Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


Infantry

Uniform Distinctions

Foot Artillery

Bibliography


Polish Infantry and Artillery Uniforms of the V Corps During the Invasion of Russia, 1812

By Robert Burnham

The Infantry

Coat: In 1810 the Polish infantry were authorized a new uniform. The soldiers wore the standard tunic called a kurtka, which was dark blue with white lapels that went halfway down the chest. The coat was closed underneath these lapels until the waist. The outsides of the lapels were piped crimson. The collar and turnbacks were dark blue and piped in crimson. Buttons were brass, with one at the top of each lapel, six down each side, and with two under the lapels closing coat at the waist. Cuffs were of the Brandenburg pattern, i.e. square, crimson color, with white cuff flaps piped in crimson. Each cuff had three buttons. Regimental variations were numerous. Those regiments that were raised in 1809, had not received the old uniform (the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th Infantry Regiments) probably adhered to the new regulation more than the older regiments, since they would have had fewer attachments to what they were wearing. At least one source reports that the voltigeur companies had yellow collars piped with the regimental piping color.

Headgear: Fusiliers wore a traditional hat called the czapka. It was similar in size and shape to a French shako, except it had a square top with a corner at the front, the back, and the sides. The top rim was reinforced with brass and may have been trimmed with white or yellow tape. The top is often shown with this tape extended diagonally from corner to corner. The czapka had a large white Polish eagle on the front with a brass plate stamped with the regimental number under it. The czapka had a brass chinstap and a white cockade. The fusiliers wore white cords and flounders, and with a light blue pompom. One source reports however, that the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th Regiments may have worn French style pompoms: green for the first company, light blue for the second, orange for the third, and violet for the fourth. Additionally, officers in all of the regiments may have worn a white plume.

Grenadiers were authorized to wear a black bearskin bonnet and there is some debate over the style. Many sources report these bonnets as being peaked, while others state that they were similar to the French style. A red patch with a white cross was worn on the back, while the front had a brass plate with the Polish eagle flanked by two grenades. Cords, flounders, and plume were red and the plume was worn on the left side. Unfortunately no source gives a description for a peaked bearskin bonnet. According to Nafziger, the 1st, 2nd, and 16th Regiments had peaked bearskin bonnets with brass plates, while the other regiments wore the French style bearskin with no plate. He further states that all the regiments wore white cording and tassels, except for the 1st Regiment, which wore red. The grenadiers of the 13th Regiment wore a czapka with red tape, cords, plume, and flounders.

Voltigeurs wore the czapka with yellow tape, however the cords were yellow, while the pompom and plume were green. The plate on the front was the same as for the fusilier, however the eagle was replaced with a brass horn. The 2nd Regiment wore a green plume with a yellow tip, while all cords were white.

Epaulets: Fusiliers wore dark blue shoulder straps piped crimson, except for the 13th Regiment, which had white shoulder straps piped light blue. Grenadiers wore French style red epaulets. Voltigeurs usually wore green epaulets, with the exception being the 12th Regiment, whose voltigeurs wore white epaulets with green crescents.

Breeches: White breeches with black knee-high gaiters with brass buttons were authorized for summer wear. However as the campaign went on, the soldiers would have replaced these with dark blue or white trousers.

Overcoats and Other Equipment: Overcoats were French style and either brown or gray. All belts and straps would be white leather. The cartridge box and bayonet scabbard would be black, while the backpack would be brown. All buckles and fittings were brass.

Officers: The officers wore a bicorne hat with a white cockade. The coat was similar in cut to the French habit-veste, but with regimental facings for the cuffs and collar. On campaign, officers may have worn the single-breasted surtout. Breeches were white and worn with calf-high, black boots. Gold, French style epaulets and a brass gorget, with the white Polish eagle were also worn.

 

Uniform Distinctions of the Polish Infantry Regiments of the V Corps in the 1812 Russian Campaign

Rgt

Coat Color

Lapel Color

Collar Color

Cuff Color & Piping

Lapel Piping

Cuff Flaps & Piping

Turnbacks &Piping

Buttons

1st

Dark Blue

White

Dark Blue

Yellow & White

Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Brass

2nd

Dark Blue

White

Dark Blue

Yellow & White

Crimson

White & Crimson

White & Crimson

White

3rd

Dark Blue

White

Dark Blue

Yellow & White

Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Brass

6th

Dark Blue

White

Dark Blue

Crimson no piping

Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Brass

8th

Dark Blue

White

Crimson

Crimson no piping

Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Brass

12th

Dark Blue

White

Yellow

Crimson no piping

Crimson

White & Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Brass

13th

White

Light Blue

Light Blue

White & Light Blue

Light Blue

Light Blue & White

Light Blue & Yellow

White

14th

Dark Blue

White

Dark Blue

Crimson no piping

Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Brass

15th

Dark Blue

White

Dark Blue

Crimson no piping

Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Brass

16th

Dark Blue

White

Red

Crimson no piping

Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Brass

17th

Dark Blue

White

Red

Crimson no piping

Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Dark Blue & Crimson

Brass

 

The Foot Artillery

Coat: The Polish artilleryman wore a dark green infantry pattern kurtka, but with black lapels, collar, cuffs, and cuff-flaps all piped red. Turnbacks were dark green and piped red. All buttons were brass. Epaulets were red and fringed.

Headgear: The artillerymen wore a French style shako with brass chinstraps, brass plate, the white Polish eagle, a white cockade, and red cords, flounders, and pompoms.

Breeches: Dark green or white overalls wore during the campaign.

Equipment: The artillerymen were equipped with infantry equipment.

Bibliography

Haythornthwaite, Philip: The Napoleonic Source Book; Facts on File, New York; 1990.

Haythornthwaite, Philip: Uniforms of the Retreat from Moscow; Hippocrene Books, New York; 1976.

Knotel, Richard: Uniforms of the World: A Compendium of Army, Navy, and Air Force Uniforms 1700-1937; Charles Scribner's Sons, New York; 1980.

Nafziger, George and Mariusz T.Wesolowski and Tom Devoe: The Poles and Saxons of the Napoleonic Wars;Emperor's Press, Chicago; 1991.

Pivka, Otto Von: Armies of the Napoleonic Era; David & Charles Publishers, Devon; 1979.

Pivka, Otto Von: Napoleon's Polish Troops; Osprey, London; 1974.

Rawkins, W.J.: The Polish Army: 1808-14; W.J. Rawkins, Norwich; 1980.

 

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