Monday, January 7, 2019

British Exploring Officer, Iberian Peninsula, 1810

Last week I picked up David Brown's 'General d' Armee' rules and realized that I haven't painted a Napoleonic figure (much less a unit) in an age. This is amazing as when I started this blog years ago that's ALL I painted. It's funny how things go in cycles.

So today's update is a British Exploring Officer serving in the Peninsula, circa 1810. 

These chaps composed a group of intelligence officers that served Wellington during the Peninsular Wars as his 'Peninsula Corps of Guides'. Their primary function was to survey the countryside and make modern maps for strategic planning, but increasingly they were used to gather intelligence on French plans and movements.

The Exploring Officers refused to be considered as spies and so conducted their work behind enemy lines wearing their regimental uniforms. They relied heavily on local partisans for local knowledge, guidance and support. Since they were usually excellent horsemen, mounted on fast thoroughbreds, they stood a good chance of evading French patrols using speed and evasion.

Colquhoun Grant (great name btw) was perhaps the most famous of Wellington's Exploring Officers. He provided sterling service throughout the wars and had many harrowing adventures in French territory (even posing as an American officer in Paris!). Wellington held him in trust so much that during the Waterloo campaign he essentially relied on Grant's reports on French movements to the exclusion of all other intelligence (which, as we know, almost led to disaster).

This figure is from Brigade Games, sculpted by Paul Hicks. I quite like the rider, with his wide brimmed sun hat and jaunty pose, but the mount provided was a little stiff and uninspiring. So I used a damaged horse I had from a spare Riders of Rohan boxed set (Thanks Byron!), feeling that it had a more animated pose. I had to shave off a few bits of offending tack and horse armour and then 'greenstuffed' a more period-specific saddle blanket, blanket roll and a sporty forelock to his noble head. The other issue with the poor brute was that it had one hoof missing - so I sunk the 'abbreviated' leg into a base of greenstuff, affixed both to the base and then masked the mess with some strategically placed groundwork. 


Have a great week everybody!