Friday 30 June 2023

Second Battalion, 76e Régiment d'Infanterie

The 76e Régiment d'Infanterie had a history much the same as its sister regiment, the 77e, and carried honours for Ulm, Jena, Friedland and Solferino. In 1870 it was brigaded in Jolivet's Second Brigade, Verge's Division with the 77e.

It was commanded by Colonel Pierre Francois Alphonse Brice, aged 59 years old, when the war broke out. A graduate of St Cyr he fought in the Crimea where he took a wound to his left eye and cheek in the storming of the Mamelon-Vert. Made colonel of the 76e in 1868 he led it at Spicheren, where it suffered 245 casualties, at Rezonville where it suffered 621 casualties  and at Gravelotte where it lost 51.

The depot battalions formed the 76e Régiment de Marche that was engaged in a number of small actions in Normandy. When the regiment was returned to France after the armistice 1871 it played a role in the suppression of the Commune.

It was heavily engaged again in the Great War in the Argonne, the Marne, the Somme and the Ardennes. It fought again in the Battle of France in 1940, reformed after the war and disbanded in 1976.

Tuesday 27 June 2023

3e Bataillon de Chasseurs à Pied

Chasseurs had been a part of the French army since the of the 18th Century or earlier, but the Chasseurs à Pied of 1870 had their origins in the late-1830s as an informal unit called the Tirailleurs d'Afrique that was given a formal establishment in September 1839, based in Vincennes and named the Chasseurs de Vincennes. Under the colonelcy of the Duc d'Orleans they were trained as true light infantry and proved themselves highly effective in the campaigns in North Africa, so effective that in August 1840 a further nine battalions were established as a separate corps by royal decree. On the death of the Duc in 1842 they were named the Chasseurs d'Orleans in his honour. After the revolution of 1848 the battalions became known as Chasseurs à Pied. By 1870 there were twenty battalions in service.

The 3e Chasseurs were formed in 1840 and spent the next eight years in North Africa. Returning to France in 1848 the battalion went to the Crimea in 1853 and was fort in the battles of the Alma and Inkerman and were involved in the storming of the Mamelon-Vert at Sevastopol. Not engaged in the Italian campaign, the battalion formed a part of the garrison of the Pontifical States from 1860-65.

In the structure of the army in 1870 one Chasseur battalion was assigned to each infantry division. The 3e was assigned to Verge's Division, 2nd Corps (which is why it is a part of my collection), under Commandant Thoma. Heavily engaged at Spicheren it lost 6 officers and 225 men from 452 engaged. It fought again at Rezonville and Gravelotte and surrendered at Metz in October.

The depot companies formed the basis of the 3e Chasseurs de Marche and served in 16th Corps in the Army d'Loire, fighting at Valliere, Loigny and Moree.

In the Great War the battalion fought from day one to the very end of the war across almost every point of the western front from Belgium to Belfort, and counted 2,039 officers and enlisted  men killed during the war. 

Disbanded in 1929, it was restored in 1939, only to be disbanded again after the Fall of France the following year. Reconstituted in 1949 it was disbanded for good in 1955.

These are lovely figures, full of character, but the rifles and bayonets on the figures are very thin and I am concerned how they will stand up to handling during games.

Monday 26 June 2023

War in the Crimea

Yesterday I arranged a Crimean War game. Having spent all last week on holiday I had given very little thought to the scenario, in fact the whole game was conceived on the morning of the game. 

The Russians were to be in position more or less diagonally across the table with 35 battalions, five large batteries and four cavalry regiments. The Allied were to attack with 13 British battalions (including three battalions of Guards) and five standard batteries, ten small cavalry regiments (the Heavy and Light Brigades), the French with 13 battalions and two standard batteries, and the Turks with four battalions and two standard batteries. While the Russians had greater numbers of infantry battalions, they were slower moving than the Allies and their dense formations made them more vulnerable to fire. The British infantry, the French Chasseurs and Zouaves were armed with rifled muskets and enjoyed a range advantage.

