Monday, September 24, 2012

Chevalier de Bernetz

I enjoy collecting two things: books and military miniatures (a.k.a. toy soldiers).  My collection of soldiers is about the French and Indian War and made by two manufacturers: Frontline Figures and John Jenkins Designs.  Three soldiers in my collection belong to Frontline Figures set FPW.1, which contains General Montcalm and two senior officers.

One of the officers is an engineer or artillery officer (from 1755 to 1759, artillery and engineers wore the same uniform).  The other one is a senior officer of the French regular regiment Royal-Roussillon, likely Chevalier de Bernetz.

"Of the Chevalier de Bernetz, Lieutenant-Colonel in command of the Royal-Roussillon, Montcalm said: 'With courage worthy of his extraction, this officer is very intelligent and well-placed at the head of a corps.'"--pg. 27, Montcalm at the Battle of Carillon by Maurice Sautai

 As a senior officer, and a Chevalier of Saint-Louis at that, I (1) trimmed his waistcoat with gold lace; (2) trimmed his coat and coat pockets with the same; (3) painted the cockade in the hat white; and (4) added the Cross of Saint-Louis on his coat.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

French and Indian War Gallery by Howard Pyle

Howard Pyle was one of the most important American illustrators during the late 1800s-early 1900s.  He wrote and illustrated Men of Iron and Robin Hood, among other projects.  He also influeced one of my personal favorite artists, N. C. Wyeth.  Pyle was commissioned several different times to paint scenes from the French and Indian War (1754-1763).  Note: all pictures included here are, as far as I know, in the public domain.  Pyle died in 1911.

This collection opens with young Major Washington and his dejected troops trudging back to Virginia after their defeat at Fort Necessity.  Fort Necessity only opened the war, however, and soon General Braddock and the 44th and 48th were sent to expel the French.  On July 9, 1755, Braddock's troops, led by the grenadiers, collided with the French and Indians.  In a two-hour long battle, Braddock was mortally wounded and taken from the battlefield in a cart.  He died and was buried four days later.

The French had defeated Braddock, but the days of their empire were numbered.  In 1758, General Jeffrey Amherst captured the fortress of Louisbourg, key to the Saint-Lawrence.  In this painting, an officer of the Volontaires-Etrangers negotiates with the British officers regarding the surrender of Louisbourg.

One year later, General James Wolfe would besiege Quebec, defended by General Marquis de Montcalm.  On September 13, the two generals and their armies would fight on the Plains of Abraham.  Wolfe died before the battle had finished, but the wounded Montcalm lingered until September 14.  In this painting, Montcalm rides into the city through the Saint-Louis gate.  A crowd of frantic civilians swarms around him and the remnants of the French force.  But Montcalm's arm is up, as though to still the tumult.  "It is nothing, it is nothing, do not cry for me, my good friends."

Monday, September 10, 2012

James II on the Monmouth Rebellion

In 1685, Charles II died and his brother James succeeded him to the throne as James II.  James Scott, Duke of Monmouth was an illegitimate son of Charles and launched a rebellion in the same year to gain the throne for himself.  At Sedgemoor, his army was crushed and dispersed.  The Duke himself would be executed.  Here are James II's Meditations on the Battle of Sedgemoor:

Upon the defeat of Monmouth and Argyll, and suppressing those rebellions.
"Not unto us, O Lord, but to thy own blessed Name give all the glory." Awake my soul, and speedily preserve thy richest sacrifice of humble praise. Awake, and summon all thy thoughts, to make haste and adore thy great preserver and redeemer. Arise, my soul, to thee these joys belong; arise and advance thyself on high, and leave here below all earthly thoughts, and fly away with the wings of the spirit; fly to that glorious land of promise, and gladly salute those heavenly regions. Let us now consider, O Lord our God, let us thankfully remember what thou art to us. Thou art the great beginning of our nature, and glorious end of all our actions; thou art the overflowing source from whence we spring, and the immense ocean into which we tend; thou art the free bestower of all we possess, and faithful promiser of all we hope; thou art the strong sustainer of our lives, and ready deliverer from all our enemies. When we have applied our utmost cares, and used all the diligence that lies in our power, what can we do, but look up to thee, and second our endeavours with prayers for thy blessing! When we have implored thy gracious mercy, and offered thee our dearest sacrifice to obtain it, what can we do, but submit our hopes, and expect the issue from thy free goodness, we know, and thou thyself has taught us. "Unless thou defendest the city, the guard watches in vain." We know, and our own experience tells us, unless thou reachest forth thy hand, we are presently in danger of sinking. Sometimes, O Lord, thy all-wise Providence seems to sleep, and permits the storm to grow high and loud; yet never fails to relieve thy servants who faithfully call upon thee in the day of trouble. "I will extol thee, O Lord, for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. Now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies round about me; therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; yea I will sing praises unto the Lord."
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusteth in him, and I am helped. Therefore with my song will I glorify and praise him; the Lord is the saving strength of his anointed. When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercies of the Most High he shall not be moved."
Impute not to me, O Lord, the blood of my subjects, which with infinite unwillingness and grief hath been shed by me in my just and necessary defence, but wash me with that precious Blood which hath been shed for me by my great Peace-maker, Jesus Christ.

Quotation from, a highly recommended website, containing over 100 original documents.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Empress Anne of Russia

"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head."--Romans 12:20

Anne, Empress of Russia was born on February 7, 1693.  She married Frederick Wilhelm on November 11, 1710 and was crowned Empress of Russia on April 28, 1730.  Anne was not a model empress, being capricious, as well as rejecting the "Conditions", an early form of constitution to limit the monarch. 

In 1733, the War of the Polish Succession broke out.  France backed King Stanislas I while Austria and Russia supported Augustus III.  Comte de Plelo organized a French expedition to relieve Stanislas who was besieged in Danzig.  In a daring attack, Plelo was killed and his small army dispersed.  The Russians captured the remainer of the French expedition and shipped them to St. Petersburg.  In honor of her victory, Anne held a fete at the palace, which she compelled the French to attend:
"The Empress, however, seemed to have treated them with kindness otherwise.  On that same occasion at the palace, the officers were even allowed to wear their swords in Her Majesty's presence, and they were entertained as guests.  The Empress also gave to every common soldier a coat lined with sheep-skin, and every officer one lined with fox-skin, when the weather turned cold."--pg. 30, War of the Polish Succession by Vajiravudh, Prince of Siam

R. Nisbet Bain adds: "'It must be confessed,' wrote Mr. Rondeau some time later, 'that Her Majesty has been very kind to the three French regiments, most of whom would have perished here of cold if the Tsaritsa had not been so good to give every common soldier a greatcoat lined with sheepskin, and to every officer one lined with fine foxskin.'"--pg. 225, The Pupils of Peter the Great by R. Nisbet Bain (quotation from Rondeau: Dispatches)
This illustration by the author depicts the French officers and Empress Anne (center).  On the dais (raised platform) stands a nobleman and the elite Grenadier-Guards.  The captain of the Grenadier-Guards wears a green waistcoat, while the two soldiers wear red.  Comte de la Motte is bowing to the Empress and the officers stand behind him, in the uniforms of Regiments Blesois, Perigord, and La Marche, some with long greatcoats.  A gathering of gentlemen (including an officer of the Preobrazenskiy Guards) and ladies watch the captives.