Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Raising the Freikorps

It's been a busy few months with work and even gaming, where attention has been on my WW2 Russkis.  But we have a Napoleonics game with Black Powder coming up next month, so the painting bug is back again.  And I've made a start on the Freikorps Pfaffenhofen at last!

I was hoping to have it ready by December 19th (the next games day at the club), but there is no realistic chance of this happening, as next week I'll be off for five days on a business trip, to be followed by another, shorter one less than three days after I get back.  Then there will be the reams of paperwork that will need doing as a result- all with laughingly unrealistic deadlines of their own, I might add.

In any case, I still have some French artillery and some terrain I need to work on first.  Still, I'll do what I can, and with two weeks holiday on the horizon (at last!), I've no doubt I can get them finished by the new year.

For the Freikorps, I ordered the Lutzow's Freikorps figures from Calpe Miniatures.  This was the first time I have worked on Calpe miniatures,  and I have to say that these are very nice figures.  Almost no flash to speak of.  I spent an afternoon removing the flash while listening to that pod-cast on the Russian army in 1812-13 presented by Dominic Lieven.  This was very interesting, and mitigated to some degree the tedium of cleaning figures.

Once that was done, I then briefly sprayed them with surface primer to give a key to black undercoat as you can see here.

Then I brush-painted on the black using Ceramcoat craft paint.  

This took a while, but I've become suspicious of sprayed undercoats recently after a number of bad experiences.  I like the control of brush painting, and I don't have to worry about weather and timing.  

Next up will be to drybrush the shako covers and add the basecoat to the faces and hands.   

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The army of Nassau-Ringgwürm with the Confederation of the Rhine

When a large part of the lands were ceded to Bavaria, the Nassau-Ringgwürm army was torn apart.  As mentioned previously, the Jager-Garde was incorporated into the Bavarian army.  The Leib-Battalion, the Von Pfaffenhofen infantry regiment, and the artillery were retained and reorganized along French lines to serve with the Confederation of the Rhine.  Even the venerable Nassau-Ringgwürm Leib Dragoner regiment was converted into a regiment of chasseurs.

All this spawned considerable discontent amongst both officers and men, resulting in protests, mutinies and even desertions.  All were ruthlessly dealt with by Nassau-Ringgwürm's new masters.  In retaliation, a series of duels led inexorably to sabatoge and even assassination.  Soon the whole situation seemed likely to end in open revolt.

However, just when the army seemed on the verge of complete disbandment and Nassau-Ringgwürm on the road to full-fledged rebellion, the astute young Landgrave correctly realized that any attempt to overthrow the Imperial authority would, at this point in time, be doomed to failure.  Surrounded by enemies, with Austria licking its wounds and Prussia in thralldom, no significant help could be reasonably expected; any insurrection would be quickly and thoroughly crushed.

In an attempt to prevent things from going out of control, he was able to successfully circulate a secret letter amongst the officers, asking for their patience and loyalty.  He realized that if the army were to make too much trouble, the Emperor would eradicate what was left of Nassau-Ringgwürm off the map completely, in which case it was most likely never to return.  

It was a delicate situation.  Thus the forces of Nassau-Ringgwürm were to remain at their posts and  keep the army and what was left of the enclave in being- even if it was now in the service of the detested Napoleon.  They were to maintain the sense of honour and professionalism that had always been the hallmark of the warriors of Nassau-Ringgwürm.  Their day of liberation would come, but in the meantime they were to serve their new masters with diligence, if not necessarily with enthusiasm.

In 1810, the whole force was sent to Spain to help their French overlords in their vain attempt to pacify the country.  They served with distinction- and some loss- in numerous engagements large and small.  

Then one day not long before the Battle of Salamanca, two companies of the Leib Batallion were in hot pursuit of a band of Guerrillas when they found themselves cut off from the French army by a whole brigade of Portuguese infantry.  They soon became involved in a small but hotly-contested engagement.  Inevitably, but only after having offered very stiff resistance, they were compelled to surrender after a lengthy struggle.  

Being now reunited with the Landgrave (who, as you will recall, was at that time in the service of the British with the KGL) , the prisoners were warmly welcomed- the Landgrave personally commending them on their courage- and they volunteered to a man to once again serve their hereditary lord with the KGL.  

