Work in Progress

The Battle of Aspern Essling 21/22nd May 1809

Posted by C M Dodson on 01 Mar 2024, 22:28

The Battle of Aspern Essling 21/22 May 1809


I have been thinking of refighting this battle ever since Wolfgang Meyer commenced his fabulous Danube river crossing diorama following Francesco’s Franznap challenge back in 2017.

Mr Crynns provided some fascinating research but Ligny was under way with Quatre Bras being prepared.

Antietam beckoned but now I am researching this fascinating encounter that for violence and numbers involved is the equal of Gettysburg, as an example.

The research is more challenging as the Library of Congress with its wonderful sources for Antietam is of no use for this event.

However, I firstly wanted to test the viability of constructing the armies involved and the biggest initial challenge is to ascertain what the Kaiserliche-Konigliche Heer and in particular the Austrian campaign Army of 1809 actually looked like.

The usual wargame pictures generally show the Austrians in their best whites following recent successes in the Daz white detergent challenge.

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These beautiful fellows are an excellent example whilst these other guys look more the part, except that all but three German regiments numbers 54/30/15 ( to my understanding) did not wear the shako at this battle.

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This representation is nonsense, white is a totally impractical colour, as anyone who has worn a white shirt to an event will testify. It literally attracts food and drink stains, never mind the prospect of sleeping on the ground in it.

Mr Rawkins in his excellent book The Austrian Hungarian Army 1792-1814s states that the official colour was pearl white.

However, a visit to the Austrian Army Museum web site (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum) has some fantastic examples of the actual uniforms and whilst allowing for artificial light, the colour to my mind has a beige tinge. Unbleached wool is a similar colour which got me thinking.

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Further investigation on the net and a wonderful suggestion by a knowledgeable ‘Von Winterfeld’ on the TMP site, of ivory, gave me the answer I was seeking.

The net painting suggestion I discovered was to use brilliant white and then an umber ink wash which highlights the details whilst toning down the white. My idea was to mix a little yellow into the white to create ivory and then use the umber wash. This gives the army museum colour and allows the webbing to stand out when painted white.

Furthermore this re enactment group adds to my conviction regarding Austrian ‘white’.

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Many modellers highlight the straps in black which whilst visually effective is time consuming and, wrong. The soldiers apparently used chalk to clean their kit. The mess when it rained must have been appalling.

My experiments have led me to conclude that the ivory white, when inked will be for the rank and file whilst the purer white, when inked will be good for officers .

This represents the potentially better quality cloth that the officers would be able to afford.

I have commenced constructing my first Austrian Infantry regiment at a ratio of 1 figure equals twenty five. The original regiment consisted of three battalions and I initially thought that re creating that structure would involve three times more officers etc and make for an awkward war gaming unit. Furthermore, this was a large unit the smaller ones would look very messy if broken down in a similar way.

However, tactically it makes sense and battalions of approximately forty troops plus commands fits in quite well with the orders of battle.

The HAT marching figures are very useful but the bayonets are awful and need re trimming. The ammunition pouch is a monster although Hat have recently provided some evidence for their decision. (The flap makes the box look bigger than it is in reality). There is a lump on the left hand side of some by the water bottle that under normal circumstances might require medical treatment. The ‘action’ ( inaction by my reckoning ) range has a re loading figure that literally has to be carved up to represent a decent figure with the attention chap not following the box description. Not good, but the helmets are nice and the variety offered by the marching fellows is most useful.

My stock has also suffered from extensive moulding flash which has to be carved off along with the usual problems caused by their choice of plastic. However an overnight dip in vinegar as a cleaning agent followed by a detergent wash seems to help paint adhesion a little.

This first unit was meant to be Infantry Regiment IR 36 Kolowrat with a facing colour of red. Again an interesting subject as the Perry painting guide states mauve!

However, Mr Rawkins referenced his colours through the Army museum so I proceeded with red. However, a question posed by me on TMP opened a flood of contradictory, but fascinating evidence and historical material. Excellent stuff especially when you consider the damage to archives etc during the war.

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The Austrians had all sorts of facing colour names, crab red, lobster red etc but at our scale I am happy with an approximation of the colour. It is the ‘look’ of the thing that I am trying to re create after all.

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Nevertheless, IR 36 Kolowrat will be mauve and this bunch of fine fellows is now IR 35 Argenteau with the splendid Oberst von Giessenburg in command.


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Lots to learn and lots to do.

