Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics



YEAR 1811.





THE INTOXICATION of the Imperial Guard was great on the birth of this child that Napoleon greeted with the first title of the King of Rome!  It seemed that the peace of Europe was going to be consolidated around this cradle of crimson and gold:  he knew nothing of it, and the Emperor, always far-sighted, still thought for increasing the numerical force of his Guard, this hope of his great projects, this safety of his glorious dynasty.

By Imperial decree, dated from the palace of Tuileries, March 30, 1811, the regiment of the Young Dutch, previously formed at La Haie, by Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, and who, by the fact of the abdication of this brother of Napoleon, had been called to France and had been quartered in Versailles, had come to belong to the Young Guard.  It was to be composed, at the outset, of only two battalions, and each battalion of six companies; but by another decree, on August 30 of the same year, this regiment was to carry nine battalions.  The first eight, each of four companies of two hundred men, and the ninth, of eight companies, also of two hundred men; so that the manpower of this body was eight thousand men, officers, warrant officers and soldiers included, but not including the large one and the small staff *.

* See, for further details on the Pupils of the Guard, pages 13, 14 and 15 of our introduction placed at the beginning of this work. 

In 1813, the regiment of the pupils was reduced to two battalions of eight hundred men each.  The excess helped to form the new regiments of grenadier tirailleurs and chasseur voltigeurs of the Guard.

Subsequent to the creation of this regiment in miniature, February 10, 1811, a decree, dated from the palace of Tuileries, ordered the formation of a third and fourth regiments of tirailleurs, likewise a third and fourth regiments of voltigeurs of the Guard.

April 5, a school of drummers was formed for the Guard up of ninety-six pupils, namely:

Sixteen following the 1st Foot Grenadier Regiment of the Old Guard; sixteen following the regiment of chasseurs, idem; sixteen following the battalion of the fusiliers of the Young Guard; and forty-eight following the tirailleurs and voltigeurs of the same corps.

April 20, twenty-two men drawn from the battalion of the miners increased the company of the sappers of the engineers.

May 18, an Imperial decree dated from the chateau of Rambouillet, held that the first and second regiments of conscript-grenadiers would take the title of third and fourth regiments of tirailleurs.

This decree ordered moreover the creation of a second regiment of foot grenadiers of the Old Guard, and a fifth and sixth regiments of tirailleurs of the Young Guard.

Consequently, the Dutch Grenadier Regiment, which carried the no 2, took the no 3.

This new grenadier regiment was formed of the men drawn from the regiments of fusiliers of the Young Guard and the regiments of line.  It was composed of two battalions of four companies each, forming a force of sixteen hundred men.

The cadre of old 2nd grenadiers, dissolved in 1808, in Spain, and incorporated into the 1st Regiment of Tirailleurs of the Guard, was recalled to take ranks in the new regiment.

The decree of May 18 still said:

“A second regiment of chasseurs of the Old Guard will be created with the cadre of the 1st Regiment of Tirailleurs and 1st Voltigeurs, who belonged to the Old Guard.

A fifth regiment of voltigeurs will be created.

A battalion of march will be formed, at the Paris depot, called second battalion of march of the Guard in Spain.” 

Another decree, dating to Trianon on July 19th, held there would always be ten men nominated per regiment of infantry of line and light infantry, for the recruitment of foot grenadiers of the Old Guard, as well as for the foot chasseurs, and ten men per regiment of cavalry of line, for the cavalry of the Guard, likewise artillery.

July 21st, another decree, also dating to Trianon, nominated four adjutant generals to the rank of brigadier generals, to command each brigade of the Young Guard.

A decree, dating to Saint-Cloud on August 1st, changed the number of squadrons of the three regiments of grenadiers, chasseurs and dragoons of the Old Guard to five.  Each squadron was to have two hundred and fifty men.

“No more vélites will be allowed into the horse troops of the Guard,” said the same decree.

“the vélites which are present will be allowed into the 2nd Regiment of Light Horse Lancers.”

“the obligations relating to the payment of the pension and other admission requirements will continue to be required as above.”

August 24th, the number of the commissioners of war (commissaries des guerres) of the Guard was augmented by the addition of an assistant commissioner of war and an assistant inspector of reviews.  The number of medical officers was also increased by two surgeons first class, by five surgeons second class, thirteen surgeons third class, one pharmacist second class, and four pharmacists third class.

The corps of cavalry of the Guard had to provide trumpeters for themselves:  consequently they were authorized to admit as young men as pupils who had still not reached the age of the conscription.

