A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The English Home Army in the Napoleonic Period

A Yeomanry officer circa 1800 - your homeland is in safe hands
A very pleasant gentleman named Frank got in touch with me by email, to see if I could help him. He and some friends have been exporing the possibility of fighting a Napoleonic-period campaign based in Southern England, following an invasion of some sort.

I asked did he mean the planned French invasion of 1805, and he said possibly, but not necessarily - any old invasion would do. He and his mates are fascinated by what the English home army consisted of - where would regulars be stationed, how much use could be made of the various militia and county yeomanry units - how were they dressed? - how would such an army be organised?

Naturally I haven't a clue. I have seen and read of such wargame campaigns in the past, but the British army usually looks suspiciously like the Waterloo force - the campaign is usually just the Hundred Days or the Peninsular War temporarily transplanted into Dorset or somewhere, which seems pointless.

Part of the appeal, of course, is the scope for painting up all sorts of colourful units of fencibles and suchlike. I used to have a book by Fortescue about the old county lieutenancies in the Napoleonic Wars, but I sold it years ago, and I recall an old Rene North series of colour-it-yourself cards based on yeomanry. I guess there must be standard works on this topic, but I do not know what they might be. Now I think about it, I used to have a rather tatty but complete set of CCP Lawson, and I think there were second-line units in that.

Obviously such a campaign would be dramatically affected by whether the main British Army was absent fighting elsewhere, but the idea of organising a home army to fight off Johnny Foreigner is quite attractive - Frank has plans for buying shedloads of plastics - Strelets British Egypt campaign troops - especially the light cavalry. As alternative history goes, that could be fun.

Anyway, it was kind of him to believe that I was wise enough to be able to help, but I have no idea at all. As they say in Glasgow, not a Scooby. Has anyone been involved in such a campaign, or does anyone know of any recommended books about the yeomanry and volunteer troops? All clues will be most welcome.

I'm sure it doesn't matter at all, but Frank is French, by the way...


  1. It sounds like a shameless attempt to gather intelligence prior to an invasion - don't tell him your name Pike!

  2. The Harold Gerry series in Wargamers Newsletter might be a start - all on Vintage Wargaming


    1. Thanks Clive - very much - interesting - I hadn't seen this series before.

  3. I'm no hand at that, but if he fancied a more likely prospect -1798 might present some possibilities.

    This book covers the relevant material for Ireland and I presume there must be some similarities.


    Pricely, but worth an interlibrary loan.

    1. Thanks for that, Mr Kinch - excellent link.