Wednesday 31 August 2022

Haitian Revolution - Polish Legion


Come on you've gotta admit, nothing looks so different than a Napoleonic Polish soldier in a sombrero!!

I must admit, I really enjoyed painting these figures up, in fact I've enjoyed painting all of the Haitian Revolution figures up, its such a weird and wonderful mix of colourful Napoleonic uniforms, with the added twist of tropical civilian clothing.
All the figures are from Trent Miniatures, apart from 2 figures who are from Britannia Miniatures.

In 1802, Napoleon sent most of the disgruntled Polish Legion (two demi-brigades, 5,280 strong) to Haiti to help put down the Haitian Revolution. Napoleon wanted to regain the colony of Saint Domingue, but preferred to save his main French army for more important matters, closer to home. The now inconvenient Polish units were accompanied by contingents of Germans and Swiss French allies, as well as by French units that had fallen out of favour with Napoleon and the French high command.

 The Haitian campaign proved disastrous for the Legion. Combat casualties and tropical diseases, including the yellow fever, reduced the 5,280-strong Polish contingent to a few hundred survivors in the space of less than two years. By the time the French forces retreated from the island in 1803, about 4,000 Poles had died (either from disease or combat). Of the survivors, about 400 remained on the island, a few dozen were dispersed to the nearby islands or to the United States, and about 700 returned to France (Urbankowski claims 6,000 sent and 330 returned).

 The Poles had little interest or desire to support the French cause in the distant colonies, once again fighting against people who only desired their own independence. In Haiti there still is a popular myth that many Polish soldiers became sympathetic to the former slaves' cause and deserted the French, supporting Jean-Jacques Dessalines in significant numbers, with entire units changing sides. In fact, the actual desertion rate was much lower; nonetheless about 150 Polish soldiers joined the Haitian rebels. The loss of that many patriotic military personnel in the Caribbean was a serious blow to the Polish aspirations for regaining independence. The Haitian experience cast further doubts among Poles about France's and Napoleon's good intentions toward Poland.

The Grenadiers

The Voltigeurs

2 centre companies

The Command - The only real conversion figure is the chap on the left. He had his head chopped off and replaced with a Czapka.

Thursday 25 August 2022

Empires at War - Haitian Revolution Buildings 4. The Church.

More from the Empires at War Italian/Spanish buildings, that I'm using for my Haitian Revolution project.

As its a church I wanted this building to stand out more than the other building, so I covered the walls in PVA and gave it a sprinkling of very fine sand and painted it white, all over.

All the other buildings are painted a light sandstone colour, straight from the manufacturer.

You can pick this church up here, for the small sum of £20

As the floor of the church already had a tiled effect, I chose to paint that as well as the inner walls.
Just need a Jesuit priest for it now?

Monday 22 August 2022

Cornwall 2022 - Bodmin Jail

Oh gawd, not another holiday post...........

My daughter Nieve wanted to visit Bodmin Jail, she fancies being a prison guard when she leaves school, for some reason???

Down in the cells, they used to house 8 people at a time, men, women, children, murderers, rapists the lot!

A cell for the posher folk.

A model of the prison

Looks painful!

A Plague Doctor, I seem to remember Michael Awdry from 28mm Victorian Warfare, painting up some figures like these a few years ago.


The beast of Bodmin

After Bodmin Jail, we visited Jamaica Inn
Loads on Daphne du Maurier, of course, but they do have a small Smugglers museum.

I'd been a bad bad boy!

Monday 15 August 2022

Cornwall 2022 - Pendennis Castle


On my recent trip to Cornwall I dragged my family to Pendennis Castle near Falmouth. I certainly enjoyed the trip, not too sure about my wife and 2 daughters though?

Now its your turn......

Pendennis Castle was built from 1539 to 1545 when England faced a possible invasion from the united powers of Catholic Europe. To defend against this, Henry VIII implemented a national programme of military and naval preparations, including new coastal artillery forts. These were equipped with guns to shatter enemy warships and troop transports that might attempt to capture English ports.

The important anchorage of Carrick Roads, a deep estuary at the mouth of the river Fal, was a perfect location for an enemy to establish a base. To protect it, Henry built gun forts on opposite shores, at Pendennis and St Maws. Pendennis Castle had a circular design that allowed all-round fire from guns mounted at several levels.

The fort was fully garrisoned (guarded) by up to 100 men only when there was an imminent threat, notably during the planned Spanish invasions of 1574, 1579, 1588 (the ‘Great Armada’) and 1596–7. On the last occasion, a Spanish fleet intended to land troops at Pendennis and capture Carrick Roads. The attack never came, but the threat forced Elizabeth I to review the defences.

