Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Grognards: Grenadier a Pied de la Garde 1799 - 1815

By Paul Dawson

Introduction

The silhouette of a grenadier a pied is one of the most symbolic and most easily recognised images from the Napoleonic era, second only to the silhouette of the Emperor with his hat and grey riding cloak. The guard was elite and self confident, its mesmeric effect on friend and foe alike was due to its close relationship with the Emperor. At the very top of the military food chain under Napoleon was the indomitable Imperial Guard, the best seasoned and most highly decorated veterans in the entire French army...the creme de la creme. They were the most fearsome and dedicated warriors of their day. From the plains of Spain to the snows of Russia, they followed closely behind the legendary black bicorn hat with the tricolor cockade trusting absolutely in the genius of the man who wore it. They were his `Children', he was their `Tondu'. They would fight and die for nobody but him.

The Grenadiers a Pied of the Imperial Garde were formed on 4th May 1804, and consisted to two battalions, each made up of eight companies of 102 men. In 1806 each company consisted of 166men, and two years later the 2nd regiment was incorporated into the 1st.  A company consisted of the following, one capitaine, three lieutenants, one sergeant-major, two sergeants, on fourrier, eight corporals, two sapeurs, two drummers and 102 soldats.

This paper does not aim to describe in detail the battles and campaigns in which the grenadiers faught, this is detailed by the work of Henry Lachoque, Alain Pigeard and other writes of the 20th century. In this work I present a study of the men and their uniform and equipment, highlighting over looked aspects of the regiment, and its reputation.

Much has been written about the battles and campaigns which this prestigious organisation took part. The work of Henri Lachouque in the Anatomy of Glory, is a vivid picture of the  Guard and its relationship with Napoleon. Lachouque along with writers such as Fallou, Malibran and Pigeard in the more recent past, have all produced studies of the Guard, geared towards its organisation and history. These authors, however, say little if anything about the actual men who comprised this august body.

With the following study I aim to describe the men who actually made up the Grenadiers and offer commentaries about their behaviour, education and career within the Guard.

The information in this study is taken from the relevant 'Registre Metricules' held in the Service Historique Defence du Terre at Vincennes in Paris.  Where possible, data was obtained for four periods of the Grenadiers  history: 1799-1801, 1802-1803 looking at the men who formed the Grenadiers of the Consular Guard; 1810-1812 at the height of the Empire, to show the demographics of the men who were lost in Russia,  1813 to show the men who formed the guard when it was reformed in the new year of 1813 and finally the men forming the 1e Grenadiers in 1815.

Organisation

The most famous military organisation of the Napoleonic Wars was Napoleon's Imperial Guard. The story of the Guard in France spans many centuries, almost all the Kings and Queens in French history had a guard in one form or other. The Imperial Guard’s history begins in 1789 with the formation of the Gardes de la Prevote de l'Hotel, their task being to guard the Royal Residences. The Gardes de la Prevote de l'Hotel, were formed on 20 June 1789, and its various successor formations through the Gardes des Consuls, performed the duties of bodyguards for the members of the National Assembly and the various ruling bodies until Napoleon assumed the position of First Consul.

After the guard joined the National Assembly, their title changed to the Garde de l'Assemblée Nationale on 20 June 1789, but two years later on 10 May 1791, they became the Compagnie de la Prevote. Then they were renamed the Gendarmes Nationale, but this formation lasted only five days before becoming the Grenadiers-Gendarmes pres de la Representation Nationale on the 15th May 1791. In the space of five days they had four different names. It was decided to expand this force and on 22 July 1795 it was renamed the Grenadiers pres la Representation Nationale shortened to the Gardes de la Convention. With the dissolution of the Convention on 26h October 1795 and the introduction of the Corps Legislatif, the Garde de la Convention became the Garde du Corps Legislatif (28th October 1795) and comprised one thousand two hundred men nominated by the Directory.

The Directory decided in November 1795 to form a Guard, its function being to act as Garde d'Honneur to the Directory and provide protection to its members. Each Director was to have two guards to protect him. The title given to this force was Garde du Directoire and it was formally established on the 4th October 1796, the force was to consist of 120 Infantry and 120 cavalry. Napoleon ordered the formation of his personal bodyguard, the Guides a cheval, on 11 Prairial An IV [30 May 1796], after nearly being captured by a force of raiding Austrian hussars while engaged in a dalliance with some Italian ladies in Valeggio.

6 brumaire year IV (November 27, 1795), the Guard of the Legislative Corps, i.e. of the Convention, took the title of Guard of the Executive Directory, and passed, so to speak without alteration, without jolts, and only by changing the inscription of its uniform buttons, into the service of the new government.

A severe purification had changed the ranks of the Guard of the Convention in last days of this government; the Directory continued with this prudent work of regeneration.

This work of regenerating the guard, saw it take in the veterans of the armies of the Rhine, of Sambre and Meuse, of the Pyrenees and Italy, took places in its Guard. Tested and able officers, the voluntary enrollees of the various departments were allowed to be used; and an exact discipline, an unknown science of maneouver with its predecessor, soon placed it at the head of the regiments of the army. However the guard of the Directory was a political entity of the Directors, so with the creation of the Consulate, it was a again purged of the politicaly dubious.

A decree of the 13 vendémiaire year V (October 4, 1796) gave the Guard  of the Directory the following organization, namely:

1 General Officer Commander in Chief

1 Master tailor

1 Second in Command

1 Master boot maker

2 Aides-de-camp

1 Master gunsmith (armurier)

4 Adjutants

1 Master saddle maker

1 Quarter-master treasurer

1 Master spur maker

1 Surgeon-major

2 Companies of foot guards

1 Drum-major

2 Companies of horse guards

And these four companies were composed, thusly:

FOOT GUARD

STAFF

Battalion Head……….1

Flag bearer……….1

First Company

According to a decree of 24 vendémaire (October 15), the admission requirements to this guard were fixed thus:

Captain……………………………………………...

1

forwarded…….….

11

Lieutenant…………………………………………..

1

Drummers………………………………………….

2

Sub-lieutenant………………………………………

1

Guards……………………………………………..

42

Sergeant Major……………………………………..

1

 

55

Sergeants……………………………………………

2

The 2nd Company has the same composition

55

Quartermaster Corporal……………………………

1

Total of the staff………………………………...

2

Corporals…………………………………………..

4

   

To bring forward……

11

Total……………

112

“1st ART. For the officers: height of at least 5 feet 3 inches, and twenty-five years of age; for the non- commissioned officers and guards, both for foot and horse, heights of at least 5 feet 6, and the same age as for the officers.”

These men who were to have been in at least two campaigns of the war of freedom, and to have faced enemy fire, were moreover to know to read and write correctly.

“ART. 2. For the first formation, the soldiers of any grade, composing today the Provisional Guard of the Executive Directory, known as the Constitutional Guard, and counting six months of service already, can be included in the Guard of the Directory, at twenty-two years of age.”

“ART. 3. The General commander in chief of the aforementioned Guard, will hold a register of all the candidates who, having the qualities prescribed above, have presented themselves to form part of it, and will indicate the subjects which he believes are his duty to choose; but none of those will be allowed any rank, unless first accepted by a formal decree of the Executive Directory; in the same way no man can be reduced in rank or dismissed unless by a similar decree or following a legal judgment.”

“ART. 4. Each officer, non-commissioned officer and soldier, either footmen or horsemen, will be held to provide the General commander in chief, while presenting themselves, or within one month of his admission, at the latest, all the legal papers suitable to make known the position of his parents, up to the time of his presentation, his names and first names, his age, the place of his birth, and what civil or military roles he filled. He will have to gather these certification papers in good order.”

“The General commander in chief will give a synopsis of all this information to the Directory, and an account will return to him, in writing, the first decadi of each quarter, of the control of each soldier placed under his orders. He will add to this report the nominal control of the Guard.”

“ART. 5. The brevet of officers of the Guard of the Directory will be made by the Minister for the War, as with all the other officers of the army in which they will continue to hold positions, according to their rank and their seniority.”

“ART. 6. This Guard will enter in active service next 11 brumaire, the anniversary of the installation of the Executive Directory.”

The 13 brumaire year V (November 3, 1796), a decree regulating the mode of service and the relationship of the commander in chief of this Guard with the president of the Directory, by determining the order of precedence in public ceremonies.

The following 20 brumaire, an adjutant non-commissioned officer and a head of the non-commissioned officers of the two arms was created, and the Master spur-maker was removed: this function was taken by the Master-gunsmith (armurier).

The 8 frimaire year V (November 28, 1796), the Directory stopped the final appointment of the members of its Guard, the men were as follows:

General Staff.

KRIEG, Division General, Commander-in-Chief
JUBÉ, Brigadier General, Second-in –Command

Aides-de-camp of the General Commander in Chief.

LEFÈBVRE.—DUMOUSTIER.

Adjutants.

FUZY.—BERANGER.—WALKER.

MOREAU, Quarter-master-treasurer.—DUDONJON, Surgeon-major.

Artisans of the Staff.

HANCHAR, Master-tailor

LERMIGNÉ son, Mast. gunsmith-spur maker

BONIVAL, idem boot maker

LACOUR (François), Master saddler

FOOT GUARD.

DUBOIS (Antoine), Battalion Head.—LEMAROIS (Réné), Flag bearer.

COMPAGNIES.

CAPITAINES.

LIEUTENANTS.

SOUS-LIEUTENANTS.

Officers {

1st

MAGNIÉ.

CHEVALLARD.

CASTILLE.

 

2nd

HUMBERT.

AUDION.

GRIMBERT

Non-Commissioned Officers

1st

Sergeants-Majors.

Sergeants.

Corporals.

   

ANCIAUX (Joseph).

CAULIER (Louis).

BEAULIEU (Christopher).

       

DELAUZY (Louis).

     

TOURNIER (Octave).

DESSIGUES (François).

       

MALRAISON (Jean).

 

2nd

RAUBARDY (Pierre).

COLLOT (Étienne).

AUBERT (Pierre).

       

AUBRY (Victor).

     

MUNSCHY (Joseph).

LAMBERT (François).

       

TILLIER (Jean).

* Then quartered in the vast buildings of old Capuchin’s Convent, on Saint- Honoré Street.

Guards.

First Company

Barbedienne (Jacques).

Dubanton (Joseph).

Lecerq (Baptiste).

Baudry (Guillaume).

Dufour (Joseph).

Lessure (François).

Baudry.

Dunouvion (Baptiste).

Liebant (Pierre).

Botte (Pierre).

Duseiller (Jacques).

Merlin (Pierre).

Bausseur (Martin).

François (Claude).

Moutay (Jean).

Buire (Louis).

Gauthier (François).

Morel (Germain).

Bizot (Medan).

Gueriaut (Joseph).

Mosa (Vincent).

Carrière (Constant).

Herlet (Pierre).

Pesteau (Julien).

Cheval (Charles).

Laissant (Charles).

Reymond (Joseph).

Crétien (Jacques).

Lassalle (François).

Roy (Benoist).

Courtein (Jean).

Laurie (Claude).

Vaudin (Jean).

Davial (Louis).

Leclere (Louis).

Voyer (Arnoud).

Second Company.

Bailleul (Toussaint).

Deinse (Nicolas).

Lyonnay (Louis).

Barbier (Adrieu).

Drigny (Louis).

Maisonueve (Jean).

Baucerou (Martin).

Fleury (Pierre).

Meunier (Pierre).

Baudin (Pierre).

Fossay (Louis).

Montalan (Guillaume).

Beridi (Joseph).

Gauchet (Gilles).

Olié (Claude).

Bodereau (Sylvain).

Gaudin (Théodore).

Poisson (Joseph).

Boheim (Jean).

Gérard (Jean).

Gueuval (François).

Champagne (Victor).

Giblin (Philippe).

Reboul (Louis).

Cornette (Etienne).

Joannes (Gabrielle).

Rousseau (Pierre).

Deboul (Bernard).

Laforge (Etienne).

Thousin (Amable).

Defiesme (Simon).

Lambourg (Louis).

Traite (Pierre).

Delatre (Baptiste).

Lefel (Martin).

…………………….

Demourant (Jean).

Legay (Charles).

…………………….

     

Bonner (Martin), Drum-Major*

Drummers.

Laurent (François).

Robillard (François).

Lemaire (Louis).

Senet (Philippe).

Decree of the 4 brumaire year VI (October 25, 1797) said:

“1st ART. The usual Guard of the Directory will enjoy the same pay temporarily as that granted to the body of grenadiers employed near the national representation.”

“ART. 2. This pay will be the same one in the corresponding ranks for the Foot Guards as well as for the Horse Guards.”

“ART. 3. The rations of food and liquids will be delivered to the Guard of the Directory, in the same proportions as those delivered to the Legislative Bodyguard; the maintenance costs and other allocated expenditure it will be the same as with the aforementioned Guard.”

“ART. 4. Those of the officers whose rank would not correspond to that of the various officers of the Legislative Bodyguard will only enjoy the treatment shown officers of the same rank in the armies of the Republic.”

According to Article 5 of the decree of the 6 nivose year V (December 26, 1796), the musicians were paid and treated, thusly: the band-leader like a quartermaster-sergeant, and musicians like the drummers.

Nine ventose year V (February 27, 1797), the Foot Guard took the denomination Foot Grenadiers, and the Horse Guard that of Horse Grenadiers.

Lastly, the 14 pluviose year VI (February 2, 1798), the Directory decreed that its Guard would preserve its organization, by always presenting a manpower of 240 men. This body thus remained in this state until after the famous day of the 19 brumaire (November 9, 1799).The 20 brumaire, Bonaparte, greeted as First Consul by the people of Paris, came into the Place Carrousel, at the head of many staff, to pass in review the regiments, which formed the garrison of Paris. The Guard of the Directory occupied the right of the line of battle. Bonaparte announced at the face of banner of this body, which he would take from now on the name of Guard of the Consuls, and the cries of sharp vive Bonaparte General! resounded at once on all along the line... the Imperial Guard had been born!By the constitution of year VIII and the establishment of the Consulate, the Guard of the Directory, had to form the Consular Guard. Consequently, a decree of the consuls 7 frimaire year VIII (November 28, 1799) fixed the organization of this Guard in the following way[1]:

“The consuls of the Republic”, it was said in the decree, “considering the need for giving to their Guard a suitable force and a state of dignity to the government of the French people, decree that the Guard of the consuls will henceforth be made up in the following manner, namely:”

“1st ART. One general staff.”
“This staff was to be at the same time the staff of the town of Paris and that of the palace of the consuls.

One company of light infantry ;”
Two foot grenadier battalions;”
One company of horse chasseurs”
Two squadrons of cavalry ”
One light artillery company including one mounted squad."

“ART. 4. Each grenadier battalion will be composed of six companies and each company of:

1 Captain.

1 Lieutenant.

1 Quartermaster (fourrier).

1 Sub Lieutenant.

8 Corporals.

1 Sergeant Major.

80 Grenadiers.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.”

Those named for the formation of these two battalions:

1st Battalion.

2nd Battalion.

Company

CAPTAINS.

LIEUTENAN.

SUB-LIEUT.

Company

CAPTAINS.

LIEUTENAN.

SUB-LIEUT.

1st

CHARPENTIER.

CARRE.

BOURDILLET.

1st

RAGOIS.

DUTRÒNE,

HENRY.

     

DESCOMBES.

     

DENEUILLY.

2nd

LEMARROIS.

DAVIGNON.

BROUSSE.

2nd

PARSIS.

GUILLEMARD.

DELVOLVÉE.

     

VILLEMEUREUX.

     

LEMAITRE.

3rd

MAGNÉ.

VIEL.

REDON.

3rd

BERNELLE.

HASSE.

DUNOYER.

     

DEMOULINS.

     

PILATE.

4th

THEURE.

GUYON.

FLEURENTIN.

4th

RICHARD.

FAVEZ.

BLONDEAU.

     

BOUTIN.

     

AUBERT.

5th

LAJONQUIÈRE.

VÉZU.

BOUDIN.

5th

CHÉRY.

CHAUTARD.

MELLIER.

     

CIRON.

     

BOUHOUR.

6TH

LEROY.

LAROUSNE.

BASIN.

6TH

MAYER.

ROUVOIRE.

DUFOUR.

     

DOURNIER.

     

LAUREDE.

The minimum requirements for joining the Guard, was that they must be no less than 25 years old, between 5 foot 10 inches and 6 foot in height. The decree also stated that any entrant to the guard  must have participated in three campaigns in the wars of liberty and be able to read and write[2]. However as we shall see, these stipulations were not rigidly adhered to.

Allowances

The allowances indicated hereafter will be paid every month, and in advance. They will be regulated in the proportions hereafter, namely[3]:

Bakery.

“The bakery allowance will be at a rate of 19 c. per day for non-commissioned (sous) officers, guards and children of the corps for all arms, or 68 fr. 40 c. per annum.”

Heating.

“The heating allowance at 8 c. per day in winter, and at 4 c. per day in summer; the non-commissioned officers, quartermasters (fourriers), musicians and head artisans (ouvriers) will be paid double.”

Body of the Guard.

“The allowance for heating, lighting and maintenance of utensils of the body of the guard, at a rate of 4 fr. 50 c. from 15 vendémaire to 15 germinal (from October 6 to April 4), and 60 c. during the other six months of the year.”

“The captain of the engineers, or the commissioner of wars, will give an accounting of these allowances every month to the reviewing inspector, for him to review.”

Fodder.

“The allowance for fodder will be paid at a rate of 1 fr. 39 c. per day, for horse officers, soldiers and those from the other services, or 500 fr. 40 c. per annum.”

Remounts.

“The allowance for remounts will be paid at a rate of 27 c. three quarters per day, per horse, or 100 fr. per annum.”

Shoeing and Medications.

“The allowance for shoeing and medications, at a rate of 8 c. a quarter per day, per horse, for a cavalryman, or 29 fr. 70 c. per annum; and 15 c. two thirds per day, per horse of the train, or 60 fr. per annum, not including officers’ horses that are included in different allowances for this.”

The Administrative Council of each body was in charge of the administration of these allowances; it ordered and paid for the purchases of any type; the making and the maintenance of the clothing effects, and finally the use of the funds which entered the unit’s cash box, according to the principles established in the decree of 8 floréal year VIII (April 28, 1800); without allowing any change nor innovation in the uniform; unless by a written command of the first consul.

The Administrative Councils were to go to the markets, the most economical possible, for all the supplies for which it could require, other than those indicated in the following article. These markets were never put to use until after having received the approval of the General commanding the arm, as well as the stamp of the reviewing inspector and that of the commissioner of wars.

“The markets for the supply of bread, fluids, wood and fodder, will have passed through a special administrative council, composed of the Generals, of the reviewing inspector, the commissioner of wars and the president of each administrative council, so that these supplies are of the same quality for all the units of the Consular Guard.”

The Administrative Council was to do a provisional check of the accounts of their respective bodies every month; the Reviewing Inspector would check this accountancy every three months in the presence of the general of that arm, and had, moreover, each year, to give a general account of their management to the assembled Administrative Council under the terms of orders emanating from the first consul.

“No individual associated with the corps of the Consular Guard will be able to claim any portion of the funds coming from the allowances. The council will not be able to have these funds without the authorization of the first consul; the remainder will have to be carried over into receipt for the following year.”

The government paymaster paid earnings (solde) and the allowances (masses), which we have just mentioned in accordance with the equipping article, on the reviews or statements of the administrative councils’ accounts by the Reviewing Inspector. He fed the cashboxes from that of the General Paymaster of War, in proportion to the needs for his service.

“All the officers without troops, included in the present organization, will be paid every month by the government paymaster according to the statements which will be drawn up by the heads of each body, and will be checked by the Reviewing Inspector.”

“All the sums which the paymaster will distribute, either under the terms of the statements of the administrative councils, or according to the statements of the officers without troops, or finally to balance the extracts of reviews, will be registered on their particular pay records.”

“Independent of the pay and the allowances, the administrative councils of the bodies will allocate the amount of clothing, equipment, armament and harnessing of the horses of each officer or soldier lately allowed in the Guard, and paid at the times of the reviews of the body, in the following proportions, namely:

 

Officer.

Soldier.

Foot Grenadier

800

258

Foot Chasseur

800

258

Horse Grenadier

1000

517

Horse Chasseur and light artillery

1500

689

The officers will have to be mounted, while entering to the body, at a rate of two horses each, whatever their rank; they will take part in any increases in allowances, because of the number of horses allotted to their rank.”

A sum of six hundred francs was allocated to the senior officers for each increase of a horse; but this increase could take place only according to the authorization of the first consul.

In this case the Administrative Council formed the statement for the number of these horses, and the amount at a rate of six hundred francs each; this statement sent via the general officer of the cavalry and the Reviewing Inspector, and addressed to the Minister of War, who submitted his report to the first consul and then authorized the reimbursement.

It fell on the markets, as we said, to provide the extraordinary distributions of wine, brandy, of vinegar, which the Generals of the Guard judged appropriate for ordering. The administrative councils formed statements for these supplies every quarter, depositing the receipts of the commanders of companies, which they then gave for checking to the Commissioner of Wars, then with the approving requisition (visa) to the Reviewing Inspector; these statements were addressed to the Minister of War, who authorized its refunding to the administrative councils who noted that.

The officers, non-commissioned officers and guards who obtained brevets of honor, or who were proposed for one, will be paid their honorary reward and their pay, according to their rank, at the time when they obtained them, and, for that, included in the review of the inspector.”

The sums which were due for postponed of pay for the newly allowed pay for the Consular Guard, were regulated by the Reviewing Inspector, on the pieces of communication with him by the respective administrative councils: the amount of these allowances was added to that of the reviews.

The decree of March 8th 1802 set out the organisation of the Grenadiers as Follows[4]:

Infantry.

Foot Grenadier Staff.

1 Brigade Head.

1 Student to the surgeon.

2 Battalion Heads.

1 Post orderly quarter master sergeant. (vaguemestre sergeant-major)

2 Adjutant-majors.

1 Drum major.

1 Quarter-master-paymaster.

2 Corporal drummers.

2 Adjutant sub-lieutenants.

1 Bandleader.

2 Flag bearer sub-lieutenants.

45 Musicians.

2 Medical officers. (santé)

4 Head artisans. (ouvriers)

Foot Grenadier Company.

1 Captain.

2 Drummers.

1 Lieutenant.

4 Sergeants.

2 Sub lieutenants.

1 Quartermaster (fourrier.)

1 Sergeant major.

8 Corporals.

2 Sappers, of which there will be one

80 Grenadiers.

sergeant and one corporal for the corps.

2 Children of the corps on half pay.”

RECRUITMENT.

The men who were selected to join guard did so following the following decree:

ART. 34. The Minister of War, on the request of one of the general officers, will dispatch the orders necessary for making one become soldiers selected for any of the various army corps, to be incorporated into the Consular Guard, according to the arms or corps where these men will have to enter.

According to Emile Marco de Saint Hiliare, in the early years of the Grenadiers history, two grenadiers of the Consular Guard committed suicide. In order to boost the moral of the Guard, Napoleon, the First Consul, put on the order of the day the following note :

The grenadier Gaubin committed suicide for reasons of love.  He was a very-good subject besides; his is the second event of this nature, which has come to the corps this month.  The First Consul orders that it is put in the regulations of the Guard, that a soldier must know to overcome the pain and the melancholy of passions; that there is as much true courage to suffer with constancy the sorrow of the heart as to remain fixed and motionless under the grapeshot of a battery.  To give up oneself with sorrow without resisting, to get tired to withdraw oneself from it, it is to give up the battlefield before you have vanquished.”

FOOT GRENADIER STAFF.

HULIN, Brigade Head, Colonel.

LAJONQUIERRE,

 

Battalion Heads.

PIERRON,

 

Captain-adj.-majors.

EDIGHOFFEN,

   

FLAMAND,

   

REANT, Captain Quartermaster, treasurer.

FAUCON,

 

Lieutenant-adts.

MORLAY,

 

Flag bearers.

CHICOT,

   

RITTER,

   

DUDAUJON, Surgeon first class, attached to the first battalion.
CHAPPE, Surgeon first class, attached to the second battalion.
BRAISE, Medical officer, third class.

Infantry.

BAT’s.

COMP’s.

CAPTAINS.

LIEUTENANTS.

SUB-LIEUTENANTS.

1st

1st

LEGROS.

HASSE.

AUBERT,

TRIAIRE.

 

2nd

RICHARD.

HOURDILLET.

BOISGERARD,

DETHAN.

 

3rd

NICOLAS.

VIEIL.

CARON,

NOLLOT.

 

4th

LEROY.

AUNE (Lèon).

CIROU,

BELCOURT.

 

5th

POURAILLY.

GUILLEMARD.

PILLOUD,

MIRABEL.

 

6th

DUTRÔNE.

CHAPUZET.

DORNIER,

DELEUSE.

 

7th

PARSIS.

MELLIER.

BOUDIN,

BREMONT.

 

8th

CHAUTARD.

ROGEZY.

VILLEMEUREUX,

DINGREMONT.

2nd

1st

BERUELLE.

VEZU.

BOUHOUR,

MÈGE.

 

2nd

PEYRE.

DELVOLVÉ.

DENEUILLY,

LAMBERT.

 

3rd

CHÉRY.

FAVEY.

DEBLAIS,

LETOUBLON.

 

4th

MEYER.

LAUREDE.

LEMAÎTRE,

CASTAGNIER.

 

5th

LEMAROIS.

LEMAUR.

BASSIN,

PARVY.

 

6th

CARRÉ.

AVERSÉNE.

DESMOULINS,

MONTENOISE.

 

7th

THEURÉ.

BROUSSE.

DECOMBES,

DELGAS.

 

8th

RENARD.

AUDRANS.

PILATE,

FAURE.

The Consular Guards first commander was General de Division Murat and his full title was Commandent-en -Chef and Inspecteur General of the Gardes des Consuls de la Republique. His appointment began on 2 November 1799, but did not last long. At the end of 1799 the Consular Guard contained 2089 men.

