Friday, August 26, 2011

British & Hessian Regiments - part the second..

Just a final push to conclude my indexing of the hitherto un-photo'd American War of Independence regiments - this time the second box of British and Hessian units...

There's a lot of information on the units in this box so I've split it in two...

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this particular post - researching the history of some of the units in this box is what wargaming is all about.... inspiring


British New York Loyalist Artillery

As per the previous artillery entries, a fictional unit.

The gun is also one of the only plastic pieces to survive the first awakenings of the project - I have no idea what kit it came from though I think it might have been Revell - perhaps an ECW or 30 Years War set, as the gun is slightly old fashioned, but ideal in size for a smaller calibre artillery piece, and this unit is fielded as light artillery. Base no. 23.

British 16th Light Dragoons

John has passed me a significant quantity of British cavalry, I used 12 of them to represent 3 squadrons of the 16th Light Dragoons, far too many and I've never used them all at the same time... in hindsight and with experience, a little judicious painting could have meant making one of the units the 17th Light Dragoons (the "Death or Glory Boys") & I may still do that.

The American War of Independence did not feature cavalry heavily, it was an infantry man's war, so usually I have no more than one, occasionally two, squadrons per side.

I still have a dozen of these guys un-based - I used some for the American's (repainted as a Continental dragoon regiment) and I used some of them for British officers...

Plate no. 90 in Mollo.

Base no's 24 to 29.

British Light Infantry

I was reaching the bottom of the box of figures John gave me by the time I got to these guys... they represent one of the composite battalions the British put together comprising the light company's of multiple line regiments. The British army didn't really have dedicated light infantry regiments until the Napoleonic Wars, but in the meanwhile, these, and also the similar composite regiments composed of Grenadiers, provided the British with a source of elite units for special missions (there were two such light regiments at Yorktown).

I've noticed that all these guys have the same coloured facings, so they were clearly the light company's only from regiments with those coloured facings!

Base no's 30 & 31.

British Royal Irish Regiment (18th Regiment of Foot)

...and by the time I'd got to these guys I reached the very bottom of the box, which is why it looks like this regiment is comprised of figures from two entirely different regiments!

A quick paint job gave both bases the same facings (dark blue), at a stretch the base on the left might be representing the grenadier company (ahem... ) but what is going on with those blanket rolls, and the utterly bizarre pose?? Not one of Minifigs' finest moments....

The 18th seem to have had a short and very inglorious war as despite their seniority, and although the regiment was present in Boston, where the grenadier company participated in the Battle of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill (its first formal combat in more than 50 years) the regiment was drafted into other regiments in Boston in December 1775 and at Detroit in July 1776.

So what we seem to have (in wargaming terms) is a real odds and sods combination of figures joined together for wargaming purposes - what we actually have is the hardest fighting wargame regiment in the British collection; whenever these guys have turned up on the table top they always seem to win! So much so I'm loath to paint any more figures to give them a little more might break the spell.... for those of you with long memories, and who read the Wargamers' Newsletter in the old days, these are my "Inniskillings [click here]"!

Base no's 32 & 33

33rd Foot

...and so with a bang and a crash we arrive in the "new" era - these were the first regiment I painted for the British collection - red coats of course because I was so short of them, and I continued to use Minifigs. By this point in time I had also settled on Yorktown as the source of my collection so I just painted the first unit on the order of battle that weren't present in my collection, and for which there was a flag on the Warflag site!

The 33rd were a veteran regiment - their history indicates they had a level of professionalism that was unequalled by any other regiment of the British Army for some time. It was because of this professionalism in the field during the American War of Independence, that the regiment was given the nickname 'The Pattern'; the regiment had the standard of soldiering which all other regiments should attain.

They had a long and very arduous war being present at the First Siege of Charleston, the Battle of Long Island, the Battle of Harlem Heights, the Battle of Fort Washington, Brandywine, Germantown, Whitemarsh (where they fought the Americans who had retreated from the fighting at Germantown), Monmouth, the defence of Newport and Quaker Hill, the Battle of Old Tappan, the second siege of Charleston, Camden and Guilford Court House (where they lost 11 killed and 63 wounded out of a force of 300 all ranks, having already lost 28 men in preceding actions - over 25% casualties). The 33rd also fought at the Battle of Green Spring.

At the Siege of Yorktown (their last engagement of the war) they served in the 1st Brigade under Lt. Col. John Yorke (of the 22nd Foot); their light company was detached to form a composite regiment in the Light Infantry Brigade under Lt. Col. Robert Abercromby (of the 38th Foot)...

Base no's 34 and 35.

17th Foot

"“His Majesty has been pleased to take very particular notice of the bravery of Lieut.-Colonel Mawhood, and approves the behaviour of the regiments under his command, especially the 17th, so highly commended by Lord Cornwallis.”

- Letter from Lord George Germaine, Whitehall, March 3, 1777"

..these were the second regiment I painted, also Minifigs. The 17th were in the same brigade as the 33rd at Yorktown (and their light company was detached to the same regiment as well)

The 17th landed in Boston on New Year's Day 1776 (though not all at once as a storm scattered some of their transports).

The 17th fought in all of the battles for New York City. After the island was secured, the 17th, as part of the 4th Brigade, was held in reserve during the Battle of White Plains and remained at the White Plains camp through the taking of Forts Washington and Lee and Cornwallis’s excursion through New Jersey. Their performance at the Battle of Princeton [click here] was commemorated in the addition of an unbroken laurel wreath to its insignia (and the message above from Germain). After Monmouth, they were on the New Bedford Raid, and Kings Ferry but were part of the british force that was surrounded and taken prisoner at Stony Point.

By early 1781, the regiment had been entirely exchanged and was on duty again in New York - records show 12 officers and 209 other ranks (always enlightening to compare actual numbers with the theoretical establishment..)

They were part of the last reinforcement to reach Cornwallis at Yorktown (the reinforcements comprised the 17th & 43rd Regiments of Foot, the 1st and 2nd Anspach Regiments, and detachments of light infantry, the 76th, 80th, Queen’s Rangers, Loyal American, and Prince Hereditaire Regiments, along with the Anspach Artillery).

Following the Battle of Green Spring, the 17th joined Cornwallis when he retired to Portsmouth and moved the army to Yorktown. On October 16, 1781, the 17th Regiment once again marched into captivity with Cornwallis’s army.

The only regiment I know with such a proud fighting record who were taken prisoner twice in the same war..

Loads more here (recommended!):

Base no's 36 and 37.


Stay tuned for part two....


  1. Excellent post, a very enjoyable read!

  2. The AWI is a fascinating conflict from a gamers perspective & it is good to see Minifigs battling it out still. Mind you, that bizarre infantry pose looks more like something from a Monty Python sketch!

  3. Fine looking fellows.

    I imagine its partly the unusual look that helps account for the effectiveness of the Irish. The pose looks like the mid-18thC charge bayonet pose, except these lads don't seem to have bayonets. Given their belly boxes, I wonder if they were once sold as jaegers or miitia clubbing their muskets? In any case as long as they fight well, what does a few eccentricities matter? By all means, let 'em stand.


  4. Nice work there. I have a soft spot for the 17th Light Dragoons - one of my local regiments.