Then I started with my French troops.
I began with one of the most colourful units in the American theatre - the hussars and lancers of the Volontaires Etrangers de Lauzun, also known as "Lauzun's Legion". Unfortunately, I did not know any producer who had them in his programme; only the Old Glory figures, and those didn't suit my taste of figures.
So I turned to using SYW hussars by Front Rank. The "chef de la troupe" was converted from a Prussian hussar officer in fur cap. It wasn't too difficult: I just had to minimise his moustaches and add his typical black and white crest, which was achieved by drilling a hole in his hat, and inserting a wire I had formed into the right form by soldering. The rest was paintig.
Voila, may I introduce you to his Highness, Armand Louis de Gontaut, Duc de Lauzun.
He is wearing one of his six uniforms he took with him to America, the one in which he attended the surrender ceremony at Yorltown.
I chose this one because it is the most splendid which well fits this extravagant man.
His cavalry was more of a problem. I took the SYW French hussars by Front Rank and equipped half of them with lances. I was not too much bothered by the fact that they are wearing pelisses. I decided that in my regiment of hussars and lancers they had simply not yet been lost (or sold).
"Attaquè!" (Bloody Ban and his British Legion dragoons have just been sighted.)
My next project was a unit of French infantry. I chose the régiment de Gâtinois (or Gâtinais) that had so distinguished themselves in storming redoubt 9 at Yorktown that they were given the name "Royal Auvergne" in 1783. A proper elite regiment they must have been.
As the regiment had about 1000 men, it was quite some job painting them (1:20).
The colours were painted on thin lead sheet from old bottle caps (it is good never to throw anything away you might find useful some day (but please don't have a look at my cellar).
The chef du régiment on horseback originally was a Hessian general (by Perry), the other figures are Front Rank.
As Banastre Tarleton had his intended "shaking of hands" with Lauzun and his legion in the Battle of the Hook, I decided that I had to incorporate his British Legion cavalry into my troops next. Therefore, I bought the required quantity of figures from Perry miniatures. At first, I was a bit disappointed that the excellent figures lacked some details. The feather in Ban's cap I created with Milliput, and the carbines I got from Front Rank. Later I was informed by Alan Perry that the British Legion dragoons were not equipped with carbines. Too late! Mine were already furnished with carbines. As I knew some other British Legion cavalry figures with these weapons I decided not t alter them.
Therefore, they ride as fully equipped dragoons.
I have meanwhile finished my infantry and artillery of the Volontaires Etrangers de Lauzun. I needed longer, as there were no figures available and more research necessary.
There is no report about the colours of the regiment. I painted them in the sky blue of the unit uniforms and put the arms of Lauzun in the centre.
The grenadiers had to be equipped with bearskin caps without plate (which was done with a bit of Milliput, not too difficult).
And the chasseurs, who wore "old-fashioned" light infantry caps, had to be converted from SYW light French infantry with Schomberg helmets. The original helmets had to be transformed into a peaked horsetail helmet of the type worn by French light infantry after 1786.
I am not quite content with the result, especially as the cut of the uniform coat is too old-fashioned. But the figures must do for the moment. Perhaps one day I will model and cast new heads to be put on 1779 grenadier bodies.
With the artillery it was mainly a question of sources. Experts seem to disagree on every detail as there are no records. I finally decided that my cannoniers should wear normal French artillerists' uniform with yellow facings and grey turnbacks.
As figures I chose some Prussian SYW artillerymen. Anyhow: Most of Lauzun's men were German speaking mercenaries, and the command language in the Legion units was German!
In the beginning, I had only a regimental 3pdr gun with 3 artillerymen by Front Rank. I added some tools, and was quite content.
Now I have added a 24pdr to my arsenal, which you can see positioned in one of my new earth works. It is manned by three French SYW artillerymen by Foundry. The equipment to the right I made myself.
On the march these heavy pieces were transported in parts, carriage and barrel separately. In the picture you can see the piece being transported, with the artillerymen marching behind the carriage (originally they were Front Rank grenadiers with hats).
I remembered that among my heaps of unpainted flats I had some nice models of vehicles I had intended to use one day. Now the day had come! I bought the necessary draft horses and drivers, experimented a bit with the traces, and finally scraped a slate mould to provide myself with this essential equipment.
A French charette or équipage des vivres was not among my hidden treasures. So I had to settle down tinkering at one. Fortunately I found some wheels of about the right size in my spare part box. The rest was Japanese rice sticks, some wire, thin cord and a bit of an old shirt. This is the result The construction sceme I found at "Nec pluribus impar".
For my general staff I wanted some ingénieurs-géographes. I discovered three figures by Foundry (SYW) that suited my purpose. The general on horseback became a general, and the two figures on foot were painted as ingénieurs-géographes.
For my field-defences I needed a member of the Corps Royal du Génie to supervise and command the building of defences. I took the AWI French senior officer by Front Rank, equipped him with a map, and converted an empty horse into his mare. La voilá!
The artillery figures of my miniatures for the Continental Army were the first to be completed. The set is from Dixon Miniatures, and I am quite content with their appearance and modelling. I only decided to give my officer a gorget and epaulettes.
The figures painted quite well. I clothed them in 1779 regulation uniforms, and enjoyed their campaign worn apparel. I could have put some dirt on their uniforms, though. But I only decided to darken their white clothes.
The two-horse-limber will follow later. The reigns and traces for the leading horse are a bit of a problem for my old hands.
Having finished my British Legion dragoons, I wanted to complete my unit with its infantry arm (artillery is to follow later). But I didn’t know what they looked like and how many figures I would need.
There has been much disagreement and discussion among experts and collectors about the uniform of Tarleton’s Legion infantry.
I found some sources that solved the problem for me:
*) W.Y. Carman, "Banastre Tarleton and the British Legion," Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 62 (1984), p. 130.
So with green jackets with black facings and white turnbacks and white waistcoats and breeches I would be on the safe side - even for the later years of the war. And black light infantry caps would be the right choice.
According to the Legion Muster Rolls the British Legion Infantry began with 5 companies in 1778. One company was disbanded in late 1778 or early 1779, and another one was disbanded after its commander’s death and severe casualties. In the 1780s three new companies were established during the Legion's southern campaign. The Legion Muster Rolls from 23rd February 1781 to 1782 list the names of a large number of soldiers taken prisoner. They appear on the muster rolls of 6 companies of infantry.
The above mentioned paper at the Public Record Office testifies coats respectively jackets, waistcoats, and breeches for 30 sergeants and 600 men. This does of course not mean that the numbers correspond to the actual strength of the unit. At its best it might have numbered 340 men. At Cowpens the strength of the British Legion Infantry was probably between 200 and 250 men, there might even have been only 175 ! (cf. Babits, Lawrence E., A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998).
