The small German Duchy of Brunswick had close connections with Prussia in the early 19th century, and when Prussia declared war on Napoleon in 1806, Brunswick followed. The resulting defeat at Jena led to Napoleon dissolving the duchy entirely, and the duke went to Austria where he raised new troops to continue the struggle, clothing them in black and with a skull-and-crossbones badge as a symbol of his desire for revenge on Napoleon. This little army included infantry and a regiment of hussars, which incorporated one squadron of lance-armed uhlans, but when Austria sued for peace in 1809 the duke took it by ship to Britain, where it was taken into British service. For the hussars that meant being shipped to the east coast of Spain in 1813, where they saw limited action, as well as in Sicily. Meanwhile in 1814 the duchy had been restored and the Duke raised a new national army, again including hussars and a squadron of uhlans. This force was immediately offered to the British when Napoleon returned to France in 1815, and saw action at Waterloo and particularly at Quatre Bras.
This set contains three basic hussar figures plus one uhlan figure - a reasonable strategy given how few uhlans ever existed. We will look at each type separately, starting with the hussars.
As might be guessed given our introduction, the hussars in this set date to the period from 1809 because of the uniform and the death’s head badge on the shako. The uniform is the usual hussar style, with dolman and breeches tucked into hussar boots, and a shako with falling plume and the aforementioned badge. When this unit was first raised in 1809 they wore no pelisse, and were only given them when they entered British service, so presumably wore them during their time in eastern Spain and Sicily. When Brunswick rebuilt its new national army in 1814 the hussars were all new recruits (the originals still being in British pay) and they were given the original 1809 uniform, so again, no pelisse. As a result these men, who all wear the pelisse, are only suitable for the period 1810 to 1814, but are entirely accurately done.
Only three poses would be better than nothing but still not great, but HaT have made the most of them with the extra arms pictured. The first two poses are both fine (although we would suggest you cut the sword away from the plume on the second man), and the third pose has the choice of right arms holding a sword, carbine or trumpet. The sword arm only fits really well in the semi-raised position, but it would be easy to make other positions work well too. The carbine is fine and the trumpet can be positioned to the lips, which makes a much better trumpeter pose than is usual. Also worthy of note is that the trumpet arm correctly has the swallow’s wing on the shoulder. The expanded choice of poses is appreciated, and all are very natural, so while relatively few they are all good.
Moving on to the uhlan, as we have said there was a single squadron of these men initially formed, and it seems these were disbanded or changed into hussars before being shipped to the Mediterranean, as only hussars were sent. With the newly raised national army in 1814 a brand new unit of uhlans - still just one squadron large - was created and attached to the hussars. Their uniform at inception followed the fashionable Polish example with the Czapka helmet and kurtka tunic, and while the colour changed following the resurrection in 1814 the basic style did not, so this figure is suitable for both the campaign of 1809 and the Hundred Days campaign that ended at Waterloo, since it is entirely accurate.
To make the most of the single pose, HaT have again supplied a choice of arms - one with a straight elbow and one with it bent. Between them, varying the angle at the shoulder, you can get a good number of reasonable poses, particularly one with the lance held upright and one with the lance lowered as if in action.
The two horse poses included in the set are in reasonable poses and both have the same saddle furniture. This is something of a compromise, since uhlans had the pointed shabraque without the sheepskin cover, and sources are divided on whether the hussars had the shabraque and sheepskin or just the sheepskin. HaT could have provided one horse in four missing the sheepskin, but otherwise the horses are fine.
The sculpting is pretty reasonable, although finer details like the death’s head badge itself are vague, but the braiding on the hussars is fairly good. There is no flash anywhere, and the separate arms fit surprisingly well given the relatively soft plastic used, although gluing is still recommended. The men sit on their horses effortlessly - we would expect nothing less from HaT - and if the finest detail is a bit off, the general proportions are very good so these figures look great arrayed on the table top.
We liked this set, and in particular the separate arms to allow more variety, while everything is historically accurate, which is always very important in our eyes. Since the hussars are only suitable for British service in the Med there is actually no time period when both these hussars and the uhlan would have served together, which is something of a surprise, and if it had been us we would have left the pelisse off all the hussars, making them suitable for both 1809 and the Waterloo campaign, where they were particularly important at the battle of Quatre Bras. However the uhlans are suitable for 1815, and while only around 235 of them were on the field of battle that day, they were the sole lancers under Wellington’s command.