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.

Napoleon and his Carriage

Evening of Waterloo, Ernest Crofts

In the confusion of the end of Waterloo, what happened to the wounded? What happened to the men who could not retreat? What happened to the men who were mortally wounded (or in many cases, unable to walk)?

This aftermath is an interesting area of discussion. The French fled and the forces opposed to them were exhausted. In many cases, the troops had spent days on the march, trying to arrive at the battlefield as quickly as possible to deliver the maximum force necessary to knock each other out.

I love the details, the confusion, and the horror of it all is heartbreaking. What Crofts gets right is the haze and misery.

French Light Infantry in Miniature

Here are some French light infantry, as rendered by Don Voss at the Lead Adventure Forum. This is some very spectacular work, and I really like the mismatched and hard-worn look that is rendered here.

The level of detail and the care for the material that you will find with any depiction of the Napoleonic Wars is breathtaking and humbling, it truly is.

For Want of a Winter Horseshoe

The BBC has an interesting magazine piece about military logistics, and it touches on several key incidents in history. I took notice of this part of the story of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812:

This is the first I have heard of this issue. One of the oldest stories about the collapse of the Grand Armee in Russia has always centered around the cheap tin buttons on the greatcoats of the soldiers:

I would think that both facts had an impact on the fortunes of Napoleon's men.

Something I Might Employ

This is the famous robotic arm that is writing out the Bible in Gothic script outside of the cathedral in Trier.

I think if I were to use this thing, I might get somewhere with this project.

A lot of what I have done and organized has been scrapped. I am reorganizing the whole blog thing as well--having 12 or 13 blogs really isn't conducive to writing stories, but, then again, there is no down side to being busy and creative all of the time.


Rocroi by Jeroen van der Werf

Rocroi by Jeroen van der Werf

Rocroi by Jeroen van der Werf
I came across these photos of the French fortress town of Rocroi and had to put them up; you'll find more of these (and some really interesting pages) at Fortified Places. Here's a wonderful aerial shot of Rocroi from Wikipedia:

I have been researching how the French people reacted to the return of Napoleon. Provence did not welcome Napoleon, so he took a circuitous route through the foothills of the Alps and returned to Paris a mere twenty days or so after leaving Elba. This began the Hundred Days, and The Chasseurs is very much a story that is embedded in this period of French history. I have more research to do in order to get the next few pieces just right. Work on this project has been glacially slow, but I'm hoping it can pick up here when Fall arrives; I don't do much in the summer months. August is practically a "lost" month for me every year since I tend to view it as a vacation period.

Instead of making it joyous or angry, I have a scene that I'm building where the reaction is muted and confused. I think it should be fairly neutral since the story of The Chasseurs is opening up in a town that is tired of the Napoleonic Wars.

I'm not going to set it in Rocroi, but this is a frontier town that has seen a great deal of history.
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Another Great Example of Reenactors in Action

Now, that's a first--reenactors out in the snow.

I won't vouch for it, but there's a website dedicated to the art of reenacting history. A lot of what I stumble across when researching the various pieces that I'm finally able to put together shows the dedication and craft of reenactors all over the world.

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.

No Umbrellas For You

If I'm not mistaken, this ban on umbrellas continues to this day for many military organizations:
Captain Mercer of the British Horse Artillery described the miserable night he and his troop spent on the field of Waterloo before the battle: “My companion (the troop’s second captain) had an umbrella, which by the way afforded some merriment to our people on the march, this we planted against the sloping bank of the hedge, and seating ourselves under it, he on the one side of the stick, me on the other side, we lighted cigars and became-comfortable”.
The Duke, who was indifferent to the way his officers chose to dress, drew the line at umbrellas. “At Bayonne, in December 1814,” writes Captain Gronow of the First Foot Guards, “His Grace, on looking round, saw, to his surprise, a great many umbrellas, with which the officers protected themselves from the rain that was then falling. Arthur Hill came galloping up to us saying, Lord Wellington does not approve of the use of umbrellas during the enemy’s firing, and will not allow the “gentlemen’s sons” to make themselves ridiculous in the eyes of the army.”
Colonel Tynling, a few days afterwards, received a wigging from Lord Wellington for suffering his officers to carry umbrellas in the face of the enemy; His Lordship observing, “The Guards may in uniform, when on duty at St. James’, carry umbrellas if they please, but in the field it is not only ridiculous but unmilitary.”
Standing orders for the army in the Peninsula and in the Waterloo campaign stated categorically “Umbrellas will not be opened in the presence of the enemy.”
However the surgeon of Captain Mercer’s troop of Horse Artillery was seen to be sheltering under the forbidden item during the early part of the Battle of Waterloo.
Excellent stuff. The umbrella image from above is from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and it's a lady's parasol. This one was made, apparently, in England in the late 18th or early 19th century. It does correspond to the time period, however.

