Uniforms of the Chasseurs-à-Pied de la Garde
By Paul Dawson
Colliqauly known as the beehive, the most characteristic feature of the uniform of the grenadiers were their tall bonnet-à-poil (literally fur hats) for soldats and bonnet d’Ourson (literally bearskin hats) for the officers- the same item of uniform, made to the same patterns but with a different fur covering.
The Circular of the 4 Brumaire Year X, (October 25, 1801) gives the following:
The 1801 issue cords differ from known examples and the latter regulations. The 1812 Bardin Regulation and those of October 1822 francsor Sapeurs describe the bonnet as being 350 mm, (13 inches) tall at the front, behind 375 mm. Height of plumet holder from its base to the bottom edge of the carcass 150 mm. The front tassel is not attached to the cords and is described as having a fringing of 60 mm, a top crown of 10 mm, being 25 mm in diameter and attached to the back patch by a doubled cord 130 mm long.
The white cordon for a chasseur cost between 2,25 to 3,50 francs in 1808, a Sergent 18 francs in 1806 and 23 francs in 1811 and for the Sergent-Major 27 francs in 1806 and 32 francs in 1811.
The cordon were purchased from Messrs. Vautrin Lefevre et Clavet 14 rue de la Salle-au-Comte, Paris.
The carcass of the bonnet was made from boiled leather or straw board, the dimensions are shown in the following schematics. Over the duration of the Empire, the style of the bonnet was changed, becoming more bell topped by the end of the Empire, as illustrated in the second set of schematics. As bonnets were to last 20 years, by the end of the Empire both patterns of bonnet would have been worn. An extant bonnet measures some 370 mm tall at the at the front, 270 mm at the rear and 265 mm wide. This taller than both Grenadier Simplet’s bonnet and that described in the official dress regulations.
On the rear of the bonnet a lace cross appeared on a scarlet ground. This was introduced in 1806, when the patch was green. The Otto Manuscript shows this as red. The patch was discontinued from 1808/1809.
The ball cocarde was worn in the plume holder and cost 0,90 francs in 1803, 1 franc in 1808, 1,20 francs in 1813 and 1.25 francs in 1815. The white cockade worn in 1814 cost between 0,14 francs to 0,25 francs.
The bonnet could be purchased from M. Aubineau 213 rue St Honore Paris. The price in 1800 was 22,25 francs, in 1803 19 francs, and then in 1804 when the rear patch was introduced, the price rose to 24 francs. A year later the price was 25 francs. In 1809 a bonnet cost 32 francs, on 1 January 1815 the cost was increased to 35 francs. A complete bonnet with cords and plume cost 50,50 francs.
All ranks wore 16 inch plumet in full dress, which could be purchased from la Maison Debruge, 244 rue Saint-Honore, Paris for 4,50 francs, NCO’s plumet cost 4 francs. In 1813 a plume cover was introduced, which could be purchased from M Dupouvillon, 120 rue Quincampoix, Paris for 6 francs. On campaign the bonnet was not worn but was carried in a cover attached to the top of the pack. The cover cost 1,80 francs in 1806 and 2 francs in 1811. Albrecht Adam attests the bonnet being worn during the 1812 campaign and were covered by a waxed linen(?) cover.
Originally the plume was green with a red tip, in 1806 this was reversed. A waxed linen or cardboard plume tube was issued costing 1 franc, as well as a cardboard bearskin cover, mentioned in the memoires of J.B. Barres which cost 1,30 francs.
Bonnets of NCOs were the same as for the other ranks, except the cordon were mixed made from one green and one red cord, knotted together. In each cord, gold threads were woven to give a spotted appearance.
The chapeau worn on campaign and in walking out dress, were supplied by Herbert, 14 rue Saint-Sauveur Paris, and cost 8 francs or 10,50 francs for NCO’s. The first chapeau issued was that regulated on 26th October 1801. The chapeau was to measure 162 mm tall at the front, 173 at the rear, and to be 162 mm from the centre to the corner. The ganse was to be 22 mm wide. The regulations of 6 December 1815 stipulated that the chapeau had to measure 190 mm tall at the front, 245 at the back and 290 mm from corner to corner or 145 from centre to corner. The ganse was to be 80 mm wide and to be secured by a small uniform button. The cockade was to be made out of basin and be in 95 mm diameter. The houpette was to be pyramidal in shape, 54 mm wide at the base and 80 mm tall. The fringing at the top was to be 55 mm long.
