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"Most obscure military unit figures?" Topic

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Lord Cornwallis27 Dec 2020 5:06 a.m. PST

So I wanted to begin the new year by going out of my 18th century comfort zone and work on a diorama of military figures I had no knowledge of. Get to know the history of the wars they fought in as well as the units themselves. I have challenged myself to pick the most obscure unit I could find. I thought I had found it. The army of Montenegro, a small Kingdom in the Balkans which eventually became absorbed into Yugoslavia. They look almost medieval in their pre ww1 uniforms. But to my surprise they are actually quite popular! Can anyone suggest what they believe to be the most obscure units available. Any time period, but must be easily available to ship to New York.

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2020 9:51 a.m. PST

There's always the hauntingly obscure Middle Guard at Waterloo. May need to do some conversion work. :)

von Schwartz ver 227 Dec 2020 10:17 a.m. PST

How about the 7th Regiment de ligne, the all black regiment originally in the French service but transferred to Neopolitan service later in the regime.

4DJones27 Dec 2020 11:01 a.m. PST

How about Nourse's Horse, or the Pretoria Carabineers, -British units raised during the First Boer War (Transvaal Rebellion)?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2020 11:33 a.m. PST

During the Napoleonic Wars there's a small Hesse-Kassel unit accompanying the Brunswickers in 1809, the Orange Guard in 1815, the Percy Tenantry Volunteers in England, and some fairly obscure units in British service in the Med. Is the Loyal Lusitanian Legion too well known? The French also get a bit trickier as you go east--Lithuanian light infantry, and some uncertain stuff around Illyrica--notably some Grenzers in French service, and I think possibly some Greeks.
Or you can go to North America and try for Indiana Light Dragoons of about Tippecanoe vintage. There's really no limit. But the cost of doing the really obscure is uniform and organization research.

Note that the Montenegrins have managed to disentangle themselves from the Serbs again, and as early as the various wars breaking up Yugoslavia, they'd taken up their old ways--hanging the heads of their enemies from their tanks since they no longer had horses. Not often you see that outside of 40K.

von Schwartz, it's the 7th Neapolitan only. In French service it was a pioneer unit--and before then, they were Haitians fighting on the French side when Napoleon reinstituted slavery on the island. But I can't speak for uniform for the early period. (I never thought of them as obscure, but then my regular opponent had a Neapolitan army. I've fought with and against the 7th Neapolitan many times.)

von Schwartz ver 227 Dec 2020 1:22 p.m. PST

Well, no one in my club anyway had heard of them until I built an ad hoc Neapolitan Division to supplement my 1809 Italian Corps and Italian Guard Division. They were a fun lot, with their green uniforms. The 7th I had were in a white uniform w/yellow facing. Good thing, I had a surplus of white left over after doing a couple Corps of Austrians. I think the earlier version had a brown coat.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Dec 2020 1:59 p.m. PST

Trialeurs du Po
Trialeurs du corsia

Lord Cornwallis27 Dec 2020 2:07 p.m. PST

Great suggestions. But I have settled on the Berg regiment of Lancers. 1808. For two reasons. They fought under Murat for a brief period and their uniforms are rather splendid and can be painted up from Napoleonic models. They are probably known to specialists but I have never heard of them? They apparently were recruited from one of those innumerable German Duchies invaded by Napoleon.

Robert Burke27 Dec 2020 2:12 p.m. PST

By obscure, do you mean a unit that almost no one has heard of? Or do you mean a unit for which figures are very difficult to find? Or perhaps a unit for which the uniform is difficult to find?

I have a unit of Berg lancers in my French army. They are very nice and easy to find castings for since I was able to use the Polish Guard Lancer figures for them.

The Danish Life Guard during the Napoleonic wars is another obscure unit. I ended up using British Life Guard castings for them.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2020 5:14 p.m. PST

I don't know anyone without Berg Lancers. (OK, my son--but that's because he plays Necromunda and Samurai period east Asia.)

Here I was going to suggest 1790's Montenegro. Next time, we're going to have to discuss levels of obscurity. For me, "obscure" lets out anything with a Funken or Knoetel plate, or an Osprey book. (It's "Napoleon's German Allies 1, Westphalia and Cleve-Berg" and I think also "Napoleon's Light Cavalry of the Guard.")

Anyway, they're a good-looking unit. Go forth and conquer.

