Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


 

Uniforms of the Polish Artillery: 1812

By Paul Dawson

Polish Horse Artillery Officer: 1812

Horse Artillery Officer

The V Army Corps of the Grande Armee was mainly composed of Polish troops. The V Corps artillery was commanded by a Frenchman, General-de-Brigade Jean-Baptist Pelletier. At this time, the Polish artillery arm had 14 foot artillery batteries, 13 and 14 Batteries being designated as heavy position artillery, armed with six 12 pounder  field guns. The foot artillery batteries were armed with four 6 pounder  and two 6 inch  howitzers of French design. The horse artillery had 3 batteries, consisting of six 6 pounder  guns, and was attached to the Light Cavalry Division.

In full dress, Officers wore a long tailed habit, the same cut as for the Chasseurs-á-Cheval de la Garde. The collar was to be of black velvet, piped red, closed by four hooks and eyes and to measure some 100 mm tall. Gold grenades, of the same pattern as for the turnbacks of officers of the Grenadiers-á-Pied de la Garde, appeared on each side of the collar. The cuffs were cut from velvet, pointed and piped red, and were closed by two small uniform buttons. The cuff measures 60 mm at the seams and 100 mm at the point. The revers were also piped red, each having 7 small uniform buttons, and were closed by 10 hooks and eyes. The tails 440 mm long, the turnbacks being black, piped red, and are decorated with gold grenades to the same pattern as on the collar. The tail lining is also black. A black waistcoat, with gold lacing was worn in full dress.

Epaulettes of Polish Horse Artillery Officer: 1812

Detail of Officers Epaulette.
Note that the crescent is embroidered, but the field is made from gilded brass scales.

The undress uniform was a dark green kurtka. This had the same collar and cuffs as the dress habit. The front was closed by the means of 9 small uniform buttons, the front seam being piped red. The tails measure some 223 mm deep, the turnbacks being green piped red. Two large buttons appear at the bottom of the turnbacks, two at the waist and two small at the shoulder to attached the epaulettes and aiguillette. The buttons are semi-domed and gilt copper.

Dark green breaches were worn over low boots, with balck velvet side stripes 50 mm wide, piped red. They are closed about the ankle by the means of 7 ties and a black velvet button at the bottom. In undress, grey overalls were worn, with Hungarian boots, which were laced gold.

A black colpack, 226 mm tall, slightly bell topped was worn in full dress. The flame was green piped gold and was held down by a small gilt button. Gilt lions heads bosses supported chin scales. Gold cords were worn, similar to the French pattern. A pompom was worn above the national cockade.

Officer's Full Dress Habit: Polish Horse Artillery 1812 Collar Embroidery: Polish Horse Artillery 1812
Officers Full Dress Habit
Detail of Collar Embroidery

 

In undress, a black chapeau was worn. A green surtout was also worn, again green with a black velvet collar. It was cut to the same pattern as the French. The greatcoat was white, the same pattern as those worn by the Polish Lancers of the Garde, the collar was piped red and bore gold grenades on each side.

Waistcoat Lacing: Polish Horse Artillery 1812 Havit Cuff: Polish Horse Artillery 1812
Detail of Waistcoat Lacing.
Note this lace is fact French baton gallon lace.
Detail of Habit Cuff

 

Foot Artillery Uniforms

Trumpeter's Kurtka Polish Lancer of the Guard: 1812

Trumpeter's Kurtka, Polish Lancers of the Imperial Guard. That of the horse artillery would have been identical, but the lapels, collar, cuffs and turnbacks would have been of black velvet, and the buttons gilt copper.

Foot artillery officers appear to have worn the same uniform habit, but white waistcoat and breaches appear to have been worn in place of green. A shako may have replaced the colpack. Also, foot artillery offices appear to have worn a double breasted surtout, closed by two rows of seven large uniform buttons. Foot artillery buttons were copper and had in relief a flaming grenade device over crossed cannon barrels.

Trumpeters wore a white kurtka, with black velvet collar, cuffs, lapels and turnbacks piped red. A gold grenade appeared on the collar and turnbacks. A white colpack was worn in full dress along with crimson waistcoat and breaches. In undress, a white habit-kinski was worn, with black velvet collar piped red. Seven large uniform buttons closed the front. In both orders of dress, crimson epaulettes were worn.

Polish Lancer of the Guard Trumpeter's Kurka: 1812 Polish Lancer of the Guard Trumpeter's Kurka: 1812
Detail of the Tails of a Trumpeter's Kurtka. The piping was the same for the Horse Artillery, the turnbacks being black velevet.
The Rear Vent was Pleated.

 

Foot Artillery Uniform

Non-commissioned officers wore the same uniform as the officers, but the kurtka had short tails, and the grenade devices did not appear on the collar or turnbacks. Badges or rank was as for the French army. The epaulettes were similar to those of the officers; the boards remained in scales, but the crescents and fringing were red, the aiguilette was also red. The gunners also wore red epaulettes and aiguillettes. Gunners and NCO’s did not wear the colpack but sported a  black czapka, the white metal plate being the same as for the foot artillery. In full dress, green cords appear to have been worn.

The Polish Foot Artillery wore a similar uniform to the horse batteries. Green breaches were worn with (black?) gaiters, red epaulettes were worn at the shoulder. The fatigue coat was green throughout, the bonnet de police was green piped yellow.

Shako: Polish Foot Artillery: 1812 Fatigue Coat: Polish Artillery 1812

Polish Foot Artillery Shako.

Polish Artillery Fatigue Coat. This type of coat was worn by both foot and horse batteries.(rear view)

 

Bibliography

Thanks to Warsaw Musuem, Krakow Musem and Liepzig museum for allowing members of Association Britannique de la Garde Imperiale to photograph  original items of uniform.

Chelmisnki, J. and H. Malibran.  L’Armee du Duche de Varvsovie 1807-1815. Paris; 1913.

Knotel, H. and Herbet S. Knotel. Handbuch der Uniformkunde. Hamburg; 1966.

Lienhart and R. Humbert. Les uniformes de L’armee Francais. Vol V  Paris; 1897 - 1906.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2003

 

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