Pretty in Gingham? The Bronte’s Bloodhound Regiment of Angria, 1839

I have been reading through more of Charlotte Bronte’s Tales of Angria searching for more campaign and uniform clues since my last blogpost:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/charlotte-bronte-as-gamer-1/

I was intrigued by references to a Bronte regiment called the Bloodhounds.

The Bloodhounds are one of the intriguing Regiments  of the Bronte family’s Imagi-Nations and Paracosmic world, a fictional European colonised Regency / 19th Century West Africa known as  Glasstown and Angria. The tales were started off amongst the four Bronte children by the gift of wooden toy soldiers from their father Revd. Patrick Bronte.

The Bloodhounds were an Angrian Regiment, first commanded by Colonel Henry Fernando di Enara.

When Enara “the Tiger” became H.F. Etrei or Baron of Etrei (a savanna province of Angria) and the Angrian  “Secretary at War” in Verdopolis c. 1839,  the commanding officer or Colonel of the Bloodhounds post was taken by  Colonel Nicholas  Belcastro.

One of its infamous privates is  Captain Henry Hastings, formerly national poet and soldier hero of Angria of  the 19th Angrian Infantry. Hastings was court-martialled for shooting Colonel Adams, his commanding officer and defecting to Paris and the enemies of  Angria, leading an uprising of Revolutionary French troops and Ashantee warriors against his former Angrian home.

Much of the surviving fragments of the Bronte Imagi-Nations stories such as Angria are told through different documents to create a more complex and realistic fiction – fictional or factional sources such as  letters, diary entries, different narrators, poems, newspaper reports etc.

What brother Branwell Bronte wrote about Angria and its characters, Charlotte would also respond to or develop in her own writing or counter-writing.

Included amongst these “documents” in Charlotte Bronte’s 1839 Angrian novella Henry Hastings are these official Army  type letters or fictional court-martial documents:

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Extract (and those below) from ‘Henry Hastings’ in Charlotte Bronte: Tales of Angria (ed. Heather Glen) Penguin Classics, 2006)

Rather than being executed, in view of his previous service,  Hastings is encouraged to turn King’s Evidence on his former enemy or rebel colleagues  (the King being  Zamorna, the King of Angria naturally).

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Hastings  is expected to inform against other exotically named outlaws and allies of Northangerland such as the Renegade Angrian  and leader of French forces Hector Mirabeau Montmorenci, [Lord] George Frederick Caversham and the native tribal  Ashantee leader, Quashia Quamina Kashna. Barras, Dupin and Bernadotte are the names of real French Revolutionary figures.

These outlaw forces were present at the Battle of Westwood, 1837, in the Angrian Civial War, by which time Henry Hastings had defected and was fighting for the enemy against  Zamorna the King of Angria and Hastings’ former 19th Angrian Regiment, Zamorna’s or the Devil’s Own.

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If Hastings informs on his former Angrian renegades and collaborators, the death sentence for treachery, murder and desertion of Henry Hastings will be commuted to being stripped of his rank and transferred from the 19th to the Bloodhounds “under the grinding yoke of Colonel Nicholas Belcastro“.

Rather than the outrage of such military men as his commanding officer Colonel Hartford that Hastings  “should have been shot when caught, as you’d shoot a dirty girning wolf”, others officers of the 19th such as Major King take  a different view:

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Charlotte Bronte is good at reflecting and pondering on the politics and rivalry amongst the army and different political rivals. She would be the only Bronte child to see the chaotic mess of the Crimean War in 1854-55, just before her untimely death.

This court martial document and speech seems realistic enough, especially for a young female writer at the time. Interestingly, as far as I know, unlike Jane Austen with her Royal Navy brothers, Charlotte Bronte and her family did not have close relatives in the army or navy.

Charlotte  is also accomplished (almost in modern screenplay fashion) at  using different characters for multiple viewpoints of the same situation. Here, Henry Hastings, reviled for killing his superior officer Adams, puts his own case or view of the situation to his sister, Elizabeth Hastings. Elizabeth is the mysterious heroine of the surviving fragments of the Bronte novella Henry Hastings.

Bronte scholars often read these Angrian fragments and ‘ juvenilia’  for insights into how each of the Bronte sisters developed into the a writer of their later, more finished works such as Jane Eyre.

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In later more enlightened times, desertion and change of character amongst veterans would be seen as possible Battle Shock, Shell Shock, fatigue or PTSD. Drink also had much to do with  Hastings’ fictional downfall, something that sadly affected his co-creator Branwell Bronte in real life.

Interestingly, Branwell Bronte suggests that (his main pseudonym / character persona) Henry Hastings feels that his Commanding Officer of the 19th, Lord Hartford, dislikes and has bullied and blocked his advancement in the past: “My Commander [Hartford] thought it expedient that a farmer’s son [Henry Hastings] should not shame by his advancements the pampered ignorants of Eastern Aristocracy [of Angria]. 

