Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Unlucky General: No War Artist

'Trooper 4th Light Dragoons 1854' by GCB (aka Unlucky General)
Well, what can I say? My good mate and long time wargaming comrade Matt Williamson of the Goulburn Wargames Group is having his 40th birthday celebrated on Saturday and I will be in attendance. Not wishing to come empty handed (naturally) I decided to attempt something a bit different by way of a gift. I admit to being a fan of gifts which I might get something out of (selfishness) and on this occasion it was the chance to exercise a daemon in having a stab at depicting the 4th Light Dragoons in some form of artistic attempt.

A few faults leap out straight away. The colour of the jacket and to a lesser extent the overalls is not what it should be. I worked with what I had to hand - a set of 12 INTENSE water soluble pencils by Derwent. If I had given myself more time I might have worked a little harder on getting the shades right but as you can see, it's a shade (or two) too bright. Second is my lack of perspective or it may have been me changing my mind about what I was trying to depict to the lower front of my subject but the result is a withered forearm and small left hand. Sure, some people have smaller hands than others but it's nevertheless turned out differently than I'd have preferred. The third obvious irritation for me is the smudging under the sole of the foot where my 'watercolouring' bled through.

The subject is a private trooper of the 4th light dragoons. He is wearing a waterproof shako cover and the only other thing of note is his overalls which are regulation with the double yellow stripe running the full length of the leg. His double breasted jacket has eight pairs of brass regimental buttons (almost all of the left side can be made out. I used one of Fenton's photographs of a mounted officer as my model and then worked on what I wanted to show. I included the haversack which in this case hides the sword hilt.

This was the first time I'd used water colours or these fabulous pencils. They are a delight to work with and I think I'm going to get more of them. I may also attempt similar sketching in the near future. Whilst I await being united with the rest of my Crimean miniatures orders and continue to work away from home (overseas) this may be my only means of expression other than blogging.

Anyway, here's hoping Matt likes it. He gets the original and I get the scanned copy.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

4th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons: Part Two

4th Light Dragoon by Jack Cassin-Scott
Frustratingly, as previously discussed the 4th Light Dragoons are a regiment less attended to than its more famous brigade members at Balaclava. For instance, there is no colour plate covering either Light Dragoon regiment in Nicholson and Roffe's British Army of the Crimea War (Osprey Men-at-Arms 40) nor consequently are any taken across in Osprey's Balaclava 1854 (Campaign Series 6) or Sweetman's The Crimean War (Osprey Essential Histories). Considering that there were two Light Dragoon regiments within the Brigade, I consider this quite a gap.

Luckily, we are not limited to Osprey alone and this blind spot is filled from a couple of other quarters. Before abandoning Osprey publications; however, I do want to recognise the particularly detailed written description of Light Dragoon uniform and equipment detail provided by JBR Nicholson in the British Army of the Crimea (pages 4 and 17-20) which includes several photographic details throughout.

The top image for this posting is from colour plate number 48 of the Blandford Colour Series Cavalry Uniforms of Britain and the Commonwealth (including other mounted troops) by Robert and Christopher Wilkinson-Latham (Blanford Press1969). This illustration of a 4th Light Dragoons trooper from 1854 as with all other illustrations in this release is by Jack Cassin-Scott. I will be featuring other scanned images from this work as every regiment from the Light Brigade for 1854 is represented as well as an image of the 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys).

From Wilkinson-Latham is the accompanying detail for uniform and equipment:

Head Dress
1844-55 pattern, of black beaver 7 in. deep at the front and 7 in. deep behind. The crown, of black leather, was 8 in. in diameter. The top of the shako was bound with 1-in. yellow worsted braid and bore a brass Maltese Cross plate with regimental number and title in the centre and battle honours around the outside edges of the Cross. The plate was surmounted by a Victorian crown. A white horse hair plume of 14 in. was worn, and the cap lines were of worsted yellow cord. Brass chinchain and rosettes completed the head dress. The illustration shows a trooper in marching order during the Crimean War, wearing then black oilskin cover and no plume.
The coatee was blue and double-breasted, with 2 rows of regimental-pattern buttons, with 8 in each row. Collar, cuffs and turnbacks were of scarlet facing cloth, with 2 buttons on each cuff. The skirts were plaited, with 3 buttons on each side, together with a yellow, worted black fringe. Trousers were blue, with a double yellow stripe. The girdle was made of woven yellow webbing with 2 red stripes. Brass scale epaulets were worn, except during the Crimean War, when they were left off, leaving brass fitments on the shoulders of the coatee exposed.

