French Brig Sloop – Le Prince Charles

As recorded in my earlier post here, the French captured HMS Hazard in Montrose Harbour, on the east coast of Scotland, in November 1745, sailed her to France and renamed her as “Le Prince Charles”, sailing under French colours.

1 - Kyle of Tongue

 

In March 1746 she was chased into the Kyle of Tongue, in the far north of Scotland, by a British Frigate, HMS Sheerness.  Le Prince Charles ran aground and her crew abandoned her, taking with them £13,000 in gold, worth £25 million today.  The crew and most, but not all, of the gold were captured by a force of Loyalist Highlanders (one company of Loudoun’s 64th Foot and two Highland Independent Companies of MacKays).

To model this I needed a French crew for Le Prince Charles, the former HMS Hazard.

I converted the Captain from an Italeri Napoleonic French Guard Artillery officer.

2 - French Captain conversion

I had already removed his head (more than 10 years ago) to use for a conversion of Italeri French Cuirassier into Horse Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard (see here by scrolling down).  His new head, with the hat welded into a tricorne is from an Airfix British RHA figure, which I had previously converted to French Horse Artillery, replacing the Tarleton with a Shako.

 

3 - French Helmsman conversion

The helmsman was converted from a Hät Napoleonic British Sailor.  To make him more French, I added a tricorne which the book “An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Uniforms of the American War of Independence” suggests was characteristic of French sailors.   I have also given him an open jerkin, which I will paint as leather.

I accepted him wearing trousers, as I have for my British sailors, even although these did not really come in until the 1770s.

British and French warships normally carried a Marine detachment, but in this case the escort for the gold was provided by a detachment of 50 men from the Irish Brigade Berwick Regiment.

4 - Regt Berwick gold escort conversion

I have represented these with two figures, both originally Strelets Swedish Infantry of Charles XII.  I replaced the original grenadier cap with another of my spare Airfix British RHA heads, with the hat welded into a tricorne.  I will use these grenadier caps for future British or Hessian grenadier conversions.

 

Here are the painted Quarterdeck crew.

5 - French Quarterdeck crew - painted

The earliest French naval uniforms I could find were from 1756, so that is what the Captain is painted as.   I have given the helmsman striped trousers, as I have for all of my French sailors.  His tricorne is brown as were many French ones.  He also has a cummerbund style sash which was again characteristic of French sailors.  I have made the bases deeper to give more weight to them as I found my original thin bases allowed the figures to fall over too easily.  The thin bases looked better but the thick ones are more practical.

6 - French Lieutenant & Marine Artilleryman conversion

 

My model of a French Navy Lieutenant to command the guns on the gundeck is again based on an Italeri Napoleonic French Guard Artilleryman.  I used the same figure as a French Marine Artilleryman.

 

The gun crewmen are Hät Napoleonic British Sailors, again all given tricornes and either jackets, waistcoats or jerkins welded on.

7 - French Gun Crewmen conversion

Here are the completed gun crews.  They have one Marine Artilleryman amongst the crewmen.

8 - French Gun Crews - painted

The French sailors all have brown tricornes and are wearing a mixture of jackets, waistcoats and jerkins.  Their cummerbund style sashes are all red to give a uniformity amongst the crew (I have assumed that the Captain would have provided these).  They have striped trousers in various colours. All of this gives a differentiation from British sailors.

9 - French Petty Officer conversion

I modelled a French Petty Officer from the same figure which I used for my British Royal Navy Petty Officer.  He is holding a cane, rather than a rope “starter” in his right hand.  You can see the additional plastic I glued and welded below the original base to make it thicker.  I have done this base conversion retrospectively to all of my British naval figures.

 

10 - French Mast Crewmen conversion

 

Again I converted the same figures for French mast crews as I had for the British Royal Navy ones, looking as though they were hauling on ropes.  The original figure has already had his axe removed.  I gave them tricornes and a variety of welded on jackets, waistcoats and jerkins.

 

 

Here are the painted mast crews.  They all have brown tricornes and red cummerbund style waist sashes.

11 - French Mast Crews - painted

12 - French Naval Ensign

 

Le Prince Charles is the same vessel as HMS Hazard, but I needed to change its ensign (flag) to show its change of ownership.  I have made all of my naval flags on short flagpoles, which are cut down from the masts on the Zvezda lifeboats which I had previously used as Royal Navy Ships Boats.  These flagpoles slot into a piece of plastic tube at the aft (rear) of each ship.  The plastic tubes were originally paint brush protectors.

 

Here is the completed Le Prince Charles and crew.

13 - Le Prince Charles completed

Here is a close-up of the Quarterdeck.

14 - Le Prince Charles - Quarterdeck

And a close-up of the Gundeck.

15 - Le Prince Charles - Gundeck

After Le Prince Charles grounded, her crew abandoned her and tried to escape, with the gold, south along the shore of the Kyle of Tongue and then east towards the road south to Inverness.  However, before they reached the road they were intercepted and captured by the Loyalist Highlanders.

A Jacobite brigade commanded by George MacKenzie (Lord Cromartie) and comprising Cromartie’s  Regiment, Barrisdale’s battalion of the MacDonnell of Glengarry Regiment and a small MacGregor Regiment failed to reach the crew of Le Prince Charles in time.  The Jacobites not only did not get their gold, but this Brigade failed to return to Inverness in time for Culloden, and Lord Cromartie himself plus most of his Regiment were captured at Littleferry as they marched back south.

I wanted figures to represent the crew of Le Prince Charles on land.  I had modelled the ship’s crew as 16 figures but this is oversized due to modelling 6 gunners and 4 mast crew.  The actual crew was only 140, plus 50 Berwick Regiment escort for the gold.  I decided to model the crew on land as 4 naval figures and 2 Berwick Regiment.

16 - French Captain on Land conversion

 

Here is the French Navy Captain on land, again converted from an Italeri Napoleonic French Guard Artilleryman.  He is on a 15mm x 20mm base, as are all of my Jacobite Rebellion infantry.

 

 

The three French sailors are converted from Hät Napoleonic British Sailors, again all given tricornes and either jackets, waistcoats or jerkins welded on.

17 - French Crew on Land conversion

I have changed the position of the arms on one figure and given another a musket, to provide some variety.  The right hand figure had not been welded to his base yet, so you can see the magnetic tape which I use to add weight to the base.

Here are the painted French crew on land.  The two Berwick Regiment figures already existed from when I modelled the complete Irish Brigade.

18 - French Crew on land - painted

19 - Gold & Escort

 

The skylight over the cabin on the Quarterdeck can be removed and there is a small hold below it to take a chest of gold.  Here is the gold being carried by its Berwick Regiment escort.  The chest is slung on a loop of thread, painted to look like rope.

 

Here is the French crew trying to escape south along the Kyle of Tongue, stretched out in a single file.  The escort are now carrying the gold “fore and aft”, rather than side by side.

20 - French Crew on Land

Next I will model the crew of the French Transport La Renommée which captured HMS Hazard in Montrose Harbour.

4 thoughts on “French Brig Sloop – Le Prince Charles

  1. Marvin December 10, 2019 / 7:49 pm

    Fascinating work, as always. Looking forward to the next instalment.

    Like

  2. rodwargaming December 10, 2019 / 9:06 pm

    Naval ships and crews were a new venture for me, after nearly 60 years of land based figures, but it is an interesting and enjoyable lurking curve.

    Rod

    Like

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