The problem in making a 1808 Finnish army in any scale is that almost all the figures available have the uniform of 1810 pattern. Luckily the differences aren’t that big and passable 1802 pattern uniforms can be converted quite easily the smaller the figure scale is. Also there are usually smaller details in the miniatures which are wrong when compared to the uniform regulations.
But this is not that a big problem as uniforms and equipment rarely conformed to regulations. Finland was after all provincial backwater in Sweden and thus units were more easily neglected than ones of Sweden “proper” which weren’t that well taken care of either. If the state of the uniforms was bad before the war it became absolutely horrendous as the war progressed as no new uniforms were received to replace the worn out old ones. For instance during the retreat northwards late autumn when troops were in the Oulu region quite a few of them didn’t have any shoes as these had worn out long since.If you decide to go for a field look army instead of a parade look one it really isn’t possible to have the army look too ragged no matter what you do.
When king Gustaf III was inspecting troops near Mikkeli on October 1789 he noticed that the uniforms of Savo jaegers were extremely worn and especially the trousers of the 4th company were noticed to be worn through from behind. Displeased by this the king turned to brigade’s commander colonel von Stedingk and criticized the commissariat’s negligence.
Among other things the king said: “Think, colonel, what shame shall fall upon us if the enemy sees our brave men wearing these ragged trousers, why, they’ll laugh at us”. At this the company’s acting commander lieutenant Erik Vilhelm Tujulin stepped forward, saluted and said sharply: “Your Majesty, I assure you that the enemy will never have a reason to laugh at us for Savo jaegers have so far never turned their backs on the enemy”.
At first the king looked at this brave officer sternly and asked his name but then his eyes brightened up and he fondly said: “Well said lieutenant!”. And later on, immediately after new uniforms were received the first ones were given to Savo jaegers by the orders of the king.
FIGURE PROBLEMS There are plenty of differences between 1802 and 1810 pattern uniforms like how they are cut etc but the most distinguishing and easily noticeable difference are the pants. The 1810 pattern uniform had pantaloons/ trousers whereas 1802 pattern had breeches and gaiters that reached above the knee. The belt is another difference. In 1802 pattern it is of the same material as the webbing but in 1810 pattern the belt has no buckle and is bicolored which sometimes has been depicted in a figure by making it grooved to ease up painting. Also figures of the officers never have a tail coat even though they were permitted to wear one according to the 1802 regulations. Most officer figures don’t have a brassard on the left arm either but in larger scales this is very easy to make from putty and in smaller scales just painting it suffices well enough.
Knapsack was made of calf hide, but figures tend to have knapsacks which look like they were made from hairy pelts instead of short haired calf hide (a few millimetres in real life) so you might want to tone the hairiness down a bit. A copper flask was either attached to the knapsack or worn carried slung over the shoulder but if figures have anything to this effect they have a canteen slung on the hip, but this really isn’t something to worry about. If figures have a bayonet scabbard it hangs on the right side as per 1807/1810 pattern but with 1802 pattern it apparently should be on the left just behind the short sword which is basically always missing from the figures. Adding the sword and the bayonet scabbard to 15mm and smaller figures would be too much trouble compared to how visible they are. Some units had a distinctive uniform which the manufacturers have ignored. So there’s no Savo jaegers, Savo artillerists or Uusimaa dragoons available. Luckily these can be converted from some foreign troops.
MANUFACTURER SPECIFIC PROBLEMS (15mm)
Minifigs – Figures are wearing 1810 pattern pantaloons, have bayonet scabbard hanging on the right side and a canteen on the left side. Hat’s upturned brim is simplified as it doesn’t have any buttons or loops. Luckily the metal Minifigs uses is pleasantly soft so it is extremely easy to remove the legs of the trousers with a few twists of the hobby knife so you can depict the gaiters by painting them and their buttons. The details of the hat’s brim as well as the hat’s often not-so-visible brass band is also easily painted on, but you’ll need a steady hand with the buttons and the cords. Unless you’re a anal-retentive masochist you won’t bother with the scabbard, sword or the canteen/ flask.
Navwar – Figures are noticeably smaller than the ones from the other manufacturers. Then again people in real life vary in size as well so intermixing Navwar with another manufacturers shouldn’t be impossible. The figures also have less detail being much simpler sculptings. The uniform is 1810 pattern with large buttons in the cuffs that have to be removed. The gaiters are once again missing from line infantry so you’ll have to remove legs from the trousers to simulate the gaiters. Belt is grooved but can either be scraped flat with a hobby knife or painted over with thick paint. The hat has an odd plaque in the front which needs to be removed and its brass band, which isn’t sculpted, will have to be painted on. There’s no sword or flask but interestingly the bayonet scabbard is more or less in its correct place.
Old Glory – Be advised NOT to purchase the campaign uniform figures (NSW02 Infantry Campaign Dress) as some 90% of these packs are French and Russian figures to be used as Swedes in foreign dress during the 1813 campaign and are thus no use in 1808 Finland. Its few odd figures in the actual Swedish 1810 uniform are in one or two poses unavailable in other packs though. But unless you are in need of French or Russians we strongly advise you to give this pack a pass.
