Tuesday, April 9, 2019

17th Lancers: My Representation

Took me a week longer than it should have but here is my fourth light cavalry regiment done for the Light Brigade - the 17th Lancers. All shots are taken using my newly constructed light box - the panels for which I made using baking paper. The light blue backing paper was all that I could source in Tonga and I was lucky to find that - but I kind of like it.

Once again all models for this unit are from the Great War Miniatures Crimean War range and they are fabulous. I think they paint up particularly well and I enjoyed finishing them off more so than their hussar counter-parts.

Particular features of this representation are the inclusion of two figures from the Great War Miniatures Charge of the Light Brigade Characters pack (CBC08) - Captain Morris and Butcher Jack Vahey. I retained and included the officer from the lancers command pack to represent another of the squadron commanders so this regiment has one more officer than my others.

I've pretty well constructed this regiment as they come from the manufacturer. The lances; however, are steel wire straightened, cut and fitted into lance heads/pennons from Front Rank. There is a gap in the receiving ports of these lance heads which in hindsight I should have filled but did not. I can live with it.

I like how the regiment looks all grouped up and I had cause to reflect how impressive they would look had I opted for 18 figure regiments which was my original goal. This would have looked optimal to me but it was impractical for the whole Battle of Balaclava re-fight I am aiming for at 1:20 representative scale. If I was just going for a Charge of the Light Brigade re-fight then 18 or even 24 figure regiments would have been my chosen option.

I kept some light blood stains on Jack Vahey's butcher's cleaver but have left this shirt stain free. I surmise he would have few uniform shirts and would likely have done his butchering with an apron which he cast off before riding into the lines. I also theorized Jack would likely have appropriated a stray hussar mount from either of the two Russian regiments who engaged the Thin Red Line or the Heavy Brigade. I've painted up his mount in the colours of the Kiev Hussars and made their recorded 'dark green' shabraque slightly toward the medium: I have seen them bordering on black.

I was never sure about which angle to fix my lances but I'm happy with the upright pose. It is less dynamic than charging but then again, basing figures for miniature wargames tends to order them more that a full charging gallop would have looked like when charging their lances and closing with the enemy.

I am now only one regiment and Lord Cardigan's command base away from finishing my Light Brigade. I am also two regiments and a command base away from Scarlet's Heavy Brigade and then that's the division done. Next up I have a fair number of Russian Don Cossack cavalry to paint. I thought it was about time the Brits had someone to cross sabres with but for now I'm taking a break from this project.

Friday, March 22, 2019

8th Kings Royal Irish Light Dragolons (Hussars): Great War Miniatures

These troopers have been a long time coming. What with my multitude of other projects and three blogs apart from this one, even when attending to my Balaclava 'love' I diverted away from the Light Brigade and leapt head-long at the Heavies. Well it's back to the Light Brigade once more with my modelling of the 8th Hussars.
The third of my light regiments, I noticed how I've developed my painting and my photography since last I painted this brigade. I layer these days with Vallejo acrylics to build up my flesh tones and I dull wash my brass - which I may have overdone with the trumpeter, but I'll live with it.

A word on painting Great War Miniatures cavalry. I like to paint the horses first - the animals rather than their furniture. When doing this you need to be mindful of a few areas of what I'm calling raised-depth. The casting of the carbines extends out some way on several of the sculpts as do the rider's legs. You may decide later on that this depth might be best painted to match a saddle-cloth or even extend the feature back. My recommendation is to extend the painting of the horse in all cases and you can decide later if you prefer to go over the top or not. In the end, the eye isn't drawn to it so you just want that depth to fade into the background.

I've modeled this regiment with a couple of features we know about from the historical accounts. The first detail I included was the unfortunate Sergent Williams who was denied his sword for the charge by Lieutenant Colonel Shewell for disgracing the regiment - his crime was smoking in the lines. So, I took one of the straight sword arms, carved off the sword and filed away. The hand and finger detail are painted on. I made Williams my only NCO for this unit.
The other inclusion for my 8th Hussars is their mascot 'Jenny' the wire-haired terrier who charged with them. I can't recall the manufacturer for this miniature but can tell you it's a 15mm Wolfhound painted in a terrier pattern.