The Arrete (Law) of 23 Brumaire An X [14 November 1801] established the staff of the Guard with four generals. The men selected to fill these positions would later become Marshals of France. This assignment of duties to these specific men indicates that Napoleon was seeking to bind the principal generals of the French army to himself personally. By assigning them to supervise his personal guard, he was demonstrating his trust in them as individuals and simultaneously he was elevating their status within the new French social structure. It was also the first instance where Napoleon used the Guard to build personal links between himself and a specific element of society.

When Napoleon became First Consul he wrote that his plans for the Guard were for it to become the model of the Army and he would permit admission to the Guard any person who through his actions or wounds or by experience gained in many campaigns, his bravery and love of their country; their attachment to discipline and their good conduct.

The consular guard became the Imperial Guard with the decree of 29 July 1804[5]:

ART. 3. Each regiment of infantry will be composed of a staff, two battalions of grenadiers and chasseurs, and one battalion of vélites for each one of these regiments.
The battalions of grenadiers and chasseurs will similarly have eight companies, and those of the vélites five.”

“ART. 4. The staff of an infantry regiment will be made up in the following way, namely:

1 Colonel.

1 Quartermaster sergeant major.

1 Major.

1 Drum major.

3 Battalion heads, 1 of which is for the vélites.

3 Corporal drummers.

1 Quartermaster treasurer.

1 Bandleader, of rank of sergeant major.

3 Adjut.-majors, 1 of which is for the vélites.

46 Musicians.

3 Sub Adjut.-maj., 1 of which is for the vélites.

1 Master tailor.

2 Flag bearers.

1 Master shoemaker.

3 Medical officers, 1 of which is for the vélites.

2 Gunsmiths (armuriers), 1 of which is for the vélites.

1 Student surgeon.

1 Gaiter maker.”

ART. 5. Each foot grenadier or chasseur company will be made up of:

1 Captain.

1 Quartermaster. (fourrier)

1 First lieutenant.

8 Corporals.

2 Second lieutenants.

2 Sappers, rank of corporal.

1 Sergeant major.

80 Grenadiers.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.

ART. 6. Each company of vélites will be made up in the following way, i.e.:

1 Captain.

1 Lieutenant.

1 Quartermaster. (fourrier)

1 Second lieutenant.

8 Corporals.

1 Sergeant major.

172 Vélites.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.”

“ART. 7. The officers and non-commissioned officers of the vélites companies will be provided by the regiments of grenadiers and chasseurs to which they are attached; they will be used by it, for duty, for one year, except those taken to the staff, and the sergeant majors and quartermasters of the companies who will remain there indefinitely.
There will be moreover and thereafter, in each company, 2 sergeants and 4 corporals chosen among the vélites who will have more than one year of service in the corps.”

“ART. 8. The Emperor will regulate the number of the masters of reading, arithmetic, drawing and military training (gymnastics) which he considers suitable to attach to each battalion of vélites, as well as the treatment that these masters will enjoy.

Each body of vélites will have a riding school; a company will be commanded by officers of cavalry

Each regiment of infantry, cavalry, foot and horse artillery of an arm, and each battalion of the train, prepared a list of six non-commissioned officers or soldiers likely to be called upon to belong to the Guard, having met the measurements of the needs of that Corps. The conditions to be included to fill these lists were[6]:

For the regiments of dragoons and chasseurs, at least six years of service, and two campaigns:
height of one meter 733 millimeters (5 feet 4 inches).

For the regiments of gendarmes, cuirassiers, foot and horse artillery, the same time in service, and height of one meter 760 millimeters (5 feet 5 inches).

For the regiments of line infantry and light infantry, five years of service and two campaigns: height of one meter 760 millimeters (5 feet 5 inches).

For the battalions of the train, same time in service, and height of one meter 678 millimeters at least (5 feet 2 inches).

The subjects were constantly to be distinguished by their moral and military conduct.

The formation of these lists was the responsibility of the corps chiefs; their choice was to encompass all the men who were present in the corps or whom were detached from it.

No corps head can refuse to place non-commissioned officers on this list, under pretext that while entering the Guard, they are obliged to give up their rank, because, if these non-commissioned officers are in that case to make a temporary sacrifice, they will soon attain an advance which will compensate them in this elite troop, if they are led well.[7]

In accordance with the intentions of the Emperor, these lists were presented to the Inspector-Generals of arms, and, in their absence, the Generals commanding the departments, who were charged to pass in review the designated men, and to approve definitively the lists to which they were responsible, while certifying, in the report of the heads, for the candidates who belonged to the detached battalions or squadrons, that they had all the necessary qualities. These lists were formed in duplicate; they indicated the last and first names of the subjects, their rank, age, size, birthplace and the department; the residence and the profession which they were in before entering to the service, and finally the profession of their parents: these lists contained, moreover, the details of the service and campaigns of the candidates.

After the Inspector-Generals of the army or the Generals ordering the departments, had approved them, the Minister of War dispatched these lists, and then he was apprised, within a short time, of the state of the changes that could had occurred among the designated men.
The soldiers chosen to enter the Guard remained with their corps, where they continued their service until the Minister of War ordered them to be directed to Paris to be placed in regiments there.[8]

Ranks of the Guard[9]

In the Imperial Decree, dated at Saint-Cloud, the third day completing the year XIII (September 20, 1805), it was proclaimed:

ART. 1st. Any soldier belonging to the Imperial Guard, including the vélites incorporated into the aforementioned Guard, will have the rank of sergeants or maréchaux-des-logis, according to the arms in which they are utilized, provided that they have already completed five years of service, either in the Imperial Guard, or in the corps of line troops where they were utilized before.

All the corporals and brigadiers of the Guard will have ranks of sergeant-majors or maréchal-des-logis chef.

All the quartermasters (fourriers), sergeants and maréchaux-des-logis chef of the Guard will have the rank of adjutant non-commissioned officer.

All the sergeants-majors and maréchaux-des-logis chef of the Guard will have the rank of second lieutenant.”

“ART. 2. Nothing is changed, by this decree, toward the pay, the allowances and the treatments of the various corps and the various ranks of the Guard; the regulations on discipline and subordination, which existed already, remain the same.”

“ART. 3. The soldiers and horsemen of the Guard will be under the command of all the sergeants and maréchaux-des-logis, and those will take their orders from all the corporals and brigadiers.

The corporals and brigadiers of the Guard will be under the command of all the sergeants-majors and maréchaux-des-logis-chefs, but those will take their orders from all the sergeants and maréchaux-des-logis.

The sergeants and the maréchaux-des-logis of the Guard will be under the command of all the adjutant-non-commissioned officers, but they will take their orders from all the sergeants-majors and maréchaux-des-logis-chefs.

The sergeant-majors and the maréchaux-des-logis-chefs of the Guard will be under the command of all the second lieutenants, but they will take orders from all the adjutant noncommissioned-officers and from all the sergeant-majors and maréchaux-des-logis-chefs.”

“ART. 4. To mark the rank granted by this decree at the various grades of the Guard, it will be established for each individual who in fact meets the parts of the commissions of the aforesaid ranks, as signed by the colonels-généraux of the Guard, each one for the corps of which he is a commander.”

Re-organisation

A decree, dated from the Palace of Saint-Cloud on April 15, 1806, thus subjected the Imperial Guard to the following new organization, namely[10]:

FIRST TITLE (TITRE).

General dispositions.

                “ART.  1st.  The Imperial Guard will be made up of:

1 Major general.

1 Company of Mamelucks attached to the Horse Chasseurs.

4 Battalions of Foot Grenadiers forming 2 regiments.

1 Regiment of dragoons of 4 squadrons.

4 Battalions of Foot Chasseurs forming 2 equal regiments.

1 Regiment of artillery of 3 squadrons.

1 Regiment of Horse Grenadiers of 4 squadrons.  

1 Legion of Elite Gendarmes.

1 Regiment of Horse Chasseurs of 4 squadrons.

1 Battalion of Sailors.

 

1 Company of Veterans.”

“There will be attached to each body of infantry two battalions of vélites, and to each regiment of cavalry only one squadron of vélites.”

“ART. 2.  The general staff will be composed of four colonels-généraux, from which comes:

1 Commander of the Foot Grenadiers.

20 Aides-de-camp of a grade of Squadron Head,

1 Commander of the Foot Chasseurs.

  of captain, and of lieutenant.

1 Commander of the Cavalry.

1 Battalion head of engineers.

1 Commander of the Artillery and

2 Captains of engineers.

  the Sailors

1 Adjutant of engineers.

4 Aides-de-camp colonels.

1 Librarian.

“The colonels-généraux, for all reports or matters having to do with service to the Guard, will receive their orders directly from Emperor.”

SECOND TITLE.

Infantry.

“ART. 3.  Each corps of infantry will be composed of:

4 Battalions of grenadiers or chasseurs.

— 2 Battalions of vélites.

“The battalions of old soldiers will be composed of four strong companies of one hundred twenty men each.”
“Each one these battalions will be composed of four hundred and eighty men, and the total for the corps of one thousand and nine hundred and twenty men, all soldiers having at least ten years of service in the line.”

“ART. 4.  Each corps of infantry will form three regiments, including two regiments of Guard and one of vélites; all three will have the same administration and will be placed under the same command.”
“Each regiment will be commanded by a major.”
“The staff of each corps will be made up in the following way, i.e.:

1 Commanding colonel.

1 Adjutant-lieutenant for clothing. (l’habillement)

3 Majors, of which 1 is for each regiment and 1 for the vélites.

1 Adjutant-lieutenant for provisions. (les vivres)

6 Battalion heads, of which 1 is for the vélites. 

1 Quartermaster (vaguemestre) (rank of sergeant major)

1 Quartermaster treasurer.

1 Drum major. 

6 Adjutant-majors, of which 2 are for the vélites.

6 Corporal drummers.

6 Sub adjutant-majors, of which 2 are for the vélites.

1 Band master (rank of sergeant major.)

6 Adjutant-majors, of which 2 are for the vélites.

40 Musicians.

6 Sub adjutant-majors, of which 2 are for the vélite

1 Master tailor.

4 Flag bearers.

1 Master shoemaker.

6 Medical officers, of which 3 are 1st class and 3 are 2nd or 3rd class.

3 Master gunsmiths of which 1 is for the vélites.

1 Master gaiter maker.”

               “ART. 5.  Each company of foot grenadiers or of chasseurs will be made up of:

1 Captain.

1 Quartermaster. (fourier)

1 First lieutenant.

8 Corporals.

1 Second lieutenant.

2 Sappers (rank of corporal).

1 Sergeant major.

102 Grenadiers or chasseurs.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.”

               “ART. 6.  Each company of vélites will be made up of:

1 Captain.

1 First lieutenant.

1 Quartermaster.

2 Second lieutenants.

8 Corporals.

1 Sergeant major.

150 Vélites.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.”

ART. 7. The officers will cease being provided by detachment as they were formerly by the grenadiers and chasseurs; they will belong to these bodies and will be named by the Emperor.  The place of seniority for all ranks and all individuals belonging to the Imperial Guard will be regulated according to the seniority in the Guard.”
“The noncommissioned officers will be selected among the most senior corporals of grenadiers and chasseurs; quartermasters and corporals, partly among the oldest vélites, and partly among the oldest grenadiers or chasseurs.”

“ART.  8.  The Emperor will fix the number of masters of reading, writing, arithmetic and gymnastics who he will consider suitable to attach to each battalion.”

“ART.  9.  In the event of war, and the Guard making a campaign, two companies of vélites will go with each battalion.”
“Each one of these companies will be made up of one hundred thirty-five men, who will change the strength of each battalion to seven hundred and fifty men.”
“At the time of the departure, all the companies of the battalion will be at once made up of one hundred twenty-five men, including eighty soldiers and forty-five vélites.
“Each battalion of old soldiers will leave in depot, in Paris, twenty men and fifteen vélites by company, which will make, for each body of infantry, two hundred and ten men, and for the two corps four hundred and twenty men.”
“The total staff complement of the infantry of the Guard will be, by this means, six thousand four hundred and twenty men, including six thousand with the army and four thousand with the depot.”
“When the infantry of the Guard receives the order to provide a detachment to sleep away for several days, or for a voyage, it will detach two companies per battalion of vélites, which will carry the battalions of the Guard to six companies.  The vélites will be distributed by equal portions in the companies of the battalion, and the detached battalion will be of seven hundred and fifty men.”

THIRD TITLE.

The list of names at the start of 1806 were as follows[11]:

BRIGADE OF THE CORPS OF FOOT GRENADIERS.

Staff.

Brigadier General HULIN, colonel.

Brigadier General DORSENNE, major colonel.

LONGCHAMPS,

 

battalion heads.

DESCINBES,

 

sub adjutant majors.

DARQUIER,

   

CHICOT,

   

FLAMAND,

   

RITTER,

   

BODELIN,

   

DELAIRE,

   

BRANT, captain quartermaster treasurer.

MORLAY 

 

flag-bearers.

BUCHEL,

 

aides-de-camp of General HULIN.

MOULIN,

   

LEGENTIL,

   

DUDANJON,

 

medical officers first class.

CASTELLON,

 

aides-de-camp of General DORSENNE.

CHAPPE,

   

PAILHÉS,

   

MOUTON,

   

VEZU,

 

adjutants majors.

BRAIZE,

 

medical officers second class.

LENOIR .

   

VERGÉ,

   

FAUCON,

   

CAIN, medical officer third class.

PIERON (O. ),

   

………………………….., student surgeon.


CAPTAINS.

LIEUTENANTS

Bn.

Comp.

 

FIRST.

SECOND.

1st

         
 

1

LEMARROIS (O.  )

MELLIER 

DIAGERMONT 

DAIX 

 

2

HENNEQUIN (O.  )

VILLEUMEUREUX  

MASSOL  

PÉLÉE  

 

3

ROGERY (O. )

DEBLAIN 

FOUGÈRES 

COUTURIER 

 

4

RAMBLY

BRÉMONT 

GOUCHERON 

VILLENEUVE

           

2nd

1

CARRÉ 

PILLOUD 

GALOIS  

ROBERT

 

2

LAUREDE 

CARON 

LABARRIÈRE (O.  )

CHAILLOUX

 

3

LUNEAU 

CONDÉ 

PONNARD 

MAIGROL

 

4

MASSON

BELCOURT  

MICHEL (A.)

BOIS-THIERRY

A second regiment of grenadiers was formed by the same decree, which were encorporated back into the 1e regiment on 1st October 1808. The 2e regiment would be reformed in 1811. In 1808 the company officers remained the same strength, but the number of grenadiers was doubled to 200, giving a paper strength of 1600men.

The officers in 1810 were as follows:

General Staff of the Foot Grenadiers.

___

the Count DORSENNE, division general, colonel commandant.

 

the Baron ROGUET, brigadier general, second colonel.

 

the Chevalier RÉANT, captain, quarter-master treasurer of the 1st regiment.

 
LE GRAS, idem.of the 2nd idem.  

Officers of the Suite of the Corps.

 
Majors.
 

the Baron CHRISTIANI ,

 

 

ROQUE, battalion head.

 

COUCOURT,

 

First Lieutenants.

CHAILLOU . —  JOUETTE . —  TARAYRE. —  ANDRIYON.

 


Second Lieutenants.

HEYERMANS. —  MAUGET. —  DECOURT. —  DOCQUIERT. —  STOLLER.

 

 

 

Staff of the 1st Regiment.

Staff of the 2nd Regiment.

 

the Baron MICHEL, colonel, major commandant..

R.-D. TINDAL, colonel, major commandant.

 

the Baron HARLET,

battalion heads.

GEORGE,

battalion heads.

 

the Cher LANRÈDE,

   

DUIRING,

     

BELCOURT,

capt. adj.-maj.

B.-G. TINDAL,

capt. adj.-maj.

 

the Cher DESCOMBES ,

   

DE QUAY,

     

the Cher AVERSÈNE, captain adj.-habit.

VAN BRANKHORST,

first lieutenant sub-adj. major.

LAMBERT, captain adj. of provisions.

REICHARDT,

     

RITTER,

first lieutenant sub-adj. major.

PYMAN, capt., adj. of habitation.

 

HAILLECOURT ,

   

WAGENAAR, 1st lieut, adj. of provisions.

 

EGRET ,

 

second lieutenant flag bearer

VAN DEN BROCK,

 

second lieutenant flag bearer

CHAUVEY ,

   

ROELVINCK,

     

DUDANJON, surgeon major.

JEANNIER, surgeon major.

 

BRAISE, aide major.

SCHNEIDER, aide major.

 
             

Regt.

Bn.

Comp.

CAPTAINS.

1st LIEUTENANTS.

2nd LIEUTENANTS.

 
               

1st

1st

1

the cher LEMARROIS

SIGARD

BRASSEUR

…………..

 
   

2

the cher TRAPPIER

DAIN

PICQ

HOUARNE

 
   

3

DUPRÉ

DUBIEZ

PLÉE

GABILLOT

 
   

4

GOLZIO

ROUILLARD

BRESSON

DUMONT

 
               
 

2nd

1

LAVIGNE

VESSILIER

BOURDIN

LAC

 
   

2

PAILHÈS

TABHAN

GAVIGNET

PLAFAIT

 
   

3

the cher ALBERT

GODARD

OUSSOT

LION

 
   

4

HIGONNET

DURYE

DARD

GREMION

 

Prior to the invasion of Russia, the following were officers of the regiment:

STAFF OF THE CORPS OF FOOT GRENADIERS.

The Cte DORSENNE (G., division general, colonel commandant.

The Bon ROGNET,          idem,              second colonel.

The Bon BOYELDIEU,

brigadier general adjutant generals.

The Bon ROTTEMBOURG,

   

The Bon BERTHEZÈNE,

   

The Cher RÉANT, captain quartermaster treasurer.

DINGREMONT, captain adjutant charged with billeting. (habillement)

LAMBERT, captain adjutant charged with rations. (vivres)

________

FIRST REGIMENT OF GRENADIERS.

Staff.

The Bon MICHEL, brigadier general major commandant.

The Cher LAURÈDE,

 

battalion heads.

CHAUVEY, 1st lieut. eagle bearer.

The Cher AVERSÈNE,

   

DUDANJON, surgeon major.

BELCOURT ,

capt.adjud-majors.

BRAISE, major aide.

RITTER

   

VILLEMERUREAUX ,

 

of the suite.

TARDIEU, 1st lieut,

sub-adj.-maj.

DESSIRIER,

1st lieut.

   

DEPERRON, 2nd lieut.

   

HUVÉ,

       
                     

NUMBER OF

CAPTAINS

LIEUTENANTS

 

 

 

Bataill.

Comp.

 

FIRST.

SECOND.

           

1st

1

……….

GREMION

LALLEMAND (C.)

ROUX

 

2

TAILHAN

DUMONT

HOUARNE

BEDELLE

 

3

GOUTEFREY

FARÉ

PLATTÉ

LAIGNOUX

 

4

……….

KERMORIAL

BRESSON

AURIOUD

           

2nd

1

CHAUD

BRASSEUR

LAC

DEMONTQUERON

 

2

CHAILLOU

ANTHEAUME

PORÉE

……….

 

3

DURVE

PIEG

OTHENIN

……….

 

4

HIGONNEY

GUSSERET

MONTPEZ

……….

           

On 19th December the 1e Grenadiers mustered 38 officers and 369 NCO's and men, loosing 2 officers and 948men during the retreat. Of the two officers, they subsequently rejoined the regiment. In January 1813 the reformed regiment had the following officers:

FOOT GRENADIERS.

____

Staff of Corps.

____

The Cte FRIANT, general of division, colonel commandant.

The Bon ROGUET,           idem,                second colonel.

The Bon BOYELDIEU,

 

brigadier generals, adjutant generals.

The Bon RATTEMBOURG,

   

The Bon BERTHEZÈNE,

   

The Cher RÉANT, captain quartermaster of grenadiers and fusiliers.

VILLEMEUREUX ,                    idem         of tirailleurs.

DÉGREMONT, captain of clothing of grenadiers and fusiliers.

CAILLOU ,                                idem         of tirailleurs.

Staff of the 1st Regiment.

Staff of the 2nd Regiment.

   

The Bon MICHEL , brig. gen. maj. com.

The Bon CHRITIAIN , maj. command.

The Cher ALBERT,

 

battalion heads.

GOLZIO ,

 

battalion heads.

BÉLCOURTC,

   

DUURING,

   

TARDIEU,

capt. adj. majors.

FARRÉ,

capt. adj. majors.

PERNON,

   

CRETAL,

   

DE PERRON,

first lieutenant sub. adj. majors.

OTHENIN,

first lieutenant sub. adj. majors.

FOUCHER,

   

YUNG ,

   

BOURGEOIS, first lieutenant pay master.

PHILIDOR, first lieutenant pay master.

CHAUVEY,     idem         eagle bearer.

TOURINES, second lieutenant eagle bearer.

COLASS, surgeon major.

HÉRON, surgeon major.

BRAISE, aide-major.

SUE, aide-major.

               

Regt.

Battalion

Comp.

CAPTAINS.

1st LIEUTENANTS.

2nd LIEUTENANTS.

             

1st

1st

1

TAILHAN

DUMONT

BOYER

RENARD

   

2

MOULIN

KERMORIAL

DEIS

LERMONDANS

   

3

CHAID O.

BRASSEUR 

CHAUMET

BERTONNIER

   

4

The Cher MERCIER

MONTAGNE

LEMAUGEOT

BESNARD

             
 

2nd

1

BOURCHETTE O.

SAINT-CRIC

MIONNET

LAFAUSSE

   

2

MONTAGUIÈRE

GROSBERT

RICHARD

HEEHT

   

3

JEGU

DEMONTQUETON

PRUGNEAU

THEVENIN

   

4

FRANJON

MONTPEZ

BUGEOS

AGRON

The Royal Ordinnance of 12 May 1814 transferred the grenadiers to the newly formed Royal Guard. Christiani and Friant remained at the head of the regiments. The 1e received its new royalist colours from the Duc de Berry at Fontainebleau on 26th July 1814.  With the return of the Emperor, the regiment became the 1e Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard once more, receiving a new eagle and colour on 23rd March 1815. Under the decree of 13th March and 8th April 1815 the regiment was to comprise two battalions of four companies each, each company to have 1 captain, 1 first lieutenant, 1 second lieutenant, (2 in times of war), 1 sergeant-major, 4 sergeants (6 in times of war), 1 fourier, 8 corporals (12 in times of war), 2 drummers, 2 sapeurs and 131 grenadiers to be increased to 174 in times of war. The staff of the regiment comprised 1 Major, 2 battalion heads, 2 captain adjutants, 1 pay officer, 1 surgeon major, 2 assistant surgeons, 2 lieutenant adjutants, an NCO adjutant, 1 baggage master, 1 drum major, 1 corporal drummer, 1 master armourer. In total the regiment comprised  1,215men, or 35 officers and 1180men.

After Waterloo, the 1st regiment was disbanded on 11 September 1815 but a large number of grenadiers, NCO's and some junior officers transferred to the successor formation, the 1e Infantry Regiment of the Royal Guard. Over 50% of the 1e regiment had served in the Imperial Guard[12]. One such man was Francois Sery (1780-1841). He had enlisted in the 9eme Legere on 9th August 1798, and was transferred to the Spanish Royal Guard on 22nd June 1809, having been promoted to sergeant in 1805. He was made corporal in the Spanish Guard on 19 January 1810, and four months later was made fourier. He was made sergeant 1 January 1812 and then transferred to the 1e Grenadiers as sergeant on 1st February 1814. He was transferred to the 3e grenadiers as sergeant on 1st April 1815, and to the 1e Infantry Regiment of the Royal Guard on 1st January 1816, being promoted to sergeant-major three days later. Four months later he was made Adjutant, and then sub-lieutenant on 15 October 1831 upon leaving the army.

The Men of the Grenadiers a Pied

The guard and the Grenadiers in particular were to be models for the army. Bravery of the men sent to the guard was not enough. The Emperor sought to make them, moral, obedient and irreproachable. Marco de Saint Hiliare wrote the following about the men of the grenadier a pied:

First, who is this soldier who crosses the garden of Tuileries? His tricorn hat, his nankeen breeches, his white cotton stockings, his shoes decorated with silver buckles, all announces that he is in the walking out dress of summer (petite tenue d’été), and that he left his barracks to enjoy a moment of freedom under the terms of a  permit which he will not misuse. His uniform is that of the Old Guard. This soldier is of a prescribed height, i.e. he is 5 feet 5 or 6 inches; he has the high face, the square shoulders, the developed chest; his tanned skin, his slightly hollow cheeks, his aquiline nose, give to the whole of his figure an air of gravity which impresses on first sight. He walks with ease; but he preserves, even while walking, something which points out the practice of the regular step; all, in his pace, indicates the feeling of a superiority acquired on battlefields; this bearing, this assurance, are without pride, without affection. This man remembers only that in his position as foot grenadier of the Old Guard, he belongs to a corps of whom those who constitute it have no rivals. Today what has become of them? By far one discovers them on the soil of France, and if he is in a village, he is the inhabitant, who has the most exemplary conduct and the most enlightened reason. The old men, the women and the children greet him with respect; the girls revere him with a smile, which seems to cause on behalf of the old soldier a paternal caress. All admire and envy him!... It is that this man saw the Emperor, and that Napoleon spoke to him. Also they like to listen to him as an oracle; and, when by chance a traveller comes pass, each one speaks to him about l’ancien who honours the village; because he saw the country, him! He has known it all: not a river, which he did not cross, from the Tiber to the Nile, Tage to Boristhène. He made his triumphal entry into all the capitals of Europe; he knows the road of Vienna like that of Berlin; and, if need be, he would still teach them to one and all who like to follow them. But for thirty years Europe has been at rest, and since no one fights any more, the old one works, one even says that he prospers there. His residence is the cleanest and most comfortable, his field is cultivated best; he learns how to read with his children, and in the tender submission that those carry for the authority of their father; there is something of military subordination.

