Illustration

La Bataille de Waterloo

La bataille de Waterloo
The stacks upon stacks of historical paintings of the Battle of Waterloo could fill several libraries. There is no shortage of imagery and material, much of it very richly detailed and laboriously reconstructed from the historical record.

Clément-Auguste Andrieux painted La bataille de Waterloo in 1852. He had the ability, at that stage, to compare his work to the testimony of survivors. Although still very removed from the incident, it is a well-regarded depiction. Andrieux went on to illustrate the events of the Franco-Prussian War.

Silver medal of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Battle of Waterloo, by Emile Rogat


This is the commemorative medal issued by the English after Waterloo. The fallen eagle, depicted on the back, is surrounded by vultures, representing the British, Austrians, Russians and the Dutch armies. It was designed and engraved by a Frenchman, hoping to sell it on the British market.

Can it really be true that the 200th anniversary is a few months away?

The Importance of Little Details


Well, that's not a real cannon.

It's a picture of one taken at Disneyland Paris. You can see that it has been cast or fabricated to look real, but it isn't.

Or is it?

If you were going to go out and get a fake cannon, where would you go? And why wouldn't you just buy an old one and dress it up and make it look real.

This is the actual coat worn daily by Napoleon:



But, then again. What's genuine and what's fake?

The reason why this project has, literally, taken forever is that I have so much source material to go through and I'm doing this so that I can get most of this right.

Brilliant Stuff


Just when you think you've found all of the wonderful sites and blogs and archives of Napoleonic Era stuff, bam! You come across a site like Iron Mitten.

The above is an illustration by Secondus. Absolutely marvelous stuff.

The style here is so well conceived and realized. This is why this project has taken so long. When you deal with Napoleonic Era subject matters, you have to get it right.

Cavalry From Above


One of the stylistic themes that I want to have run through The Chasseurs is the overall confusion and chaos of war, and, in particular, of the battlefields where they travel. I envision a number of random shots of cavalry troops, from any and all of the different sides, blinding running around, trampling things, and accomplishing nothing.

The two sketches above are roughly drawn to show the mounted cavalry from overhead, traveling two abreast, and running through the various scenes. They appear, and disappear, within moments. They are important, and cannot be bothered to stop and see what's what.

I tried to do some research on how to adequately draw this, but I ran into a number of roadblocks. Here, you see the riders with the round, flat hats:


What's missing is a drawing guide. I found these after I did the two sketches above:



And, they're helpful, but not as much as an overhead photo would be. I'm not getting the details correct.

Anyway, I like that as a theme, and I'll drop that in when I can.

More on the Battle of Ligny


The Battle of Ligny was the battle that the French Army won en route to Waterloo. It must have been doubly cruel to have survived Ligny and to have been carried forward to the dashed hopes of Waterloo.
Napoleon won his final victory on June 16th, 1815 at Ligny, shortly before suffering a crushing defeat at Waterloo. Facing two enemy armies – Wellington’s Anglo-Allied and Bluecher’s Prussian – he aimed his main attack against Bluecher at Ligny and diverted Wellington’s attention by engaging his forward elements at Quatre Bras. The Eagle’s Last Triumph is the single most comprehensive examination of this vital aspect of the 1815 campaign available in English. Having put the battle at Ligny into perspective, the author provides a clear account of the action in detail, including much eye-witness testimony. The complex story of Wellington and Bluecher’s cooperation throughout the struggle against the French is revealed, with new light on Wellington’s promises of prompt aid to the Prussians in the early stages of the campaign – promises which he failed to keep. The reasons for General d’Erlon’s failure to support the French forces at either Ligny or Quatre Bras are traced, and how the main culprits in the fiasco later sought to cover up their responsibility. The Eagle’s Last Triumph is a vivid military epic, providing a cogent and lucid explanation of why Napoleon, victorious at Ligny, met with utter defeat just two days later at Waterloo.
Here's a modern map of the area around Ligny (I'd love to go there this summer, but I don't think it will happen).



I've been in the formative phase of The Chasseurs for just about long enough. I have let the story sort of build up in my mind and now the pieces are mostly in place. Ligny will be part of it, so I've been getting things organized along a sequence of events.

I also have a few photos of reenactors and things like that:






UPDATE: My plan was to work up some stuff before the 13th of June, and that just didn't happen. I apologize. I have such real affection for this project, and I'm still putting together so many different ideas. It just hasn't gotten to the point yet where I can get this down in words and all that.

Character Development Sketches





I have four baseline sketches for the four main dog characters--Ecarlet, Bretagne, Brom and Belge. These are the four breeds I chose last year, and, so far, I haven't seen anything that would convince me to make a change. These four breeds of dog were present during the Napoleonic Wars.

Future sketches will give them a little more of a three-dimensional look, and maybe be a little more "cartoony" or "animation-y." Or they'll just be amateurish. I'm hoping for acceptable.

Storyboard Development for The Chasseurs


Time to start storyboards and story detail.

The opening shot will be on the character Ecarlet (the red poodle). He is the eldest of the four dogs and serves as their leader.

Their life before Waterloo is based on being in that "post-war" mode where everything is wrecked, but just beginning to return to some sort of normalcy. They are scouring the countryside, practicing how they will look for and identify the wounded (which was their job in the French Army, until the Battle of Nations at Leipzig).

At a distance, the French countryside should appear lush and beautiful, but, up close, ruined and ravaged and abandoned and destitute.

The Flying Ambulance



This will play a critical role in organizing and moving the story.

The Chasseurs "hunt" for wounded soldiers and help the old French surgeon find them and care for them. Often, a chasseur dog will guide the litter crews from the battlefield to the flying ambulance.

Some background:

Emergency medicine has deep military roots. In 1792, the young French surgeon Dominique-Jean Larrey observed that most injured soldiers died for want of immediate attention. Inspired by horse-drawn "flying artillery" he developed a "flying ambulance." This ambulance volante combined with Larrey’s development of the concept of triage became integral to Napoleon’s army.
At full strength, the ambulance corps included 340 men, in 3 divisions, each with 12 light and four heavy carriages. A first class surgeon-major commanded a contingent that included apothecaries, a farrier, a saddler, a bootmaker, "a bearer of surgical instruments with a trumpet" and "a lad with a drum carrying surgical dressings." Few changes were made to his ambulance design until the motorized era.
During the 1799 battle for Aboukir in Egypt, Larrey reported that "none were left more than a quarter of an hour without being dressed." Larrey was also a gifted physician who performed the first successful leg amputation at the hip. This superb care helped troop morale, and even moved the enemy: at Waterloo the Duke of Wellington adjusted his line of fire to let the ambulances work.
SOURCE: "The Revolutionary Flying Ambulance of Napoleon's Surgeon," by CPT Jose M. Ortiz, U.S. Army Medical Department Journal, October-December 1998