What I do for the trouser stripe is base coat it in yellow. After the unit is sealed with a mat spray coat (picture varnish) I then finish the metals. For the stripe I mix yellow and gold (Humbrol enamels) for that cloth of gold look. I do the same for the officer's braid, cords etc.

Normally I base my horse colours around Humbrol Satin Brown (No 133) but I'm out with no hope of replacement until I return to Australia. Necessity being the Mother and all, I mixed up a range of different browns and shades - I'm quite happy with the varied results.

I painted Shewell's horse from Fenton's photo - dark (I decided very dark brown) with two back socks.

I also included a dress sabretache instead of the plain leather variant for the rest of the regiment.

I enjoyed painting this unit very much. Whilst it took years to get to, I turned them around in two weeks which for me us very quick. Next task ... I straight into the 17th lancers.

Monday, March 18, 2019

British Cavalry Equipment: Victoria Carbine

Seldom detailed in many uniform and military reference works covering regiments in the Crimean War are sufficient references to the cavalry weapons in use. So I've thought to dig up what I can and plug the gap.

Before continuing I must remark that attribution when it comes to design of firearms for this period can be difficult. Firearms are often known by a name such as Brunswick (region of origin for the type), Enfield (the name of the producing factory) or Lovell (after George Lovell - Inspector of Small Arms at Enfield by 1840).

Referred to in Osprey Men-At-Arms issue 196 British Army on Campaign 1816-1902 (2) The Crimea 1854-56 is the 'Victoria percussion carbine' (3' 6" in length). This is cited as being issued to all cavalry (heavy and light) save for the 17th Lancers who carried the 1842 percussion pistol.  Other than referring to the method of carriage being either strapped, muzzle down or slung off the pouch belt via a swivel mounting this is all the detail forthcoming in this or any other Osprey edition I possess.

The 'Victoria carbine' was the first issue of muzzle-loading percussion carbines. At least some elements of design and development are attributed to London gunsmiths Moore & Manton. It was adopted for issue to light and heavy cavalry regiments in 1839. Originally designed with a back-action lock, the weapon was upgraded with a side-action lock in 1843 and retained the trapped swivel ramrod fixed just behind the muzzle. It was a smooth-bore weapon and had a rear and later also a fore fixed iron sight. 

William Moore had survived Joseph Manton (died 1835) and is likely the designer of this particular side-action lock for the Victoria carbine. The adaptation of the lock was occurring across a number of percussion firearms at the same time - not just the carbine. Weapon developments were occurring simultaneously at the government Enfield works as well as private sector gunsmiths in London and Birmingham and often with open reference to one another.

Irrespective of enhancements, the weapon was eventually admitted to be heavy and too clumsy to be used effectively from horseback (Board of Cavalry Officers 1855). Captain Manly Dixon (Superintendent Enflield works) described the Victoria carbine in 1855 as "all but useless."
The carbine was manufactured at HM Ordnance's Manufactory for Small Arms at Enfield Lock. Since 1816 George Lovell had been Storekeeper (factory director) and intimately involved in the design and development of several firearms and the perfection of the percussion lock system. It appears that at this time the Enfield works were incapable of producing sufficient numbers of replacement Victoria carbines in wartime, taking 9 months of 1854 to produce 286. Whilst George Lovell was instrumental in directing the planning and construction of the new Enfield facility along the mass production techniques and uniform parts theory then known as the 'American system', this was not realized until the years immediately after the Crimean War.

The Victoria carbine was a comparatively short lived evolution of cavalry firearm and considered an unsatisfactory one. The Board of Ordinance was desirous of replacing the Victoria carbine by 1854 but the cavalry were stuck with it for the duration of the campaign.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Orlando Norie: War Artist

Barrack Hospital Scutari: Scene with nurses and soldiers of the Highland Regiment 1854-6
Perhaps one of the most prolific artists of the nineteenth century, Orlando Norie purportedly has more than 5000 works attributed to him. He qualifies as a 'Balaclava' artists for this blog as he was alive when the battle unfolded and produced several notable works on the event.
Light Dragoons just prior to the Charge