It would in real life be many years and several more generations  before the lucrative system of  purchasing Army  Commissions system was replaced in the British Army. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purchase_of_commissions_in_the_British_Army

More Bloodhound Clues

One intriguing reference to the Bloodhounds we mentioned in our last blogpost:

One of the Angrian’s most infamous infantry regiments are The Bloodhounds (Glen, p. 501) led by the Italian ‘Tiger’ Enara:

“A host of Dark whiskered and bearded warriors such looks of savage and relentless ferocity I never held before …

their great Raven banner bore in silver blazonry the single emphatic syllable. “DEATH” at their head … accompanied by 8 vast liver coloured dew lapped red eyed bloodhounds held in leashes stood the second commander of the Army Colonel Henry Fernando Enara.”  (Excerpt from Branwell Bronte, Angria and the Angrians).

Zamorna had some unusual generals including Henri Fernando di Enara, an Italian known as ‘the Tiger’, whom he created Baron of Etrei and Governor of this Angrian savanna province of Etrei. He eventually becomes  Angrian Commander in Chief, rather than second in command.

The Brontes refer to Enara’s campaigns against Zamorna’s or Angria’s enemies as a “tiger hunt”, a hunt not of but by ‘The Tiger’ Enara.

This figure with eight bloodhounds on leashes seems more out of a fantasy catalogue than a toy soldier one!

Appropriately Enara has dark brows and dark Italian features and for commander of a regiment with Raven banners, Enara has four raven haired daughters Maria, Gabriella, Giulietta and Francesca.

Another new reference in Charlotte’s novella gives further clues to the Bloodhound’s exotic appearance and uniform:

Hastings’ trail, like all nine days wonders, had sunk into oblivion. Hastings himself was gone to the Devil or to Belcastro, which is the same thing.

He had actually marched bodily out of [the regional capital] Zamorna, in the white trousers, the red sash, the gingham-jacket of a thorough going Bloodhound, as one of a detachment of that illustrious Regiment under the command of Captain Dampier.

To the sound of fife, drum and bugle, the lost desperado had departed, leaving behind the recollection of what he had been, a man: the reality of what he was, a monster.”

(‘Henry Hastings’, Charlotte Bronte: Tales of Angria, edited Heather Glen, p. 286-7).

This exotic sounding uniform sounds a little like the Los Colorados troops in the Osprey uniform books on the colourful troops of the Latin American Wars.

But Gingham? Gingham!

Gingham today sounds more Judy Garland than military garment, but I had a distant memory of a uniform plate of soldiers wearing Gingham.

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I found it in Uniforms of the American Civil  War by Blandford, another of my childhood library borrowing favourites.

Gingham itself has quite a long non military history, worryingly being known as Vichy in French.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gingham.

Maybe not surprising as an  American Civil War uniform as Gingham cloth was a Wild West staple and probably gave rise to the Gingham checked cowboy shirt. A brief history of Gingham is given here:

http://visforvintage.net/2012/09/11/gingham-fabric/

Gingham is used in some exotic military dress, as shown in the article about the checked military headscarf  in the Middle East known as a Keffiyeh.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keffiyeh

Gingham has also appeared recently as a check pattern on Manchester United’s 2012/3 football strip.

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Repaired or repainted Britain’s  Zoauves (like my one above right with Fimo feet /base) could be a good choice for the Bloodhounds – but painting Gigham in 1:32 / 54mm?

Gingham Zouaves?

The Bloodhounds seem to have had an exotic, almost Zouave-like uniform with sashes and beards.

Gingham could be striped as well as checked – and in a host of colours, red, green, blue. So which colour Gingham to choose for the Bloodhounds?

And which figures and scale will I choose? I have no  Peter Laing 15mm zouaves, but Airfix ACW or British Commandos work well in OO/HO for Zouaves.  In 40mm or 54mm I may adapt or convert  figures from Homecast or Prince  August moulds or use some bearded Timpo ACW figures.

Gingham will of course be a challenge, just like tartan,  to paint on figures!

Previous Bronte inspired Gaming blog posts

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/charlotte-bronte-as-gamer-1/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/ashantees-or-zulus-reborn/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/the-brontes-games-scenarios/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/brontes-waterloo-soldiers/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/bronte-imagi-nations-maps/

Postscript

Whilst most of Branwell Bronte’s Glasstown and  Angrian tales are reprinted in expensive academic volumes, I will have to rely on whatever campaign scenario and uniform clues I can glean from Charlotte’s more easily available and affordable books. I will update or add details as I discover them.

Blogposted by Mark, Mr MIN Man of TIN, April 2017.

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Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

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