The History

The year is 1914, the place is the Ardennes.  Thousands upon thousands of men are about to throw themselves passionately, patriotically, and most of all, violently into what will become known as the Battle of the Frontiers.  Blazing with patriotic fever these Frenchmen will embody the spirit of Elan and try and prove the validity of French military strategy.  More than that, these men will desperately try to prove to the world that they are worthy of Napoleon’s legacy and that their sun has not yet been eclipsed by the rising power of the German Empire.

Instead of proving their worth and finding glory, the men of the French nation will have a shocking and brutal awakening; while they were holding onto old glories, the rest of the world was moving past them.  With more modern uniforms, tactics, and equipment the German Empire would force the French to rapidly adapt or succumb to what appeared to be the unstoppable mass that was the German Army.

Since a young age I have had a passing interest in WWI.  When I first heard about the war in my childhood it was a conflict that was shrouded in mystery.  Always, it would seem, being overshadowed by the conflict that followed.  It wasn’t until the end of High School that my Father recommended I read The Guns of August.  This masterpiece of historical literature presents the first ninety days of WWI in an entertaining and easily digestible format and to this day remains one of my favorite books.  Furthermore, I do not hesitate to recommend this book to those around me when they are looking for a good read.  Unlike the rest of the war, the first ninety days of WWI were incredibly dynamic and contained a number of incidents that make you believe the phrase, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”  So as I now turn to share with you one of my latest projects, I would not be doing it justice if I did not credit The Guns of August with some of the inspiration behind this army.

The Hobby

What I present to you today is my Early War WWI French Army.  I built this army in anticipation for the inaugural Blood & Valor Tournament at Adepticon 2020.  Alas, that event was canceled as with most others in the last few months, but even though I didn’t get a chance to get them on the table, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t left with a wonderful army.  So without further ado, I hope you enjoy this gallery of photos and accompanying notes showcasing my work.

Figure 1: Here is an overall shot of the army as it stands today.  In the front is my Command squad, behind them are the two ten man squads of infantry, and following them are five NCO’s and two HMG squads.  Behind all of that there is my 10 man squad of Senegalese Tirailleurs and behind them are my dismounted and mounted French Cavalry.
Figure 2: Here is a shot of the Officer squad.  This is actually a command squad from Wargames Foundry’s Franco-Prussian War Line.  I thought these miniatures had a bit more character than any other WWI Officer miniatures I could find, and considering the uniforms really didn’t change between the two wars I think they fit right in!
Figure 3: And here is a close up on the main officer!  Please forgive the lack of a flag on the Color Sergeant!
Figure 4: Here is a shot of the NCOs.  These minis, the infantry squads, and the HMGs all came from a company called Ebor Miniatures.  While not as detailed as other manufactures the sculpts are solid and go for a good price, if I need more infantry in the future I won’t hesitate to buy from them again.
Figure 5: Here is the first HMG team, these also came from Ebor Miniatures.
Figure 6: Here is the second HMG team.  A quick note on the bases, they were made by taking a Warlord Games base, gluing on the minis then smearing the whole base with Spackle, and, on a few bases, pushing in some small rocks.  Once the Spackle had cured overnight, it was a simple matter of slapping on a base coat of brown, some highlights, and a wash to complete them. 
Figure 7: Here is the overall shot of the French Cavalry.  These, like the officers, came from the Franco-Prussian war line from Wargames Foundry.
Figure 8: Close up of the Officer and musician.
Figure 9: A snapshot of some of the rank & file cavalry.
Figure 10: A close up of the dismounted cavalry.  
Figure 11: My fierce Senegalese Tirailleurs!  Courtesy of Warlord Games
Figure 12: Close up of the Sengalese.
Figure 13: Last but not least, here comes the line infantry! Red pants and all!
Figure 14: Another shot of the infantry squads.
Figure 15:  A zoomed out shot of one entire squad
Figure 16: Another zoomed out shot of the second squad.

I hope you have found some enjoyment, or, better yet, inspiration from this visual tour!  It has been a blast painting these guys up.  Looking to the future, there are a few things I would like to add to the army including a few WWI French tanks.  Besides playing Blood & Valor, I fully intend to flesh this army out so I can play with them in games of Bolt Action.  

Until we meet again, happy hobbying and Carthago delenda est.