So I thought nine to seventeen figures would do to represent my British Legion infantry (ratio 1:20). I chose British light infantry figures by Foundry because their leather caps and uniform jackets suited the sources well. And the 16 figures corresponded with the actual (possible) numbers of soldiers.
The men got white small clothes, only drummer and trumpeter got green ones; the officers could afford buckskin breeches (I thought). The jackets were painted a dark green, with black facings and white lining. The caps are simply black, the white decoration on these (border and “BL”) is purely fictional of course.
I have created my first own wargaming figure! It's a
French 12lb mortar, which was used by the French contingent at the siege of
Yorktown, brought on shore from the warships and probably manned by Navy
bombardiers. This weapon was in use throughout the 18th century.
My figure was produced by carving a model in two parts, base and barrel. And a collector friend of mine made a simple rubber mould of it. The result is not outstanding, but sufficient, I think.
In my photo it is manned by SYW figures by Redoubt, and positioned in one of my fieldworks. Up to now I have not discovered figures for bombardiers of the French Navy. So some tinkering will be necessary in the future.
The regiment was named after its commander, Brigadier General Moses Hazen (1733 –1803). It was also known as Congress’s Own or 2nd Canadian Regiment, because it was authorized by Congress, and not by one of the colonies, in January 1776, and raised in the province of Quebec. So originally it consisted mostly of Franco-Canadians. Later the cultural differences between the original Quebec enlistees and new recruits from the Thirteen Colonies, mainly Pennsylvanians, became a source of trouble within the regiment, and Hazen kept the French speaking soldiers in separate companies.
The regiment was to have an authorized maximum strength of 1,000 men, and was to consist of four battalions of five companies each. It wasto be the only such over-sized regiment in the Continental Army. But it never reached that strength, starting with 250 men (1st April 1776), and varying between 200 (August - October 1781) and 720 (Spring 1778).
The regiment or parts of it saw action in the Battle of Staten Island (22nd August 1777), the Battle of Brandywine (11th September 1777), the Battle of Germantown (4th October 1777), and the Siege of Yorktown (September – October 1781). There the regiment took part in the decisive storming of redoubts 9 and 10. According to Lafayette's own account the Americans storming Redoubt 10 did not fire a gun, but used the bayonet. The brigades of light infantry under Generals Peter Muhlenberg and Hazen "advanced with perfect discipline and wonderful steadiness. The battalion of Colonel Vose deployed on the left. The remainder of the division and the rear-guard successively took their positions, under the fire of the enemy, without replying, in perfect order and silence." Obviously Hazen’s soldiers were a crack unit.
The uniform coat was brown faced with white until 1779, and after that the facings were changed to red. The buttons were silver (pewter). Drummers wore reversed colours, i.e. white uniform coats with brown facings, as was the custom for drums and fifes of that period. The small clothes were white. However worn-out breeches or coats were necessarily replaced by other garments, although this regiment was usually more fully and well equipped than other Continental units.
The battalion companies wore black cocked-up felt hats trimmed with white braid. The light infantry company of the regiment was given black leather skull caps with peaked front shields decorated with the painted white cipher "COR" and the golden motto "Pro Aris et Focis" (for the house altars and hearths) over them. The Regimental Cipher "COR" and the motto also appeared on the drum shell (in a red field) and on the canteens.
The regimental colours were white, with the outlined black cipher “COR” in the centre, the word “Liberty” in outlined black letters above, and a red banner with the words “2nd Canadian” in white letters below. My flag is hand-painted.
The figures for my regiment are a mixture of Redoubt and Dixon miniatures with a slightly converted light infantry company; and my Colonel Hazen (in case you don’t recognize it) is a converted SYW Prussian dragoon officer by Front Rank. Though most of the figures are a bit dwarfy in appearance they match my idea of this regiment of disciplined and courageous soldiers well. I chose the uniform of 1776-79 because red facings would have been too similar to my 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment.
The lead regiment consists of 24 figures which are separately based. As the bases have got some magnetic tape underneath the troop may be arranged on a piece of iron sheet-metal as needed. Only for Yorktown the necessary 10 figures (ratio 1:20) ought to have red facings. Perhaps I will paint an extra 10 figures for that, one day.
One arm of my British Legion was still missing - the artillery.
Of course the Legion did not really contain artillery. But the infantry had regimental guns, as far as I know. The question was: What did they look like? Which uniform did the gunners wear? No information to be got. Perhaps they did not exist after all.
But I wanted my Legion to have a regimental gun!
I purchased a set of Royal Artillery in cap hats with a 3-pounder from Perry Miniatures, gave them the green uniforms of the infantry, only with green breeches for practical reasons - their greasy job wouldn't allow white ones, I thought. I didn't bother to remove the feathers on their caps, just painted them green, and provided the peaks of their caps with the "BL" cipher of my infantry.
Somehow they seem to look authentic, don't they?
If somebody can tell me that I am completely on the wrong track, please comment.
I have made a new model of a French mortar. This time it is not a Coehorn mortar but a really huge thing: a 24pdr mortar of the French artillery which was used in fortresses.
The model is about 5cm long and 2cm wide as you can see from the centimetre grid. The model consists of the "affût" (bed), the "coussinet" (cushion) and the barrel. Elevation is achieved with the help of wooden wedges hammered in between the barrel and the "coussinet"
Dies ist das Model, das ich gebaut habe, nach dem Redoubt ihren Mörser gefertigt haben.
As I have no gunners to man it yet, I have used my Redoubt FIW French artillerymen again, although their uniforms show the blue smallclothes of the AWI period. They will, however, give you a better impression of the size of the monstrous piece, I think.
Redoubt have shown interest in making a mould of it. Let's see what will become of it. [Actually they have made it.]
This picture by Moltzheim shows a mortar battery at about 1720. The men are occupied directing the mortar with the help of a quadrant and handspikes.
In the second picture (by Eugene Leliepvre from LE CIMIER Ancien Regime, serie 14) we can see a general of 1735 supervising the directing done by an officer. In the background two men are carrying a bomb hung on a pole by its "ears".
In both cases the mortars are obviously of smaller calibre than my model.
Thanks to the figures of Perry's "French High Command" I was now able to establish part of my Allied Headquarters. Maréchal de Rochambeau is there, discussing plans with Maréchal de Camp Saint Simon. The Duc de Lauzun has joined them now. Also there is the Marquis de Chastellux, liaison officer to General Washington. The latter however is missing, together with his American staff officers. I know that there are some figures at Old Glory - but they wouldn't match the excellent Perry figures! So I abstained from buying them. A good idea was, I think, to have a Commissaire ordonnateur handing out a message to an Aide de Camp. What would be an army without logistics! An ingenieur with his big telescope, planning the siege of Yorktown, and an ingenieur géographe rummaging in his pouch for the right map, show that the French expeditionary corps in America was part of a very professional army, indeed, where nothing was left to Marshall Chance.
