When Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland in 1745 and attempted to take the crown of Great Britain for his father, his first task was to raise an army, since he had completely failed to bring a (French) one with him. In this he succeeded, but it was always weak in cavalry. Perhaps the most prestigious unit (at least in their own eyes) was the Prince’s Lifeguard, and later his mounted force would be enhanced by the arrival of the Fitzjames Cavallerie from France, but both this units are covered by RedBox in another set, so this one concentrates on the remaining units. Those were:
- Lord Strathallan’s Horse (also known as the Perthshire Squadron)
- Lord Kilmarnock’s Horse
- Lord Pitsligo’s Horse
- Scotch Hussars, later known as Bagot’s or Baggot’s Hussars
The trouble with these Jacobite units, which were very short-lived, is there is very little information on what they looked like, and most likely there was little in terms of uniform apart from the cockade in the hat. All were raised locally, and the whole army was dressed in the Highland style, regardless of where each man actually came from, so from that we have to make some guesses. The Scotch or Bagots Hussars had their own peculiarity, so we will start with the other three units. It is most likely that the usual form of dress for such men was bonnet with cockade, short Highland coat, trews and riding boots, and this is how the first six figures in our pictures appear. Details of design may well have varied widely, and in any case no one today knows for sure, but these figures match well with the most plausible look for such men. Of course this means we cannot claim anything is inaccurate, though we were not at all sure about the basic shape of some of the bonnets, particularly those in our second row. All have a sword of course, and most a firelock, which we know was common, so this would seem as good an array of dress as any for these three units.
The hussars do have a little more evidence as their appearance was not so typical, and there is even a simple contemporary drawing. Unfortunately again there is much that is not known, so plenty of room for speculation, but the usual interpretation is again of the short coat and trews, but with a fur or fur-trimmed cap. The drawing suggests a feather on its crown, but descriptions suggest it was of the old French dragoon style, with a falling 'stocking', which is what has been modelled here. Since the majority of modern authors follow this option, it is reasonable that these figures do the same, so the first three figures in our third row depict such men. These men have not been given a firelock, but each has a coat or blanket rolled across his body, which is a possible interpretation of the single available drawing made at the time. So given that no one knows for sure, all we can say of these three is they follow the most accepted version of their appearance, and so are fine.
The last two figures in the second row look to be officers simply because they have many of the usual signs – much more elaborate wigs, more decorated bonnets and one has a telescope. The man with the telescope also wears a long coat. Given the rank and file may well have had little uniformity about them, the officers would of course have entirely pleased themselves, so again there is nothing here that seems out of place and the figures look reasonable. The last figure in the third row is, if our guess is correct, the figure of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ himself. The figure is not doing very much, which fits the prince well, since he was not a man to lead from the front. He wears a bonnet, presumably to please his Highland troops, so seems appropriate for the unfortunate prince.
None of these units could be described as heavy cavalry, so their tasks were mainly reconnaissance and patrolling. That does not of course make for exciting poses, yet many in this set have sword drawn and a look of excitement on their faces. This is likely to be a sop to us customers, who generally like to see cavalry in energetic, combative poses, perhaps even in a full-blooded charge. The reality would have been much less thrilling, but we suspect there are many that will prefer the sort of poses offered here. Nevertheless, it must be said that these are not particularly typical, though it is perfectly possible that a light cavalryman might draw his sword in anger at some point. It should also be remembered that both Kilmarnock’s and Pitsligo’s Horse were forced to surrender their horses and become infantry when the Fitzjames cavalry arrived (as they had brought none of their own), so at the final showdown of Culloden both units were on foot. Having said all that, the poses generally are typical of their type and nicely done.
The horses for such men, while they still had them, would have been equipped as best as could be achieved. Again no uniformity can be expected, but all these animals have a basic saddle over a blanket or cloth, and the usual bridle. Each has a brace of pistols, which again is mentioned in the sources, so no reason to suspect these models of inaccuracy. The poses are interesting, because unlike the men, most seem to be quite relaxed, either walking or even standing still. This is much more in keeping with the usual activities of such troops, but is rather a contrast with their excitable riders! Some of the poses are not the best, but only the first in our last row matches the more energetic of the human poses.
The sculpting is very nice. These have that slightly more bulky appearance compared to some sets that are very elegant and slim, but the style is one we like and there is plenty of detail. The faces are very expressive and look great, and the clothing looks natural too. Many of the sword scabbards are really rather too short, and a few are so immensely short that they could barely hold a dirk, let alone a full sword. Whether this is a sculpting issue or one of the plastic not filling the mould we do not know. The firearms however are reasonably slender and quite well-proportioned. The only assembly here is putting the man on the horse, but we found this problematic as the fit is too tight and the figure refuses to sit in the saddle. Some work will be required to produce a good fit there. With no separate weapons, even the man in the second row pointing his sword forward comes as a single piece, which is great. Flash is minimal, and entirely absent in some places, on both men and horses, so a very clean product.
When the Jacobites wanted a charge, it was the Highland infantry that obliged rather than the cavalry, so these figures are in many cases too over-dramatic for our taste. The sculpting of the men is good but the horses are a bit more chunky than they should be, and also too chunky for the men to sit on them well. Accuracy is about as good as anyone today can tell, so basically this is a very interesting set that is nicely presented and will be popular with wargamers in particular, though for us it strays too far from the typical if mundane activity of such troops.