Wednesday, 24 June 2015
GNW – Östgöta Infanteriregemente
For our club project on the Great Northern War (1700–1721), I have painted up a unit of Swedish infantry – the Östgöta Infanteriregemente (the Östergötland Infantry Regiment). The regiment took part in several battles in the war, most notably Holowczyn in 1708 and the disastrous Poltava in 1709. It was perhaps not the most glorious or outstanding regiment in the Swedish army, but as Östergötland is the province where I was born and grew up, I thought it would be fun to have a personal connection (however small) to the unit I choose.
The Swedish soldiers of this time was known as "karoliner" (Caroleans). The name derives from the latinised version of the name Karl (Charles) the name of the two Swedish kings, Karl XI and his son Karl XII, who reformed the Swedish army during their reigns.
The Swedish battlefield tactics of this time were highly aggressive, partly in an attempt to make up for the relative small size of the army. Under the orders "Gå på!" ("Go on!"), the soldiers would march right up to within 50 meters of the enemy, in the face of heavy fire, before unloading their own salvoes and then charging in with bayonets, rapiers and pikes. Add to this equally aggressive cavalry charges where rapiers were used in the charge instead of firearms, and heavy artillery fire, and you have a fearsome death machine indeed.
Such fearless – or death-defying! – tactics naturally counted on the troops being highly disciplined. The soldiers were heavily supervised, both at home and in the field. Religion played a pivotal role in both controlling the men and boosting morale. Punishment for any type of religious offence was harsh, often death. As the idea of a common nation was still some time in the future, the religion also served as a unifying factor for the army as a whole. Priests were naturally following the army when on campaigns, and would often be right up at the front.
These models, as well as the flags, are from the excellent Warefare Miniatures GNW range. The sculpts are somewhat slimmer, more anatomically correct perhaps, than the "chunky" style I'm used to. At first, I must admit, I found the delicate sculpts and fine details a bit of challenge, but I persevered and in the end I'm pretty happy with the result.
The regiment wears the standard uniform ("enhetsuniformen") but has blue and yellow rims on their tricornes, normally they would be white. I have seen conflicting information about this detail, but thought the blue and yellow rims looked good so I went with it. According to several sources, their scarves would be red but as you can't see any scarves on these models you just have use your imagination ...
As for the uniforms of the officers and drummer, I painted these with the same colours as the rest of the soldiers. I don't know if this is correct, but there you go.
Originally, I had planned to paint up the unit for the club's demo game at the LinCon gaming convention in May. However, the delivery of the miniatures was delayed a couple of months and I didn't get them until late April. Being a slow painter, this meant I didn't finish the unit in time. As the club is now gearing up for a whole GNW campaign, maybe I will get another chance to field them.
Thank you very much for reading.