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"Types of WSS French Infantry units?" Topic

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JoJo the Idiot Circus Boy Inactive Member22 Feb 2017 11:05 a.m. PST

So I'm in the process of planning for a future War of Spanish Succession painting project. It's not a period I have a huge amount of detailed knowledge about. One of the tools I have been using to give me a basic idea of which units to build is the "Armies in the Age of Marlborough, Eugene, and Charles XII, Volume II" army lists book written for Ga Pa.

I've got two questions for those more familiar with the period than I;

First up, the French army list in the book breaks the basic "native" infantry battalions (as opposed to the foreign units such as the Swiss or Irish) into two types: "Old Units" and "Line Units". The former are indicated as being the veteran and superior non-Guard units, with the latter being the rest. The Ga Pa lists requires a 1:1 ratio of the two units.

What would be a good way to visually indicate which units are the veteran "Old Units"? Ideally I could just look at the flags and know which are the higher quality troops. But I'd like to have some sort of visual clue for my opponents to be able to keep what he's sitting across from straight. Perhaps white vs light grey uniforms? Or perhaps I can add a casualty figure onto the bases of one of the core infantry types to help keep them straight. Any other ideas? If you already have a WSS French army how do you tell your veteran units from your more recently raised?

The other thing I want to know is if French Grenadiers ever wore a distinctive form of head gear like the mitre cap of other country's Grenadier formations. I'd like to paint up a unit of converged grenadiers, and I find that the grenadier figures look awfully similar to line troops. What would be a good way to pick out such a unit?
Of course the answer to this second question is obviously have a couple of figures tossing bombs in the front rank…


But what are some other creative ideas?

Thanks in advance!

idontbelieveit22 Feb 2017 11:47 a.m. PST

I did not depict mine differently other than the flags they carried and the facings they wore. I have not tried to stick with the ratios in the Ga Pa lists so this may not help, but you could paint units that aren't in white for your line units. There are a couple of regiments in brown and a few in blue. That would get you a ways before you have to do something else to distinguish between the two.

vtsaogames22 Feb 2017 11:49 a.m. PST

My two cents: Give the Veille regiments a mounted officer on the command stand. My preference would be a discrete marker on the back of the base and the enemy finds out the hard way.

French grenadiers wore tri-corns and carried swords. I don't know if they had converged units but I'm pretty sure the line units would not give up their standards. So a French infantry unit without standards would be grenadiers.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 12:04 p.m. PST

Royal regiments wore blue coats, red coats for princes of Royal blood (and Swiss, Irish and Scots). Brown were either Walloons or Italians I think, so technically foreign. You could do old regts in white and the rest in light grey – at least that would be vaguely historical. Mounted commander seems the best idea so far to me though.

Most French grenadiers wore same headgear as the rest but Garde Francaise wore soft caps (I think, but may have been a short mitre) and a few others had distinctive caps as well. I think foreign regiments had a cap similar to their origins.

I'm not sure of any instances outside sieges where Grenadiers were combined into specific units but it may have been done. Grenadiers were considered the Elite so would probably have taken a flag (or even flags) with them.

sebastien22 Feb 2017 1:14 p.m. PST

I simply rely on the flags..after all the old regiments flags ( e.g Navarre, Normandie etc ) are fairly easy to distinguish from the newer regiments….

grtbrt22 Feb 2017 2:02 p.m. PST

I think that the best way to distinguish a grenadier unit from the others would be to have 1/3 of all the miniatures missing their right hand due to premature explosions of the grenades .

Altefritz22 Feb 2017 2:37 p.m. PST

As far as I can remember the French didn't converge grenadiers on a regular basis. Maybe they sometimes created "ad hoc" grenadiers piquet for specific tasks.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 3:16 p.m. PST

Sebastien's right. The simpler the flag pattern, the older the regiment. Paint as "old" regiments any with no more than two colors in the field (apart from the white cross) and paint as "new" the really late ones with multiple colors in each square formed by the cross. It's quick, easy to tell and historical. What more could you ask?

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 4:16 p.m. PST

Converged grenadiers have never appeared in my research as being used in battles. Individual grenadier companies used in siege work is more likely!

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 7:31 p.m. PST

The "Old Units" flags usually had solid color quadrants. None of that fancy dividing or whatnot.
If you're going to paint French, you may as well know their flags.

JoJo the Idiot Circus Boy Inactive Member23 Feb 2017 8:31 a.m. PST

Thanks for most of the replies all!

