Thursday 24 November 2022

“Finland , Finland, Finland, the country where I quite want to be…”

 This post looks at the latest unit for my Swedish 1620s/30s army; a unit of Finnish horse, the famed ‘Hackapells’. 

Finnish Horse (the ‘Hackapells’) - 28mm cavalry from 1st Corps Miniatures 

In this period Finland was part of the Swedish Kingdom and so the various Finnish regions provided units of horse to the national army, just as they did in Sweden itself. Although not recruited and equipped differently by design to any other of the Swedish horse, the Finns gained a reputation at the time for: ferocity, scouting, and having an air of Eastern exoticism. 

Their period nickname of ‘Hackapells’ (or perhaps ‘Hakkapeliitat’ in Finnish) referred to their battle cry of “hakkaa päälle!” or “cut them down!” that, no doubt, led to their ferocious reputation.  They often seem to have been used to clear away enemy light horse, such as the Croats, when fighting in Germany, and also to have been used in the role as scouts being Gustav Adolph’s “best Cavallerie for Discoverie”.

As with all of the Swedish horse, it is difficult to be precise about exactly how a particular unit was equipped. We know that in general Swedish horse were often short of armour, and that the Finnish units were from poorer areas of the Kingdom, so I thought a unit equipped only in ‘riding coats’ would work for the Fins. I have seen some suggestion that they wore morion type helmets but I preferred the classic look of the broad brimmed hat, also used in the picture in the Osprey ‘The Army of Gustavus Adolphus (2) - Cavalry’ by Richard Brzezinski.

To represent the Finnish cavalry I have used a set of figures from 1st Corps Miniatures.  (  1st Corps are a long established UK manufacturer of metal figures in 28mm covering an extensive range of periods, including ECW and TYW ranges.  At a recent-ish demo game I was asked if I’d used any 1st Corps figures and I had to admit that I had not, although I’m not sure why (hi to James from Shakos and Sprues!).  I thought this was a good prompt and so when looking for cavalry figures I decided to have a good look through the 1st Corps ranges.  

1st Corps do figures in packs of three but also have ‘unit’ deals for units of 12 figures, which is perfect for my cavalry units. In their ECW range they had a nice set of cavalry with no armour, with soft hats, on galloping horses, and with their sword arms very much suggesting they are keen to cut down the enemy. These seemed perfect for Finnish horse.

The 1st Corps figures are classic metal 28mm figures and needed the typical amount of clean up for figures of this type. The troopers and officer have separate sword hands which have a neat way of attaching to the figures’ arms, and allow a nice amount of variety in how the resulting figures look.  The figures have nice ‘chunky’ details that were easy to paint.  I did do a couple of minor conversions.  I added a ‘Swedish cavalry’ head from Warlord to the officer, and changed the Trumpeter’s montero hat for a broad brimmed hat.   The striking orange coats were again inspired by the Osprey book. 

I couldn’t find flags, known for certain, for the Finnish horse in this period, and so I used a Swedish cavalry cornet from ‘Mikhail Betskii Creation’ that I liked the look of.  1st Corps also do casualties (horses and unhorsed riders) so I was happy to add another ‘wound marker’ base to the collection.  The MDF base is from Charlie Foxtrot.

Next on the painting table I’m looking to try my hand at some resin buildings, which is an interesting change from figures, and the remainder of the Yellow Regiment are also looking at me impatiently from the lead mountain of opportunity! 

Until next time, 

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig (FoGH)


Wednesday 16 November 2022

Salute 50 - Planning For A Major Project Milestone

I find that it really helps my projects to have a target date for them to aim at, and what could be a better target than taking the project to one of the UKs biggest shows.

The 22nd April 2023 will be the 50th Salute show put on by the South London Warlords. As it has been for the last few years, Salute will be held at the ExCeL Centre in the heart of London’s docklands. The Friends of General Haig will be putting on two demo games. One will be my 1627 Dirschau / Tczew game, in 28mm, pitting Gustav Adolph’s Swedes against Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski’s Poles & Lithuanians. The other game will be a Modern 15mm game set in the Middle East (more details to come later!).

Tickets for the show are up for sale here:

Massed Polish cavalry.

