After Napoleon's disastrous campaign in Russia at the end of 1812, Prussia saw its chance to throw off the domination of France, and began mobilising its forces. On 17 March 1813, the An Mein Volk (‘To My People’) proclamation was published and sent throughout the country, explaining why Prussia had just declared war on France. On the same day the Landwehr was mobilised, whereby every man between 17 and 40 was liable to military service, and when there were insufficient volunteers men were conscripted by drawing lots. This massively increased the size of the Prussian Army (by about 120,000 in six months), although initially providing for so many new soldiers was very difficult. Naturally the quality was well below that of the regulars, but in time the Landwehr proved itself to be a very useful part of the state’s armed forces, and took part in many actions including the final showdown at Waterloo.
Out of necessity the Landwehr infantry uniform was simple, and so cheap, but presaged the simpler and more practical uniforms of a later age. There were many variations, particularly in headgear, but a common costume was a Litewka coat and a soft, (usually) peaked cap (the Schirmütze) with a cockade and the Landwehrkreuz (‘Landwehr Cross’). Breeches and boots or clogs (initially) were worn, often covered by trousers on campaign. This is the look used in several previous sets of Landwehr, and the same has been adopted for this set. Happily everything about this uniform is correctly done here, so not only are they accurate, but they mix well with Landwehr sets made by other manufacturers. Officers were entitled to wear the same uniform as their colleagues in the regular infantry, but many, like the man in this set, chose the similar Litewka to their men.
As regards the kit on these men, all have haversack and cartridge pouch, and none have a knapsack. There is variety with the water containers, which come in various styles, or are missing completely in some cases. These are generally well-equipped men, with most having a sidearm and all carrying a musket (pikes were issued to some originally, but in time all were properly armed).
The sculpting of these figures is pretty good, and compares well with the better output from this maker. What little detail is required is generally well done, and the proportions and rendering of the clothing is realistic. Faces and hands are OK, and the muskets are nicely done, particularly where they face the mould. There is practically no flash or extra plastic to be removed, although the seams can be a bit untidy in places.
The poses speak for themselves, and offer us a wide range of men on the march in various positions. Every man has his right foot forward, and all of the main poses are fine and very useful. Unlike the corresponding HaT set, the much wider choice of different poses here make for a more realistic body of marching men. The single marching figure in the last row is, we assume, an NCO, although at this scale there is no visible difference anyway. The flag-bearer has the flag unfurled, which suggests action or parade, as if simply on the march then the flag would normally be cased. Officially the Landwehr were not permitted flags, but this did not stop several from being carried. The example here is quite small, being about 15mm square (just over a metre to scale), when we would have liked to have seen something more like the standard infantry size (165cm square). However as the flag is not cased this pose does seem a bit casual, since the staff is simply rested on the shoulder. The officer does not really look like he is moving at all, but is fine for all that, and the religious minister at the end is something of a surprise bonus and an interesting choice.
Did we miss out the drummer? Well yes, but only because there is more to say about this pose, and it is not good. The concept is fine, but for some reason various recent Strelets sets have let themselves down when it comes to drummers. Here the main problem is the drum is on the right side of the body, meaning the drummer is left-handed. Regardless of the natural preferment of the individual drummer, all drums were held on the left for perfectly practical reasons, as well as because having drums on different sides would have looked very messy. For the same reason that you never see left-handed musketeers, you never see left-handed drummers, so this figure, like so many Strelets drummer figures before it, is good only for the bin (sad to see the same mistake made so often). Also, while there are many illustrations, contemporary and modern, of Landwehr drummers, none have the apron this man is wearing outside his coat. This is presumably because the coat is seen as tough enough to withstand the rubbing of the drum, whereas in the ordinary infantry the breeches would not be so hard-wearing. So again, this is a mistake.
Having binned the drummer, what is left is a very creditable set of Prussian Landwehr in their eventual standard uniform, neatly turned out and marching with muskets in a good variety of poses. Decent standards of sculpting and some good variety of smaller detail make this a very usable set that should go well with what has gone before, and make a realistic and fine-looking body of men.
Note The final figure is of a soldier from the Streltsi of 17th century Russia. Though he is unrelated to the subject of this set, he is one of a series of 'bonus' figures which when combined will create a set of this unit for the Great Northern War. See Streltsi Bonus Figures feature for details.