Bonnet de Police
The Bonnet de Police was of the pattern a la dragonne and was made out of blue uniform cloth with aurore lacing. The regulations of April 1791 stipulated that the flamme was to measure 568 mm long, to be piped red and terminate in a scarlet tassel. This was regulated to be 50 mm long. The turban was to be measure 122 mm front and back and 108 mm in the middle. For soldats and coporals the lacing was to be 14 mm deep, for NCO’s and officiers to be gold and 23 mm deep. On the front of the bonnet an aurore hunting horn device was worn for caporals and soldats, gold for NCO’s and officier. The bonnet cost 8,49 francs.
The habit was made from Imperial Blue cloth with red turnbacks, cuffs and tailing lining, and long pockets were piped red. This coat had ‘real’ turnbacks, the ends being held together by a hook and eye.
The habit issued in 1809 was made from the following cloth:
The cloth was supplied by la Maison Pressat, 15 rue de la Potterie, Saint-Honore, Paris.
This coat differed from its predecessor, the skirts were shortened and narrowed, and barely reached the top of the gaiters, the turnbacks were stitched down and were made to extend to the bottom of the tail, removing the small blue triangle. In 1810, a complete habit cost the princely sum of 52,65 francs excluding buttons and epaulettes which cost 3,50 francs. Three different sizes of buttons were issued:
The turn backs bore aurore embroidered grenades and hunting horns for soldat, gold for NCO and officers. The grenades measured 45 mm wide and 60 mm tall.
Red (garance) epaulettes a franges or those of the appropriate grade were worn on the shoulder. These were officially regulated to be worn by grenadiers on 17 March 1788. The regulations stipulated that there had to be four layers of red fringing 72 mm long, which was reduced to 55 mm in 1812, but increased to 65 mm in 1819.
The red epaulettes cost 9 francs per pair, Sergent 15 francs and Sergent-Major 20 francs. These items were supplied by M Aubineau of 213 rue de la Saint-Honore. When the regiment was first formed, the epaulettes were all green. By 1806, the epaulette board had become green, laced scarlet and lined with blue cloth. The crescent and fringing was also scarlet. Towards the end of the Empire, the boards were all green.
The gallon des grade were aurore for caporal and gold for NCO’s, and were 23 mm wide. The amount of lace issued was as follows:
The gallon du grade were worn as a chevron, point uppermost on the lower sleeve. The front of the gallon was to be 20 mm above the cuff and the rear 95 mm. For Caporal and Sergent Major, the two gallon were to be 14 mm apart.
In 1809, a second or petit habit was introduced, this was the old full dress habit, and was not a new item of uniform. The full dress habit was replaced every two years with a new habit, the old habit being used as the petit or second habit
Adopted in 1802 to replace the second habit, the single-breasted dark blue jacket was closed by 7, later 9 large uniform buttons. Two small buttons closed the round blue cuffs. The tails were the same as those on the habit. However, Weiland shows the turnback devices being blue embroidered crowned eagles. The complete garment cost 54,47 francs. The gallon du grade were worn, the lace being half the thickness of that on the habit.
In 1809 solely officers and NCO’s retained the surtout, the regulations dictating that the waistcoat was to be covered.
The veste (waistcoat) was made out of unbleached wool. The material costs were as follows:
The waistcoat of Soldats and Caporals had sleeves (gilet a manches), and was worn as the working or fatigue jacket. Those of the NCO’s were sleeveless (gilet sans Manches). The waistcoat was issued on a one size fits all basis and was adjusted to fit by the means of two tapes in the rear.
The only official description of this garment is of 8 February 1812, when a new gilet pattern was introduced. The gilet to be square cut at the waist rather than pointed, to be closed by 10 small uniform buttons, 55 mm apart. The collar was to be 10-15 mm shorter than that of the habit. On the front were two pockets, measuring 190 mm by 35m deep, the pocket on the left was false.
The veste cost 9,50 francs.
