I love Marie-Louise
Yes its true. I love Marie-Louise of Austria* (see note at end for the asterisk), or rather the infantry named after her. The Marie-Louises were raised in response to an edict by the Empress to replace the severe losses after the disastrous 1812 Russian campaign.
A number of people have asked me about this strange interest. Why???
… why would you choose Marie-Louises when you have such elite units as the Old Imperial Guard or Chasseurs or Genie de la Guarde - these, they say, are far more interesting surely? Ah, but that’s the trick, that’s what everyone else tends to go for, the ‘uber’ units. The challenge is, if we are being honest and want to realistically represent the French army of the time, then the ‘uber’ units won’t usually be seen (ok, apart from the counterattack of the Imperial Guard at Ligny). France had been defeated in 1814 and its empire of alliances dissolved. While not typical, the Marie-Louise replacements are fairly representative of the poor state of some of the French forces in the period 1813-15. So I simply had to have a unit or three - they are easy to paint too.
Until the advent of the Warlord greatcoated 1812-15 French infantry, I was reliant on the Perry sets. These provided five variants in body plus an excellent selection of heads to use. The Warlord French are a godsend to converters like me.
Now with the spare Perry heads I can create several more variations on the Marie Louise soldier.
The Marie Louise was poorly equipped, typically in civilian clothes, given only the most basic equipment of a greatcoat, musket and bonnet. Now of course, these replacements would probably have been shared out to line units, so the concept of a whole unit of them isn’t quite right (although I’m no expert). They aren’t quite like the Prussian Landwehr, so should be mixed in with regular regiments. However, like all wargamers, I can’t resist grouping them all together into one unit and then treating that unit as poorer than the standard French Line.
Now I’m not ‘Christy standard’ when it comes to painting. My painting is admittedly quick, rough-and-ready, but I’m working on my technique and will try to use lighter ink shades on the lighter colours in future. My success or failure on that front will probably provide the material for another article! I didn’t waste the heads I cut off the Perry bodies either, they came in handy for adding to more Warlord greatcoat bodies for even more variety to my units.
I’ve played the Marie-Louises in several games now and they have to my surprise performed very well, so much in fact that my Prussian opponent James would rather fight my regular line than face the ‘dreaded’ Marie-Louises - who seem to have a luck all of their own and stubbornly reamain on table despite the odds.
* My girlfriend reads my blog. Not really Emma! x