Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Brunswick Oels Jagers for the Peninsular. Did somebody die?


The answer is, yes. If you want to know who, go to this wiki-link.

This is one of those iconic units so beloved by wargamers. I wanted one too, so when Alec sculpted these last year they went straight into my next Front Rank order. I wasn't disappointed, they are superbly designed and executed. 

The trouble with this unit, and I've painted it at least twice over the years for clients, is that it's a headache to paint: Black, black and more black; even the buttons are black; and so are the cuffs, which I'd forgotten were black.

Although I don't usually do painting tips in blog posts like this, I will for this unit - they might be useful in this case.
I've learned that I have to throw away my usual painting 'order of march' when doing this unit. 

After undercoating, I painted the whole figure with my black base paint (Humbrol 33), stem to stern. 

Then, in the following order, I: 
  1. Painted hands and faces.
  2. Painted none black equipment (canteens, packs and pack rolls, musket stocks), and hair. 
  3. Highlighted coats, lace and shako plumes.
  4. Painted blue collar and shoulder straps, which are best highlighted very light.
  5. Touched up belts, shako, shoes, and musket metal with plain black to re-establish some nice hard edges.
  6. Highlighted black belts, shoes, shako, etc. 
  7. Finished, as usual, with metals.
I think the trick to livening these boys up is to use two or more black hues using the same black base. I used two hues; two or three highlights of each hue. I paint in enamels; I've added the Humbrol numbers I used in parentheses.
  1. Blue Hue: Used for soft stuff such as clothing, plume and lace: Black (33) and sky blue (89). I added a bit of white (34) to this hue to get a third highlight, dry brushed over lace and plume to bring these details out even further. 
  2. Grey Hue: Used for hard stuff such as belts, shako and shoes: Black (33) and white (34) - only two highlights used. 
You will note that the officers have red sashes; apparently they wore red, not national colours, in the Peninsular.
All in all, they make for quite an impressive, if funerial, unit. 

They are not quite as monotone black as you might imagine and I put this down to the using sky blue in the main highlight hue - it has more life than plain black and white grey.

Bases are 2mm MDF: Square bases are home cut 45mm x 45mm. Round bases are 45mm diameter from Warbases.
Lastly, I also bought a six pack of jagers to add to my 'floating' divisional skirmish stand count. 

I will always remember these guys because, a couple of decades ago, I played in a huge Salamanca game where I commanded the odd base of these chaps. Being something of a Napoleonic noob at the time, I enquired who they were by asking "Why do I have Austrians?" I still think it was an easy mistake to make.

Though, I should have remembered who they were from my second oldest wargame book: Blandford's Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars (received Christmas 1976; now without dust cover and looking very tatty), from which I've taken these uniform details.

The thing is, I can't find a picture of the the hat badge for this 1809 unit. These Front Rank figures came with a running horse badge, so they have that. If you know differently (I suspect they had a hunting horn) please let me know so I can edit this with proper info. 

Note that, as per Blandford, I have removed the figures' hat plumes. 

Blandford also shows the uniform without a blanket roll but, I think this is 'campaign dress' acceptable.

Officially, that is the Anglo-Portuguese project done. All of the originally planned units, plus this late addition, are now painted. However, when I ordered the Spanish hordes a few months ago, I added a couple of extra British units and three French units. Consequently, I'm ploughing on. 

Next up, 51st (2nd West Riding) Light Infantry - my local regiment, their regimental museum is in Halifax - to fight alongside the Brunswick Oels Jagers as part of 7th Division. 


David said...

Very nicely done - worth all the effort on the black...

Haythornthwaite in the Blandford "Uniforms of the Peninsular War" shows the Brunswick Oels Jagers in black shako with skull and crossbones badge, citing Booth and Goddard as the source. You can find this image here: http://www.napoleon-online.de/Bilder/Goddard_Booth_Tafel79.jpg




Hi David, I have the book, I know the image.

