Confused by Zouaves – some Airfix ACW Paint Conversions

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Union Blue – and a bit bashed  – all that we had of our family’s American Civil War Airfix OO/ HO Union Infantry troops, a scarce set by the mid  1980s when I painted these.  Reinforcements were needed from unusual sources.

I am this weekend I confess – Confused by Zouaves.

I have recently rebased and flocked some of my original 1970s and 1980s paintings of Airfix OO/HO American Civil War infantry, along with some other Airfix WW2 figure conversions to other troop types.

We had very few American Civil War Airfix OO/ HO troops, as they were  a scarce set by the 1980s. Reinforcements were needed from unusual sources!

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US 1st Sharpshooters (Berdan’s Sharpshooters) a green repaint of a few Union Infantry figures with a couple of Atlantic US cavalry mixed in. Defending a branch halt of the AT&PR Railroad, with the swiftly repainted rolling stock and engine from a “Train Set in A Tin.”
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More Union Infantry reinforcements, paint conversions  from more easily available Airfix WW2 Japanese Infantry.

I  have liked for a long time  the Airfix WW2 OO/HO Japanese (and Russian) infantry for their slender build and possibilities for conversion to troops from other periods.

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The unusual figures of the Airfix WW2  Japanese infantry standard bearer and bugler make useful Union Infantry command figures. These are now quite fragile plastic  – the officer has lost his fragile sword. Painted c. 1983.

 

Sometimes I can tell looking back what (roughly) these reinforcement figures were supposed to be or were inspired by, helped by looking again at Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour by Preben Kannik’s and the Blandford book Uniforms of The American Civil War  by Philip Haythornwaite. Both books were sporadically available in our local branch library.

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Another paint conversion of Airfix WW2 Japanese Infantry – but which Grey Zouaves are they and fighting on whose side?

This grey  Zouave unit with red kepis at first appear as probably meant to be Wallace’s Zouaves (the Eleventh Indiana Volunteers) nicknamed the “Union Greys”. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/11th_Indiana_Infantry_Regiment

They were  created or converted by repainting Airfix WW2 Japanese Infantry.

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I love(d) this page a lot in Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World  in Colour.

Wallace’s Zouaves featured in the few, the very few, ACW uniforms shown in Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour,  as well as Philip Haythornwaite’s more extensive ACW Uniform book (Plate 25). Text notes reveal the unusual career of Lew(is) Wallace,  their commanding officer, who went on to write Ben Hur, amongst other things! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lew_Wallace

But are these 1983 Airfix conversions really  Wallace Zouaves?

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Union Grey Wallace’s Zouaves from Indiana or Confederate McClellan’s Zouaves from South Carolina? The flag suggests the latter. 1983 conversions from Airfix WW2 Japanese Infantry.

I  painted these grey coated Zouaves with a  “first National Flag” of the Confederacy  with the grey coated Zouaves, suggesting they may be instead Confederate McClellan’s Zouaves or Chichester Zouaves Cadets, both from Charlestown South Carolina.

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Kannik notes that these “Union Grey” uniforms faded out quickly early in the American Civil War, no doubt to avoid confusion with such Confederate Grey or Zouave regiments.

No doubt also that many of these fine colourful uniforms would have quickly been adapted to the rigours of whatever could be found or repaired on campaign.

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More Louisiana Tiger Zouaves from Airfix WW2 Commandos and Japanese Officer – some of these figures look a bit rough or roughed up, the bottom of the spares box maybe in about 1983?

I am not entirely sure of all the intended regiments of the Zouave figure conversions  35 years on, even looking through the original uniform books I had available.

Why so many Zouave regiments? I wondered.

“In the United States, zouaves were brought to public attention by Elmer E. Ellsworth. Inspired by his French friend Charles De Villers, who had been a surgeon in the North African zouaves, he obtained a zouave drill manual. In 1859, Ellsworth took over a drill company and renamed them the “Zouave Cadets”. The drill company toured nationally, performing the light infantry drill of the north African zouaves with many theatrical additions. “Zouave” units were then raised on both sides of the American Civil War of 1861-5, including a regiment under Ellsworth’s command, the New York “Fire Zouaves” …”

Source: Wikipedia Zouave article  entry https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zouave

None of the Airfix boxes with their uniform pictures had survived in my family by then, so further uniform notes could only be glimpsed in the pages of the old  Airfix Catalogues or Military Modelling magazine and the eye-candy illustrations of Miniature Wargames.

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A few more Union Zouaves converted  c. 1983 from Airfix WW2 British commandos with WW1 French infantry officer and Confederate Bugler. Rifle butts (becoming or always ) somewhat flimsy.

Converting easily available first version  WW2 British Commandos to Zouaves worked surprisingly well, on account of the puttees, soft caps, straps and spindly rifles.