Happy Modelling.

Chris
C M Dodson  United Kingdom
 
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Posted by Ochoin on 02 Mar 2024, 07:13

I obviously look forward to any of your projects, Chris.

However, this one covers a battle I find to be quite special - if a Hollywood director was to pick a fight that would enthral an audience, he couldn't do better than to choose A-E. It's got everything.

I, sadly, don't own an Austrian army so any thought of my gaming it is out of the question. However, your superior attention to detail and quite amazing painting & modelling talents will no doubt produce something worth seeing.

donald
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Ochoin  Scotland
 
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Posted by MABO on 02 Mar 2024, 10:59

This is another really interesting project, I will follow like your other ones of course. I painted some Austrians for Cröbern, but then I did not deal with this army. I have a lot of boxes but so many other projects before...

One of the way is patience, as Konrad would say...

Keep up your good work and delight this forum with it.
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Posted by k.b. on 03 Mar 2024, 03:30

Terrific project underway Chris. Greatly appreciate seeing this part of your research regarding troop numbers and uniforms. Just wish I had 10% of your focus. Love the painted figures all together and can’t wait to see this project grow, and grow and grow.
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Posted by Bessiere on 03 Mar 2024, 16:31

Fantastic Mr D! I was also disappointed by the HaT marching sets bayonets and flash but lacking a better alternative I'm still grateful to have them. Will this only require the building of an Austrian army or will there be French units you also need create? Not that I've done the deep research but these are the 2 armies I've worked on since starting this hobby 7 or 8 years ago. Let me know if you need a call for volunteers. I've finished my part with Waterloo remodelled and have felt somewhat adrift since.
Cheers,
Bessiere
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Posted by Rich W on 04 Mar 2024, 23:46

Very exciting to hear about your new project! Although I really hoped you might have a go at Blenheim or Ramillies considering the great range of WSS figures out there!
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Posted by C M Dodson on 05 Mar 2024, 21:12

Thank you very much for everyone’s kind comments.

This project is going to take some time to come to fruition and I still have Antietam to finish.

Nevertheless, Mr B’s kind offer is very generous and perhaps once things are proceeding at pace I will be able to take up his generous offer .

With respect to the WSS I was a little tempted by the lovely thread on this forum.

However, whilst I have to build the Austrians from scratch, the French basically are available from my Quatre Bras re fight albeit with some modifications.

Building two Armies from scratch would be a big ask.

Lots to do.

Best wishes,

Chris
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Posted by C M Dodson on 06 Mar 2024, 17:07

The Battle of Aspern Essling 21/22 May 1809 Part two

Aspern church.

One of the principal buildings of the battle is the Baroque church of Aspern, built in 1671.

There are various models available of this building and indeed my very good friend Thomas Mischak offered to buy me a printed version which was, as always, a very generous thing to do. He is a lovely fellow.

However, I have to consider the foot print of my built up areas and a true 20mm would be huge and a 15mm would look strange with the troops deployed.

References to the church seem to be distorted with time but have found lots of pictures of the ‘original’ structure.

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Interestingly, these two pictures seem to be the same but with different characters in the scene.

Pictures of the battle are also of interest as the blazing buildings show parts of the other elements of the structure. Our various artists have visualised a veritable fortress in some of these scenes despite the French not bothering to build defensive structures as they thought they were going to advance towards the Marchfeld area north of Aspern.

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I used Google Earth to look at the modern church but it is much bigger than the original having had additional building work.

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Various modellers have created some super models with varying accuracy and detail.

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The Eastern side is well represented in the paintings as is the North. The South, main entrance side is my interpretation as is the West using other modellers ideas as a source. I think it looks the part which is the main objective. Mr Bibbly Bob is a superb craftsman in my opinion.

Based on this research I drew a sketch map of the frontage with some dimensions to try and represent the proportions of the structure. This was a little larger than planned but anything smaller was going to look strange against the troops defending it. Doors for instance are a given if our troops want to enter the building.

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Then, using cardboard I commenced construction of the tower and the basic shell.

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I would advocate using balsa as it avoids the filling in business. We live and learn!

Stone window frames were constructed from card and balsa

The windows were then filled in with paper, and balsa was used to create the exterior window frames.

A covering of decorators caulk was then used to create the plaster finish of the original.

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The bell tower shuttering is railway fencing and the bell is moulded greenstuff hung by picture wire.

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Commercially obtained windows were then fitted, whereupon, using balsa strips to represent the stone corners the edifice was put together.

