“Champagne! In victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it” - Napoleon
18th Century Sojourn
Where to begin?
I found the British army positioned at Coimbra in late spring of 1809 would serve as an ideal start point for this project for two reasons, one it was small enough to collect and two; both British and Portuguese troops are represented in the organization. This was the time of the second invasion of Portugal with Soult capturing Oporto only to halt his campaign there in early April.
Prior to the capture of Oporto by the French, the Portuguese army had engaged the invaders in a series of battles in northern Portugal; these are on my list of scenarios to design for DBA-HX3. Building both British and Portuguese troops will require some time, but it will give me an opportunity to research the early conflicts of 1809.
Further plans to expand the collection are up in the air and I am aware of the fact that Wellesley did fight at Talavera which would also require Spanish troops. However, there are more than enough events taking place in Portugal that would make interesting scenarios; the uprising at Ulhão, the siege of Chaves, the Battle of Braga, the Battle of Porto (1st), the Battle of Grijó and to round off the campaign year of 1809, the Battle of Sobral.
Looking below at the table of organisation of British forces positioned at Coimbra there are two brigades of cavalry and nine of foot. Those highlighted in red will be collected and painted first and when completed a subsequent order to increase the Portuguese strength will be sent off.
British Forces in Portugal, May 6, 1809
At Coimbra, Sir Arthur Wellesley
Cavalry1stBrigade (Stapleton, Cotton) 14th, Light Dragoons, 16th Light Dragoons, 20th Light Dragoons, 3rd Light Dragoons K.G.L.2ndBrigade (Fane)3rd Dragoon Guards, 4thDragoons.
InfantryBrigade of Guards (H. Campbell)1/Coldstream Guards, 1/3rd Foot Guards, 1 co. 5/60th
1stBrigade (Hill)1/3rd Foot, 2/48th Foot, 2/66thFoot, 1 co. 5/60th
2ndBrigade (Mackenzie)3/ 27thFoot, 2/31st Foot, 1/45th Foot.
3rdBrigade (Tilson)2/87th Foot, 1/88th Foot, 5 coys 5/60th, 1/1st Portuguese.
4thBrigade (Sontag)2/97th Foot, 2nd bn. Detachments, 1 co. 5/60th, 2/16th Portuguese.
5thBrigade (A. Campbell)2/7th Foot, 2/53rd Foot, 1 co. 5/60th, 1/10th Portuguese.
6thBrigade (R. Stewart)1/29th Foot, 1st bn. Detachments, 1/16th Portuguese.
7thBrigade (Cameron)2/9th Foot, 2/83rd Foot, 1 co. 5/60th, 2/10th Portuguese.
King’s German Legion Brigade1st Line bn., 2nd Line bn., 5thLine bn., 7th Line bn.
Unattached Troops (Lisbon)2/24th Foot, 2/30th Foot., Independent Light co. K.G.L.
ArtilleryBritish, King’s German Legion, Wagon Train attached
Cavalry 3,134 Infantry 18,881Total 23,115 (including Artillery, Engineers and wagon train)
This list is sourced from The History of the Peninsular War, vol. II by C. Oman, (p. 640). Compare this with the second link offering an overview between June 1808 - April 1809, The British Army in Portugal by Ron McGaigan.
The PortugueseI am aware that the Portuguese uniform regulations pertaining to the Barretina shako being replaced by the Stovepipe took place later, but for time and economic reasons I opted for one style of uniform to serve for both the Portuguese and British. I will admit to not being a purist about this point, but my primary focus is the development of some interesting historical scenarios and less the depiction of accurate representation of figures.
The miniaturesThe three packs of Blue Moon 15mm to be painted are British Generals (10), Rifles (15) and Dragoon Guards. (15) A few British generals are reserved for the Portuguese and will have a Portuguese uniform and likewise some British rifles will be painted as Portuguese Cazadores. The cavalry posed another problem as the 15 Dragoon Guards are too many as only two regiments will be represented. I did not wish to purchase figures to fill out the compliment of light dragoons so after some cutting, filing and Milliput, six Dragoon Guards were converted light dragoons. Aside from the Tarleton helmet, all horse tails were docked as was the custom and blanket rolls were added (Milliput) for all the cavalry.
Hopefully by early next week I should have these painted up and photos will be posted.
Illustration: By Soerfm - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27955583
Recommended reading.The Peninsular War by Sir Charles Oman, all 7 volumes are available online.