Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Tirailleurs de la Garde Imperiale: 1809-1815

"In war, I profit more from the Fusiliers and Conscripts than from
the Grenadiers and Chasseurs

Leadership

By Paul Dawson

 

To command these new regiments attached to the Grenadiers and Chasseurs-á-Pied, Napoleon chose proven officers from the Guard, as the new regiments needed hand-picked, veteran officers to train and lead the conscripts.

Baron Lonchamp, Major of the 2eme Grenadiers was appointed Colonel-Major of the 1st Tirailleurs,  Flamand the 2nd, Simon Robert the 3rd, and Darqiuer the 4th. Baron Francois Isador Darquier (1770-1812), was appointed Major of the 2nd Grenadiers-Conscrit on 5 April 1809, and Major of the 1st Grenadiers-Conscrit (later 3rd Tirailleurs) on 30 April 1810. He was made an Officier of the Legion d’Honor on 14 March 1806 and Baron of the Empire 15 March 1810. 

Company officers were also drawn from the Guard. Major Jean-Nicholas-Louis Carre (1770-1845) began his career as a lietuenant in the 1st Company, 1st Battlion des Grenadiers-á-Pied de la Garde des Consuls in 1800, made Chef-de-Battalion of the 1st Grenadiers-Conscrit in April 1809, appointed Major of the 6th Tirailleurs on 18 September 1811, and made Colonel-Major of the 4th Tirailleur on 1st March 1813, being made a Baron on 16th August and Commander of the Legion d’Honor on 28th November the same year. He was promoted to Colonel of the 21st Ligne on 21st June 1814. 

In fact the regiments of Tirailleurs and Conscrits, were commanded by officers who became notable generals. The 1st Chasseurs-Conscrit's first Colonel-Major was not drawn from the Guard, but the line -- Mouton-Duvernet being Colonel of the 63eme Regiment des Ligne.   Anther notable officer who served in the Young Guard was Pierre-Jacques-Etienne Cambronne, who is of course famous for ‘Merde de Cambronne’.

Colonel-Major Carre of the 4th Tirailleurs. The portrait is notable as it depicts a senior Tirailleur officier wearing the Tirailleur style habit and not that of the 1812 regulations.  He is wearing the star of the Legion d’Honor, and ribbon of a Commander of the Legion, dating the portrait to late 1813or early 1814. Being an ex-grenadier, officer he was entitled to wear a grenadier style jacket, which was regulation for the Grenadiers-Conscript.

Baron Darquier Colonel-Major Carre Capitaine Adjutant Major Malassagne
Baron Darquier (1770-1812) Major 1er Regiment des Grenadiers-Conscrit.

Colonel-Major Carre of the 4th Tirailleurs

Capitaine-Adjutant-Major Jacques Malassagne
4th Tirailleurs

A portrait of Capitaine-Adjutant-Major Jacques Malassagne of the 4th Tirailleurs dated 10th April 1813 is depicted wearing a Fusilier-Grenadiers Uniform. This and the portrait of Colonel-Major Carre tell us that in 1813 the old practice of officers retaining their old uniforms continued, but on a piece-meal basis. The Tirailleur and Voltigeur officers must have presented a very varied, and far from uniform appearance, with junior officers wearing the jacket of the corps, Capitaines that of the Fusiliers, and field officers that of the Grenadiers or Chasseurs-á-Pied, or any variation on this, as only ex-Grenadier and Chasseur officers could retain their old uniforms. Capitiane of Tirailleur-Grenadiers. Note that the shako has a 23mm wide gold band at its base, the regulation stipulating that it should be around the top. Also of note is the left facing head of the eagle on the shako plate, which is known from a shako plate of 1st Tirailleurs, and the wearing of an all red plume.

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2003

 

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