Friday, December 9, 2011

The Brigade of Guards in the AWI

British Guards figures from Fife & Drum Miniatures. Painted by Ye Olde Tarleton.

Let's get back to talking about miniatures today, as I shamelessly plump for orders of my Fife & Drum range of AWI miniatures. Today's topic: the British Brigade of Guards in North America during the American Revolution.

The Guards figures were the very first ones that I had Richard Ansell work on, for several reasons. First, nobody else makes them in the 25mm to 30mm spectrum of figure sizes; and secondly, they look pretty cool, especially the flank company soldiers wearing a cap with a front plate. Again, nobody else makes these figures.

So here is what is available in the range so far:

B10 Guards Officer marching, carrying fusil
B11 Guards Centre Co. Drummer, marching
B12 Guards Centre Co. NCO marching
B13 Guards Centre Co. ranker, marching
B14 Guards Centre Co. standing firing
B15 Guards Centre Co. cocking his musket
B16 Flank Co. NCO (wearing cap), marching
B17 Flank Co. ranker (wearing cap), marching

I have been giving some thought as to how I will organize and use the British Guards in my AWI army. I was going to show you a scan of the cover of "We Have Always Governed Ourselves" Campaign Book #7, The War of Independence in the North by Greg Novak, but my scanner just crashed and it won't restart. Grrrrr!

Anyway, here is Novak's information (page 24-25):

"It was to have an overstrength infantry battalion with a grenadier company of 120 men, drawn from the 8 grenadier companies of the guards, 8 line companies of 93 men and a light company of 96 men. Since the Guards did not have any light companies at the time, the men of this company were drafted from all seven battalions. Two musicians, 8 NCO's and 3 officers completed each company, with a battalion headquarters for the entire force including (Brigade Commander, Quartermaster, Sergeant Major, Surgeon, Chaplain, Adjutant, Major, Drum Major and 3 Surgeon Mates. (By my count, that works out to a full strength of 1,101 men of all ranks.)

While the grenadier and light infantry companies were drawn from all of the said companies of the Guards, the line companies, with one exception were drawn from a single battalion. The first, second and third battalions of the First Guards furnished men for the first, second and third Line Companies, respectively. The first and second Battalions of the 3rd (Scots) Guards make up the 5th and 6th companies, while the 2nd (Coldstream) Guards, true to their tradition of not following the 1st Guards, had their first and second battalions make up the 7th and 8th Line Companies. The remaining company, the 4th, was known as the "Brigade" Company as drafted into it were 60 men from the 1st Regiment, 27 from the 2nd Regiment, and 17 men from the 3rd Regiment."

(skipping a few lines)

"Howe had its makeup changed on arrival at Staten Island into two battalions. The first battalion had the Grenadier Company and the 1st to 4th Line Companies, and the 2nd battalion had the Light Company and the 5th through 8th Line Companies. Trained in Howe's tactics, a quick complaint from the Guards was that with only 3 officers per company of 90 odd men, command control problems quickly became evident."

Somewhere on the Internet you can find a web site for The Company of Military Historians that features a detailed history of the Guards Brigade in American and the uniform modifications that they made. Ah, here it is -- click on the words "Guards Uniforms" below. The link takes you to a terrific article that describes the Guards uniform changes for service in North America.

The most readily recognizable changes are the shortening of the coat, the removal of all of the lace from the coat and a major modification of the cocked hat. The hat was trimmed down in the back and sides and a front plate was added (from the left over felt or new material?) to create a sort of jockey style cap. The bayonet waistbelt was stored, and the bayonet was hung from the cartridge box instead. Trousers and half gaitors replaced breeches, and the blanket roll replaced the knapsack. Finally, a wooden barrel style of water canteen (it looks like the mini cask that a mountain rescue St. Bernard dog would have).

OK, so at 1:10, we are looking at a battalion at full strenght of 110 figures in two ranks. This is obviously too big for even my large wargame table. The solution is to divide each battalion into two "wings". Novak gives a battalion strength of 851 rank and file and 31 officers at the start of the 1777 campaign. The Guards were a part of Howe's army that traveled to Philadelphia by sea (actually, they traveled to Head of Elk and then fought their way into Philadelphia). Still, 882 men or 88 castings divided into two battalions gives us 44 figure battalions. At the start of the 1778 campaign, Novak lists both Guards battalions as having 18 officers and 435 rank and file. That equates to 45 figures.

I am going to arbitrarily decide that the actual campaign strength of both battalions would be closer to 400 men of all rank. Thus I would have two 40 figure wargame units. One battalion will have a stand of grenadiers and the other will have a stand of light infantry. Each battalion will have 5 companies (1 x grenadier or light+ 4 line companies), with each stand of 8 figures representing a company. Now there is no reason to depict companies in most rules, particularly so in my own AWI rules called "Sons of Liberty". It is just that it is CONVENIENT to have a stand represent a company.

So there you have it. I will have two Guards battalions in my British AWI army consisting of 4 centre company stands of 8 figures and one flank company stand of 8 figures. By the way, the only difference between the grenadier and light flank companies is that the grenadiers have a brass grenade emblem on the front plate and the light infantry have the letters "LI" embroidered on the front plate.

Here is a "recipe" for a sample Guards company in the marching poses:

1 x B10 Officer
1 x B11 Drummer
1 x B12 NCO
5 x B13 Rank & File Marching

A company in a firing pose:

1 x B12 NCO Centre Co. (place in the front rank)
3 x B15 Centre Co. cocking musket (place in the front rank)
4 x B14 Centre Co. firing musket (place all firing figures in the second rank)

A flank company marching:

1 x B16 NCO Flank Co. (cap) marching
1 x B11 Centre Co Drummer (hat)
6 x B17 Flank Co. rank & file marching (cap)
(you could also add the B10 officer pose if you like)

I hope that you have found this information to be of interest, and I look forward to seeing lots and lots of Guards units on wargame tables soon.

Best regards,

Der Alte Fritz (Jim)

PS. Dave thanks all of you for your nice comments. He is very grateful for your thoughts and prayers.


  1. Nice Jim,

    Do you have some more closeups of the painted minis?


  2. I assume that you mean close ups of the guards. So far, just the ones shown with this blog entry. I am working on a 40 figure unit of Guards now and plan to have them done by the end of this week. Pictures will be posted ASAP after that. Maybe next Sunday?