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The positioning of the tower within the roof presented a challenge as I wanted a detachable roof in order to use my burner trays. However, it was too difficult as the tower was damaged by its extraction so I reluctantly glued it into place.

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The ornate baroque fittings were moulded from greenstuff and the doors, made of balsa were fitted with card/ wire hinges and wire handles before fitting.

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The tower steeple was fun, as although I made a template and the base section worked a treat , the top element would not square to fit.

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Eventually I won!

Researching the crosses was interesting and I found this wonderful site which was most useful. His series on the 1809 campaign is fantastic.

https://wargamingraft.wordpress.com/202 ... landmarks/

The paintings show a double cross and here is an example from this site.

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I used two of Der Feldmarschall’s pins, wound picture wire around them, pulled it tight and glued the two cross sections into place. Small balls of greenstuff were then attached before mounting on the model.

Most versions of the church roof I have seen have its colour as slate grey.However, it should be noted that red tiles when weathered and mossed over look grey.

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I did a little research into Austrian Baroque church roofs and those that were not copper or lead seemed to have red tiles. There were two brick factories in the area and it seems to me that roofing slates in red would seem more likely. The original pictures show a dark roof and a reddish roof, and this along with this fine specimen are enough evidence for me.

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The chapel was similarly constructed and will be walled in as per the original.

This wonderful Austrian map from 1820 shows the position of the church, the chapel and its walling. How fantastic is that?

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Lots to do.

Chris
C M Dodson  United Kingdom
 
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Posted by Bessiere on 07 Mar 2024, 03:22

Excellent job on the church, it's lovely. So incongruous that after 2 days of fighting thousands of men would shed their blood next to and even inside that same peaceful looking church. Napoleonic armies remind me of Godzilla vs other monsters rolling over whatever comes between them.
Cheers,
Bessiere
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Posted by Bessiere on 07 Mar 2024, 16:23

Piano war games just released new Grenzer and Young Guard figures that are top notch. The Young Guard received their baptism of fire at AE and despite repeated reads the organization is very confusing. I found this website most helpful http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/2019/08/20/ ... anisation/
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Posted by C M Dodson on 09 Mar 2024, 18:41

Hello Mr B.

Thank you for that.

The Piano Danube crowdfunder is an excellent reference . It’s a shame that they are 28mm.

However, the Young Guard were in action at Essling on the 22nd. I do not know if there will be a 22nd May if the Austrians do well on the 21st!

Nevertheless, the Hat restocks now have the fusilier chasseurs etc and those with my leftovers from Waterloo/ Ligny may well be back in action.

Next up …The Schuttkasten, a massive structure.

Best wishes,

Chris
C M Dodson  United Kingdom
 
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Posted by Michael Robert on 10 Mar 2024, 14:14

Hello Chris,
and another heroic project "what we dream about, but never dare to tackle..."
Your start is laready fabulous. Particularly like your research on Austrian "white" uniforms. Totally agree with you. I do the same, I use ocre-beige for non-bleeched woolen textile.
The modern perception of "white" is very different from ony 100 years ago thanks to the invention of the one modern white pigment: titaniul dioxide. This pigment actually adds a fluorescent tinge thus increasing the white glow and compensating for any slight yellow. Before the whiteness of objects rapidly degraded also to the degradation of the pigments (can be observed on many old paintings).
Greetings
Michael
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Michael Robert  France

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Posted by C M Dodson on 12 Mar 2024, 11:20

Essling Schuttkasten


The granary building at Essling is very famous and several manufacturers have produced this construction in varying scales. I considering getting one but they are truly massive and would fill my battlefield.

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Interestingly some have different features, although archival proof of the original construction seems difficult to locate. Indeed the roof when viewed from Google Earth seems to have lost some of the sky lights!

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One example is the door on the south side being shown on the right when it is clearly according to the real thing, on the left. The number of sky lights seems to vary too.

Ground scale is important but my view is that as long as the overall ‘footprint’ of a built up area is representative then iconic buildings that exceed their true scale dimensions can be included, as it gives the ‘feel’ of the place.

Having said that, the original edifice is truly monumental, and a ‘fly’ around it via Google Earth is most rewarding.

I have been unable to ascertain its actual construction date but it is built solidly and has an exact purpose, to store the fruits of the Marchfeld grain harvest.

