Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics





Last six months of the year 1804.

From June to the end of December (messidor year XII, to nivose year XIII)



One could today compare the old Imperial Guard with these splendid monuments of the Middle Ages, which acquire as growing old new titles from the admiration of men.  Thirty years have hardly passed since this heroic phalanx ceased to exist any more, and yet, it is still present before our eyes and in our memories with all its glory and all its fame, with its flags burned by the fires of the sun and grapeshot, with its eagles of gold and its scintillating stars.

Some historians claimed that Napoleon, as of his accession to the empire, had thought of creating companies of bodyguards, especially attached to guard his person.  This is an error:  he never conceived such an idea; he would have fears, with reason, that the institution would be far too like these privileged corps of monarchs not to wound the hearts of his faithful Consular Guard, susceptible like a mistress, and to which he returned its rightful pompous title of Imperial Guard.



Indeed, this metamorphosis did not take long; it took place naturally by means of a decree of thermidor 10 year XII (July 29, 1804), in which it was stated textually as:  “The Consular Guard will take in the future the title of Imperial Guard; it will continue to be especially attached to the service of my person, and will receive the new following organization, i.e.:”


                “ART. 1st.  The Imperial Guard will be made up for year XII and year XIII in the following way:

1 General staff.

1 Regiment of Horse Chasseurs.

1 Regiment of Foot Grenadiers.

1 Corps of artillery.

1 Regiment of Foot Chasseurs.

1 Elite legion of gendarmes.

1 Regiment of Horse Grenadiers.

1 Battalion of sailors.

                To each regiment of infantry will be attached a battalion of vélites, and to that of the Horse Chasseurs a company of Mamelucks.

                There also will be a company of Veterans of the Guard.”

                “ART.  2.  The staff will be composed of four colonels-généraux, who will command:

1 The Foot Grenadiers.

1 Commissioner of Wars.

1 The Foot Chasseurs.

12 Aides-de-camp.

1 The artillery and the seamen.

1 Head of the engineer battalion.

1 The cavalry.

1 Librarian (bibliothècaire).

1 Reviewing Inspector.


The colonels-généraux will receive their orders directly from the Emperor.”


                “ART.  3. Each regiment of infantry will be composed of a staff, two battalions of grenadiers and chasseurs, and one battalion of vélites for each one of these regiments.
The battalions of grenadiers and chasseurs will similarly have eight companies, and those of the vélites five.”

                “ART.  4.  The staff of an infantry regiment will be made up in the following way, namely:

1 Colonel.

1 Quartermaster sergeant major.

1 Major.

1 Drum major.

3 Battalion heads, 1 of which is for the vélites.

3 Corporal drummers.

1 Quartermaster treasurer.

1 Bandleader, of rank of sergeant major.

3 Adjut.-majors, 1 of which is for the vélites.

46 Musicians.

3 Sub Adjut.-maj., 1 of which is for the vélites.

1 Master tailor.

2 Flag bearers.

1 Master shoemaker.

3 Medical officers, 1 of which is for the vélites.

2 Gunsmiths (armuriers), 1 of which is for the vélites.

1 Student surgeon.

1 Gaiter maker.”

                  “ART.  5.  Each foot grenadier or chasseur company will be made up of:

1 Captain.

1 Quartermaster. (fourrier)

1 First lieutenant.

8 Corporals.

2 Second lieutenants.

2 Sappers, rank of corporal.

1 Sergeant major.

80 Grenadiers.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.


Grenadiers-à-Pied of the Guard

(Officer Flag Bearer of the Foot Grenadiers, and a Foot Grenadier, in dress uniform.)

                “ART.  6.  Each company of vélites will be made up in the following way, i.e.:

1 Captain.

1 Lieutenant.

1 Quartermaster. (fourrier)

1 Second lieutenant.

8 Corporals.

1 Sergeant major.

172 Vélites.

4 Sergeants.

2 Drummers.”

                “ART. 7.  The officers and non-commissioned officers of the vélites companies will be provided by the regiments of grenadiers and chasseurs to which they are attached; they will be used by it, for duty, for one year, except those taken to the staff, and the sergeant majors and quartermasters of the companies who will remain there indefinitely.
There will be moreover and thereafter, in each company, 2 sergeants and 4 corporals chosen among the vélites who will have more than one year of service in the corps.”