In fact, it was Orlando's initial works on Balaclava and the Crimean War which launched his career. He was first produced in 1854 when his print of The Battle of Alma was advertised which he must have commenced as soon as the battle had been reported. It must also be almost completely speculative.
Balaclava Harbour

Orlando Norie was only 22 when The Battle of Alma was released - the start of a long career and life which ended in 1901, aged 69. For much of his life he maintained a close association with Rudolf Ackermann who reproduced and published many of his works. He was in fact regarded as the successor to the war artist Henry Martens (see previous blog post) whose career was ending as Norie's commenced - both overlapping one another on the subject of the Crimean War.
The Battle of Balaclava: "The Scots Greys supported by the Inniskillings coming to the rescue"

Norie's Battle of Inkerman and Battle of Balaclava followed hot on the trail. It appears that most of Nories time was spent in Dunkirk. He was Belgium born to Scottish parents and I can find no evidence of his having toured the Crimea or more specifically Balaclava. Nevertheless it was as subject he was to return to from time to time well after the end of the war itself.
Vedettes of 13th Light Dragoons: Crimea

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Henry Martens: War Artist

'The Brilliant Cavalry Action at the Battle of Balaclava' by Henry Martens 1854
Henry Martens is described as an English illustrator and war artist and certainly fits into my defined period as an artists alive during the Crimean War and whom produced art works relevant to the Battle of Balaclava.
Captain Thomas Fraser Grove 6th Dragoons by Henry Martens

Martens was born in 1790 so was 64 by the time of the battle and nearing the end of his working life. He died in 1868 aged 78. I can glean little else of the man's life and regrettably there is no image of him to post.
4th Dragoon Guards (Watercolour) by Henry Martens 1840

More famous for his works on the Sikh and Kaffir Wars of the 1840s he nevertheless produced oil paintings, illustrations and water colours (his more common medium). Many of his works were lithographed by John Harris for Rudolf Ackermann's Eclipse Sporting Gallery.
The 2nd Dragoons Guards at a review 1850

Several of Marten's works produced in the 1840s and 1850s are relevant uniform reference guides for the British army of the Crimea Campaign and Balaclava. Martens was particularly known for his interest and depiction of British cavalry units.

8th Hussars: Marching Order by Henry Martens

Whilst relatively prolific during his career, few of the works of Henry Martens remain in the public domain; most remaining in private collections. The above image (date unknown) is cropped from a photo taken at auction. You can make out the reflections from the glass picture

8th Hussars by Henry Marten 1852
The above image of an officer of the 8th Hussars produced in 1852 is the only reference I could find for the horse amulet throat-plume (tassel) being black. I had not seen this depicted anywhere for the 8th Hussars in any of my uniform guide references nor referred to which makes this image an essential record.


Friday, March 8, 2019

17th Lancers: Battle History

By Dennis Knight features in the Transfer Action booklet
First raised in Hertfordshire 1759 by Colonel John Hale as the 18th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons aka Hales Light Horse. It was renumbered 17th Light Dragoons in April 1764 and confirmed in 1769. The regiment saw plenty of active service in Germany, North America and the West Indies throughout the 18th century. It served in South America during the Napoleonic wars and India where is was officially re-designated as a lancer regiment in 1817.

When the regiment received orders to make ready for the Crimean campaign it had not seen active service for 34 years. The 17th as with the other regiments fielded four troops in two squadrons for a total strength of 56 officers and 283 other ranks. The regiment embarked from Portsmouth from 18-25th April in five ships - one for each troop and for the headquarters. Major Augustus Saltren Willet took one troop aboard the Pide of the Ocean, one each in the Ganges and Blundell and Edmundsbury with headquarters aboard the Eveline.

Colonel of the Regiment was Major-General Sir James Maxwell Wallace who was amongst other things a Quatre-Bras and Waterloo veteran.

Officer commanding the 17th Lancers was Lieutenant-Colonel John Lawrenson who had been a long serving officer and promoted up within the regiment.