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Closer examination of the deteriorating facade shows brickwork although most commentators state that its construction is of solid stone of one to two metres thickness! Contemporary accounts speak of its virtual impregnability to shot and shell making it, despite its small garrison ( approximately 500 elite grenadier and Carabinier souls) , a small fortress. I personally would have thought the roof to be less armour plated as it is tiled.

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The actual tactical value I would suggest is that it helped funnel and restrict assaults on the village proper.

I wanted the building to look as much like the original without turning the battlefield into downtown Manhattan. This meant getting the many doors and windows in, whilst retaining the approximate look in both length and breadth.

A bit of sketching on a piece of folded paper gave me a ball park idea and I settled on 19cm x 8cm. The problem lies with the height. The doors are a given and this unfortunately creates a more box like structure as I can not compress the height to keep the proportions. To do this would entail a structure at least 30cm long. My very good friend Thomas Mischak ( head of the German research department) pointed this out but unfortunately unless I omitt Aspern completely I have to compromise. I am hoping that trees and photographic perspective may help to ‘lengthen’ it.

These dimensions were transferred to balsa wood and the details measured, marked and cut out. Thin balsa for the window frames then followed along with paper strips for the levels visible on the original. I noted that the top one is pronounced as it is used ( like my Dunker church model at Antietam ) to divert rainwater away from the walls.

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Once the frames were in place I gave the various sections a layer of decorators caulk to represent the plaster. I also scribed in the corner stonework making sure to align the symmetry with each section.

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I built a framework for the first and second floors as I which to place the garrison inside eventually.

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The doors are covered with iron and I represented this by using a covering of aluminium foil on a balsa door. Unravelled picture wire was then bent to shape and glued in place to provide the feature decoration and furniture seen in the picture. It appears that the hinges are on the interior from the pictures which would explain the difficulty in accessing by the Austrian sappers. The weakest point of a door is generally its hinged side.

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The original seems to be quite intricate but I stuck to the present day model as my wire work skills are not that good.

The windows were also iron and once again my unravelled picture wire trick in creating a lattice effect was most useful in creating the look of these widows. The wires are laid on a glue base around the window edges to form the mesh.

Wills roofing sheets provided the roof and then I added the various vents using balsa along with the top door which had a hoist above it. I was going to model the hoist but was not sure where the rope would go ( normally I would have thought tied to the lower level) so left it.

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Light changes the colouring when viewing the pictures of the building, but in order to get a contrast with the white highlights, I mixed up a light beige with some yellow which I think looks the part.

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The roof colour is a constant source of discussion. I am of the opinion that it is brick red, like the Granary museum model inside the actual building ,but heavily weathered giving a grey appearance to the modern day viewer.

There seems to be doubt in some blog spots as to whether the iconic sundial was present in 1809. The date on the bottom of the mural, suggests that it was done/ refreshed in 1991.

Certainly, it is a nice feature although time keeping was normally done by the church bell, located slightly south of the Granary. I would love to have it but my feeling, having looked at the Essling diorama where it is absent, is that, it is indeed a later addition .

Any contemporary information to the contrary would be welcome.

There is also conjecture on the arched door present on the building as to whether it existed at the time. I decided to sit on the fence and just have a normal door. After all it was built as a functional structure, unlike the churches as an example.

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The merciless camera has shown some imperfections and the weathering has highlighted some lumps which need sorting but overall I am quite pleased with the model.

Lots to do.

Chris
C M Dodson  United Kingdom
 
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Posted by Rich W on 15 Mar 2024, 00:00

Very nice Chris!
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Posted by C M Dodson on 18 Mar 2024, 12:45

Austrian artillery.

I have commenced painting the Austrian artillery gunners for the project.

These are Art Miniturian and 3D prints from a very nice gentleman supplier Mr Kane.

They are both very nice but the quality of detail on the 3D prints together with their poses are exceptional. The material used is much stronger than other prints I have bought although care has to be taken with the sponges and any flimsy bits.

They paint up very well and come with a selection of cannons/ howitzers.

The Austrian foot artillery comprised both gunners and assistants ( with blue facings) which I will be including as I progress the project.

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The Zvezda Guard artillery gentlemen look promising for conversions to add more variety and I shall see what I can do.

Lots to do.

Chris
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Posted by Bessiere on 19 Mar 2024, 02:11

Lovely Schuttkasten building and Austriche artillery. Thanks for posting your progress.
Cheers,
Bessiere
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Posted by Santi Pérez on 21 Mar 2024, 18:21

Wow, Chris. This new project is off to a superb start. I love all the research into the buildings as well as the end result once they are built. And the figures are great too! :drool: :drool: :drool:

Santi.
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Posted by C M Dodson on 19 Apr 2024, 13:30

Austrian villages in the Vienna area.

