Friday, April 13, 2012

Officers and Soldiers of the Cuirassiers, 1800-1815

Histoire & Collections of France publishes a series of big hardcover books on various battles of the Napoleonic Wars, and I own nearly all of them. They are beautiful works, done in full color on glossy paper, with numerous maps, historical paintings, and uniform plates. The text is so badly translated from the French as to be almost unintelligible, but I've found them very useful over the years as I paint my Napoleonic miniatures.

One of my great frustrations with Osprey's Men at Arms series is that the books usually have a broad theme (French infantry of the Napoleonic Wars), but a limited set of color plate subjects (farrier of the 9th Line, or pastry chef of the Corsican rangers, rather than fusilier 1800, fusilier, 1805, fusilier, 1809, fusilier 1812, fusilier 1815.

Well, here comes Histoire & Collections to the rescue. A few weeks ago I picked up their new softcover book on French Chasseurs a Cheval 1792-1800, and I liked it so well that I bought their books on cuirassiers, aides de camp, and both volumes on hussars.

The cuirassiers volume is 80 pages of goodness. The book begins with an overview of the development and history of the cuirassier arm, and H&C have apparently hired a real translator, as the text is clear and informative. The book details squadron drill, showing where the officers, NCOs, and troopers were located in several formations, then moves on to the deployment of squadrons within the regiment. This is good stuff, very useful to the modeler and wargamer.

But the heart of the book is the color plates. The volume details the uniforms of every single regiment of cuirassiers, including the changes that took place over the years. The various musicians's uniforms, rank distinctions, horse tackle, service, field, and full dress, even regimental flags: it's all here. All told, there are 61 color plates in this book.

Here are two of the three plates on the 9th Cuirassiers, and you can see the level of detail this book provides. I liked the 9th's uniform well enough to spend a few hours on some AB figures. All of the cuirassier regiments in my army had been outfitted with red collar and tunrbacks and red teeth on the sheepskin. My musicians were all in red with blue distinctions.

Now that I have a proper resource, I can start depicting the various regiments of cuirassiers. You can find these books on Amazon (tell Hippolyta that Scott sent you; she'll either give you a deep discount or castrate you--I'm not sure which).


  1. I admire these books every time I'm the bookstore. Although the plates are excellent, I wish there was an English version.

  2. Scott, I love the painting and the AB figures look great but..I think you missed the yellow cover on their bedrolls. Fortunately it's an easy bit to touch up, should you wish to do so.


  3. Looks good - are you using a white basecoat? The brighter colours really "pop".

  4. Firemonkeyboy, I prime with black.

    LittleArmies, I left the whole thing white because I couldn't fine a natural break where the lining should start or stop. As you write, it's an easy fix if I want to go back someday.

  5. I love these figures! Amazing job for 18mm.
    You realize of course, now I need you to paint my next two Napoleonic armies as well... ;-)