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.