Friday, January 25, 2013

Swedish Napoleonic Soldiers in 1813

In our last post we showed you some WIP of swedish cavalry for the War of the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon. All intended for Napoleonic skirmish gaming.

Swedish forces were part of the Northern Army in the campaign 1813-1814, under the command of Swedish Crown Prince Bernadotte.

Our cavalry was a spontanious result of finding some miniatures that with only minor adjustments could pass for swedish cavalry. And once we started on the cavalry we couldn't stop ourseleves from discussing miniatures for swedish infantry aswell...

Swedish infantry uniforms are notoriously difficult to get right. The uniform regulations changed very frequently but were only seldom realised on the field before the uniforms were supposed to change again. Compared to the continental armies the Swedes had old fashioned uniforms, the shako not being in full use until 1815 for example.

From a modelling perspective there are some changes to the uniform for the 1813 campaign compared to the uniforms worn during the disastrous war against Russia in 1808-1809 (where Sweden lost close to half its territory, i e Finland!). By the time of the Leipzig campaign the Swedes (finally!) remade their impractial bags with one shoulder strap into proper backpacks. The jacket had two rows of buttons instead of one. Also, sources indicate that trousers were worn over the gaiters,  opposite to the traditional view of troops fighting in Finland. The characteristic hat with an upturned brim was still in use, although officers and some units made sure to "upgrade" to more modern shakos as the campaign went on, no doubt trying to save themselves some ridicule from their allies...

One source for uniforms of the 1813-1814 period is the Swedish officer Carl Johan Ljunggren who not only wrote a 300+ pages excellent diary of his experiences during the 1813-1814 campaign but also made eye witness drawings of the troops he encountered, including French prisoners of war, British rocket troops and Russian cossacks. And Swedish troops aswell of course.

Ljunggrens picture of Swedish troops,
with Swedish line infantry to the right.

Knötels picture having studied the Ljungren illustration.

After some deliberations it turned out that miniatures of Austrian line infantry with British marine heads are a good enough starting point for our Swedish infantry.

The Austrians carry alot of bags, a coat and a water bottle. But this can work for the Swedes aswell.
Ljunggren writes on the 17th October 1813, advancing through the suburbs of Leipzig, that because of the mud:
"Hade icke våra trossvagnar redan varit efterlämnade, så skulle de tvifvelsutan stannat här; men som allt syftande på den för bataljs levererande erforderliga största rörlighet, så hade man på länge ej sett trossen; hela vårt bohag bars på ryggen".
or in English:
"Had not our supply wagons already been left behind, they would doubtless have stayed here; but as everything aimed to ensure the maximum mobility needed to deliver battle,  they had not been seen in a long time, all our belongings were carried on our backs".

Below is a quick test to give you an idea what we're aiming for. The yellow collar indicate the Skaraborg regiment.