                “ART. 8.  The Emperor will regulate the number of the masters of reading, arithmetic, drawing and military training (gymnastics) which he considers suitable to attach to each battalion of vélites, as well as the treatment that these masters will enjoy.

                Each body of vélites will have a riding school; a company will be commanded by officers of cavalry.”



                “ART. 9.  Each regiment of horse grenadiers and chasseurs will be composed of a staff and four squadrons of two companies each.” 

                “ART. 10.  The staff of a cavalry regiment of grenadiers or chasseurs will be made up in the following way, namely:

1 Colonel.

1 Major.

1 Master tailor.

4 Squadron heads.

1 Master breech maker. (culottier)

1 Quartermaster treasurer.

1 Master boot maker. (bottier)

1 Captain instructor.

3 Medical officers, 1 of which is a student.

1 Adjutant major.

1 Sub instructor, Sergeant major. (maréchal des logis chef)

2 Sub adjutant majors.

1 Quartermaster, Sergeant major. (vaguemestre)

4 Standard bearers.

1 Artist veterinarian.

1 Artist veterinarian aide.

1 Master gunsmith. (armurier)

1 Trumpet major.

1 Master saddle maker. (sellier)

2 Corporal trumpeters. (brigadiers)

1 Master spur maker. (éperonnier)

1 Timpanist.

1 Sergeant blacksmith. (ferrant)”

                “ART. 11.  Each company of horse grenadiers or chasseurs will be made up thus, i.e.:

1 Captain.

1 Quartermaster. (fourrier)

2 First lieutenants.

10 Corporals. (brigadiers)

2 Second lieutenants.

96 Grenadiers or chasseurs.

1 Sergeant major. (maréchal-des-logis chef)

3 Trumpeters.

6 Sergeants

1 Sergeant blacksmith.”

                The colonels of each regiment of foot or horse could be brigadier generals, and, in this case, they will enjoy the salaries assigned to their rank.
                The gros-majors of each regiment of foot or horse will have the rank of colonel in the line; they will be able to also have that of colonel in the Guard.

Chasseurs-à-Pied of the Guard

(Foot Chasseur, winter dress uniform, and an officer of the Foot Grenadiers in walking out dress.)



                “ART. 12.  The company of Mamelucks will be attached to the regiment of the Horse chasseurs, and will be composed as follows, namely:

French Staff.

1 Commanding captain.

1 Medical officer.

1 Artist veterinarian.

1 Adjutant sub lieutenant.

1 Master saddle maker.

1 Sergeant major.

1 Master tailor.

1 Quartermaster.

1 Master shoemaker. (cordonnier)


2 Captains.

2 First lieutenants.

10 Corporals, of which 2 are French.

2 Second lieutenants.

2 Trumpeters.

2 Sub lieutenants.

85 Mamelucks.

8 Sergeants, of which 2 are French.

2 Sergeant blacksmiths.”


                “ART. 13.  The old men, women and children of the same nation that have taken refuge along with this company will receive and be granted, on the review of the inspector, the help due to them, and the list of items will be decreed by the Emperor.”


                “ART. 14.  The corps of artillery will be composed of a staff, of one light artillery squadron, one section of workmen (ouvriers), and four companies of train.”

                “ART. 15.  Staff of the artillery:

1 Colonel.

2 Squadron heads

1 Adjutant non-commissioned officer for the train.

commanding one company each.

1 Artist veterinarian.

1 Quartermaster.

1 Artist veterinarian aide.

1 Adjutant major.

1 Corporal trumpeter.

2 Sub adjutant majors, lieutenants or

1 Quartermaster sergeant.

sub lieutenant, with one for the train.

