Friday, October 5, 2018

Types of the SYW Russian Army

Russians (left) versus Prussians (right) at the Battle of Zorndorf.
This scenario was fought at the Seven Years War Association convention in March 2018.

Click on all pictures to enlarge the view.

 suppose that a number of my blog readers are getting tired of me posting pictures of SYW Russians on the blog, but because they are a new figure range under the Minden Miniatures umbrella, I am going to be "Russia Oriented" for quite awhile. So please bear with me.

Why I like the Russian Army
I can think of a number of reasons to like the Russian army, starting with the fact that the Russians were one of Frederick the Great's primary opponents - and Frederick never defeated the Russians. That in its own right should be enough to have a Russian army in your SYW figure collection.

Second, the battles versus the Russians generate some very good wargaming scenarios: Gross Jagersdorf in 1757, Zorndorf in 1758, and Kunersdorf in 1759. Paltzig (or Kay) does not make for a very even scenario unless you simply enjoy slaughtering the Prussians. As an added bonus, you could even have the Russians switching sides and joining the Prussian army in a Silesian scenario. For a brief period of time, during the reign of Peter III, Prussia and Russia were allies.

Third, the great variety and diversity of troop types that were in the Russian army. And might I add, they had some colorful, if not downright gorgeous, uniforms that are fun to paint. You can have an army that includes grenadiers and musketeers wearing either their green coats or their summer uniforms that consisted of the long sleeved red waistcoat. You can add the Observation Corps - infantry that wear cavalry boots. The Russian cavalry establishment has cuirassiers, horse grenadiers, dragoons, hussars and COSSACKS! My favorite cavalry are the horse grenadiers with their grenadier mitres. And of course, anytime you think about a Russian army, you have to include the exotic Cossacks into the equation.

Fourth, in a word: artillery, artillery, artillery and even more artillery. I really like the variety of cannon in the Russian artillery establishment. You have the Shuvulov ("Secret") howitzers with thei rconical bore, you have the unicorns in various sizes and weights, common variety smooth bore 3/6/12 pounders, and finally, a wide variety of huge howitzers of the regular variety. If you like artillery, then you've got to have a SYW Russian army.

Russian Musketeers

Russian Musketeers in regulation green coats.

Russian Musketeers in Summer Waistcoats

Russian mounted infantry officer

Russian line grenadiers and musketeers in summer waistcoats
Note that the Russian officers, NCOs and musicians wore their green coat in all seasons. So in the Summer, a battalion of musketeers would have the rank and file wearing red waistcoats, but the officers, standard bearers, NCOs and drummers would be wearing green coats.

Russian Grenadiers

The Russian army had both regular standing grenadier regiments and sometimes there were ad hoc grenadier battalions created by drawing off the grenadier companies of the line musketeer regiments and converging them into battalions.

Russian Grenadiers in regulation green coats

Russian Grenadiers in Summer waistcoats.

Russian grenadiers are particularly spectacular to look at with their brass-copper miter plates and the unusual rear flap that covered their necks. Think of them as the first people to turn their caps around in hip hop style, well ahead of their time.

Russian Observation Corps

Peter Shuvulov created his own personal army called the Observation Corps, whose original function was to provide a guard for the artillery. The rank and file were recruited from the garrison regiments, supposedly the best of the worst troops. The OC grew into an establishment of 4 musketeer regiments and one grenadier regiment, so it was quite large. The OC battalions were often supported by the exotic Shuvulov howitzers, which were employed as battalion guns.

Like the regular line infantry, the Observation Corps rank and file fought all of their battles during the Summer campaign season, so they discarded their heavy green coats, leaving them at the baggage park, and then fighting in their red long sleeved waistcoats.

Observation Corps Grenadiers

Observation Corps musketeers

Russian Artillery

Russian artillery battery with limbers and munitions wagons.
Russian 6-lb (left) and 12-pd (right) cannon with artillery crew in either firing or loading poses.

Russian howitzers: 10-pd unicorn (left) and Shuvulov Howitzer (right)

Russian Line Cavalry

The Russian regular cavalry was probably the weak link in the army, able to mount only 7,000 men across 14 regiments ( 5 cuirassier, 5 horse grenadier, and 4 dragoon ). While the regiments in theory had 5 squadrons, the number of squadrons per regiment was usually 2 or 3 squadrons. The cavalry was further handicapped by its lack of suitable horses. Indeed, three of the five cuirassier regiments were not issued with cuirasses and the dragoon regiments were generally just bad. The hussar regiments were considered "irregular cavalry" but they were deemed to be superior to the regular cavalry regiments.
Russian Horse Grenadiers
(RSM heads on Minden torsos, with Minden horses)

Russian Cuirassiers (Minden conversions)

Russian Dragoons (Minden conversions)

Russian Hussars (using Minden Austrian hussars)
Horvath Hussars (left) and Gruzinski Hussars (right)


Russian Cossacks (RSM miniatures on Minden horses)

Russian/Cossack supply wagon (Perry Miniatures)

Russian Generals

Russian General Fermor and his division officers.

Russian officer vignette
(various Minden figures simply painted green to convert into Russians)
I hope that reading this blog post will encourage SYW wargamers to take another look at the Russian army and give due consideration to painting and collecting their own armies. I have included pictures of some of the Minden Russian army figures so as to give readers a visual idea of what the Russian soldiers looked like.


  1. Beautiful collection of Russians, Jim! The Russian army in its summer attire of red waistcoat and breeches just looks cool on the gaming table especially if sporting white gaiters.

  2. There is no arguing with the look of those uniforms!
    If I ever build 7yw I'm going Russian!

  3. Yes, when you put it like that, suddenly it seems a folly to ignore adding the Russians to one's wargaming collection. And no need to apologize for your Russian focus. Reading of your design, casting, painting, and tabletop adventures helps me get through the current leaner hobby times here at Stollen Central.

    Best Regards,


  4. The Russians have been my primary army for SYW. Austria and Sweden - among others - take second place. Great figures and excellent paint jobs!

  5. Great pics and info on my favoured SYW army

  6. Most impressive and superb, special mention to the Cossack supply wagon, unusual and splendid!

  7. Great blog entry Jim and as an owner of a lovely SYW Russian army I can absolutely vouch for all your observations and thoughts.

  8. Whether one is keen on the Russians or not there is no denying that your figures and presentation of them here is wonderful. Thanks for the overview. Fancy a Russian SYW themed painting?

  9. I love the way Russians are uniform, no fiddling around wondering what the facing colours of a particular regiment are! Nice presentation by the way!

  10. An exquisite Russian collection! It is such a joy to view.
    BTW what is that carriage with the three cannon barrels? I am guessing it is a novel way of ascertaining the viewers attention to detail.
    Thanks for your post.

    1. The wagon was a ceremonial vehicle made to celebrate Russian victories. It was owned by the artillery arm and made from captured cannon and was used to carry artillery kettle drums. Thanks go to Ed Phillips who made the model from scratch.

  11. Lovely figures and a great post. I've got a large (and growing) Russian army in 15mm - all the regular cavalry are done but I need to paint a few more Cossacks; I've still got 13 of the line infantry and the Observation Corps to add (plus more artillery).
    Because I went with Essex, my army is a mix of pre- and post-1760 uniforms (I've even got some artillery fusiliers who were formed from the disbanded Observation corps)

    1. I really like the Essex figures - great choice! 😀👍

  12. Jim, you keep presenting such great pictures and convincing arguments for the Russians :-) and the artillery is very tempting as you say. The butterfly is stirring again..oh no! :-D
    Cheers, Rohan.