Buff leather with brass fittings was used for pouch belt, waist belt and sword slings. The former was worn over the left shoulder, and over the white shoulder was carried a white canvas haversack and a round water-bottle of blue painted wood on a brown leather strap. The ammunition pouch was in black leather, and the carbine swivel on the pouch belt was of steel. The waist-belt under the coatee, below the girdle, had a rectangular brass plate. A small, white buff pouch on the right front contained percussion caps for the carbine.
Sword. Although in 1853 both Light and Heavy Cavalry troopers were ordered a new pattern of sword, issue of this was delayed, and in 1854 the 4th Light Dragoons troopers were still carrying the 1829 pattern. This had a 3-bar steel hilt with the grip covered in leather and bound with wire, and with an all-steel backpiece with 2 ears which fitted around the grip and were held to it by a rivet. It had a slightly curved blade, fullered on the back edge and terminating in a single spear point. It was carried in a heavy steel scabbard with a ring near the mouthpiece and another some 18 in. down the scabbard.
Carbine. In July 1836, certain regiments of cavalry were equipped with the 'Victoria' carbine, which was introduced into the service by Lovell. This weapon was of .733 in. calibre, with a barrel 2 ft 2 in. long. It was equipped with a percussion side lock and a swivel rammer designed so that it could not be lost whilst reloading on the move.
Another stroke of good fortune comes care of the internet and which has listed the following images of items 'not for sale' and the accompanying text:
A 4th or Queens Own Light Dragoon Officers Uniform and Shako circa 1850. An exceptionally rare and possible unique example of a "Charge of the Light Brigade" period officer`s uniform and Albert shako to the 4th or Queens Light Dragoons.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

4th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons: Part One

An officer of the 4th photographed by Fenton
I have determined to build my Light Brigade first in my Balaclava build project largely due to figure availability. I have further decided to build it from the rear, forward - the first regiment under construction being the 4th Light Dragoons. Less famous or flamboyantly uniformed than the 17th lancers or 11th Hussars, the 4th Light Dragoons are perhaps the least well depicted of the regiments who charged at Balaclava; I hope this posting and those which follow will to the smallest of degrees rectify this deficiency.

The 4th (Queen’s Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons as the regiment was named at the time, was first raised in 1685. It saw service for three centuries, before being amalgamated into the current Queen's Royal Irish Hussars in 1958.
4th Light Dragoons parade dress standard
Originally The Princess Anne of Denmark's Regiment of Dragoons in 1685, the Regiment was an amalgamation of previous independent troops from Warminster, Shaftesbury, Shepton-Mallet, Glastonbury, Frome, Wincanton, Ilchester, and Bradford and was ranked the 4th Dragoons. In 1751, it was formally titled as the 4th Regiment of Dragoons, and in 1788 named for Queen Charlotte as the 4th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Dragoons and was designated light dragoons in 1818, becoming the 4th (The Queen's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons as it was to remain by the Crimean War.
Roger Fenton - Officers of the 4th Light Dragoons, 1855

In May 1854 the Regiment moved to Dorchester where it joined the army, thence to Exeter and on to Plymouth where it mobilized, embarking on the troopship Simla on 19th July. As with the other regiments of the brigade, the 4th formed 2 squadrons of two troops each having a total of 21 officers and 299 other ranks. The Colonel of the regiment was Lieutenant General Sir George Scovell (from 18th September 1847) who remained so until his replacement by Major General Sir James Hope Grant on 18th January 1861. As had been the British military tradition for generations, the Colonel was the owner ‘proprietor’ of the regiment but rarely if ever it’s commander in the field and Scovell was not present for the campaign. That honour fell to Lieutenant Colonel Lord George Paget who had succeeded to the post on 29th September 1846 until his replacement replaced by Alexander Low on 1st May 1857.
Lieutenant King photographed by Fenton
Surviving ‘intact’ as it were to remain an effective fighting force, the 4th went on after Balaclava to join battle at Inkerman on the 5th November 1854. Previous to Balaclava, the men and mounts of the Regiment had seen action at the Alma and had, through illness and casualties been reduced along the campaign trail to 127 all ranks (12 officers and 11 sergeants) for the famous charge. It should be noted; however, that the regiment only fielded three (3) of its four (4) troops with the brigade – one being detached with the 4th Division at the time of the battle of Balaclava. If we calculate wastage evenly across all troops (an assumption) then the regiment as a whole may have been reduced by this time to 169 all ranks, or thereabouts.
Two Sergeants of the 4th photographed by Fenton

