During the Napoleonic Wars the history of the Duchy of Württemberg, a kingdom from 1806, followed a similar basic path to many of the other small German states. Initially it fought the French and lost, signed a peace treaty and then in 1806 joined the Confederation of the Rhine, a French creation linking many German states in a military alliance. Thereafter it fought on France's side, including the despatch of about 14,000 men to Russia in 1812, very few of whom returned. In 1813 it defected to the victorious Allies, and participated in the campaign that led to Napoleon's first abdication the following year.
For such a short period and such a small country, Württemberg has a remarkably complex history to its cavalry. Every year or two some change was enacted, with squadrons merged or split to form new regiments, names and designations changed. Luckily on campaign the uniforms were much more stable, and indeed much of the cavalry wore the same uniform regardless of supposed role, with only minor details such as colours and badges distinguishing them. Although only mentioned on the box side, it seems these cavalrymen are supposed to be jägers, who shared the common uniform and wore green.
The figures in this set all wear the same uniform, being a short-tailed jacket ('kollet') with half-lapels closed on the chest, breeches, Hungarian boots and a crested helmet with a comb. The jacket has a stiff standing collar and contre-epaulettes on the shoulders with scaled straps and large metal crescents. With a few exceptions this seems to have been the usual cavalry uniform during the period from 1806 apart from the helmet, which had earlier had a horse-hair mane rather than a comb. Exactly when the comb was introduced is unclear, but by 1811 many units, including the jägers, seem to have had it. The jägers exchanged this for a shako in 1813.
At least one source states that the pouch belt was worn over the left shoulder, and the belt supporting the carbine over the right. This would be illogical, leaving the carbine in an awkward position, and is directly contradicted by some of the plates in the very same source (for example those of Knotel). What seems to have happened is the pouch was over the left shoulder unless the carbine was also worn, in which case it was sensibly moved to the right so the carbine could occupy the left. Since all of these figures have such a carbine, the belts and pouches look to be correctly placed. The sabre, which was of the traditional light cavalry curved type, is correctly suspended from a waist belt by two straps.
As with the men so it seems that the horse furniture was broadly similar between types of cavalry but with small variations. Both horses here have a shabraque rounded at the front and pointed at the rear, with some indistinguishable badge. The cylindrical valise with the cross at the ends is also correct.
The three permanent poses are all quite typical and all perfectly good. The fourth figure has a choice of right arms as illustrated, holding a sword, carbine or trumpet. This allows for more variety and is great, and it also allows for as many or as few trumpeters as you want without wasting figures. Were this figure to be a trumpeter then it should have swallow’s nest epaulettes and no pouch or carbine, so the solution is not ideal, but very few will complain, and certainly not us. We were not so taken with the first horse pose, which seems to be galloping at the front yet showing little sign of movement. The second animal has a much more natural gait and is the superior as a result.
Sculpting is very good, with good detail that is quite clear. The proportions are great and the poses natural, while the men fit their horses easily and the separate arms are a surprisingly snug fit, although will still need gluing. There is no flash anywhere, and the figures are carefully done to avoid any unwanted extra plastic, so this is a nicely produced set.
Without wishing to be pessimistic we think it unlikely that anyone will make a range of figure sets depicting all the elements of the small Württemberg cavalry in all its minor variation. These are fine as jägers, but with a little conversion (sometimes no more than a different set of colours) they could easily represent many of the other types of cavalry in the army. It would have been nice to have had some spare heads on the sprue with the earlier helmet to offer more utility, but there is nothing inaccurate here. They are well made and nicely posed, so both as jägers and as a base from which to convert to other types of cavalry these figures are very good.