These young men were to receive only half-pay while waiting for their placement, like foot trumpeters.

A decree, dated at Trianon on August 24, 1811, ordered the removal of the crews attached to the corps, and organized a battalion of the train of military crews, which was composed in all and was balanced, like the battalions of train of the line.

Another decree, of 28 of same the month, created a sixth regiment of tirailleurs and a sixth regiment of voltigeurs of the Guard, who were organized like the others of the same arms.

The 30th of the same month, another decree dated at Compiègne, which held that the regiment of the pupils of the Guard will be made up of nine battalions; the first eight composed of four companies of two hundred men, and the ninth (at depot) of eight companies of two hundred men.  The manpower of this regiment was thus changed to eight thousand men, officers, non commissioned officers and soldiers included;  but not including the great and the small staff.

[Voltigeur and Flanqueur-Grenadier]

All young men below sixteen years of age, and having a height of four feet nine inches, could as of this moment be admitted into the corps of the pupils of the Guard.

September 4th, created a regiment of flanqueurs of the Guard.

“This regiment, said the decree, will be composed of sons of general guards and forester guards.  It will be organized and paid like are the fifth and sixth regiments of tirailleurs and voltigeurs of the Young Guard, and managed by the council of the regiment of the foot chasseurs of the Old Guard.”

December 12th created of a fourth company foot artillery of Young Guard.

“It will carry the no 4, said the decree, and will be made up like the first three.”

“Each horse artillery company will be increased of two sergeants (brigadiers) and fourteen gunners.”

December 21st, the battalion of the workers of the administration was increased to hundred sixty-five bakers, fifty-five butchers and bottlers, and eighty-two male nurses:  in all, three hundred and two men.

Lastly, December 23rd, the vélites named corporals, sergeants and non-commissioned officers in the cavalry of the Guard, were regarded as installed from the date of their nomination, and were exempted from paying the pension as from the same time.





Same cut of uniform as that of the tirailleurs and the voltigeurs (square reverses and uprights).
The jacket (habit) base green, reverse, collar and facings pointed and green; yellow edging, green lining of Basque, yellow edging, adorned with yellow eagles; yellow braid on the pockets, goose footed (tri pointed) at the folds out of green cloth, yellow edging.
Vest and trousers white, short gaiters of black knitting.
Shakos like those of the tirailleurs, furnished with a green cord; pompom in a yellow ball.
Equipment and armament like those of the tiraillerus.
This regiment never carried sabers.


Jacket cut like those of the tirailleurs (square reverses and uprights), out of green cloth, with yellow braid; scarlet lining, yellow edging; turnbacks furnished with four white cloth eagles;  in the folds of the tail, green cloth goose feet with edging of yellow.
Vest and trousers white; gaiters in the shape of heart, and going up only above the knee.
Equipment and armament similar to those of the tirailleurs.
Shakos like those of the fusiliers, with a V out of white lace;  a red cord and a pompom in a ball, red on top and yellow on the bottom.
This regiment did not carry a saber.

Crews of the Train.

Short jacket, similar in cut to that of the artillery train, base of sky blue; reverse, collar, facings and sleeve cuffs of the same cloth with royal blue edging.
Linings of royal blue Basque, royal blue braid of outlining the pockets; turnbacks furnished with red eagles; shoulder straps sky blue, edged in black; small buttons, with an eagle.
Sky blue waistcoat of hidden by the jacket.
Tight trousers, sky blue throughout.  Boots like the Russian.
Ordinary shako decorated with a crowned eagle and white metal chinstraps; red pompom.
Same uniform as the foot chasseurs; blue coat.
The bearskin was replaced by a shako, decorated with an eagle, white chinstraps and cord.
The plume and shoulder straps similar to those of the chasseurs.
Short infantry sword.

Battalion of Workmen of the Administration of the Guard.

Short jacket of celestial blue cloth; upright, square reverses; collar, facings and small flaps with three points, of the same cloth; scarlet edging; scarlet braid outlining the pockets; lining of scarlet serge Basque, without edging; the turnbacks decorated with four celestial blue cloth eagles.
Goose foot for epaulettes out of celestial blue cloth, red edging; copper buttons; vest and trousers celestial blue; small black gaiters.
Equipment like the Young Guard, i.e. fusil and saber.
Shako furnished with a yellow wool lace, fifteen lines, on top of the shako, furnished with the same cord color, a crowned eagle out of copper and a pompom with red dot.

[Vivandière, Soldier of the Train Crews and Administrative Worker]


Placed on the Napoleon Series: May 2006


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