During the mad charge to the guns, the 4th commenced at the west end of the Northern Valley on the left flank of the Brigade's second line. By the time it had reached within charging distance of the guns at the eastern end; however, the 11th Hussars had veered to the left and had fallen to the rear line whilst the 4th crossed over to the centre of what was now a three regiment second wave. By the time the guns were reached, the 4th was squarely behind the 13th and hit the ensuing melee front on. One might surmise, having been positioned in the centre rear that by the close, the 4th would have enjoyed some relief from flanking and forward fire being surrounded by the rest of the Brigade. Indeed, they appear to have been shielded in part by the front line which largely dissolved under the final salvo at 80 yards.
Quartermaster Hill photographed by Fenton
Arriving at the point of melee about thirty yards behind the front, the 4th remained the most effective fighting force to reach the battery other than the 8th which had fallen behind and to the right. They charged down the Russian gunners with pistols and sabres to prevent the removal of the cannon. With about 50 troopers, Paget supported the fight with Douglas’ 11th taking command of the Brigade during the action in the absence of Lord Cardigan who had dissappeared in the gun-smoke. It was the 4th and 11th which dominated the point of contact, silenced the guns and fought a running retreat by actions end against growing numbers of enemy cavalry.
Lord George Paget photographed by Fenton
LORD GEORGE Augustus Frederick PAGET

Member of Parliament  for Beaumaris and a respected officer within the army and particularly the Cavalry Division, Paget was with Lucan during the morning reconnaissance just prior to the opening of hostilities. He was in command of the Light Brigade during Lord Cardigan’s absence earlier that day (as the Brigade’s next most senior officer) and was in command of the second line of the Brigade during the Charge (4th and  8th regiments). Paget had been with the 4th Light Dragoons since 1840, attained his Lieutenant Colonelcy in 1846 and was 36 years old at Balclava (born 16th March 1818).

Lord George Paget is famously and fondly remembered as the commander who kept a lit cheroot (cigar) clenched between his teeth throughout the action (a modelling point of interest for my officer figure). Making good his promise to Lord Cardigan to provide 'his best support', Paget kept the regiment up behind the front rank of the Brigade as best he could, arriving on top of the guns in time to achieve the assumed objective. By the time the 4th had made it down the valley level with Redoubt No:3, the fire had become so murderous that Paget found himself surrounded on either side by four to five maddened and riderless horses. He was required to fight them off with his sabre to remain seated.
Paget is also noted for being the last senior officer to leave the battle for the Russian guns. Having commanded the last 70 troopers or so within the central melee (mainly 4th and 11th regiments) Paget commanded a desperate formation which briefly stood its ground as Russian lancers blocked their retreat. Determined to make their escape, Paget led a successful breakthrough thanks to ineffectual cavalry deployments aided by persistent Russian gunnery which hampered friend and foe alike. Paget was reputedly the last man in the ‘organised’ formations to reach safety.
Lord George Paget as depicted in Vanity Fair (1877)
(Note: Paget's revised Crimean Journals were published by his son in 1881.)
Captain Thomas Hutton

Typical of many combatants, Captain Thomas Everard Hutton of the 4th rode in the Charge and was shot through the right thigh during the advance. Surviving contact, on his return down the valley he was again severely wounded through the left thigh but made it back. His horse was less fortunate, being wounded in eleven places and had to be destroyed.

At the age of 19 he joined the 4th Light Dragoons and rode in the Charge at Balaclava (his only action). His sword hand was nearly severed with a sabre cut and he also received a bullet in the left shoulder. The bullet was extracted but the wound re-opened and a piece of his service tunic was extracted from it 29 year afterwards. He was awarded the Crimean medal with three clasps, the Turkish medal and the medal for distinguished conduct in the field. He was medically discharged after Balaclava.
Samuel Parkes VC by Louis William Desanges

An 11 year veteran with the 4th and aged 40 at the time, Private Parkes was a notable 6’ 2” tall and acting Orderly to Lord George Paget at Balaclava. His time with the regiment previous to the battle indicates he was a hard-playing rogue, earning good conduct medals as well as charges for drunkenness, remaining a private trooper by the Crimean campaign.

During the Charge, having made it to the guns, Parkes formed part of the fighting retreat with Lord George Paget. Whilst fighting their way through the Russian cavalry, Parkes was unhorsed when his mount was shot from under him. Upon recovering himself, he saw his comrade Trumpet Major Hugh Crawford (also of the 4th) similarly tumble from his falling mount and losing his sword. Set upon by two Cossacks, Parkes rushed to Crawford’s aid, placing himself in front of the Russian lances and fending them off. Taking Crawford under arm, they scrambled back down the lines until beset by six pursuers whom Parkes also fought off until losing his sword after a shot to his master hand. Both men were taken prisoner and later returned at war’s end. For this action Samuel Parkes was awarded the Victoria Cross, bestowed personally by the Queen on 26th June 1857. He was the first private soldier in the British army to receive the Victoria Cross.

