Friday 3 May 2013

'There is your enemy! There are your guns!'

Captain Nolan, the second miniature in the Charge of the Light Brigade Character Pack from ‘Great War Miniatures’ distributed in the United Kingdom through ‘North Star Military Figures’.  A one piece cast that I have to say, I was less than enamoured with.  The sculpt of the horse was superb with particular attention given to the saddlery, my issue, however, was with the face that just seemed to be badly misshapen; not the end of the world really but a little disappointing given that this was a ‘character’ pack.  That said Captain Nolan is displayed nonchalantly waving the written order in the direction of the Russian guns – the prelude to what would become one of the most disastrous cavalry engagements in history.

Much has been written about the charge and who was to blame, certainly reading contemporary reports the dashing and enthusiastic Nolan finds much of the responsibility placed at his feet.  Perhaps not the time to debate the matter here, suffice to say that this chap’s opinion is that the whole catastrophic event was the result of a series of disastrous decisions and interpretations that, combined, led to the finest Brigade of Light Cavalry ever to leave the shores of England smashed by the force of the Russian guns.

Did Captain Nolan deliberately misinterpret the order or even embellish Lord Raglan’s verbal command?  We shall never know, but what is not disputed is that he was the first casualty of the charge; an exploding shell sending shrapnel through the young office’s heart.  The infamous hand written order can be seen below.

‘Lord Raglan wishes the cavalry to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy & try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Troop Horse Artillery may accompany. French cavalry is on your left. Immediate. R. Airey.’
Perhaps the last words on the whole disastrous event should be those of the French Marshal, Pierre Bosquet, who having witnessed the charge is reputed to have said,

"C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre." ("It is magnificent, but it is not war.")

Marshal Pierre Bosquet


  1. Nolan is certainly a most interesting fellow (although the view of many is clouded by the heroic portrayal of him by David Hemmings in the 1968 Light Brigade film). One lesser-known fact is that he developed a light cavalry saddle which was used in the Crimea. As this was not an issue item, it was privately purchased by Officers both for their own use, and for some of their troops. An interesting discussion of Nolan's Irish roots can be found in David Murphy's book Ireland and the Crimean War.

    Pip pip

  2. He does seem to have a pronounced under-bite, unfortunately, but the horse is a cracker!

    It's one of those what-ifs of history to think what he could have achieved if he hadn't have died at the beginning of the charge.

    Another brilliant piece, Michael.

  3. Hi Michael,

    a nice paintjob but the skulpt of Nolan's face looks a bit strange.

    By the way Nolan not only invented this cavalry saddle but worte a book about cavalry: "Cavalry: Its History and Tactics". Having Balaclava in mind it's a weird irony of history...


  4. What a great looking figure, a beautiful paintjob Sir!

  5. Excellent paintjob on this little fellow.

  6. Cracking paintjob!
    I could imagine being in the middle of a battlefield, getting that bit of paper and not being able to read even the half of it and listening to the verbal "Translation" Without the Translation underneath to compare, I wouldn´t have understood it at all. Even my doctor writes better notes than that..and it´s only for a sicknote.

  7. That is certainly a rather odd shaped bonce. Never the less you've done a sterling job with him mate.

  8. Nice job shame the face is a bit of a let down. Is this how it looks on the NS site? The horse is excellent piece of sculptwork I'll certainly agree

  9. Given the quality of the horse, I was surprised at the poor quality of the rider. As a painter that had to be frustrating to deal as the brush can only do so much to compensate for a bad sculpt.

    I do like what you did with him and your horse is splendid.

  10. Charming figure that captures the whole feeling of the character and period. Best, Dean

  11. Really nice job Michael I must concur the face has a bit of an of look to it, though I sense you have made the best of it.

  12. Wonderful looking figure, and great story...very nice and instructive post!!

  13. Superb work as ever Michael, its a shame about the miscasting on the face. Still you made good work of it.

  14. I agree with your comment about his face. And the horse is wonderful. So is the painting.

  15. Superb painting Michael with a nice touch of history.


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