Ultimately, when the Landgrave decided to create the Freikorps Pfaffenhofen he was allowed to take these men with him to central Europe,  where they were to form the cadre of the new corps.

Those left in French service- infantry, cavalry, and the artillery- were to remain in Spain as part of the Confederation of the Rhine  contingent until 1813, when they were ordered to Mayence (Mainz) to serve with the garrison there.   By this time they were not trusted by the French command, and they suspected-rightly- that the French intended to disarm and intern them there, and to have them hand over their arms to French troops.  

This was of course a slap in the face of their honour, as well as being in direct breach of the terms of service.  So it was decided that they would attempt to go over to the allies.  In a notable night operation, they successfully broke through the French lines and were joyfully reunited with the Landgrave, with whom they served for the remainder of the war,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The "Black Landgrave"

The Freikorps Pfaffenhofen has a unique and interesting- if little known- history.

The 5th Landgraf of the Rhine enclave of Nassau-Ringgwürm auf dem Skree, Ludovic-Augustus von Loseth-Pfaffenhofen, "The Black Landgrave" was one of the more colourful personalties to emerge on the Allied side during the Napoleonic Wars.

A small enclave situated at the confluence of the Skree river and the Rhine, Nassau-Ringgwürm earned a formidable reputation for military prowess and learning during the course of the 18th C.   Much of the family's considerable wealth came from the commercial traffic that flowed down the Skree to the Rhine river, as well as from silver mines that were located in this small, but prosperous, enclave.

Ludovic-Augustus von Loseth-Pfaffenhofen, Count of Loseth-Pfaffenhofen and Landgrave of Nassau-Ringgwürm.  "The Black Landgrave"

However, rivals naturally coveted the strategically-situated Nassau-Ringgwürm lands, none more so than France and Bavaria. So despite having declared neutrality at the onset of the Austerlitz campaign, the 4th Landgrave, Karl-Ludwig, saw the armies of the Emperor Napoleon run roughshod over the Landgraves' territory, seizing possessions, confiscating land and resources without regard to the treaty that had existed between France and Nassau-Ringgwürm for thirty years.

An enraged and bitter Landgrave was helpless to act.  Eventually, in an effort to win back his independence and to seek retribution for what had been plundered. he saw a chance for revenge and accordingly threw his lot in with the Austrians in their attempt to throw off the Bonapartist yoke in 1809.

However, it all ended in disaster after the failed campaign of Wagram.  In the one-sided peace treaty that followed, Nassau-Ringgwürm was carved up and awarded to the Kingdom of Bavaria, with the remnants being awarded to a junior member of the Wittelsbach family and forced into the Confederation of the Rhine. 

The proud and aged Karl-Ludwig was disconsolate; he died soon after, it is said, of a broken heart; but there was some evidence to believe that his death was brought about by the work of agents of Napoleonic France.   

The young (and now dispossessed) heir to the Landgraviate, Ludovic-Augustus, inherited both the pride and strong will of his father, and nurtured a bitter hatred towards Bonaparte as well as to the Bavarians.  His desire for revenge and the restoration of his rightful inheritance had no bounds.

Certain that he may well be next to fall victim the the machinations of the Bonapartist regime, Lodovic-Augustus chose exile rather than face the humiliation of having to pledge his allegiance to the Corsican upstart.  He first sought refuge with the sympathetic Austrians, but the French soon demanded that he be put under house arrest by the Austrian authorities, who found themselves being put under considerable pressure to turn him over to the French Interior Ministry.  

It was thus arranged that the Landgrave would "escape" from the Austrian court, and then travel in secret to join the British in the Peninsula (Nassau-Ringgwürm troops having served as auxiliaries in British service since the time of Marlborough up to the War of American Independence and beyond). Here he commanded a battalion of the King's German Legion, where he served with distinction.  
Come 1812 and the invasion of Russia, the Landgrave petitioned his uncle, King George III, for leave to quit the British service so that he could join the Russians  in their defence against the invader.   

