The aftermath of any battle includes the bodies of the fallen littering the field, and certainly Waterloo had plenty of those. The fate of the men that were wounded rather than killed could be very uncertain, and it took several days to clear the battlefield of both the living and the dead. The French casualties had the added disadvantage that their army had quit the field, leaving their casualties in the hands of the Allies, although many of the local peasants who assisted with the clean-up were more sympathetic to the French. Many locals displayed great kindness in dealing with the men who fell at Waterloo, but many others took the opportunity to make personal gain, both from the dead and those who might not yet be so.
This little set contains the three pieces pictured, giving a tiny snapshot of the fate of many Frenchmen after Waterloo. The first piece is a really nice tableau of a grenadier of the Old Guard helping a wounded officer. He holds him under the arms, perhaps helping him to rise or dragging him to a place of safety. The grenadier wears full dress uniform, including all the decorations on the fur cap, and also his knapsack. Many in the Guard fought Waterloo in their greatcoats, but the appearance even of this august body was far from uniform, especially given the short time in which the French forces had had to mobilise, so some in full uniform like this is perfectly reasonable. The fallen officer wears typical dress, including a gorget at his throat, and he is somehow managing to still grip his sabre, which is surprising.
The second piece is a civilian, wearing a brimmed hat, shirt, waistcoat, breeches, stockings and shoes. The box labels him as a farmer, but we would have been surprised if such a man had been working in the fields dressed like this. By 1815 breeches and stockings were slowing disappearing in favour of trousers, and working dress was already much less formal than this. However it was still appropriate wear for some circumstances, so while we were not entirely convinced by the 'farmer' label, as a more general civilian he is fine. He holds a pair of pliers. This could be for all sorts of reasons, but the first thing that comes to mind is for the swift removal of fingers wearing rings, or perhaps the removal of teeth (and fillings) from mouths, which may sound gruesome but was common practice amongst looters.
The final figure is another fallen officer. He rests on his back and his mouth is open as if in agony, though of course he may already be dead. Either way, he has suffered the loss of his boots (looters were not above stealing from those still alive, as well as killing them to ensure they got what they wanted). He wears campaign trousers, which would be less common amongst officers but again not impossible,
The sculpting is generally good, with very nice detail, particularly on the splendid uniform of the grenadier. The faces are really good, again particularly that of the grenadier, but the hands of the civilian are not so well done as they do not convince as actually holding the pliers and seem misshapen. There is no excess plastic but some flash round the seams.
For those with an eye for detail, the grenadier’s coat has long tails with turnbacks that fully reach the bottom, a style appropriate from c.1810 and so fine for Waterloo, but the rest of the figures have a much longer potential timeframe, particularly the civilian. With so few casualty and civilian figures for this or most other periods, these figures are certainly most welcome, and for the most part really nicely done. While this is a tiny set, it does offer some original poses with lots of potential for many Napoleonic dioramas.