The French Army's Camp

There have been countless sets in 1/72 scale devoted to the Napoleonic Wars. Right from the early days of the model industry, various companies have produced such sets, which allow a recreation of the life of the period. However one aspect of this has been sadly neglected, namely the camp life of the opposing armies, and in particular that of the French. We feel that the superb set released by Italeri can't fully fill this gap, not through any lack of quality as the set is beyond criticism, but because the theme itself is too vast to be covered by just one set. This was the idea behind creating this set.

We fully realise that it is impossible for one set to recreate camp life in Napoleon's army throughout the period. Therefore this set concentrates on the period between approximately 1808 and 1815, when the ascetic lifestyle of the early years of the Revolution had been replaced by a more relaxed way of life, and when the determined soldier of the Republic gave way to the professional of the Empire who swapped the sweet homeland for a camp fire.

In designing the set we had to bear in mind a condition present throughout the 1792-1815 period - gallic fervour, spontaneity and inexhaustible optimism so typical of the French both in victory and defeat. We believe that our set does manage to depict the lust for life of the French soldier.

What we wanted to depict first of all was the close proximity of life and death, a typical feature of all wars from the time of the pharaohs to the present day. The tall dragoon with a guitar, the drunk soldier on a box embracing a lady, the vivandière pouring wine into a colonel's mug are alongside a semi-naked soldier on a roughly made surgical table, nurses with stretchers, a surgeon in his apron, nurses with sleeves rolled and a covered corpse on a stretcher in a scene of contrasts. We paid particular attention to the faces of the figures, trying to give them expression where possible for such a scale. We are not satisfied with the quality of the tent, drum and horse, which was caused by the specific moulding and sculpting techniques we used at the time.

The set can be divided into several groups that can be relatively independent from each other. The first group is soldiers resting around a fireplace - a soldier leaning against his gun, a squatting soldier warming his hand, the fireplace with a boiling pot on it, a lady with a barrel, a dragoon with a mug, a soldier with a girl on a box and a reclining soldier resting his head on a hand. The next group is of medical staff consisting of a surgeon and his assistants tending a wounded soldier, nurses carrying a wounded officer on a stretcher, a dead man covered with a linen sheet and a wounded soldier sitting on the ground with his head in bandages. A third group is centred around the camp smithy, with two blacksmiths around an anvil, their assistant blowing the fire and further away a dragoon holding his horse while his comrade is fixing a horseshoe. Apart from these three groups there is a group returning from the field with hay and scythe and a soldier carrying a piglet. Still another group has a soldier sleeping in a cart on a greatcoat, a barefoot soldier sitting in a cart and the cart itself. In contrast to the typical baggage train wagon that you can find in the Italeri set, we used a simple peasant cart apparently requisitioned from a local farmer.

The uniform of the soldiers is a mixture of parade uniform being used as a field uniform and camp uniform, which in our opinion enhances the realism of the whole scene. We believe that this set may be of interest to collectors and diorama makers alike.

The set is released in bronze metallic plastic to better depict the details of the figures. The total production run was 10,000 sets, after which the moulds were destroyed.