22 January, 2015

The Wissmanntruppe

Marine, two officers, Sudanese askari, Somali askari, Zulu askari
Part of my original passion for German colonial gaming was the Bagamoyo Expedition in East Africa in 1889, led by Major Hermann von Wissmann.  I did a bit of research, came up with a decent order of battle for both sides, figured out what figures to use, and was looking at a couple of options for rules (including a variant of Volley and Bayonet and the Bagamoyo rules found as a download on the home page).  At the time this was going to be a project using 28mm figures, but I never seemed to ever start buying the necessary figures and the project fell by the wayside.  Luckily I kept the information I had because now, as my (potential) second German colonial project, I hope to create the Abushiri Rebellion in 15mm.

To that end, first thing is to restate the German order of battle:
  • 200 German Marines and a small number of sailors, drawn from the cruisers Leipzig, Schwalbe, Sperber, Carola and Pfeil
  • 40 German Army NCOs deployed as sharpshooters (treat these as Regulars in the rules)
  • 4 Companies of Sudanese (Nubian) askaris and 1 of Zulus, totaling about 500 men
  • 50 local askaris (Somalis in some sources)
  • 100 Nyamwezi irregulars and porters
  • 1 60mm mountain gun
  • 2 revolver cannon
Picture from Old Glory Miniatures website
HERE is a conversation I had with some helpful folks on The Miniatures Page some time ago about sources for 15mm figures. In looking through that conversation, and perusing the excellent German Colonial Uniforms website, I think all the askaris will be covered by the Blue Moon Askari pack from their Deep Dark Africa range.  There are enough of a variety of types that I can separate them out by type for the three types of askaris I will need.  The turban for the Sudanese askaris will be a bit large (the two figures on the left and the figure on the far right), and the sailor uniforms for the other two types will be shirts and shorts (fourth figure from the left), but I believe in 15mm the differences will not be huge.

Guns, however, will be a bit of a challenge.  There are crews within the Old Glory 15s Boxer range, but finding 15mm late Nineteenth Century revolver cannon and mountain guns has been a bit of an exercise in frustration.  I know I have to be missing some obvious range of figures, but I've yet to come across anything that would be suitable.  Not perfect, but suitable.  I believe the picture shows the 60mm mountain gun on the left, and something a bit larger on the right (the barrels seems to be of different caliber), so now you have an idea of what I am seeking (please leave a comment if you have suggestions).

As for uniform details, I have this information, provided to me so long ago I cannot remember who was kind enough to send it!

The Sudanese soldiers wore a khaki jacket with brass buttons, khaki knee-length trousers, blue puttees, and natural color leather lace-up shoes. On their head they wore a light gray or pale yellow turban wound around a fez. Toward the end of 1890 the turban was changed to a gray tarbush and neck shade. 

The Effendis (native officers) wore a khaki jacket after the pattern worn by German NCO's, with trousers, puttees, shoes, and headdress as for the soldiers. Their jacket buttons were brass also. 

The designation "Effendi" originated during the time of the Wissmann Unit. The equivalent German rank was Leutnant or Second Lieutenant. For insignia they wore three, golden, five-pointed stars on each shoulder strap. 

Chevrons denoted rank among the men. These were of blue braid (Zinnfigur mentions that some sources state yellow) and worn on the right forearm of the khaki jacket. From 1890 onward they were red, and worn on the upper left sleeve. One chevron denoted the rank of "Ombascha" (Gefreite, or Lance Corporal), two chevrons denoted the rank of "Schausch" (Unteroffizier, or Corporal), three denoted the rank of "Betschausch" (Sergeant), and four the rank of "Sol" (Feldwebel, or Sergeant-Major). Askaris (Privates) wore none. 

Specialist badges were worn on the upper right sleeve of the jacket. There was a red flaming grenade for artillerymen, and red crossed flags for signals personnel. Soldiers of the Zulu company wore the same dress as the Company askaris mentioned earlier, but the jacket and knee-length trousers were blue instead of white, and the jacket was worn outside the trousers. For parade they wore a long sleeved white shirt beneath the jacket, and white puttees. According to Zinnfigur, later, when a second company was added, the soldiers of the second company wore a white tassel on their fez as a distinction. At the end of 1889 the Zulu soldiers were given the same sort of dress as the Sudanese; with the exception of headwear as they continued to wear the fez, and the lack of shoes. 

The German East Africa Company askaris continued to wear their white uniform and fez. A photo in Schmidt dated 1889 shows a group of them wearing a waist belt with belly box and their jacket is being worn outside the trousers. Zinnfigur states that during the period of the Wissmann Unit a white jacket with standing collar and black buttons came to be worn with long white trousers; jacket outside. There was a black-white-red braid running along the base of the collar.


  1. Blue Moon 15mm Sudan range has a 1-lb pompom gun which looks similar to the revolverkanon.

    1. Sort of yes, sort of no. Here is what I think the gun should look like: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/Bundesarchiv_Bild_105-DOA0152,_Deutsch-Ostafrika,An_der_Revolverkanone.jpg


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