The Zouaves with red caps and red trousers with white spats or puttees probably represent the Union’s  14th New York Volunteers (or 84th New York Infantry Regiment) known as the “Brooklyn Chasseurs”, pictured in Haythornwaite’s Uniforms of the American Civil War Plate 24a.

Equally they could be the red trousered, red capped 1st Battalion Louisiana Zouaves fighting  for the Confederacy, shown on Plate 55. Confusing in battle!

You will also notice that the Louisiana Zouaves in the Kannik book look different to the Haythornwaite book – confusing for a young boy with his paints. I needed Confederates more than Union troops as I had few of the original Airfix Confederate Infantry.

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Michael Chappell’s colour illustration plates to Philip Haythornwaite’s Uniforms of the American Civil War (Blandford, 1975/85)

Converting WW2 infantry into 19th Century troops? 

Such strange figure conversions did not seem odd at the time in the early to late 1980s as these original ACW Or other Airfix historical figures were much sought after second hand. I remember a dealer called “Andy Peddle, Sunnymead …” regularly advertising in the small ads of Miniature Wargames each month for further stock of such loose figures. The price quoted by dealers alway seemed too high on my pocket money or paper round budget at the time – ” I will pay 3p per foot figure, 6p per cavalry figure, 12p per cannon, waggon or limber” advertised one Mr. S.  Russel  of Wingham. No doubt they were resold for more.

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Send no SAEs or payment, this small ad was just one of the Airfix second hand dealers from one issue of my Military  Modelling magazines (July 1983). Old lead met scarce plastic on the same page.

To give a comparison, in the same 1983 magazine (cover price 80p) the new Esci 1/72 figures were being advertised for a £1 per box of 50 Esci figures. Soon Esci would have their own range of ACW and Colonial or historic figures but too late for me. I was moving on to Peter Laing metal 15mm at 7p a foot figure.

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Atlantic Wild West cowboys painted up as Confederate infantry or Dismounted Texas Cavalry  and an Airfix Confederate infantryman for comparison, painted 1983.

In the absence of Airfix ACW, I generally made do with whatever bizarre tiny Atlantic Wild West packs turned up, sometimes cheaply in model shops like Beatties, although these seemed more like diorama sets than gaming figures. The Atlantic Wild West range  provided a few scruffy Confederates and 7th cavalry on horses with bases unlike the irritating Airfix horses. I  also painted up whatever American Civil War looking figures I could make from leftover WW2 infantry or Cowboys.

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A few vintage Airfix Confederates and some running Airfix Cowboy conversion Confederate figures in my handy “Just In Case” portable fishing tackle box set of figures for holidays and working away from home (see blogposts c. April 2016) 

I was always puzzled that no flag or standard bearer figure was produced by Airfix with their ACW infantry sets but I checked here on Plastic Soldier Review and there is no sign of one:

http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/review.aspx?id=30

http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=402

Again in 2017, these Airfix ACW figures have disappeared and I don’t think that HAT  did a reissue a few years ago. They don’t seem to have been in production since early 1980. No fort or playset reissue ever featured them. Some boxes and loose figures lurk on E-Bay and online shops, becoming increasingly pricy and, for the old 70s stock, increasingly brittle.

Will they ever be reissued again? The 150th anniversary of the American Civil War has now gone by.

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A good volley line of Airfix Union infantry enough for a skirmish against the Confederates.

Good to see on many people’s blogs that these charming ACW figures have retained their nostalgic appeal.

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My few Airfix Confederate infantry so Reinforcements are on the way!

2017 – More reinforcements!

Recently a retired work colleague kindly gave me an old biscuit tin of 1970s Airfix figures, a jumble of loose figures and some on sprues, predominantly ACW and AWI figures with a few British Paras mixed in. A relic of his 1960s and 70s flirtation with wargames  before American railroad modelling took over, I shall unpack this Airfix owl pellet in a future blogpost. There look to be some Confederates and ACW artillery lurking!

I also chanced upon two half price “Red boxes” of recently produced Airfix WW2 Japanese Infantry from a shop closing down its models section (mostly it was all Airfix USAAF aircrew boxes) so I should be able to produce some more reinforcements in the future. USCT US Coloured Troops are one thought, and finally some more unconfused Zouave regiments?

Zouaves troops also turn up in my  Bronte gaming scenarios, based on troop descriptions in the Bronte family Angria and Glass Town scenarios – I’m sure all these vintage Airfix figures will find a role in these Imagi-Nations, just with a new standard bearer or two.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/pretty-in-gingham-the-brontes-bloodhound-regiment-of-angria-1839/

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Gingham shirts and ticking trousers – the colourful clothes that match the description of some Imagi-nations Bronte fiction Zouave troops c. 1830s -1840s (Hawthornwaite, Uniforms of the American Civil War Plate 18 )

I shall end here, slightly less confused by Zouaves but not much ….

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 16 July 2017

 

 

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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.