It is possible that a working jacket was issued, and would have been identical to the one shown, except that the collar would have been white. It is possible however, that the working jacket was the same pattern as those worn by the Grenadiers-à-Cheval, i.e. double breasted, as such an item exists attributed to Grenadier Simplet in the Musee d’Armee. In summer, a white cotton, linen or basin waistcoats were worn which cost 5,56 francs
Pantalons de tricot
Knee length breaches, pantalon de tricot, were worn in full dress, which were lined in white cotton, and cost 14,47 francs. The material costings were:
In summer white cotton breaches costing 10 francs were worn.
In tenue du ville, nankeen breaches were preferred, but were regulated only to worn on Sundays.
Pantalons de toile
Pantalons de toile were cloth working trousers (overalls), usually linen, calico or canvas, sturdy made, and with a flap draw fly at the front. Usually undyed, but striped or white cloth or other colours could also be used. These were service, campaign, and often combat trousers. These would sometimes be baggy, and too long, and in some circumstances soldiers would tie the legs with string, to keep out dust and other things, or rolled up.
Both trousers would have buttons on the outside at the waist for the bretelles (braces).
On campaign Imperial Blue pantaloons were worn, which were lined with white cotton, and cost the princely some of 31,47 francs in 1807. However, accounts show that overalls costing 6,50 francs a pair were procured during 1810. Blue or white cotton trousers, surculottes or pantalon de toile, were worn in the summer, and cost 4 francs, and were used to cover the white parade breaches and gaiters when on manoeuvres. By the end of the Empire, the blue overalls were worn in full dress. All the overalls were cut so that the bottom edge was 110 mm from the ground regardless of the soldats height.
In normal full dress, long black wool gaiters closed with 16 small brass buttons were worn, which were often replaced on campaign with short grey gaiters worn under the long trousers. The grey gaiters cost 1,40 francs.
The long black wool gaiters were waxed to make them waterproof and cost 4,20 francs; the short grey gaiters between 2,20 francs and 3,10 francs. The buttons were to be 6 mm wide, and there was to be between 20 and 24 per gaiter. The buttons and button holes were to be reinforced with a band of cloth, 18 mm wide.
Two pairs of white gaiters were worn, for parades, in white basin with white buttons, and a pair of white canvas gaiters with white buttons for ordinary full dress. Gaiter straps cost 0,60 francs a pair.
The regulations refer to knee buckles, i.e. the buckles that fastened the bottom of the breaches legs were the same as those used on the gaiter straps.
Low buckle shoes were worn by all ranks, in any order of dress except tenue d’Interior and tenue de ville en hiver, when Suvarov style boots were worn. Shoes were regulated in 1801, and to cost 3,75 francs.
The 1786 regulations described the buckles to be issued with the shoes. They were to be brass, measure externally 108 mm by 68 mm, and internally 90 mm by 50 mm.
Caleçon à toile
Although little worn by the lower classes, the army issued long drawers to the soldiers, which would usually be worn, if only to avoid having to wash the trousers often, and to keep warm. These would be full length linen or cotton drawers, with a button up fly, and a cord round the waist or at the back to fit. They look somewhat like modern pyjama bottoms.
Soldiers would be issued three pairs of undyed linen shirts, that they would use somewhat like we use t-shirts today. The 1801 regulations stated that the back was to measure 36 inches and the front 34 inches, the sleaves to be 24 inches long with cuffs, and to be 8 inches wide. The collar was to be 15 inches long and 3 inches high. The shirt also had shoulder straps, 2 inches ½ wide. The shirt was to cost 3,25 francs.
The smock was made from canvas and was worn for fatigues and cost 7,25 francs. The shirt cost between 4 francs and 5,50 francs ,
The col noir was used in most tenues, but on campaign it would often be replaced by neck cloths of every description, colour, and denomination. A soldier looks after his comfort!
The 1801 regulations states that they were to be 16 inches long, and 2.5 inches wide and to cost 35c.
Soldiers would be issued with several pears of cotton knee length socks (demi-bas). As socks have the same tendecy as shoes, to wear out fast, often they would have used anything they could lay their hands on, or not worn socks inside their shoes (if they were lucky enough to have decent shoes in the first place). The 1801 regulations stated that each soldier was to be issued a dozen pairs of natural wool, woollen socks, costing 19 francs, to be 24 inches long. A dozen white cotton socks were also issued, again 24 inches long and costing 15 francs.