The peasant calls this old soldier Mr. grenadier. However his hair is bleached, he is infirmed; but although already very bent as he is; he does not enter into the neighbor without being obliged to bend down. He is still, in the proclamation of the gossips, the most handsome man of the countryside. He is on the whole a superb ruin; he is a relic of the Empire, for him this eagle which formerly decorated the plate of his grenadier bonnet, and which he raised as an alter over the head of his bed, between a place of honour and coarse illumination of a portrait of Napoleon. Here from now on is the worship of this man; here is his god and his gods until death, of which he never was afraid, comes to seek him. And when it arrives, he greets it, calm and resigned as all those who were part of this prestigious and splendid Imperial Guard.

The guard and the Grenadiers in particular were to be models for the army.  Elzear Blaze notes[13]:

The Imperial Guard was magnificent and rendered great services when it fought. This should not astonish; it was recruited in the picked companies of our regiments. For this guard were taken the strongest and bravest men, who already had four years of service and two campaigns. What could one not expect from a company of such soldiers! it was formed of the pick of the picked. The soldiers of the line called those of the Guard the immortals because they seldom fought. They were reserved for grand occasions and that was proper, no doubt, for the arrival of the Imperial Guard on the battlefield almost always decided the question. Between the line and the Guards, there existed a jealousy which was the cause of many quarrels. Everyone knows that each member of the Guard had the rank immediately above the one he occupied. In the line all cried against this privilege and all did their utmost to acquire it. Those who had obtained it considered it perfectly natural: they could not imagine how petty officers of the line could have the stupendous pretension to march as equals with the Imperial Guard. Such is man, and thus he will remain until the end of the ages. When in France the question of equality has come up, every-one wanted it with those ranking above him, but not with the others.

" I am the equal of the Montmorencys, the street-sweeper is not my equal " ; that is what many people had said to themselves. People have cried against titles and decorations; and after having taken them from those who had them, they loaded themselves down with them. How many austere republicans have we not seen become chamberlains, tribunes become peers of France, who without the slightest ceremony exchanged the title of citizen for that of Monsieur le Due or Serene Highness.

We were on the march ; a baggage-wagon drawn by four mules tried to cross the line of my regiment, and the soldiers successively passing before the noses of these poor beasts took a mischievous delight in preventing them from advancing because they belonged to the Imperial Guard; one of the soldiers exclaimed in a bantering tone :

" Come, soldiers of the line, make way for the mules of the Guard."

" Bah ! " replied another, " they are donkeys."

" I tell you they are mules."

" And I, that they are donkeys."

" Well ! suppose they are, what difference does it make? Do you not know that in the Guards donkeys have the rank of mules? "

The Imperial Guard, at first composed of old regiments of grenadiers and of chasseurs, had been increased by fusiliers, and then to these were added sharpshooters, flanking troopers and cadets. The organisation of this corps was exceptional. The old regiments were members of the old Guard and the others of the young Guard. Superior officers and captains had been taken from the first to form the second; they retained their ranks and prerogatives, while the lieutenants and sub-lieutenants stood about where they did in the line, excepting for the uniform of the Guard which they had the honour of wearing. There existed therefore an enormous disproportion between the captain and the lieutenant as to rank in the army and pay. In the regiments of flanking troopers, who wore the green uniform, the captains and superior officers wore the blue uniform of the old Guard, which produced a singular combination.

In creating new regiments, the administration had exhausted all denominations, even to making grenadiers recruits of the Imperial Guard. These words Imperial Guard and recruits sounded badly ; they seemed astonished at finding themselves together. The officers of this body gloried in the first of these tides, but they admitted the second with difficulty.

On their baggage-wagons could be read in letters two feet high: Imperial Guard, regiment of Grenadiers, then in pica letters the word recruits abridged to RCS seemed to be ashamed of being in such fine company. From that time these young grenadiers were called nothing but RCS. This denomination became proverbial. RCS was synonymous to recruit. " You're only an RCS," said the soldiers to each other in a dispute, and I have even heard officers say seriously: "We are going to have from France a detachment of RCS."

As well as requirements for admission based on height, heroism and experience, drunkards, duellers and other men of dubious character were not allowed into the guard, Napoleon personally approving all new entrants[14]. Charles Bouvelet was expelled from the grenadiers in October 1802 for insurbordination. He had missed all roll calls, had gone into Paris from the barracks at Coubervoie without permission and was reported for having struck a women with his sabre[15]. Sergeant de Mauduit describes his fellow grenadiers thus:

The grenadier of the guard was thin and lean, having long been tested by marches, fatigues, deprivations, bivouacs and by both sun and frosts. Obesity was unknown in our ranks. Everything, with these iron men, was put to the test: the heart, body and legs- you could have gone around the world with them. The grenadiers face was warlike and his bearing imposing[16].

The minimum requirement for members was that they must be no less than 25 years old and between 5 foot 10 inches and 6 foot in height. They must have participated in three campaigns in the wars of liberty and be able to read and write.

Even given this stringent criteria to join and code of behaviour for a grenadier, the regiment still contained men, that the major of the regiment, Pierre-Augustin Hulin felt should not be in the regiment. He wrote to his Superior, General Davout in December 1802:[17]

The initial formation of the corps of Grenadiers was composed of the company of hundred swiss of the King and of the Princes, of the Gardes of the Prevote, of young men who wanted to evade conscription and were protected by deptuies of all the assemblies, as well as many wounded men, who similarly protected, sought to obtain a more favourable retirement.

Others were admitted by General Lannes, who promised them their release from the service, which they had not been able to obtain in their corps.

There are still some men of this old formation left, whom I regard as a rodent canker, but their number is so small that I would be minded to release those of whom who want to retire or who are dissatisfied with the service.

In order to identify them, I have ordered secret notes to be taken in the companies and I will have the honour of submitting them to you shortly.

I would therefore wish that, just as now happens, there are admitted to the corps, only men who regard their admission as the reward due to their services and whose loyalty to the government is very marked.

I would also wish to add, that these men are informed by a regulation when they enter the corps, of the length of time that they must remain in it before asking for their release, giving three months notice, unless special considerations make the generals decide to grant it to them before the prescribed time.

I am certain that the corps is in good morale and that every grenadier would arrest the first man who dare to propose something unworthy of him.

Looking in the relevant registre metricule, we find that Hulins observations about the origins of the men of the regiment can be verified as shown in table 1 below:

Text Box:  Table 1: Table showing origins of men entering Grenadiers a Pied 1799-1801

From table 1 we can see the majority of the men who entered the grenadiers in 1799-1801 period came from the guards of the Leigslature, of which a number came from the former Royal Guard and the Swiss Guard.

When formed in 1799/early 1800, the Grenadiers a Pied were a mixed lot of men as Hulin outlines in 1802. In essence the Grenadiers were the Grenadiers of the Legislature, which contained a number of former Swiss Guards, Guard Francais and Gendarmes National (the precursor to the Grenadiers of the Legislature). A small number came from the Line and the Guides of Bonaparte.

Of the men comprising the Grenadiers of the Legislature, a quick look at their service history reveals that just over half of all entrants came from the Gendarmes Nationale. At the time of formation, 48% were new entrants from the line, the remained from the previous organisation. Of those men who formed the Gendarmes Nationale, 20% were former Gardes Francais, 13% former Swiss Guard, 66% came from the line.

Thus Napoleon's Guard contained elements from the former Royal Guard, as well as the two Republican Guards, a small percentage of his own Guides and veterans from the Line.

Barely a year later, Hulin again wrote to Davout, complaining about the men being sent to the guard. He noted that he had returned a grenadier back to his parent unit the 29e demi brigade as the man has missed roll calls, stayed out of barracks three nights in a row, had gotten into debt and had sold his equipment to pay off his creditors, and had been picked up as a drunk by the Gendarmes on the Champs Elysee. The same individual had been removed from the elite company of the 29e demi brigade just two weeks before being selected to enter the guard. Hulin waxed lyrical to Davout about the commanding officer of the 29e that18]:

the chef de brigade who in my opinion should have behaved totally differently and should not have sent the worse man of the corps to form part of the Guard. I would ask you the goodnees to order him to replace the man by a soldier more worthy of the honour of being called to the governments aid.

Some Line offciers actually sent men to the guard they no longer wished to command as Captain Desboeufs of the 81e line notes[19]:

The voltigeurs were the elite of the army, a part of the Guard had a scrap over this. Anyone who has actually seen things with his whole eyes knows that a lot of the colonels only sent men that they wanted to be rid of to Paris [to join the guard].

He continues[20]:

The Captains of Voltigeurs admitted soldiers of proven courage into their companies. Thus for an attack, I would have preferred to command 300 voltigeurs than 500 guardsmen.

As well as the Line sending bad men to the grenadiers, the chasseurs a pied of the guard, were guilty of this also, sending men to the grenadiers the colonel did not want in the Chasseurs. Hulin complained to General Davout in April 180321]:

I believed that we should we should have first choice in the line and then send the men who are too small for the corps of Grenadiers to that of Chasseurs a Pied. Since the opposite has happened and these dispositions will prevent us this year from completing our recruitment, please General, take the steps you think suitable to put right and prevent this abuse, which becomes very detremental to us.

With the expansion of the Chasseurs a Pied in 1800, a number of Grenadiers were transferred to the Chasseurs, presumably a number of these men were those sent from the Chasseurs to the Grenadiers.  The Chasseurs a Pied were the light infantry element of the Garde des Consuls. The men came from a highly diverse background. Traditionally it has been assumed the men of the Chasseurs were the Guides a Pied of Bonaparte with a new title.

When looking at the relevant Registre Metricule, one finds that the Guides of Bonaparte made up only 13.3% of all entrants. 60% of the men between 1799-1803 came from the Line, the remainder from other guard formations as shown in table 1. Of interest is the incorporation of men of the Directory and Legislature Grenadiers, who were transferred to the Chasseurs rather than be discharged from the Army. Again, gunners were drafted into the Chasseurs, as with the Grenadiers a Pied. 105 men from the Legislature Grenadiers were incorporated into the Chasseurs. 160 or so guides a Pied joined the Chasseurs along with 26 mounted Chasseurs who were dismounted upon joining.  126 men of the Consular Guard Grenadiers were also incorporated. Given that the Chasseurs were designated a Light Infantry regiment, only 160 or so men came from the Light Infantry, over 700 men coming from the Line Infantry. A shown in the table 2 below:

Text Box:  Table 2: table showing origin of men entering Chasseurs a Pied 1799-1803

Thus even from its earliest days the Chasseurs do not seem to have been true Light Infantry after the original company of 99 Light Infantry was expanded to a regiment of two battalions in September 1800.

This original company were all from the Guides of Bonaparte, the other men being incorporated after Marengo.

Table 3 below gives the origin of the men who entered the Grenadiers between 1801-1803. From this can can clearly see, that the new entrants were all taken from the Line, with a few from the artillery. Perhaps here we see the transition from the consuls guard to the consular guard, with Napoleon moulding the guard with men who owed their loyalty to him and not to former guard formations.

Text Box:  Table 3: Table showing origins of men entering the Grenadiers  a Pied 1802-1803

Height of the Grenadiers

Hulin's complaint  about the height of the grenadiers is verified by a quick analysis of the registre metricule of the chasseurs a pied of the men admitted to the regiment in the first year of its formation. An analysis of the 147 men admitted to the Chasseurs in September 1800 shows that the men admitted were between 1.60m and 1.87m tall, the average being 1.73m[22].  Only 18% of the men were taller than 1.76m, with only 33% of these men being transferred to the grenadiers. Being nominally light infantry, they were supposed to be smaller men than the grenadiers, the regulations of 29 July 1804 stating that a Chasseur was to be 1.70m tall and a Grenadier 1.78m tall, thus 40% of the Chasseurs were below this height requirement[23].

Looking at the 218 men who joined the grenadiers 1802-1803, we see that 19men were below 1.7m, and 29 above 1.8m in height. 62 Men measured 1.75m to 1.77m, 98men 1.77m to 1.8m, with the remaining men 192men from 1.7m to 1.75m tall.  This makes a mockery of Jean Roch Coignet noting he was the shortest man in the regiment and only passed the height limit by packing his stockings with playing cards. Coignet was 1.76m tall, thus 19 men were shorter than he was upon admission on 23rd March 1803.

This was also the case for the Grenadiers as well in the middle years of the Empire.  Analysis of 400 men entering the 1e regiment between 1810-1812, shows that they ranged in height from 1.59m to 1.88m, with an average of 1.75m, nearly 60% of those admitted were below the minimum height of 1.78m. Official requirements it seems were waivered for men who had been distinguished in action more than one may suppose[24].

The grenadiers were smaller men than one may suppose, confirmed by Sir Robert Wilson who notes that the Grenadier

Of France, whatever may be their military merits, made but a very indifferent appearance, and being, generally, short men, the grenadier high cap had an effect contrary to ornament or grandeur[25].

Sergeant de Mauduit notes that the average height of a grenadier was  1.76m, with 5 or 6 men per company below this height on average 1.65m. This observation appears to be idealised, contrasting with the data presented above[26].

Age of the Grenadiers

Upon Formation in 1799/1800 the Grenadiers had an average age of 30. Of the men from the Legislature, just under a quarter would have retired by 1806. The youngest man upon entry in 1800 was 23, the oldest 49. Clearly the minimum age of admission of 25 was overlooked from the earliest days of the regiment.

The corporals were aged between 25 and 35 and were aged on average 29. The sergeants were aged 26 to 35 and had an average of 31years old. The fouriers were aged 26 to 32 with an average of 30, the same as the Grenadiers. The sergeant majors had the same average age as the sergeants coming from an age range of 24 to 35. Of the officers, the Sous-Lieutenants were aged on average 29, coming from the age range of 24 to 39. the Second Lieutenants were aged 25 to 37 with an average of 32. The Lieutenants were aged on average 36 coming from the age ranges of 25 to 49. The company commanders were aged 29 to 37 years of age with an average of 33.

In the new year of 1802 the Grenadiers were expanded by 400men. This wave of new admissions all came from the Line, representing some 56 different regiments. Of these 400 or so new entrants, a   sample of 218 of these men who were transferred to the grenadiers in 1802-1803, show they were on average aged 28, and had been with the army for 9years by the time of the admission, some spending as long as 15yrs  before admission. 30% are noted as being wounded at least once.

The Grenadiers sister regiment the Chasseurs in the same period had a similar demographic as shown in the table below. The average age of a Chasseur upon joining was 30years, the youngest man was 23 and the oldest 47. On average they had served 10years 3 months before joining the Chasseurs, the shortest service was 4years and the longest 19years. Of the men enlisted 1799-1803, 37% would retire from the Chasseurs, 6.6% were killed, 15.5% were promoted to the Line and 40% provided the Cadre for the Young Guard.

Text Box:  Table 18: Table showing ages of Grenadier a Pied and Chasseur a Pied 1799-1803

In General terms the Grenadiers a Pied actually tended to be younger men than the Chasseurs. Indeed the Grenadiers on the whole tended be to two years younger than the Chasseurs. Of the 218 men enlisted between 1799-1803, the average age on leaving the Chasseurs was 36years 6 months, only  24%  being over 40.

A similar sample of 400 men who entered the 1e Grenadiers between 1810-1812 also reveals that the average age upon admission was 29, but a more detailed analysis shows a marked difference in the composition of the regiment in the intervening 8years. The men of 1802-1803 were all veterans from the line, aged between 25 and 29. Both the 1802-1803 and 1810-1812 intakes were 1 to 2 years younger than the original draft of men to the grenadiers 1799-1801.

Analysis of the details of 400men who were transferred to the 1e grenadiers from the line between 1810-1812 showed that they were 31 to 37 years of age, compared to 24-28 of 1802-1803.

One of the older veterans to join the guard was one Jean Rene Reignard was admitted to the 1e regiment aged 36 in 1813. He is described on his livret as being 1,78m tall, no distinguishing features, with black eyes, medium mouth, ordinary nose and round face. He had began his military service with the 25e demi-brigade in 1794, being promoted corporal in the 25e line 14 June 1806, then sergeant on 6 April 1809 before passing to the Grenadiers as a private 7th February 1813. He remained in the guard after the second Bourbon restoration, being made corporal 26 February 1816, sergeant 27th January 1817 and retired from the service in 1830 with a pension of 565francs a year.

Other veterans included, Jean Andre Velin (1778-1838) was born on 11th September 1778 ay Cussy-les-Forges in the department of the Yonne. He was baptised at the church of the department on 12th September 1778 and was the legitimate sone of Jean Velin, a ploughhand and  Marie-Anne Souchenot. He married Madeline Verdin (1780-?) on 24th April 1820. She was the daughter of Francois Verdin, a farm worker. They had three children, Eugene, Celestine and Adolphe. He died at his house on 24th September 1838 at ten in the morning aged 60.

He had enlisted into the army, the 18e Legere in 1798 and admitted to the Grenadiers a Pied 26th August 1807 aged 29. He was transferred to the Royal Guard in 1814 and the reactivated Imperial Guard in May 1815. He was placed on half pay 6th July 1815 and retired from the Army 21st August 1815. He is recorded as living at 74, Rue Saint Victor, Paris as a wool worker on 31st July 1817. He was made Knight of the Legion of Honour 21st February 1814.

Jacques Martin Pechinet (1783-1866). He was the legitimate son of Etienne Martin Pechinet, master tailor and Edmee Perdriser. He enlisted in the 117e Ligne on 10th June 1805. Made Corporal 15 April 1809 and Sergeant 12 June 1811.  Serving in Spain, he took a musket ball to his right arm at the Siege of Tarragone on 28th June 1811 and a sabre cut to the stomach during the assult on Fort Sagonte on 18th October 1811. Having survived the Campaign, he was transferred to the 1e Grenadiers a Pied 10th March 1813, aged 30 being made corporal in 2e Bataillon 10th April 1813, made Knight of the Legion of Honour 14th September 1813. He left the Army in July 1814.

In addition to these line veterans, the ranks were filled from the, velites, and men transferred to the senior regiment of the guard from the more junior ones. These men account for heir being a marked increase (over 90%) in men aged 20 to 24[27].   

Text Box:  Table 4: Table showing ages of Grenadiers a Pied 1799-1801

Text Box:  Table 5: Table showing ages of Grenadiers a Pied 1802-1813

Text Box:  Table 6: Table showing ages of Grenadiers a Pied 1810-1812

Text Box:  Table 7: Table comparing ages of Grenadiers 1799-1801-1802-1803 and 1810-1812

Comparing the ages of the men admitted 1799-1801, 1802-1803 and 1810-1812 to the Grenadiers we see that the men of 1799-1802 had a higher proportion of older men (those over 40) than the 1802-1803 intake and 1810-1812. The 1799-1801 intake of men age from 23 to 35 and 34 to 49, the intake of 1802-1803 has a higher proportion of men aged under 24, and a higher proportion of men aged in the range of 24-29 compared to that of 1799-1801. The 1810-1812 has the highest proportion of men aged 29-40 and the youngest men of all three intakes also, representing the Velite  companies.

Looking at the details of 220 men posted to the First Grenadiers in September1813, the average age upon admission was 23. By 1813 the majority of the older men and older veterans from the Line were dead. These new admissions to the guard were already veterans by time of their admission, having served on average of 6years in the line prior to admission, seeing action at Aspern-Essling, Wagram, Spain and Russia. This was four years below the proscribed minimum of  ten years. Evidently the need to fill the ranks of the guard, exceptions had to be made to entry requirements. This is confirmed in the memoires of Simeon Lamon of the Chasseurs a Pied. In the summer of 1813 he passed to the first regiment with only seven years service, having been told by Napoleon after an inspection he had the required number of years service for admission.

Of note, the regiment contained a smattering of men over 30 representing the older veterans from the Line and Junior Guard regiments transferred to the Grenadiers. Overwhelmingly though the new entrants to the 'old guard' were aged 22 to 26 and 27-37. No man in the grenadiers was over 40. The guard of 1813 was not the guard of former years.  Even the relatively young men aged 21 to 24 would have served for at least two years in Spain or had survived the Russian campaign, and would have been seasoned soldiers, though lacking experience of participating in more than one campaign. Thus in 1813 around 20%  of the men taken into the regiment were conscripts who had two or so years experience. Henrie Viel was 22 when admitted to the 1st regiment in 1813 as was Pierre Burette, Louis Albrant was 21 upon admission.

Text Box:  Table 8: Table showing age of  men admitted to the 1st Grenadiers in September 1813

With the first abdication in 1814, the Grenadiers became the Royal Corps of Grenadiers. Under the decree of 12th May 1814, the first and second regiments of grenadiers and the fusilier grenadiers were taken into the royal guard. New flags were presented on 26th July 1814.,The corps as a whole was purged of the most ardent Bonapartists.

In April 1815, the Guard Infantry was again rebuilt, essentially by renaming the Royal Grenadiers as Imperial Guard once more, the Fusiliers becoming the 3rd regiment of Grenadiers on 8th April 1815. A Fourth regiment was raised, but it only existed as a single battalion. The first regiment was finally disbanded on 11th September 1815.

Looking at the men who were discharged from the first grenadiers between September and November 1815, one sees a similar range of ages as in the late summer of 1813.The lack of older men, probably reflects their relative paucity given the lack of veterans in this age range after the huge losses in Russia and Spain. This guard of 1815 was different again to that of 1813. Into the first regiment, the veterans of the Elba Battalion were admitted. Sergeant de Mauduit records that friction existed between the men who accompanied Napoleon in exile and those who served the king. Those who had shared Napoleon's hardship and exile, he notes were showered with favours, which irked the men who had remained with their regiment out of loyalty to it[28].

The lowering of the standards of the men admitted to the regiment in their years of service and age, as well as a general laxity in discipline and turnout of the men, complaints being made to Napoleon and Davout about this lack of discipline[29]. The average age at disbandment was a little over 26, the average length of service again being as in 1813 6 years. In real terms 100 or so men in the Grenadiers in 1815 had enlisted 1799-1803. Over 80% of the regiments men had joined in 1813.

This lack of experience even in the senior regiment of the guard was also noted upon at the time, one officer remarking that the only similarity between the guard of 1815 and that of previous years was the name, the men on the whole having nothing in common with guardsmen of earlier years and they lacked the devotion to both Napoleon and the Guard and the self assurance (esprit des corps) this had given the guard in the past[30].

Text Box:  Table 9: Table showing ages of men  at disbandment of the 1st Grenadiers 1815

The data shows three clear peaks in the ages of the men 22 to 23, 25 to 27, and 29 to 37. Observations from the period are in contrast to these known facts. The average age of a Grenadier was 26, a Corporal 27, Fourier 27, Sergeant 31 and Sergeant-Major 25.

Sergeant de Maudiut  notes that when he entered the 1e Grenadiers in July of 1814 from the 3e Garde d'Honneur, that most of the grenadiers were aged 35, a small number aged under 30, whilst several hundred grenadiers and 75% of the NCOS were over 40. The average age of service he notes was 15, with the NCOS and 300 or so Grenadiers having served for 25yrs[31].  What do we make of Mauduit's observations? If we take the sample of 220 men leaving the grenadiers in September to November 1815 as a representative of the men who made up the regiment, then his observations seem at odds with this known fact concerning the ages of the ages of the grenadiers and their service. The number of younger men leaving the regiment rather than continuing in the army is un-expected as these men would have had a military career ahead of them.

Thus  in 1815, the elite of the elite the first regiment of grenadiers of the old guard was as a regiment not full of veterans with over ten years service but a collection of conscripts who on the whole had been in the regiment for less than two years and had on average service of 8years. Some grenadiers had been taken into the Grenadiers in 1814 as conscripts and a third of all men had under 8 years service. The grenadiers of 1815 were no longer the crack troops or the Elite of the army.

The Velites

The first Conscripts were admitted to the guard in 1803, and evolved into the Fusiliers in 1806. They were formed from the cadre of one Napoleon’s more experimental units, the Grenadier-Velites and Chasseurs.

Up until 1803 the guard had been exclusively formed from veteran soldiers, who had earned their admission to the guard. This mode of recruiting veterans form the line could not continue, Napoleon admitting the problem in December 1803:

The army can not suffice to supply men for the guard. It can not event put it on a peace footing without weakening itself by a small number of extremely precious men[32].

What was needed therefore was a different mode of recruiting into the guard. Earlier in the year, Napoleon had brought each element of the guard up to strength by admitting four men from each department of the republic who were retired soldiers at least thirty years of age with campaign experience and good conduct. This produced 2,500 veterans without drawing these men from the line.[33]

Thus the first conscripts entered the Guard, much against the wishes of Marshal Bessieres under the decree of 19th December 1803[34].

The decree of 21st January 1804 was an enabling measure of the earlier decree. To each regiment of Chasseurs and Grenadiers were to be attached two battalions of 800men. The Chasseurs were to be garrisoned  at Ecouen, the Grenadiers at Fontainebleau.

Given however, that the supply of discharged soldiers was limited, Napoleon decieded to fill the vacancies in the guard with young men who had the potential to be officers. Thus in January 1804 Napoleon ordered the creation of a new formation for the Guard, the Velites, who were essentially cadets undergoing a military apprenticeship within the best corps of the Army. 800 of these young men were attached to the Grenadiers a Pied and a further 800 to the Chasseurs a Pied, in this way the guard could be recruited to strength, and solve the guards man power problems.

The formation of these regiments was a means of wooing and binding various elements of French society to the Emperor and thereby strengthening his grip on the French throne. The key to the reason the velites were raised is found in the stipend that was demanded of the parents of the velites. Aside from the size requirements, which simply implied that the velites would be bigger and stronger than the average Frenchman, by requiring that the parents provide financial support of their sons in the service, Napoleon began a process of binding himself to the politically influential and financially important middle class of France. No peasants would become velites, only the sons of families of substance. Napoleon honoured those young men and their families by making them guardsmen instead of allowing them to simply disappear within the ranks of the regular army as and when they were conscripted. The families also recognized that their sons would not be in the front lines of battle, but that they would be held back from battle, finding their lives hazarded only when the battle was at a critical stage. They would not be just simple cannon fodder.