Comte de Rochambeau (with map of Yorktown siege)
Marquis de Saint Simon
Marquis de Chastellux
Commissaire Ordonnateur with Aide de Camp
ingénieurs (the second one originally a porte-drapeau who got a cane instead of his flag staff)
The figures will populate my Allied Headquarters Tent, though their military value is not to be weighed in wargaming.
Merde! Sometimes it is rather annoying to learn something new. My French being rather rudimentary - more or less restricted to what I picked up playing "boules" at French camping sites (cf. the first word of my post) - I had abstained from reading the French collector's magazine Figurines. But I should have done so, especially No 30, October 1999. For it contains an article by Rigo, titled "J'etait à Yorktown". The author has made use of almost all available French sources. To neglect it before turning to the topic "The French in the American Revolutionary War", deserves punishment. And punished I was!
I scraped together my few French words and phrases, profited of my knowledge of English (as one third of the English vocabulary is of French origin, thanks to the Normans), and consulted my wife who speaks French fluently, and learned from this article that the regiment de Gâtinois were wearing the old 1776 regulation uniforms, with yellow turn-down collars, and violet cuffs, lapels and turn-backs. So I had to re-do my regiment, which was a rather tricky affair as I had based it in groups of four, and had to get at the interior cuffs and lapels which I had painted white with violet piping before. With the collars I couldn't do much, as the Front Rank figures have got stand-up collars. I was lucky enough that I had incorrectly painted them yellow before.
Furthermore, the Gâtinois regiment were still wearing
their old-fashioned laced hats at Yorktown as they hadn't had the chance to
change their uniforms, serving in the Caribbean. So I had to add the silver and
"false-silver" laces to their headgear. The "false-silver"
of the rank-and-file hats I tried to imitate by painting them white, adding a
brush of silver at the upper corner ("false-silver" was a lace, woven
of white and silver tread).
I also learned that the cords on the flags were not golden, but were twined of black and violet silk strings, the colours of the regimental flag. And I was told that French flags of this period didn't have fringes - whatever TV and films try to tell you. So I had to cut off the fringes I had so meticulously produced before!
So in the end I was confronted with a completely new regiment - with the exception of the traditional white of French line regiment uniforms. Well, having tried to get my Gâtinoises as close as possible to historical truth, I thought I ought to publish my attempts. Here they are.
A British sergeant would have shouted
"Atten-shun!" But in the French infantry regiment of Royal Deux-Pont
the commanding language was German - because all officers and the rank and file
came from the duchy of Zweibrücken (which means "Two-bridges"). This
duchy was scattered over what is now the Palatinate and
the Saar Region in Germany and Lorraine in France. The ruler, Duke
Christian von Zweibrücken, obviously thought it more opportune to provide a
regiment for the French crown than for the weak Holy Roman Empire. In a time
before the French revolution, before nationalism had been invented, nobody
would have objected. Hessians, Brunswickers, Ansbach-Bayreuthers and the like
waged war for King George, and our subjects of the Duke von Zweibrücken served
King Louis of France. And at Yorktown they met and fought each other.
They were hardy boys, those farm laborers and poor farmer's sons from the Palatinate mountains, who had gone to a recruiting officer's party, taken the bounty and went off to see the New World (and by the way risk their limbs and lives in action and through disease). As hardy as their Auvergne cousins of the Gâtinois Regiment, together with whom they stormed Redoubt 9 at Yorktown with bayonets, without firing a shot, and in spite of heavy losses.
One of them, Daniel Flohr, (who wrote an interesting diary) later returned to the Land of the Free, became a preacher there, and ended his life peacefully in the United States.
Like all French foreign regiments of German tongue they had a dark sky-blue uniform coat. Their distinctive colour at this time was lemon-yellow, worn on lapels and cuffs. Their colonel was Graf (count) Christan von Forbach, a morganate son of the ruler. The regiment came directly from France with the forces of the Comte de Rochambeau. So their uniform probably was up-to-date to the latest ordinance of 1779.
The figures of my Régiment Royal Deux-Ponts are Front Rank. The hat waving colonel Comte de Forbach originally was a Prussian SYW general. And the regimental colours are a work of my printer as I was deterred by the intricate pattern of the Deux-Ponts flags.
I am happy with my countrymen (my wife coming from the Saar region), and I like their colourful uniforms. Vive le Roi!
I must admit that my method of painting is not suited
for mass production. Being originally a collector of flats I am used to
spending hours on end on a single figure. When I paint my miniatures I apply similar
techniques, because doing researches and painting are my hobbies, and not so
I always start with priming the figure with an off-white acrylic paint ("ivory"). In this case it is a French officer (by Foundry) that is to become the flag-bearer of my French artillery.
The next step is to paint various parts of the figure with acrylic colours - a second priming so to say. In this case I painted the face a flesh colour - mixed of white, ochre, and red - , the uniform of my future artillery colour bearer with a dark blue tone, and boots and hat with black
Then I switch to oil colours. I start with the skin parts. I washed the face with a mixture of English red light and titanium white with lots of turpentine. The pigment gathers in the deeper part of the sculpture, giving the face a smooth shading. Adding a bit more of white, I then added the lights, on nose, brow, chin, and cheek-bones.
Coat, waistcoat, and breeches are treated in the same way, using Indigo blue as the basic colour. The turn-downs of the boots I painted a leather colour without shading, later adding the white straps. The epaulettes, the gorget, and the metal parts of the sword were painted with golden ochre. And the officer was given white eyeballs (later furnished with black pupils).
Then scarlet red was applied to cuffs, turnbacks, and piping of the lapels. And the sword-belt was coloured white, and the cockade (which the figure lacks) was added with white oil colour.
Finally metallic gold was put on gorget, epaulettes, sword, and buttons. And the figure was glued to its base.
The flag of the regiment proved quite a bit of work. It is described as "croix blanche fleurdelysée. Quartiers 1 et 4 gorge-de-pigeon changeant. Quartiers 2 et 3 aurore" (Pierre Charrié, Drapeaux et étendards du Roi). Which means: white cross strewn with (golden) lilies, 1st and 4th quarter iridescent gorge of pigeon (green-red iridescent taffeta), 2nd and 3rd quarter red orange (silk). Quite a job painting the metal sheet glued to a bit of steel wire as a staff, topped by a peak with cravat and tassels (Front Rank).