The Austrian round hat jagers arrived in England in 1809. Did they make it to the Peninsular, and in what uniform? I've seen this unit fielded, on the wargames table, as a unit for Spain more than once: A myth perhaps, but the interesting look of them makes them worth the fudge. I will not be buying the Haythornthwaite style figures, even though I know they are made by Stonewall. As my figure scale is 1:40, a skirmish stand of two figures represents a whole company so I can get away with using all sorts to represent 'extra divisional skirmishers'.

I know that eleven companies of Brunswick Oels Jagers (total Brunswicker infantry) went to Spain - which is an odd number to my mind - and that their three companies of Jagers proper were hived off to other divisions - the remaining 8 light infantry companies went to 7th Division.

I also know that initially they were quite high quality; later the regiment had the worst desertion rates in the army due to the poor quality of replacements. So, I'm not entirely sure how to rate them as a light battalion - probably as good as Legere?

David said...

Oh yes, that makes sense - always good to have some variety.

Do you count your British army as early or late? It would perhaps be interesting to have the Jagers of uncertain quality (or possibly even quantity available, as desertion was so rife later) so you are never quite sure how many you have and how they'll behave... That may possibly be getting a bit too role-playing-ish, though. ;-)



C. von Grumpy said...

Great paint job, thank you for sharing.

Ratmaul said...

Great painting on a great looking unit 👍🏻

fireymonkeyboy said...

Turned out well, and I'd second the "different blacks" advice - also works for greys.

Gonsalvo said...

A fine job on this challenging uniform, James!

My own very plainly painted Brunswickers are Minifigs from 30 years ago, dressed for the 1815 campaign, so they have a bit more color to them. I don't think I have ever used them as such, but they have stood in as extra "Portuguese" on several occasions.

Baron von Wreckedoften said...

Hi James,

Excellent unit - currently painting them up myself as an all-German Sharp Practice force (together with KGL 2nd Light, musket and rifles, and KGL 2nd Hussars), in the course of which I have come across several German sources which are much more detailed than one normally finds in Anglosphere publications.

First off, there were 12 infantry companies taken into British service - nine centre (although there is a suggestion that one of these was a "grenadier company") and three of skirmishers. One of these last three was formed from the two companies of "scharfschutzen" of the 1809 force and, based on what my German contacts have told me, this was the only one of the three skirmisher companies to carry rifles although it is possible that Bakers were supplied to the other two during their service in Spain. The main body of the battalion served in the 7th Division, the skirmish companies in the 4th and 5th Divisions (probably the original scharfschutzen veterans in the former); the main body was initially brigaded with the 1st and 2nd KGL Lights (neither of which was entirely rifle-armed at the time) and later with the 51st, Chasseurs Britanniques, etc and were referred to - as in 1809 - as "jager" which Anglophile authors seem to conflate with "rifle-armed" for some reason.

At the end of the Peninsula campaigns, the rank-and-file were transferred into the Bataillon Proestler (Leib Battalion) for the 1815 campaign, and the native Brunswick officers also joined the 1815 Brunswick Corps. However, most of the original (1809) officers were Prussian and returned home; this would explain why the 1809 force was trained in pre-1807 Prussian fusilier drill and hence fought comfortably in two ranks whilst in the Peninsula. Contrary to popular myth, the vast majority of the veterans in the 1815 Corps were ex-Westphalians (the 1st Line Battalion's band was Jerome's former court orchestra). In a similar vein, the 1815 Hussar regiment was technically the 2nd Hussars as the unit that fought in the eastern half of Spain remained in British service until July 1815.

Anyway, hope that all helps explain their odd organisation.

Brendan (Baron von Wreckedoften)


Thanks, Brendan. Very informative.

Baron von Wreckedoften said...

I missed your first question - what did the sharpshooters wear in the Peninsula. In fact, they wore a uniform very similar in cut and style to the main body of the BOJ, except the tunics were green faced light blue, and the trousers were dark grey, otherwise shakos and general equipment as for the main body.