I'll certainly be able to keep track of the grade of units by their flags. But I think it's best to make it obvious for an opponent that may or may not be as knowledgeable. Unit status in many rules sets is not kept a secret after all. I like the idea of adding a mounted officer to the command stand to designate the veteran status units. I'm probably going to go that route. The Guard units and most of the foreign formations have a different color unit than the standard French Grey/White. So they should be obvious enough.

In any event, this is a 28mm project with a limited number of units. So I'm unlikely to have a huge variety of unit types that my opponent will have to keep track of.

Re the Grenadier thing… Again, I'm just getting started in the period, so I'm just going off what little I've seen at this point. The Ga pa list allows for a unit of converged Grenadiers, noting that they were formed on rare occasions. I can't speak to the veracity of that. If I decide to paint up such a unit, the varied facing colors of the various stands and the lack of standards should be enough to ID them for what they are.

The next question to answer before I dig into the box of figures and start forming units is "pike or no pikes?". From what I've read the French might have still used them in the early part of the period, with the higher ranking units having had them removed first. That might be another way to pick out the more poor quality units, perhaps?

Thanks again.

The Beast Rampant23 Feb 2017 9:13 a.m. PST

The next question to answer before I dig into the box of figures and start forming units is "pike or no pikes?"

Maybe REALLY early, but unless you subscribe to what if?/imagiNation reasonings (including a possible shortage of firearms), I really wouldn't bother. The "official ban" date aside, the pike didn't seem to be to very popular in the field, so I wouldn't doubt there might have been only 'lip service' to arming men with pikes by the time the paperwork dropped.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Feb 2017 9:27 a.m. PST

Pikes were on their way out before the start of the WSS but the military mind is very conservative so change happens slowly. Royal decrees were designed to stop their use before the start of the war but MAY have been ignored until the Colonel was forced to remove them (and I have yet to see proof that they were used in battle).

JoJo the Idiot Circus Boy Inactive Member23 Feb 2017 10:45 a.m. PST

Maybe REALLY early, but unless you subscribe to what if?/imagiNation reasonings (including a possible shortage of firearms), I really wouldn't bother. The "official ban" date aside, the pike didn't seem to be to very popular in the field, so I wouldn't doubt there might have been only 'lip service' to arming men with pikes by the time the paperwork dropped.

Fair enough.
It's the surprisingly late official date in which they were supposed to have been dropped from units that make me wonder if they might have seen service in the very early stages of the conflict. As I might be using the ex-Wargames Factory figures as the base for this project(I have not decided yet if I want to spring for some actual Ebor or Front Rank French Figures and just regulate the plastics for my planned Anglo-Dutch force, or use them for the core of both.) there is indeed the possibility that my French would represent an earlier force as the figures are wearing their cartridge boxes slung on a shoulder strap rather than wearing belly pouches.

More to the point, I do like the look of pikes with the unit. But I have not made that determination yet. If I use purpose made French figures, it's a definite no. If I stick with the plastics, then I might.

Clays Russians23 Feb 2017 6:57 p.m. PST

no pikes unless your going east into the great northern war, even then their use was I believe, fairly limited to Swedes and Russian foot, not so much the Danes etc,

Sandinista24 Feb 2017 2:32 a.m. PST

Yes, pikes in early years. Probably with the English at Blenhiem too

Terry3724 Feb 2017 11:05 a.m. PST

I agree that I have never read of converged grenadiers in the WSS. My research has indicated that at the time they were not the elite troops as we have come to expect them to be – they were more of a skirmish type whose grenades were to open a hole in the enemy ranks for the infantry to take advantage of.

The only regiment I know of with brown coats would be the Royal Italian Regiment in brown coats with red collar, cuffs, turnbacks, vest and breeches. Buttons were brass and hat lace matching.


DGT123 Inactive Member06 Mar 2017 11:21 a.m. PST

You could make the flags of the senior regiments worn and torn? Just a thought.
Im not near my library but I don't recall French regiments having distinctive headgear.
If you really want to know all there is about the French army uniforms ect. suggest the Dan Schoor CD's I have them and they are excellent.
I also agree have not heard of converged French grenadiers and they are not the elite superman that many think they become later.

Have to read up on the pikes for French. The English might have had them at Blenhiem the Dutch had to be order by Marlborough to stop carrying them in 1708, so apparently they were still using them.
But after all this they are your figures do what you want with them!!

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