However it was not as simple as this.

The decree of 8th March 1804[35] stated that if insufficient volunteers came forth in each department, then each department was to take 4 conscripts from the classes of 1801 to 1804 and incorporated into the Velites. To ensure more volunteers came forth the annual stipend was reduced from 300francs to 200francs. The decree stipulated that the conscripts and volunteers were to be 1,73m tall, though men 1.67m tall would be accepted. Under this decree the velites were to be organised into 5 companies of 191 men. From the parent unit two sergeants and four corporals were to be attached, the remaining NCO's to be chosen from amongst the Velites. The staff of the Velites was to be a Chef du Bataillon, assisted by an Adjutant-Major, an Adjutant-Sous-Officer and an Armourer. Also attached were professeurs of Mathematics, Gymnastics, Writing as well as lecturers.

In total the following departments provided Volunteers able to pay the annual stipend:

Dordogne 35, Bouches des Rhone 32, l'Herault 35. In the Cote d'Or 9 men volunteered to join the Velites between December 1803 and the new year of 1805 all being aged 18 upon admission. No Velites able to pay the stipend volunteered initially from the Rhone department, but eventually 17 names were provided to the army. In order to be able to supply the required number of volunteers, the Mayor of Lyon was asked to provide 12 conscripts from the reserve, and to make up for the returned men who were not suitable for the Velites. However only 11 men were presented for entrance to the Velites. Rhone provided the list of 16men to the prefect of the department, who would send these men to the guard. One of these men was Claude Bernard, whose uncle was a fourier in the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Guard[36].

Haut Garronne, an area that was fairly rural,  the prefect of St Gauden provided the name of three candidates for the Velites, plus four volunteers. In total the department provided 24 Velites, 4 of which were presented by the Mayor of Toulouse. 16 were sent to the Chasseurs a Pied, the remained to the Grenadiers a Pied37].

Not all men presented to the prefects as candidates for the Velites were accepted into the Guard. Of the 27 men propiossed in Cote d'Or, only 8 were accepted into the Grenadiers. Of the 16 men proposed by the Rhone, only 8 men were accepted by the Minister for War as suitable for admission to the Grenadiers, and 6 to the Chasseurs. 4 were not admitted as they were too young and too short. Of these men from the Rhone, Nicholas was passed as sub-Lieutenant to the 15e Ligne on 11th May 1806 from the Chasseurs and Jean Marie Morel was passed from the Grenadiers as Sub-Lieutenant of the 69e   Ligne on 10th December 1806[38].

Velite Elziar Blaze commented that admission to the army through the velites was harder than the military school, but one got to wear the epaulettes of an officer and soldiers uniform sooner.[39] He continues[40]:

One must have been a soldier at that time to  understand what magic there was in a uniform. What a vision of a glorious future there was in  every young head wearing a plume for the first  time. Every French soldier carried his baton of  marshal of France in his cartridge-box; it was only a question of getting it out. We saw nothing difficult in that; today I even think that at that time we would not have limited to that our ambitious dreams.

The decree of   July 29th 1804 modified the organisation of the Velites:

GENERAL PROVISIONS.

“ART. 1st.  The Imperial Guard will be made up for year XII and year XIII in the following way:

1 General staff.

1 Regiment of Horse Chasseurs.

1 Regiment of Foot Grenadiers.

1 Corps of artillery.

1 Regiment of Foot Chasseurs.

1 Elite legion of gendarmes.

1 Regiment of Horse Grenadiers.

1 Battalion of sailors.

To each regiment of infantry will be attached a battalion of vélites, and to that of the Horse Chasseurs a company of Mamelucks.

here also will be a company of Veterans of the Guard.”

“ART.  2.  The staff will be composed of four colonels-généraux, who will command:

1 The Foot Grenadiers.

1 Commissioner of Wars.

1 The Foot Chasseurs.

12 Aides-de-camp.

1 The artillery and the seamen.

1 Head of the engineer battalion.

1 The cavalry.

1 Librarian (bibliothècaire).

1 Reviewing Inspector.

 

The colonels-généraux will receive their orders directly from the Emperor.”

Infantry.

“ART.  3. Each regiment of infantry will be composed of a staff, two battalions of grenadiers and chasseurs, and one battalion of vélites for each one of these regiments.
The battalions of grenadiers and chasseurs will similarly have eight companies, and those of the vélites five.”

“ART.  4.  The staff of an infantry regiment will be made up in the following way, namely:

1 Colonel.

1 Quartermaster sergeant major.

1 Major.

1 Drum major.

3 Battalion heads, 1 of which is for the vélites.

3 Corporal drummers.

1 Quartermaster treasurer.

1 Bandleader, of rank of sergeant major.

3 Adjut.-majors, 1 of which is for the vélites.

46 Musicians.

3 Sub Adjut.-maj., 1 of which is for the vélites.

1 Master tailor.

2 Flag bearers.

1 Master shoemaker.

3 Medical officers, 1 of which is for the vélites.

2 Gunsmiths (armuriers), 1 of which is for the vélites.

1 Student surgeon.

1 Gaiter maker.”

“ART.  5.  Each foot grenadier or chasseur company will be made up of:

1 Captain.

1 Quartermaster. (fourrier)

1 First lieutenant.

8 Corporals.

2 Second lieutenants.

2 Sappers, rank of corporal.

1 Sergeant major.

80 Grenadiers.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.

“ART.  6.  Each company of vélites will be made up in the following way, i.e.:

1 Captain.

1 Lieutenant.

1 Quartermaster. (fourrier)

1 Second lieutenant.

8 Corporals.

1 Sergeant major.

172 Vélites.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.”

“ART. 7.  The officers and non-commissioned officers of the vélites companies will be provided by the regiments of grenadiers and chasseurs to which they are attached; they will be used by it, for duty, for one year, except those taken to the staff, and the sergeant majors and quartermasters of the companies who will remain there indefinitely.
There will be moreover and thereafter, in each company, 2 sergeants and 4 corporals chosen among the vélites who will have more than one year of service in the corps.”

“ART. 8.  The Emperor will regulate the number of the masters of reading, arithmetic, drawing and military training (gymnastics) which he considers suitable to attach to each battalion of vélites, as well as the treatment that these masters will enjoy.

Each body of vélites will have a riding school; a company will be commanded by officers of cavalry.”

Marshall Bessieres wrote to General Hulin the commander of the Grenadiers a Pied  from Milan on 4th June 1805 concerning the Velites. Under this letter, the Velites and Grenadiers in Paris were to be organised into a single battalion of six companies, each company to comprise 1x Captain, 1x Lieutenant, 1 Second Lieutenant, 1 Sergeant Major, 4 Sergeants, 1 Fourier, 75 Grenadiers (8 to act as corporals), 45 velites, 2 drummers. Some 131 men per company. The Chasseurs a Pied in Paris were to be formed into a battalion with the same organisation. Both battalions were to be commanded by a Chef du Bataillon, assisted by an adjutant-major, adjutant sous officers and a Drum Major. Those Grenadiers and Velites remaining at Fontainebleau were to be organised into a single battalion of four companies, for the service of the Palace

Later in the same year, the Velites organisation was changed yet again. The decree of 1st November 1805 created two new battalions of Velites, each 800 men strong. These men were to be conscripts of the class of 1801-1805, to measure 1.73m tall. Each department had to provide 6 conscripts. Each battalion was to have 5 companies, comprising 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, 1 Sub Lieutenant, 1 Sergeant Major, 4 Sergeant’s, 1 Fourier, 8 Corporals, 172 Velites, 2 Drummers. Chef du Bataillon Chezy was placed in command of the two Velite Battalions attached to the Grenadiers a Pied, assisted by Adjutant Major Vezu and Sous-Adjutant-Major Delaire, staff officers Braise. The Chasseurs were commanded by Chef du Bataillon Denoyers, Adjutant Major Rignon, Sous-Adjutant-major Herbolig and Medical Officer Maugras.[41]

Looking at the age and height of the Velite Grenadiers admitted in 1805, we see that the official stipulation of 1.73m as the minimum height was overlooked. Looking at the Velites in 1805, 90% of all Velites were aged 18 upon admission. The average age of those passing to the Fusiliers in January 1807 was 20. Height wise, as shown in the table below, just under half of all admissions were below the minimum height. The stipend of 300francs a year it seems carried more weight in the eyes of those in charge of admission than the men's height.

Text Box:  Table 10: Table showing height of Velite Grenadiers 1805-1806

The organisation of the Velites was modified again with the decree of 15 April 1806:

FIRST TITLE (TITRE).

General dispositions.

               “ART.  1 style='font-size:9.5pt'>st.  The Imperial Guard will be made up of:

1 Major general.

1 Company of Mamelucks attached to the Horse Chasseurs.

4 Battalions of Foot Grenadiers forming 2 regiments.

1 Regiment of dragoons of 4 squadrons.

4 Battalions of Foot Chasseurs forming 2 equal regiments.

1 Regiment of artillery of 3 squadrons.

1 Regiment of Horse Grenadiers of 4 squadrons.  

1 Legion of Elite Gendarmes.

1 Regiment of Horse Chasseurs of 4 squadrons.

1 Battalion of Sailors.

 

1 Company of Veterans.”

“There will be attached to each body of infantry two battalions of vélites, and to each regiment of cavalry only one squadron of vélites.”

“ART. 2.  The general staff will be composed of four colonels-généraux, from which comes:

1 Commander of the Foot Grenadiers.

20 Aides-de-camp of a grade of Squadron Head, of captain, and of lieutenant.

1 Commander of the Foot Chasseurs.

1 Battalion head of engineers. 

1 Commander of the Cavalry.

2 Captains of engineers.

1 Commander of the Artillery and the Sailors

1 Adjutant of engineers.

4 Aides-de-camp colonels.

1 Librarian.

“The colonels-généraux, for all reports or matters having to do with service to the Guard, will receive their orders directly from Emperor.”

SECOND TITLE.

Infantry.

“ART. 3.  Each corps of infantry will be composed of:

4 Battalions of grenadiers or chasseurs.

— 2 Battalions of vélites.

The battalions of old soldiers will be composed of four strong companies of one hundred twenty men each.”
“Each one these battalions will be composed of four hundred and eighty men, and the total for the corps of one thousand and nine hundred and twenty men, all soldiers having at least ten years of service in the line.”

“ART. 4.  Each corps of infantry will form three regiments, including two regiments of Guard and one of vélites; all three will have the same administration and will be placed under the same command.”
“Each regiment will be commanded by a major.”
“The staff of each corps will be made up in the following way, i.e.
:

1 Commanding colonel.

1 Quartermaster (vaguemestre) (rank of sergeant major)

3 Majors, of which 1 is for each regimentand 1 for the vélites.

1 Drum major.

6 Battalion heads, of which 1 is for  the vélites.

6 Corporal drummers.

1 Quartermaster treasurer.

1 Band master (rank of sergeant major.)

6 Adjutant-majors, of which 2 are for the vélites.

40 Musicians.

6 Sub adjutant-majors, of which 2 are for the vélites.

1 Master tailor.

4 Flag bearers.  

1 Master shoemaker.

6 Medical officers, of which 3 are 1st class and 3 are 2nd or 3rd class.

3 Master gunsmiths of which 1 is for  the vélites.

1 Adjutant-lieutenant for clothing. (l’habillement)

1 Master gaiter maker.”

1 Adjutant-lieutenant for provisions. (les vivres)

 

               “ART. 5.  Each company of foot grenadiers or of chasseurs will be made up of:

1 Captain.

1 Quartermaster. (fourier)

1 First lieutenant.

8 Corporals.

1 Second lieutenant.

2 Sappers (rank of corporal).

1 Sergeant major.

102 Grenadiers or chasseurs.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.”

               “ART. 6.  Each company of vélites will be made up of:

1 Captain.

1 First lieutenant.

1 Quartermaster.

2 Second lieutenants.

8 Corporals.

1 Sergeant major.

150 Vélites.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.”

ART. 7. The officers will cease being provided by detachment as they were formerly by the grenadiers and chasseurs; they will belong to these bodies and will be named by the Emperor.  The place of seniority for all ranks and all individuals belonging to the Imperial Guard will be regulated according to the seniority in the Guard.”
“The non commissioned officers will be selected among the most senior corporals of grenadiers and chasseurs; quartermasters and corporals, partly among the oldest vélites, and partly among the oldest grenadiers or chasseurs.”

“ART.  8.  The Emperor will fix the number of masters of reading, writing, arithmetic and gymnastics who he will consider suitable to attach to each battalion.”

“ART.  9.  In the event of war, and the Guard making a campaign, two companies of vélites will go with each battalion.”
“Each one of these companies will be made up of one hundred thirty-five men, who will change the strength of each battalion to seven hundred and fifty men.”
“At the time of the departure, all the companies of the battalion will be at once made up of one hundred twenty-five men, including eighty soldiers and forty-five vélites.
“Each battalion of old soldiers will leave in depot, in Paris, twenty men and fifteen vélites by company, which will make, for each body of infantry, two hundred and ten men, and for the two corps four hundred and twenty men.”
“The total staff complement of the infantry of the Guard will be, by this means, six thousand four hundred and twenty men, including six thousand with the army and four thousand with the depot.”
“When the infantry of the Guard receives the order to provide a detachment to sleep away for several days, or for a voyage, it will detach two companies per battalion of vélites, which will carry the battalions of the Guard to six companies.  The vélites will be distributed by equal portions in the companies of the battalion, and the detached battalion will be of seven hundred and fifty men.”

Under article 34 of the decree the Velites who had served in the campaign of 1805 were to be taken into the Guard by 1st January 1807. 2000 Velites were levid under the decree of 11th June 1806[42]. These new Velites were raised to compensate for the Velites transferred to the Line or taken into the Old Guard. Each department were to provide 20 conscripts, primarily it was hoped to be Volunteers willing to pay 200 francs a year. They were to be from the class of 1800 to 1805 and be 1,76m tall. 160 velites were to be sent to the artillery of the guard.43].

After the victory at Austerlitz, Napoleon instigated major changes to the guard, partly as a response to lessons learnt during the campaign. The infantry was re-organised with the created of second regiments of Grenadiers and Chasseurs a pied, five companies of bakers and workmen were created, an ambulance transport system and a new cavalry regiment was created. Further changed followed, particularly in respect to the Velites. The system of filling the guard with velites had not worked as Napoleon had intended, it was proving difficult to obtain sufficient velites and they costed far more than envisioned, even though they were being subsidised by their parents. Napoleon commended:

The regiments of velites a pied of my guard does not fulfil my aim[44]

In 1806 Napoleon had more of a need for combat troops.

To this end, the Velites were transformed into the Fusiliers, intended to be an inexpensive unit of guard infantry, which were to cost no more than a line regiment. . 13th September 1806 Napoleon wrote to General Laucee about a project to form a regiment of Fusiliers for the guard.

By a decree of 19th September a regiment of Fusiliers was formed for the Guard, placed under the administration of the Chasseurs a Pied [45].

The first battalions of the Chasseur and Grenadier Velites were to be formed into a regiment called the Velites of the Guard administered by the Grenadiers a Pied. The second battalions were also to be unified and commanded by the Chasseurs.

Article 4 of the decree stated that the Chasseur Velites were to form the cadre of a new regiment, to be called Fusiliers of the Guard, to have the same formation as the regiment of velites decreed on 15th April 1806

Additional  men were to be  provided by departmental companies of the reserve, each department was to provide 2 men destined for the cuirassiers and 5 destined for the artillery, the men to be of good constitution and robust. The cadres were provided by the 2nd Battalion of Velites, (those attached to the Chasseurs a Pied). The effective strength of the regiment was fixed at 1200men, not comprising the NCO's, Drummers and Officers. The minimum height of the men entering the regiment was set at 1.67meters. In addition to the Velites being sent to the new Fusilier regiment, the NCO's were drawn from the Chasseurs and Grenadiers a Pied.

The Grenadiers provided  nearly 50 NCO's and Junior Officers for the 1st Fusilier regiment through the transfer of men to a higher rank in the new regiment, for example, Corporals became Sergeants, Sergeant Majors, Sous-Lieutenants.

The regiment consisted of two battalions of four companies each. The soldiers were paid and equipped like the line, the NCOs to be treated as members of the guard46].

The remaining 1st Battalion of Velites attached to the Grenadiers and Chasseurs and those remaining from the 2nd Battalion were formed into a regiment of Velites, administered by the Grenadiers a Pied. The regiment was to be ogranised in accordance with the decree of 15th April 1806 cited above.

A decree of 15th December transformed the remaining Velite battalions into a second regiment of Fusiliers, which was to have a theoretical strength of 1,800men attached to the Grenadiers a Pied. Velites were admitted to the Grenadiers between January and June 1807[47]. To the 2nd Fusiliers, the Grenadiers provided a nucleus of Officers and NCO's around 110 men being transferred.

Their pay and allowances were as follows:

PAY.

FUSILIER-GRENADIER REGIMENT AND FUSILIER CHASSEUR REGIMENT.

DESIGNATION OF GRADES.

PRESENCE PAY.

ABSENCE PAY.

ALLOWANCES.

NUMBER of HORSES.

per mos.

per day.

on march per day.

on quarter leave per day

in hospital and with army per day.

lodging per day.

clothing per day.*

                               

Adjutant-general

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

Staff.

 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

Major

516

66

17

22

"

"

8

61

14

22

4

16

2

08

6

Battalion head

416

66

13

88

"

"

6

94

10

88

2

50

1

66

3

Adjutant-major

300

"

10

"

"

"

5

"

8

"

1

33

1

11

2

Sub-adjut-maj

 

200

"

6

66

"

3

33

5

16

1

"

1

11

1

 

175

"

5

83

"

2

91

4

33

1

"

1

11

1

Medical officer 1st class   

300

"

10

"

"

"

5

"

8

40

2

50

1

11

"

Idem 2nd class

200

"

6

66

"

"

3

33

5

46

1

33

1

11

"

Idem 3rd class

133

33

4

44

"

"

2

22

3

46

1

"

1

11

"

Drafting Master.

125

"

4

16

"

"

2

08

2

91

"

"

"

"

"

Writing    Idem

150

"

5

"

"

"

2

50

3

75

"

"

"

"

"

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

Small Staff.

 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

Drum corporal

"

"

1

66

"

"

"

83

"

55

"

"

"

"

"

Master artisan (ovrier)

"

"

2

22

"

"

1

11

"

74

"

"

"

"

"

                               

Companies.

                             
                               

Captain

300

"

10

"

"

"

5

"

8

"

1

33

1

11

"

First lieutenant

200

"

6

66

"

"

3

33

5

16

1

"

1

11

"

Second lieutenant

175

"

5

83

"

"

2

91

4

33

1

"

1

11

"

Sergeant major

"

"

2

66

"

"

1

33

"

88

"

"

"

"

"

Sergeant and quartermaster

 

2

22

"

"

1

11

"

74

"

"

"

"

"

Corporal

"

"

1

66

"

"

"

83

"

55

"

"

"

"

"

Fusilier

"

"

  "

60

"

70

"

30

"

20

"

"

"

"

"

Drummer

"

"

1

38

"

"

"

69

"

46

"

"

"

"

"

Student drummer, treated in all ways like a tirailleurs.

"

"

  "

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

One Velite who clearly prospered from his service in the Velites was Jacques Christophe Mallet (1787-1850) was appointed sub-Lieutenant 15 March 1814 of the 1e Grenadiers.

He entered the Velites of the Grenadiers in 1805 joining the Fusilier-Grenadiers 16 January 1807. Made corporal 13th February 1807, and was transferred as corporal to the 1e Grenadiers  1st May 1813, being promoted to Sergeant 27th September 1813. In April 1815 with the reformation of the 1e grenadiers he was promoted to Captain, 22nd  April 1823 he was made Lieutenant of 5e Leger, having been on half pay since 21st September 1815, and Captain 1st October 1830.

Another Velite was Joseph Vachin, who had left his home in Mende in acrimonious circumstances and joined the corps of Velites. Vachin, singled out for his promise, was given the privileges as a trainee officer, and passed into the Line as an Officer and left the army in 1816. Vachin in his personal correspondence explained that he believed that he fitted into the army well and had a useful role to play, and saw soldiering as a way of making amends for a misspent youth. Another recruit for the Velites, joined the corps at the age of 18, as away of avoiding being conscripted. He was the son of a lawyer in Avignon, who felt honoured to be part of the army and to wear the uniform of an elite regiment:

‘Pulling on an officer’s dress coat, wearing an epaulette, buckling on a sword, these are such grand things when you are eighteen! We were soldiers; a minute later we had become officers! A single word had produced this happy transformation. Man always remains a child at heart; throughout his life he had need of baubles; and his self-esteem reflects the clothes he is wearing. Perhaps he is right here, since the people will judge him by his clothing.[48]

He continues[49]:

Two weeks after my arrival, I had worked so well that I was considered worthy of mounting guard for the first time. Once installed at the post, the old soldiers who happened to be with me made the enumeration of all the young velites who, in a position equal to mine, had paid for their welcome by treating their comrades at a neighbouring inn. Such a one had done things in fine style; another had behaved like a pekin, he had hardly given enough to drink; one had entertained lavishly: fresh pork-chops, sealed wine, coffee, liqueurs. ... I then decided that I should do as the last mentioned.

That day I wrote my name on the walls, behind the sentry-box, with my bayonet; chance having lately led me to the gate of the Champ-de-Mars, I tried to see if I could still read it; after having sought for a long time, I finally found it all covered with moss. The guard-house luncheon came back to my mind with all its joyous circumstances. Is there left another guest beside me, said I, thinking of all the events that had followed one another in the interval of thirty years. If some old soldier had shown his face burned by the sun of the Pyramids, I should have embraced him heartily; oh! the good dinner we should have had together.

Many velites found the soldier's life tedious: to become officers sooner, they went to the Fontainebleau Military School; I was among the latter. My turn came to go to Fontainebleau. ... I departed. I was then obliged to re-commence my education: in the velites we had mounted drills, there we drilled on foot; from the carbine I had to change to the musket That was a small matter.

In the imperial guards the hair was worn short in front, and the queue in the back; at the military school we wore the forelock without queue; so that for six months, cut in front or cut in the back, I was always cut; my head remained bald and much resembled that of a choir boy.

Life in the velites was not as Blaze had hoped for, noting[50]:

Our mess at the school was the same as that of the soldiers at the barracks : army-bread, and beans alternating with lentil soup; it was the necessary without extra, as you see. The bringing in of all sorts of dainties was prohibited. Young people are greedy, and our minds were always strained in inventing new ways of smuggling. The door keeper, a most strict custom's man, seized every- thing that had the least resemblance to dainties; they were not taken with the idea of sending them back, but were retained by him, and the Lord knows how watchful he was.

Thomas Bugeard complained to his sister that the Velites stifled his ambition, and reduced his enthusiasm for soldiering day by day. He considered joining the Officer School at Ecole Militaire as he was guaranteed an commission as a Sub-Lieutenant and gaining a good education, in contrast to the Velites which he complained were only concerned with drill, noting that the government only wanted to make NCO's of the Velites and not officers.[51]

Other who joined the Velites were not so lucky as Blaze. Charles Ignon, was a printer by trade, but could not find the money to buy an illegal substitute to prevent him from being conscripted, and so decided to enter the Velites:

It is pretty costly, but at least I would have to pay out ten francs every three months rather than a thousand francs all at one go

As a result of withholding their sons from the front lines and by honouring them as being part of his personal bodyguard Napoleon assured himself of the support of the middle class. And if not the support, surely he minimized their antagonism towards him and his wars of conquest. The men in the velites were well motivated. Francois Billon was a Chasseur-Velite, who was appointed a Second-Lieutenant in Febuary 1807:

Seven former velites, who had become Chasseurs shortly before, were promoted to be officers. Marshall Bessieres led us on to the scene of our exploits and gave us a warm little speech. We were deeply impressed by it. The present difficulties and the unaccustomed situation of the army added to his emotion. He told us, in short, to bring with us into our new regiment [14e ligne] the high morale, the patriotism and the loyalty to which we had given proof in the Guard; and never to loose sight of the fact that without the Emperor, there would be no more security, no more glory and perhaps no more fatherland. I received these beautiful and noble recommendations religiously, for I was proud of being among those who have never separated Napoleon's cause from that of France[52]

Friction did exist between these young men and the veterans of the guard, most of whom according to Barres were resentful of their young comrades[53]  A grenadier a pied was killed in a dual over a pot soup, such was the animosity between the old and young by velite Thomas Bugeaud[54].

However the velites did proove themselves to be of use, writing letters to the loved ones of the many illiterate veterans then filled the guard, Jean Roche Coignet of the Grenadiers a Pied was taught to read and write by the velites under his care[55].

For the 1805 campaign the Velites were used to fill the gaps in the Grenadiers and Chasseurs, each regiment leaving at depot around 100 soldiers each who were no longer deemed fit for active service.

Other means of Entry to the Grenadiers.

Others could enter the Guard directly from the Ecole Militaire. August Ferand (1794-1856) entered the Military School in June 1812, passed as Corporal of Grenadiers in March 1813, and was transferred to the newly raised Flanquer-Grenadiers 9th April 1813, and then Sub Lieutenant of the 11e Tirailleur-Grenaiders in the 2nd Battalion on 26th September 1813. 20th July 1814 he passed to the 50e Line and back to the newly formed Guard Tirailleurs on 3rd June 1815. He did not take part in the Belgian Campaign but was placed on half pay from October 1815 to August 1817 when he was nominated Lieutenant of the 3e Legion, retiring from the army in 1821.

However, the % of younger men from the velites or young guard being transferred to the grenadiers, over lies the fact that the veterans from the line were older than those sent in 1802.  The young guardsmen were clearly essential in rejuvenating the 1e grenadiers rather than undermining the guard. The line veterans were, by the standards of the time, old soldiers. In modern sense these men were not even middle aged, and we think of these men as being old, being in their 50's, which was not the case.