Voila, there he is, holding the flag of the Régiment de Auxonne of the Corps Royal de Artillerie.
Part of the French troops that came with d'Estaing to Savannah, and with Saint-Simon to Yorktown were small units of dragoons of the regiments de Bezunce-dragons and Condé-dragons. They were just one company each of 40 horsemen and a small staff, 50 soldiers altogether. When I planned to have these units in my French army I decided to size them up a bit - two dragoons, a drummer and an officer per unit just weren't enough, in my view. So I wanted to paint two squadrons with a standard-bearer for each regiment. Which meant 11 figures: 8 dragoons, 1 drummer, 1 standard-bearer, and 1 officer per unit.
The right figures were not available. No producer would care to make moulds for such small units that were present in the American theatre only for a very short period, and not as fighting units after all.
Front Rank have some Schomberg Light Dragoons in their SYW range. They have the right type of helmet for the French dragoons of the 1770ies, but the uniform coat is of the wrong cut of course, and above all the figures have a number of flaws: They wear the wrong form of dragoon gaiters (instead of boots), carry two pistols instead of one pistol and a tool at the saddle, they do not have a picket-pole, and their sabres are rather straight etc.
In spite of all, I decided to use these figures - which meant a bit of tinkering. For example, I cut off the pistol grip and barrel on the right side, drilled a hole into the remaining part, and inserted a bit of wire to indicate a shovel grip. About the missing picket-pole, I could do nothing as the position of the right arm with the carbine didn't allow to add the pole. Also I wasn't able to change the position of the drum to the left side of the drummer (which would have been right), or to equip the officer with a fusil.
The staffs of the standards were not just simple sticks but had the form of tournament lances with a ring to fasten the baldric to. A bit of modelling resin did the job to transform the simple wire into a proper standard lance, and a ring of thin wire was easily glued to it. The rest was painting.
The main problem, however, was finding out the details of the uniforms, and the look of the standards my units were to have. Both units were stationed in the West Indies, so their uniforms were probably the same for Savannah and Yorktown, i.e. uniforms according to the regulations of 1776. Different French websites provided me with the necessary information about the uniforms and horse trappings. I only had to activate my little knowledge of French, and from time to time ask my wife for help who speaks French fluently (sometimes it's not too bad to be married to the right kind of person).
This regiment had the usual green coat with white cuffs and lapels, and a red turn-down collar. The green saddle-cloth had a white and black chequered border (silver for officers). Drummers wore the King's livery, i.e. a dark blue coat with Royal lace.
To find out something about the standard I had to borrow a book through the university library: Pierre Charrié, "Drapeaux et Étendards du Roi", Paris 1989. It is a very thorough piece of research work, and will give you any information that is to be had. The standard of 1764 to 1782 is described as follows: averse dark green with golden Royal sun and silver devise, reverse red with a golden allegorical figure of a winged dragon and motto "QUERIT QUEM DEVORIT", golden and silver fringes.
They too had a green coat, but their distinguishing colour was that of the noble Condé family: "ventre de biche". It is a reddish light ochre, which I got by mixing gold ochre and titanium white, with just a little bit of Carmine. This colour appeared on collars, cuffs and lapels of the uniform coats, on the saddle cloth and portemanteau, and on the drummer's livery, which was that of the House of Condé (which was next to the Royal Family).
The standard of 1776 to 1791 was of crimson silk on the averse side, strewn with golden lilies, and with the coats of arms of the Condé family, surrounded by the chains of the royal orders; the reverse side was of ventre-de-biche colour, strewn with golden lilies; the fringes were golden.
The tasks of the dragoons were manifold. Principally they were still mounted infantry with trenching tools. They were to clear the paths and roads for the army, to build obstacles on roads and bridges, they were to serve as vanguard of the infantry. Often they were employed as reserves because of their mobility, or they were positioned on the flanks of the army in order to outflank the enemy. At sieges they were to do duties in the trenches, and in case of an attack they were to fight in front, like grenadiers. In a few words: they were crack troops.
At Yorktown, however, they were not used as fighting units, if we may believe the sources. They probably served as a head-quarter's guard, together with the 50 hussars of the Volontaires étrangers de la Marine, who had come with them from the West Indies.
I have now finished my French grenadiers that I bought from Spencer Smith Miniatures, Tradition of London. They are 30mm figures, and as such a bit too tall for my 28mm miniatures. So I can't mix them with other figures - except as a unit. But I like their style. They look darn French, don't they.
I painted them as the grenadier company of the Régiment de Bourbonnois in their 1779 regulation uniforms with black facing colour on the cuffs and the piping of lapels, shoulder straps and collars.
Unfortunately Spencer Smith have not made fusiliers, chasseurs, a porte-drapeau and a colonel. So they will stay a single company of grenadiers, consisting of 1 officer, 1 drummer, and 4 grenadiers.
They are advancing without knapsacks and water bottles, with fixed bayonets. Ready to attack redoubt 9 at Yorktown, as it seems.
My regiment of 17th Light Dragoons
There were only two British cavalry regiments present in the American Revolutionary War, the 16th or Queen's Light Dragoons and the 17th Light Dragoons. So there should not have been any big problem in creating one of these regular units - I thought.
But when I started to buy my figures and work on this unit, I didn't know what difficulties I was facing.
Firstly there are big differences in the equipment of the various figures available. The horse furnitures are different, the cut of the coats and the the helmets differ, some men do not even have pouches on their belts. I had not expected this, having read the Royal Cloathing Warrant of 1768 and the appropriate chapter in Lawson's History of the Uniforms of the British Army, and having scanned the net for artefacts.
I was used to this negligence among the producers of 54mm showcase figures (who cares about historical authenticity as long as the figure looks fine and the attitude is smashing). But I had expected a bit more of scrupulousness with wargaming figures. It was a disappointment, I must say.
Finally I comforted myself saying that the troops had been on campaign for several years in the colonies, partly riding in rough country, far from supplies from the motherland. How could they look as prescribed in a Royal warrant! Soldiers of all times have had a sense for "system D" - improvisation.
So I accepted the less than uniform look of my horsemen, even added to it by doing a bit of tinkering, scratching off the baggage of an officer (which gentleman would care to carry it himself, even in the backwoods, if he had his batman at hand), furnishing a trumpeter with a hat, trimming some of the horse's tails, choosing different colours for their breeches etc., and mixing different brands of figures in one unit. So you will recognize figures by Dixon, Front Rank, and Perry, and a farrier of the 7YW range. With 20 figures the unit is almost full strength, but it is always easy to split it up if necessity requires, e.g. strengthen the British Legion with four figures. The rest will stay in New York (i.e. the box).
