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Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

In England as in France, uniform staffing was the responsibility of the owner colonels. It was very difficult to find a way to distinguish the different regiments between them.

In France, each regiment received uniforms carved in the regions where they were lifted. The tailors gave horizontal or vertical pockets. This system was complemented by the lapels of the sleeves and the colours of the flags.

To simplify the matter, various ordinances and regulations have been promulgated in an attempt to bring order to the level of the royal armies, in this complexity resulting from the personal initiatives of the colonels. To answer your question, I would have to describe several books. Only the trained eye of the contemporary soldiers made it possible to distinguish the Berri regiment from the Picardy regiment. As for me, I always need to refer to uniform boards. These boards must be in correspondence with the dates. But beware, an order modifying this or that part of the uniform, was not applicable immediately the next day. Most of the time, the current uniforms were used and then adapted to the new regulations. And yes, even then, the finances were not stretchable . . . . . . .

We love simplicity in France and this has always been the case. Personally it's so simple, I get lost often.

It's a great summary: Good luck. (Fred and Liliane Funcken is a great choice to start with).

Best regards

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

Thank you for this information and insight Zouave72.

I can understand that the study of French uniforms and their intricate details in the 18th Century is a very specialised subject, and one which is probably best-suited for someone who is properly understanding of the French Language and culture. I very much appreciate that, in the France of King Louis XIV, the issue of status and precedence in the list of regiments (ie: which one is most senior, then which one is next etc) would be a matter of great importance. This would be reflected in pride in uniforms, and yes, the way that pockets and buttons were laid out would therefore also be an issue of pride. I also enjoy the idea that if you were, say, an officer in the Regiment of Champagne in 1700 and you happened to meet, say, an officer of the same 'rank' from the Regiment of Provence, you would immediately spot him by the detail of your and his respective uniforms...and also, you would immediately know that your Regiment (Champagne) was superior to his!

The L&F Funcken 'Lace Wars' books are very good for the uniforms (and flags) of France, Britain and Prussia and are a mine of information. They are less good for some of the other European states, but I treasure both of the volumes as key sources of information.

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

Regarding uniforms, the earliest French reference work I know of is Delaistre's (1720s, so not strictly a contemporary source for WSS). I guess the Funcken plates were mainly based on this source. Check it out (you might find more plates elsewhere):

https://art.rmngp.fr/fr/library/artworks?k=delaistre&authors=Jacques-Antoine%20Delaistre

Careful about the captions, not all are reliable (e.g., the first plate you see is hardly representing an officer of grenadiers of the Gardes Françaises but, rather, a drummer and hautbois of some dragoon? regiment ...:thinking_face: )

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

Master Kunz
Regarding uniforms, the earliest French reference work I know of is Delaistre's (1720s, so not strictly a contemporary source for WSS). I guess the Funcken plates were mainly based on this source. Check it out (you might find more plates elsewhere):

https://art.rmngp.fr/fr/library/artworks?k=delaistre&authors=Jacques-Antoine%20Delaistre

Careful about the captions, not all are reliable (e.g., the first plate you see is hardly representing an officer of grenadiers of the Gardes Françaises but, rather, a drummer and hautbois of some dragoon? regiment ...:thinking_face: )
Very helpful, thank you Master Kunz. I suspect that the Funckens did use this as primary source material; the first diagrams of Infantry uniform details (cuffs, pockets, buttons etc) in their Lace Wars Volume 1 is for '1720', so coincides very closely with these Delaistre plates.

So far as I can find the 1720 material is the closest comprehensive reference for WoSS French uniforms, so on an assumption that uniforms would not have changed greatly in 15 or so years from around 1704, I use this as source material for my WoSS French infantry.

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?
Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

Master Kunz
Much appreciated, thank you!

I am painting figures for the Regiment du Roi as we speak, and two of these plates in particular will enable me to confirm uniform details for officers and musicians of that Regiment. Very useful indeed.

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

Thanks a lot for all your helpful informations and links....

I have to study still more pages and links, but it seems that vertical pockets were quite rare in the french army which I won´t name it as simplicty. Sorry Zouave, but simplicity is for me surely an other thing. I am impressed that the WSS was really a axis-time where many details of uniforms and arms were rapidly changing - and later, after 1715-20 the uniforms and arms stayed quite unchanged till 1740.

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

sansovino
Thanks a lot for all your helpful informations and links....

I have to study still more pages and links, but it seems that vertical pockets were quite rare in the french army which I won´t name it as simplicty. Sorry Zouave, but simplicity is for me surely an other thing. I am impressed that the WSS was really a axis-time where many details of uniforms and arms were rapidly changing - and later, after 1715-20 the uniforms and arms stayed quite unchanged till 1740.
Enjoy your researches Sansovino!

PS: around 25% of French line infantry had vertical pockets in some shape or form in c. 1720, so not really that rare. These units included some of the oldest and most famous French regiments eg: Picardie, Champagne, Bourbonnais.

