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


  1. Thank you. As there is so little about what they wore it's wonderful to read about your choices which make such an effective as well as plausible appearance. The colours carried are great too. I think your licence in terms of weapons, the drummer etc are the right choices and give the unit some help in getting them to stand out to those with eyes to see. A great post.

  2. Splendid work, as usual. For 1620s you can use them in slightly different set up though. In 1626, when Swedish army landed in Prussia, there was Gardenskvadron (Guard squadron), composed of four companies, with total of 719 men – it took part in the battle of Gniew (Mewe). It had rather unusual structure:
    - Original (old) drabant company under Johan Jakob Wildeisen – 177 men
    - New drabant company (know also as ‘blue coats’) – 139 men
    - German infantry company under Enoch Flotow – 250 men (composed of former garrison of Malbork/Marienburg that switched sides after Malbork was captured by Swedes)
    - Swedish infantry company of Hans Örten from Lars Kagge’s regiment (Jönköping regemente) – 147 men
    It gives interesting base for mixing different infantry units. By the time of the battle of Tczew (Dirschau) in 1627, squadron was no longer in service and only single drabant company (158 men) was operational.

    1. Many thanks, Michal 👍. That is great info, and will make a really interesting unit for Gniew/Mewe. Quite a mixture of troops in that Squadron, between the ‘elite’ Drabant companies, and troops who had recently changed sides! Interesting that the ‘new drabant company’ were known as the blue coats.

    2. Yeah, it was odd mix, as squadron was initially just two drabant companies. German company was added as this new unit couldn't be attached to any other units. Örten's company was added ad hoc, as rest of their regiment was spread out between different garrison forces.

  3. Great looking little unit. I like the light grey cassocks and hats. I paint most of my hats brown or black; I will have to add a few light grey ones for variety.

    1. Many thanks, Codsticker! I think I read somewhere that the Swedes liked a light grey hat and so I’ve perhaps gone a bit overboard on them, but it gives them a distinctive look 😀.

  4. Doffs cap. Those are lovely. Every so often I am a little jealous of those of you who have 28s (as opposed to the one true way of 15. 😉) as you can really show off. Great use of colour - I particularly like the blue-grey of the coats.

    1. Many thanks, Radar 👍. Tempting, isn’t it 😆. I really like that grey as well and I am having to try and not use it on every figure at the moment! (Vallejo French Mirage Blue.)