"A proper Tete"

Notes to accompany packs F51 - 53


These three packs were an indulgence on my part. A friend and customer did the research for these figures (thank you Ian) as he was working on a conversion of a Drum Major for his collection. He generously forwarded the research when I expressed an interest. A mass of tantalising information and pictorial temptation suddenly appeared in my inbox.  I did try to resist the distraction but the lure of the luscious information was so great that I could actually picture the end result before I started work on the figures.

I enjoyed every minute of the sculpting, moulding and painting of these figures. They are of negligible value in a wargame but will lead your troops onto the table with a dash and bravado that cannot fail to impress your gaming companions or intimidate your opponents.

Creating the Tete! 

In the gallery section of the website you can see pictures of the Tete de Colon that I put together for my own collection. Since I game on a 20:1 ratio, I needed just enough figures to give a convincing representation of the Tete without making it look too sparse. I used two mounted figures from pack F51 to represent the Colonel and Major of the Regiment. One pack of F52 for the command elements of the Tete, and three packs of F53 for the rank and file.

You can choose any figure from pack F51 to represent a Major or a Colonel. The difference between a Colonel and a Major’s rank markings is that the colonel had all gold decorations while the Major had silver epaulet boards (gold crescents and fringes), a lower silver ring on his shako and a silver inner line of piping on his saddlecloth. All other decorations were in gold.

Traditionally, the Pioneers headed the Tete de Colon; the theory being that they could clear any obstacles to the progress of the column.  Their NCO led the pioneers. Illustrations of this figure (Rigo) generally show him wielding a sword, not an axe.  He was armed with a brace of pistols rather than the usual carbine. These were carried in loops on a waist belt. His rank insignia were usually in gold.

The Sappers were followed by the drum and bugle band. The members of this section were drawn from the company drummers and buglers and would return to their respective companies prior to battle. The drum section was organised in such a way as to reflect the positioning of the centre and flank companies in the line. So, the right of the drum section would be formed from the grenadier company drummers. The left of the band would be formed from the voltigeur buglers and the centre company drummers would similarly form up in the centre of the band.  The Drum Major led the band. After 1812, drum majors are usually shown wearing busbies. They are also shown wearing epaulets usually in gold but occasionally in other colours (white or red being most usual). Many regiments opted for trefoil epaulets instead of the fringed variety. These were usually in gold thread. His sword belt was often decorated with his unofficial badge of office, a set of miniature drumsticks. The mace was usually silver. The chains decorating the length of the mace were also silver for the Drum Major. He was a senior NCO and would have had double gold stripes on his lower sleeve to denote his rank.

The Drum Corporal marched to the right of the band, in line with the front rank. His task was the instruction of the drummers and buglers of the regiment. Prior to the 1812 regulations, he is shown wearing the type of finery only a regimental colonel could dream up. The 1812 regulations toned this down and his attire became much more austere. He wore the regulation infantry shako with only the white headquarters pompon as decoration. His sword belt was supposed to be free of ornaments but was often decorated with a grenade badge in yellow metal. Similarly, he was supposed to have normal infantry shoulder straps but was invariably given red epaulets. His mace was silver but had red cord decorations down the length of the mace instead of the silver chains of the Drum Major. On his lower sleeves he displayed the yellow rank stripes of a corporal.

On parade, the regimental band would normally have followed the drum and bugle section. On the march, however, this very expensive regimental asset was protected and tended to march in the centre, or towards the rear, of the column. In a conflict situation, the regimental command followed the drum section. In our case, the regimental command is represented by the mounted Colonel and Major followed by the Adjutant NCO. The Adjutant was the senior NCO of the regiment. He was the link between the officers and the NCOs. His rank distinctions were similar to those of a captain adjutant major, with a red and gold, fringed epaulet on his left shoulder and a red and gold, fringeless epaulet on his right shoulder. His shako was ornamented with the gold band of an officer and a white plume or tufted pompon. His side arm was an infantry sabre.

I have described the attire for drummers and voltigeur buglers in the general information on the French infantry.