Realizing that command figures be a much needed addition to my range of toy soldiers, I decided to sculpt a Highlander officer and a sergeant. British and French line infantry officers should follow at some future time…
Planning ahead, I started with sculpting a mannequin that I would use as a base for the masters of both the officer and the sergeant. To that purpose, I took one of my Highland musketeer castings and removed the haversack, the cartridge box, and the bayonet. In the process, I damaged the broadsword suspension belt and the sporran, which I had to sculpt anew. I also changed the position of the legs and that of the head.
I wanted both officer and sergeant to sport Scottish dirk and all-metal pistol, as shown in most period paintings and engravings. I sculpted separate masters for these items, as well as for an unsheathed broadsword and for an empty scabbard. I am particularly pleased with how the all-metal pistol came out, although it ended up slightly oversized (however, as it should be, it is definitely smaller than the cavalry pistol I had sculpted for my Hussars (see previous post here), and also used for my Maroon headman figure… (here).
I wanted my command figures to be posed in such a way as to allow them to be correctly placed next to the musketeers when deployed in closed ranks. I referred to a painting in the Black Watch Castle & Museum, Perth, showing the Highland regiment exercising on Glasgow Green, 1758 (see detail here). In this somewhat naïve but charming painting, a number of platoons, thirty-man strong and deployed three ranks deep, deliver volley fire in sequence. An officer armed with musket stands at the left of each platoon, and a sergeant with halberd at its right. I therefore had my officer slightly turn his head to his right side, and the sergeant to his left.
The officer is holding his basket-hilt broadsword in his right hand, while raising his left arm in a rather patronizing gesture of command. His rank is shown by the sash worn left-to-right across his chest, while his social standing is revealed by the laced cuffs of his shirt, the doe-skin gloves, and his elaborated coiffure – the gentleman’s own curled, powdered hair, or perhaps a wig.
In contrast, the sergeant’s overall look and hairstyle are more in line with that of the rank-and-file. In order to make him more readily distinguishable from his men, I gave him a halberd, although this cumbersome, obsolete weapon was often discarded and replaced with the more useful musket…
All in all, I am quite pleased with my two new Highlander command figures. Placed at the sides of a unit of musketeers, officer and sergeant look quite convincing. When simply paired together, they look as if the condescending officer were giving his orders to the sergeant, who respectfully receives them…
Darling, A., Weapons of the Highland regiments, Museum Restoration Service, 1998).
Scott, J.G., Scottish arms – Illustrated by pieces from the collection in Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum. Armi Antiche – Bollettino dell’Accademia di S. Marciano – Torino, 1963.