Napoleonics, But Not As You Know It!

During the last weeks I experienced increasing tedium of painting medievals. After counting them, I realised that during the last six month I have painted 170 infantry and 60 cavalry for the El Cid project, not to mention a handful of sheep, goats and donkeys. Phew! I really need a break from Andalusians and Almoravids. So I decided to start a small side project.

For some time I wanted to use Sharp Practice for what it was actually made for, namely Napoleonics. I really love the rules – if asked for my favourite set of rules, I always mention them – and am curious to see how games work when shooting is predominant. At first, I was thinking of doing the Peninsular War, but I have to admit that I’m not that much of a Bernard Cornwell fan (gasp!) and the setting didn’t really grab me. Fortunately, researching the Wargaming Warrior Women project provided instant inspiration: I’ll be doing the Haitian Revolution!

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I’m not the first to game this period: Oxiana on the Lead Adventure Forum had a very nice project and there was even an article in issue 277 of Wargames Illustrated. However, in contrast to those projects mine will – as always – be in 15mm.

I’ve already ordered some figures. Considering the popularity of Napoleonics, it’s harder to get appropriate figures than I thought. And I’m not talking about the Haitian Revolutionaries here, I’m talking about early, that is Revolutionary War period, British and French. I want to concentrate on the early phase, especially on the disastrous British campaign, which lasted from 1793 to 1799. Unfortunately, British overseas troops wore round hats and there are only a few of such figures out there – especially if you want some variety in the poses.

The friendly and knowledgeable chaps on the WD3 forum recommended using British Marines of the 1800s for the British troops. They had shorter coats than the 1790s infantry, but the Osprey on the British Forces in the West Indies says that there were regulations to shorten the coats for overseas troops, as this better suited the climate. So Minifigs Marines it is!

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But what to use for the Black revolutionaries’ troops? Information about their uniforms is sparse. Some information can be found in the Osprey on Napoleon’s Overseas Army and the helpful Oxiana provided me with some uniform plates from his collection. We know that the Haitian troops used several styles and that there were contingents that were more regularly dressed than others. I concentrated on getting at least the headgear right, which consisted mostly of round hats. However, there were also bicornes and turban-like scarfs, so there is room for mixing different figures. After much toing and froing I decided to use a mix of different figures from Minifigs and Freikorps 15/QRF for the demi-brigades and Minifigs Spanish Guerrillas for the Militia.

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In addition to the regular army, there were also bands of former slaves that often fought independently and had an even less uniform style. Fortunately, I discovered the Cimaroons by Grumpy’s Miniatures (distributed by East Riding Miniatures), which fit perfectly. I’ll mix them with some figures from the Peter Pig pirate range, which will also provide the female combatants mentioned in the sources.

There’ll be another post on the historical background and how it ties in with the Wargaming Warrior Women project. Meanwhile, I’m happily painting, making jungle terrain and looking forward to having a game. This will be a fun little project that provides lots of possibilities for small narrative skirmish scenarios.

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4 thoughts on “Napoleonics, But Not As You Know It!

  1. Alan Saunders February 27, 2015 / 11:27 pm

    Makes me wish I’d bought that biography of Henri Christophe I found in a second-hand bookshop the other day 🙂

    • cptshandy February 28, 2015 / 12:24 pm

      That biography sounds interesting! Maybe you can still get it 🙂

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