The regiment suffered 23 mounts lost during transit to Constantinople and disembarked at Kulali by 30 May. They re-embarked on 2 June and united with the Light Brigade at Varna by 4 June. They then proceeded with the army marching to Devna, then Kutlubi, Yasytepe, Sazego and halted setting camp at Yeni-Bazar from 1 - 25 August. During encampment the regiment suffered further loses of horses and buried 12 men lost to cholera which had taken a serious grip on the regiment.

Returning to Varna the army reembarked and made for the Crimea, landing at Kalamita bay 17 September. By this time the regiment suffered a further two men dead to Cholera having been reduced to 21 officers and 216 other ranks.

During the battle of Alma, one squadron of the 17th broke ranks without orders assailing the heights during the close of the action and began taking prisoners before being ordered to retire. It was immediately after Varna that Colonel Lawrenson was invalided home, leaving command of the regiment to Major Augustus Willett.

By 29 September the army had moved onto Balaclava and the 17th were billeted without tents until the third day. By 23 October Major Williett died, passing command onto the senior Captain, 33 year old veteran William "Slacks" Morris who returned from the staff. Morris had plenty of active service experience in India, being formerly of the 16th Lancers. He had joined the 17th in 1847 in Dublin and was indeed a good friend of Captain Louis Nolan.
Godfrey Charles Morgan and 'Sir Briggs' by Alfred Frank de Prades 1856

On the day of the charge, 139 of the 17th Lancers arrayed under Captain Morris (alone dressed in his undress forage cap). The first squadron was commanded by Captain Robert White; its two troops led by Captain the Honourable Godfrey Charles Morgan (riding Sir Briggs) and Lieutenant John Henry Thompson. The second squadron was commanded by Captain John Pratt Winter; its two squadrons led by Captain Augustus Frederick Cavendish Webb and Lieutenant Sir William Gordon.
Officers of the 17th by Fenton
Famously, the regimental butcher Private John (Jack)Veigh (Vahey) rushed into line just prior to the advance still in his apron, carrying his cleaver and riding a commandeered Russian horse.
Balaklava - Stanley Berkeley
The regiment took considerable if un-quantifiable casualties going in being in the front line of the charge. Captain Winter was killed going in but is reported as having maintained his seat for some time after receiving his mortal wound. All too many riders had their horses killed beneath them, one of them Captain White receiving severe injuries in the process. As the casualty returns will testify, their position in the front line saw the regiment shot to pieces.
The 17th partially flanked the right of the Russian gun-line and pressed forward still under the leadership of Captain Morris into the Russian Hussars formed behind which they routed.

During the melee with the Russian Hussars, the regiment broke up into smaller fighting elements. Captain Morris became effectively disarmed when failing to extract his sword from the body of an adversary. At that moment he was assailed and received two sabre strikes to the forehead, unhorsing him. Set upon by Cossacks Morris received a further wound from a lance blow. He was forced to surrender for a time together with Lieutenant (Adjutant) John Chadwick of the regiment who had taken a lance wound in the neck. Chadwick's horse had been so wounded by the time he reached the guns the poor creature halted and could go no further which was when Chadwick was assailed, wounded and captured.
Charge of the Light Brigade by John Charlton (1905) - depicting Godfrey Morgan on Sir Briggs
One group of the regiment had formed under Sergeant O'Hara who ran down some Russian gunners who had limbered and were dragging off some guns. Cohesion had been lost. The larger part of this group with O'Hara then found the remnant of Morris' group who proceeded to turn about and fight their way back through the gun-line and up the valley.

A portion of O'Hara's group became separated who in turn were rallied under Brigade Major Mayow who proceeded to charge down more Russian cavalry who were forming behind the gun-line. After chasing them clear, this group of lancers united with a considerable body of the 8th Hussars still with their commander, Lieutenant Colonel Shewell (see the 8th Hussars Battle History post).
17th Lancers at Balaclava by Richard Simkin
The casualties sustained by the 17th during the charge were 2 officers (Captain Winter, Lieutenant Thompson) and 22 other ranks killed, 4 officers and 33 other ranks wounded, 1 officer and 13 other ranks taken prisoner. For the mathematically inclined that represented a 57% loss of killed/wounded/captured. The regiment also lost an alarming 99 mounts destroyed - a devastating loss. Almost all survivors of the regiment must have been compelled to return up the valley of death on foot.

