Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The 3rd Hussars

I have always had a soft spot for the French 3rd Hussars. So when the Perrys brought out their boxed plastics, I had to give it another go. For it was not the first time I had painted these uniforms. Oh no . . . it wasn't  . . . (dramatic music sting)!

It was most certainly watching Keith Carradine as Armand d'Hubert, swaggering through "The Duellists", that first stirred my passion for this uniform. Airfix plastics, Minifigs (15 and 25mm), Foundry, and now Perry. I think I have painted these guys at least a dozen times, not including large scale, 54's and 90's, New Hope and Poste Militaire. Anyone remember Series 77? I do indulge.

I have painted other hussar units, other nationalities, but I always return to the boys in grey.

This time it's a little different. All the others have been Imperial. This time it's Republican. Chris Blaxland-Walker got a hold of an old Republican French army I painted for Mark baker, many aeons ago. After a quick chat, it was decided to go thoroughly berserk and build a huge Republican army, using Baker's boys as a base.

Baker's old army will be rebased, new figures mixed in with the old to build demi-brigades using all manner of figures, and new regiments will be formed. The 3rd is the first of the new formations.

It is a 14 figure formation, based as 3x3 figure bases, 2x2 and a single. This way, all 14 can be used or it can be cut down to a 12 figure unit. The Perry figures are too good to not use them all.

I have them in summer campaign dress, sans pelisse. Hopefully the Perrys might bring out a metal pack of 14 pelisse-wearing top halves for winter dress.

The uniform was drawn from Histoires et Collections' French Hussars 1786-1815 Book 1., as principal source, as well as numerous texts, pictures and sources gathered over the last 40 years. The one thing you notice when researching the 3rd is that before 1804 they are arguably one of the least documented unit in the French army. There are few contemporary illustrations and little in the way of written material and what there is, is a little misleading and confusing.

Case in point: in the H&C book there is a nice illustration of a 3rd Hussar trumpeter, unusual in that he is wearing a grey tailed coat without distinctions (crimson piping or turnbacks) and a bicorne.

To my mind this goes against nature, but was intriguing at the same time. Dare I construct a 3rd Hussar unit without the reverse colours usually associated with trumpeters at the time?

You're darn tootin' I can.

And this is the result:

Using a plastic dragoon body and arms (Perry), a Victrix head, and Green Stuff for the tails I created a trumpeter of the 3rd circa 1793. His lace is silver, as it was for officers of the regiment, the tails are plain (no turnbacks), the horse is grey, the sheepskin is black.

The idea might have been to go for a tailed coat in reverse colours, but there is no evidence that this was practised at all prior to this time. The 1786 regulations indicate long-tailed coats for trumpeters, but it seems that colonels of regiments decided on the colours themselves. An example of the Chamborant regiment, pre-revolution, shows rank and file in brown dolman and pelisse, blue breeches, and their trumpeters in yellow long-tailed coats with false sleeves. Pretty, but not really regimentally sound.

I blame the colonel's wife. No real reason, just saying . . .

I shall now ride off into the sunrise, to the lonely sound of the whistling wind and the irritating sound of a whistling nostril.

More blogs to come.



  1. Really superb work! Regards, Dean

  2. yes great looking unit, you have an unusual but effective painting style, I like it.

  3. they look Great Peter, Chris will be thrilled,

    I hope Chris will bring them to the Australian Napoleonic Congress weekend on the 19th and 20th November this year.


  4. If I can get his Republican French finished by then, you never know your luck.

  5. They are fantastic Peter...excellent painting and an inspiration. Thank you for sharing

  6. Peter

    simply amazing

    they are a real treat to have in the collection

    Many Thanks