Private Pierre la Duc

While ramping up production of the 45mm Napoleonic troops I happened to begin re-reading all of the old issues of Table Top Talk…

This short piece written by Jack Scruby is from Volume 1, Number 1 of Table Top Talk (January 1962).

I hope to collect all of the La Duc articles and reprint them as a group, providing copies with complete sets of the 45mm figurines.

Sergeant Pierre la Duc lives on in 45mm!

– Mike Taber – July 2004


Private Pierre la Duc is a 54mm model soldier of the 8th Legere, of the Grande Armee of Napoleon – and also an original figure I made many years ago when we used this scale figures for war games.

La Duc, being of the Light Infantry, wears a blue uniform with appropriate markings, and is distinguished because he – and the other five like him who made up the 8th Legere in my army – wear colpacks, not shakos. La Duc is in a kneeling position, with his musket resting on the ground, and he is pointing forward with his right arm. All the other members of his unit are in varied positions, but all are kneeling. This unit was at all times Light Infantry in the French war game army, and being an “elite”, was given longer moves, more accuracy of fire, and at that time had a bonus in that they had a split move. This meant that La Duc and his buddies could move out one Infantry move, fire, (without being fired at), and then move back to his original position.

At the time that La Duc won fame and promotion, Marshal Homer Delabar had command of the French army, while I had command of the British. Our battles were generally fought in the Peninsula of Spain, and the Battle of Estarro’s Farm was only one in a long series during a campaign which we were fighting.

At the beginning of the battle, may force of gallant British troops held Estarro’s Farm with their left flank. A hard assault upon my center took my attention away from the Farm House, which was held only by a handful of men, and during this time La Duc and his men began moving forward towards the building. They took some loss from my artillery as they came in, but before long the Light Infantry – who had actually been in support of a wave of regular Infantry – drove out my red coats and occupied the place.

This put the French in a position on my flank that I could not tolerate, and I mustered up some men to counter-attack. Using the “split move”, La Duc and his buddies moved out, fired, and then raced back to the shelter of the house. My Grenadiers took care of the Legere, except for La Duc, who before he was killed shot down 8 or 10 of my men single-handed. Posthumously La Duc was raised to Sergeant and was decorated. From that time onward La Duc was an immortal and even today the glory that was his remains as he kneels in my shelves – Sergeant La Duc of the 8th Legere!