The Allies chose to hit the Russian left with the bulk of their force, hoping that the troops on the Russian right could be kept out of the fight for as long as possible. Keith, who commanded the British infantry, filed a much more detailed report than I can give here.

In the end, after a hard fought battle, the Russians were driven back, although the British and Turkish forces took a heavy bashing.

The Russians advance

"Forward the Light Brigade"...sadly they suffered much the same fate as the original brigade

French troops moving forward

The Scots Greys going forward

The Light Brigade about to be shot to pieces

A Russian battery about to be ridden down by the Royals

The Zouaves press on

The 11th Hussars are broken while charging a Russian square

Here they come!

The developing fight on the Russian left

The infantry form for the fight 

The French have arrived at the front

The confusion on the Russian left...

The French are unstoppable...

...and have broken the Russian left.

The Heavy Brigade advancing

Saturday 24 June 2023

First Battalion, 77e Régiment d'Infanterie

Identified by its red fanion this is Commandant Mezerin's First Battalion, 77e Régiment de Ligne, the final battalion of the regiment.

For anyone interested in the weaponry of the Franco-Prussian War, Steve Shann (who wrote two Osprey  Men at Arms books on the French armies in 1870-71 and has published several other wargaming books) is about to publish a work on the mitrailleuse, the details of which can be found here

Meanwhile here is the whole of the 77e Régiment deployed.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

A Big Week

Just three weeks back from our big trip away and we are away again. A bit closer to home this time, in Queenstown again for a big week of celebrations - the social engagements I mentioned in my last post.

We flew down to Queenstown on Saturday where we stayed for two nights before moving to the Gibbston Valley Lodge (where we spent some time last winter) for three nights. After arrival in the bright winter sun we headed across the Crown Range to Wanaka, where an inversion layer made for a gloomy view across the lake with the temperature hovering between 3 and 4 degrees C.

Some shopping, lunch and a bit of foraging for basing stones on the lake shore followed before we headed back to Queenstown to check into the hotel. A dinner with a view of the sun setting on the Remarkables closed out the day.

We were woken at 3:38 on Sunday by the short sharp jolt and rattle of a weak earthquake centred some 100km north of us - nothing serious at 4.2 on the scale, but quite shallow. While we live in the "Shakey Isles" it's the first time I have experienced a quake.

A walk in the cold fresh air (at -3C) in the Queenstown Gardens started Sunday that turned out to be a lazy one just wandering around the town.

The Lakeshore on Sunday evening

Monday was our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We started again with a walk though the gardens before leaving Queenstown and heading to Cromwell for lunch. After lunch we headed to Gibbston Valley, via a couple of vineyards, where we were to spend three nights at the Gibbston Valley Lodge. It is quite different to when we were here last year, when it was much colder after a heavy snowfall. This year is much milder with some light frost. While there are a reasonable number of people at the lodge, we were the only diners that night, with a custom designed menu. That personal service made for a unique anniversary dinner.

Pre-dinner drinks in the Lodge lounge - the view from my seat.

Tuesday was  busy day with a visit to Arrowtown for lunch, some shopping in Queenstown, an afternoon of reading in our villa and dinner in Queenstown (only a 25 minute drive from the lodge).

Today is my 65th Birthday. I am now officially a pensioner although I will not be retiring just yet...20 September next year is that target...a mere 457 days away. We have woken to a foggy start but we have nothing specific planned other than lunch in Cromwell again, a wine tasting at the lodge followed by dinner. 

We will be heading home tomorrow and back to work on Monday.

Saturday 17 June 2023

Third Battalion, 77e Régiment d'Infanterie

The second battalion in my FPW French army is actually the Third Battalion, 77e Régiment d'Infanterie. I have decided that the third battalion in each regiment will be in the firing line poses (although my view on this may change as the project progresses and entire regiments may be in firing poses, as I have done with the Prussians), but for now this is Commandant Lemonfagner's Third Battalion, 77e Régiment d'Infanterie. 

It is identified as the third battalion by white and red fanion carried by the senior NCO.

Work on the First Battalion is underway, but is it's completion will face a little interruption, due to some social engagements.