With the apparent end of the Great War (as the Napoleonic Wars were called at the time) in 1814, all Europe breathed a sigh of relief and began the task of reconstruction. One task for Prussia was to reorganise her exhausted armed forces, much of which were made up of ad hoc units created during the Wars of Liberation. In March of 1815 a number of new cavalry regiments were created by merging these various units into a more formal structure, and one of these new regiments was the 7th Uhlans. When the death and destruction resumed after Napoleon escaped from exile, Prussia created the Army of the Lower Rhine under Blücher to assist in the defence of the Netherlands, and three squadrons of the 7th became a part of that army, posted to the Reserve Cavalry of III Corps. They were present at the Battle of Ligny, on June 16th, and again at the Battle of Wavre two days later, when the III Corps delayed French Marshal Grouchy long enough to ensure he would not assist Napoleon at Waterloo. There is no particular mention of any action by the 7th at either of these battles, and indeed they had neither trained nor operated together up to this point as there had not been time, so they were not fit for battle, although they may have been involved in some scouting or guarding.
There had also not been time to give these men a new uniform, so they still wore the uniform of their previous unit. For the first two squadrons that unit was Hellwig’s Streifkorps, and all the figures in this set wear that hussar uniform. They wear the dolman with the usual braiding on the front, but only the officer also has a barrel sash on the waist. The sources all say that the original uniform was worn, yet all here are wearing the standard Uhlan czapka helmet, which was usual Uhlan headwear for the Prussian Army, but whether this was actually issued to the 7th before the end of the Napoleonic Wars is unclear. Some sources also say that the regiment had not yet received lances when the campaign began, yet every man here has one, so either these are from the front rank of the hussar unit, who had carried lances before amalgamation, or this set depicts them after the Napoleonic Wars.
Under the circumstances it seems doubtful that this regiment saw any action, so the inactive poses we find in this set are most appropriate. Every man sits astride his horse, but is in relaxed mood. Most are just sitting, either holding their lance or having it attached to their arm. One man is handling a water bottle, and the trumpeter holds his instrument against his body. The officer is either saluting or just touching the peak of his helmet. The penultimate figure in our photo is holding an infantry flag – a pose that Strelets have done before in cavalry sets. The 7th had no standard of any sort during the campaign of 1815, and it would not have looked like this even if there had been time to make one, so as before, this is a completely pointless pose that is of no use to anyone. Otherwise the poses are dull but appropriate.
The horse poses are the same as those in previous sets of Prussian cavalry from Strelets. All the horses are standing still, and so match the relaxed riders. We thought the poses were fine, but the sculpting was not so good. The animals seem overweight and poorly defined, with remarkably small heads. Providing horses for their cavalry was a problem for the Prussians, and units like this would have been at the back of the queue. Equally saddlecloths etc. would probably have been what they had used in their previous unit, which might well have been a mixture of whatever could be found, so while the horse furniture here does not follow any particular regulation, it is now impossible to say that it is incorrect, and indeed is probably as good as any.
We liked the sculpting of the men better than the horses. The men are nice and slender, well-proportioned and with good detail. The braiding on the dolman is particularly nicely done, but detail generally is good. Since all the poses are simple and flat anyway, there are no problems with undercutting and no assembly is required. There is a fair amount of flash, however.
The two civilians in the bottom row are a bonus that do not relate to the soldiers, but simply add to the small number of civilians so far available for the early 19th century. The barrel organ is properly designed, and has the usual single leg on which to rest. Normally this just took some of the weight as the organ was held by straps round the organ-grinder’s shoulders, but these straps are missing here, meaning the organ must rest somewhat precariously on its single leg (although even today you do see such street organs, such as in Mexico City). The organ grinder himself wears a long overcoat and a brimmed hat, and looks good. The fiddler next to him is more lightly dressed, having no coat but only a shirt and waistcoat. He plays his fiddle with the bow at an acute angle to the instrument, more to assist with the mould than a true reflection of how the instrument should be played. However he too is a good-looking character. As street entertainers such men might seem quite picturesque, but in reality they were usually seen as little more than beggars, and often moved on by the police.
Given the lack of evidence and the rushed preparation for these men, all sorts of uniforms might be acceptable, and probably a mix of several was worn. Whether any sort of uniformity was achieved is hard to say, but it does mean no one can say for certain that these figures are incorrect. We were particularly unsure why the men have been given Uhlan helmets but have otherwise retained their old uniforms, but perhaps this could have been the first step in re-equipping these men for their new role. Since the men are at rest the poses are fairly dull, but they are at least nicely sculpted (unlike the horses), although some are a bit tight in fitting onto their mounts. The musicians are a nice bonus, but all the men are quite appealing sculpts, even though the unit itself is very obscure, and seems not to have played any significant part in the campaign of 1815.