I have been reading through more of Charlotte Bronte’s Tales of Angria searching for more campaign and uniform clues since my last blogpost:
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:
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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
Gingham has also appeared recently as a check pattern on Manchester United’s 2012/3 football strip.
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
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.