Thursday, July 17, 2008

A little perplexed

A few days ago, during a raid on eBay, I was able to secure some interesting miniatures, at a very cheap price. They are old Minifigs Revolutionary French, and I looked at this as an affordable way to beef up my French Revolutionary Army in the hope, sooner rather than later, to get into Valmy, or Suvorov's Northern Italian campaign.
The package was delivered today. It included cuirassiers in bicorne and grenadiers in bearskin, who were exactly what i expected. In the lot, nevertheless, there were also two blisters of "Line Fusiliers or Light Chasseurs, leather caps." I confess I was not really sure what to expect; in my naivete, I was thinking something closer to a Phrygian hat. Well, I was wrong. What these figures are wearing is a type of cap, almost a casquet or helmet, I have never seen before. I went online, and I googled, until I finally found a reference from Napoleon's expedition in Egypt. Here's the related picture:

I am talking about the hat shown on the two figures at the center. What exactly is this? And what do I do with these miniatures? My first reaction was to "dilute" their presence mixing them with traditional infantry in bicorne. Or Tarleton. That would look more revolutionary to me. Could they stand in for Valmy infantry? Plus, does anyone produces 15mm infantry in Phrygian cap? That would be cool.
I am still scratching my head on this development. Not sure where this development will bring me. Need to think about.


Jerry said...

I believe the helmet was a holdover from the Royal days. The one pictures seems oddly represented though.

NYPL has great plates of the French in this period.

In Bernhard Voykovitsch's Castiglione 1796 he states, the grenadier headgear of the royal army, the casquet, in fact a helmet, was still worn, and guarded with jealousy.

abdul666 said...

I'm afraid these minis wear the very peculiar uniform devised in Egypt.

Alonicus said...

I spotted this while Googling for something completely different, so sorry the comment is about 2 years too late....

The leather cap (casquette) was introduced during the Revolution, although it had been discussed during the Royalist period. I think a few units may have got them in Royalist times. It was intended to be smarter, more practical and longer-lasting than the bicorne. Unfortunately it was also more expensive, so wasn't universally adopted.

During the Egyptian campaign, the army was to a great extent re-equipped - partly because Euopean uniforms were too damn hot, but mostly because the kit they went over in had worn out. The new uniforms were locally made in a wide variety of colours (and from lighter cloth than the normal wool !), and many infantry units were given casquettes.

In Europe, the casquette was also issued, but proved unpopular. Mostly because they were made in a hurry, and the turbans were made of uncured fur (dog, according to rumour) which rapidly became maggoty and horrible. The 9eme Leger were famous for throwing all theirs in a river and buying replacement bicornes from regimental funds. As far as I know, by about 1800, they had been phased out in all units.