I have been researching the types of architecture and village planning that are relevant to my project.

I have been very fortunate to have been able to draw upon the excellent research done some years ago by the genius known as Mr Crynns from Holland.

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His forensic observations and pictures have been very useful indeed. Further Google Earth investigations of old buildings in Aspern and Essling have been most interesting.

However, I came across the extensively researched works of the 1809 blog ( Supreme Littleness) , a French blog with nice period ( but unfortunately inaccurate) model buildings and also an excellent reference source in the form of a Thomas Brandsletter.

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Many thanks to Mr Supreme Littleness for his extensive and useful research on his wonderful 10mm project.

Thomas’s blog, describing Austrian village designs of the period together with a superb knowledge of house types and their construction etc is a delight.

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https://wargamingraft.wordpress.com/202 ... -villages/

Furthermore, the illustrations of villages of the time give an insightful glimpse of what I am looking to achieve along with contemporary maps of the villages.

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The layouts with the barns to the rear is most informative together with the predominance of gable ends facing the road . This all fits in with the period maps of the villages.

Thomas has very kindly assisted me in my personal enquires about the area and I am very grateful. Examples include the general absence of window shutters and also windmills, as most milling was done by water mills based on the Danube and March rivers.

Unfortunately the Austrian Buildings open air museum at Stubing and Rein Abbey has only one building from this part of Austria , but ,it is non the less, an excellent example of a Dreikanter edifice. Wonderful stuff indeed.

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Another of Thomas’s links takes us to this fantastic site.

http://kulturpaedagogik.ph-noe.ac.at/do ... iertel.pdf

This is a genuine gem for anyone wanting to understand the layout and architectural style of the area.

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There are many representations of the villages of Aspern and Essling but the best one I have seen has to be the following, I believe by Mr Supreme Littleness himself.

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This is an excellent interpretation, especially for war gaming purposes. However, there is a preponderance of tiled roofs, rather than thatch and the gables do not face the road. Nevertheless, it’s inspirational in my opinion and no timbered houses in sight, marvellous.

Whilst space considerations in my scale of 20mm mean that an exact copy of these villages is impractical I do want to get the feel of the place so that a local of the time would feel fairly at home.

I found this period picture taken towards the later end of the century, of a local Austrian village of the area which I thought was very interesting.

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To this end I have commenced construction of various buildings. I want to get a homogenous look based on the period paintings. The ‘white wash’ look is more of an off white and I have found that household emulsion ‘ Timeless’ is a good for my purpose.

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The merciless camera has shown up some discrepancies with the builds but overall I think I am moving in the right direction.

Whilst tiles and wooden shingles were in use, especially on the bigger buildings and churches, thatch it seems was a major roofing material. With the local availability of reeds etc this makes sense and will be reflected in the build. This also ties in with contempory accounts of buildings going up in flames.

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Lots to do.

Chris
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Posted by C M Dodson on 19 Apr 2024, 13:30

Infantry Regiment No. 10

(Anton Mittrowsky)

I have been having all sorts of fun looking though the various orders of battle to see which units were present at the action.

The main problem is that units present at Aspern may not have been in action. A good example being the 1/2 French Carabineers. Most sources, Bowden, Nafziger, Gill, ‘Obscure Battles’ have them present at Aspern.

However, Mr Gill states that they along with most of the 2/9 Cuirassiers were prevented from crossing the Danube by the failing bridge.

I have researched this extensively and am grateful, once again to ‘The Prince of Essling’ who pored through many sources which unfortunately were inconclusive.

Mr Gill has Infantry Regiment No.10 in Brigade Wintzingerode along with the 2nd Jäger battalion, where as Bowden states they were brigaded with IR.42.

Confusing or what?

I think Mr Gill is very good at his subject matter and am therefore using his returns as my primary source.

IR 10 was comprised of two battalions as the third was in Bohemia at the time.


So, here they are with Oberst Von Lowenwarth proudly leading his men, a mixture of Mr Kane’s superb sculpts, Hat marching fellows and some conversions.

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Lots to do.

Chris
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Posted by Peter on 20 Apr 2024, 21:55

Lots to see and to read! Nice project again Chris! :thumbup:
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