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

It is a big subject and also a very contentious subject - but the Anglo-Dutch used "Dutch Drill" platoon firing (most of the time) and always fought in three ranks; the French began in five ranks then reduced to four, and typically fired off one rank at a time or occasionally several en masse. The Austrians probably retained five ranks rather longer, having developed their tactics to fight the Turks (hence the deep order).
It's not worth bothering about coat pockets in 1/72, but for more information go online and get the Editions Brokaw booklets; and - highly recommended- the Charles S Grant book on Armies of the War of Spanish Succession.
I'd ignore any wargame rules that give the Brits and Dutch a killer advantage in musketry - it is largely propaganda; however the quality of their infantry generally was reckoned very high.
With some minor exceptions all West European infantry of the period looked essentially the same (with some variants for grenadier headgear), and "British" infantry are fine for any troops of the period.
Interesting exceptions include Hepburn's regiment in the elite Scottish Dutch Brigade, which wore grenadier hats with falling bag.

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

Roy Beers
It is a big subject and also a very contentious subject - but the Anglo-Dutch used "Dutch Drill" platoon firing (most of the time) and always fought in three ranks; the French began in five ranks then reduced to four, and typically fired off one rank at a time or occasionally several en masse. The Austrians probably retained five ranks rather longer, having developed their tactics to fight the Turks (hence the deep order).
It's not worth bothering about coat pockets in 1/72, but for more information go online and get the Editions Brokaw booklets; and - highly recommended- the Charles S Grant book on Armies of the War of Spanish Succession.
I'd ignore any wargame rules that give the Brits and Dutch a killer advantage in musketry - it is largely propaganda; however the quality of their infantry generally was reckoned very high.
With some minor exceptions all West European infantry of the period looked essentially the same (with some variants for grenadier headgear), and "British" infantry are fine for any troops of the period.
Interesting exceptions include Hepburn's regiment in the elite Scottish Dutch Brigade, which wore grenadier hats with falling bag.
Valuable insight there Roy.

In reading accounts of various of the battles of the War of Spanish Succession in Europe, and in particular Ramillies/Oudenarde/Malplaquet. it is notable that senior French commanders are known to have been advised by their superiors (including the King himself) of the dangers of under-estimating English/Scots/Dutch infantry. This, amongst other things, seems to have been one of the reasons why, at Blenheim, the village of Blenheim itself was 'over-reinforced' at a crucial point in the battle; and why parts of the Franco-Bavarian line at Ramillies two years later were more heavily held than might have been prudent (but then hindsight is a fine thing).

The same 'warning' is extant decades later in relation to Dettingen (1743), Fontenoy (1745) and Minden (1759).

All of which might suggest that, as a French commander, there was an element of truth in needing to take precautions when facing British (as it was after 1707) infantry.

But.... I am under no illusions here. The French had some fine infantry units and could give the British, Hanoverians, Dutch and anyone else a run for their money. English/Scots/Dutch infantry were good...but then so were quite a lot of Swedes, Danes, French Guards, Irish, Swiss, Germans, Prussians, Austrians, Hungarians and others

Somewhere though, the 18th century did see the beginning of a reputation for controlled and devastating musketry amongst British (and similarly trained) infantry that saw its culmination around 7pm on the evening of 18th June 1815 in fields near Brussels, Belgium.

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

The British were certainly rated as the best infantry by the French, although not necessarily for their musket drill, or at least not only that, and as you say this was used to advantage to pull the wool over French commanders' eyes on occasion.
I don't know if you remember the old book Firepower by Maj Gen B P Hughes (which I think all wargamers had back in the distant 70's): he produced stats which surprisingly appeared to show that early 18th century musketry could be more effective than later Napoleonic.
However I think we have to take a big pinch of salt, or maybe snuff, with this period, in many different aspects - the other canard (to use a nice French word) is the "French cavalry were old fashioned and useless" argument, as they supposedly relied largely on mounted pistols and carbines. I think the Anglo-Dutch did have an edge, but at Malplaquet the French Carabiniers (supposedly firearms troops) charged and routed Withers' flanking cavalry force; and at Ramillies the Maison du Roi broke four successive lines of Allied cavalry on the Allied left before reinforcements drove them back, and at Malplaquet, again, despite enormous Allied cavalry superiority the Maison du Roi counter-charged repeatedly until the closing stages of the battle, then covered the retreat of the army and never in fact broke ... although admittedly they were the cream of the French army. By contrast I don't think the French dragoons were ever any good, and were useful only as scouting and screening troops in the grand tactical approach to battle.
One factor which must be mentioned is the large number of new infantry regiments the French created to try and meet accelerating demand, and most of these would have been very poor, and in no way a match for the British, Dutch and of course Prussian infantry.
Fascinating period which I am very much looking forward to doing in 20mm ...I'm painting up Strelets GNW Russian dragoons as assorted German dragoons while waiting for Cadogan and the British Horse to arrive!

