Saturday, August 23, 2008


It’s honking…

Here are my first set of Wild Geese, in this case the first battalion of the Irish Regiment of Irlanda. I have not painted a 25mm unit in red before but I must say that I am very happy with the wat that these have turned out.

The unit was part of the first draft sent to Italy which landed at Ortobello in 1741. Irlanda boasted 1,037 men on disembarkation and, along with the Walloon and Swiss, the desertion rate remained fairly low. Conversely the Italian and Spanish units suffered terribly from this, as presumably the men could slip into the civilian population far easier.

How many of the men were actually first generation Irish is hard to say. Certainly of the officers I would have anticipated a high number of Catholic Gentry, denied service in the British army due to their religion, looking to exercise their traditional employment elsewhere. You can find Irish officers serving in Europe in virtually all armies, but clearly France and Austria soaked up many.

But of the rank and file things are far muddier. Although there was no real bar to service placed by the Brits, there were lots of people fishing in the Irish labour pool. For a start there was British army recruitment, they were on the ground and closer. The French, too, had several Irish units on establishment so the Spanish did face considerable competition. I cannot imagine anything more than a small minority of Irish peasantry fired by anti-British feeling to serve with the Bourbons, so I suspect it came down to bounties.

Of course there were second-generation Irish in Spain, scions of the original Wild Geese of the old Pretender, yet there were far less of these in Spain than there were in France. On top of these ‘Irish’ you could add British deserters/prisoners who enlisted during the WAS, but the beneficiary from these can only have been regiment Ultonia (which was not in Savoy either, so was it before Gibraltar?), but Irlanda and Hibernia, isolated in Italy, could not possibly have had this as a source.

So, what? A rag-bag of Germans, Swiss, French and whoever else could be swept up to join some second-generation Irish and whoever the recruiters managed to inveigle into the ranks from Ireland proper.

In terms of painting, well, the red is actually Revell’s Karminrot, with the Blue coming from a navy blue provided by my local art shop, the gaiter colour being Revell Beige and the leatherwork being Revell Braun. It is actually a pleasure to paint something where white is a very small part of the whole, unlike Napoleonics where white breeches and crossbelting are very much the norm.

Next on the stocks are the second battalions of the Lombardia Regiment and the Sardinian Swiss Regiment Diesbach. Also up are some proper Spanish battalion pieces, so pics of them shortly. In the meantime I dedicate this unit to WildGeese on TMP.



Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Nice regiment... how did their real life counterparts perform on the battlefield, and where???

Capt Bill said...

Handsome lads all!

John Chisholm said...


They were in Italy as part of Lt General Count Gages army at Camposanto in 1743, and did very well indeed at Velletri a year later.