(The figures are not quite finished yet, especially the bases lack sand and grass.)
(The 16th Light Dragoons will be dealt with in an extra post, because there were more problems to be faced.)
For my American militia unit I chose John Proctor's Independent Battalion, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania - simply for the reason that their flag has been preserved (and can be found at The State Museum of Pennsylvania). Some think that the flag was carried at the battles of Trenton (26 Dec, 1776) and Princeton (3 Jan, 1777), but some doubt that it was ever present in a battle.
It was converted from an old British standard at Hanna's Town in 1775 by adding the rattlesnake hissing at the Union Jack, with golden decorations and the warning motto "DON'T TREAD UPON ME". It clearly shows that many Pennsylvanian settlers still considered themselves loyal subjects to King George, but were ready to resist tyrannical acts.
For figures I chose a mixture of Dixon, Foundry, and Redoubt miniatures, some of them in uniform coats, others in civilian clothes, and the young lieutenant even in grandfather's British red coat!
My intention was to give the impression of a scratched together unit, and the various brands of figures just helped to create this picture.
Furthermore I based them individually so I could use them in loose order, signifying that their military value was probably low.
At Princeton the militia were sent to support Brigadier General Hugh Mercer's fleeing troops, but started to give way on seeing the flight of Mercer's men. When Washington rode up with reinforcements he succeeded in rallying the fleeing militia. He then led the attack on the British troops, driving them into retreat.
I imagine my little men doing this job. Just look at the farmer with the rifle and the broad-brimmed straw-hat taking aim at an epaulette, or the advancing man with the old-fashioned blunderbuss! What a devastating effect a shot from this old weapon will have at short range, being charged with hacked lead!
"LIBERTY OR DEATH"
Well, the figures I bought for this unit are not flats, not really. But the figures are somewhat two-dimensional, as you can see in the front view. This reminded me of the lead-soldiers we cast as boys with metal from lead pipes procured from bombed out houses (no shortage of material in post-war Germany as you can imagine).
Unfortunately only Old Glory offer figures for this valorous regiment, a soldier of whom was depicted by Verger in his famous watercolour. So I had my first experience with this brand. The figures arrived in a plastic bag, somewhat twirled and with U-shaped bayonets and guns. But fortunately only the officer's sword was broken. So he got a new, much sturdier one, of copper sheet.
The miniatures are a bit smaller than my Perry or Front Rank ones, but in a unit of their own, this does not matter so much. They are not too exaggerated in their poses, and the faces of the White officers are less caricature-like than those of the coloured soldiers.
As the regiment did not only consist of Afro-Americans but also Whites and of "Mulattoes and Indians", I had some sculpting at hand to alter some of the figures to have a more multi-ethnic unit. I scratched off some soldiers' Negroid lips, changed their noses and hair with the help of painter's putty, and gave them a European and Indian skin colour. Not too difficult, it turned out. My two Narrangansett Indians got long hair and have put on war paint (although this was rather improbable in reality).
The uniform was no big problem, thanks to Verger's sketch and David R. Wagner's research. For the flag I had to do some researching of my own, though. In the beginning there were two Rhode Island regiments, each with a slightly different flag. In 1781 the First Rhode Island Regiment (The Black Regiment) was amalgamated with the Second, and the new regiment that fought at Yorktown together with the French Allies, had a flag that was nearly identical with that of the Second Rhode Island Regiment.
Of the old French guns of the De Valière system only the 4 pounders "à la Swédoise" were still in use as regimental pieces in the American War of Independence. Surplus guns were also furnished for the Americans.
My model of a "Swedish" De Valière 4pdr is from Elite Miniatures with Front Rank wheels, because I thought that the original wheels were too large for this light gun.
The French forces that came directly from France with
General Rochambeau were equipped with the most modern artillery pieces of the
The Allied artillery park at Yorktown consisted of 54 mortars, 8 howitzers, 8 twelve-pounders, more than 20 eighteen-pounders, and no less than 30 twenty-four-pounders. Many of the guns were brand new: according to the inscriptions on the barrels they had been cast in France only in 1776 and 1777 (cf. John D. Grainger, The Battle of Yorktown, 1781: A Reassessment, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2005, ISBN 978-1-84383-137-2). It was a considerable fire-power that defeated the British.
The models of my French artillery park are of different origin. The figures of Elite Miniatures, Front Rank Miniatures, and Perry Miniatures are traditional wargaming models which are a bit sturdier and not as much to scale as the other models. The latter are by Leopold Diez (Steinfeldstraße 69, 3100 St. Pölten, Austria), Martin Leesch (Karlstraße 9, 01445 Radebeul, Germany), and Zens Nürnberger Zinnmodelle (no longer existent).
The ill-fated British general John Burgoyne was
born in 1722. At the age of 15 he purchased a commission in the Horse Guards,
stationed in London. As his duties were light he was able "to cut a
figure" in High Society, with a love for stylish uniforms, which earned
him the nickname "Gentleman Johnny". Not long, and he had run into
heavy debts, forcing him to sell his commission.
But John returned to service in the army. He first saw action in the Seven Years' War, participqating in several battles. But he is best known for his part in the American Revolutionary War: During the Saratoga campaign, the overconfident lieutenant general John Burgoyne was forced in 1777 to surrender his army of 5,800 men to the Rebel general Horatio Gates, being surrounded and outnumbered. Burgoyne was heavily criticised on his return to Britain, and never got another active command.
His surrender proved a turning point in the war, since after the victory France recognised the United States, and entered the war on February 6, 1778. This French aid finally led to Cornwallis's capitulation at Yorktown.
The regiment had been established in the 17th century in the province of Touraine (capital: Tours on the river Loire). It had fought in all wars since then and was among the forces that Saint Simon brought from the West Indies to Yorktown. At this time it was commanded by Colonel H. Liamont, vicomte de Poudeux. You can see him in front of his regiment.
The regiment had two battalions (1,000 men), and was not brigaded together with any other regiment. It was stationed on the left flank.
The uniform consisted of the traditional white coat, waistcoat, breeches and garters. The facing colour war a light pink, which appeared on the cuffs and the linings of lapels, collars, shoulder straps and on the badges on the turnbacks. At least this was the uniform according to the new regulation of 1779.
Whether the regiment already wore it, is doubtful as they came from the Caribbean and probably would not have had the time to adopt the new outfit. But I decided to have them in this uniform because I needed an attacking regiment for the storm on the Star Redoubt at Yorktown, and the Perry figures of attacking Frenchmen show the cut of the more modern uniform. The horizontal pocket flaps are wrong anyhow: As the regiment had silver buttons, the pocket flaps ought to be vertical. But there are no figures which show these. And I have given up the idea of absolute accuracy.
