Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bengal Native Infantry

A sergeant (more properly called a Havildar)
and Grenadier of the Bengal Army

I have a copy of the above print that I picked up while we were honeymooning in London*. It was not long after that I got in contact with John Cunningham and a wonderful, if somewhat abusive, relationship developed. John is somehow responsible (I think Uwe may have had a hand in them as well) for the figures below and he will certainly sell you some, possibly whether you want them or not. I've wanted to mess about on the sub-continent for a while and for that sepoys were a necessity.
A unit of the Bengal Native Infantry braving the wilds of an Irish back garden

I got my first units of my Honourable East India Company troops a few weeks ago from Mark, who I think you'll agree did a nice job on them. John Company had relied on mercenaries for much of its history, but in the years after the battle of Plassey, they organised their independant companies of sepoys into the First Bengal Native Infantry. These chaps are slightly later and were raised to fight Uwe's Mysore troops.

I haven't given much thought to how to rate these chaps, mainly because I haven't a mat for India yet. Might give some thought to that for my birthday.

A drummer resplendent in yellow

The Osprey on the subject "Armies of the East India Company 1750-1850" informs me that Indian units favoured brass shelled drums rather than the painted wood used by the British, as they were less susceptible to the depredations of insects. I presume that brass or wood, no self respecting drummer would be seen on parade unless his piece was resplendent in the facing colour of the regiment.

The Jemadar, a person not to be trifled with

I quite like this figure mainly because of his magnificent moustaches. I had contemplated using European officers, but firstly that was much a feature of the latter years of the Company's life and secondly, I've only met one Indian army officer. However, the chap I did meet was a such a ferocious looking character (he was a Sikh) that I thought I'd be a fool to deprive myself.

A closeup of the humble sepoy

This chap in his rather fetching shorts is a sepoy, an English corruption of the word Sipahi, which means soldier, at least that what the Encyclopaedia Britannica tells me. They will be taking the field against the Mad Rajah of Kala-Akaata whose forces grow stronger by the day. I will be using Command & Colours Napoleonics as they are my prefered set, though I'm still in two minds as to what tweaks will be necessary.

I have quite a collection of native soldiery, though its rather cavalry heavy, and three units of Sepoys. Coupled with my Napoleonic redcoats that should be sufficient for a small game at least.

I'm beginning to think that this is something I should try sooner rather than later.

*This decision has often been questioned. We chose it on the basis that we'd had drama quite enough in the run up to our wedding. Mrs Kinch and I have three criteria for a good holiday destination, a country must score two out of three to be considered. England ticks all the boxes as we speak the language, like the people and eat the food.


  1. Nice figures and great post. i've always liked the look of these troops!!

  2. And John is telling me nobody is interested in my Sepoys....

    They are looking really good!


  3. The troops look great!

    As to honeymoon (and vacation) destinations, I say to each their own. Some people love tropical beaches, I don't. I like to go places where the weather is cool. And if I can get in some good book-shopping and museum-going all the better!

  4. We held a POW battle last year where the East India Company took on their French counterparts (full battle report on the blog)and one sprang to mind when reading your post - a unit we referred to as the Super Sepoys. They single handedly held up the entire French / Native Indian attack then went on the offensive themselves causing absolute carnage amongst the opposition. Top class chaps (who eventually died to a man at our moment of victory, but were remembered with fondness by the C in C - especially as he got a whopping bonus from both the EIC and the local Sultan.

  5. The BNI look very sporting in their "trunks" (shorts). Looking forward to your battles with them; a variant of C&C Naps possibly?


  6. Ray - thanks! They cut a dash I think.

    Uwe - I wouldn't believe a word John says. He is perfidious Albion personified.

    Dundas - I think it will be a CNC variant. I've been regarding the Ancients rules with an eye to stealing elephants.

    Phil - Always good to hear. Do you have a link to your blog?

  7. Splendid chaps one and all!

    I use Ottermen and goblins for sepoys (as well as native kingdoms) though so what would I know? : )

    India in this period is under represented in gaming. Keep up the good work!

  8. Conmrad - blog URL is

    The battle I was referring to is at!/2011/04/battle-report-condore-india-1758-18c.html

  9. Uwe, Conrad is one of a very select few who have actually purchased our Sepoys, and for those who would like some get in touch asap

    "perfidious Albion personified." how true!! and I like it, I'm also referred to in some circles as an "Evil Influence" !! in regard in pushing 20 mm figures

    I note " abusive relationship " and why not??