The Continental Artillery, 1775–1783

Miniatures Conversions in 1:72 Scale

Captain Nathaniel Smith’s 1st Company of Maryland Artillery ca. 1776.

A more sophisticated conversion. Infantry figures are coverted to gunners and Austrian artillerymen are reduced in size to match the smaller Airfix and Revell Revolutionary War miniatures. Cannon and crew pictured here are from Revell. The man on the right is a former British Infantry figure, the other figures and the cannon are from the Seven Year’s War Austrian Artillery. The infantry regiments on either side of the battery are Airfix Washington’s Army from the editor’s collection. The troops are based on 1.5″ × 3″ regimental stands of the Volley & Bayonet game system.

Parts Required

The Gunners

British infantry figures from Revell are already quite large for the period, but the Austrian gunners are true giants at 187 cm. compared to them, Prussian Giant Grenadier Guardsmen only measured a modest 180 cm. The unit had just one grenadier who measured 190 cm, a curiosity at the time, the man had been brought to the King’s attention and was then pressed into military service.

The gigantic Austrians are cut below the knee, shortened by 1mm and soldered back together. In addition, the thickness of the figures’ bases should be reduced to 0.3 mm by slicing the plastic off with a scalpel. This is a useful trick which makes the figures appear smaller, allowing us to use them alongside Revell British Infantry.

Riding boots were only worn by Austrian foot artillery at the time, and even they preferred gaiters on most occasions. The boots need to be carved off and converted to gaiters or breeches worn with stockings. The Austrian figures have long pigtails which are no longer in fashion, they should be shortened to 3mm. Shoulderknots need to be removed on all figures except corporals and sergeants who wore narrow epaulettes on the right shoulder. Finally, remove the pouch from the waist-belt.

British AWI infantry converted to artillery.

Convincing gunners of the Continental Artillery may be converted from Rebel Militia and British Infantry figures. The British soldier with the musket in his right hand is particulary suited for this conversion. Remove the rifle and the fingers of the right hand. Clean the rifle and use it in a diorama later. With the soldering iron, weld the ramrod next to the figure’s right foot and carefully tack it to the right hand. Melt a piece of soft plastic sprue with the soldering iron and sculpt it around the ramrod, to create new fingers. Excess plastic can be removed with the scalpel, and new fingers are engraved with the soldering iron. Spare artillery ramrods may be scrounged from Revell British Foot Artillery, or made from 0.6 mm pianowire, both ends wrapped with yarn and sealed with superglue.

The Cannon

Austrian cannon may be used universally throughout the period, as long as the unique prolong handles are cut off at the front of the carriage. The Continental Army was equipped with obsolete iron cannon at the beginning of the war, which were heavier and less manœuvrable than brass pieces of the same poundage. Captured British guns were a welcome replacement, and many of the heavy artillery pieces came from Fort Ticonderoga which was captured by Ethan Allen in May of 1775. Because the artillery pieces originated from a variety of sources, they were painted in many different colours:

  • Militia and captured guns were painted British Artillery Grey
  • Continental Artillery was painted in dark red, red brown, varies shades of green and blue, dark yellow and sealed natural wood. How the gun carriages were painted seems to have depended very much on the availability of paint and wood stains.
  • Later in the war, French equipment became available and it was already painted French Artillery Green, an olive green mixed from ochre and small amounts of black.

When the guns and figures are based, remember to add ammunition boxes and other items of equipment which may be kept near the gun. Boxes are easily carved from small pieces of balsa wood and painted in the same colour as the gun carriage. If you own a fountain pen, you will find realistic looking 12-pdr roundshot inside the empty ink cartridges. To show that the battery is under fire from enemy artillery, trace a furrow into the ground which covers the base and bury a spent cannonball at the end of it.

Captain Nathaniel Smith’s 1st Company of Maryland Artillery ca. 1776

Pictured here is Captain Nathaniel Smith’s 1st Company of Maryland Artillery ca. 1776:

  • Blue coat with silver buttons
  • Light grey collar and facings
  • Grey waistcoat
  • Black stock
  • Leather breeches
  • Blue stockings
  • Short black gaiters
  • Black tricorne with white lace edging
    • Captain, yellow cockade, beige after 1776
    • Subaltern, green cockade
  • Sergeant, red epaulette on right shoulder
  • Korporal, green epaulette on right shoulder

Similar uniforms of different colour and facings were worn by British, Hessian and French gunners during the Revolutionary War.

American Revolutionary War Miniatures