If you were a French soldier between 1808 and 1814, then undoubtedly the worst posting you could possibly be given was Spain. No country likes to be invaded and conquered, but the Spanish people were particularly outraged by their country’s occupation and resolved to fight the French with whatever means were available. Vigorous French efforts to quell the insurgency merely ensured it kept growing, and throughout the occupation vast numbers of soldiers had to be used in guarding roads, escorting couriers and attempting to control the country they occupied. The guerillas could not win the war alone, but they harassed and disrupted French military activities and provided invaluable intelligence for the Spanish, Portuguese and British armies that were to liberate their country. And, perhaps just as importantly, they maintained their country’s honour.
Most guerillas wore largely civilian costume, which itself varied considerably depending on the region. Military items were adopted when possible, usually supplied from local stores or 'liberated' from the French, but while some units sought a form of uniform there was nothing fitting that description for the guerillas as a whole, although unit level uniforms did become more common after 1810. With that in mind the figures in this set are remarkably military in appearance. There are several distinct styles, which we have used to group the figures for our picture, and variety within each style is quite limited. HaT have labelled these as belonging to particular 'regiments', although we suspect even this level of uniformity was not often achieved. While we have no reason to think any of these uniforms are wrong we would have liked to have seen the emphasis on civilian costume, with only a few roughly uniformed figures. However there may be some who prefer this arrangement.
The poses are a pretty standard bunch, which is necessary as there are few of each regiment so the basics need to be provided. Again there is nothing much wrong with these but a more mixed bag would have allowed for some more interesting poses. The marching figures are appropriate considering many of these men are in semi-regularised units, and will be welcomed by many wargamers.
Perhaps the most surprising element of this set is the sculpting. Many years ago HaT intended to release some Spanish guerillas as set 6012, one of their 6000 series of sets with only four poses. That range was not well received by the market and instead the subject was finally covered by this very much larger product. Nevertheless the four original poses had been sculpted, and they are the Catalonians that can be seen on the first row. They are slim, elegant and very nicely done. Detail is great and they rate as excellent sculpting jobs. This is reminiscent of some earlier HaT output, but when it came to sculpt the extra figures needed for this set they were done by a different sculptor in the very different style, as demonstrated by the rest of the poses. The contrast is clear for all to see, regardless of which style you prefer. These figures are a little taller, much stockier, and rather more basic, with faces that are pretty unattractive. Some of those with round hats have them covering their eyes and much of their nose. Weapons are not great, with swords that are too short and muskets that have very thin stocks. In many cases the bayonet has not been successfully offset from the muzzle, which is a very difficult problem to fix.
As always HaT have done good research and while we don't approve of their choices they have avoided any accuracy problems. The monk is a good idea as many were actively involved in the insurgency and some even led bands. However the first four figures remind us of what HaT used to produce, which means the rest suffer by comparison in our view. Still this set contains a lot of poses and several units, so many people will be happy.