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I guess this depends on two main things: 1) practicalities like how many boxes you can afford, how much space you have, how much time you have to paint the figures; and 2) what the figures are being used for ie: display, simply to add to a collection, or for wargames purposes.
In my case, I tend to try to model armies on an accurate historical basis, as if for the wargames table. I tend to use a figure to actual scale of 1:20, or 1:30 for Napoleonics. So, the ratio of horsemen to infantry as it actually was is important, as is the actual size of a cavalry squadron/regiment compared with an infantry battalion. Given that cavalry units were often (but not always) smaller in terms of numbers than a corresponding infantry tactical unit, then inevitably the number of figures representing this cavalry unit will be less. Having said that, once based (clearly on larger bases than infantrymen), it becomes quite surprising how much table-space a representative cavalry brigade of, say 2 x 16 figure regiments plus a brigadier and staff, actually takes up!
I think MM has provided the definitive answer - it's about historical ratios.
That said, a few personal observations. I *love* cavalry & I have to fight the temptation to not paint too much. They give a battle a bit of needed class however, too many is to be avoided. This will skew any wargaming battles. BTW I could say all of the same about artillery which I love even more.
Over the last few years, I built up quite large ACW armies, including sizeable cavalry forces (with dismounted surrogates). I tried using them in a few battles & the cavalry, mounted or dismounted, got slaughtered. Indeed, they were largely useless and this was a factor in my next action -I've just given away all my ACW troops. Infantry only battles are boring.
My latest love is Late Antiquity. One of the reasons I love it, is that both Roman & barbarian (Hun/Goth/Sarmatian) have over 50% cavalry - glorious!
BTW the Battle of Liebertwolkwitz, 14th October 1813 anyone? I'd love to fight it.
Thanks donald. I think I have detected your liking for cavalry in the marvellous pictures (on Bennos Forum) of your SYW armies, and latterly also your Late Antiquity cohorts. All very fine and a spectacle on the tabletop.
Throughout history there have been armies which, for one reason or another, have been 'cavalry heavy'....and these are not necessarily just the obvious ones (eg: Steppe dwellers, Poles, Muscovites etc). The Swedish army of the Great Northern War, although fairly small by most contemporary standards, excelled in its cavalry which could make up c. 50% of a field force. And as another example, Royalist armies of the English Civil War- again fairly small - could likewise have up to half of the soldiery mounted.
PS: Battle of Leibertwolkwitz: Not one I know, but I look forward to more on this if/when you come to stage it!
For my tabletop display 12 riders plus 3 command figures usually suffice. I just combine dragoons, horse grenadiers and horse carabiniers in a joint attack on infantry squares or combine regiments from each participant if I like to display a full cavalry battle.
As for artillery, I usually field two to four guns in combination with infantry with cavalry in reserve(thank you Strelets for the in reserve sets of Prussian cavalry and French Guard Chasseurs).
Other nations cavalry in reserve would be a welcome addition to the range. For the Dutch and Belgian carabiniers I found two sets at Hagen if I am not mistaken(although I needed to add scabbards which should not have been necessary) and Art Miniaturen produce a nice set of French 1812-1815 dragoons.
Franznap have a similar posed set on the drawing board for cuirassiers.
I have purchased figures from Hagen in the past too. They are nice, but what I have found is they seem very much on the large side for 1/72. Their British in square infantry for example, only really matches up with the 2nd type Italeri British infantry set. I thought about the Dutch/Belgians, but just as was about to take the plunge, some came out in 3D print, so went for them instead and happy I did so.
I don't wargame, but for building a Waterloo diorama, I have still had to play around with various scaling. Too big and I dont have the room for all the figures, too small and it doesn't look right at all.
So in the end I did something completely ramdom and simply took the numbers of each battalion/squadron etc at Waterloo and used the numbers as follows:
If say, a regiment had 950 men, I did 95. If it had 467, I rounded the number up to 47. If was 552, I did 55. If that makes any sense? Kind of interpreting the numbers in a more decimal format, and then the last digit either keeps the number low if below 5 or bumps it up 1 if its higher than 5. Sounds a bit odd but it seems to have worked for me.
Units are just the right size optically, and those units that were bigger than others, stay that way...maintaining the realistic sizing between battalions.
Where I sometimes find it difficult is with artillery. Too few and it looks stupid. Too many and it doesnt fit in with how the rest of the units are displayed.
Think I have settled on 1 per battery for the Allied army & 2 per battery for the French, but still not sure. Doesnt help I really like artillery figures & cannon models!!!
That makes perfect sense Roger. You are simply using a scale of 1:10 (for inf/cav at least). That is a wonderfully small scale (i.e. small level of scaling, to use the geographic/cartographic terminology), would show differences in the strengths of various units on the day and most look bloody marvellous!
I am sure I am not the only one who would love to see photos of how it is going! :)
Kind regards, James
I have found that a ‘squadron’ of ten troopers and an officer times two, together with a command of the Colonel, Standard and trumpeter, ie twenty five figures makes a good looking unit.
Two of these units makes a brigade with the extra command staff / artillery support etc.
It has worked well for my Hundred days refights and also looks good for Antietam when they go into action at the middle bridge.
Best wishes and a safe, Happy Christmas to all.
In the new year I plan on starting to base some of the battalions so I will try to post pictures then. I have asked for a high quality Static grass applicator for my birthday present in January!! Along with some bags of the said static grass & some tufts. So will have a practise with it & then get started proper.
The main reason I haven't based anything as of yet is I have been trying to find out what terrain/field crop etc each battalion was stood in. Didn't want to put my 42nd Highlanders in a lush green pasture only to find they were stood in a hayfield! Can't be 100% sure obviously, but can at least take an educated guess using what sources are available. Using the time of year to also find out what kind of crops a Belgian farmer may of planted at that time.
Delays in basing also down to redoing some battalions with better figures & retiring some older ones. E.g Airfix/Italeri Highlanders replaced with Strelets firing line & in attack figures.
Just trying to slot it all in when life allows!!