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


Friday, 9 March 2018

A Weakness for Dragoons

This is going to be another of those how-high-can-you-pile-it? posts. Never mind the quality, feel the width.

Five years ago, give or take a day, I published a post celebrating (lamenting?) that I had acquired and refurbished another unit of French dragoons, despite the fact that I already had quite enough.

Welcome to the 26eme & 27eme Dragons - you will observe that the trumpeter
for the 27eme has not arrived yet - plans are in hand, and he should be present shortly!
Well, I've done it again - this time a further two such units. I could claim that, as a Peninsular War devotee, I can never have too many dragoons, or merely confess that I have a long history of having my head turned by a pretty regiment of the blighters. It maybe goes deeper than that.

When I was about 12 (or so) I was lucky enough to be granted a private tour of the Musée de l'Armée (my grandfather was a friend of one of the directors), and one of my most vivid memories of a fascinating but confused Sunday morning is suddenly being confronted by a life-size mannikin of a mounted Napoleonic dragoon, and being dumbstruck (you may well know the actual mannikin I mean - he's still there today, still scaring the kids). It had never occurred to me that soldiers were terrifying individually as well as collectively.


When I started building my Peninsular armies - 10 years or so later - I was enchanted by the PMD/Les Higgins French dragoons. My original quota was a brigade of two regiments, the 6eme (red facings) and the 15eme (pink!). Later I added a third - the 25eme (orange) - but that was it for Les Higgins - they went out of business. In the days before eBay, that was as far as things went - if your manufacturer (or scale!!) went OOP then you were well and truly stuck.

When NapoleoN Miniaturas were active I finally obtained the fourth regiment of the Armée de Portugal's Dragoon Division - the 11eme (crimson) - and then I was happy. Job done.

But then eBay took over, and still the new/old toy soldiers are trickling in. Five years after the last "final" recruits, here are two more. And I'm still pleased with them, and still delighted to have an opportunity to dig out that entire section of the army for a group photo.

My French dragoon contingent - a lot of eyes-right going on, to simplify the
mould-lines for PMD! If there are not enough horses in Spain to go around, then the
chaps at the front can jolly well walk.
Very silly, very self-indulgent and - really - what hobbies are all about. It would be a poor kind of a world if you were not allowed to have too many dragoons, would it not?

15 comments:

  1. The world would, indeed, be much the poorer if dragoons were not allowed to run rampant over our gaming tables. I remember that mounted chap very well. On my visit to Musée de l'Armée I managed to require two days for a "proper" visit.

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    1. Two days would be a lot better - I have visited since that first experience, but I could have done with a film of what I saw first time out. I loved the little models of the Vauban forts, I remember. Too much to take in.

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  2. Too many.....too? Many? ...nope the universal translator must not be working. no idea what you mean.

    Lovely dragoons though. Always had a bit of a thing for dismounted dragoons, no idea why.

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    1. Thanks Ross - the purists will tell you that they didn't have Dragons à Pied in Spain, but what do they know? My version of the Peninsular War has now been going on for about 7 times as long as the original, so I have maybe moved beyond criticism...

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  3. I have a soft spot for Dragoons as well and have one HH unit (in mounted and dismounted versions) waiting in the lead pile. The trouble is with only one unit what colour facings do I choose? Your Dragoon 'Corps' is most impressive.

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    1. What colour do you fancy? Depends on whether you wish to pick a particular campaign, I guess - otherwise please yourself! i always liked the yellow facings - I have 19th and 20th regiments in yellow.

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  4. Yes, very handsome chaps. I think it's the assortment of gay (in the old sense of the word) facing colours against the drab green.
    I can't compete with that many - I can field 4 regiments (Boyer's Division at Vitoria), mostly old Hinchliffes, and they don't all get on the table together nearly often enough. I salute your megalomania!

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    1. Facing colours for dragoon regiments are odd - unlike the Chasseurs a Cheval, for example (whose facings are like a rainbow - what exactly is madder red? - madder than what?), the Dragoons used only 5 colours, with 6 regiments sharing one colour. Since they all had coloured lapels, you can only distinguish the actual regiment by the collar (OK - that's not too bad - now we're down to 3 possibles), by the colour of cuffs and cuff flaps (which, that's right, you can't see when they are wearing their gauntlets) and whether the rear pockets are horizontal or vertical - really? Someone was taking the mickey. Imagine the scene - Napoleon in a rage, blinking through the smoke, demanding to know which cavalry brigade that is on the right flank. The ADC, desperately trying to keep the rain off his telescope, is glad he has his resignation letter in his saddlebag - "I'm desolated, Majesty I can't quite make out their pocket piping from here..."

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    2. Interesting thought. What happens when they regiments are reforming after a charge? Does it take longer for the stragglers to join the right regiment as they rush around in confusion feeling each other's back pockets? "Sorry, mate, I was looking for the 20th Dragoons."

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  5. Self-indulgent or not, they look the business! I must say the Dragoons are my favourite French cavalry together with the Line Chasseurs a Cheval. Must be a green thing.

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    1. Green things are fine - we can talk about that. Thanks Matt!

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  6. I too have two more regiments of dragoons in the lead pile, Foy, and was stressing that it might all be a bit too much. Clearly, I have nothing to worry about. Your dragoon army is magnificent.

    Best regards
    WM

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    1. Thank you WM. Vaguely brings to mind those old Wargame Championships where some crafty loophole-spotter would turn up with an army consisting entirely of sappers or camels, and there would be a terrible moanfest afterwards.

      Which - further digression - reminds me that I was once at a show at which the current National Ancients Champion (or some such) was introduced, to say a few words. This guy was a real celeb - he was not a funny little man with a beard and a high voice, he was actually Alexander the Great. What was all that about?

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  7. Hi Foy,

    when I visited the museum the first time the most impressing horseman for me was the Grenadier a Cheval. This guy was really huge!

    I have a heart for Dragoons too. A great uniform and very useful for a lot of campaigns You never can have enough of them!

    cheers
    Uwe

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