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

Uniforms

By Paul Dawson

 

Tirailleur-Grenadiers

Shako plate and stamped leather cocade, Tirailleur-Grenadiers c.1810

The decree for the creation of the 1st Tirailleur Grenadiers describes the uniform as follows:

‘jacket of Imperiale Blue cloth, with ‘Hungarian’ style, triangular blue lapels piped with white; red cuffs piped white; red collar piped blue; buttons in yellow as for the guard; of a sleeved vest, woolen trousers,  cotton trousers, a greatcoat, a shako with white cord, eagle plate and pompom and a forage cap. - the waistcoat encases the hips. - the breeches are replaced by trousers entering the gaiters which stop below the knee. A black stock, bedroll, haversac, cartridge box and belt, musket and bandolier. The buttons are of the Guard.  Officers from the Grenadiers are to retain their uniforms, pay and privalidges.

Grenadiers-Conscrit

The decree for the Grenadiers-Conscrits stipulated that the jacket was to be that of the Fusilier Grenadiers, butshort, i.e. the tails only covered the soldiers rump. The equipment was that of the line, the black gaiters were to be cut in the shape of Russian boots, fastened with 21 copper buttons. In essence, the Grenadier-Conscrit wore an identical uniform to the Fusilier-Grenadiers, but the jacket had short tails.

Grenadiers-Conscrit

The decree for the Grenadiers-Conscrits stipulated that the jacket was to be that of the Fusilier Grenadiers, but short, i.e. the tails only covered the soldiers rump. The equipment was that of the line, the black gaiters were to be cut in the shape of Russian boots, fastened with 21 copper buttons. In essence, the Grenadier-Conscrit wore an identical uniform to the Fusilier-Grenadiers, but the jacket had short tails.

Tirailleur-Chasseur

The uniform of the Tirailleur –Chasseurs was authorised by a decree of 10 May 1809. The decree stipulated that the regiments were to be dressed after the fashion of the light infatry, the epaulettes to have green boards and red fringing, the turnbacks were to be scarlet serge, ornamented with green eagles, the collar was to be red piped blue. A white waistcoat closed by 10 buttons was worn beneath the habit, white trousers, short black gaiters. The shako was furnsihed with a stamped copper shalo plate bearing a crowned eagle, white cords, and a green plume. The greatcoat was to be grey, the equipment was to be that of the line.

1er Regiment des Tirailleur-Grenadier, full dress after Pierre Martinet
Fusilier-Grenadier and Tirailleur-Grenadier.

Chasseur-Conscrit

The Chasseurs-Conscrit were distinguished from the Tirailleur-Chasseurs by their blue trousers, and blue turnbacks ornamented by green hunting horn devices.

Tirailleur

Tirailleur

1er Regiment des Tirailleur
Full Dress 1811

Upon formation of the Tirailleur corps in 1811, the Tirailleur-Grenadier uniform was retained, with a  number of variations. Red shako cords were adopted, in full dress the 1st Regiment had a white plume tipped red, the 2nd hadred plume tipped white, while the 3rd and 4th had all red. The regiments were also distinguished by there pompoms:1st spherical red over white; 2nd spherical white over red; 3rd red lentille disc with white centre; 4th white lentille with red centre; 5th white lentille with blue centre; 6th blue lentille with white centre. This uniform was retained by 1-6 regiments until 1815.

Tirailleur Delvau, of the 4th Company 1st Battalion 6th Regiment of Tirailleurs informs us in a letter dated 24 March 1812 that he was issued with a shako, grey greatcoat with brass buttons bearing the crowned imperial eagle, which was worn in full and undress, three pairs of shoes, a  pair of gaiters, and a pair of overalls made from grey cloth, a sabre, ammunition box, and musket.

Those regiments raised in 1813 were uniformed under a decree of 8 April. The Tirailleur corps adopted the line pattern habit veste, retaining the colouring of the corps, the sabre briquet was only carried by NCO’s and Drummers, the shako had brass chinscales, eagle plate and a red pompom. NCO’s use the epaulettes of the Grenadiers. Drummers and Fifers wore Imperial Livery uniforms. Officers also adopted the 1812 regulation habit veste but with long tails.

Voltigeurs.

The Voltigeurs retained the Tirailleur-Chasseur jacket, but with a chamois collar piped blue, the turnback badges were replaced by green hunting horns. The shako had white cords and a red over green plume.

The regiments raised in 1813 adopted the 1812  Line Pattern regulation uniform, coloured as before. The shako cords and plume were abolished, being replaced with a green pompom.. The cartidge box device of a crowned eagle may have been replaced by a hunting horn device, as such badges are noted in the uniform specifications costing 50 centimes each. Drummers and Fifers wore Imperial Livery. Officers were dressed as the men, but the habit vestes had long tails.

Officers.

The company Lieutenants wore the same jacket as the soldiers, but with long tails, the Capitaines the uniform of the Fusiliers, the field officers the uniforms of the Grenadiers or Chassuers.

Tirailleur
Uniform Jacket and Waistcoat of Voltigeurs de la Garde
Officer's Gilded Shako Plate

 

Tirailleur Officer

Tirailleur Officer

Officer, Tirailleur-Grenadiers wearing the undress surtout worn by officers on campaign. Also notable is the depiction of the embroidered bords of the officers epaulettes.

Officers were allowed to take domestic servants into the field, and were paid an established fee. To keep them under control, they were made to wear distinctive uniforms, the 2eme Chasseurs-Conscrit placed their into a a semi uniform of a grey habit, with sky blue collar and cuffs, piped crimson. They were not allowed to wear military style headgear or carry swords except when actually in the field.

 

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2003

 

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