Monday, 12 October 2009

Late 18th Century and Napoleonic Ottoman Turks

This was a piece a pure indulgence; occasioned by my recent birthday and the receipt of £40 as a present from my son (bless him!). I am now the proud owner of a Navwar 15mm army for the Ottoman Turks for the late 18th century and Napoleonic period. The army may seem like an odd choice compared to some of the more obvious choices but the Turks in the period saw a reasonable amount of action - against the French in the Holy Land and the Russians most of the time - at least on and off until 1812). Napoleon's Egyptian campaign has always held a fascination for me as it combines many interesting facets - an exotic location, exotic opponents, relatively small scale, exotic locations (did I mention that?!) and a glimpse of the, yes you've guessed it, the exotic. The army itself has a solid core of Janissaries with hordes of Albanian Mercenaries and Anatolian Sekhans backed up by Suvarileri line cavalry and Sipahi light cavalry. The Turkish army of the period was best at ambush and guerilla type operations as the quality of training was pretty poor, even with the Janissaries. They were brave fellows though to be sure - especially when defending or attacking fortified places. The Mamluk armies of Egypt (Egypt, whilst conquered by the Turks in 1517 was pretty much self ruling as long as the tribute to the Sultan was paid on time) consisted of good quality cavalry and hordes of abysmal infantry so there is another avenue to explore. The figures were designed (I believe but would need to check this to be sure) by the same guy that does most of the designing for Minifigs and so using figures from them would present no problems from a compatibility perspective. Then of course, there is the British.................;-) Before anyone asks though - I have absolutely no idea when these will get a coat of paint although my only plea is guilty to the charge of restocking my unpainted lead mountain and associated project list!

To enter in the spirit of the age (not strictly accurate but I am sure you will get the point) I will leave the final word of the subject with a certain Mr Percy French who can sum it all up far more eloquently then I ever could.


byPercy French

The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.

If you wanted a man to encourage the van,
Or harass the foe from the rear,
Storm fort or redoubt, you had only to shout
For Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Now the heroes were plenty and well known to fame
In the troops that were led by the Czar,
And the bravest of these was a man by the name
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

One day this bold Russian, he shouldered his gun
And donned his most truculent sneer,
Downtown he did go where he trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Young man, quote Abdul, has life grown so dull
That you wish to end your career?
Vile infidel know, you have trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

So take your last look at the sunshine and brook
And send your regrets to the Czar
For by this I imply, you are going to die,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

Then this bold Mameluke drew his trusty skibouk,
Singing, "Allah! Il Allah! Al-lah!"
And with murderous intent he ferociously went
For Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

They parried and thrust, they side-stepped and cussed,
Of blood they spilled a great part;
The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes,
Say that hash was first made on the spot.

They fought all that night ‘neath the pale yellow moon;
The din, it was heard from afar,
And huge multitudes came, so great was the fame,
Of Abdul and Ivan Skavar.

As Abdul's long knife was extracting the life,
In fact he was shouting, "Huzzah!"
He felt himself struck by that wily Calmuck,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

The Sultan drove by in his red-breasted fly,
Expecting the victor to cheer,
But he only drew nigh to hear the last sigh,
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

There's a tomb rises up where the Blue Danube rolls,
And ‘graved there in characters clear,
Is, "Stranger, when passing, oh pray for the soul
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir."

A splash in the Black Sea one dark moonless night
Caused ripples to spread wide and far,
It was made by a sack fitting close to the back,
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

A Muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps,
'Neath the light of the cold northern star,
And the name that she murmurs in vain as she weeps,
Is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

Alternate verses:

The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
They could jockey a stallion, ambush a battalion,
And blow the froth off a beer

But needing a man to encourage the van,
Or harass the enemy's rear,
Or storm a redoubt, they would always send out
For Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Shakespeare it is not - but great fun all the same!


Paul O'G said...

Love the poem, always good to read it again!

David Crook said...

I could'nt resist it - I am not sure that you would have seen this but it was used on a TV advert for Worthingtons Bitter many years ago. The ad was a real music hall kind of thing and great fun - shame about the beer though!