The men of the 1e grenadiers were old by comparison to the 18year old conscripts that filled the line year on year, as Captain Karl von Sockow of the Wurtemberg army commented on the Grenadiers[56]:

From today's perspective, these guardsmen were terribly burdened, and yet you very rarely saw a clapped out man amongst them, for they were generally mature men, whereas in the line you would often see young men who were barely more than boys

Grivel of the Marines further adds that:

The large and simultaneous influx of new men left something lacking in the way of unity. It is difficult to explain what I mean by this word and you need to have known the old guard in its early days to appreciate the meaning. But it is true the longer we continued, the less we felt ourselves to be a family. The perfect similarity of feelings and tastes, which formed the strength of this elite arm, no longer existed to the same degree. The spirit of self denial, which had formerly been  so pervasive, lessened day by day.

The generation of old soldiers who had been illiterate but full of military virtues had wanted nothing except the honourable position that they held in the guard. But, little by little, they had given way to another generation, who did not have the same ideas about self advancement, and who sought to take advantage of their admission to further their careers.[57]

Grivel is generally correct in the observation about the changing character of the guard and the men it contained, but over emphasis the use of the guard for self agrandisement, given the fact that less than a quarter of those admitted to the grenadiers between 1802 and 1813 were promoted to other units. Their were notable examples of this, Felix Deblais being one of them another Poret de Morvan.

NCOs

Each  company NCO had their own task to fulfil within their company[58]. The duties of the NCOs are outlined as follows:

The corporal in his "room".

The corporal, imbued with the principles previously enunciated shall apply himself to passing on the knowledge to the new soldier, and, by his example shall indicate the manner of putting this knowledge into practise.

From first thing in the morning, at the hour indicated to rouse the soldier, the duty of the corporal is to ensure that each is dressed promptly and in a proper manner, and that the elder soldier apprise the younger of the best way to dress quickly.

That those detailed for service, whether armed or not, are prepared for duty;

That the beds of the barrack-room or of  the tent, are made and well arranged;

That those men who are indisposed or sick, at the appropriate hour, are conducted to the "house of the medical officer for his inspection; and if the soldier is grievously afflicted, that the medical officer, day or night, shall attend (the soldier);

That those items required for the mess are prepared, and the fire is lit for the pot (soup),

The corporal, with a man of the “room”, shall go to the market to buy provisions for the mess.

During the day; the corporal shall inspect the arms and the effects of the equipment and clothing of the men of the “room” , and that they are maintained to the required standard, and that those which require it are repaired and brought up to standard, especially seeing that the men shall maintain themselves .

He shall ensure that the soldiers do not gamble for money, so as not to breed bad feelings between themselves.

Decency, honesty, 'friendly brotherhood' shall pervade all their relations, and all their actions.

The corporal shall keep the men of the room busy and shall not allow them to be idle, the mother of vices; he shall on the contrary shall excite them to acquire the different knowledge to enable them to advance in rank; his example shall carry great weight with those inexperienced men who listen to him.

He shall often support those seeking to acquire knowledge, and shall outline the most advantageous route to acquire the necessary knowledge.

He shall ensure that the soldiers do not sleep during the day on their beds, excepting those who are ill.


The Corporal of the Day.

He shall, in the morning, when it is his day, check all the rooms or tents of the company,  he shall then obtain from those in charge of the rooms ( or tents ) any relevant information, he shall then give these details to the sergeant-major and to the adjutant sous- officier of the battalion.

At the designated time, and after the signal from the drum has been given, he shall, with the cooks of the messes, go from the quarters, or tents, to sweep the fronts of the streets in front of the streets up to the designated distance.

Also at the designated hour, the corporal of the day shall accompany the sergeant-major to give the report to the quarters of the adjutant sous-officier, to inform him of the state of those at his service to command or to pass on the orders to the company.

At his return, the corporal of the day assembles all the corporals of the company so as to pass on the news (information) to them, so that they in turn shall pass on the orders to their  “rooms” .

It is the corporal of the day who commands all the types of service to be carried out by the company, and shall assemble in front of the said company those men detailed for duty whatever that may be.

It is the corporal of the day who accompanies the sergeant-major at the parade and at the orders (of the day).

At his return to quarters, he shall re-assemble once again the corporals, or leaders of the “rooms”, of the companies, in order to pass on the orders of the commander of the place, or the general, or the commander of the unit, or of the company.

When assigning duties, he shall have a list, or alternatively the most senior and most junior soldiers are paired on the list, so that one may inspire the other, for each type of service, the senior and junior soldiers shall always be mixed, so that the senior soldiers may pass on their knowledge to the younger soldiers.

The corporal of the day, shall use the most active means in the service, and shall not leave the company, except when he is commanded to do so on some extraordinary service; and, in this case he shall ensure that he is replaced by the corporal who is next on the list to serve as corporal of the day.

Corporal-instructor of recruits

He shall pay the greatest attention so as not to put the young soldier off from learning his trade, by his brusqueness, nor by his impatience. All men do not learn, or contribute equally or at the same pace, to being taught;  patience and calmness shall be the greatest virtue of the instructor. He shall study the character and intellectual capacity of each man who he is to instruct, and shall use these insights to determine the tone and vigour of the lessons.

These lessons shall not be of too long a duration; it is infinitely preferable to repeat (the lessons) more often.

The corporal-instructor shall follow exactly the lessons prescribed by the exercise regulations, and shall never depart from them.

He shall not proceed to the second lesson until the recruit is perfectly at ease with the first; without which, his instruction will invariably be wanting: undue haste in this matter, is a most dangerous vice.

The Corporal of the Guard

He shall upon arrival at his post, begin by counting the sentries at his post, he begins with the first man of the right flank and continues up to the last man of the left flank.

He shall receive, from the corporal who he is to relieve, all the passwords and all the utensils which are found at the guard room; he shall see that all these items are in a good state, and that the guard room has not been defaced. In the latter case he is to report to the commander of the post; and if he is required by the same, he shall give an account to the headquarters, whether of a place, or of a camp, having taken the name of the corporal he relieves, also the number of the company, and battalion and the regiment of which he is a part: without taking these steps he shall be responsible for the degradation committed at his post.

He shall give the same attention to post of each sentry under his command.

He shall at the same time pass on as clearly as possible the passwords to his post in general and to each sentry in particular, when his tour of duty is over he shall pass on (the password) to whoever takes over his position, from one sentry to another .

He shall also make a good reconnaissance of the surroundings of his post, so that he shall know how to regulate the marches of his patrols, and the precautions to take to ensure the security and tranquillity of his post.

After having taken these preliminary precautions, he shall arrange (draw) which men are to serve at which sentry-post and at which hours, those who are to go to obtain wood and candles, those to carry messages, or to escort on their rounds, superior officers, and those moving from one post to another .

He shall further regulate the tour of duty of those men who shall be continually prepared to make a reconnaissance, also the passage of troops through his post, also superior officers of the day making their rounds, as well as any other rounds and patrols.

He shall see that the arms are well arranged and in good order, whether in the gun-rack made for that express purpose, or in the most appropriate place, so that they may be taken without confusion, and that they are constantly under the watch of the sentry.

He shall equally see to it that order, decency and calm are maintained by the men of the guard, that they do not leave their posts, that they do not go into nearby houses, or bars, or anywhere else, and that each is ready to take up his arms at a moments notice.

Each time he relieves his sentries, he shall call each by his number, arranged in a single rank before the post, he shall inspect the arms and uniforms of the men, depending upon their numbers he shall form them into two or three ranks, carrying the musket at 'l'arme au bras', and shall conduct them in order each to their own post, he shall begin with the " sentry of the weapons, and finishing with the sentry furthest away, and shall thus come to each in turn, he shall thus march the man relieved with those who are to relieve the other men, in this manner he shall re-unite and return all the relieved men to the guard post, where, upon arriving before the (stack of) arms, he shall command them: Presentez -les armes; and then: haut les armes. He shall then make the men place their weapons in the indicated place, having first ensured that they have been well wiped dry.

At the approach to each sentry the corporal shall command: halte to his troop, when he comes to four paces from the sentry: he shall advance the man destined to relieve the post, putting him to the left of the sentry to be relieved they shall respectively present arms; and in that position, the " old " sentry shall pass on, in a moderate voice, the password for his post.

The corporal shall pay attention that the password is well transmitted, and shall correct any faults made in the transmission of the password.

He shall then have the sentries return their arms (to the l'arme au bras position), and shall return the relieved sentry into the ranks of his comrades and shall continue onto the next post.

At each changing of the sentries, if the corporal is not in charge of the post, he shall inform the sergeant that he is going to relieve the sentries, so that the sergeant may make his inspection before they depart, and that each, has his designated post where he shall do his sentry duty.

When the corporal returns to his post having relieved the sentries, he shall make his report to the sergeant whether he has any news or not.

Attention should be taken to place new soldiers, either at the "arms", or at the post closest to the guard-post, so that they may be supervised most easily, until they may take their position and serve on the guard.

The corporal, between the times when the guards are relieved, shall frequently visit the sentries, to assure himself that they are exactly at their posts.

The corporal of the guard who has patrols to make, shall command the utmost silence and shall march slowly, taking the greatest attention to observe all that he shall pass on his route. The object of patrols is to preserve the greatest security and public safety of the post, the patrol shall then put a stop to all commotion, stop and conduct to the guard-post all those who wish to disturb the order (of the post); they shall equally give warning to the camp or post, when. they shall detect a fire, or some other danger public or personal.

When the corporal has made a patrol up to the limits of his prescribed area, he shall return to his post, and report to the sergeant, and he shall report to the officer if he does not command the post.

The corporal of the guard having to make his rounds, shall carry it out in the same manner, and giving the same attention as to that given when on patrol.

He carries with him the guard-lantern, and observes, during his rounds, if the sentries are observant and at their posts as he passes .

He shall ensure that those in charge of the guard-room and of the deserters, shall be near to their posts.

The corporal of the guard shall ensure that during the night the soldiers do not undo either their equipment nor their uniform: so that they may at any time take up their arms.

In the morning, at day-break, the corporal shall ensure that the soldiers of the guard shall wash their shoes, gaiters and uniform, that they comb their hair, and wash their hands and bodies.

He shall afterwards sweep the guard-room, and its environs up to a certain distance, after which the place, or the guard, whether under arms shall always be in a proper state.

The drummer, shall sweep at the same time the guard-room of the officer, being particularly detailed for its maintenance during the guard.

The corporal of the guard commanding a post shall at the indicated hour and at the place indicated by his instructions, send an intelligent soldier with a written report with any news of what has happened at his post.

The grenadier charged with this mission shall carry his weapon on the right arm as for the sergeants when they are armed with muskets.

The corporal shall afterwards determine whether the grenadier has delivered the report to the staff officer to whom it was intended.

The corporal of the guard, commanding a post, having been relieved returns with his guard in good order to their quarters; where they shall be dismissed following the commands prescribed in the regulations for the exercise of infantry.

He shall observe the same method when he returns to his quarters or to the camp, at the head of any other detachment armed or not which he shall command.

In the latter case, after having dismissed his troop, shall give an account of his detachment and the nature of its mission; to the adjutant-major to whom he is responsible; and only after making his report shall he return to his quarters .

The "orderly" corporal

There are three types of orderlies. The first, assigned to generals, superior officers, or to administrative offices.

The role of these orderlies is to carry the dispatches, relating to military service, whether to different corps of troops, or to generals or to superior officers attached to the garrison, the cantonment or to the camp.

He shall also serve to maintain order in the area of the headquarters or wherever he is serving

This service is undertaken under arms, as for the guard-duty, and shall normally last twenty-four hours.

The second form of orderly duty is that carried out at the military hospitals.

This service, is equally of twenty-four hour duration, and is carried out under arms, and has for its object the supervision of:

1.The interior order (and security) of the hospital wards.

2.That the preparation of the meals follows the prescribed regulations.

The orderly shall be present at the weighing of the meat, when it is put into the marmite, to see that the prescribed weights are met, that the cook places the meat into the marmite and that he does not fraudulently remove it, and that he returns to ensure that the distribution is fair, of equal proportions.

3. Food distribution. He shall accompany the cooks onto the wards when each distribution of foodstuffs is made, and he shall prevent distribution of sub- standard foodstuffs, or of unequal portions.

4. At the meat suppliers premises.

At the prescribed hour, and with the requisition from the hospital director showing the required amount of meat, he shall go to the supplier, accompanied by the men detailed to transport the meat, he shall not quit the meat until he returns to the hospital and deposits his charge to the indicated storage room, or he shall pass it over in the presence of the director or his deputy.

This orderly shall also carry the situation returns to the commissioner of war charged with the policing of the hospitals, and shall render an account of any fraud or irregularity that he has observed.

He shall diligently read the regulations posted concerning hospital service, so that he shall commit to memory the knowledge that he shall require.

The third type of orderly is that posted at the gates of a place of war, or at some other designated place.

There the orderly receives, whether from the general, or some other superior, the particular password

Relative to the location where the duty is undertaken.

This service is not of a fixed duration.

Scrupulous attention is to be maintained when carrying out this third type of orderly work; and since this orderly is only responsible for the giving or not of the order (i.e. the password) he shall never abandon his post and shall only report what he sees and hears himself.

These posts are to be particularly confined to the most intelligent and attentive (corporals).

The corporal “en route”

When the order is given for the march; the corporal shall pay particular attention to the inspection of the arms, uniform and equipment of his squad, and shall ensure that each man turns out in the best possible state, at the time indicated for the march, and that the soldier is in the required uniform. The corporal's example, in all cases, serving to regulate his inferiors.

At the time of the "rappel", he shall hasten the departure of the soldier towards the place of rendezvous of the company.

He shall see to it that the soldier does not forget any of his effects or the utensils he is assigned to carry; and on leaving the room, or tent, he shall see that all the furniture is left in good order and in its proper place.

Afterwards, he shall follow the soldiers to the rendezvous. From this time he shall see to it that non step out of the troop, and that each marches in good order in their proper place throughout the march.

If he should be commanded, during the march, to accompany a man of the company or from a detachment that has been forced to remain behind, he shall see to it that the man does not move off the route, and that he halts only for the time necessary, and that he rejoins afterwards his company or detachment.

If the man is ill or unfit to rejoin, the corporal shall wait for the arrival of the waggons, shall have the wounded or ill soldier placed on a waggon; he shall "hand over" the soldier to the commander of the escort of the baggage and shall return straight away to rejoin his company.

If there are no waggons following the troop, the corporal shall take the ill or wounded soldier under his care to the first place (of habitation) on the route, and shall require the magistrate, or the person in charge of the post, to furnish care and transport as far as they are able, and that being done he shall report the same to the commander of his company.

The corporal of the advance, rear or flank guard of a column.

He shall not move further from the column than the distance dictated by the commander of the column.

If he is with the advance guard he shall ensure that no military personnel of the column shall move ahead of his guard, without the express orders of the commander.

In time of war and in the presence of the enemy, he shall detach two men at twenty paces in advance, on the two sides of the route; he shall equally detach two, or more, onto the flanks at an equal distance. All of these men shall march as do the "chasseurs", that is with the musket held in the right hand and at full cock, this latter so that each man is ready to fire. They are to march slowly, and to observe all that is around them, and also that which is in the distance, so that they do not miss any of the enemy's positions; and if they see (the enemy) they shall retire to inform their corporal, who, in turn shall advise the commander of the column, so as to receive any new orders.

To carry out these duties well, it is essential that the soldiers observe complete silence, that they often halt to look and listen to observe what occurs around them, so that they do not miss any of the enemy's positions, nor are they surprised by the enemy.

The same applies to those forming the flank guard of a column.

The "warning" given between these two groups shall be by sign or word depending upon which is the most appropriate.

If the rear guard follows a column being pursued by the enemy, he shall not miss an opportunity to face and to resist the following force of the enemy.

The corporal of the advance or flank guard, shall follow with the rest of his troop at an equal distance, from the detached men, so as to be able to move to the assistance of the men as they require it, as the situation demands.

He shall to this end ensure that his troop is in good order.

The corporal of the rear guard shall see that no person of the column remains behind, without the express authority of the commander of the column: and if he is a fusilier, he is accompanied by a NCO.

In this case, the troop shall march together, there shall be neither flankers or other

men detached, so that they do not follow the stragglers and those who have left the route.

The corporal on arrival at the lodgings (gite)

Upon arrival at the lodgings the corporal shall see that the men of his “room” do not separate, shall afterwards see that the soldiers wipe dry their arms, clean their shoes and uniform, carefully arrange their portmanteau and utensils in their designated places, and those detailed for the different duties of the room know what to do when they are required.  That the horses are well stabled, fed and watered. All re-united he shall pass on the orders given by his superiors prior to the dispersal of the battalion or detachment, whether for the orders of the day, or for their departure in the morning.

The corporal shall then determine for himself which is the shortest and best road from his lodgings to the rendezvous of the troop, whether for departure in the morning, or in case of alert: he shall equally determine the whereabouts of the lodgings of his captain, sergeant-major, and the standard of the battalion, also the posts where the men of his “room” are to mount guard, after which he shall allow them to make their soup.

If the troop is camping, the corporal shall make sure that the men of the tent help to dress the tent and arrange the interior and exterior of the tent, and that they go to collect the necessary straw and wood.

To effect this he shall tell each man what he is to do.

He shall equally ensure that the cooking fire pit is well made and in the indicated place.

If the troop is in bivouacs, the corporal shall see that the arms of his squad are as far as possible placed in such a manner as to be preserved from the damp, and that each soldier knows the whereabouts of his musket, so that in case of alert he can retrieve it without difficulty.

The knapsacks are to be arranged the same, and ready to be taken up by the men.

He shall have a book wherein he shall write the day to day movements of the (men of the) company, whether to hospital, discharged, on detachment, desertions,

Duties of the corporal-fourrier

The functions of the corporal-fourrier are for the most part administrative rather than military; he shall posses the necessary talents to full fill his duties.

These talents consist principally of knowing how to write well, to set out the different accounts of the company, to be able to calculate the various accounts of the company, to know exactly the law concerning the distributions to be made to each man, depending upon his rank, according to the prescribed regulations.

He shall be, under the control of the sergeant-major, and under the orders of the commander of the company, especially charged with the detailed account of the company; he shall for this effect, of necessity, pay the greatest attention to the details of his work.

He shall always lodge or camp with the sergeant-major.

He shall conduct the men of the company to the distributions, and receive from the distributors the various articles, which he shall divide amongst the men charged with transporting the said articles.

He shall go on in advance, whether in lodgings or in the encampment.

He shall receive from the quarter-master the accommodation tickets for his company, for both officers and men: he shall after having received the tickets, search out the accommodation of the commander of the company, and of the sergeant-major, so that the lodgings of one or the other shall be at the centre of the lodgings of the company, only after the dismissal of the battalion at its arrival at the accommodation shall he return to his company to issue each his accommodation ticket.

In the camp he is in charge of the rope of the company[59]. He shall place the markers for each of the soldier's tents, for the cooking fires, for the washerwomen and for the officers.

In all cases he shall act with the utmost celerity before the arrival of the battalion, so that he can conduct his company to its accommodation, whether in lodgings or in an encampment.

In another book, he shall note all the distributions in terms of receipts and expenditure, so that at an instant he can pass on his accounts to his superior .

In a third book, he shall hold the particulars of the men of the company by rank and seniority, from the sergeant-major to the last fusilier.

When the battalion is on manoeuvres the corporal- fourrier is to be found in the standards platoon: he is to be well versed in marching at a well regulated pace, and to march directly upon a given direction.

The battalion depends upon the platoon for its alignment and its pace, whether on the march or in its place.

This is the only military duty assigned to the corporal-fourrier.

In the interior running of the company, he is to aid the sergeant-major in transcribing the different orders, and in reading out the orders to the assembled company.
i.e. to make up the different controls of the company for revues, the different necessary states of the company, hospital tickets, the different types of leave, the rations, the wood and straw, so that the company receives it due of the distributions whether in lodgings, or in the camp.

Instructions for Sergeants

The corporal having obtained the rank of sergeant within a company shall apply himself to know all the men of his company, to know by heart their names and forenames, their place and department of birth, and to have a list by seniority of the men.

He shall study their individual character, beginning with the men of his barrack-room,

and his sub-division, so that he may best understand them to be able to guide them in their studies.

The sergeant in the barrack-room

He shall maintain good order, honesty, respect for rank, and good morals; he shall demonstrate this by his good example, he shall often "test" his subordinates on their studies so that they may be accurately reminded; he shall live with them as a good comrade: that is the best means by which he shall obtain their esteem, confidence and respect which is necessary both for the good of the service and of society .

In the morning he shall ensure that each rises and dresses as prescribed, and he shall devote himself to this end.

If some are required for some service that they are prepared in good time.

If some of the men are ill, that they are taken to the medical officer, and to the hospital.

He shall often inspect the arms and sacks of the men of his section.

He shall hold an exact account of what each man holds within his sack so that he may be able at an instant to give an account to his officers of his company.

He shall oversee all payments and effects to his soldiers, attesting to both the quality and quantity of distributions, at the time when they are made to the men.

He shall give an account in the field to the sergeant major, of those men of his section

who are missing, so that he may obtain their replacement.

The Sergeant Instructor

He shall follow the same precepts set out for the corporal instructor.

These rules shall be passed onto each grade, each reaching a degree of perfection. As the sergeant has more men to instruct he shall project the commands more, his explanations shall be more clear and concise, so that they may be better understood and that no time is lost.

He shall endeavour to establish a uniformity, a precision and co-ordination in the different times and movements in the exercise class which he instructs.

Everything depends upon these first lessons to establish the soldier under arms, and they distinguish the talents of the instructor.

The Sergeant on Manoeuvres

He is to be found as a replacement or in the "serre-file."

In the former case, his duty is to replace, in the front rank, the commander of the peloton, when that officer leaves his position to move in front of his peloton. When the unit fires, or when the ranks are opened the sergeant is to move back into the serre-file (for firing), and to open the ranks he is to mark the line of the third rank of the peloton as well as see that the rank is alined with the battalion, under the command of the guides on the line.

When he finds himself on the left-rear of the peloton or section, and that peloton or section is to form in column he shall move to the front rank on the left of the peloton or section, their to observe and maintain the alignment and distances for the peloton in respect to the squadron.

The Sergeant of the Guard

Following the allocation of posts, whether in quarters or in camp, the sergeant having received the required number of men to form the guard, shall form then in single rank, by height, afterwards forming into two or three ranks depending upon their numbers, to conduct them to the parade area of the battalion, and from there to their indicated post.

Having arrived at their post, he shall have detailed to him, by the guard he is to replace, the passwords to be observed, and all necessary information with which to secure his post.

He shall followed by the corporal, assign the men, in order, to their respective posts, and shall leave them there after having conducted to there positions with the corporal.

During the relief of the sentries, he shall ensure that all regulations are followed, he shall take the same precautions as those prescribed for the corporal of the guard.

He shall equally pay the same attention as that directed to the corporal of the guard for the policing of the post, for the rounds and for patrols, and for the reports which are to be made during his guard: he shall supervise the corporal and soldiers, making sure that each know their duty.

When an officer commands the post, the sergeant shall give a prompt and complete account of all that has occurred at and near the post: for which purpose he shall frequently visit the sentries, and reconnoitre well the approaches to the post.

At the prescribed hour, he shall send his corporal, or, if he does not command the post, he himself shall go to obtain the password, in the morning he shall carry the report on the post.

Depending upon the number of men he has at the post he shall call the roll call as often as he deems necessary.

The Sergeant on detachment

He shall, before leaving his battalion or his company, make a list of the men, who compose his detachment, so that he shall know their names, and the companies of which they are part.

When the detachment has assembled, he shall make an inspection, to ensure that their arms, equipment and uniform, are in a good condition, and if they are in need of repair .

If the detachment is to be of a long duration, he shall be given by the administrative council, a certificate stating from which day the troops shall be paid and receive their rations, so that they may receive them wherever they are.

When he is en route, he shall march  at a moderate pace, so that the troop shall always be able to assemble and form in order.

During the first two hours of the march, he shall make one or two short halts of eight to ten minutes each; to give the soldiers time to re-arrange their effects; by this means he ensures that no man has any pretext to remain behind, and may make hard marches more easily.

During times of war in the face of the enemy, he shall have two or four men as an advance guard, depending on the size of his detachment; he shall march with all care, so that he will not be surprised.

Arriving at his destination he shall look to the establishment of his troop, such that they may be assembled in the same area, and that they are lodged close by him. He shall establish a guard post, posting the necessary sentries, to ensure the security of his post, and tranquility of the public.

He shall indicate the point on which the troop is to re-assemble in case of alert. He shall, afterwards tour the surroundings of his post, and the principle routes by which the enemy might approach his post. He shall discover and examine the roads by which he would have to retire if attacked by superior forces, unless he has orders to hold his position until the arrival of help.

In this case, he shall take all the necessary measures for defence, barricades, entrenchment's in the ground or elsewhere, wide ditches to stop cavalry, and where infantry can pass, he shall enlist the assistance of the local inhabitants, if his post is in a village or other inhabited location.

Close to the enemy he shall not allow his men to undress at night, nor to move far from the post during the day

Even when the enemy are not to be feared, all military precautions are to be taken and the men are to be billeted in "urban" areas and not spread out through the countryside, they are to live in harmony with the inhabitants, they are to respect their persons and property, and they are to be easily found at the prescribed times when the roll-calls are to be taken.

He shall have his men follow the same regime as if they were with the battalion.

He shall often visit the billets of his detachment, to discover how the men are behaving, and that their arms and effects are in good order .

He shall, especially at night, make frequent rounds, to ensure that the posts are exactly served, and that everyone has returned to their billet at the hour indicated for the "retreat".

The sergeant of the advance or rear-guard

With the advance-guard, he shall follow the same form of the march as prescribed for the corporal undertaking the same duties.

Having more men under his command than a corporal, he shall decide how many men should be deployed to the front and to the flanks.