This was soon granted, and in his service with the armies of the Tsar the charismatic Landgraf soon gained a reputation for tactical and strategic acumen, and a flair for independent command.

As well as his own personal prestige, his family had over the years amassed considerable wealth and influence in many of the courts of Europe.  Accordingly he lost no time in taking advantage of the French disaster in Russia, and during the armistice of 1813 he petitioned the Russian and Austrian Emperors for permission to raise a Freikorps, at his expense but clothed and supplied by the respective governments.

This permission was duly granted, and when hostilities resumed in the late summer of 1813 the Freikorps took to the field and began making life extremely difficult for the French forces unfortunate enough to be within the energetic Landgrave's reach.  They were attached to the Army of Silesia, where they were to fight with distinction alongside their Russian and Prussian comrades-in-arms. 

Often accompanied by Cossacks and other supporting units as well as his own Freikorps, Ludovic-Augustus soon earned the sobriquet "The Black Landgrave" from his enemies.  Mere mention of his name would consternation and dismay amongst the ranks of the French and their allies. 

The Freikorps Pfaffenhofen consisted of the following units.
1 Jagerbattalion:
This was uniformed in the Austrian style, as the Austrian Emperor allowed Duke Pfaffenhofen to raise them on the condition that after the peace, the regiment would be incorporated into the Austrian service whereupon the Duke would be compensated accordingly for his expense. 
The uniform was identical to the Austrian jagers, except that the initials L-P engraved on the brass buttons, and they bore the traditional blue and orange cockade of Nassau-Ringgwürm. This was a highly drilled and well-disciplined unit.

1 Feldregiment:
These were dressed in black laced uberrocks, faced orange, and either shakos or feldmutze caps.  Those officers who had served with those companies of the Nassau-Ringgwürm Leib-Battalion- which were captured during the fighting in Spain by the Portuguese and later repatriated- would frequently wear the uniform of that regiment.  
The regimental colour itself was a simplified version of that of the Leib-Battalion  (the remnants of which were still now fighting as part of the in anti-guerrilla operations in Spain).
As the reputation of the Freikorps grew, it accepted numerous volunteers eager to learn their trade in service with the Landgraf. Eventually the regiment was to reach a strength of three battalions.

Two squadrons of Hussars: 
Dressed in uniforms provided as a gift from the Emperor Alexander himself, these men wore black dolmans and pelisses with orange facings.  

Two squadrons of Uhlans:
Also dressed in black with orange facings, and in the black and orange livery. Pennons orange over  blue.

One section of artillery:
Supplied by and equipped as with the Austrians, but again with black coats and orange facings. Guns were of the 6pdr Austrian pattern, and carriages painted brick red.

Leib-Jaeger section:
These were men of the original  Jaeger-Garde of Nassau-Ringgwürm, who found themselves pressed into Bavarian service when the unit was incorporation into the Bavarian kingdom. Fiercely loyal to their rightful Landgrave, through various stratagems they managed to avoid having to take an oath of fealty to their new masters.  So when the opportunity came to desert from service with the hated Bavarians soon after the Grand Armee began its retreat from Moscow, they promptly went over to the Russians.
With the raising of the new Freikorps after Austria formally joined the Coalition, the jaegers were reunited with their rightful ruler, to whom they were to give excellent service in the coming campaign. Constantly in action often deep inside enemy territory, they are recorded as still having worn dark green Bavarian jager uniforms with orange facings, still dressed in Bavarian uniforms including the distinctive Raupenhelm
They had a reputation for being crack shots, and were considered by Sir Robert Wilson as being equal to any member of the 95th Rifles in enterprise, skill and discipline.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Freikorps von Pfaffenhofen

It looks likes I'll be commencing the saga of Nassau-Ringgwurm with the Wars of Liberation in 1813! 

I've been focused on my WW2 and Napoleonic armies for the last while.  Recently we have been getting into Napoleonics in particular, and enjoying what the period has to offer using the Black Powder rules by Warlord Games. 

I have been building up forces for the French and Russians, and have also just started on my Prussian army by ordering a couple of boxes of Warlord's new plastic Prussian Landwehr.     

