Napoleonic British Siege Engineers

I have nearly finished my modular siege works, although I have fallen slightly behind my original schedule due to other distractions (setting up a website for a Veterans’ Association).  My siege works should now be finished by late November.

Once it is completed, I plan to show a whole siege.  My only 18th Century figures are British and Jacobite, and there were no sieges involving major trench works during that campaign.  re-officer-2

I have therefore decided to base my siege demonstration on the Napoleonic era.  However I had no suitable siege engineers, so I have now made some British Napoleonic ones.  This is Lieutenant Colonel Sir Richard Fletcher, who commanded Wellington’s Engineers at most of the Peninsular War sieges.  He has a map, as do all of my engineer officers, and is pointing out work to be done.


All of my Napoleonic Commanders are currently mounted, but I thought that my Royal Engineer officer supervising the siege works should be on foot.  He has been converted from an Airfix infantryman.  I picked that loading figure since the foot position looked right and I could easily change the arm with the ramrod to a pointing position.  His base is weighted with a 2 Euro cent coin.



Wellington's Specialist Troops.jpg


I decided to model a couple of companies (4 figures) of British Royal Sappers & Miners, basing them on the illustration of their working dress on the front cover of the Osprey “Wellington’s Specialist Troops.  They are wearing grey canvas protective clothing, similar to that worn by civilian coal-heavers, of a tabard and hood.  I can remember, when I was a child, seeing coal deliverymen wearing similar protective clothing.



I looked at what figures I had to use as these Royal Sappers & Miners figures.  Looking at my spreadsheets I could see that I had a box of Revell British Infantry, from which I had used some figures as 5th/60th, but the rest were spare.  I therefore picked four suitable figures from these.  I wanted kneeling or crouching figures, since they would be working at the trench heads.  The kneeling firing figure has been converted to a man with a pickaxe and the other figure has had his rear leg repositioned so that he is crouching over a shovel.


The pick and shovel handles are pieces of cut off hairpins.  The pickaxe head is made from a piece of sprue.  Several sets of Italeri figures come with a sprue in two parts, connected together with plastic “hinges”.  I have used sections of these “hinges” to make the pick axe heads.  The shovel is welded from a backpack which I cut off the figures (since they would not have worn backpacks when working in the trenches).



Once I had modelled them, I heavy based them, as I now do for all of my figures.  I use a piece of magnetic tape (from my local HobbyCraft store) to weight the base, not because it is magnetic, but because it is heavy.





The magnetic tape is 12mm wide, so I cut 12mm square sections to stick in the centre of my 15mm square card bases.  The tape is self adhesive on one side.  I then glued the figures on top and welded plastic sprue all over the base.  I based them all individually, as they will be working in the siege trenches.




The finished Royal Sapper and Miners figures are here.  I normally paint green bases, but since these will be working in the trenches, I have painted their bases mud brown.



Most of the troops working in the siege trenches were not Royal Sappers & Miners, but were in fact Infantry.  I therefore decided to model the equivalent of a 20 figure battalion of these, from a mixture of Regiments.  I did not have enough spare Revell figures for all of these, but remembered that I also had an unused box of Italeri (former Esci) British Infantry.  I had bought both the Revell box and Italeri box to see what they were like when Airfix stopped production of its British Infantry.  However Hät reissued the Airfix figures, so I never bought any more Revell or Italeri ones.



Now these spare figures could be used as British Infantry working in the trenches.  I picked suitable figures I could convert to using pickaxes and shovels.  The top row are Revell and the bottom row are Italeri.  I included some Highlanders.





A selection of the converted figures is here.  The front two figures are Revell and the rear two are Italeri.  I have modelled them without muskets or cartridge boxes, but with bayonets, haversacks and water bottles, so they only have a single crossbelt.


Here they are working in a sap.  A couple of Royal Sappers & Miners are at the Sap Head, protected from view by a wooden mantlet.  They are in the most dangerous position since they are exposed to fire when positioning new (empty) gabions. Further back the infantry are widening and deepening the trench.  On the rear parapet is a Royal Engineer Officer, supervising the works.



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