He shall dictate the distance they are to maintain themselves from the troop, and the means by which they are to fall back on the troop in case of attack.

With the rear-guard, he shall follow the same regulations as for the corporal in the same situation, with regards both to the men on the flanks and to those falling behind.

He shall regulate the march with that of the column, always maintaining the prescribed distance from the troop.

In all cases he shall maintain strict silence with the troop so that the commands may be heard.

He shall march in the best possible order, with the ranks well closed up, as on exercise.

He shall maintain these dispositions with the assurance that he will be supported by

the column, following it at the prescribed distance and pace, regulated by the movements of the column.

The "Orderly" Sergeant

He has to follow the same system as the corporal carrying out the same duty, the two grades taking their duties proportionally or often the two working together.

The sergeant of the Week

He is particularly assigned to oversee the interior functioning of his company, and to receive, in the absence of the sergeant-major, the orders from the staff of the battalion, so that he may transmit them to the said company. He shall give an immediate account to the sergeant major of all those newly arrived in the company.

He shall for an assistant the corporal of the week, who shall also report all that occurs within the company.

Consequently he shall not leave the locality of his company, and shall often visit the rooms, and "areas" of the company, to ensure that the property and equipment is in good order.

He shall give a complete account to his lieutenants of all those who have arrived in the company, going to the lieutenants billet to report, beginning with the officer of the week.

Instructions for the Sergeant-Major

The sergeant major is, as they say, the heart and soul of the company: he is especially charged with the security, its instruction, and its administration, under the orders of the captain. It is to effect this that the corporal-fourrier shall always be lodged or camped with him.

The sergeant major shall know the individual character and morals of the men of his company.

It is to the sergeant-major that the sergeants and corporals shall give a direct account of all that occurs in their rooms, sections or squads, after which he makes his tour, and goes to report to and receive his orders from the captain.

He shall direct the administrative duties of the corporal-fourrier and oversee its accuracy.

He shall, during the drill, oversee the instructors, ensuring their uniformity in their orders, demonstrations and in their movements.

He shall show by his example the principles he wishes to pass on.

He shall go in the morning, at the prescribed hour, to the battalion staff, to make his company report and to write down the order of the day, which he shall take to the commander of his company, and their receive his particular orders.

Returning to his lodging; he distributes all orders to the other ncos of the company, who in turn shall transmit them to their sections and squads, ensuring that they are executed exactly by the subordinates.

At the hour of the parade; and each time that the company, or part of it, is under arms, he shall assemble the men, a little before the indicated time, so that he may make a preliminary inspection, and have the time to examine the uniform or equipment of each soldier, so that the troop shall be in the best state possible at the arrival of the officer.

All requests of his subordinates shall only be passed to the commander of the company, or the officer of the week, by the sergeant major, and he shall accompany the officer on his inspection rounds of the rooms of the company.

The sergeant major, accompanied by the corporal of the week, shall on the days "grand parades" shall go to receive the "general order", whether in a place or in a camp.

All the officers as they are encountered, are given the "order", and receive specific orders relating to their company.

He shall carry out all the roll calls of his company, and shall give a complete account of the said company to his commander, or to the officer of the week.

He shall visit, at least once per day, all the rooms of his company, to ensure that peace and order are established, and if the "chiefs" do their duty .He shall for this object, from time to time, inspect individual haversacks to ensure that the reports of the room "chiefs" are exact or not.

The corporal-fourrier shall make all the distributions of pay, uniform effects, equipment, and arms in the presence of the sergeant-major .

He shall preside at the inscription of the men on the registers of the company, and in the "livrets" of each soldier, for the accuracy of which he is responsible to the commander of the company.

He shall keep a book to register the orders, where he shall write all the general orders concerning the service, which from time to time he shall refer to.

He shall often go to the hospital, to visit the sick of the company.

An analysis of the NCOs of 1st Battalion in 1811 makes interesting reading. The sergeant-majors had on average served for 6years, the same as the corporals and fouriers. The sergeants in average had served for twice as long as the rest of the NCO's, serving between 4 and 24years prior to admission into the regiment. The corporals had a service record of 3 to 19years before admission to the guard.

From this it is evident that the Sergeant-Majors had been rapidly promoted due to their potential to be future officers. The sergeants were clearly men who earned their place in the guard through service and bravery, but lack of skill or education prevent further or more rapid promotion[60].

Some NCOs of the Grenadiers

Sergeant Charles Auban Defrance (1774 to 1846) was admitted to the grenadiers 22nd July 1803 having served with the 94e demi-brigade since 1792. He was made corporals 5th June 1809 and sergeant 15 June 1812 at the age of 38, one of the older sergeants, the average age being 32.

Fellow sergeant Francois Lamargot (1772-1834) joined the grenadiers 21st March 1799 from the 9eme Legere who he joined in 14 April 1796. He was made corporal of grenadiers 4th April 1806, transferred to the 1e Tirailleur-Grenadier 1st February 1809, Sergeant 6th February 1810 and was then transferred back to the 1e Grenadiers as Sergeant 23rd March 1812. Pierre Lazore Raveret (1771-1845) was also made sergeant-major in 1813, transferring from the 9eme Leger on 28th September 1799. He was promoted to sergeant of Fusilier Grenadiers 10th September 1807 and then as Sergeant of 1e Grenadier 1st May 1812, promoted to sergeant-major 15 April 1813 and then sub lieutenant 1 January 1816 of the Royal Guard.

Sergeant-Major Pierre Thomas (1774-1857) entered the regiment from the 5e line on 1 January 1800, was made corporal 1st September 1808, Sergeant 22nd July 1810 and Sergeant-Major 9th May 1811. Upon return from Russia, he was appointed Lieutenant on 8th April 1813, before being promoted to company Captain of the 8e Tirailleur-Grenadier on 23rd December 1813. He passed as captain to the 76 line 3rd August 1814.

Sergeant-Major Lefrancois was sent to the 1e Grenadiers on 6th April  1813, from the 2e Grenadiers, having served as Sergeant-Major since 1811. He was promoted Lieutenant in the 1e Grenadiers in November 1813.

Sergeant-Major Nicholas Mautret (1775-1843) of 9e company was appointed 13 January 1813, having served as a sergeant-instructor at the fontainebleau school. He joined the army in 1793, passing to the 112e line and then the 88e Line, being made corporal 1798. Joined the 1e Grenadiers on 15th January 1801, promoted corporal 13 April 1807.  He passes as Sergeant to the school at Fontainebleau 29th March 1811. He became Sergeant-Major January 1813. Mautret did not remain at his post long being promoted sub-lieutenant of 5e Tirailleur-Grenadiers 24th January 1813 and captain 20th November 1813, then captain of the 81e line 24th September 1814.

The same career progression was true also for fellow Sergeant-Major Philibert Rene. He was enfant de troupe in 1791, being promoted to sergeant by January 1805, he entered the 2eme Grenadier a pied in  November 1811, two months later passing the 1e regiment as Fourier. He was appointed Sergeant-major in July 1812  aged 25 and then on 12th April 1813 he passed to the Fusilier Grenadiers as a second lieutenant.

Corporal Jean Baptiste Dutarte (1787-1847) seems to have been a soldier of some ability. He entered the grenadiers 1st March 1808 from the 82e line which he had joined on 28th January 1803. He was made corporal January 1813 and Sub-Lieutenant of the 12e Tirailleur-Grenadier 8th April 1813. The same rapid promotion was also shared by corporal Nicholas Guillet (1774-1839), who entered the 1e Grenadiers 5th June 1812, promoted corporal 5th January 1813 and sub-lieutenant of the 13e Tirailleur-Grenadier 8th April 1813. He had served with the 12th line since 8th September 1793.

Fellow corporal Edme Barnou (1787-1858) entered the guard as a conscript in the Fusiliers on 22nd September 1807, passing as Corporal to the Velites of Turin 25th May 1810 and then to the 1e Grenadiers as corporal of 3e company 2e battalion on 19th March 1814. Jacques Martin Pechinet (1783-1866) was admitted into the 1e grenadiers as corporal in 2e battalion10 March 1813, having been sergeant in the 112e line. He had joined the 112e on 10 June 1805, promoted corporal 15 April 1809, made sergeant 12 June 1811. During service in Spain, he was wounded at the siege of Tarragonne with a  musket ball in his right leg and that attack on Sagonte in October 1811 he took a sabre cut to the stomach.

In 1814 with the disbandment of much of the guard, a number of NCOs were transferred to the the grenadiers. Sergeant Major Ancel, was a conscript in the 2e Tirailleur Grenadiers on 25th July 1809, passed to the Fusilier Grenadiers on 15 June 1811, then to the 2e Grenadiers 16 March 1813, promoted Fourier 21st April 1813 and then to Sergeant-Major 29th January 1814, passing to the 1e Grenadiers in that quality on 16 November 1814 aged 25.

Sergeant Vincent Duranton, was a conscript of the class of 1809 into the 4e Tirailleur-Grenadiers, made corproal 23rd January 1813, Sergeant 1st November 1813, passing to the 1e Grenadiers as Sergeant 1 July 1814. Corporal Louis Mathieu was a consript of the class of 1807, and passed from the 9eme Legere to the 1e Grenadiers 10 November 1813, being made Corporal 14 May 1814 aged 24. Sergeant Nicholas Mathieu was a consript of 1805, and entered the Grenadiers on 10 July 1808 having been a sergeant in the 36e Line. He was made corporal 20th February 1813 and Sergeant 1st April 1815 aged 30.

Company Clerk Julien Lami was a conscript of the class of 1809, entering the 1e Line on 1 July 1809, passing to the Spanish Royal Guard as Corporal 11 May 1811, promoted Fourier 21 May 1811. Upon disbandment of King Joseph's Guard, he passed to the 1e Tirailleur-Grenadier as Fourier and then to the 1e Grenadiers 1 April 1815 aged 25.

The efficiancy of the company NCO's is neatly summed up by Lieutenat Charles Fare who found himself acting as a company commander in July 1811 [61]:

The duty here is very undemanding. MY company of 200 men strong is superb and runs by itself, as everyone knows his job perfectly. At coubervoie, there is almost nothing to do in comparison with Paris, where the parades, sentry duties etc are endless.

Sergeant Batherlemy Bacheville confirms this[62]:

From sergeant, which I was in the Line, I became a soldat in the guard. Although this was a usual step, I saw it as a sort of humiliation and I missed my regiment. But I soon felt differently, when I came to know my officers and comrades. There reigned in the guard such a well understood discipline and honourable brotherhood between the general himself and the least of the soldiers, that it was impossible not to be happy and proud of serving in such a corps. I soon swore never to leave it.

Such was the bond between guardsmen, that when Napoleon ordered 200 or 300 corporals and NCO's to leave the guard to be transferred to the young guard to become sub-lieutenants or lieutenants, the men were reluctant to leave and lots were drawn on who would leave[63]. 41% of the men admitted to the grenadiers in 1802-1803 had been NCO's in the line, of these men only 20% gained further promotion in the guard[64].

Of these men who entered the Grenadiers in the period 1799-1801, where they fitted within the organisation of the regiment is revealing. As under half of the regiment came from the Legislature it is not surprising therefore to see that the majority of NCO's and Officers came from the Legislature. In essence, 75% of all Officers and NCOs were from the Legislature above the rank of Fourier. The Directory provided the majority of the Corporals. The guides provided no men beyond the rank of Corporal as shown in tables 11 through 15.

Text Box:  Table 11: Table showing origins of the Corporals of the Grenadiers a Pied 1799-1801

Text Box:  Table 12: Table showing origins of the Sergeants of the Grenadiers a Pied 1799-1801

Text Box:  Table 13: Table showing origins of Fouriers of the Grenadiers a Pied 1799-1801

Text Box:  Table 14: Table sowing origins of Sergeant-Majors of Grenadiers a Pied 1799-1801

Text Box:  Table 15: Table showing origins of Lieutenants of Grenadiers a Pied 1799-1801

As we can see from tables 11 to 15 in real terms therefore half  (60%)of all company  non comissioned officers came from the Legislature, as did the Sergeant Majors, and Sergeants. The Directory provided 40% of the corporals. It seems likely therefore that some companies NCO's and Officers would have been a mix of Directory and Legislature Grenadiers. Of the men themselves, about 590 Grenadiers of the Legislature became Consular Grenadiers, as did all 120 Directory Grenadiers, 298 men from the Line Infantry, 106 men from the Light Infantry, 24 gunners and 50 Guides a Pied of Bonaparte. Thus the Guides of Bonaparte did not all transfer to the Chasseurs a pied. The same is true for the  Legislature Guards.

Looking at the NCO's in 1804, we see that the the Corporals were aged 29, the Sergeants 31, the Fouriers 30 and the Sergeant Majors 31.

The 16 sergeant majors were aged between 25 and 43, with 8 to 14years service before admission to the Guard. Of these men 5 were sent to the Grenadiers from the Line as Sergeant Majors,  2 had been Fouriers in the Grenadiers, the remaining 9 men being Sergeants again from the Grenadiers on average being sergeants for on average 1 year. Their career prospects were varied in the years 1804-1815, 8 would be made Officers in the Grenadiers, 6 sent to the Young Guard in 1808 and 1809 as Officers, 2 were killed in Russia the remainder sent to the Line as Officers.None of these 1804 entrants were with the Grenadiers a Pied as Sergeant Major in 1813

The Sergeants, had between 8 and 20 years service before admission and were aged 25-38. Of the 64 Sergeants, 27 had been promoted to the Grenadiers as Sergeant from the Line, 25 had served in the Grenadiers as Corporals, 12 had been Fouriers. Of the sergeants serving in 1804,their career between 1804 and 1815, promotion was within a year to Sergeant Major for 9 Sergeants, 10 became officers in the Grenadiers, 12 were made Officers in the Line ostensibly in 1809 or 1813, 8 were made officers in the Young Guard in 1809 and 1813, 10 retired and 5 killed.

The corporals served between 8 and 11 years before admission to the Guard aged between 26 to 34. Of the 128 Corporals, 50 had been promoted to the Grenadiers as Corporals from the line. Of the remaining corporals, all were Grenadiers promoted to Corporal with an average of 1 years service as a Grenadier before promotion. The career prospects of these men was varied.  72 would become Sergeant in the Grenadiers at different points in time. 8 would become Fouriers, 4 became Sergeants in the Young Guard in 1809, 2 became Sergeant Majors in the Grenadiers, 2 were sent to the Line as Sergeants, 4 retired and the remainder were killed, in post as Corporal of Grenadiers in 1813.

An analysis of the NCOs of the Grenadiers in 1811 makes interesting reading compared to 1804.The average age of the Corporals was 28years 2 months, the youngest man being 24 and the oldest 36.The Fouriers were aged 26, coming from a tight demographic of 25 to 28years old. The Sergeants were aged 333 months on average, older than the men they commanded, inverse to the Corporals who were younger than the men they commanded. The Sergeant Majors were aged 26 years 5 months, being aged between 25 and 36 years of age.

The 16 sergeant-majors had on average served for 6years, the same as the corporals and fouriers.  Of the 16 Sergeant-Majors, 4 were sent to the Grenadiers from the Line as Sergeant Majors,  2 had been Fouriers in the Grenadiers, the remaining 9 men being Sergeants again from the Grenadiers on average being sergeants for on average 1 year. 1 man was promoted to Sergeant Major from Corporal after holding that rank for 9years, entering the Grenadiers in 1800 and made Corporal in 1802.

The sergeants on average had served for twice as long as the rest of the NCO's, serving between 4 and 24years prior to admission into the regiment. Of the 64 Sergeants, 27 had been promoted to the Grenadiers as Sergeant from the Line, 25 had served in the Grenadiers as Corporals, 12 had been fouriers. Of the sergeants serving in 1811, promotion was within a year to Sergeant Major for 6% of Sergeants. Career progression for the remainder of the men was cut short by the Russian Campaign. Of those remaining in 1813, they, were made either Second Lieutenant or First Lieutenant in the Grenadiers, sent as  Officers to the Young Guard or Line. None of the sergeants remained in the Grenadiers as NCO's  in 1813, these experienced men were needed as officers around which the army would be rebuilt in 1813.

Of the 128 Corporals, 48 had been promoted to the Grenadiers as Corporals from the line, having a service record of 3 to 19years before admission to the guard. Of the remaining corporals, all were Grenadiers promoted to Corporal with an average of 4 years service as a Grenadier. No Velites seem to have been NCO's within the Grenadiers. 

The 16 fouriers in the Grenadiers, 4 were promoted from Corporal in the Grenadiers with two years service on average as corporal. The remainder were promoted to the Grenadiers as Fourier, having served as Corporals in the Line with an average of 5years service before admission to the Guard. The Fouriers served for an average of a year in their post before promotion to Sergeant or Sergeant Major.

From this it is evident that the Sergeant-Majors had been rapidly promoted due to their potential to be future officers. The sergeants were clearly men who earned their place in the guard through service and bravery, but lack of skill or education prevent further or more rapid promotion[65]. The origins of the NCO's in 1811 were mainly from internal promotion. Once admitted to the Grenadiers as an NCO, most remained in the Grenadiers for further promotion within the regiment.

In the Chasseurs, a similar pattern of age and experience is also seen. The average age of the Corporals was 28years 2 months, the youngest man being 24 and the oldest 36.  72% of the corporals in the period 1799-1803 were made Sergeant,a  single man made Captain directly,9% fouriers, 9% were promoted as NCOs into the Line, 19% to the Young Guard.

The Fouriers were aged 26, coming from a tight demographic of 25 to 28years old. The Sergeants were aged 30yrs 9 months on average, just older than the men they commanded, inverse to the Corporals who were younger than the men they commanded. The Sergeant Majors were aged 32years 5 months, being aged between 28 and 39yesrs of age.

Between the years 1802 and 1804, about 36% of the Sergeants were promoted  to Sergeant Major,   a similar number of Sergeants being sent from the line to replace these men, thus just over half of the Sergeant Vacancies in the Chasseurs were made up by promoting corporals to this post. Just under 30% of the sergeants were promoted to Sous-Lieutenant of Second Lieutenant to fill officer vacancies in the regiment in the same period, in part due to the limited number of Sergeant-Majors to be promoted to officer status. 14% were promoted to the Line and a similar % promoted to the Young Guard as Senior NCOs or Sous-Lieutenants.

The Sergeant Majors, 46% were promoted to Sous-Lieutenants within the Chasseurs, 17% directly to Second-Lieutenant also within the Chasseurs, 15%  promoted as Sous-Lieutenants in the Young Guard, 8% retired with their rank and  15% to the Grenadiers a Pied.

Officers.

Promotion in the guard as an officer was via two routes: being promoted from the  rank and file of the regiment as an officer or being promoted into the regiment from the line.

Being promoted inside the regiment was rarer than being posted at a high rank to the grenadiers. Jacques Christophe Mallet was promoted succesively from Sergeant in 1813 to Lieutenant in 1814, with 9years service.

This was the same route that Coignet took a few years earlier being promoted from the ranks as sergeant to a staff officer on the corps staff. Upon being promoted to officer status, Coignet notes that he had his pack shot to pieces by his former comrades, a practice from the royal army, and felt more like a demoted sergeant than an officer, lacking the epaulettes of his new rank, hat, and sabre.

This internal promotion was slow, as Charles Fare notes[66]:

You see I am no longer so keen on war as before. It is certainly not fear of danger than produces this change for I am totally astonished to have run so little thus far. It was  not like this in the 69e. But in the first place, we officers of the guard have less chance of promotion in war than in peace. The Emperor is unable to refuse anything to regiments that have fought well and a crowd of officers seeking entry to the guard comes and takes our places as captains. Hence we have no more than distant hopes for some dotation and I honestly do not know if that can compensate for the  fatigues and privations of this war, the gloomiest that I have yet made and which is still noting compared to what it could become if it drags on through the winter.

Fare was promoted as captain to the newly raised 2e regiment in 1811. Being in the guard, however did have its bonuses compared to the line even if promotion prospects were limited[67]:

If there were few advantages during the Russian campaign of being in the Old Guard, there are many during this one. The poor troops of the line are always bivouacing in dreadful weather. As for us, we have only bivouaced a dozen times. We have made two trips to Silesia and three on the frontiers of Bohemia. The rest of the time we have spent at Pirna or at Dresden, where we are very much loaded with duties and spend an enormous amount of money for our horses and ourselves. But at least we sleep every day in a good bed.

Felix Deblais who left the 1e Grenadiers, gives a good account of his living conditions in Spain as an officer in the Fusilier Grenadiers notes in a letter of  December 2 1810:

We make stay in this city which is  half way to Vitoria, in the middle of the mountains of the Pyrenees. Tolosa is a small rather nice city. The officers billets are with the middle-class men, and the troops in species of barracks, but lack straw for beds. I have a rather good billet, my hosts… are very pleasant: I remember Spainish so well that I speak with them as in French.

However, his lodgings were a times not to his liking, in a latter of 16th December:

The officers all to attend the military mass on Sundays wearing their uniforms.

I have been for 15 days in a new lodging, it is the third move which I make, I do not have a chimney, but I am extremely well and agreeable. My host,  is a large  merchant of fabric, etc and muleteer: They are good people, and the maid care’s for me, I do not give them great embarrassment; they have very Spanish opinions, but I do not oppose them; if I dispute it with the young lady who is lame,  and rather pretty, says it is good to support ones nation, they are very easy and rich people: but they live very badly: It is not a pleasure to see them eating, they resemble.. around a small table. They are usually 6 of them in a very black kitchen, near the fire: the tablecloth is very dirty, …, they eat 3 persons to on each plate and ever piece of bread is for 3, each one bites each in his turn. The wine is in a dirty glass pot for all. I join them rather often with their meal without taking part in it, I talk with them, I make them laugh. In spite of the uses of the country, I kiss you, like your father and your mother, and am your sincere friend. De Blais, Captain with the regiment of the fusiliers grenadiers of the Imperial Guard, armed d’Espagne.

The local inhabitants were expected to billet the officers at their own expence as De Blais narrates:

They were to provide bread, wine, meats, vegetables, salt, oil and lamps, candles, fodder, hens and bacon for the officers. We ruin them more than the brigands:

Officers of the guard were allowed to wear none uniform when not on duty. Claveau, an officer of  6eme Tirailleurs,wrote from Rueil, 10th September 1811 to his parents discussing the formation regiment:

I am informing you of my transfer to the 6eme regiment of Grenadier-Tirailleurs. The General said to us while passing the review that we would go to Rouen. I fear that we have sorrow to maintain us there because all is very expensive and our pay does not increase. The landlord has increased the rent to 58 Fr and we still give 50frs, the house which we occupy is close by the barracks …I acknowledge you that all remains  to me is 3fr, 10fr to spend all month... I will require from you a frac it is an item of dress we wear daily.... as it is allowed for the officers of the guard to dress themselves as middle-class man, and I miss ill that dress and a round hat, if you still have my small brown frac, I request to send it to me.

Officers it seems enjoyed their status and privileges, De Blais noting on 19th December 1810 that:

General Caffarelli orders all this province, he was for a long time a Minister for the War of the kingdom of Itlay, he was an aide-de-camp of his majesty when I entered into the Guard, he was the chief of staff; I was various times with him… yesterday I dined at his place. He is an extremely gracious man, filled of means, liked by everyone: every Sunday he gives ball at his place, the officers who want to go there are invited; …I had much pleasure and am well amused to, there was more than 50 ladies of the 1st  class and  pretty young ladies. The General, though 45 years old, dances like a young man; he even composed the music …which is extremely merry, It is called "the storm"

He continues in the new year of 1811:

General Caffarelli always gives us balls, festivals and Sundays, I am there because I know that all the ladies go. These meetings are extremely beautiful, the women then are in French costume and they make their efforts to appear brilliant and put well to with it. The room is extremely pretty: the ball usually lasts just an hour. The day before yesterday it was extremely popular: French and Spanish all, dance together.

The officers all to attend the military mass on Sundays wearing their uniforms.

Behaviour of the officers of the guard was not always as moral as it should have been. Felix Deblais wrote to his father and fiancee in January 1811, rather candidly, saying how he spent time with prostitutes:

We don’t have any pleasant company of the inhabitants; I however will  spend time to visit some young ladies, I have one 15 year old at the lodgings who enjoys the lessons that I give her; histoiry and spellings d’Abélard and d’Héloïse, and in Spannish one pleases her... We have so much sorrows and fatigues, that when we rest a few days, I seek to distract meyself in the trade and the company from your pleasant sex which, in all the countries, likes to receive our visits and our care.

In general terms, the officers of the 1e Grenadiers were not as old as one supposes. A record of the company officers of 1e Battalion in the new year of 1813 shows that the company commanders were aged between 25 and 37 with an average age of 33, just older than the sergeants they commanded on average, the first lieutenants ranged from 30 to 38 with an average age again of 33, and the second lieutenants were aged 25 to 30, on average aged 27.[68]

Some officers of the Grenadiers

Honore Lebeau was a volunteer in 1791 in the 32e Line, wounded at the siege of Saint-Jean-Dacre and entered the Grenadiers of the Consular Guard as Sub Lieutenant. Passed to the 2e Grenadiers in 1811 as Porte Aigle, and returned to the 1e Grenadiers a Captain from 6 April 1813, promoted Officer of the Legion of Honour in January 1814. He retired from the Army in November 1815.

Louis Cretal was admitted as First-Lieutenant in January 1814, from the 2e Grenadiers, in which he had served from 1813, having transferred from the Young Guard. He retired from the 1e Grenadiers on 9th June aged 35.

Joseph Bourdin entered the Guard in 1806 in the Fusilier Grenadiers, promoted as Captain of Flanquer-Grenadiers 6 April 1813, and transferred to 1e Grenadiers in the new year of 1814. 1st April 1815 he was appointed Captain of 3e Grenadiers, and dismissed from the service 21st September 1815 aged 42. Louis Vaude (1777-1840) had a similar career, entering the 1e Grenadiers in 1802 as a Sub-Lieutenant, passed to the Flanquer-Grenadiers 6 April 1813, passing to the 1e Grenadiers May 1814 as Captain, transferred to 3e Grenadiers 1 April 1815, retired from the Royal Guard 1824.

