Sunday, 24 January 2016

21e Demi-brigade Legere, Egypt, 1800 - 18mm from Fighting 15s

When I was deciding which era of the Napoleonic Wars to focus on, one of the options was the French invasion of Egypt. I visited Egypt about 18 years ago and one of the things that stuck with me was the graffiti on the ancient relics left by French troops. I already had a knowledge of ancient Egypt when I visited, but I could only imagine what it was like to see these sites for the first time having come from Revolutionary Europe.

Not only was the venue for this campaign of the Revolutionary Wars fascinating, but also the troops that took part. With limited resources the French Army had to re-equip its troops with whatever was to hand. This meant that the army began the campaign wearing the standard uniform of the period, then changed to a new design in the French colours that was more suitable to the climate, and then had to replace those with a multitude of different coloured uniforms due to a cloth shortage - the Kleber Ordinance.

When I decided I was going to paint a battalion of infantry for this campaign I had a look through the various sources that I have - Osprey's French Soldier in Egypt 1798-1801 and Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign 1798-1801, and Uniforms of the French Revolutionary Wars 1789 - 1802. There were a few choices that caught my imagination, but one that really inspired me was the 21e Demi-brigade Legere - especially the illustration in Uniforms of the French Revolutionary Wars 1789 - 1802 of the black soldier and its description; 'the ranks of the 21st were made up of Negro slaves bought by Kleber from Abyssinian slave dealers'.

The figures I used were from the excellent Napoleon in Egypt range from Fighting 15s, which used to be owned by Black Hat. They paint up really easily and looked great. I must admit I made a small error in painting these and painted the flask/gourd strap white instead of a rope colour. I'll have to examine if I can repair that mistake. I also painted all the facings/cuffs etc in yellow, but some of these should be orange due to a lack of yellow cloth, and even some pink mixed in for the same reasons.

So here they are, finished all except for a flag, which is in progress and should be designed and printed in the next week or two.

Here is the illustration that inspired the battalion...

And some other illustrations. The drummer image was found after I had finished painting the unit and shows a uniform matching the colour of the rest of the unit, but I had read that musicians wore a reversed colour scheme. This uniform is different from the figure so I'm happy to have the yellow jacket.


Gonsalvo said...

The Kleber uniform is quite a change and a very colorful variation from the usual French attire; well done. I had a unit of French in the Egyptian uniform in my first French army as well - Marron coats with green facings, IIRC.

Vive l'Empereur said...

Looks great. I have the French dromedary regiment that needs to be painted up. There is a Yahoo group for for wargaming Napoleonics during the Egyptian campaign with some scenarios and valuable information. One of the main reasons people don't do this theater is that there really aren't scenario books or many sources of information on it. That a real shame because it is very unique and has a lot of smaller actions that can be fought.

paulalba said...

Well done colin, would be nice to see a game from the Egyptian campaign.