Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Austrians

Leopold Josef Graf Daun (photo from Wikipedia)

As the grounds of Schloss Seewald get covered in a fresh coating of Winter white, I feel compelled to retreat to the comfort of my basement and contemplate wargaming armies to come. I've been rather focused on my Prussian army over the past year, building it up to a respectable force of 16 battalions of infantry, 20 squadrons of cavalry and 10 cannon of various sizes. I suppose that I could paint more Prussians, but we are running out of table space and so any new Prussian foot or horse would only be used in one of my big games on a 30 foot table.

The snowy white blanket outside reminds me of the white-coated Austrians, who were the implacable foe of Frederick the Great. Fighting to recover the territory of Silesia for their monarch, Maria Theresa of Austria, the Austrian army led by the very capable Marshal Leopold von Daun proved to be a very strong match for the Prussian army. Marshall Daun broke a long string of Prussian victories with his victory at Kolin, on June 18, 1757. To commemorate this great victory, Maria Theresa immediately instituted a military order bearing her name, and Daun was awarded the first Grand Order of Maria Theresa in recognition of his great victory. Daun later played an important role in the successful capture of Breslau in December 1757 and he cautioned the Prince Charles of Lorraine about the hazzards of marching out from Breslau to offer battle to Frederick at Leuthen. Prince Charles resigned his command of the Austrian army after its disasterous defeat at Leuthen on December 5, 1757 and turned the command over to Marshal Daun.

Austrian fortunes were on the upswing with Daun in command as he posted significant victories over Frederick at Hochirch and Maxen in 1758. The next year proved equally as promising as Loudon led an Austro-Russian army to victory at Kunersdorf, but these gains were offset by Frederick's victories at Leignitz and Torgau in 1760. From there, the war evolved into a stalemate and eventual peace in 1763.

Well, there will be no peace unless I get busy and get to work on my Austrian army. My goal is to have enough Austrians to host a big Austrian-Prussian game at Historicon in July 2008. My Austrian forces currently consist of 8 battalions of infantry with another one, the Gaisruck regiment, organizing in its depot. I'm using a mix of Front Rank, Warrior, RSM and Crusader Austrian figures in my army. I've heard rumors that Austrians will also be produced by Frank Hammond for his "Minden Miniatures" range of figures sculpted by Richard Ansell. I will definitely want to add some Minden Austrians to my growing army.

The cavalry contingent is woefully understrength at this stage of the game. I only have 2 squadrons each (12 per squadron) of cuirassiers, horse grenadiers and dragoons. The cavalry consists entirely of Crusader Miniatures and these are very nice figures with the right amount of heft and "umph" to match up with my Suren and Elite Prussian cavalry. I don't intend to paint any Austrian hussars at this time because the Austrian light cavalry regiments were not generally deployed at battle field cavalry by the Austrians. They were strictly used for skirmishing, scouting, raiding and other elements of kleine krieg warfare.

The artillery branc will be manning some of the Berlin Zinnfiguren Austrian artillery pieces that I recently purchased from Berlin. I'm currently using Elite Miniatures Napoleonic Austrian cannon models until I can get the BZ models painted and on the table. The gun crew consist of Front Rank and Crusader Miniatures. Both lines are compatible with one another. Crusader only makes 4 artillery crew poses, but I augment these with the Front Rank artillery fusilier figure if I need a 5 man or 6 man gun crew.

By July 2008, I will want to have the Austrian infantry contingent built up to at least 12 battalions. The cavalry will eventually have nearly 300 horses (currently at 72 figures), of which half will be cuirassiers and the rest will be horse grenadiers and heavy dragoons. As you can see, I have a lot of work ahead of me.

I am currently taking a little break from Prussians and Austrians by painting two little armies of Eureka SYW teddy bears for my 9-year old daughter. She has expressed an interest in wargaming with me from time to time. So the Eureka teddy bears should be just the right ticket for this. One army will be dressed in pink coats (her favorite color), green facings and white waistcoat. The other army will be decked out in either purple (another favorite color of my daughter's) with yellow or buff facings; or powder blue coats with pink facings. One army will be tawny colored bears, like Pooh Bear, while the other army will be white Polar Bears. I've painted a couple sample figures and this should be a fun project to work on. Then it is back to the Austrians.