At the roll call following the Charge, 62 men of the 4th mustered. They had two (2) officers and 25 other ranks killed along with 40 mounts. Another two (2) officers, 25 other ranks and 19 horses were wounded 912 later destroyed) and sixteen other ranks had been taken prisoner (five later dying of wounds).


Balaclava 1854: John Sweetman (Osprey Military Campaign Series No: 6)


The Reason Why: Cecil Woodham-Smith (1953)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Great War Miniatures British Light Dragoons: Figure Review

CBC06 Trooper 1
One of the few and new lines of miniatures available for 28mm miniature wargaming in the Crimean War are those sculpted by Aly Morrison and Dave Andrews for Great War Miniatures. Together with the simultaneous release of the Crimean figures by Warlord Games, this growing range (now 61 figure packs not including unit deals) represents one of only three suppliers for this period and scale. Introducing competitive prices as well as figure ranges, like minded enthusiasts for the battle of Balaclava and the Crimean war are now capable of collecting and building for the first time in 28mm. I have recently purchased my entire British Light Brigade from Great War Miniatures through Nick Eyre's North Star Military Figures company which represents the first alternative to the long standing Wargames Foundry range of cavalry.
CBC06 Trooper 2
CBC05 and CBC06 are the figure codes for the British Light Dragoon Command and Light Dragoons Charging respectively. The first thing to notice with these figures is the integral casting of rider and mount in the one piece. I have not previously experienced this in the 28mm scale. For me, I always fix my rider and weaponry to the model prior to priming the model for painting anyway. In this respect I am unusual, most painters preferring to complete the rider separately before attaching to the painted model. If you aren't used to mounting and handling a 'whole' cavalry model in this way, this casting technique may present difficulties at first but the integrity of the model is far superior and you will never see riders coming off in a player's hand during a game.
CBC05 Trooper 3
The other potential down-side to the one-piece casting is that it limits the model builder in the ability to maximise variation within the completed unit. We shall see what is possible from the alloy used for the figures but aside from twisting the horses heads, tails and perhaps the rider's heads, the only other obvious options are provided through the separately and variably cast sword arms. Bent and straight sabre holding arms for the officer (CBC05) and the troopers (CBC06) allow for adjustable positioning necessary to breakdown unrealistic uniformity. I say 'obvious' options because a closer examination of the troopers in CBC06 reveals variation in the faces. One trooper sports a simple moustache, one has his joined to his prominent side-whiskers and the other is clean shaven. Similarly with the Command pack, two have extended moustaches and the bugler has a full beard.
CBC06 Cornet
Continuing on the variation theme, of the three (3) troopers, two different cantering mounts is offered with one at the full gallop. Whilst I have yet to take full possession of all of my Light Brigade I can say that from the two (2) packs of CBC05 which I do have, the horse positioning is consistent between the castings in each pack. In other words, there is no more variation between rider and mount - and fair enough. Even I admit that further variation would be simply too much to ask.
CBC05 Officer
I find the size of the mounts to be spot on, neither too large nor tending toward the 'pony' end of the scale which I find to be so often the case with this range's only current rival, Wargames Foundry. The horses are approximate to an Australian Galloway horse size, from 14-15 hands at the withers to a full Hack at 16 hands plus, which I expected for light cavalry mounts. On that note, it seems likely that the Light Brigade would not have progressed beyond the horses they took with them from Britain, nor resorted to much in the way of remounts by the time of Balaclava.
CBC05 Trooper
Similarly, the riders themselves are in superior proportion and certainly fall squarely within the realistic end of the figure market. They are in no way representative of those more 'toy like' figures some miniature companies have produced within some ranges. In short, for a wargamer such as myself, these are just the ticket and if you are in need of a quick comparison, then look no further than what the Perry brothers are creating these days.

The quality of the casting is all you could expect, there being little flash with these light dragoons but I must say from a cursory scan of the rest of the figures I have received, this is not consistent. Having said that, what flash is apparent looks to be easily cleaned up and in no way are the casts misaligned like you can get in some of the Old Glory packs (for instance). On that note, the alloy is what I suppose is now a more traditional white metal - as opposed to pewter. Again, this will enable some manipulation for the 'modeller'. As at the time of posting, these packs come with three figures a piece at GBP10.00 per pack, making for GBP3.33 per figure. Compared with the Wargames Foundry single unit price of GBP5.05 before deals, these better looking miniatures are a real bargain and represent in my view the best figures also at the best price.

I am looking forward immensely to painting up the first of my light dragoon regiments and I am certainly looking forward to Great War Miniatures expanding their range further and providing us with the ultimate British Heavy Brigade. When that happens, I'll be sure to contact Nick of North Star also to look after me as his service is not to be bettered in my experience. As far as I'm concerned Great War Miniatures and North Star Military Figures can have my endorsement for what it's worth - they are a winning combination.