I've always been interested in doing obscure regiments as part of my collection and Northern Italy in the late 18th Century has plenty of choice, from Venice to Verona, the Papal States to Piedmont, Sardinia and Modena, there are many small nations that are diverse in their armies and regiments.
After concentrating on the Austrians, with a few French regiments, I did a battalion of Piedmontese. Then I spotted some Venetian re-enactors wearing what looked like blue Austrian uniforms. This needed a bit of research and I uncovered a mass of online photographs of the I° Reggimento Veneto Real. This was the unit I decided to build.
In 1797 Venice still ruled over the Adriatic, with France controlling the majority of Italy. Although France wanted peace with the "Serene Republic", Venice was more inclined towards friendship with Austria, which led Napoleon to send a message to the Doge's government - "Your whole territory is imbued with revolutionary principles. One single word from me will excite a blaze of insurrection through all your provinces. Ally yourself with
Venice continued to raise troops even while other Italian states were allying with the French republican feeling. When news came that Austria had seen some success against France ton the Tyrolian frontier the Venetians declared war. French garrisons were overthrown and Napoleons supply lines were cut. This was a huge mistake as Napoleon was far from forgiving. After defeating the Austrians he turned back on the Venetians.
"French blood has been treacherously shed," said Napoleon; "if you could offer me the treasures of
The short war that followed was a disaster for Venice. The Republic that had once been a major Mediterranean power was ended.
Here is the I° Reggimento Veneto Real, a unit built using AB miniatures Revolutionary period 18mm Austrians.
I'm really happy with how these have come out. Obviously AB are the highest quality miniatures out there but they really suit this colour scheme - and the blue and white uniforms are very smart. There is a bit of doubt about what shade of blue the uniforms should be, but I've decided to go with the lighter colour for this "Royal" regiment and the darker blue for the regular line regiments. The inclusion of the grenadier company is a guess; they may have had combined grenadier battalions similar to the Austrians.
A large percentage of the army was Slavonian mercenaries, and the skirmishers were Oltramarine (Oversea) troops from Albania. For these I used Russian light infantry from Old Glory's 15mm Seven Years War range, with the headgear converted. I was worried how these would scale beside AB, which are 18mm, but as you can see in the pictures below that they mix really well and look the same size (the Old Glory seem slightly larger in fact).
The battalion is finished now except for the flags. The ones I have added are only temporary inkjet prints and the final flags should be a lot brighter.
Finally, here are some nice shots of the Milizia Veneta, I° Reggimento Veneto Real re-enactment group. As you can see, the uniforms are very distinctive.