Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


 

Les Bonnets

Le Chapeau

Bonnet-de-Police

Uniform of the Grenadiers-á-Pied de la Garde: 1810-1815

Headgear

By Paul Dawson

 

Les Bonnets

Colloquially known as the beehive, the most characteristic feature of the uniform of the grenadiers were their tall bonnet-á-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 1801 dress regulations stated that the bonnet was to be 352 mm tall, and 231 mm wide, the back patch to be 162 mm in diameter, the cordon to be 921 mm long, the tassles to be 88 mm long, and the raquettes to measure 115 mm deep by 74 mm wide.

The stamped plaque cost 3,25 francs and were furnished by Masson 120 rue Saint-Martin Paris

Front View
Rear View
Grenadier Simplet’s Bonnet-á-Poil

 

 

Left Side: Note the Cocarde & Plumet
Right Side: Note the Two Raquettes
Grenadier Simplet’s Bonnet-á-Poil

 

Front View
Side View
Rear View
Bonnet held by Musee Salon de Provence. (R A Cooper).
Compare the shape to that of Grenadier Simplet’s.

 

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.

 Note the leather ties to attach the glande and the cordon and raquettes.

The 1804/6 Pattern Issue Bonnet-á-Poil
(R A Cooper)
The 1811 Pattern/Issue Bonnet-á-Poil

 

On the rear of the bonnet an embroidered flaming grenade device appeared on a scarlet ground.  Prior to 1808, a white lace cross was worn on the rear of the bonnet. At least 3 different patterns existed:


Rear Patch on Grenadier Simplet's Bonnet-á-Poil
(R A Cooper)
Detail of the back patch of the bonnet held by Musee Salon de Provence.

The Dimensions
(R A Cooper)

 

The ball cocarde was worn in the plume holder and cost 0,90 francs

 

Detail of the Cockade on the Bonnet Held by Musee Salon de Provence
(R A Cooper)

 

In full dress white cordon were worn, which terminated in two raquettes. The dimensions are shown in the schematic below.

 

The white cordon for a Grenadier cost 3,50 francs, a Sergent 18 francs in 1806 and 23f 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.

Detail of Sergent-Majors cordon, raquettes and glande (R A Cooper).
Note that the Cord Was Woven out of 1Part Red and 2 Parts Gold
and Vice Versa for Sergent.

 

Three models of the plaque were issued, that of 1805 which was 160 mm tall and 217 mm wide (Figure A). This was replaced in 1809 (Figure B), and a third issue of 1811(Figure C) which was slightly different shape than the previous model being 166 mm tall and 215 mm wide. 

The Plaque of 1805.
The Plaque of 1809-1811
The Plaque of 1811-1814

The regulations of  13 April 1814 introduced a new plaque du bonnet, which bore the arms of france.

The bonnet could be purchased from M. Maillard rue St Honore Paris. In 1809, a bonnet cost 24 francs. On 1 January 1811, the price was increased to 30 francs. In May of 1811, the contract for the bonnets changed to J Aubineau 213 Rue Saint-Honore Paris, who provided 200 bonnets at 36 francs each. A complete bonnet cost 50,50 francs.

In the same year, M Koennig of 14 rue des Bons Enfant Paris, was contracted on 16 November to replace all worn out bonnets.  On 4 September 1812, 100 bonnets were ordered from old Madame Aubineau for the 1st Regiment and 100 for the 2nd Regiment. A year later, 1500 bonnets were provided for the 2nd Regiment at 37,50 francs each. Later the same year, on 31 December, 19 new bonnets were provided to the 3rd Regiment costing 33,60 francs, the decrease in price suggesting an inferior quality. Also supplied were 128 cordons at 3,50 francs and were supplied by M Herbert; 198 plumet  were also ordered, which cost 3,70 francs each.

All ranks wore a red 16 inch plumet in full dress, which could be purchased from la Maison Debruge, 244 rue Saint-Honore, Paris for 4,50 francs. A 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.

During the 100 Days Campaign, the Grenadiers were reformed into four regiments. To equip them, on 7 April

'509 bonnets a poil garnis d’un metre cordonnet divisee en 3 parties pour y adapter le cordon et d’unegrenade fil blanc, a 37F25’. In addition to this '2 237 plaques du bonnet a 2 francs 40, 333 pompoms de bonnet d’oursin, 325 pompoms de grenadiers.'

Upon disbandment of the 1st Regiment on 11 September 1815, the 42 officers and 870 grenadiers had 806 bonnets d’oursin, of these 226 had plaques with the arms of France (introduced 1 July 1814, along with a white plume and white cocarde), and 521 plaques de bonnet a l’aigle and 62 plumets des Grenadiers.

Le Chapeau

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 26 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 6th 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.

Grenadiers Chapeau c.1814

Bonnet-de-Police

The Bonnet-de-Police was of the pattern á la dragonne and was made out of blue uniform cloth with aurore lacing.  The regulations of April 1791 stipulated that 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 grenade device was worn for caporals and soldats, gold for NCO’s and officier. The bonnet cost 8,49 francs.

Grenadier-á-Cheval habit and Bonnet-de-Police, the latter being of identical pattern to those worn by the Grenadiers-á-Pied

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: October 2003

 

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