Captain Morris had made his escape after being abandoned by his captors - unlike the unfortunate Lieutenant Chadwick who remained a prisoner of war for a further 12 month before his release. Morris commandeered a stray which was subsequently killed beneath him. Recovering but severely wounded, Morris returned on foot under fire with the assistance of  Surgeon Mouat (6th Inniskilling) and Sergeant-Major Wooden (17th Lancers).
Charles Wooden (VC)

Sergeant-Major Charles Wooden was a 25 year old German-born career soldier with the regiment and was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in risking his life to rescue Captain Morris.

Captain White had been badly wounded as was Lieutenant Sir William Gordon who received five sabre cuts to the head from the Russian Hussars. Gordon barely made it back alive being harassed all the way by Russian cavalry and his horse shot through the shoulders, dying of its wounds only after returning its master.
1855 (LtoR) Thomas Smith, William Dimmock, William Pearson, Thomas Foster survived the charge

Lieutenant Wombwell had been captured but made good his escape having two horsed killed from under him in the process.

Sergeant John Farrell of the 17th was also awarded the Victoria Cross. His horse had been shot out from under him and whilst in the field under heavy fire he assisted in removing the regiment's mortally wounded Captain Augustus Webb from out of gunnery range.

Assisting Farrell was Corporal John Berryman of the regiment who also received a Victoria Cross. Captain Webb later succumbed to his wounds at Scutari Hospital on 6 November aged 22.


Unusually and rather conspicuously, there is but one surviving photograph by Fenton of the 17th Lancers. In contrast to the amount of written accounts involving the 17th, there are next to no near contemporary pictorial records of the 17th for the Crimean campaign. I can find no portraiture of any of the officers involved save for Godfrey Morgan (later to become the first Viscount Tredegar) and the profile photograph of of William Morris.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

8th Kings Royal Irish Light Dragoons (Hussars): Battle History

The 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars was first raised in Derry 1693 by Henry Conyngham as Henry Conyngham's Regiment of Dragoons as part of the Irish Establishment. It wasn’t until 1818 the regiment was ordered to convert to hussars (possibly the first to do so) shipping to England and returning as escort to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their first visit to Dublin in 1849.

At Chobham maneuvers camp 1853 - by J Harris

By the Crimean War the Colonel of the regiment was Lieutenant-General Sir John Brown (who commanded the Light Division in the Crimea) and the regiment was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick George Shewell.

Colonel Frederick George Shewell - by Fenton 1854

Shewell was 45 years of age by the time he led the regiment into the Valley of Death, having been promoted from Major to command the regiment on 19th February 1847. Shewell was to command the Light Brigade later in the campaign but returned to England and died in 1856 from an illness contracted on campaign.

Rodolph De Salis - date unknown pre-Balaclava

The second in command of the regiment was Major Rodolph John Leslie Hibernicus De Salis, aged 43 who attained his majority in 1847 (by purchase, naturally) and was to survive the charge and assume command as Colonel of the regiment in 1858. During the charge de Salis rode his mount ‘Drummer Boy’ who was wounded when returning back up the valley after the charge. Some part of his return journey up the valley was on foot leading Drummer Boy, having given up his saddle for disabled trooper of the 8th

Of the Regiment’s captains, the senior by 1854 was Charles Joseph Longmore who, according to London’s 19 September 1854 edition of The Morning Chronicle had died 18 September of cholera on board the Himalaya.

Arthur James Plunkett, Lord Killeen was Captain senior after Longmore but appears to have been detached from the regiment until after Balaclava.

Captain Edward Tomkinson attained his captaincy in 1851 and was gazette attached to the 8th Hussars by April 1854. He made the charge and had his horse shot from under him. He survived the charge and served a total of 15 years with the regiment.

Captain George Lockwood was attached to Lord Cardigan’s staff as aid-de-camp and made the charge where he met his death.

Captain James Sadler Naylor embarked with the regiment but I can glean no further details.