Of course there are other flaws that I cannot be held responsible for - or only partially: The chasseurs wore their hair tucked up (and not in a queue as the figures do), and their bayonette scabbards ought to be on the left side next to the sabre, and they did not have epaulettes, of course. Well, I could have scraped off the epaulettes, I could even have remoulded their fashion of wearing their hair. But shifting their bayonet scabbards to the other side would have been too much for me. So I left the figures as they are.
The most common hair colour in central and southern France is dark brown or black (and was more so at a time of limited mobility). So I painted my soldiers from the Loire Valley with dark brown (Van Dyke brown) hair.
The colours of the regiment were the traditional of one per batallion. The first batallion carried the King's Colours, a white cross on a white field, the second batallion the regimental colours, showing the white cross and coloured quarters, in this case blue-orange-green-red. The tassels repeat these colours. By the way, the flags are my usual do-it-yourself product, using steel rod, wine bottle metal covers, and heads by Front Rank.
At Yorktown this regiment took part in the attack on the Fusilier or Star Redoubt to the Northwest of the town, which guarded the coastal road from Williamsburg. This may well have been a feint to divert the attention of the British from the digging of the 1st parallel in the south. The redoubt was defended by 120 men of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and 40 Royal Marines. The French attacked three times. In vain: It was a rather bloody affair, the French were repulsed and suffered heavy losses.
However, this seems to be the economy of strategy. What counts is success, not human lives. And Yorktown was a success: It put an end to the war and finally resulted in the Independence of the United States. Thanks to the French artillery. And perhaps even to the sacrifices of the Régiment de Touraine.
I have just finished one more limber for my French artillery park. It is a combination of various products:
Horses and driver (who got a queeu added) are from Dixon Miniatures painted as a French artillery driver with light blue facings. The limber itself is a product of Martin Leesch from Radebeul in Germany, who does very accurate models. It originally belonged to his "L'artillerie Napoléonienne - Obusier de 8 Système de l'an XI". And the 4pounder in travelling position is a very detailed and precise model by Zens Nürnberger Zinnmodelle. The firm does no longer exist. But I managed to lay my hands onto some remnants at the Kulmbach Tin Figure Fair (Kulmbacher Zinnfigurenbörse) in 2011.
Here it is, all Front Rank - with the exception of the slightly oversized ammunition boxes. I chose the smaller barrel (the model comes with two differently sized barrels), and declared it to be a 3pdr.
Well, at second look the carriage looked a bit too sturdy for a light galloper. I could have exchanged the wheels of course. There are spare wheels without the iron clamps which look a bit lighter. But I had already assemled and painted the thing. So I left it as it was.
As you can see clearly in the above picture, I put the crew on extra bases which are inserted into the main base (with the help of magnetic tape). So I can remove casualties.
On the base I added an enemy cannon ball buried in the mud, as you can see in this picture.
The officer had no sword. Probably left it behind in Britain. So he got a new one, made of flattened brass wire.
Meanwhile I have found out that I made two mistakes in painting my figures:
1) The turnbacks were red, only became white after 1780.
2) The ammunition pouches were of white leather (not black as I painted them).
The regiment which recruited in the province of Foix in southern France (on the foot of the Pyrenees), was established in 1684. It fought in many wars, and in 1776 it was sent to the Caribbean, where it captured the island of Grenada from the British. For the Franco-American attempt to take Savannah in the autumn of 1779 under Lieutenant General Admiral Jean Baptiste Charles Henri Hector, Comte d'Estaing , a battalion was formed of detachments drawn from the regiment. This is why my battalion contains grenadiers of the 1st battalion and chasseurs of the 2nd battalion.
Which of the two colours this composed battalion carried is not known.
I decided to take the drapeu d'ordonnance (regimental colours), since the purely white drapeau de colonel (King's colours) seemed too boring to me with all that white.
I even violated historical truth further in giving the battalion the colours of 1780 which show the words "FIDELIS FELIX FORTIS" (Faithful Fortunate Strong) - just for a change, well knowing that the colours the regiment might have carried at Savannah probably showed the earlier version.
From 1776 to 1779 the uniform was the usual white, with green cuffs and lapels, a yellow collar, and brass buttons. This uniform was probably still worn at Savannah because the regiment came from the West Indies and would probably not have had a chance to get the new uniform prescribed in the Royal Warrant of 1779.
As figures I chose the Perry ones in the uniform of 1776.
My soldiers wear a tricolour cockade: over the white cockade of the French King, they have added a black ribbon for the Americans, and a red one for Spain. This was usually done by the regiments from the West Indies, in honour of their allies.
This is the model of a French 10 inch Gribeauval mortar by Front Rank:
It is a nicely sculpted model of the most modern mortar of the period. I must say I really like it. However, ...
... a drawing of the original piece reveals that the model has got two major flaws: The handle on the barrel is missing, and so is the powder chamber. The latter is absolutely nessessary, because the powder for the ignition must be kept in place over the ignition hole when the barrel is elevated. And the handle is needed in the process of elevating the barrel, and to lift the barrel onto the carriage. Barrel and carriage were transported on sparate carts!
So I had to do some tinkering again. The handle was not so difficult to make. A bit of brass wire of the right diametre bent into the right form. That was it. To glue it to the barrel proved a lot more tricky. But with the help of a bit of modeller's putty this problem could be solved. I mixed a tiny ammount of two-component-glue, dipped the ends of the handle into it, and put the thing into its position.
The powder chamber was modelled with a bit of grey stuff. Not really a difficult job.
The colouring was easy: The barrel was painted as bronze, with black in the muzzle and near the powder chamber. The wooden parts of the carriage were painted blue in the customary French colour, and the iron parts black.
I am quite content with the result. Of course it would have been easier if the modeller had not forgotten the two items on the barrel!
As you know, it all began with the Green Mountain Boys, who lived in today's Vermont. They got their name from the mountain range of the Verts Monts which are part of the Appalachian Mountains. The range extends about 400 km in north-southerly direction. In the 18th century there was a conflict about land properties between New York and New Hanpshire about land beyond the mountains. And settlers who had been granted land properties by the latter, refused to accept the authority of New York, and defended their homesteads violently. They formed an unauthorised militia - today you might even call them a band of terrorists.
The Green Mountain Boys immediately joined the revolution, under the command of Ethan Allen. They later formed the basis of the Vermont militia that selected Seth Warner as its leader.
When a new regiment of 500 men was authorised by Continental Congress in 1776, Seth Warner was made colonel. They were called the Green Mountain Rangers, also known as Warner's Extra-Continental Regiment.
