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A little knowledge….

I’ve read 7 books on the battle of Waterloo in the past 18 months, visited the battlefield itself and have just completed a distance learning course with Southampton University on Wellington and the Battle of Waterloo. For a change, I decided to give Waterloo a rest and I read an account of the Peninsular War ”The Peninsular war 1807-1814 A Concise military History” by Michael Glover.

All the above doesn’t include the blog entries, Uniform references and internet research, conversations with other gamers, Magazine articles, films and TV and radio program’s that I have absorbed. The net result of all of this is that I still feel as though I have just scratched the surface of the subject of the Napoleonic Wars. I have however, reinforced my view that definitive answers, whether regarding who did what, when or why, or who wore what uniform in which style are sometimes difficult if not impossible to come by. 200 years of distance from the events and only artist impressions and eye witness accounts to go by will often lead to confusion.

What we generally have is a collection of opinions and views ( some more thoroughly researched than others) from which we as gamers have to make a decision on which to follow. In making that decision though, be careful not to totally discard the possibility that you may just have picked the ‘wrong’  set of facts. Just take the thorny issue of uniforms.

During the invasion of Gascony in 1814, an observer described the 57th as follows:

‘The men are absolutely in rags and tatters. Here and there are five or six inches of bare thigh or arm visible through the patches; some have had only linen pantaloons all the winter through’

Remember, this isn’t the retreat to Corruna being described but the British advance into France at the end of the war. Meanwhile, elsewhere, the 1/39th Battalion was at St Jean-de-Luz, collecting it’s new issue of clothing ( Clothing was issued once a year if possible). I suspect that given the date, this new clothing was the new style uniform of grey trousers & Belgiac Shako. So it looks like you would have one Battalion (1/57th) in very tatty, patched ‘Peninsular’ uniform fighting alongside the much smarter Battalion ( 1/39th) in ‘Waterloo’ style uniform.

The point that I am making is that unless you are recreating a specific battle in a specific campaign at a specific date there is no need to be too vexed as to who wore what when. Which brings me to the last of my Hanoverian Battalions, the Osterode Landwehr. I’ve done quite a bit of research on the subject and the details of the Landwehr uniform appear to be sketchy at best. They usually have a paragraph devoted to them in a book. Here is the general guide:

Lüneburg Landwehr Batt: Red jackets with dark blue facings and grey pantaloons. All of the leather equipment was white. The battalion wore shacks of a tapered [stovepipe] design.

The above details are repeated for the Osterode, Verden and Münden Landwehr Battalions.

So thats pretty clear and to be fair, its confirmed in a couple of the other references that I use. However, when I checked my favorite reference, Mont St Jean, the following scheme was shown.

Hanoverian Landwehr Osterode

Hanoverian Landwehr Osterode

Quite clearly, the facings here are green, not blue and the shoulder tufts are also shown as green. Now it could be that there is a mistake, as the Field Battalion had green facings and the author of the site may have made an error in transposing them to the Landwehr Battalion. So what should I do? Well, as I have already painted three battalions in Blue facings the chance of a change in colour was quite an attractive proposition. So my Battalion of Osterode Landwehr will have green facings!

But I promise that if anyone asks, I will say that I have taken a possible liberty when choosing this option. Furthermore, if in the unlikely event that I meet up with a fellow gamer who has decided that his version of the Osterode Landwehr have blue facings I will keep my opinions to myself and just compliment him on his fine body of troops!