8th Hussars 1850 - by Robert Richard Scanlan

By the time of the charge, only one captain (Tomkinson) is definitely cited as riding with the regiment. Whilst records are scant, it seems that disease took an inordinate toll on the officers of the 8th and many of all ranks rode sick on the day. It appears that the Lieutenants constituted the essential command group at Balaclava. For example, C Troop was commanded and led in the charge by Lieutenant John Viscount Fitzgibbon who was struck in the chest by two bullets going in and died of his wounds in the valley.

Five ships were needed to transport the entire regiment. The bulk of the regiment sailed from Plymouth under command of Major de Salis aboard the H.T. Echunga, Mary Anne and the Shooting Star which embarked first on 19, 21 and 24 April. The remained followed on board the Medora and the Her Majesty’s Transport (H.T) Wilson Kennedy on 1 May.

The regiment suffered heavy losses at the Siege of Silistra in late March 1854. Like the rest of the cavalry, the 8th had little role at Alma. Whilst bivouacked at Alma 21 September 1854 Cardigan singled our 8th for specific mention as to the poor condition of their horses.

8th Hussars on Recce Patrol - by Orlando Norie

During the progress from Alma, on 28 September, a troop of the 8th performing as Lord Raglan's escort then under Captain Chetwode engaged and seized a Russian baggage train. The regiment thereafter conducted patrols and outpost duties until the day of battle. On 17th October the regiment was ordered to give up 10 horses to the Heavy Brigade.

Cooking House of the 8th Hussars - Fenton

Lieutenant Colonel Sherwell led the King's Royal Irish Hussars in the famous charge and notably forbade two soldiers to carry their swords as punishment in the charge because they had "Disgraced the regiment by smoking in the presence of the enemy". One of the men was Sergeant Williams.

The 8th formed the right of the second wave of the brigade attack. Less one troop which remained as escort to Lord Raglan this time under the command of Captain Paymaster Henry Duberly, the 8th went in with 115 officers and men making it the smallest of the brigade’s regiments. The three troops were commanded by Captain Tomkinson, Lieutenant Lord Fitzgibbon and Lieutenant (Adjutant) Edward Seager.

Moving down the valley, as the pace intensified their lines began to separate but sufficient cohesion seems to have been retained in order for the regiment to ride through the front batteries. Furthermore, they drifted right, allowing the 4th Light Dragoons to become separated. This is perhaps unsurprising given that troop leader Tomkinson became violently dismounted and Fitzgibbon was killed as the regiment came under heavy fire.

Passing clear through the enemy’s front, past the gun line they halted in the clear by up to four hundred yards forward in open ground. Rallying and wheeling to commence their retreat the rump of the 8th were blocked by three squadrons of Colonel Jeropkines Russian lancers which had descended into the valley and began forming up behind the overrun gun-line. The hussars charged with about 70 men (including 20 of the 17th Lancers), driving them off before they had completely formed up. Still under the direct command of Shewell and de Salis with Lieutenant Seager, they fought back through the front lines and the survivors made their way back up the valley as best they could.

Officers and Men of the 8th - Fenton

Overall, two officers and 19 other ranks were killed and two officers and 18 other ranks were wounded. One officer and seven other ranks were taken prisoner-of-war. Casualty Returns 22-26 October 1854 published in London Gazette: 8th Hussars—2 officers, 3 serjeants, 23 rank and file, 38 horses, killed; 2 officers, 2 serjeants, 1 drummer, 14 rank and file, wounded. Of the 8th Hussars officers —Lieutenant J. C. Viscount Fitzgibbon, killed; Cornet G. Clowes, killed; Lieutenant D. Clutterbuck wounded slightly; Lieutenant and Adjutant Edward Seager, wounded slightly.

Of note was the regimental mascot Jenny (I've seen 'Jemmy') described as a wire-haired Terrier who made the charge with the regiment. She appears to have followed them right up to the gun-line and back, suffering a wound but otherwise surviving the battle.


I found the least amount of material for the 8th hussars than any of the regiments at Balaclava. Perhaps they fall beneath the shadow of the more glamorous and famous 'Cherry Bum' 11th Hussars – Lord Cardigan’s own regiment. I do wonder if it is due to the loses sustained in particular by the officers of this regiment. Those most inclined to keep diaries, generate their own memoirs or even to involve themselves in subsequent court proceedings were simply absent from the ranks of the veterans.