress Dragoon” officers as specified after about 1807/08 (even though the regiment was raised (two squadrons only mounted) are an 1806 development), and according to period artwork were initially supplied with dark green coloured Grenadiers á Cheval twin holsters. Also the Gendarme de l’elite officers used them.

    It was also used, in the Consular/ early-Empire for Guard Generals- this may be inferred from the Minifigs ‘Officers’ wording but I’m not sure.

    It appears from 21stCentury research that many early/ copied illustrations confused ‘regimental’ and General officers, and thus manufacturers have done the same. While various ‘regimental’ equipment was used, and changed, Generals and ‘staff officers’ also used ‘some’ attributes of the regiments they commanded.

    In the discussion around schabraques and holsters the Grenadiers á Cheval, and Gendarmes de l’elite (from 1804 in the Guard establishment but also as used by the ‘line’ corps)- for the former used the angular form, and the latter the round ones.

    Whether this ‘cross-over’ occurred deliberately or accidentally as a matter of records made later I’m unsure. The former corps used gold and aurore distinctives; the latter silver and white.

    (Both these will be addressed in the ‘Heavy Cavalry’ section later.

    N 3 British Officer, Life Guard/Heavy Dragoon

    Another horse useful for lower echelon generals and many regimental officers and ADCs is the N 3 British Officer, Life Guard/Heavy Dragoon. This was a particularly common form by the French during the Revolution and Consular periods, and possibly earlier. So keep these in mind!

    Consisting of a standard horse blanket and single holsters, a demi-schabraque of partial sheepskin was applied over the holsters providing a waterproof cover to them.

    You can paint them more or less fancy, or increase the sheepskin cover as a ‘demi-schabraque’ as they were noted by Rousselot, I think.

    Another early era version is made in the form of a ‘troopers type’ N 5 British Heavy Cavalry (Holster), similar to the officers with N6/6A.


    Plain horse blanket with single ‘old fashioned’ holster cover. In this case I’ve used one for my 1805 Cuirassiers (trompette 12eme Regiment) who utilised a vast array of extant stores and material inventory left over from the later Revolution and Consular periods. Or at least so we were led to believe before now. Clarification perhaps, in waiting… till 2024.

    The core ‘12′ Cuirassier regiments under the Empire organised as army ‘Reserve’ divisions from 1803 integrated both men, stores and equipment from all their ‘Cavalry’ regiment predecessors while others converted to Dragoons, taking their ‘stores’ with them.
    As items were replaced and revised under a more diligent Empire from 1804 onwards, so these regimental variations faded from view.

    The horse equally fits in for regimental officers or ADCs to generals of all kinds and corps. ADCs were often just seconded ‘regimental’ officers on assignment, at first at least, and thus took their ‘regulation horses’ with them. While others were permanent and adopted the decorative ‘dress’ regulations that became the vogue.

    Nevertheless a useful variant for most in this category. Notwithstanding touching on the heavy cavalry here, the next section deals with these more comprehensively.

    Finally, to finish with another commanders ‘special’ as we started, the ultimate in wealth and decadence I guess is the tiger skin-
    N 32 Murat or other Marshalls (sic).
    While I have no use for a Murat, I’ve given my 30 yr old painted version to the officer commanding my Mamelukes compagnie.

    http://IMG_4916 by DaveW, on Flickr

    Thus- You really do need to examine photos of actual living tigers to get a reasonable painted ‘effect’ on this prancing pose.
    http://N33 Mameluke Officer on Tiger skin

    If any further clarification is required, please just ask.

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