Fortunately for the avid army builder, there is a wealth of easily accessible literature to help them along the way. Books published by companies such as Osprey are ideal for this purpose, because not only do they contain detailed drawings of soldiers and their equipment, they also provide descriptions of tactics and formations employed at the time. There are numerous titles available on the Jacobite Risings, both in and out of print, and so it was natural for us to turn to these as a major source of information. For this project, another good source came in the form of battlefield re-enactors and we were lucky enough to talk to members of Major General Glenbucket's Regiment, Alan Breck's Prestonpans Volunteer Regiment and Régiment Irlandois de Dillon at the Highland Folk Museum in 2016.
If you walk down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, or indeed any Scottish street that relies on an influx of tourists, you will be bombarded with advertisements for tartan goods, and more particularly, ‘authentic’ clan themed tartan goods. These trade on the idea that each Highland clan has its own unique tartan, and these days, this is largely true. However, this notion is a relatively new one, only dating from the first half of the 19th century and finding its roots, like many such traditions, in the Romantic movement of the time. Traditionally, tartans were not clan specific, with colours based on whatever natural dies were available locally, while patterns would have been made according to the tastes of the local weavers. As a result, what might be regarded as regional styles may have emerged, but these were not formalised along clan lines. During the ‘Forty-Five’ members of different clans would in fact have been identified by their ‘clan badges’, which usually took the form of a sprig of a specific plant and were usually worn on a person’s bonnet. For example, the various branches of Clan MacDonald wore a sprig of common heather as their badge. So while our armies are kilted in various types of tartan, these tartans are not supposed to specifically represent any of the clans who joined the Jacobite cause.
Another major compromise was with regard to the Jacobite blue bonnet. The bonnets, which were worn not only by the army of the “Forty-Five” but also by those of previous risings, and indeed by earlier Scottish armies, are an iconic item of clothing and so this was important to address. The trouble is LEGO, having naturally never produced Jacobite playsets, have never produced a piece of headgear that closely resembles the bonnets; we were therefore immediately forced to look for an alternative. Fortunately, while it may be a different colour, LEGO do produce a piece which has alternatively been presented as a ‘beret’ or ‘flat cap’, in black. As far as minifigures go the difference between beret and bonnet is pretty much non-existent and so these pieces were identified as a suitable substitute. We did find a third-party company who made blue berets for LEGO minifigures, such as those worn by UN peacekeepers, but decided that this would result in too many non-LEGO pieces in the model.
We'll be doing a guide to building the government army of the "Forty-five" later in the summer, follow us on Facebook or Twitter to see it first!
Finally, a big recommendation needs to be given to Maggie Craig's excellent book 'Bare-Arsed Banditti: The Men of the '45' which has provided us with a great deal of information and inspiration for our model. We also love the name of the book and found it a perfect into for this blog on our own bare arsed banditti. If you want to find out more about the rising of the "Forty-five" then get Maggie's book, it provides the perfect introduction.