By the way, the fine portrait shown at the top of this page is one of Marshal von Daun. He's a rather handsome gentleman and I really like the bright, vivid colors that the artist used. The picture is courtesy of wikipedia, although I suspect that the original hangs in the Austrian military museum in Vienna.


  1. A lot of work ahead indeed, but I am sure you will have some excellent production to show us over time.

    Will there be photos of the Eureka teddy bears? I'd love to see them when they're completed.

  2. Please allow me to echo the request for the "teddy bear" pictures.

    On Frank's blog he said that Richard will start sculpting Austrians in January. He also has pictures of six greens of horses that Richard has sculpted for him (they look great), although he has not yet begun sculpting the riders.

    -- Jeff

  3. Morning Jim,

    The teddy bear armies sound like fun! And Marshall Daun looks, well, rather martial. As for your planned Austrian expansion, bravo. I'll be very interested to see the project take shape in occasional photos. I wish that I could churn 'em out as quickly as you do. What size brushes do you regularly employ? How do you plan to do the white coats?

    Best Regards,


  4. Very interesting. I've always had an affection for the Austrians (I seem to empathise with underdogs which is why I like the French too)and had a large Garrison and Hinchcliffe Austrian army in the past. I'll look forward to seeing your new army and maybe try Frank's Austrians myself.

    Have a good Christmas,


  5. I will post pictures of the Teddy Bears when I get the first batch done. One army will have 20 musketeers, 6 grenadiers, 2 musicians, and 2 officers. I also have a cannon and 4 crew per army. I'm working on the pink army right now with the goal of finishing it by Sunday. Christmas is coming up fast, so I have a lot of urgency and incentive to get this done. I should have started last month.

    Dennis Smail is painting some of my Austrians, so that speeds up the production considerably. He painted the Crusader grenadiers that I posted pictures of previously as well as Joseph Esterhazy regt of Hungarians (which need to be based and photographed - real beauties with red trousers and white coats). Dennis is also painting Gaisruck and maybe some Croats. I'm working on the cavalry.

    I normally use 3-0 and 5-0 brushes, mainly the smaller size. I seem to go through them fairly quickly though.

  6. Good to see the Austrians are moving forward. I await their appearance upon the Blog with bated breath.
    I also think the Teds are well worth waiting for ,as we keep up to date with your Blog

  7. Excellent post as always Der Alte. If your Austrians match the depth and splendor of your Prussians you may have to do a second Blog under the nom de guerre "Marschall vom Österreichischen Reich".

    I'm curious as to your reference to using Warrior figures. I assume (always dangerous) that these are from Warrior of Scotland? Which of their figures are you using? I had looked at some of their Redcoats in the Jacobite range to field a British force for Minden. Can you post some pic's of some of these comparing them to RSM, Crusader, etc. as you have done in the past?

    Sir William

  8. The Warrior Miniatures that I used are actually the British infantry for the Jacobite Rebellion. I bought them at the flea market at Historicon around 1992. The seller had already painted them as Austrians and so all that I did was to rebase them and touch them up with a little bit of paint.

    BTW, I recently acquired more of that same collection in a trade with another gamer. So now I also have 3 new Prussian units, all Staddens, representing IR1, IR6 grenadiers and IR36 fusiliers. All are 36 figure battalions. The trade also included 42 Warrior figs painted as Hanoverians and 24 Stadden British grenadiers. it comes out to 219 figures. If anyone is interested in purchasing this collection and adding 5 new battalions in the 36 to 40 figure range for BAR, then contact me. I will offer the whole lot at $5.00 per figure, which is a decent price considering that Staddens go for $2.50 here in the US. Paint jobs are average but look very nice. I woudn't feel ashamed of putting them in my army, other than I already have IR6 and we have two battalions of IR1 in our gaming group.

  9. Interesting slice of history :-)
    I will look forward to seeing pics of the teddy bear minis and the development of your Austrian forces.