perjantai 27. marraskuuta 2015

9th (Swiss) Division in Russia

M3 Lee's got sidelined a bit for a few days as I decided to empty my paint desk of half finished projects. One of them were the command bases for my Swiss and Croat forces for our Russia 1812 campaign. I didn't quite finish them for the last game where they were needed in May and as they weren't needed for a long while I more or less forgot about them. Well last week I finally got around to painting their horses and basing them. One more project finished and away from the desk.

When I got them finished I realized I hadn't taken any pictures of the force, so with the last minis finished from the project it was high time to take them out of the cabinet and take some pictures. So behold the 9th (Swiss) Division of the II Corps of the Grande Armee. I ended up painting only the foreign units of the division so it's missing four French battalions, but as there are plenty finished by other clubmates it wasn't really an issue. Technically the uniforms are actually wrong as the Swiss didn't use Bardin in Russia, but my manufacturer of choice Campaign Game Miniatures didn't have any suitable ones available I decided that the differences were minor enough not to bother with buying something else.

The 9th Division and Swiss troops in general were a nice subject that was quite close to me as even being a Finn I lived quite a few years in Switzerland as a youth due to my father's work. Being a history buff and interested in the Napoleonic period already back then I naturally stumbled upon the exploits of the Swiss troops. The Russian campaign does hold quite an important place in Swiss history symbolizing quite the sacrifices that Swiss mercenaries have made throughout history. A song based on a 1790s poem 'Die Nachtreise' is also popularized as a song called Beresinalied after the Battle of Berezina where the remnants of the Swiss troops held the Russians allowing thousands to escape over the river. Of the completely foreign rearguard force less than 300 survived the battle and only around 210 would be around when the regiments reassembled after the campaign.

First up the command stands representing Generals Amey, Condras and Coustard and a lone ADC. The ADC was painted up as halfway through painting the command stands I realized I'd accidentally taken an ADC model for a General and had to start one more mini. He'll serve as a disorder marker alongside wounded and dead soldiers. A rushing ADC should prove to be a good way to show a unit getting their orders mixed up. Most miniatures from AB as I find their command minis are better and far more varied than CGM. I haven't painted up the overall Divisional Commander Pierre Hugues Victoire Merle as we only use brigade commanders in our games. I still might add him later just to have him on the table for show if I need a quick appetizer project as I already have the miniatures ready.

Then the artillery park with 2 batteries of 6 pounders and 1 battery of 12 pounders. As far as I know the Swiss didn't have much integral artillery and their own artillery units were mostly stationed as garrison troops in Europe. Instead they had French artillery attached to them. All painted in the regular French artillery uniform.

The 3rd Provisional Croatian Regiment was raised in 1812 from the Croatian land ceded by Austria in the peace of 1809. Known as excellent skirmishers they were employed in that role in the French army as well and having a the same cut of uniform as French Light Infantry. Even though the Croats were not very enthusiastic about serving Napoleon two regiments still fought with distinction on the Russian campaign. Out of roughly 2000 soldiers of the 3rd Provisional Regiment only around 150 returned from Russia having fought in Polotsk and Berezina as well as multiple smaller skirmishes.

1st Swiss Regiment was the first regiment raised in 1805 according to the 1803 military convention between Switzerland and French requiring the Swiss to provide 4 regiments of all together 16,000 men for French service. The 1st Regiment would provide two battalions to the Russian campaign. The Swiss regiments saw heavy fighting in both battles of Polotsk against Wittgenstein's Russians before joining the rest of Grande Armee on the retreat where they would perform a vital rear guard action at Berezina.

2nd Swiss Regiment was raised in 1806, but only reaching operational strength around 1808. It participated in the Russian campaign with 3 battalions.

3rd Swiss Regiment was raised in 1806 as well, but as with the 2nd Regiment it would take until 1808 to reach close to it's official strength. Their strength in Russia was 3 battalions.

The final 4th Regiment started forming in 1807 initially with large amounts of Prussian prisoners of war. However when Napoleon discovered this an inspection of all Swiss Regiments was ordered in order to remove any Prussian soldiers from their strength. However by 1808 they had reached a strength of roughly 4000 men. As with the second and third regiments three battalions of the 4th Regiment served in Russia.

So there you have it, my little Napoleonic project from last spring and early summer. 13 battalions, 6 guns and some command figures all painted between March and May. It was really nice to build up a complete unit in a rather fast pace, but it did leave me quite uninterested in painting anything for a few months after that. Next time with the Saxons I'll leave more variety in between by painting other projects as well.

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