An Apple Tree on its Side

I have a photo study here of an apple tree that has grown parallel to the ground. Whoever has tended the tree didn't mind the fact that it is very low to the ground.

I have it in mind to use this sort of thing as a place where The Chasseurs can gather and talk about their dog problems. Dogs, they do have problems. How do we know what they talk about when they're off by themselves?

The Battle of Waterloo

There are so many websites to choose from. The historical archive of Waterloo is massive. I think that there has to be an effort to "get it right" and that there is an opportunity to draw on some wonderful resource material.

Here's a generic account of the battle, and some of these pieces are worth investigating.
<a href="ément-Auguste Andrieux/" class="wiki">Clément-Auguste Andrieux</a>'s 1852 <i>The Battle of Waterloo</i>
Clément-Auguste Andrieux's 1852 The Battle of Waterloo

The historian Andrew Roberts notes that "It is a curious fact about the Battle of Waterloo that no one is absolutely certain when it actually began". Wellington recorded in his dispatches that at "about ten o'clock [Napoleon] commenced a furious attack upon our post at Hougoumont". Other sources state that the attack began around 11:30. The house and its immediate environs were defended by four light companies of Guards, and the wood and park by Hanoverian Jäger and the 1/2nd Nassau. The initial attack by Bauduin's brigade emptied the wood and park, but was driven back by heavy British artillery fire, and cost Bauduin his life. As the British guns were distracted by a duel with French artillery, a second attack by Soye's brigade and what had been Bauduin's succeeded in reaching the north gate of the house. Some French troops managed to enter its courtyard before the gate was resecured. The 2nd Coldstream Guards and 2/3rd Foot Guards then arrived and repulsed the attack.

Gate on the north side assaulted by the <i>1st Légère</i> who were led by <i><a href="" class="wiki">sous-lieutenant</a></i> Legros
Gate on the north side assaulted by the1st Légère who were led by sous-lieutenant Legros

Fighting continued around Hougoumont all afternoon. Its surroundings were heavily invested by French light infantry, and coordinated attacks were made against the troops behind Hougoumont. Wellington's army defended the house and the hollow way running north from it. In the afternoon, Napoleon personally ordered the house to be shelled to set it on fire,.

Seeing the flames, Wellington sent a note to the house's commander stating that he must hold his position whatever the cost, resulting in the destruction of all but the chapel. Du Plat's brigade of the King's German Legion was brought forward to defend the hollow way, which they had to do without senior officers. They were then relieved by the 71st Foot, a British infantry regiment. Adam's brigade was further reinforced byHugh Halkett's 3rd Hanoverian Brigade, and successfully repulsed further infantry and cavalry attacks sent by Reille, and Hougoumont held out until the end of the battle.
Of course, seeing it up close would be better.

It's Nice to Have all Four Characters

Belgian Sheep Dog Laekenois

Brittany Spaniel

Danish Broholmer

Red Poodle
Some variation of these four breeds will constitute the main characters of The Chasseurs. I think the Brittany Spaniel will be the lead, as evidenced by the painting that kicks off this project, and the Red Poodle will represent the oldest and most experienced of the characters. The other two characters will have their own characteristics. I like the idea of the Belgian Sheep Dog being an organizer of all things great and small and the Danish Broholmer being more apt to question everything.

I do not want the typical dynamic; all of these dogs are survivors and have great talents and abilities. To introduce a weak character would be to suggest that the weak always survive. No, the weak do not survive the conditions of the Napoleonic War.