Additionally, today I ordered a battalion of Lutzow's Freikorps from Calpe.  These are in metal, and will be the basis of the Freikorps von Pfaffenhofen, the flag for which you can see at the top of the page. 

As you can see, I've already designed the flag- based on the traditional Nassau-Ringgwurm colours- to go with the unit.  They will be in Litewka tunics in black or midnight blue with orange facings. Should be pretty!    

The idea is for them to go a-raiding with my Russians, until they are joined by the regular infantry regiment, which will defect from the hateful bonds of the Confederation of the Rhine and join their rightful ruler in the campaign against the Corsican Tyrant.  

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Landgraviate of Nassau-Ringgwurm

  His Excellency,  Matthias St. Hubertus von Loseth-Pfaffenhofen,  Duke of Avenberg-Pfaffenhofen and  Landgrave of Nassau Ringgwurm-auf-dem-Skree. (1679-1758)

Followers of my other blogs on the War of the Austrian Succession,  Les Reves de Mars and Will ye Go to Flanders, will be aware that I have been dreaming up a suitable imaginary enemy for the Marquis de Sangfroid and the Bishopric of St. Vignobles.  

And here it is.

Nassau-Ringgwurm-auf-dem Skree is a small principality that I based upon a lot of picturesque little enclaves that I remember coming across during a couple of trips to Germany travelling up and down the Rhine.

While extremely modest in size, it is very strategically placed at a narrow bend where the small River Skree- since filled in- once flowed into the Rhine from the east.  Nassau-Ringgwurm made its fortune on controlling, protecting- and of course taxing- the traffic that plied up and down the Rhine laden with goods to and from the North Sea.

click to enlarge

Like it's rival, St. Vignobles just down river on the west bank of the Rhine, it prospered well from this trade and from the vineyards that grew along the hillsides.

As was the case with many rulers of the time, the Landgrave found himself wearing many feathered hats.  As Duke of Avenberg-Pfaffenhofen, he also ruled lands within the Hapsburg domains.  Thus Nassau-Ringgwurm's obligation to serve with the Reichsarmee whenever called upon to uphold the rights of the legitimate ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, the Empress  Maria Theresa.

The Nassau connection makes sense geographically and historically, and it also allows me to establish a special relationship with Holland as part of the Nassau family connection.   After all, they don't want to see business suffer!

The army itself was not large.  A regiment of infantry consisting of two battalions, a Jager corps, artillery, and  a dragoon regiment.  As such it will form part of my larger Pragmatic Army.

Due to the Landgrave having served under the Old Dessauer during Marlborough's campaigns in the War of the Spanish Succession, like other smaller states in the region such as Hesse and Wurttemberg, he looked to Prussia as a model for the infantry.  So the uniforms and flags largely followed the Prussian model. 

I've always liked the Prussian uniforms- in fact my first 18th C. wargaming venture was a Prussian army made up of Freikorps 15 figures in 1985- but don't really need a Prussian army for the western theatre of the WAS.  So, this will satisfy my yearnings to paint Prussians!

The exception to the Prussian theme will be the cavalry.   I have a bunch of very nice Dutch cavalry figures from Eureka miniatures, but have been able to find nowt but diddly-squat about standards for the War of the Austrian Succession.  So, I've decided that the Landgrave has acquired a regiment of dragoons for service with the United Provinces, with a flag once again based on the Prussian pattern.  I'm not so crazy about the Eureka horse sculpts as they seem a little short in the leg.  I suspect I'll be replacing them with Front Rank horses, who fit the riders very well.

The flags will all feature the central motif of the House of Nassau-Ringgwurm, that being the white lion of the medieval Landgrave of Ringgwurm supporting the arms of Nassau, a connection arising as a result of judicious marriage arrangements in the aftermath of the Reformation.

The plan is to extend the story of the forces of Nassau-Ringgwurm well into the Napoleonic Wars, where they will find themselves fighting for- and later against- Napoleon as a contingent of the Confederation of the Rhine.

For the plates and flags I am indebted again, as always, to David and his indispensable blog Not by Appointment. I doubt I'd be doing these blogs if it wasn't for David kindly making his templates available to the world at large.  May his vectors always draw smooth.