Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Sir William Huntley-Palmer - an 18th century spy?

In an earlier post, we discovered the English minor aristocrat and traveller Sir William Huntley-Palmer. He was described as being "late of the 11th Dragoons, who travelled widely in Savoy, Piedmont, Carinthia and Hungary in the 1750s as some kind of undefined agent of the British government."

Here, we have a chance to discover a few more things about Captain Huntley-Palmer.

William Huntley-Palmer was born in the county of Somerset in 1724. His parents were Sir Arthur Huntley-Palmer of East Chewbury and Lady Arabella (née Arabella Melchett of Underton) and he was born in the ancestral home, Chewbury Manor.

His parents bought him a commission as Cornet of Horse in the 4th Regiment of Horse when he was 16 and he served in that regiment between 1741 and 1746, rising to the rank of full Lieutenant. In 1746, following the Battle of Culloden, he was offered a the chance to buy a captaincy in Kerr's (later the 11th) Dragoons, which he accepted.

He remained with his regiment until 1750, when he was seconded to the staff of a relative, General Sir George Augustus Melchett for unspecified service. He never resigned his commission, but it also seems to be the case that he never returned to active service with his regiment.

In 1751, he travelled to Carinthia and Savoy on behalf of the British government. He remained in Europe, visiting Piedmont and Hungary in 1752 before arriving in Syldavia in 1753. His movements then took him to Bavaria, Savoy again and Austria before returning to Syldavia in 1756, taking up residence in Klow. Documents in the Melchett Archive show regular correspondence between Huntley-Palmer and his patron General Melchett. In 1757 Huntley-Palmer was offered a position in the Syldavian service, in a military capacity. Seeking advice from "M" (as the Huntley-Palmer Papers refer to General Melchett), he accepted the role and travelled around the country, visiting various regimental headquarters, fortresses and garrisons.

The Melchett Archive contains several letters from "H-P" that refer to annexes in a now lost cypher. A plain text of one of these survives, containing an assessment of the capabilities of the Syldavian army. In it, H-P writes that the army is “reasonably well turned out, of tolerable quality and stout manners” but records that “the regiments of light Horse are impetuous, difficult to restrain and prone to looting”. Other passages suggest that H-P also played a more active role in the training and drilling of Syldavian cavalry regiments. It also appears to be the case that H-P spent several months in 1759 in the garrisons and towns along the eastern border with Borduria, where he records in his journals that "On several occasions my engagements across the river became somewhat troublesome and on more than one occasion my life was at risk. Only the stout and steady behaviour of our troops prevented my capture." He writes elsewhere of "Business on the islands of Polishoff" and "Clandestine adventures in the cities of Peshod, Salinkari and Ugaljigrad". A heavily redacted document in the Archive refers to "H-P's journey as plenipotentiary to the Grand Turk" and "stirring up unpleasantness amongst the Borduri".

Whatever is being hinted at clearly served the interests of the Syldavian Crown as, in 1761, Huntley-Palmer was created a Grand Knight of Order of the Black Pelican and was awarded the honorary colonelcy of the Piskot Cuirassier Regiment the following year. It seems that he was also awarded estates and a pension by King Ottokar IX. 

In his journals, H-P alludes to several romantic dalliances but in 1763 he became betrothed to the 22-year-old Doroteja Svinjske-Klobase, a member of a noble family related to the Syldavian Royal House of Almaszout.

We know little more of H-P's activities in Syldavia, apart from a suggestion that he was involved in the thwarting of a plot against the life of the King and that there seems to have been more than one attempt made on his own life.

In 1764, H-P and his wife travelled via Dbrnouk to Venice, on Syldavian official business and he took up residence in Trieste the following year. The Melchett Archive suggests that at this time, H-P was acting on orders from "M" and performing some kind of British government business. While in Trieste, H-P fought and won a duel against a certain Count Strabomytes of Kardouk and became involved in something that is only recorded as "The Bazarov Affair". In 1766, William and Doroteja became parents for the first time when their son James was born, followed in 1767 by a daughter, Caroline.

In 1768, Sir Arthur Huntley-Palmer died and William and Doroteja returned to England, where they took up residence in Chewbury Manor, where they proceeded to raise a large family.

In 1771, Sir William was elected to Parliament in the Whig interest as Member for East Chewbury.

He died in 1801.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

More Bordurian infantry

Now, to continue my imagi-nations project, I am returning again to Borduria and back to the core troops for my Sharp Practice force.

Having already shown you the Freikorps Schtroumpf, it is now time to look at some Bordurian line infantry. Here are three groups of eight infantrymen, one NCO, one officer and a colour party representing the Krupski Fusilier Regiment;

As I have already said, Prussian influences were strong in Borduria in the mid-18th century, and in 1745 the Autocrat decreed that all Bordurian, as opposed to foreign, line infantry would henceforth be designated as Fusiliers and would therefore wear a Prussian-style fusilier cap.

The standard uniform for Bordurian line infantry was decreed to be, in the regulations of 1740, as;

 "a mid-green coat with buff or red small clothes, coat linings and facings in the distinctive regimental colour, white gaiters and white belts. Those regiments designated as fusiliers should wear a fusilier cap in the regimental colour and with a brass front plate. Other regiments will wear a black hat, with a white trimmed edge.

Officers of the rank of Kapetan and above should wear the same coloured coats, with white small clothes, an orange sash and a black hat, trimmed white. Officers may wear black leather top boots at their discretion."

These are all, as usual Essex Miniatures 15mm figures on Warbases bases and movement trays.

There were no grenadier companies attached to Bordurian regiments, although some of the foreign regiments in Bordurian service did have grenadier companies. Bordurian grenadiers were organised into two separate regiments, the Schtropov and Zlinkov Regiments. Neither of these ever distinguished themselves in battle and both were disbanded in 1763, following the disastrous Poletje Strele War.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Bordurian light infantry for Sharp Practice

In the years following the end of Ottoman rule there was a gradual westernisation of the forces available to Borduria. The first regiments raised were equipped with muskets and polearms after the style of Polish Drabants and were termed Hajduks. These were initially supplemented by locally-raised companies of soldier-peasants known as Militani. However, the limitations of these formations gradually became apparent and by 1730, western-style infantry regiments were replacing the traditional Hajduks. Eventually, most of the Hajduk regiments were converted to regular line infantry. However, three regiments of Hajduks were merged with the best of the Militani militia units, to serve as light infantry and skirmishers wearing western-style uniforms, in a role as Grenzer and Gendarmerie. In honour of their origins they retained their traditional title of Hajduks.

The troops shown here are from the Smederevka Regiment. There is a group of eight infantrymen, a group of six skirmishers, two NCOs and an officer.

In addition to the Hajduks, who had a number of limitations, not least a reputation for insubordination and a marked reluctance to serving outside of the regions where they were raised, the Bordurians soon recruited a number of Jäger Light Infantry regiments uniformed in the Prussian style that was the main influence on the Bordurian Army under the Autocrat Constantine II Cantacuzene. These regiments wore a fairly utilitarian grey uniform and were noted for their steadfastness, shooting ability and overall quality.

These troops are represented here by a group of eight Jägers, six Schützen (light infantry skirmishers), two NCOs and an officer, all from the Moznik Jäger Regiment.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

The Freikorps Schtroumpf

In a previous post, I wrote a short biography of Frans Schtroumpf, a Flemish nobleman who became a soldier of fortune and faithfully served the Autocrat of Borduria in numerous wars.

So, here are the troops who formed the two regiments of the Freikorps Schtroumpf, known as the Frajkorps Schtroumpf or Besplatno Korpus Schtroumpf in the two main dialects of Bordurian.

As previously discussed, the troops of the Freikorps Schtroumpf were uniformed in the Schtroumpf family's traditional colours of blue and white.

So, first, here are the famous Schtroumpf Hussars. Note that officers wear red breeches and yellow boots, and have a red band on their mirlitons whereas the troopers wear white breeches and sport a white band.

Secondly, here are the Schtroumpf Fusiliers.

Prussian-style fusilier caps were commonly worn by Bordurian line infantry regiments, as opposed to the tricorne hats worn by most foreign regiments in Bordurian service.

The Schtroumpf  infantrymen  were granted permission to wear caps following their bravery at the Battle of Zornik in 1753.

All figures are from the Essex Miniatures 15mm Prussian Seven Years' War range.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The last of my Syldavians

Well, I've now finished off my Syldavian forces for my 18th century imagi-nations project, so here is the last set of figures, a group of regular Hussars, representing the Vranac Regiment;

The backstory for this regiment is as follows;

In the days when Syldavia was a vassal of the Sublime Porte the country was only permitted to have a small army. In addition to the Royal troops, the Prince-Archbishop of Smyntz was granted the right to have a personal guard consisting of two companies of foot and one of horse.

In the years following the end of Ottoman vassalage these companies were expanded to become two regiments of infantry and a regiment of cavalry, designated as Hussars, and wearing a traditional Syldavian version of the Hussar uniform.  When Prince-Archbishop Filip Balonyi was elevated to the rank of Cardinal, the Hussars adopted an all-red uniform. They were popularly known as the Crvene Kape (Red Hats) because they wore red felt kalpaks trimmed with white sheepskin. 

When the Cardinal's troops were absorbed into the Royal army as part of the 1748 military reorganisation, the Cardinal's Hussars were renamed as the Vranac Regiment, after their new commander, Ritter Egon Vranac and given a new grey uniform. As part of this, they adopted brown fur busbies with a red falling bag. Officers are distinguished by wearing red boots.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Frans Schtroumpf – Philhellene, romantic and soldier of fortune

Frans (François) Schtroumpf was born in Flanders in 1717, the youngest son of Louis, Count of Pirlouit, a small border county to the north of Alsace. A member of the imperial aristocracy, the Count owed his allegiance to the Spanish branch of the Habsburg family and was the lord of several estates in the Spanish Netherlands in addition to his ancestral lands. During the War of the Spanish Succession, these estates were occupied by the Anglo-Dutch army, only being returned to the Count on the cessation of hostilities.

Frans grew up in the County of Pirlouit, learning to hate the French, the English, the Dutch and the Austrian Habsburgs. He was educated by a number of professors, including the Greek scholar Theodore Bordiotes, who instilled a love of the glorious Greek past in the youthful Frans. As Count Louis fell into illness and dementia, Theodore became the legal guardian of Frans as well as his teacher and later the steward of his estates. On the death of his father in 1730, the title of Count of Pirlouit was inherited by Frans' elder brother, Philippe, with Frans inheriting the estate of Gegrildekaas in the Spanish Netherlands.

At the age of 15, Frans and Theodore travelled to Gegrildekaas and made the estate their home. Frans never returned to Pirlouit. At the age of 20, Frans and Theodore visited Constantinople and for three years travelled in some of the European lands that had previously been part of the Greek empire. Returning home, Frans developed a passionate love for the land where Theodore's family lived, a country which had only thrown off the Ottoman yoke some three decades previously. Vowing to return one day, Frans decided to dedicate his life to fighting against the Ottomans and freeing the Greek lands from the Ottomans.

In 1748, Frans decided to raise a regiment of cavalry from amongst expatriate Greeks and other philhellenes to travel to Borduria and offer his services to the Voivode, Constantine II. Initially, he travelled with a small number of similarly-minded young men, some more experienced soldiers of fortune and several Greek and Bordurian expatriates who he recruited as he passed through Italy and the Balkans. Treated harshly by the soldiers of the Syldavian king when he first tried to make landfall on the Syldavian coast, Frans found another nation to hate.

Eventually, in the winter of 1749, Frans and his small force of some 150 men arrived at the Court of Constantine in Szohôd, where he was presented to the Voivode, now styling himself as Basileus and Autokrator of the Bordurian Realms. He was given leave to raise a Freikorps by recruiting from among the peasantry and by the summer of 1750, his force had swelled to around 400 men, forming a Hussar regiment of four squadrons. Using his ancestral colours as the basis, this regiment was uniformed in blue and white. Sending recruiting agents north into the German states, Frans was also able to recruit around 450 men to form a regiment of foot, later known as the Schtroumpf Fusiliers. Together with the hussars, this force was known as the Frajkorps Schtroumpf. The actual business of training and command of the troops was given to an experienced mercenary, Georgios Skordeli, who Frans had met in the southern Bordurian city of Ugaljigrad where he was looking for a free company to join. Avaricious, hard-drinking and given over to violent mood swings and acts of cruelty, Skordeli nevertheless saw something in the young Flemish aristocrat that won him over and proved to be a loyal, if occasionally unpredictable appointment.

The Schtroumpf Freikorps was first used in combat in 1751, in a defensive action against the Ottomans in the south-eastern marches of Borduria. There was little work in the early stages of the campaign for the hussars, apart from some skirmishing along the valley of the River Snitz, but the infantry, under the command of Wouter Struwwelpeter, distinguished itself in the dogged defence of the town of Salinkari against a strong Ottoman force that included two regiments of Janissaries. Frans himself was present at this siege and saw action on the town walls, where he was wounded but fought well, rallying a company of his fusiliers and leading a charge that turned back a dangerous attack by Ottoman irregulars. Later in the same campaign, the Freikorps was involved in the capture of an Ottoman supply train and the routing of a column of infantry intending to capture the strategic bridge over the Snitz at Orhot, a town with a famous Orthodox monastery and basilica. After this action, the Freikorps adopted a flag featuring an Orthodox cross superimposed with the likeness of Saint Eudoxia of Orhot. At the end of the victorious campaign, the Freikorps returned to its quarters in Ugaljigrad and Frans, Wouter and Georgios travelled to Szohôd, where they were rewarded by being inducted into the Order of the Basilikoi Anthropoi. Frans was also given the title of Zupan of Ugaljigrad and Wouter and Georgios the titles of Kephale of Foot and Horse respectively.

In the winter of 1751, Frans returned to Flanders via Italy and Austria, recruiting replacement troops for his Freikorps en route. By the summer of 1752, Frans was again in Borduria and in July of that year was betrothed to Nastasia, eldest daughter of Baltasar Kokinos, Boyar of Slanina. They were married at Christmas of the same year. When campaigning restarted in the spring of 1753, the Freikorps was part of the army of Marshal Wilhelm von Schmodt, Landgraf of Blotten-Papen which was sent to ravage the Ottoman province to the south of Borduria.

The Freikorps was present at the victories of Iskander and Zornik but was not part of the disastrous siege of Miknik, where the Bordurian army was severely weakened by an outbreak of plague and forced to retreat in disarray. By this time, Frans and his troops were deployed in the west, harrying the Syldavians in the valley of the Mekava Potak and finding fame in the victory of Struca Gora, where the Schtroumpf Hussars led a crucial cavalry charge against the Syldavian right flank, causing an already weakened Pandur regiment to break and capturing 20 guns for the loss of a mere 25 troopers. This led to the rolling up of the Syldavian line and a Bordurian victory.

Frans returned from the wars in October 1753, hailed as a hero, to find himself a father of twin sons, baptised as George and Johannes.

The next few years saw the Freikorps Schtroumpf engaged in a series of campaigns along the border with Syldavia, along the valley of the River Mensodjrinje, which flows northwards out of Lake Poliszchov to join the larger River Djrinje, and, as part of a larger force, across the River Snezna into the Syldavian province of Polishov as far as the town of Tremens., where the Bordurians were defeated by a Syldavian army led by Generalmajor Ercole di Grissini, and which contained the Pivoklet regiment of Pandurs, whose Jäger company was at the time commanded by Hauptmann Wilhelm Tischdecke, later to become a celebrated Syldavian general.

Pukovnik (colonel) Schtroumpf was again in Flanders, dealing with business matters, during late 1756 and did not return to Bordurian service until August 1757. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier, with Podpukovnik (Lieutenant-colonel) Georgios Skordeli taking over command of the Freikorps. In 1758, on the battlefield death of Skordeli, the Freikorps was split into two separate entities, the Hussar regiment and the Fusilier one.

In 1760, Brigadier Schtroumpf was in action against the Ottomans once more, commanding the Light Cavalry brigade in the ill-fated First Cherna Reka campaign, with Schtoumpf's brigade active in protecting the retreating army from numerous attacks by Bashi-bazouks and Ottoman irregular cavalry. Promoted to General-Major in 1761, Schtroumpf commanded all cavalry forces in the so called Poletje Strele War, which lasted for a mere three months in July, August and September 1762 and which was ended by the crushing defeat of the Bordurian army at the Third Battle of Lake Pollishoff. Borduria's nemesis at this battle was Oberst Wilhelm Tischdecke, whose quick-thinking and bravery turned the tide of the battle, leading to the collapse of the central Bordurian infantry. Without a gallant and dogged fighting retreat by the Bordurian cavalry, the defeat would have been far worse. However, General Schtroumpf was unhorsed during the retreat and suffered the loss of an eye, plus several other wounds. He spent the next four years on his estates near the city of Ugaljigrad, writing his memoirs and watching his sons, and two younger daughters grow towards adulthood.

In 1767, Schtroumpf was once again in action against the Syldavians, again commanding the cavalry in yet another invasion of the Syldavian province of Polishov. Once again, he distinguished himself in combat and this time ending the campaign on the winning side when King Ottokar IX agreed to Bordurian demands to cede control of the Djrinje river trade to Borduria, to prevent the rampaging Bordurian army from laying siege to the Syldavian capital, Klow.

In recognition of his service to the Crown, Autokrator Constantine II granted Schtroumpf the title of Guardian of the Western Rivers, which carried the right to levy customs on the river trade, and elevated him to the rank of Boyar. In 1769, Schtroumpf was made ambassador to the Court of Catherine the Great. He remained in St Petersburg with his wife and children for three years. On his return to Borduria, he took up the post of Primarna Komandant Konjice, or Primary Commander of Cavalry. In September 1773, Frans Schtroumpf fell ill with a fever, which spread rapidly and within a few weeks he succumbed to his illness.

He was given a state funeral and was buried with full military honours in the Basilica of Saint Eudoxia of Orhot in Ugaljigrad. His two sons followed him into military service. George was killed in 1775, fighting against the Ottomans but Johannes survived to become a general under the successor to Constantine II, his grandson Alexander I Cantacuzene.

Frans is remembered in Borduria to this day as "The Flemish Xenophon".

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

More Syldavians, plus a few ACW support options for SP

Of course, Syldavia needs some more cavalry and here are some from the traditional wild irregular light horse, the kind of troopers of whom Captain Sir William Huntley-Palmer wrote when he recorded that “the regiments of light Horse are impetuous, difficult to restrain and prone to looting”.

These are irregular hussars who were originally raised as scouts for the companies of Pandurs who guarded the borders of Syldavia before the army was modernised in the years after 1687. They are classed under Sharp Practice rules as "irregular cavalry". Their uniforms are based on traditional Syldavian dress, although, as you can see, the uniforms of their officers are of the same cut as those of regular hussars.

I've also finished some more mounted and foot leaders. I have some specific ideas about what I can use some of these for. For example, the foot officer in dark green with orange facings on the right of the photo will most likely serve as the leader of an engineering party, once I've found the right figures for that. The bugler in the yellow hussar uniform will serve as a Musician support option for the Syldavians. As for the others, all will be revealed in due course.

Finally, I've created some Holy Men and Physics for my American Civil War armies. These figures are Peter Pig ones.

From left to right, we have; a Confederate Physic (a figure from the Wild West range with a medical bag added), a Confederate preacher (who I see as coming from one of those fundamentalist snake-handling backwoods Baptist sects), a Union sawbones as their Physic (again from the Wild West range, he was originally a bar-tender leaning on a broom, which I cut away and replaced with a scary medical instrument, actually a cleaver cut from a woman figure from the Pirates range), who I rather like in his blood-stained apron, and finally a Union religious officer who I see as being a real fire-and-brimstone Protestant pastor from a New England town with a tradition of witch trials. 

Both the holy men come from the Peter Pig ACW set 65. "Infantry reading".