Jacques Marcel Dambly (1769-1845) was promoted Captain of the 1e Grenadiers in October 1812 after serving in the 2e Grenadiers from 1811. He had won a Sabre of Honour and was wounded at Marengo. May 1814 he was appointed Major 32e Line, and retired from the service in 1821.

Felix Deblais (1775-1814) had a distinguished career in the guard. He entered the grenadiers of the consular guard in 1800 from the 16e Line as a Sub-Lieutenant, in which had served from 1793 and earned promotion from private to officer in 7years. He was promoted Second Lieutenant in the Grenadiers in 1803, and First Lieutenant in the following year. Made Captain of the Fusilier-Grenadiers 29 May 1809 and transferred at the same rank to the 2e Grenadiers 1 July 1811, and thence back to the 1e Grenadiers 17 March 1813. Promoted to Battalion Commander 14 April 1813 of 1e Tirailleur Grenadiers, and was killed in action 13 March 1814.

Jacques-Guillaume-Gabriel Foucher (1787-1823), was born 5 January 1787 in Orleans, son of Louis Foucher and Magdeleine Therese Chappe. He entered the Fusilier Grenadiers 21st January 1807, and promoted to Fourier 19 July 1807. He passed to the 1e Grenadiers with the same rank 18th May 1809.  On 24th June was named Pay Officer with the rank of Sub-Lieutenant of the 5e Tirailleur-Grenadiers. Admitted into the 1e Grenadiers as Staff Officer 6 April 1813. Captured 2nd January 1814, released from Prison 24th September 1814 and retired from the army 15th November 1814.

Jean-Baptiste-Amable Pelee (1176-1867) was born 17th February 1776 at Pont-Sur-Yonne, son of Amabale Pelee, school master at Pont-sur-Yonne and Jeanne-Louise Besnard. He entered the  the army in 1793, passed to the 96e Ligne 1798, and thence to the 24e Legere, promoted to Sub-Lieutenant of the Volitguer company 1805. He passed to the 1e Grenadiers as Second-Lieutenant 1st March 1806, and promoted to First-Lieutenant 1st April 1809. He passed as Captain to the school at Fontainebleau 13th April 1811. Promoted as Adjutant-Major of the Fusilier Grenadiers 18th February 1813, and then Battalion Commander 1e Tirailleur 22nd February 1814. He was retired from the Army on 1st September 1815 with a pension of 1000francs. He was wounded in the right shoulder at Austerlitz, had received a bayonet thrust to his right arm in 1800, and was contused by a round shot at Dresden in 1813. He was presented with the Legion of Honour 14th March 1806, and was made an Officer of the Legion 30th August 1813. He died 11th July 1867 whilst residing at 105 Rue du Bac, Paris.

Francois George Folley,(1774-1842) was 4 September  1774. He entered the army in 1792, and was promoted from the line to Second Lieutenant 15 April 1806 2e  Grenadiers a Pied de la Garde Imperiale), being transferred a year later on 16th February 1807 as Lieutenant: 1e Grenadiers. With the formation of the young guard in 1809, he passed to the 1e Tirailleur-Grenadiers as Captain on 5 June 1809, and back to the 1e Grenadiers in the same capacity on 11 April 1812. He was made Major of the 32e Line 8th October 1812.

Jean Luc Darriule (1774-) served in the 1e Grenadiers for a month only in 1812, being made Battalion head on 30th May 1812, having being a major in the 25e Line, and passed to the 2e Tirailleur-Grenadiers on 10 June 1812

Francois Lavigne, born at Arras in 1777, already in the army by 1791, aide de camp to General Compans in 1801 and present at Heilsberg, where he was wounded three times. Transferred to the 1st Grenadiers in 1807, made Officer of the Legion d’honour in 1809, transferred to the 2eme Grenadiers 1811 as Battalion Head and made Major of the 15th Tirailleurs in 1814, promoted to Colonel of the 78th Line and then 50th Line, on half pay form 1816 and retired in 1823.

Boisson, promoted as Lieutentant en Second in 2e Grenadiers June 1812, transferred to 1e Grenadiers in 1813, then 10th Tirailleurs, retired with the 1st Restoration.

The demographics of the regiments officers are shown in tables 16 through 18. The Sous-Lieutenants were aged on average 29yrs, the youngest being 24 and the oldest 47. The Second Lieutenants were aged 30years on average, aged between 26 and 32. The Lieutentants were aged 32years 2 months on average, and ranged from 27 to 41 years of age. The Captains were aged 35 on average and had the same age ranges as the Lieutenants.

Of the Sous-Lieutenants just over half had been promoted from the Line directly to the regiment to fill vacancies in the period 1802-1804.  28% of the Sous-Lieutenants had been Sergeant-majors in the regiment, 21% had been Sergeants.

Just over half of the Sous-Lieutenants were made Second-Lieutenant, 7% were killed, 21% directly to Lieutenant, 14% retired and 8% promoted to the Line.

A similar story is true of the Second-Lieutenants. 66% were promoted to Lieutenant, 21% were promoted to Lieutenant in the the Young Guard, 7% promoted to the Line, 6% promoted to Captain within the Chassuers.

The Lieutenants, 59% were promoted to the Young Guard, 25% were killed, 16% promoted Captain within the regiment.

The Company Captains between 1802-1804, 45% retired, 33% promoted to the Young Guard, and 22% to the Line. 45% of the company captains were promoted directly into the Regiment to fill vacancies between 1802 and 1804.

Text Box:  Table 16: Table showing origins of Sous-Lieutenants of Grenadier a Pied 1799-1801

Text Box:  Table 17: Table showing origins of Captains of Grenadiers a Pied 1799-1801

Text Box:  Table 18: Table showing origins of Second-Lieutenants of Grenadiers a Pied 1799-1801

Service in the Grenadiers

Between 1802 and the new year of 1813, the approximately 10,000men passed through the ranks of the 1e Grenadiers. Life on campaign was not easy, and the rigours of such activities would account for the number of men retiring from the regiment as unfit for further service even if not wounded. Lt Blaze recounts[69]:

When one is at the bivouac, near the enemy, every man lies down fully dressed; each sleeps, one might say, with his eyes open; one must be ready for any emergency. Sometimes, we have remained in our boots for a month, which is, to say the least, very uncomfortable. Sometimes also, when lying down, the desire came over one to unbutton one's clothes; one loosened a buckle, then another, and it required more time to remedy this little disorder than if one had been entirely undressed When the season is cold everyone lies about the fire ; but one gets toasted on the one side, while being frozen on the other; one of course has the resource of turning around, but that is not at all easy.

When one happens to be in the second rank, one can then undress; less precautions are necessary. The officers have linen sacks in which they thrust themselves and which serve as sheets. As mattresses and feather beds are always replaced by bales of straw, the linen sack is much more agreeable than the sheets: the seam allows nothing to get inside.

The time of awakening at the bivouac is never amusing; one has slept because one was tired; but on rising, the members of the body are benumbed, the moustaches, like tufts of lucern, have on each hair drops of dew; the teeth are clinched; one has to rub one's gums to re-establish the circulation.

Those who have never been to war will never be able to form an idea of the ills it brings with it. I shall not give a complete description of them, it would exceed the limit I have prescribed for myself. I shall only say a few words about our life at the bivouac and the waste which took place in the army. We lived on what the soldiers found, and living would have been impossible otherwise : our rapid marches prevented our stores, when we had stores, from following us. In rich countries, there were brought to the camp twenty times more provisions than it was possible to consume.

The remainder was lost The soldier lives from day to day; yesterday he lacked everything, to-day, if he has an, abundance, he forgets the privations of the evening before and does not worry about the morrow; nor does he consider that the following days other regiments will come to the position he is going to leave, that while taking what he requires it would be well to leave something to those who are to follow. . . . Not at all: one company of a hundred men has already killed two oxen; it is sufficient; after this there are found four cows, six calves, a dozen sheep : everything is pitilessly put to death, so as to eat the tongues, the kidneys, the brains. The cellar is entered wherein twenty casks stand in battle-array imposing and majestic: there are no tools to pierce them, but soldiers are never embarrassed; they fire gunshots through them, and soon twenty fountains of wine gush from all sides, to the loud peals of laughter of those present. Should a hundred casks be in the cellar they would have the same fate, for after all one must be able to taste the best.

Still another motive prompts certain soldiers to hunt for what they require to live : and while appearing to be looking for bread, they enter houses and succeed in taking possession of the owner's purse. Seeking for bread is an excellent pretext; when they do not receive their rations regularly, it is impossible to prevent marauding. The chief reply of army plunderers is this: " I am hungry, I seek bread." There is no answer possible to this sentence. When it is impossible to give them bread, you must let them have their way.

Officers faired a lot better when in camp or garrison[70]:

In camp, the officers eat, either at the canteen-woman's, who keeps the restaurant with a dining-room holding one hundred, or in their own quarters, several eating together. In every company there is always to be found a soldier who can cook fairly well. And then, on occasion, everyone helps, and the result is often a delicious dinner.

During a campaign, the officers are entitled to the distributions of supplies; they receive their rations of bread, meat, salt, rice, etc. When eight or ten get together, and know how to agree, they live very nicely, provided a few supplementary provisions can be found at the near by town.

In camp, the day is spent in visiting the barracks, in inspections, parades, drills, manoeuvres, a life certainly most agreeable for those who like it.  When one has books, one reads in one's leisure moments; when one has none, one walks, and then in the evening one plays, one drinks hot wine in the midst of the smoke of pipes. This takes place under the canteen-woman's tent or in the barrack of each officer in turn.

A sample of 220 men who joined the grenadiers in 1799-1801, 28% would retire by 1813, 14% were sent to the line, 4% would be killed, 13% sent to the veterans and 41% promoted to the guard. Of those sent to the guard, see table 19. Of the original entrants 2.9% were with the regiment in 1815. The men who retired from the Grenadiers did so at the end of a major campaign as shown in table 19.

Text Box:  Table 19: Table showing destination of Grenadiers a Pied 1799-1802 promoted to the Guard  

With the formation of the Fusiliers of the Guard in 1806 4% were sent to the Fusilier Grenadiers, and a similar number to the Fusilier Chasseurs.  Following Eylau a 8% were sent to the Fusilier Grenadiers. 4% would be passed to the Fusilier Chasseurs during the Guards campaign in Spain during 1808.

The bulk of the men (37%) sent to the Young Guard did so in 1809 with the creation of the Young Guard. In 1810 8% were passed to the Velites of Turin and 4% to the School at Fontainebleau. In the build up to the 1812 campaign 4% were sent to the Fusilier Grenadiers. The Tirailleur Grenadiers received 4%  in 1813 of those men promoted to the Guard. Overall the Tirailleur Grenadiers were the main beneficiaries of the entrants of 1799-1802

Text Box:  Table 20: Table showing campaigns after which Grenadiers admitted 1799-1801 retired  

 

Table 20 shows the campaigns after which officers retired. Those who retired, the bulk were discharged due to their wounds after the 1809 campaign. A similar percentage left at the end of the Austerlitz Campaign as the Jean Campaign a year later. Only 4% of those who retired did so after the Spanish Campaign of 1808. Of those who were sent to the veterans, 33% did so at the end of the Austerlitz Campaign, and of those promoted to the Line, 4% did so at the same time. Just under half (47%) of the men leaving the Grenadiers either as veterans, promoted or discharged did so 1805. The same is true for the 1809 campaign. The remaining 6% of those leaving the grenadiers did so either 1807-1808 or 1810-1813.

Table 21 shows that the Grenadiers who remained with the regiment who entered 1799-1801, 1.4% would be killed in Spain and 3% at either Wagram or Eylau. 1.4% would be left in the snows of Russia. Even so as noted above, 2.9% of these entrants were still serving in the Grenadiers in 1815,  in real terms about  60  NCO's and Men.  Thus just over 91% of the men who entered the Grenadiers 1799-1801 would have left the regiment would have left the Grenadiers either through promotion to the Young Guard, the Line, sent to the Veterans or discharged.

Text Box:  Table 21: Table showing career progression to 1812 of 300 entrants to Grenadiers a  pied between 1802 and 1803.

 

A sample of 400 men who joined the Grenadiers 1802-1803, only, 3.8% were with the regiment in September 1813, hardly surprising given the losses in Russia. However this belies a number of underlying factors which were causal to this small number of men remaining with the 1e grenadiers. When looked at in detail prior to the losses of Russia, the figure increases  to some  9% of men who joined in 1802 were with the regiment in 1813. In real terms in 1813, of the 350 or so men able to serve the regiment in the new year of 1813, around 160 of these men had enlisted 1799-1803.

Of these men who had joined the regiment 1802-1803 36% had been given honourable discharges from the regiment, 13% had been returned to the Line for bad conduct and 3% had deserted. Of those remaining with the regiment 4% had been killed in the snows of Eylau and the tillery at Aspern Essling, with only 9% being left behind in the ice of Russia, the same percentage of men who had been wounded and later died of wounds in hospital. 6% had entered the veterans and 1/2% the invalides[71].

Considering the 1e grenadiers were the best infantry regiment in France it is surprising to note that more men were sent back to the line than died at both Eylau and Essling and a similar % as killed in Russia.  Abuses of admission to the guard still took place. In 1811, Napoleon wrote to General Clarke, the Minister of War, abrading the colonel of the 9e Cuirassiers for sending to the guard men of bad character, and ordered that in future all men to be sent to the guard were to be chosen by the Inspectors of Revue rather than the colonel of regiments[72].

In fact less than a quarter of the men, 17.5%, serving in the grenadiers were promoted to the Line or Young guard regiments.

Text Box:  Table 22: Table showing destination of men promoted out of 1e Grenadiers a Pied 1802-1812

The guard was used as a training ground for NCOs and officers destined for service in the line and young guard. The guard took line veterans, educated them and sent them back to the line, it was a reciprocal process. However it was not the senior guard regiment which were the training ground for these men. The 1e grenadiers took perhaps 8,000men from the line and have back just over 1500 as NCO's, approximately the same of the men who were killed and less than half of the men discharged from the regiment.

The creation of the instruction battalion at Fontainebleau, took picked men from the Fusiliers and Tirailleurs, to make them into the NCOs and Officers for the army.

The grenadiers and chasseurs provided a mere handful of men to the school, the majority as instructors. Thus it can be argued that the senior regiments of the guard did rob the line of precious veterans. Rejuvination of the senior regiments came not from line conscripts but from the velites and fusiliers, replacing men who had retired rather than promotion. Men were also transferred to the senior regiment from the more junior elements of the guard.

Grenadier Nicholas Guillet (1774-1839) entered the 12e Line on 8th September 1793 and passed to the newly raised 2e Grenadiers in July 1811 and then passed to the 1e Grenadiers 5th June 1812, promoted to Corporal 5 January 1813. He was nominated Sub-Lieutenant of the 13e Tirailleurs on 8 April 1815. He had been wounded on the right thigh in 1799, and awarded the Legion of Honour 17th May 1813.

The desertion rate accounts for the same number of casualties as Eylau or Essling, again most commentators on the guard have the guard and the 1e grenadiers as not suffering from desertion, which is clearly not the case. Coignet alludes to 60 or men from the 1e grenadiers deserting in the 1806-1807 winter campaign[73].

Of those not killed, or died of wounds, men could be discharged from the regiment on health grounds. One of this number was Jean Baptist Perrot (1774-1838) who had joined the grenadiers in 1799 from the 25e Leger, and was made corporal of 2e company, 2e Battalion 14 September 1808, and was retired from the army 20 November 1809[74]. Corporal Saillot gained his discharge on 1st March 1808 having been with the regiment as corporal of 2e company 2e battalion from  23rd June 1798. His livret describes him as being 1.76m tall, with an oval face, medium sized mouth, grey eyes and an aquilin nose[75].

The remainder of the men who had joined between 1802 to 1813 only a few would be  transferred to other regiments to continue their military career. 9% had been transferred to junior regiments of the guard as NCO's, 3% had become officers in the line, 1 1/2% had passed as NCOs to the Fusiliers. 1%  had been sent to the instruction battalion at Fontainebleau. One such grenadier being transferred to Fontainebleau was  corporal Jaques Raverat (1774-1846) who was sent to Fontainebleau as a sergeant instructor 29th march 1811 along with corporal Nicholas Mautret (1775-1843) . 3% became officers in the guard, half of this number in the 1e or 2e Grenadiers.

In general terms of the 10,000 men who entered the the Grenadiers,  on average they remained with the regiment for five years before being transferred or becoming a casualty. The average age of leaving the regiment was 34, less than 10% were over 40[76].

This contrasts with the popular image of the guard and the 1e Grenadiers in particular as being an immovable bulwark of granite, capable only of slow or ponderous attacks, in part informed by the perceived aged of a grenadier, seen as much older than they actually were and thus not as agile or as vigorous as young men, which was not the case.

In all actuality, attacks of the guard tended to be swift and fierce. Firing of the musket was avoided as reloading would slow the attack and destroy any impulsion that the attack had built up and prevent the attack degenerating into a costly, ineffective and stagnant fire fight as Coignet notes at Eylau.

Our grenadiers fell upon the Russian Guard with their bayonets without firing a single gun[77]

The grenadiers attacked as a peleton or company at close intervals, acting almost like a battering ram. Lieutenant Martin of the 154e line recounts the following about the attack of the 1e grenadiers at Hanau in 1813[78]:

Right next to us lay a meadow, which gently descended to a river. At the top of this meadow, two battalions of the grenadiers of the old guard under General Friant waited, quivering with impatience, per permission to launch themselves at the enemy. At the longed for command 'Grenadiers forward!' their line descended, compact and irreproachable, but also impetuous and terrible, for these men were exasperated. I still see them...they ground their teeth and whistled like snakes brandishing their deadly fangs, that is to say their fearsome bayonets. In a moment everything in front of them was cut up, pierced and hustled into the Kinzig, where there was a heap of 700-800 corpses. It was a dreadful site for a man, but a superb one for a soldier.

General Griois of the Guard Foot Artillery how the old guard intervened decisively in an action rather than standing idle as at Jena or Borodin or be miss used as at Leipzig. Griois never forgot the vigerousness of the guards attack at Hanau:

They rushed up as fast as they could, loading their muskets as they did so. At the entrance to the wood, which our troops disputed only with difficulty, they hurled themselves at all points where resistance seemed greatest. A terrible fusilade immediately announced that they had found the enemy, who soon had to give up part of the ground that they had one. It is impossible to imagine the elan of those bracve chasseurs. They no longer stayed in their ranks: the most agile led the way and they vied with each other to be the first to meet and cross bayonets with the enemy. You were proud to wear the uniform when you see such soldiers and even now I feel my heart beating more quickly when I recall this moment[79]

At Vauchamps on 14th February 1814[80]:

a company of Grenadiers of the old guard was ordered to take the house by assault and to bayonet everyone inside. Immediately these brave men arrived at the run. They did not waste time firing a single shot, despite the fire that welcome them, they helped each other to scale the walls and climbed onto the roofs. In a matter of minutes, the farm was invaded, part of the battalion destroyed and the rest taken prisoners. Thanks to the promptness and resolution of the attack, the company lost only a few men.

The bulk of the men entering the guard though-out the Empire, overwhelming came from old France, 9% came from Belgium and 8% from Italian departments[81].

Discipline and Behaviour of the Grenadiers

The guard and the Grenadiers in particular were to be models for the army. Bravery of the men sent to the guard was not enough. The Emperor sought to make them, moral, obedient and irreproachable. As well as requirements for admission based on height, herosim and experience, drunkards, duellers and other men of dubious character were not allowed into the guard, Napoleon personally approving all new entrants[82]. Charles Bouvelet was expelled from the grenadiers in October 1802 for insurbordination. He had missed all roll calls, had gone into Paris from the barracks at Coubervoie without permission and was reported for having struck a women with his sabre[83]. Sergeant de Mauduit describes his fellow grenadiers thus:

The grenadier of the guard was thin and lean, having long been tested by marches, fatigues, deprivations, bivouacs and by both sun and frosts. Obesity was unknown in our ranks. Everything, with these iron men, was put to the test: the heart, body and legs- you could have gone around the world with them. The grenadiers face was warlike and his bearing imposing[84].

The minimum requirement for members was that they must be no less than 25 years old and between 5 foot 10 inches and 6 foot in height. They must have participated in three campaigns in the wars of liberty and be able to read and write. The Grenadier was expected to fulfil the following points of behavour[85]:

1. In the barrack-room.

He is to live in good harmony with his brothers in arms, receiving with attentiveness the advice of his elders with regard to military and public life;

To be a good comrade and friend with all;

To maintain his weapons, his equipment and the effects of his uniform in a high standard of repair, and each part ranged in its proper place, in such a way that they can be found for service at all times of the day and night;

Employing the time when not on duty, to disassemble and reassemble the parts of his equipment and armament, and cleaning them with care;

To repair the effects of his uniform, when required;

To dress his hair regularly, and to shave himself regularly;

To know what is required concerning the "kitchen”;

To prepare the soup;

To know what necessaries are required to be purchased for the ordinary (squad mess);

To know how to make his bed and arrange the barrack-room;

To know how to groom and equip his horse and how to feed him

To take instructions in the skills which are required for his advancement, that is reading, writing, and arithmetic, etc. etc.

2. Drill School

A soldier is attached (to the school) until he fully understands the explanations of his instructor on the different parts of the exercises;

To execute with precision and without deviation (the drill);

To study the tone of each command, so that when it is his turn he may instruct another recruit with the same.

3. Guard duty

He shall not absent himself from his post without the permission of his superior .

The soldier on guard shall be regarded as an inviable personage: he shall receive the consideration of the public, and of the government for which he is maintaining the safety and tranquillity of the state by guarding the place whereupon he is placed: it is in his best interests, and his honour that he maintains diligently his watch, to comprehend and observe well the instructions (or passwords) which are given to him, shall maintain his position until he is relieved.

At the time when the guard is called “to arms" (aux armes), he shall report promptly, and shall listen in silence to the order of his superior so as to execute promptly and accurately the orders given whilst on guard duty.

He shall ensure that his armament and uniform and in good order, because he is not to leave his post for the duration of his guard duty.

When he is to go to the guard-post, he shall march in a military style, to receive the password, which he shall repeat every hour or two hours as he maintains his guard, at the end of his guard duty he shall equally pass on the password to soldier who replaces him.

He shall neither sit down, nor put down his weapon, nor move more than 20 paces from his post, he shall only enter the sentry-box in extremely bad weather; and he shall re-double his vigilance, to ensure that he is not taken by surprise by the enemy.

He shall not allow passers-by to approach to close, and shall advertise his position (to passers-by) when they reach a certain distance from him, throughout the night.

When the night is dark, he shall cry-out, in a strong intelligible voice: "qui vive?" to all those who approach his position, and require a response of those who approach, and this occurs until day-break.

Neither during the day nor the night shall he talk (chat) with anyone, except with the officers of his post.

He shall not give the password to anyone, except the chief of his post, or to a superior officer on duty when accompanied by the said officer of the post.

He shall not leave post unless relieved by one of the officers of his post.

4.Arrival at the lodgings.

If he is to be billeted, the soldier shall listen attentively when called, so that he can obtain his billet, or of the number of his room indicated in the barrack.

On arrival, he shall ensure that his weapons are cleaned, and then deposited, if he is billeted on a civilian, with his back-pack, in a place from which they may all be gathered together, if the situation requires.

If he is in barracks, he deposits his arms in the arms-rack, and his knapsack above the head of his bed where he is to sleep: he shall return to the rendez-vous, so that he may obtain the rations, and necessary furniture for the room, if it is his turn to do this duty.

If he is billeted upon the inhabitants, then he shall endeavour by his honesty to show to his host the honour it is to be a French soldier; it is by these means that the soldier will obtain assistance and all the social niceties which are his due.

If he is to camp, the soldier, after his company has been dismissed, takes his weapon to the arms stack of his section, ensuring that he can recognise where it has been placed, and then shall go to his tent, to help erect it, and to do any other work thought necessary by his chief for its arrangement.

If he is to bivouac, the soldier will observe well the place of assembly in case of attack. He shall, as far as is possible, ensure that his weapon is preserved from damp and is in a good state.

He shall not absent himself from his section in order that he may at any instant be ready to take up arms: he shall remain dressed, he shall keep his pack ready so that he may quickly put it on.

5. Combat

In order that the courage of the French soldier bears the fruit which the nation expects, it is indispensable that the most exact order and subordination are observed in combat, and that he strictly follows the orders of his chiefs, from his corporal up to the commander in chief .

Following this advice, dictated by the experience of all time, he is assured that he will advance to reap all the fruits of victory, and in a reverse, he remains a powerful and redoubtable enemy.

It is therefore essential that the chiefs merit, and are given the entire confidence of their subordinates.

The victorious soldier, at the moment he disarms his enemy; shall no longer consider as an enemy, but shall act in a sensible humanitarian way; and shall treat the enemy with these sentiments, without ever abusing the superiority that the victory has given over the unfortunate who has been vanquished.

The soldier shall not succumb to loss of his firmness, shall retake his arms: the nature of combat is day to day, a defeat is not dishonourable, but only cowardice (is).

During the combat, the soldier shall not leave his rank except if he is wounded, or under orders of his chief, no other pretext can be allowed in the eyes of his brothers in arms.

He shall maintain the greatest silence, so that he may not miss any of the commands as they are given.

6. After the combat.

The soldier, following the orders of his chief, shall go to the assistance of the wounded, he shall begin with his brothers in arms, and then those of the enemy left on the field of battle. It is on the vast field of battle that the true heart of the military comes forward to practise the virtues to relieve and console suffering humanity .

It is a cowardly act on the part of the victorious soldier to insult his vanquished enemy.