Their uniform consisted of black cocked felt hats, green coats faced red, buckskin breeches and waistcoats, coarse woollen stockings, heavy low shoes, checked or white shirts. In the field they mostly wore hunting shirts over their coats, or instead of them. Their arms were English or French muskets, some had American rifles.
Officers wore a golden epaulet on the right shoulder, a crimson sash, sabre and boots. They carried light fusils or muskets when in the field.
When I thought of forming this regiment, I chose various Perry, Foundry and Front Rank figures mixed together, in order to create the impression of this unruly bunch of fellows. There are uniformed men, others in rifle frocks, rather civilian looking coats, and even in shirt sleeves. Most are wearing cocked hats, but also slouched hats, and even strawhats and worsted caps can be seen.
Colonel Seth Warner on horseback is seen wearing a green hunting shirt.
Two surplus ensigns have been transformed to officers wielding a pistol and holding a musket. (As American regiments didn't carry a national flag, but most packs contain two ensigns, they were somehow useless, but found their destination now.)
There was no problem with the colours as they are well known: Green field, with blue canton with 13 white stars:
In order to transport water from one of the wells or the stream to the troops I needed another water cart with a barrel.
My first one was an old model by Erich Erich which I had bought decades ago for my army of flats. It was a nice water cart with a tapped barrel. However there was no draft animal nor a drover. So I bought these from Front Rank Miniatures, a nice looking ox and a drover in a smock.
The drover is a bit chubby, and he carried a whip. I didn't mind the physical appearance so much. There are chubby people, aren't there. And the whip I could easily be exchanged for a prick. At that time (in 2009) I was about to build my French expeditionary force. So the cart was painted blue, which limits its usability though. But I left it as it was (for historical reasons of my collection, so to speak).
With my new water cart I avoided this mistake: It is colored in a neutral wood tone. And I scratch-built it, using a fat barrel I had picked up at a fair (don't ask me from whom). As wheels I used a pair from a somewhat over-sized model of a 3-pounder galloper gun by an Austrian producer. They might go for those over-sized wheels on agricultural vehicles which were customary in the 18th century. (These big wheels made transport easier on muddy roads, because of their large diameter and broad tires.)
The drover is a Minden miniature who was equipped with a prick by drilling a hole into his right hand and fitting in a bit of wire sharpened at the end.
The oxen are a pair from Mirliton Miniatures from Italy, the yoke originally belonged to a pair of draft oxen from Colonel Bill's Wargames Depot. The original animals are quite nice, too. But I needed walking animals because the drover is walking.
The oxen I painted as New England cattle, hoping that this race was in existence in 1779.
Now the incident card "hot weather" may be drawn.
Trying to get some cattle (oxen) for my troops I got two draft oxen from Redoubt Enterprises. They have got fixed yokes. So I decided to use them as draft animals and not as victuals. Here they are, pulling a heavy log:
Another well documented flag of a militia unit from the Revolutionary War is that of the Hanover Associators in Pennsylvania. The flag itself has gone, but there is an ancient engraving in the Pennsylvania State Archives and a description in a letter of Col. Timothy Green, commanding officer of the Hanover battalion.
According to him the flag was of crimson watered silk,
six feet long by five and one-half feet wide. It contained a figure in the clothes
of a frontier rifleman, with gun ready, underneath being a scroll with the
motto LIBERTY OR
The colors are listed as "Red field and trim on cap; yellow fringe and scroll; black lettering and cap; green ground and uniform with cream legs, trim, feather and powder horn; brown belt and light blue rifle barrel."
As figures I took 12 soldiers of Redoubt's "American Line Infantry in Hunting Shirts" and three figures of their command which had an extra drummer and ensign. The NCO had his halberd removed, he received a pistol instead which he is holding at ready. And he was promoted to officer. With green stuff I added a pouch and powder horn. (Where else should he keep his ammunition?)
There has been some confusion over the numbering of
the first and second Pennsylvania regiments. The 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, raised
as the second troop from Pennsylvania, is also known as the Pennsylvania Rifle
Regiment, Thomson's Rifle Battalion, or 1st Continental Regiment. As two of
their names tell us, they were armed with rifles. And with these they played a
decisive part in breaking the morale of the Hessian regiments at Trenton,
probably also killing Colonel Rall.
The colours of this troop are preserved until today - at least in some shreds. So we know what the figures in the central field looked like, and what the inscription was. The contemporary description, however, is not what you would call precise:
"Our Standard is to be a deep green ground, the Device a Tyger partly enclosed by toils attempting the pass defended by a hunter armed with a spear in white, on crimson field the motto 'Domari nolo'”.
At least we know from it that the bunting was green, and the central field crimson. The flag was made of silk. The inscription above the figures reads "P.M.I.st Rt." (= Pennsylvania Militia, 1st Regiment). The Latin motto "DOMARI NOLO" on a banner below the central group means "I refuse to be dominated". One of the surviving shreds shows the central group, the hunter with his spear and the tiger trying to escape from the net in which it is caught. It is much more detailed than most reconstructions show, being painted onto the silk.
Thacher from Barnstable who knew the troop from many encounters, provides the
following description of the soldiers:
"They are remarkably stout and hardy men; many of them exceeding six feet in height. They are dressed in white frocks or rifle shirts and round hats. There men are remarkable for the accuracy of their aim; striking a mark with great certainty at two hundred yards distance. At a review, a company of them, while in a quick advance, fired their balls into objects of seven inches diameter at the distance of 250 yards [...] their shot have frequently proved fatal to British officers and soldiers who expose themselves to view at more than double the distance of common musket shot."
(James Thacher, "Military Journal during the American Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783".)
As figures I chose the Perry riflemen. One of them wears a coat. Following the deserter description of 24th July 1776, I painted it as "an old coat of winestone color". The others wear white hunting shirts. Officer, drummer and ensign were borrowed from Redoubt's Line Infantry in hunting shirts. The officer was given a Jäger rifle, of course, instead of his pole weapon. Not a bad change, I think.
In case my regiment is regarded too small by my fellow players, I can easily fill it up with men of the Hanover Associators which I painted accordingly.
For quite some time I had planned to get the group of Stockbridge Indians from the Perries. Ever since I had read the diary of Johann Ewald and seen his watercolour of one of the killed members of this militia of native Americans who fought for the cause of freedom.