In 1804, the Grenadiers-à-Pied were issued with a dark blue double breasted greatcoat with small round cuffs closed by two small uniform buttons. The front was closed by two rows of 8 large uniform buttons. Red brides appeared at the shoulder to attach the epaulettes. The wool for the greatcoat cost 29 francs per meter and were lined in linen or cotton, the complete garment cost 54,47 francs. The greatcoat was issued on a one size fits all basis, being adjusted to fit by the means of a buckle on the rear of the garment.
The greatcoat worn by Sergents and Sergent-Majors was of the same pattern as that as the soldat but was tailored a la redingote which was more fashionable and elegant.
All were cut to a uniform length, so that regardless of the soldat’s height, the bottom edge of the great coat was 320 mm above the ground. Between1813 and 1815, the collar and cuffs were piped scarlet.
On the large flap would be the brass ornaments, consisting originally of a large hunting horn device, which was replaced by 1806 a crowned eagle. On 13 April 1814, the giberne ornamnets were changed. The crowned eagle was replaced by the Royalist Arms of France.
In 1815 the giberne was ornamented like the Grenadiers, the eagle and
crown cost 2,25 francs and the grenades 0,20 francs, but was also used
to keep down the flap, even when not buckled down. Inside the main flap
would be a lighter second flap, as a safety double.
These devices appeared on the white linen campaign cover. The cover
cost 0,60 francs. The giberne cost 4 francs, and the belt 4 francs in
1804, 7,50 in 1807 and 10 francs in 1815. Underneath the giberne were
two white leather straps with brass buckles, to strap on the bonnet
On the large top flap of the giberne, the soldat’s number and issue number would appear, along with his regiment, company and date of issue, as shown in the example below from 1816.
Two patterns of giberne were issued that for soldat and the other for fouriers, and sergents. This giberne was considerably smaller than that for the soldat. As well as this, at least two patterns of giberne were used that of 1786 and that of 1812.
The sabre belt was of the same pattern for all Guard Infantry, with fittings for both sabre and baionette and cost 8,50 francs. Three lengths of belts were issued to the army:
When a soldat joined the Chasseurs from the Ligne, he retained his Ligne equipment until it was replaced. The belts were not replaced, but were picqued (i.e. the raised stitching on the edges of the belt).
The Grande Modele pattern backpack was made out of cow hide with white edging and straps. All buckles were brass. The back pack cost 8 francs.
Sac a Musette
The Sac a Musette (lunch bag), was to be in natural cloth, 16 inches deep and 14 inches wide, to be carried from a canvas strap 3 feet 3 inches long, 11 mm wide. It cost 70 c.
Sac a Avoine
The Sac a Avoine (oat bag) was to be made from natural cloth, 3 feet 6 inches long and 22 inches wide
Sac a distribution
The Sac a distribution was made of white cloth, 4 feet 10 inches long, 28 inches wide, to be closed by laces. It cost 2,10 francs.
The sabre of Chasseurs-à-Pied was the same pattern as the Grenadiers-à-Pied, which were manufactured at the Imperial Arsenal of Klingenthal. The blade was 70 cm long and 3.6 cm in width at the widest point. The scabbard fastened to the baudrier by a brass button. The baionette was of the An. IX pattern was 40.2 cm long overall.
In full dress sword knots were worn. For soldats these were of white leather terminating in a red worsted knot with green fringing. For sergents the field was gold with a 15 mm wide green stripe of gallon baton lace, for sergents-major the field was green with a 15 mm wide gold band of gallon baton lace, for the gland was mixed red and gold as for the epaulettes.
Sword knots (dragonne de sabre) cost 1,50 francs
The musket issued to the Chasseurs was the special pattern musket issued to all Garde-à- pied, i.e. a 1777 pattern Charleville with brass bands, trigger guard, and flaming grenade device on the but plate. The weapon was 143,1 cm long overall and had a calibre of 1,75 cm. The bretelle de fusil was 975 mm long and 34 mm wide and cost 1 francs. In 1806, a leather musket cover 1 meter 30 long was issued,
In order that the soldier could clean the vent on his musket, he was issued with an epinglette. This was a small round, iron file 90 mm long, tapering from 3 mm to 1 mm. It was suspended on a brass chain (aiguillette) 210 mm long.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: March 2005
© Copyright 1995-2012, The Napoleon Series, All Rights Reserved.