Monday, September 3, 2007

What About The Austrians?

Top: Marshal Daun & Cavalry General Lucchesi (painted by Der Alte Fritz)

Bottom: Regiment Sincere (RSM figures by Der Alte Fritz)

Some of you are undoubtedly wondering about the Austrians, so I thought I would post a couple of pictures of my SYW Austrian army, which is very much a work in progress at this point, and is "not ready for prime time" against my vast Prussian forces. Whereas my Prussians have a dozen battalions of infantry and fourteen squadrons of cavalry, the poor Austrians have only six battalions of infantry and six squadrons of cavalry.

The above pictures depict the commanding general of the Austrian army, Marshal Leopold von Daun (Front Rank figure) on the left, and cavalry general Graf Lucchesi (Crusader Miniatures figure) on the left. Click on the picture to see it at full size. I've decided to base commanders on 2-inch diameter round bases rather than on a conventional 1-inch by 2-inch horse stand. The round base immediately tells the player that this figure represents on of the commanders. It also provides one with the opportunity to make a mini-diorama out of the base.

Terraining the Bases: I've used my usual spackeling compound and brown paint for the terrain, with bits of sand and flock to add texture and interest to the base. I've also created the impression of taller grass on the command stands by snipping off pieces of sisal scrub brush and inserting them into the wet spackling mix on the base. It helps to build up a little mound of spackle before pushing the scrub brush into the wet mix. This gives the brush something to grab onto. When dry, I touch up the dirt areas with a little tan drybrushing and and dab some light green paint, thinned with water, onto the bits of scrub brush. Sometimes I will also cut out a small piece of flat cherry or mahogany wood and glue it onto the base behind the rider. Then I print the general's name out on a piece of paper from my computer, and glue the name tag onto the little strip of wood. It makes for a nice looking name plate.

The Figures: I like the Front Rank Austrian general casting. My recollection is that they have Marshal Daun, Prince Charles of Lorraine and the hussar general Nadasdy available. There is also a fun casting of a mounted Croat officer holding a severed head in one hand. I leave it to your imagination as to who the unfortunate head belongs to. Crusader also makes two nice mounted Austrian generals and also has the dismounted versions as well, all in one pack.

I have a long way to go on the Austrian infantry contingent. So far I have painted two battalions of Crusader Miniatures figures (de Ligne and Kaiser), two battalions of Front Rank figures (Botta and Macguire), one Warrior Miniatures battalion (purchased in a flea market - British figures from the 1745 range that were painted as Austrians), and one converged battalion of Croats (RSM figures). The second picture depicts the start of a battalion Sincere using RSM figures. These still require a little bit of work, but they are getting close to done and I know that many of you like to see the pictures of the RSM range. Our group also has two other Austrian battalions from Old Glory (one of German fusiliers and one of grenadiers), so we are catching up with our Prussian contingent, fielding 8 battalions of Austrians.

Austrian Organization for BAR: The organization of the Austrian infantry has been somewhat perplexing at times, with the size of the battalion ranging from as low as 512 men to as high as 840 men. Some of the army returns prior to the battle of Leuthen in 1757 indicate that the average battalion size before Leuthen was around 500 men. In BAR, we often use 600 men as the generic size of a battalion regardless of its nation. This is a good number to use for organizing wargame armies.

In Christopher Duffy's book "Instrument of War, The Austrian Army in the SYW", he states that the infantry battalion was subdivided into 16 Zuges. These, in turn, were organized into 8 half divisions and then into 4 grand divisions. Duffy indicates that the grand division had 128 privates, or 512 rank and file in the battalion. On pages 402-403 of the Duffy book, there is a diagram of the battalion in the field and I counted roughly 51 officers and other supernumeraries and 6 artillerists manning the battalion gun. So that gets us up to 569 men of all ranks. That is a far cry from the 840 men in the "official establishment" at the start of the SYW. I used 540 men as the standard for my Austrian organization: 4 grand divisions of 12 figures in 3 ranks, and one command stand of 6 figures (2 standards, 2 officers and 2 drummers).

The standards are GMB Designs of course and the figures come from Crusader, Front Rank, Warrior, and RSM. Now some figures are taller than others, while some are thin versus some being more chunky. I think that as long as you keep a battalion limited to all figures of one brand, that you can mix different sized figures on your wargame table with the BAR rules. When you are dealing with 54 to 60 figures in a battalion, the mass of the overall size seems to trick the eye into thinking that there is no discernable difference in the size of the figures. So Der Alte Fritz says, "use them all!"


  1. Very nice, Herr Alte.

    So you are giving each of your
    BAR Austrian battalions 54 figures, and Prussian 60? Is that correct?


  2. Ed: that is the way that I started out, but now I am rethinking the whole business and I may build all future Austrian units at 60 figures.

  3. More pictures please. They are wonderful "eye candy" for the rest of us.

    I also appreciate your comments about the backgrounds of your units, etc.

    Keep up the good work!

    -- Jeff

  4. Excellent work. I was wondering if you would consider making an entry with a suggested reading list for the period? Making note when you mention books in your posts, but it would be great to view a suggested list for period treatments and reference.

  5. Dear Iowa: that's a good idea. I think that I will do that sometime during the current week, although I'll have to do it from home so that I can access my home library for titles. I was reading parts of Duffy's "Miliatary Experience In the Age of Reason" yesterday and found some interesting first hand accounts that I wanted to copy onto the blog and discuss. That made me think about doing a "book list" entry like you suggested. Great minds think alike.


  6. Fabulous painted garde battalion.

    -- Allan