This set dates itself from 1805, and that year began with the Russian Army having 20 regiments of Jägers, ending it with two more. The following year saw another 10 such regiments added, and this light infantry made up almost a third of the total infantry in the Army. However foreign observers seem to have been unimpressed with the quality of Russian skirmishing, and the main focus of Russian tactics remained to simply push the enemy aside at the point of the bayonet. However by the Napoleonic period the difference between light infantry and ordinary musketeers was increasingly marginal anyway, and each could perform the other’s role to an extent. Nevertheless the Jägers had a distinctive appearance, so this is a logical extension to the RedBox Napoleonic range.
Given the way Russian Jägers normally operated, the poses for a set such as this would be no different to any ordinary musketeers, and that is largely what RedBox have supplied. We have plenty of figures in the act of loading or firing, although an advancing pose would have been good too. To our eye all the poses look natural and appropriate, although is usual the very difficult one of a man ramming down his cartridge is something of a compromise. There are just three ‘command’ figures, an NCO apparently leading his men forward, a hornist playing his instrument and a standing officer.
Although in a lighter shade of green during this period, the uniform of the Jäger was much the same as that of the musketeers. The coat with short tails and two rows of buttons down the front was identical, as were the breeches and boots, all of which are correctly done on these miniatures. A very distinctive feature was the hat, which by 1805 was an unusual design, something of a cross between a round hat and a shako, with a variable-width brim all the way round. The decoration on this headgear was the same as for the shako, and most of these figures wear this device, which has been modelled correctly. However two of the men (first in row one and last in row two) wear a conventional shako, which suggests they are either from the last year of the set’s claimed period (1808), when shakos replaced the hat, or else they are part of the Guard, which always wore the shako (however if used as Guard then the cockade should be removed).
All the men apart from the officer have the standard infantry equipment of cylindrical valise hung round the back, with rolled greatcoat and mess tin attached. Unlike the musketeers however, the Jägers had their cartridge pouch attached to the waist belt. In the early part of the period this was an unbadged, rather clumsy long affair that wrapped round the front and right side of the soldier, but was later replaced with a more practical pouch just at the front or held by a strap across the body. All the figures here have the older, longer model, which may well have still been used years after its official replacement.
Many sources tell you that only 12 chosen men plus NCOs in each company carried the rifled musket, while the rest carried the same range of ordinary smoothbore muskets as the rest of the infantry. However one source states this only happened from 1808, which would explain why most of the figures here carry the rifled weapon. This was of unusual design, with an octagonal barrel and a sliding patchbox on the stock, and it could have a sword bayonet fixed. However when fixed it could not be fired, so most of the time it was not fixed, which is why we see just one fixed here. Those with ordinary muskets had no such restriction of course, and one of those here does indeed have the bayonet fixed.
The NCO with his cane raised also carries the flintlock rifle and sword bayonet, but surprisingly has not been provided with a pouch of any sort, which seems unlikely. His dress and equipment is otherwise just like the men. The hornist has the usual musician's features, which were lace chevrons down the sleeves and on the cuffs (and on the hidden chest too), plus swallows nest ‘wings’ on the shoulders. He has no firearm but carries a full sword. The officer wears the same as the musketeer officers, a coat with long tails and no shoulder straps. Because he is light infantry we does not wear a gorget, but still has a sash round the belt, which is wrongly tied on the right here as in all the other RedBox sets. He carries an officer’s sword, and wears an ordinary bicorn hat with large plume. The pose is of him standing and pointing, apparently holding his gloves in his left hand.
We liked the sculpting on these figures very much. The detail is good and the general proportions natural, especially when compared to the chunkier style of the corresponding HaT Light Infantry set. We thought that the thickness of the rifled musket was a bit overdone here, and the hilt on some of the sheathed sword bayonets is poorly defined. The most obvious problem is with the horn, which is entirely missing its bell (the wide bit where the sound comes out). The box clearly shows this complete, so we do not know whether our examples were poorly formed, or all examples are missing this vital part of the instrument. There is a little flash, but most of the seams are clean, so not much tidying up to do.
Apart from the problems with the horn the sculpting is a strong feature of this set, and with useful poses these are appealing figures. Small inaccuracies do not significantly detract from the overall look, although the horn does look pretty silly like this. The small bases are a bit more precarious than we would have liked, but this is a better set than the old HaT one, though they should mix reasonably well together.