Johann Ewald, captain of the Hessian Jäger contingent, describes the members of this semi-civilized tribe who lived in the small town of Stockbridge as follows:
“Their costume was a shirt of coarse linen down to the knees, long trousers also of linen down to the feet, on which they wore shoes of deerskin, and the head was covered with a hat made of bast. Their weapons were a rifle or musket, a quiver with some twenty arrows, and a short battle-axe, which they know how to throw very skillfully. Through the nose and in the ears they wore rings, and on their heads only the hair of the crown remained standing in a circle the size of a dollar-piece, the remainder being shaved off bare. They pull out with pincers all the hairs of the beard, as well as those on all other parts of the body.”
A company of the Indian troops had been ambushed on August 31st, 1778 in the Bronx by British and Hessian troops, and fifteen of them had been killed. Captain Ewald observed the dead Indians on the ground and painted his picture of them. Furthermore he gives this description:
"After the affair I examined the dead Indians. I was struck with astonishment over their sinewy and muscular bodies. Their strong, well-built, and healthy bodies were strikingly distinguished among the Europeans with whom they lay mingled on the ground, and one could see by their faces that they had perished with resolution. I compared these Indians with my ancestors under Arminius [Teuton chief who defeated the Roman legions in 9 A.D.], against whom they looked like pygmies to me."
The gun the Indian carries obviously is a rifle and not a musket. So this may be the portrait of the Indian commander Abraham Nimham or his farther Daniel Nimham who were both killed in the ambush, later known as the Bronx Massacre.
In painting the figures I followed Ewald's description. Here they are:
Let me begin with my newest ship. It is the "Sea Dog" by Games of War which I converted into a privateer vessel by adding a quarter-deck, some windows, additional portholes, a steering wheel, anchors, and four swivel guns of different calibre. The flag on the mast can be exchanged.
The master is a sailor figure I got from Galloping Major when I bought the "Merchantman". I think this bully of a sailor gives the right impression of a privateer captain of the time. The man at the wheel is a Redoubt pirate figure.
My other crew members are a mixture of figures. Over the months I have collected various figures of seamen. Most are Napoleonic, though. But that doesn't matter too much as regards simple sailors. Only true top hats are an anachronism, as far as I know. And if you do not take historical accuracy too serious, quite a lot of seamen will go unnoticed on board the ships, who really belong to the period after 1789.
Here is a review:
Most of the top hats could easily be transformed to round hats by filing. I left them as they are, not bothering too much about historical accuracy, and not wanting to "destroy" the beautiful figures..
After I had bought the so-called "Conestoga Wagon" from Perry Miniatures (AW 192) I started to investigate in the Internet about this vehicle.
First of all I learned that a Conestoga Wagon was not just a "covered wagon" and not at all identical with the "prairie schooner" of the 19th century - it was, indeed, a heavy overland cargo vehicle that originated around 1754, and was probably introduced by Mennonite German settlers in the Conestoga Valley in Pennsylvania. The wagon was conceived for transporting heavy loads in hilly or even mountanious regions. For this purpose the vehicle was cleverly built: Its floor curved boat-like upwards at the front and rear ends to prevent the load from shifting when travelling up or down hill. It had a tailgate for loading. The construction was stout to withstand the stony and bad roads, actually it was a heavy vehicle with lots of iron reinforcements, normally pulled by two to three pairs of horses. The wheels were large so the wagon could pass over streams without getting the products inside wet. Furthermore the wagon could pass over stumps in the roads or large rocks, because roads were poor in those days.
The traditional colouring was a light but brillant blue verging on peacock blue for the body, vermillion red for the wheels and undercarriage, and white for the top made of canvas, sailcloth, or homespun hemp . All iron work was painted black.
The Conestoga Horses were a special breed of originally black draft horses, perhaps the offspring of the black cart horses common in England. They were massively built, weighed about 1800 pounds and stood between sixteen and seventeen hands at the withers (about 170 centimetres). They had no long hair beneath the fetlocks (the roads were often muddy!), and no long tails (to avoid matting).
The wagoner drove the team with a sigle rein, the "jerk line", running to the lead horse (the first on the left). A right turn would be signalled to the horses by giving several short jerks of the line and shouting "Gee!", a left turn by a steady pull on the line and calling "Haw!". The teamster either walked along-side the wagon, or he rode on the wheel-horse (the horse on the left side directly in front of the wagon), or he could pull out the "lazy board" which was fastened beneath the wagon bed beweeen the wheels on the left side, and sit on it. But then he was in danger of being regarded a lazy wagoner!
From this position he or his assistant could also work
the brakes on the rear wheels by pulling the brake lever you can recognize at
the left side of the wagon. At this period the Conestoga wagon was the
only vehicle with brakes! On long slopes a brake chain could be
applied which then barred the rear wheels.
One problem seems to be that in some pictures the brake lever points forward, in others backward. But if you have a look at the construction of the brake this is no real problem: The wagoner could fix the lever to the brake rocker bar either way, and operate the brake either from the lazy board or from the rear of the wagon (if he had an assistant).
Each horse wore an arch on its hame to which a number of bells were fastened. The lead team had five bells, the middle team four, and the rear team three bells. These bells annonced that the heavy transport was coming, and that people and lifestock had better get out of the way. However, bells were not always used on long distance travel, e.g. on the National Road connecting Baltimore and Frederic Maryland with Wheeling West Virginia.
The wagon carried some equipment: a feed box to feed the horses (fastened to the rear), a bucket to water the animals, an axe to clear the road in case any newly fallen trees blocked it, a grease bucket to grease the wheels, a jack for removing the wheels, and a tool box for small repairs.
Having a look at my Perry model, I realized that it actually has some flaws, only some of which I could repair. It must be said, however, that re-measuring prompted that the wagon had the right size - the average original wagon measuring 18 ft. long, 11 ft. high, and 4 ft. wide. However the bottom of the wagon body is not curved (see the exhibit at the Smithonian National Museum). So the general impression of the vehicle is not quite correct. This can't be remedied.
And then I realized that the brake on the right side was broken off, and the part not contained in the parcel. It took me some filing and scratching to produce a new brake from a bit of plastic sprew I had fortunately kept in my material box.
Adding the lazy board cut of balsa wood didn't prove too difficult. The brake lever took some more pains. I constructed it from brass wire by adding some material by welding.
Both parts could easily have been included in the original box, I think (I must admit that I prefer real models to play-things).
The horses of the model are not equipped with bells. Couldn't the producer have added these parts as well? Thast would have saved me some pains. However, being the perfectionist that I am, I made four sets of 3 and 4 bells on arches from grey stuff and thin wire and glued them to the hames. They are a bit out of proportion, but the idea is there.
The finished model does not look too bad, after all. And who knows all the details (I didn't myself before I started researching).
The missing buckets I bought from a ship-building model shop. They turned out to be a bit small, at least the water bucket. Perhaps I will change it later for a bigger spec