Any followers of the blog will be aware that I have been working on the armies for the 1627 Dirschau / Tczew game for a couple of years already, so not too much more to do on the figures. I’m expecting to finish the Swedish army this year, and then complete the Poles, with a crescendo of Hussars, in the New Year. 

Swedish infantry under attack.

Plans for the terrain are also underway.  Here is an outline of the terrain requirements:

  • The overall battlefield will be based on a new fur mat that I am making. The basic shape of 12’ x 6’ is now stuck together, and there is some shaving and painting left to do. 
  • At one end of the battlefield will be the edge of the walled town of Dirschau / Tczew, further defended by earthworks that also encompass the Swedish camp.   The town and earthworks will be using resin models that need to be painted.
  • At the other end of the battle field there will be an earthwork fortified camp for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army.  More resin earthworks along with ‘camp clutter’ required here.
  • There will be two small villages to be added, and also a large area of marsh to be worked out.

Working out terrain placement.
The tricky job of connecting length of fur together. 

As you can see, plenty to keep me busy!  I will continue to provide updates here as the project progresses. 

Until next time!

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig (FoGH)


Wednesday 9 November 2022

Life Guard On Duty

This post covers the latest addition to my Yellow Regiment in Gustav II Adolph’s 17th century Swedish army.

The Life Guard Company - 28mm figures from TAG, Avanpost, Brigade Games and Warlord.

The observant will have spotted that these figures are in grey and not yellow. These figures represent the ‘Drabant’ or ‘Life’ Guard company that were typically brigaded with the Household or ‘Yellow’ regiment. The Life Guard company was the most senior unit in the Swedish army and was always enlisted.  It was the king’s personal guard and so accompanied him where ever he went, including on campaign. While on campaign they would fight in battles alongside the Household (or ‘Yellow’) regiment.

Musketeers and ‘Pikemen’ from TAG

Joining the Life Guard was considered extremely prestigious and it had a high percentage of Swedish nobles and former officers amongst its ranks.  It formed a sort of cadre for the Swedish officer corps with some officers, waiting for appointments, sometimes serving in the Life Guard until a suitable position became available.

While The Life Guard performed ceremonial duties, they were also expected to be effective combat troops, and so were equipped and trained like other Swedish infantry companies; with muskets and pikes. They were uniformed at the King’s cost. As befitted their status, the Life Guard were more richly clothed than other units. Although there is a lot of documentation still available that covers the costs of their uniform, there is very little precise information about exactly how they appeared.

From what I have been able to find out they were equipped with grey clothing in 1622, and had grey cassocks, decorated with silver lace, by 1628.  I have therefore chosen to have my Life Guard in the same style of uniform as the Yellow Regiment, but in grey, and I’ve added some flourishes, like buttons, in silver grey.  The pikemen at some point were equipped with buff coats.  I have chosen to keep them in armour, as this is what the TAG cassock uniformed pikemen are wearing.  I have shown the officers with buff coats under their cassocks.  The pikemen used partizans when on ceremonial duties, and pikes when on the battlefield, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to have the partizans! 

As a relatively small formation I am just representing the Life Guard as a couple of bases, that will form part of the overall Yellow Regiment.  I expect it will be easy to not even notice them amongst the swathes of yellow, but it is the sort of detailed touch that, for me, makes the overall unit fun to collect. 

Command base with Avanpost ensigns and drummer, and officer from Brigade Games

The pike and musket base use the Swedish cassock uniformed figures from The Assault Group (TAG) range.  I also included a command base so that I could have the Life Guard colours produced by Flags of War.  I wanted some suitable officer looking figures and found some in the pile of opportunity that had suitable cassock-like clothing.  The officer, the captain-lieutenant as Gustav himself was considered the captain of the company, is from Brigade Games, and the two ensigns and drummer figures are from Avanpost Miniatures.  I have shown the drummer in a black uniform with yellow trim as these were the colours of Gustav Adolph’s family heraldry.  Musicians are supposed to have fancy uniforms for ceremonial occasions in these colours, but they probably didn’t were them on campaign.  Once again I’ve gone with the pretty option over the more likely! 

Flags from Flags of War

Finally I needed a casualty marker for the Drabants. This one comes from the Warlord Pike & Shotte range.

Casualty figure from Warlord, and counter base from Warbases.

Next on the painting table are some of the Swedes northern brethren, the Fins, and a first for me. 

Until next time!

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig