Friday, 27 March 2009

SYW - The campaign 'look'

I'm sure most of you have seen this illustration before but I think its worth re-showing because it portrays Prussian IR 27 (Asseburg) on the march to the Battle of Custrin. In 1758 a Russian army roved through Brandenburg sacking several cities. On August 15 they laid siege to the town of Custrin (modern Kostrzyn) in Poland. The siege lasted for ten days, being lifted only when a Prussian army led by Frederick the Great engaged the Russians and defeated them in a very costly battle.

There are a number of interesting observations in this illustration.
1) The campaign look of the troops. The officer looks 'regulation' but the rank and file marching behind him look very worn out. I have tended to think of SYW soldiers as pristine, with leather whitened and everything just right, whereas the campaign reality was probably quite different. Note that some of them are either not wearing gaiters or are wearing white ones.
2) The size of the musket is worth pointing out. Most manufacturers of SYW figures
don't make a large enough musket.
3) The Officer is carrying his spontoon point down.

I have no idea who the artist was or when it was painted. But I think he or she has
brilliantly caught the feeling for the period - a hot August day (from the shadows cast the sun is at or close to its strongest), crops uncut, and tired and thirsty troops, with the prospect, perhaps, of many miles of marching ahead.

I wish a manufacturer of miniatures made figures like these.


  1. Hear, hear... what a brilliant picture... the artist has given them a real feeling of pace as well - it looks like they're in a hurry... notice the unit in line to their right? Wonder if this is a battlefield advance as opposed to just advancing on campaign?

  2. Elite Miniatures SYW Prussian copy most of the poses shown in this picture. The artist was Karl Rochling, who is noted for his famous picture of the attack on the Leuthen churchyard. He also painted ACW pictures (Meade's attack at Fredericksburg is one that comes to mind.).

  3. Friedrich Wilhelm Miesen28 March 2009 at 17:04

    There is indeed a Manufacturer of Figures who produces them in 54mm scale.
    It is the german Manufacturer "M├╝ritz Miniaturen" (can be easily found via Google).
    These Figures are nicely detailed and a real joy to paint.
    They can be bought directly from the Manufacturer ( or from "Berliner Zinnfiguren" (
    Kind regards
    Friedrich Wilhelm Miesen

  4. Hi Nigel

    An interesting blog as usual.

    A couple of points that may be of interest. This campaign was in high summer, so any removal of gaiters etc on the march would have been welcome relief. One Prussian claimed steam came out when he opened his jacket.

    In response to Steve's query the Prussians did march very rapidly. Bit like our modern marine's yomping perhaps. If you compare the Prussian march rates to other nations it shows how Frederick gained a strategic initiative whenever possible by rapid movement.