Saturday, 26 July 2014

new Napoleonic Saxons created

For some unaccountable reason I have always been interested in the Saxon Army of the Napoleonic era.  Whether the enemy to ally to enemy of Napoleon or just the uniforms I don't know but I just had to do them. 

Saxon conversion notes

OK, take a box of Victrix plastic French Guard Chasseurs.  
They are all in greatcoats which, while covering all those nice, but kinda hard to paint effectively, white tunics, has the advantage of all having cross belts which all the Saxon infantry wore - just not only the flank/elite companies.

So with that we need to remove all the fringed epaulettes worn by the Chasseurs. While this, one might assume as I did, that it would be difficult, it proved surprisingly to be one of the least onerous of the chores. 

The various French canteens were scraped down and cut to be the square tin ones of the Saxons.  Note: these are often portrayed as being worn on the backpack and I was thinking of making a mould of one to make out of green stuff, but the Chasseur’s versions were easily converted and I am of the option the back placement would be only on the parade ground [it looking more regular and as not to interfere with the view of the pretty uniforms and all] while in the field, soldiers would place them around the shoulders and at the hips to have them at hand.  Nevertheless, all the illustrations have them of a regular design so I modified each canteen on the plastic Chasseurs. 

The Saxons fusiliers which will be for all my formations, did wear the cross belts having hangers [swords] which had a straight single handed hilt and not the “D” shaped ones of the Chasseurs.  This was the most difficult of the scrapings especially with some of the lack of undercuts of the sculpts and touch to reach areas.  The long scabbards were also trimmed.  While most of this could have been ignored and only noticed by the most obsessed ‘button-counter’ I decided that I would be one this time and get it right. Unfortunately it took the most time.

Headgear is usually the most obvious visual part of any uniform. The bearskins of the Chasseurs were stored away as the Saxons wore a version of a French style shako.  Unfortunately I had very few appropriate ones on hand.  However, to suit the greatcoat, I went with the Prussian covered version with the caveat that I had to remove the distinctive crown bulge of the covered cockade. This proved easy and gave a great “Saxon” oilskin covering with the ties in the back - looks different from the typical French look.  You will have to trust me on this.

A few uncovered shakos were added for the boys carrying the standards which would will be in the front rank of the formations .  These were 1809 Russian ‘un-Kiwer’ shakos with the badge removed but with the cords retained. I wanted the white cockade to say “we ain’t French" 

With the shakos done, I also wanted some of the whiteness of the Saxons to be shown and their forage caps were white of a later Prussian design (which was copied from the Napoleonic Russian version incidentally) To my great “luck” I did indeed buy the Perry Russian Infantry which have plenty of these caps! I love plastics for this.  So I placed on a few to add a bit of colour to what will be a sea of grey and black.  

With some flags, these formations will scream ‘Saxon’  for any of the 1813 battles…. I hope.
Showing the trimmed ex-Prussian shako and scraped canteen
Perry Russian forge cap head glued on 
Russian shako with cords. Saxon shako was very similar. 
My scrapings on the back for the hilt and scabbard modifications  Looks very rough but hopefully my thick paint application will cover most of this. Hopefully.

Now some might say why the heck not just buy the wonderful available miniatures of “Westphalia” or others.  Why the time and effort?  Well, I still want the light weight of plastics, the drab look of the greatcoats which is my image of the fighting during 1813-1815 (yeah not very Napoleonic of me is it?) but all this conversion was done on the weekend my sister-in-law was over to visit and with me nearby in the other room to be ready for lunches and some chatting, was ‘out of the way’ so they could have some “sister bonding time” 
Good for everyone!


  1. I like what you have done and look forward to seeing these painted up

    1. It is said a hobby is a diversion. While I SHOULD try to finish my 'Waterloo' units, I also would like to see them done. So I might well be diverted. I have the attention span of a ferret.
      Thanks for the note, Andrew.

  2. Dancing close to the 'button counter' line.

    Greatcoats are really good to have masses of, for in a pinch they can be used as almost anyone.

    By having a couple of different flag bearers with the different flags you could quickly change the unit to Russian or Austrian, as the greatcoat would look very much the same.

    1. Yup, MurdocK, very close to button counter but then again it IS Napoleonics and it wouldn't be if you didn't utilize all that uniform information....
      And if I were a button counter, I would say that the additional belt of the backpack across the crossbelts that the Russians, Austrians, along with the Bavarians and Wurttemburgers (and indeed the British) would prevent one from using French types for them.
      However, that said, I am surprised that the plastic boys have not produced a box set using only the same bodies of greatcoats. As you say one is like another and then add, or have as an add on, the specific headdress of the respective nations. That is what is most distinctive of each nation not the greatcoat as you mention. I would love to have complete boxes of greatcoated guys and then add the specific heads on each. Not very colourful it must be said but with plastics they could produce tons and only adding a sprue of heads to produce whole nations worth of figures. But again not very Nappy (read: colourful) eh!