The fort was fully garrisoned (guarded) by up to 100 men only when there was an imminent threat, notably during the planned Spanish invasions of 1574, 1579, 1588 (the ‘Great Armada’) and 1596–7. On the last occasion, a Spanish fleet intended to land troops at Pendennis and capture Carrick Roads. The attack never came, but the threat forced Elizabeth I to review the defences.

In 1597 the soldiers and courtiers Sir Nicholas Parker, Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Sir Walter Raleigh surveyed the defences of Pendennis. By 1600, the engineer Paul Ive had enclosed Henry VIII’s castle within a much larger fortress to defend the whole of Pendennis headland. It was an elongated pentagon in plan, defined by a high rampart and ditch, with a bastion projecting at each angle.

A large triangular area of the new fortress (a salient) overlooked Pendennis Point, where a smaller fort included the earlier gun tower known as Little Dennis. The bastions had heavy guns to protect against attack by land and sea. They also defended the fort against a close assault by land, to which the circular form of Henry VIII’s castle was vulnerable..

Between 1625 and 1630 England made a catastrophic attempt to influence the course of the Thirty Years War in continental Europe, mainly in opposition to Spain. This prompted improvements to Pendennis and in 1627, the engineer Sir Bernard Johnson constructed a new rampart and ditch (the Hornwork) across the peninsula, replacing a neglected Tudor earthwork and strengthening the land defences to the north.

Pendennis was tested during the First Civil War (1642–6), when Falmouth was an important port for King Charles I’s army. In 1646 Pendennis was one of the last Royalist strongholds to hold out against the Parliamentary army; about 1,000 soldiers and their dependents endured a five-month siege, agreeing an honourable surrender in August when their food supplies ran out.

Although there were no major events at Pendennis after 1646, continuing warfare with the Dutch and the French ensured that a small garrison was maintained, on and off, and a new guard barracks and gateway built in about 1700.

In 1714, coastal defences were reviewed, and the engineer Colonel Christian Lilly reported Pendennis ‘neglected’ and ‘in a very ruinous condition’. His recommendations for repairs were implemented from 1732 to 1739; the old rampart was re-formed, new guns were installed, and new buildings erected, including a storehouse, gunpowder magazine (store) and gunners' barracks.

From 1775 to 1780, in the American War, the locally raised Miners’ Militia garrisoned Pendennis and new barracks were built. During the long wars with Napoleonic France (1793–1815) the garrison became permanent and the defences were strengthened by five raised gun batteries (cavaliers) on the rampart overlooking the landward approaches. A new sea battery, Half Moon Battery, was built outside the fort on the south, while a host of barracks, a hospital and store buildings were erected both inside the fortress and on Hornwork Common to the north.

After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, Pendennis was neglected and many of the temporary buildings were removed. By the late 1850s, however, England and France were rivals again in a race for military and naval advantage. More powerful guns were installed at Pendennis from 1854,notably at Half Moon Battery and at Crab Quay, on the east side of the headland.

Yet the fortress received little attention in the nationwide programme of fort-building in the 1860s, being considered a lower strategic target for the enemy than many other locations around the coast.

Nonetheless, the outdated defences were gradually improved from 1880 to 1900, a period of revolutionary change in military technology. The first major development was a submarine minefield laid across the entrance to Carrick Roads in 1885, with mines that could be detonated remotely.

But it was Falmouth’s designation as a Defended Port in 1887 that resulted in many new defences for the estuary, commanded from Pendennis Castle. These comprised breech-loading guns (replacing the older, muzzle-loading guns), accurate range-finders, searchlights to aid night fighting and telephones and electricity to enable efficient communication. Six-inch guns – those firing sizeable shells with a six inch diameter – were intended to engage warships from new positions in One Gun Battery inside Pendennis and from Half Moon Battery, while light quick-firing 6- and 12-pounder guns to counter fast torpedo boats were fitted in East Bastion, Carrick Mount Bastion and Crab Quay.

Such intricate defences required a permanent staff and in 1902 new barracks were built at Pendennis for the 105th Regiment Royal Garrison Artillery. Many other new buildings included a War Signal Station on the roof of the Henrician castle to control shipping movements.

During the First World War (1914–18) Pendennis was the command centre of coast artillery defences for west Cornwall.Key defence points and trenches protected it and thousands of troops came for training before going to war in France and Belgium. The Royal Navy used the anchorage for convoys, minesweepers and anti-submarine vessels.

In 1939 Pendennis resumed control of coast defences. The threat from torpedo boats was countered by twin 6-pounder and 12-pounder guns, while long-range defence against ships came from guns in new covered positions at Half Moon Battery. From 1943 these were the latest 6-inch mark 24 models, operating with precision under radar control. Huts and temporary buildings were erected, the Pendennis Fire Command Post enlarged (from which the Fire Commander could control all his guns), and a Battery Plotting Room was established to co-ordinate target data coming from all sources.

The Barracks
All of the next photos were taken from the displays in the barracks.