Thursday, 22 June 2017

52nd Oxfordshire Light Infantry

At twice the size of the average British battalion at Waterloo, the 52nd Oxfordshire Light Infantry was always going to be a challenge.  And since I've spent much of the last few weeks travelling abroad, I haven't had much time for the Blog.

The 52nd was commanded by Sir John Colborne, later Lord Seaton.

Image result for sir john colborne waterloo
Sir John Colborne

Some sources show the 52nd with buff cross belts but I've decided to go with the more conventional white - don't know why, just a hunch that sometimes modern researchers hanker after the unusual, when convention usually prevailed.

Not only were the 52nd a large battalion, they were also one of the most respected units in the Army, with a long and distinguished record from the Peninsula.  Interestingly, while they had a reputation as a veteran battalion, the average term of service of their subalterns was at the lower end, with much less service than other veteran Peninsula battalions such as the 27th, 28th, 32nd, 42nd, 79th and 92nd. 

Officer of the 52nd

Officer and Other Rank
The 52nd was in Hill's II Corps, as part of the 2nd Division's 3rd Brigade under General Adam.

General Sir Frederick Adam
On 15 June, II Corps was posted west and southwest of Brussels.  The 52nd was unaffected by Quatre Bras and therefore reached Waterloo at full strength.  In response to the French cavalry attacks, Adam's brigade was brought up to reinforce the right.  In this position the 52nd endured a heavy bombardment, of which Ensign Leeke reported afterwards: "the old officers, who had served during the Peninsular War, stated that they were never exposed to such a cannonade as the 52nd squares had to undergo on this occasion for two and a half hours from French artillery half a mile to the front".  While the 52nd's squares stood waiting, the British artillery fired over their heads.
52nd assault on the Guard

As the battle drew to a close, the Guard launched its assault on the British line and were met by a number of regiments including the 1st Foot Guards.  The 52nd wheeled to their left and deployed in parallel to the French column, and fired volleys against their left flank, followed by a bayonet charge.    Of the 1,130 officers and men present, 168 were wounded and 38 killed.  

At last I have completed the Battalion.  The 52nd was so large that for much of the battle it deployed in two squares, but I've chosen to show it in reunited form towards the end of the Reserve Cavalry attacks.  There are 600 figures in this square, mostly the wonderful Hat set, but with plenty of other figures from Hinton Hunt, Italieri and with most the kneeling figures from Kennington and Newline.  Other brands are are also represented along with some conversions, but fewer than I normally do. 

I've been experimenting with ways of showing the tall rye.  This, bizarrely, is teddy bear fur available from any good haberdasher.  The trouble is that it dwarfs the average 20mm figure and needs to be cut down quite a lot, but I think it delivers a good effect, showing the golden colour of a mature crop, as would have been the case on 18th June.  I should explain that for photographic purposes, the square is resting on a piece of uncut teddy bear fur, so please ignore the crop outside of the immediate area of the square.

Of course, by the morning of the 18th, after a night of being trampled in heavy rain, one must imagine that the crop would have resembled Glastonbury after the final headline act, to the despair of the local farmers who would not have enjoyed the same remuneration received by Mr Eavis and his family, and whose only recompense would have come from plunder!

This end of the square is mostly metal figures: Kennington, NapoleoN, Falcata and some Lamming.

The Colour Party is Falcata.

Mostly Hat figures, the corner figure is a Japanese conversion.  An Esci figure can just be seen bringing forward ammunition.

This shows how the classic British square wasn't square at all, but a rectangle, presenting quite a narrow front to cavalry, but a tempting target to artillery, from which the 52nd suffered towards the end of the battle.

Corps of bugles - mostly Hat, with one Hagen figure holding his musket.

Casualty.  You can see the edge of the fur - please ignore!

A Falcata officer mounted on a W1815 horse.

Some Call to Arms figures among the rest

Adam's staff shelter in the square - Hinton Hunt and two Odemars.

Another shot of the bugles and Colours.

A Strelets officer


The whole square - a lot of work!

The group of mounted officers in the foreground includes one Hinton Hunt, one S Range and one Hat.

Two wounded figures retire to the centre of the square

More Call to Arms among the Kennington

Four ranks deep

The corner figure is another conversion, for the life of me I can't remember which set it came from.

Sir John Colborne on the grey with two staff officers from outside the Regiment.  Many people don't like mixing Hinton Hunt with S Range, let alone with plastics - I'm pretty relaxed about this and think at scale this doesn't matter,

This shows the actual facing colour of the 52nd which is off-white - I've shown it with a bit more yellow to achieve more contrast.

Officer's jackets

So in sum, here is my 52nd.  Hope you like them, they've taken a bit of time!

Monday, 8 May 2017

2nd Line Dragoons

There were only two Line Dragoon regiments in the French order of battle at Waterloo: the 2nd and 7th.  Many more were with Grouchy under Exelmans.

The 2nd and 7th Dragoons were in Kellerman's Corps and therefore took part in the charges of the Reserve Cavalry.  They were in L'Heritier's 11th Cavalry Division, brigaded together under Picquet.  Kellerman, the son of the victor of Valmy had distinguished himself in his own right at Marengo.  At Quatre Bras on the 16th he had continued to show the dash that had marked out his career to date and had to be rescued when his horse was shot beneath him.

Kellerman at Quatre Bras

Both regiments had red facings and would have worn the Bardin jacket.  There aren't many pictures showing dragoons in the Bardin uniform, perhaps because so many were in Spain until 1813 and 1814.


A number of manufacturers have made French Dragoons.  I've saved my Italieri figures for my Empress Dragoon regiment (already published) and so have used some of the others for this initial group of the 2nd Dragoons.  They consist of the new Zvezda Art of Battle set, a triumph of packaging over content - while the figures are nice, there are just so few of them! 

There are a couple of old Rose figures here - surprisingly nice given their age, some NapoleoN figures, a couple of the HAT set and some Art Miniaturen.  As I mentioned last week, I've been doing odds and sods and this is just a taster of the full unit. 

The front rank are mostly the Zvezda set

Some Hat and NapoleoN in the rear.  The three men firing their carbines are Zvezda - too many for a Waterloo diorama, and one wonders whether any French cavalry were cool enough to stop, take aim and fire within range of a British square doing the same, but with 200 musket balls coming the other way!

A Zvezda trumpeter with an AM figure on the rear right of the line.

This guidon feels more like a flag!

Something that has always puzzled me is whether Dragoon regiments had an elite company in bearskins by 1815.  These dragoons in Bardin jackets show what looks like a Farrier, but he could be from the elite company.