Der Alte Fritz loves to go shopping, and the other night he was searching the web site of the Berlin Zinnfiguren store and found a treasure trove of 30mm sized artillery pieces, limbers, pontoon and supply wagons, and this marvelous field forge for the Prussian army of the Seven Years War. I have seen pictures of these in some of my reference books, but had never seen one modelled. This little piece of art is a 30mm scale model that the store sells under the brand name Metallmodell and costs Euro 34.00 each. While that is not exactly cheap these days (approximately $46.30 at today's exchange rate of EUR1.00 = $1.36), where else is one going to find such a model? Der Alte Fritz saw it and knew immediately that he had to have one in his army. So faster than you can say "invade Saxony", he bought a field forge, two pontoon wagons and an assortment of cannon and limbers for his Prussian forces.
The above picture depicts the pontoon wagon, circa 1760, that would have been used by the Prussian Pontonier-Corps for river crossings. These cost Euro 30.80 or approximately $42.00. Der Alte Fritz now has a pair of them in his army that will come in handy for some of the smaller river crossing scenarios depicted in the Charles S. Grant book on wargame scenarios. I believe that at least one of these scenarios has been detailed in one of Mr. Grant's Table Top Teasers that he has written for Battlegames magazine. By the way, if you haven't seen or read a copy of Battlegames, then you owe it to yourself to buy a copy and see for yourself what the good buzz is all about. Der Alte Fritz has been known to frequent the magazine from time to time and gives it his highest recommendation. Check the links section on the left hand side of this page for a direct link to Battlegames.
The Prussian bridging train was organizationally a part of the artillery corps and marched and trained with the heavy field batteries. The wartime establishment was only 53 people, giving us some indication of the lack of importance that Frederick may have given this unit. The pontoniers wore a fusilier style uniform and mitre cap. The pontoons were stored at Berlin, Magdeburg and Neisse and were very light weight, being made of thin sheet copper, according to Christopher Duffy. They came in handy during Frederick's crossings of the Oder River prior to the battles of Zorndorf (1758) and Kunersdorf (1759) against the Russians.
Der Alte Fritz's artillery corps will also be augmented by several 12 pounders, a 7 pound howitzer and a 10 pound howitzer. An interesting note about the 7 pound howitzer, which first appeared in 1758 in the Prussian artillery park: it was manufactured in such quantities that by 1762 every battalion was equipped with one of these. That being the case, I guess that I had better start collecting and painting 7 pound howitzers for battalion pieces in my SYW Prussian army. Isn't shopping a wonderful way to pass the time?
By the way, these models do not come with draft horses so you will have to use other brands of horses. My recollection is that Front Rank Miniatures has some very nice 28mm large draft horses that go with its 18th Century equipment range. Front Rank has a nice assortment of ammunition wagons and carts that look very nice and are priced significantly lower than the Metallmodell pieces. They would do quite nicely for those who would like to build up the transportation corps of their SYW era armies.