Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


The Trophies of Austerlitz

By: Markus Stein, based on the original article by Jacques Leparquois

Translator:  Justin Howard

This article previously appeared in Issue 1 of the German-language magazine Depesche, which is published by our partner, Napoleon Online. We appreciate the kindness of the editor, Markus Stein, for giving us permission to publish the translation. It is sbased on an article in the French-Language magazine Le Briquet.

To start with, it has to be mentioned that at the time of the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, each Russian regiment carried six flags. Among these was the so-called Colonel’s or White Flag, which took its name from the white central cross. The other five flags were coloured.

At Austerlitz, three different models of flag were in use, which had the following characteristics:

1797 Model

1797 Model

The flag can be split into two distinct main areas, namely the cross and the corners.

In the centre of the flag, there is an orange-coloured circle with the national emblem – a black eagle with gold lightning bolts, heart, orb and crown as well as a red shield – and a green laurel wreath, which is bound with a sky-blue ribbon and topped by a small gold crown.

The flag stave is painted in one of four different colours, namely straw yellow, coffee-coloured, black or white.

The pike head is flattened and decorated with the national emblem. Gilt ferrule. Silver cords and tassels.

1800 Model

The same drawing as the previous model, but the corners are smaller. The central circle is larger and is topped by a silver crown with sky-blue ribbon. The double-headed eagle is painted sitting and leaning to one side and holds silver lightning bolts - the flag of the Arkhangelogorod regiment has in addition two blue ribbons with inscriptions. In each corner, a gold crown over the silver monogram of Paul I inside a silver laurel wreath.

1800 Model

Gold pike head with monogram of Paul I.

Silver cords and tassels.

1803 Model

In general, the same drawing as the 1797 model. The medallion in the centre of the flag is as with the previous model, except that here there are no ribbons illustrated. Gold laurel wreath and crown.

In each corner, the monogram of Alexander I in gold.

Pike head with gold eagle.

Silver cords and tassels.

1803 Model

In all three cases, the flag-cloth is attached to the flag stave by means of a sheath the same colour as the cross, held in place by studs.

Captured Flags

After exact consultation of all of his sources, General Andolenko is certain that 14 infantry flags were definitely captured, and that not a single Colonel’s flag was among these.

This is confirmed by the paintings by Detaille, Baud and Lalauze, which are reproduced in the work of Lachouque.

According to the general’s research, therefore, the following table can be drawn up:

Regiment

Flags Lost

Model

Colour

Azov

3

1797

Pink cross
Chestnut brown corners
Straw yellow flag stave

Arkhangelogorod

1

1800

Black cross
Red corners
Black flag stave

Narva

2

1797

Orange cross
Sky-blue corners
White flag stave

Padolie

5

1803

Pink cross
White corners
Black flag stave

Kursk

2

1797

Dark green cross
Red corners
Black flag stave

Perm

1

1797

Yellow cross
Green corners
White flag stave

Apparently, neither cavalry nor guard standards were captured. Some of these may have been mistaken for company markers because of their peculiar shape. In addition, several staves with cloth strips were captured, which are often presumed to be flags.

It is possible to speculate, which French regiment captured which Russian flags.

I suspect the following distribution:

Arkhangelogorod    – 5th Cuirassiers

Kursk    – 26th Chasseurs à cheval

Podolie    – Fusiliers of the 36th Line Regiment

Perm    – Grenadiers of the 46th Line Regiment

Azov    – 2nd Hussars

    – Fusiliers of the 33rd Line Regiment

Narva    – 2nd Hussars

This list was compiled based on the recorded troop movements and the action in which these troops were involved during the battle.

Sources

Andolenko: Aigles impériales contre drapeau du Tsar, published in Revue Historique de l’Armée 1969

Gorokhoff: Drapeaux russes pris à Austerlitz, published in SCFH[1] 3/1963

Fouré-Aerts: Article in SCFH 1/1962 (though the colour scheme is doubtful)

Lachouque: Napoléon et la Russie

Zweguintzow: L’Armée russe, Part 4

Charrié: Les trophées de la campagne de 1805; published in Amis Musée Armée, Issue 72

Note:

[1] Translator’s Note: SCHF is the Société des Collectionneurs de Figurines Historiques

Placed on the Napoleon Series: March 2010

 

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