The other infantry pack (NSW01 Infantry Advancing) however contains perhaps the most accurate “straight from the pack” figures for 1808 Finns even though there are a few poses which have the 1810 pattern uniform. The remaining figures have gaiters which unfortunately reach only below the knee instead of above and it would involve too much work to try to correct this especially as the metal is somewhat hard and slightly brittle. The brittleness will also result in plenty of loose bayonets. Because of the metal converting the few 1810 pattern trousers, that often have Austrian knots in them which you’ll also have to remove, will involve considerably more effort than with Minifigs figures. There’s a 1807 pattern cocade in the front of the hat which should be removed (this bi-colored cocade would’ve been the only thing which showed regimental distinctions as otherwise the 1807 uniforms were to have no differences between regiments). The figures have a bayonet scabbard on the right side and no sword or flask. Changing the bayonet scabbard’s side and adding the other equipment would be too much work.
SAVO JAEGERS & ARTILLERYMEN – Both have the same distinctive uniform. These are most easily made from French voltigeurs. For example Essex has plenty of different poses for these. Start off by removing one of the webbing belts with a hobby knife. Keep the one going from left elbow to right hip. You’ll also need to remove the fringes of the shoulder straps, shako cords from the rank and file and the buttons on cuffs and breeches to make way for the boots (all ranks wore boots).
French voltigeurs don’t have any belts but these can be easily depicted just by painting them on. The same goes for the boots. Also note that it is unsure if pipers were used with jaegers. In Aarne Huuskonen in his excellent book Kuninkaallinen Savon Jääkärirykmentti (Otava 1927) says that there were two drummers in each company but that pipers are not mentioned anywhere. Was this really the case? Was this also true in other regiments? Based on this evidence we included drummers but no pipers in the jaeger units.
LINE JAEGERS – These troops wore an uniform that was cut the same way as line infantry’s. Although their webbing and belt was black instead of white like in the line infantry to differentiate jaeger units somewhat more we removed bayonets from most of our jaeger models.
UUSIMAA DRAGOONS – Old Glory Dragoons (NSW05) include mounted figures dressed like the line infantry. Basically apart from the headgear these figures wear almost similar uniform as Uusimaa dragoons. So you’ll need to remove from the hat the upturned brim and the brass loop. Finally remove the other parts of the brim as well with the exception of the front which should be formed into a small peak. You can also make the new shako slightly conical (the lower part being slightly wider). Finish the shako by making some cords from very thing wire and superglue these to place. The front of the shako also has an emblem but in 15mm it should suffice if you just paint it on.
DRAGOON HORSE FURNITURE – The pistol covers were apparently made from one piece and are pointed in their lower end. Also the saddle blankets of the figures are rectangular whereas pictures tend to show ones resembling more shabraques used by hussars. Both can quite easily be corrected with some use of two part modelling putty like Milliput. This applies to the horse furniture used by both Karjala and Uusimaa dragoons.
GREATCOATS – If you want to depict Finnish troops in greatcoat there are no ready figures from any manufacturer. Converting them from Austrians might be the easiest way. We used Minifigs Austrians. As these figures are actually wearing gaiters and carry a sword so they’re pretty close already. You only need to slightly reduce the width of the hat and make its top even, add the upturned brim and make a plume to the left side with the upturned brim. Nothing you can’t easily accomplish with a file, hobby knife, some Milliput and superglue. Or you could replace the head with one having an appropriate headgear. As we couldn’t find any artillerymen dressed in greatcoats so we modlled the lover parts of the greatcoat with Milliput to the regular artillerymen.
CIVILIANS – At least some of the voluntary troops that took to arms were quite well armed. For instance while equipping Gyllenbögel’s freicorps in Åland during August 402 muskets plus 33 swords and cossacsabres were bought for them from the populace who had taken these from the Russians during the Åland uprising. (Sveriges Krig V, page 135). Apparently these arms were in addition to what the troops themselves already had. The same instance also mentions that of Gyllenbögel’s troops 500 were missing cartridge boxes and uniforms and knapsacks were missing altogether although in August 400 knapsacks were received. Ordinary clothes were used but not everyone had jackets and almost all the shoes were worn out. And although 200 pairs were handed out with socks these were soon also worn out and most of the troops had to go barefoot. And these were voluntary troops that were situated in Åland which are pretty close to Sweden proper and where the king spent plenty of time during the summer. The equipment situation for voluntary troops in Karelia must surely have been much worse consisting of their own clothes and musket if they had one plus whatever equipment they managed to loot from vanquished Russians.
The Gyllenbögel’s sharpshooters consisted of men that had been previously been serving in Suomenlinna garrison but who had taken back to arms after being sent back to home. So the troops of this unit should be dressed with the different uniforms of the regiments garrisoning Suomenlinna (Adlercreuz and Jägerhorn regiments plus ƒnkedrottningens livregemente as well as reserve troops for Pori, Turku and Uusimaa regiments) The voluntary units under Gyllenbögel were led by officers of the army. Gyllenbögel also mentions that these two units also had between them 4 cannons. Perhaps these were used in the vein of regimental guns? Nothing boosts morale like the fire from a big gun belonging to your unit… We converted the armed civilian figures even further by replacing some heads with heads from regular line infantry figures. These guys of course goit the civilian heads in the trade. As we wanted these conversions to be sturdy we drilled small holes to both heads and bodies and pinned them together. When applying to figures to base we mixed different poses even more religiously than normally to get as irregular feel as possible.