Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics



Le Surtout

Le Veste

Pantalons de Tricot

Pantalons de Toile

Les Guetres

Les Souliers

Caleçon à Toile


Les Sarrau

Les Cols


Les Manteau-Capote

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


By Paul Dawson



The habit was made from Imperial Blue cloth with red turnbacks, cuffs and tailing lining, and long pockets were piped red.

The habit issued in 1809 was made from the following cloth:

Imperial Blue at 28,75 francs per meter  for the jacket body
Scarlet at 28 francs per meter (dyed with cochenille) for cuffs and piping
White at 18,25 francs per meter (made white by marinating in acid and boiling in vinegar) for lapels and cuff flaps
Scarlet Serge at 3 francs per meter for lining the tails and jacket body
Scarlet Serge at 1,50 francs per meter for lining the pockets
White linen at 1,25 francs per meter for lining the sleeves and back of the jacket, and inside of the lapels.

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 barley 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 56,65 francs excluding button and epaulettes. Three different sizes of buttons were issued:

15 mm for cuffs
17 mm for the revers
25 mm on the rear of the jacket.

The  buttons cost 0,80 francs per dozen for large and 0.40 francs per dozen for small.

The turn backs bore aurore embroidered grenades 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 9f per pair, Sergent 15 francs and Sergent-Major 20 francs.  These items were supplied by M Aubineau  of 213 rue de la Saint-Honore.

Top view of an epaulette attributed to the Fusilier Grenadiers. Those worn by the grenadiers would have been made to the same pattern but would have been all red and the field would have been of galon de baton lace.

Lining of the same epaulette. Note the soldats personal number, and the padding under the crescent.

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:

Sergent Major: 900 mm
Sergent: 450 mm
Caporal: 900 mm

The gallon du grade were worn at an angle on the lower sleave. 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.

Detail of Cuff, Gallon des Grade, and Turnback Grenades
Habit of Royal Grenadiers.

In 1809, a second or petit habit was introduced, this was the old full dress habit, and was not a new item of uniform which the Grenadiers-á-Cheval and Grenadiers Hollandaise were issued with, which was a habit with surtout style cuffs. The full dress habit was replaced every two years with a new habit, the old habit being used as the petit or second habit

Grenadier Simplet’s second, or petit Habit. Note the double breasted waistcoat. Is this the fatigue jacket as it is of the same pattern as the stable jacket issued to the grenadier cheval?

Detail of the habit lining. Note the collar is lined in red.

Detail of the habit pockets.


Detail of the turnback grenades. Note that the flames are shaded in dark aurore wool. These items were regulated in 1812 to be 68 mm tall.

The 1786 regulations specify that the turnback orna ments for Grenadiers were to be grenade a cinq fla mme, 68 mm tall.

Le Surtout

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, only officers and NCO’s retained the surtout, the regulations dictating that the waistcoat was to be covered.

Le Veste

The veste (waistcoat) was made out of  unbleached wool. The material costings were as follows:

Unbleached (“Raw”) wool at 2,50 francs per meter
White serge at 1,50 francs per meter for the back
White linen at 1,25 francs per meter for the lining

The waistcoat of Soldats and Caporals had sleeves (gilet-á-manches), and was worn as the working or fatigue jacket. Those of the NCO’s were sleevless (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 on the rear.

Reconstruction of NCO’s Gilet c.1812. Note that the top four buttons are horn, rather than regimental issue. The pockets are false (R A Cooper).

Rear view of the Reconstructed gilet sans manches c.1812. Note the tapes to adjust the gilet to fit (R A Cooper).

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 Grenadier 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:

Unbleached (“Raw”) wool at 5,50 francs per meter
White linen or cotton at 1,25 francs per meter for lining
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

Cloth working trousers (overalls), usually linen, calico, or canvas, sturdily made, and with a flap 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 pretty baggy, and sometimes 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 francsin 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 soldier's height.

Les Guetres

In normal full dress, long black wool gaiters closed with 16 to 22 small brass buttons were worn, which were often replaced on campaign with short black gaiters worn under the long trousers. 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 . 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.

Les Souliers

Shoes in this period would be sturdy and completely made of leather. The issued infantry shoe is low, rather square and has no difference between a left and a right foot. Soldiers were supposed to alternate shoes between left and right, this would avoid excessive wear. They would fasten with either a metal buckle or a bit of (leather) string (like modern shoes). The leather soles would not have much grip on wet surfaces (especially grass), so they would often be hobnailed. Apparently hobnails (clous) were specific to each army, and the patterns in which the shoes were nailed, would also differ between armies.

As shoes were the item that was fastest worn out, and armies would never have enough of them, soldiers would often use "captured" civilian shoes (there is a story of a French general threatening to loot a German town if they didn't bring him 20.000 pairs of shoes for his division), home made shoes, completely worn out shoes, held together with string, wooden clogs (sabots), tied up rags or nothing at all.

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. The pattern of shoe was not officially regulated until 1817/18 and 1828 (below), but were very similar to those worn a decade earlier.

The average cost of such shoes was 6 francs a pair, i.e. three, and resoling 2.50 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.


Soldiers would be issued three pairs of undyed linen shirts, that they would use somewhat like we use t-shirts today. They would wear them always, underneath every tenue, and would also sleep in them. Since they had only three pairs, and occasions to wash were not always very frequent (well, I'll just leave that to your imagination....).

Les Sarrau

The smock was made from canvas and was worn for fatigues and cost 7,25 francs . The shirt cost  between 4f and 5,50 francs , 

Les Cols

Not wearing something round your neck was not done in 18th and 19th Century society. Every soldier would receive two cols noirs (black stock) and one col blanc (white stock). The col noir is made of black cloth or linen, lined with white linen, and filled with cardboard. It's purpose was to hold up the head and straighten the neck. And look smart, of course. The French were luckier than the British, since no Frenchman would be so sadistic as to make his soldiers wear the leather stocks that the British used. The col noir was used in most tenues.

The stock was to be lower than the jacket collar, between 55 mm and 60 mm tall, and cost 2 francs.


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 (of they were lucky enough to have decent shoes in the first place).

Les Manteau-Capote

In 1804  the grenadiers a 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 29f 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.


Grenadier Simplet’ Greatcoat
Detail of the Epaulettes and Shoulder of Simplet’s Greatcoat. Note the Calfskin Garde Pattern Haversac.


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 soldats height, the bottom edge of the great coat was 320 mm above the ground.



Placed on the Napoleon Series: October 2003


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