Lilian27 Dec 2020 5:36 p.m. PST

indeed it is not really clear how "obscure"…

the Black Pioneers – Royal African obscure? So why everybody knows them? The Tirailleurs Corses and Tirailleurs du Pô?

so what about Regiment de Pupilles de la Garde, Foreign and French Deserters Battalions, Invalids battalions and companies in several armies, Albanian Regiment and both Pandours units of the French Army : the Pandours of Ragusa, Albanian Pandours of Cattaro against Montenegrin, British Greek Light Infantry, many Emigrés units in Europe and West Indies, various Legions in the Egyptian expedition…and if you search in the colonial armies of any european power…until Pandours of the Cape

later in the 19th century clothed with curious anachronistic uniforms, there were several US and Confederate of the ACW
The US Camel Corps, the Mormom Battalion and both US Volunteers in 48' and French Francs-Tireurs clothed like bears and others bizarre exotic clothing

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Dec 2020 9:57 p.m. PST

Tirailleurs du Po
Tirailleurs Corses
2nd Corps 2nd division (Claparede)
With the French Army throughout 1809

I think they were with the advance guard for a while. Do not have my sources hanfy.
Have had these two units in my OBs for years ???
Russ Dunaway

RudyNelson27 Dec 2020 10:35 p.m. PST

Danish army in the 1864 war. Danish army in the 1840s Civil War.
Chaco War combatants, both sides.
1890s Sino-Japanese War, Chinese
1800s Conservative vs Liberal Central American wars
Any of several Filibuster Armies and national armies in Nicaragua, Cuba and Mexico
First Nation pre-Columbiah,pre-Norse foot armies.
Central Asia Russian expansion wars of the 1850+, both sides
Persian 1800s army

Martin Rapier28 Dec 2020 1:19 a.m. PST

In the days of the interweb there is very little which can be considered obscure. The Chaco War and 1864 Danes are positively mainstream, particularly after the TV series imaginatively called "1864".

I'm sure there are all sorts of wierd and wonderful units from small Central German states which don't exist any more though.

The most obscure unit I've come across in recent years were the Lovat Scouts, WW2 British mountain recce types. My reenactment pals decided we should add them to our impressions, so they can't that obscure as people produce the cap badges, special hats, mountain windproofs etc…

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2020 6:13 a.m. PST

For a really obscure unit hard to beat the Canadian Corps of Guides (1903-1929), the precursor of the Intelligence Branch of the Canadian Forces


Lilian28 Dec 2020 7:52 a.m. PST

for the Canadians in the War of 1812 they had a Corps des Voyageurs and a Coloured Corps

about the Persian a light flying artillery Camel Corps the Zamburak

William Walker's filibuster Army in Nicaragua is dressed with redshirts something like the Mississippi Rifles in 1846-1848

Personal logo chicklewis Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2020 12:25 p.m. PST

Colonial era – Egyptian army unit of Chain-Mail-Cuirass-Protected Cavalry.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2020 9:59 p.m. PST

Chick, now you've got me wanting to watch Khartoum again :-)

La Fleche28 Dec 2020 11:32 p.m. PST

Gustavus von Tempsky's Forest Rangers.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2021 1:17 p.m. PST

The Schutztruppe, German colonial military of the 19th Century.

rjones6904 Jan 2021 9:36 a.m. PST

The Schutztruppe, German colonial military of the 19th Century.

And the Hereros, the African forces who fought in 1904 in German South-West Africa (present-day Namibia) against the Schutztruppe and other German units (Sailors and Marines).

Rank-and-file Herero troops wore civilian clothes: jackets, shirts, pants, shoes, and wide-brimmed hats. A bandolier may have been added to this. Concealed Herero riflemen used smokeless powder, firing from thick thorn bushes, trenches, boulder fighting positions, and stone fieldworks. The Hereros' expert exploitation of cover allowed them to deliver heavy and continuous fire at the Germans for hours at a time without ever being spotted. During the Herero War of 1904 there were Herero Foot units and Herero Mounted units, and figures are available for both.

rjones6904 Jan 2021 9:55 a.m. PST

Another obscure military unit from South-West Africa, for which there are figures available, is from the end of the Nama Wars of 1904-08. In 1908 the Germans formed a special camel-mounted Expeditionskorps (expeditionary corps) under the command of Hauptmann Friedrich von Erckert.

Von Erckert's expedition was essentially 100% camel-mounted. The Expeditionskorps had 2 horses, 5 mules, 11 rider oxen – and 710 camels! That's 98% camels!

Three camel-mounted Schutztruppe infantry companies formed the core combat power of the Expeditionskorps. The Expeditionskorps also had two camel-mounted scouting detachments and a camel-mounted machine gun detachment, with 4 machine guns.

For more details and photographs of camel-mounted Schutztruppen, go to the "Camels at War" thread here on TMP:
TMP link

AICUSV07 Jan 2021 6:31 p.m. PST

I'm doing WW1 Japanese.

Figures are available for the German camel jockeys

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