I thought that I would have a bit of a change from painting the troops at Waterloo, but I still fancied something from around the same period. So just to be different, I’m going to be painting a small group of Chausseurs de Irois. These are black troops that fought for the British out in the Caribbean – Haiti specifically. The models are from the Trent Miniatures range – They’re fairly straight forward to paint and I’m using a uniform reference from Osprey books.
I’m hoping to make a small skirmishing force from the West Indies as it will allow me to play some interesting battles as well as putting together a small ‘What if?’ campaign. If all goes well, I can add a bit of variety to my collection, both in terms of scenery and troops!
The actual men that formed these units were originally slaves and as I understand it the British government paid the plantation owners £3k per slave, who were then conscripted into the army for five years and at the end of their service, given their freedom. They were treated as per ‘normal’ troops during their time in the ranks, although this may not have been much of an improvement on their previous circumstances in some cases! These Black Battalions were vital in providing manpower for the British Empire to defend it’s Colonies. Not only was there a shortage of troops to garrison the islands but the casualty rates amoungst Europeans through sickness was appalling. The white troops that were sent out would have to endure a very long sea voyage and then within six weeks many would be dead of yellow fever. So £3k might seem expensive for a ‘recruit’, but it was cheaper than the alternative.
And so to the painting!
1. The first colour that I used was a mahogany brown, Vallejo 70846, to do the faces, hands and feet. You will have noticed I am painting over a grey undercoat, I quite prefer a coloured undercoat to black or white and as usual with my figures, I am going to use army painter quick shade to speed things up. However, I think I will go back over the figures and add some highlights to give them more definition.
2. Next coat of paint is Vallejo german extra dark green 70896. It’s a really dark green and seems to match the Osprey picture. This has been used to paint the coat and hat plume. Next will be the black 70951, to paint the hat, belt and scabbard.
3. The picture above shows the figures a bit further into the painting process. I have used flat brown, 70984 for the musket stocks and the handle of the machete natural steel,70864, for the buttons and musket and brass 70801 is used to paint the belt buckle and details on the musket. I’ve painted the trousers in off white 70820, I think it gives a nice white without being overpowering, and unusually for me I have painted the eyes of the figures using off white, and also, the cartridge that the figure is biting. Finally, I used Vallejo light brown 70929 to add detail to the stocks and machete handles.
4. the picture above shows the figures after the quickshade & matting have been done. I always paint on Army Painter Quickshade rather than dipping it, so that I have some control over how it looks. Make sure that the quickshade is left overnight so that it really sets nicely, and then it can be matted down with army painter anti shine matt spray. I have used Vallejo 70994 dark grey to give definition to the belt and machete cover, and I did go back and highlight the plume, and also the cuffs and arms with a bit of the original green, lightened with off white. I also redid the trousers as the dip had ‘dirtied’ them down a bit too much. On the face around the eyes and nose and on the hands and fingers, I have used mahogany mixed with white to highlight these features.
For basing I am planning a totally different basing scheme, As they’re fighting in the Caribbean, I’d like something a bit more jungle like. So at the moment I’ve just covered the bases in sand ready for a bit of scenic work. In the next post, I’ll show you the finished figures along with details of the basing.
The items used so far: