A Whole Imperial Battalion.

In my last post, I detailed how I was painting musketeers from the Mansfield Regiment (circa Vienna Campaign of 1683) for my Imperial army for By Fire and Sword. I’ve now completed a whole battalion, with four companies. Here they are in a standard post-Thirty Years’ War pike-and-shot formation, with pikemen in the center and squadrons of musketeers on the flanks. They are supported here by a regimental 3lb cannon. These are representative of Imperial-Habsburg infantry units who would fight in the War of the Holy League against both the Ottomans until the 1690s as well as Louis XIV of France and his wars of expansion. By the end of these conflicts, there would be drastic changes in the infantry’s equipment and appearance. The pikes would disappear, obsoleted by the socket bayonet. Infantry would adopt tricorns to replace the slouch hat and the flintlock fusil would see widespread adoption over the less reliable matchlock musket.

Infantry Battalion from the Mansfield Regiment, Habsburg Imperial army.

I simplified my painting process somewhat. I still prime in black, but I just use a base color and then a single but highly contrasted highlight on raised surfaces and edges. This saves the times from painting third highlights (which are not really perceptible in 15mm scale) or waiting for washes to dry without sacrificing visual quality or fidelity.

It is worth noting that for the actual period that By Fire and Sword (1648-1672) is set in, the Imperial infantry would have worn red uniforms as noted by a description by French diplomat Frischmann here:

“… there were about 5,000 infantrymen, all dressed in red cloth.”

Frieschmann was describing the forces of the anti-Swedish coalition in Denmark during the Second Northern War. A fuller version of his quote, including a description of Polish and Brandenburg units in addition to Imperial units, can be seen here. It is presumed that the Imperial army would have worn red uniforms in the 1663 war against the Turks. Additionally, there are artistic depictions of Imperial infantry in red as late as the 1676 Siege of Phillipsburg.

However, given that the Vienna Campaign took place only a little more than two decades after the Second Northern War, and that the pearl-gray/off-white color is strongly associated with the Habsburg army uniform (there are examples of Imperial regiments under Field Marshal Gallas adopting the color in 1645, partly as a cost saving measure as the color was essentially undyed wool), I chose pearl-gray as the uniform color for this time (1). I do have plans for an entire Imperial regiment in period appropriate red, however.

Make Ready!
Open Fire!

Up next on the painting list are some Swedish cavalry units that will serve for both the Thirty Years’ War and Second Northern War, followed by Imperial Croats.

1. Geoffrey Parker, ed., The Thirty Years’ War, 2nd ed., (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), 171-2; Vladimir Brnardic, Imperial Armies of the Thirty Years’ War (1): Infantry and Artillery (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2009), 37-8.


Painting Little History: Habsburg Musketeers from the Imperial Mansfeld Regiment, Vienna Campaign, 1683

“Here we think of nothing except military affairs. Last Monday the Dieppental battalion, 500 strong, was inspected by the imperial commissaries. Nine hundred horses and 169 wagons for the artillery, and 19 large anchors for warships, also arrived; while the same day, the foot marched out along the Tabor road to the suburbs, and went down the Danube next morning. On Tuesday 3 craft from Steyr came in, with 2,000 cannon-ball, and many thousands of smaller shot. Half of the Scherffenberg regiment (with 1,020 men) also arrived, and marched through the city … Today, half the Mansfeld regiment (again 1,020 men) were stationed outside the Burg-gate at 9 0’clock, when the Emperor went out of town to hunt; he took the opportunity to inspect them. They were well clad in grey, with blue facings …” – Observer in Vienna, April 22, 1683, quoted in John Stoyer, The Siege of Vienna: The Last Trial of Cross and Crescent (New York: Pegasus Books, 2006), 63.

I’ve recently been expanding my collection of Imperial units for the game By Fire and Sword. I’ve been working on completing at least two regiments of Holy Roman Empire infantry. The first will be painted as Imperial infantry for the Vienna campaign of 1683, while the second would be for Imperial infantry for the 1657-60 Northern War in red uniforms.

Given it is the more famous engagement, I decided to start with the troops from the later Vienna campaign. Using the first hand account of the uniform of the Mansfeld Regiment quoted in Stoyer’s book, I decided to use the Mansfeld regiment as an example unit.

I started by cleaning and preparing the miniatures. I then glued them with PVA glue to a couple of cheap old rulers to provide a base to hold while I painted. I then primed the miniatures with Games Workshop Chaos Black Primer spray. For the uniform coats, I base coated with Vallejo Model Color Basalt Grey. To add definition, I then went over with a coat of Games Workshop Nuln Oil shade. Then I highlighted with either Vallejo Model Color Sky Grey or Vallejo Game Color Ghost Grey. This gives a variety in color which reflects that uniform dyes weren’t quite so precise and that the coats would appear different shades due to natural wear and appearance. The cuffs and other visible facings were then painted with Vallejo Model Color Prussian Blue, shaded with Nuln Oil, and then highlighted with a Prussian Blue/White mix. Next painted were faces, hats, trousers and stockings, and shoes. This were of various colors, but I’ll give an example of each below.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Faces: Vallejo Game Color Beasty Brown Base, with a Beasty Brown/IWM Paints 77-705 Flesh mix as a first highlight, leaving only the lowest recesses not covered. To give definition, Games Workshop Reikland Fleshshade was shaded over the base layers. Then a final cheek/forehead highlight of pure IWM Flesh was used, sometimes mixed with white on the nose bridge and forehead.

Hats: I varied between gray, black, and brown hats of various shades to reflect that these would often be a multitude of colors. For a basic example, I mixed Basalt Grey with Vallejo Model Color Chocolate Brown to give a brown-gray tint as a base coat. I washed with Games Workshop Agrax Earthshade for definition, and then highlighted with a White/base color mix. Sometimes, I edge highlighted with a extreme white/base color mix to give a “pop” to the hat rims.

Trousers: For red trousers, I started with a Vallejo Model Color Red base coat, shaded with Games Workshop Carroburg Crimson shade. I then highlighted with Vallejo Model Color Scarlet.

The results of this process you can see below. They are finished, needing only to be varnished and based before they are tabletop ready.

KODAK Digital Still Camera