The prizes taken from the enemy belong to the Republic: the soldier who finds silver or trinkets, either on the dead or on unwounded prisoners have no right to their finds; the same applies to items taken from dead comrades, these belong to the relatives of the dead when known.

7. When the soldier is promoted

Without excessive vanity or pride in his advancement, the soldier raised a grade on his talents and merits, shall renounce the familiarity which he has previously had with his comrades.

He shall reflect that his actions, both with respect to the service and to his private life, shall reflect upon his commander, and this consideration shown towards his superior shall also be given at all times to his inferiors, it is for this reason that all familiarity in the relations with his comrades should be banished, without diminishing the affection or esteem which he is due, on the contrary these sentiments shall be shown each day by his public and private conduct; and to achieve this, he shall be firm without coarseness within the service, and courtesy without familiarity in society.

He shall not be permitted to go to the cabaret with the soldiers.

He shall desist from taking part in games which are likely to lead to familiarity.

His conduct and manner shall serve to prove that he merits the promotion he has received and that he may be able to attain higher grades.

He shall, by his application and newly found knowledge, inspire those he has left behind him in his military career.

When the young French soldier exactly follows the path of ancient experience outlined above, he is assured of being conducted to a place in the temple of glory, for the few who have received from nature a share of intelligence and spirit.

8. The soldier in his private life.

Alongside the military virtues, the French soldier shall be equally esteemed and loved for the purity of his social manners. The principal virtues are:

Loyalty and integrity in what he says and what he does;

Friendliness towards all;

Decency and honesty in his manner and observations;

Sobriety, for drunkenness degrades men in all classes of society;

Sincerity and veracity, for nothing is more infamous than a liar and a cheat;

Respect to all persons and property wherever they may be found.

Finally, he should repeat each day the following maxim; the estimation and consideration of the public are the certain result for he:

Who in all that he says and does, consults in advance, Reason, common sense, wisdom, prudence.

Thus discipline was to be enforced along with codes of conduct. Disciplinarian Jean-Marie Lepaige Dorsenne, joined the grenadiers in March 1805, quickly putting an end to the abuse of privalidges which had become common place as Coignet narrates

Every day I went to the drills so as learn the movements of the guard, and I was not long in becoming acquainted with them: at the end of the month I was dismissed and put into the battalion. The discipline was not severe; we turned out to the roll call every morning in our linen shirts and breaches and with no stockings on our legs, and then went back to our beds. But a colonel named Dorsenne, came to us from Egypt all covered with wounds; he was just the sort of solider needed to discipline and drill an efficient guard. In a years time we might have served for a model for the army. He was so severe that he made the most unruly soldier tremble; he reformed all abuses. He might have been held up as an example for all our generals, both for courage and bearing. A finer looking soldier was not to be seen on the battlefield[86].

Henceforth under Dorsenne these abuses stopped, and every Sunday,  as coignet narrates:

General Dorsenne held inspections every Sunday. This strict general would come into  our rooms and pass his hand along the breadshelf overhead, and if he found one spec of dust on it, four days in the guard room for the corporal. He raised up our vests to see if our shirts were clean. He even examined our feet and fingernails, and our ears to see if they had been attended to. He looked into our trunks to see that we had no soiled clothes in them. He even looked under our mattresses. We were all afraid of him. Once a fortnight, he came with the surgeon-major to visit us while we were in bed. We had to turn out in our shirts, and were forbidden to absent ourselves on these occasions under pain of imprisonment.[87]

The grenadiers were forbidden from leaving barracks until they had been inspected by the senior NCO's to ensure they were properly and correctly dressed:

Nothing could be handsomer than that uniform. When we were on dress parade we wore a blue coat with white lapels, sloped low down on the breast, a vest of white basine, short breaches, gaiters also of white basine, silver buckles on the shoes and breaches, a double cravat, white underneath and black on the outside, with a narrow edge of of white showing at the top. In undress we wore a blue coat, white basine vest, nankeen breaches, and seamless white cotton stockings. In addition to this we wore pigeon wings powdered and with a queue six inches long, cut off at the end like a brush and tied with a black worsted ribbon, the ends exactly two inches long. Add to this the bearskin cap and its long plume and you have the summer uniform of the Imperial Guard. But one thing I can give no real idea is the extreme neatness which was required of us. When we passed through the grating of the barracks, the orderlies inspected us, and if their was a speck of dust on our shoes or a bit of powder on the collar of our coats we were sent back. We were splendid to look at but abominably uncomfortable[88].

This cleanliness observed by Coignet is verified with the order of the day of  3rd April 1812, which complained that the officers were being negligent in the appearance of the grenadiers, stating that grenadiers belts were not clean, the greatcoats were not rolled neatly and uniformly on top of the knapsacks, the hair ribbons were dirty and badly tied, the coat collars were dirty as a result of this[89]. The queue was dergiour for all grenadiers[90]

When in town, they were forbidden from speaking to prostitutes, and if they frequented brothels, these men were threatened with expulsion from the guard. In order to ensure that these orders were carried out, officers were sent to patrol notorious haunts of prostitutes, known hangouts of Grenadiers, and were authorised to arrest any guardsmen found their[91] .

In order to prevent a grenadier marrying a women of dubious conduct or moral not becoming of a wife of a guardsmen, permission had to be sought from the grenadiers commanding officer and then General de division Davout before any wedding could take place, once the character of the bride to be had been scrutinised[92]. This however did not seem to stop the grenadiers in frequent amours with the women of Paris. Velite Grenadier Thomas Bugeaud recounts that[93]:

I am reduced to spending my days mounting guards at the Tuileries, eating and sleeping. I have no leisure possibilities than the vice that is everywhere here. You can imagine that at this rate I hardly have any amusement and that I would prefer to be board in my room than to go seek a prostitute in places of ill repute or to drown my sorrows and boredom in wine.

The immoral young men here are in heaven. Nowhere are the women so kind and loving. In stark contrast with others, most of them maintain the men, especially the soldiers: far from being paid, they pay them. There is hardly a grenadier of the guard who does not have a mistress among the laundry women of Paris. She does his laundry, looks after him, gives him her weeks earnings on Sundays and is happy enough if he wants to pay her with some fidelity.

 It was very amusing on the eve of the departure for Italy, to see a troop of quite well dressed ladies come to besiege the barracks and tearfully bid farewell to their boyfriends. You could see them as they threw themselves around their necks, slipping into their pockets the little money they had saved. I know a grenadier to whom a laundry women gave fifteen louis for his travels.

Indeed, in February 1810, General Dorsenne, aware that women of dubious morals were entering his barracks during the day and night, ordered that new entry cards were to be issued. The new cards were to be given to those whose admission was seen as necessary, and their morals could be certified by the Mayor of Deputy Mayor from the commune they originated from[94].

Strict measures were needed, not only to maintain respect for the guard, but also to prevent the guard from becoming ill-disciplined and subverted by the people of Paris as had happened to the guard of the old regime. The grenadiers had their share of men, as in any regiment of the day who carried out misdemeanour's or were not as thorough in their duties as they could have been and were placed on fatigue duty. The grenadiers were no more immune from defaulters as other regiments. After the morning roll call, those under arrest began their punishment, which included cleaning the toilets, sweeping and weeding the parade ground, moving heaps of sand round the yard and even planting trees. Duties familiar with any ex service-man of modern times who has found themselves on fatigues[95].

In October 1802, Hulin forbade his grenadiers from entering unsavoury quarters of Paris, with patrols being sent out to enforce compliance, to prevent the grenadiers being targeted by mobs and in particular a former soldier called Leboeuf who was deliberately starting fights with grenadiers.

A year later, Hulin declared the village of Colombes out of bounds to his grenadiers. This was due to a group of inhabitants assaulting a group of grenadiers. One grenadier was attacked in the process of lighting his pipe in a kitchen, and was going to be burnt alive across a fire, when he was saved by his comrades, after being alerted by a local women. The following week, a second brawl broke out, resulting in a cobbler of the village being killed, the mayor of the village accusing the grenadiers of murder, in particular grenadier Godart. In a resulting inquiry, Godart was proved to be in a different commune at the time of the incident. Hulin reported to General Davout that the Mayor of Colombes was seeking to stir up trouble, and when requested to identify culprits for the brawls at Colombes refused to so do. Hulin concluded that the culprits were not grenadiers, but had been targetted by those opposed to Napoleon's regime, stating that the local authorities were opposed to the government and the guard in particular he stated that [96]:

I do not believe that I should not pass over in silence that for time, enemies of the government seem to want to sow a spirit of discord between the soldiers and bourgeois.

Sergeant de Mauduit however paints a very different picture of a Grenadier from the one shown here. He portrayed them in his memoires as upstanding members of society, models of respectability. He notes that the grenadiers preferred to spend their leisure hours in the canteens of the corps or when in Paris in only respectable cafes rather than the more dubious cabarets, and when they sang songs, the words contained no obscenities [97]. Mauduit further attests that the grenadier after dinner would often go for a dance, whilst the NCO's and older grenadiers would remain on the Champs Elysee like the respectable Bourgeoi, or partake in boules or similar games outside the gates of the city[98]. Grenadiers were strictly forbidden to walk out with women, but if necessary they could escort a women but not arm in arm, nor were they permitted to linger in the Palais Royal or visit their after dark, since it was notorious for its brothels and prostitutes. Smoking in public and marching through towns an villages was also prohibited, any grenadier found a pipe in his mouth would find himself in the guard room for 14days[99].

The reality would have been a mix of the two. Some guardsmen did deserve the recognition of being in the guard, and were models of sobriety, as Captain Grivel Observed:[100]

Although soldiers of the Old Guard were admitted only after numerous campaigns and a well earned military reputation, this did not make them all alike. They came from all the regions of our country and each brought a distinctive character from his regiment. All soon melted into the spirit of  the guard as the men modelled themselves on the veterans, Neither rowdies, duellists nor incorrigible drunkards were sent, and if by chance, some slipped in, they suddenly conformed and adopted a reserved appearance or were immediately sent back .

Sergeant Mauduit makes similar comments, attesting that a grenadier who entered the regiment spent his first years pay, saving for a gold watch, which was another 'essential jewel of a grenadier' after his gold earings.  The earings were his first purchase, the earings to be the diameter of  three franc piece, the ear piecer being the tattooest of the regiment or company. Most grenadiers having numerous tattoos of military symbols and attributes of love.  Maudiut also notes that in this first year of service a new grenadier would consign themselves to barracks or district around the barracks, be satisfied with only drinking water and not alcohol. Once a grenadier had purchase his watch. His next purchase were a pair white nankeen breaches with silver knee buckles, white cotton stockings, silver shoe buckles and a hat[101].

This contrasts with the repeated reports of Grenadiers from the barracks at Courbevoie poaching and stealing grapes from the vines in nearby communities. Police reports from 1809 list grenadiers being involved in riot a brothel, as well as being involved in duels[102]. Throughout 1808 Dorsenne reproached grenadiers for missing roll calls, not returning to barracks or got drunk. So infuriated with the grenadiers constant bad behaviour he confined the entire regiment to barracks, until the better behaved men had reformed the minority of offenders[103].  Within the guard, the emphasis was on self discipline, the guardsmen themselves issuing their own justice against problem individuals as General Rouget succinctly pointed out in 1813:[104]

All who belong to the old guard must seek out the wretches who by their conduct are unfit to belong to the corps entrusted with guarding His Majesty and must point them out so they are brought to justice. The guard owes it to the army and it itself to be a model of good conduct: a looter or insubordinate man is not worthy to be part of it

Dorsenne applied rough justice to his grenadiers to encourage this self policing through mutual punishment. If a single grenadier missed roll call, the entire company was to punished by being made to bivouac outside the barracks for 8 days[105].  No doubt the defaulting comrades fellows  would soon show him the error of his ways. The order of the day of 23rd December issued by General Michel was aimed at a defaulting NCO. The company clerk, the corporal-fourier, of  4e company, 1e battalion was late on parade by two hours. For this, General Michel ordered he was suspended for his function as escort to the eagle, have to attend 8 parades as a simple grenadier, be paid as a grenadier for a month, and any subsequent return to his duties were on his good conduct[106].

Even with Dorsennes strict discipline, indiscipline was rife.  Not only to Dorsenne, but also to the Emperor and other regiments:

These old soldiers had long been filled with respect for their officers and were never insubordinate to them. In contrast every time that they met the other corps, the were insolent, even with the officers[107].

Complained an officer of the staff.  Marshall Lefebvre issued the following order on 27th July 1812:

For some time the gravest complaints have been brought against the grenadiers of the guard. Dreadful disorder are committed every day around our cantonments and I am saddened to see the strictest measures that have been taken to stop them are insufficient. I would never have believed that it would be necessary to talk any other language than that of honour to the grenadiers of the imperial guard[108].

Lefebvre continued in the same vain, putting the blame of the misdomenours of the grenadiers on their officers, personally charging the officers to do their duty and to maintain order and discipline in the distinguished elite corps of the guard[109]. A similar strong rebuttle was issued to the grenadiers at the end of  September 1812. Lefebvre was furious at the looting and pillaging of the old guard, in  most shameful Manner. The Emperor Lefebvre noted, was pained by the actions of his old elite soldiers who as guardians of his person should set an example of order, subordination and endure all fatigues and should not carry out excesses like marauding children.

In response to this childish behaviour, Lefebvre placed the entire 1e and 2e grenadiers under arrest, forbade them to leave the Kremlin and on 30th September at 9 in the morning would speak to both regiments about their misdmeanours. Those officers and men who could be identified as involved in the pillaging and any other offenders or men of bad conduct would be purged from the guard. The guard was to be seen as a model for the army[110]. Marhall Duroc also complained about the behaviour of the grenadiers, forcing General Curial to issue the following order of the day. It seems no lavatories had been established in the baracks, forcing the grenadiers to use any available space as such. This was an oversight of both the officers, and also the lack of respect the grenadiers had for authority:

The Grand Marshall of the Palace complains strongly that, despite repeated prohibitions, soldiers are continuing to do their business in all the courtyards, even beneath the Emperors windows. To prevent similar complaints in the future and to enable soldiers to do their necessary functions more comfortably, buckets are to be placed in one or two rooms of the barracks. A sentry will be posted to prevent them from being used elsewhere, and to ensure the room is kept clean.[111]

Marshall Berthier was pained to have to remind the grenadiers of their duties112].

The guard looted  anything and everything in Moscow and Smolensk:

They were selling brandy, sugar, and bread made from oats and bran for more then their weight in gold. I paid one of these egotists six francs for an ounce of oatbread and a Napoleon for quarter of a bottle. As it had done at Moscow, the Guard at Smolensk made it unworthy of its title and loathed by the army113]

Commented an officer of the 30e line. Another officer wrote stronger words about the guard[114]:

The Imperial Guard was generally detested by the other corps, furious at its egoism and its haughty pretensions. The private in the Guard, following the example of his officers, considered himself much above his superiors in the line. The entire army feared the contact of this corps spoiled by the favours, the extreme indulgence and the partiality of its monarch coinmander-in-chief

A similar scathing comment was made by a Sergeant-Major of the 2e Curiassiers:

The guardsmen set up shops, selling all these things they looted and sold them to the rest if the army. Their behaviour really alienated the army which condemned the guard by referring to its men only as the merchants of moscow or jews of moscow. To be sure not all the guard behaved like that but too many of its men did so and deserved the reproaches that rebounded on to their comrades.[115]

Elzear Blaze also resented the fact that the Guard had its own bakers and butchers, and received rations, unlike the line[116]:

The art of feeding an army during a campaign has never been known among us, at least it has never been put into practice. We had a swarm of employees with large and small staffs; these gentlemen were busy making their fortunes, they have succeeded by the grace of God. Their principal care was to provide for the Imperial guard, and the rest made shift as best it could. When the picked troops had received supplies for four days, it was said in the Emperor's salons that the army was well supplied; the papers repeated, amplified, paraphrased, and everything was as fine as could be in the best world possible.

Blaze's inference is that if the Guard was fed, then that was all the mattered and the line were elft to go hungry and fend for themselves. This was, no unreasonably resented by the army, as the guard generally received rations, and had shamelessly looted and destroyed stores of food in Smolensk, Vilna and other places.

Especially in 1812 the guard looked after its self at the expense of the army, which was a bitter pill for many in the line to swallow as the guard had not seen action in the 1812 campaign and many officers felt its inaction had cost the army a great victory and above all else peace at Borodino, however mistaken their thoughts maybe.

The bad behaviour, drunkeness and insubordination of the grenadiers was not new, nor the first time that the Emperor had to act to discipline his Old Guard. Mathieu Dumas who commanded the province of New Castille in Spain, recalls that the Emperor hearing that the guard was complaining about being in Spain and the long and relentless marches after the retreating English Army under the command of General Moore, was determined to put an end to it. At a daily parade of the 1e grenadiers, Dumas recalls how he grabbed a grenadier by this coat collar, pulled him roughly out of the ranks, disarmed the man personally, and threatened him with the firing squad for insubordination. The grenadier was then forced back into his rank, and then harrangued the entire regiment for their grumbling and numerous complaints[117].

The emperor personally accused the grenadiers for longing to be back in Paris with their mistresses and being 'back on the piss again'[118]..

This attitude was perhaps partly due to the origins of a number of grenadiers, and being quartered in Paris at the end of most major campaigns. Other commentators note how NCOs' who were promoted into the guard as privates resented this and often challenged the authority of their new NCO's, not wishing to give up their rank and privalidges[119]. Indeed in November 1808 according to surgeon Percy120]:

The Imperial Guard, especially the infantry had got drunk. The men had found wine everywhere and had over indulged. The tracks were strewn with grenadiers a pied who were dead drunk. Some had lost their bearskins, others their muskets and at each halt they were still drinking. It was that years wine, which was very strong and still not totally fermented. It caused a long and brutal drunkeness, accompanied by vomitting and followed usually by diarrhoea. More than 200 of these men would spend the night on the ground in the open.

The same thing happened when the guard moved in Leipzig in March 1813, general Rouget being forced to issue the following order:

General Rouget will punish with arrest the commander of the company whose soldiers commit the least fault and make a public exhibition of themselves, The roll calls must be made  more sternly: the general is convinced that whilst these are taking place, many soldiers who ought to be their roam the streets[121].

Similar stern words were needed only a few months later regarding the conduct of the grenadiers:

Many chasseurs and grenadiers have for several days indulged in incredible excesses. Yesterday in particular, whilst passing through fulda,a large number of them were arrested and through their conduct have given serious cause for concern.[122]

General Friant the following day on the 30th October, claimed that his orders had not been carried out,  the duty Officers and NCOs being placed under arrest for failing to do their duty.[123] A day later these self same drunkards would go into battle at Hanau and regain much of their lost morals and reputation. Their attack perhaps being fueld by the Officers wishing to redeem themselves.

Alongside the 1e grenadiers looting, drunkeness, and egotism, the regiment had critical functions which no other regiment in the army could fulfil: it provided an inspiring example of coolness on the battlefield, the cement which held the army together in 1813-1814, and as well as through its own existence was a powerful motivation for men to earn their admission to the guard, and to share in the privalidges and status of the regiment and their special, if somewhat strained at times, relationship with the Emperor. Approximately 8-10,000 men joined the 1e Grenadiers from the line in the ten years to 1813, with under 1500 being sent back as NCO's and Officers.

The propaganda machine of Napoleon and subsequent authors like Marco de Saint-Hilaire created an illusion about the guard of it being a monolithic crack combat force of the highest morals and character. This illusion came crumbling down at Waterloo, when the guard with too high an expectation placed upon it from the Line, failed to win a decisive break though the allied lines and fell back, precipitating the line to collapse. The old guard took more from the line than they gave back in terms of man power. Its great value was in its imperturbability, capable of great feats of skill of arms as at Austerlitz, Eylau, Dresden and Montmirail, and inspiring awe and fear in friend and foe alike.

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Notes:

[1]     Perrot et Amoudru p36-40

[2]     Perrot et Amoudru p25

[3]     Perrot et Amoudru p 151-157

[4]     Perrot et Amoudru 45-53

[5]     Perrot et Amoudru  pp54-57

[6]     Perrot et Amoudru pp67-69

[7]     Perrot et Amoudru pp69-70

[8]     Perrot et Amoudru pp54-57

[9]     Perrot et Amoudru pp189-193

[10]   Perrot et Amoudru pp76-81

[11]   Almanach Imperiale p8612>

[12]   SHAT Xab 12 20 6

[13]   Blaze pp38-44

[14]   SHAT Xab 12 2 221

[15]   SHAT Xab 12 2 221

[16]   Mauduit p454-455

[17]   SHAT Xab 12 C2 221

[18]   SHAT Xab 12 2 221

[19]   Desboeufs pp204-205

[20]   Desboeufs pp204-205

[21]   SHAT Xab 12 2 221

[22]   SHAT Xab  12 37

[23]   SHAT Xab  20 4 37

[24]   SHAT Xab 12 20 6

[25]   Wilson p14

[26]   Carnet de la Sabretache 1920 p296

[27]   SHAT Xab 12 20 5 and Xab 12 20 6

[28]   Mauduit pp203-204

[29]   D'Avout L'infanterie de la garde a waterloo in  Carnet de la Sabretache  1905 vol 13 p36

[30]   D'Avout L'infanterie de la garde a waterloo in  Carnet de la Sabretache  1905 vol 13 p51

[31]   Carnet de la Sabretache 1920 pp296-297

[32]   Napoleon correspondence 7343

[33]   Rouget volume 2 pp432-433

[34]   SHAT Xab 16 and 21

[35]   SHAT Xab 16

[36]   Jerome Croyet pers comm 1/06/09

[37]   Jerome Croyet pers comm 1/06/09

[38]   Jerome Croyet pers comm 1/06/09

[39]   Blaze p3

[40]   Blaze p3-4

[41]   Journal Militaire AnXIV p213

[42]   SHAT Xab 78/80

[43]   Journal Militaire 1806 Vol 1. p246

[44]   Napoleon Correspondence no. 11292

[45]   Journal Militaire Volume 2 p112 see also SHAT Xab 78/100

[46]   Napoleon Correspondence no. 1077747>

[47]   SHAT 20 YC 12

[48]   Blaze p12-13

[49]   Blaze pp4-6

[50]   Blaze p9

[51]   Ideville vol 1 pp 38-41 see also p 53

[52]   Billon pp89-90

[53]   Barres p17

[54]   Ideville vol 1 p22

[55]   Billon pp11-12

[56]   Suckow pp189-190

[57]   Grivel pp328-329

[58]   Annon 1805 Manuel  Journalier Chez Magimel Paris courtesy Keith Redfern

[59]   The company rope is marked at various distances to show the position of the tents, campfires etc so that these can be quickly marked on the ground when the company is to camp using tents or to construct barrack huts as used at the Camp of Boulogne or after Eylau.

[60]   SHAT Xab 12 20 6

[61]   Fare pp253-254

[62]   Bacheville pp12-13

[63]   Maduit pp453-454

[64]   SHAT Xab 12 20 6

[65]   SHAT Xab 12 20 6

[66]   Fare pp264-265

[67]   Fare p296

[68]   SHAT Xab 12

[69]   Blaze pp20-24

[70]   Blaze p161

[71]   SHAT Xab 12 20 5

[72]   Napoleon Correspondance 17922

[73]   Coignet p138

[74]   His discharge certificate reads as follows:« Les Officiers de santé en chef de l ‘hôpital de Paris certifient que le Sieur PERROT (Jean-Baptiste), corporal des Grenadiers est attaqué de rhumatisme chronique, suite des fatigues de la guerre, et qu’il a une blessure à la jambe droite qui gêne la progression, en conséquence, ils estiment que ce militaire est dans le cas de l’invalidité absolue »
A Paris, 20 novembre 1809.
Signé : Dudaujon.

[75]   SHAT Xab 12 20 6

[76]   SHAT Xab 12 20 5

[77]   Coignet p145

[78]   Martin Souvenirs d'un ex-officer pp215-216.

[79]   Griois vol 2 p264

[80]   Griois vol 2 pp290-291

[81]   SHAT Xab 12 20 6

[82]   SHAT Xab 12 2 221

[83]   SHAT Xab 12 2 221

[84]   Mauduit p454-455

[85]   Annon 1805 Manuel  Journalier Chez Magimel paris courtesy Keith Redfern

[86]   Coignet pp98-99

[87]   Coignet p164

[88]   Coignet pp104-105

[89]   Carnet de la Sabretache 1900p251

[90]   Journal des Science Militaires 1828 p528 see also Carnet de la Sabretrache 1920 p297

[91]   Carnet de la Sabretache  1893 pp234-238

[92]   SHAT Xab 38 C2 221

[93]   Ideville vol 1 pp48-49

[94]   SHAT Xab 12 265

[95]   Coignet pp197-198

[96]   SHAT Xab 12 C2 221

[97]   Saint Hilaire p5 see also mauduit p458

[98]   Saint Hilaire p25 see also mauduit p458

[99]   Carnet de la Sabretache 1900 p253

[100]  Grivel p327

[101]  Carnet de la Sabretache 1920 p298

[102]  Carnet de la Sabretache 1900 pp178-179

[103]  SHAT Xab 12 265

[104]  SHAT Xab 12 308

[105]  SHAT Xab 12 265

[106]  Carnet de la Sabretache 1900 p249

[107]  Baudas p230

[108]  Carnet de la Sabretache 1900 pp442-443

[109]  Carnet de la Sabretache 1900 pp442-443

[110]  Carnet de la Sabretache 1900 pp690-691

[111]  Carnet de la Sabretrache 1900 p695-696

[112]  Carnet de la Sabretache 1900 pp691-698

[113]  Francois p815

[114]  Blaze p376

[115]  Thirion pp207-211

[116]  Blaze p168-169

[117]  Dumas pp338-339

[118]  Dumas pp338-339

[119]  Coignet p198 see also chevalier p88 Bacheville pp12-13

[120]  Percy pp417-418

[121]  SHAT Xab 12 308

[122]  SHAT Xab 12 308

[123]  SHAT Xab 12 308

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: August 2010

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