By Rob Morgan
This photo is of a 54mm-scale model I bought recently in The Works bargain bookshop locally. The same model and a half dozen others, Napoleonic Polish and French cavalrymen, are to be found in the hundred or so UK branches. The models are two-part, all metal, rider and mount separate, but fitting together neatly and well. I’m not a Napoleonic wargamer, well, not ashore anyway, but the remarkable price of the figures — just a pound each — merits them having a space on the shelf.
The models are Russian and seem to be part of a large series, like the Del Prado figures in the EU a few years back. My Russian’s good enough to translate Murat’s notes on the base and there’s a longer version on the blister pack in which the model’s packed.
However, there are no comments on this remarkable uniform: plumed black hat, ornate, almost Renaissance, frock coat, and very unusual trousers. The horse sports a tiger skin and that’s about it. Now, Boney’s marshals, a pretty eccentric bunch, often wore magnifique outfits on parade and in battle, but this one’s a new version on me. I wondered if it was hunting garb? Or a uniform directly related to Naples and its army (they wore white uniforms, I believe). I’ve made a few attempts to look up Murat, even using the Internet, but though some splendid stuff was worn by the short-lived monarch, nothing like this.
I’m not, of course, suggesting it’s wrong, all of the other models in the range are accurate. So what’s this gear?