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

Roy Beers
The British were certainly rated as the best infantry by the French, although not necessarily for their musket drill, or at least not only that, and as you say this was used to advantage to pull the wool over French commanders' eyes on occasion.
I don't know if you remember the old book Firepower by Maj Gen B P Hughes (which I think all wargamers had back in the distant 70's): he produced stats which surprisingly appeared to show that early 18th century musketry could be more effective than later Napoleonic.
However I think we have to take a big pinch of salt, or maybe snuff, with this period, in many different aspects - the other canard (to use a nice French word) is the "French cavalry were old fashioned and useless" argument, as they supposedly relied largely on mounted pistols and carbines. I think the Anglo-Dutch did have an edge, but at Malplaquet the French Carabiniers (supposedly firearms troops) charged and routed Withers' flanking cavalry force; and at Ramillies the Maison du Roi broke four successive lines of Allied cavalry on the Allied left before reinforcements drove them back, and at Malplaquet, again, despite enormous Allied cavalry superiority the Maison du Roi counter-charged repeatedly until the closing stages of the battle, then covered the retreat of the army and never in fact broke ... although admittedly they were the cream of the French army. By contrast I don't think the French dragoons were ever any good, and were useful only as scouting and screening troops in the grand tactical approach to battle.
One factor which must be mentioned is the large number of new infantry regiments the French created to try and meet accelerating demand, and most of these would have been very poor, and in no way a match for the British, Dutch and of course Prussian infantry.
Fascinating period which I am very much looking forward to doing in 20mm ...I'm painting up Strelets GNW Russian dragoons as assorted German dragoons while waiting for Cadogan and the British Horse to arrive!
I think we are pretty well in agreement on most of this Roy!

I am always deeply suspicious of anything, and any era, where for some reason a certain troop type or unit(s) is/are rated as greatly superior to others. True 'elites' do exist, but they are few and far between. The 'elite' phenomenon is, as I think you observe, something that pervades many sets of wargames rules but is not really very accurate, historically.

And, having read a great deal about French armies in the 18th and early 19th centuries, I am generally in awe of their military prowess and achievements. Certainly, they had a bit of a 'dip' in performance during the Seven years War, but otherwise...

Rapidly-formed units will, inevitably, be inferior to units which have been together, drilled together and perhaps fought together for years. It was ever thus and always will be. So it is no surprise that, with the rapid expansion of the French infantry in the early 1700s, and then again (through necessity) in the later stages of the Napoleonic wars, the quality of that infantry would always be somewhat unreliable.

But...Maison du Roi cavalryman circa 1706 v. English/Dutch/Danish cavalryman? My money would (probably) be with the Frenchman....he, after all, is well-mounted, well uniformed, well-equipped, and is fighting on behalf of the most powerful King in Europe....

I am also looking forward very much to the release of the Strelets WoSS cavalry sets.

PS: yes, the Zvezda GNW cavalry sets are very good. Have just been painting some of the Swedish cavalry of Charles XII set as Dutch WoSS cavalry this morning....

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

I agree with the need to be suspicious, even cynical, about alleged troop type superiority: we used to call it "red jacket syndrome", in which it was "plus 1" for everything as soon as you put on a British uniform ...but difficult to strike a balance as in both 18thc and Napoleonic most British troops were among the best, if not the best, in Europe - except for the notorious "fox hunt" tendencies of the British, but not KGL, cavalry.
In WSS some period-specific rules draw a sharp line between Anglo-Dutch practice and quality and French/continental, which I've never been convinced reflects the reality.
French and many other cavalry did still rely on pistols and carbines to a greater or lesser extent, whereas the Anglo-Dutch famously attacked at the trot without recourse to firearms; come to that the British also looked after their horses better (in both periods)too.
In the WSS "dragoons" would include Hay's and Ross's regiments; Scots Greys and Irish, who appear to have been near equivalents to "Horse" but could also fight on foot, whereas French dragoons, apart from elite royal regiments, appear to have been poor in both the infantry and cavalry roles.
The Gendarmes de France performed very poorly at Blenheim, while the Maison du Roi seem to have been exemplary wherever they fought - and no doubt the line regiments were every shade in between, depending on unit and campaign background, leadership etc.
I tend not to like generic "horse and musket" rules, as too much is averaged out, but have never found a WSS set I believe in, so we'll be using home-spun rules with theatre specifics for the war in Spain.
Meanwhile I think Zvezda are the best figures yet produced by anyone - a big claim, but they really are superb - and it's tragic they have accepted reality by largely ditching figure sets for their expensive WW2 stuff ...but best of luck to them.
Strelets and also Red Box are astronomically better than previously, and often among the very best available; and Strelets are incredibly prolific.
I agree with others on this forum that the WSS pikemen are a waste of a set (although maybe of use for GNW!) and the muskets in two of the French sets are inexplicably way too short ...but luckily the British sets are splendid and unless you are obsessed with pockets (in 1/72 why bother) they will do the job for most WSS infantry with a suitable paint scheme. The masters for the cavalry look terrific, and I am going to pre-order some from Models2U.