1 Master tailor.

1 Lieutenant instructor.

1 Master breeches maker.

1 Flag bearer.

1 Master boot maker.

2 Medical officers.

1 Master saddle and harness maker.

1 Professor of mathematics.

1 Master gunsmith and spur maker.”

                “ART. 16.  Each artillery company will be made up in the following way, i.e.:

1 Squadron head.

1 Second captain.

6 Corporals. (brigadiers)

1 First lieutenant.

4 Bombardiers, of whom there is 1 corp. in the 2 comp.

1 Second lieutenant.

34 Cannoneers 1st class.

1 Sergeant major. (maréchal-des-logis chef)

38 Cannoneers 2nd class.

6 Sergeants. (maréchal-des-logis)

3 Trumpeters.

1 Quartermaster. (fourrier)

1 Sergeant blacksmith.”

                “ART. 17.  The section of artillery workmen (ouvriers) will be composed of:


1 Second captain.

4 Artisans (ouvriers) 1st class.

1 Sergeant.

6 Artisans 2nd class.

1 Corporal.

6 Apprentices.”

               “ART. 18.  There will be nine employees of the park.

1 Artillery Guard.

4 Sub guards.

4 Conductors.”

               “ART. 19.  The 4 companies of the train will be commanded by a captain-commander, and each company will be made up in the following way, namely:

1 Lieutenant or sub lieutenant.

26 Soldiers 1st class.

1 Sergeant major. (maréchal-des-logis chef)

72 Soldiers 2nd class.

4 Sergeants. (maréchal-des-logis)

2 Bombardiers. (bourreliers)

1 Quartermaster. (fourrier)

2 Trumpeters.

6 Corporals.(brigadiers)

2 Sergeant blacksmiths.”


                “ART. 20.  The corps of gendarmes will be made up as it is prescribed by the decree of 28 ventose year X (19 March 1802), of a staff, two squadrons each one of two companies, and a half battalion made of two companies.”

                “ART. 21.  The staff of the legion of elites will be made up in the following manner, i.e.:

1 Colonel, Head of the Legion.

1 Flag bearer.

1 Major.

1 Artist veterinarian.

2 Squadron Hds., of which 1 is for the infantry.

12 Musicians.

1 Quartermaster.

1 Master tailor gaiter maker.

1 Adjutant major.

1 Master saddle maker.

2 Sub adjutant majors, 1 for the infantry.

1 Master breeches maker.

2 Medical officers.

1 Master boot maker.

2 Standard bearers.

1 Master gunsmith-spur maker.”

                “ART. 22.  Each corps will be composed of:

1 Captain.

2 First lieutenants.

6 Corporals. (brigadiers)

1 Sergeant major. (maréchal-des-logis chef)

72 Gendarmes.

3 Sergeants. (maréchal-des-logis)

2 Trumpeters.

1 Quartermaster.

1 Sergeant blacksmith.”

                “ART. 23.  Each company of foot gendarmes will be made up of:

1 Captain.

1 Quartermaster.

2 Lieutenants.

10 Corporals. (brigadiers)

1 Sergeant major. (maréchal-des-logis chef)

100 Gendarmes.

5 Sergeants. (maréchal-des-logis)

2 Drummers.”

Drummer and Drum Major of the Grenadiers

(Drum major and drummer of the Foot Grenadiers)



                “ART. 24.  The battalion of seamen (marins) will include a staff and five crews.”

                “ART. 25.  The staff will be composed of:

1 Captain  commanding the battalion.

1 Quartermaster treasurer.

1 Adjutant major.

1 Medical officer.”

                “ART. 26.  Each crew of sailors will be composed of:

1 Commander (capitaine de frigate)

5 Petty officers. (contre maîtres) 

or Captain. (capitaine de vaisseau)

5 Leading seamen. (quartiers-maîtres)

5 Lieutenants or ensigns.

125 Sailors of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th class.

5 Chief petty officers. (maîtres)

1 Bugle (clairon) or drummer.”

                “ART. 27.  A depot for the seamen will be formed in Paris, intended to constantly hold five complete crews of sailors.
               This depot will be composed of:

1 Chief petty officer. (maîtres)

3 Leading seamen.

2 Petty officers. (contre maîtres)

60 Sailors.”

                “ART. 28.  The seamen of the Guard will be picked up in the various districts of the classes, but in major part, for the first formation, those in the South of France and on the island of Corsica.”

                “ART. 29. The officers, mariners and sailors composing the depot, will be subjected to the same discipline, and will enjoy the same privileges as those of the crews of the battalion of the seamen of the Guard.”

               “ART. 30. Each individual who is a part of the battalion of sailors will be allocated, 12 francs per man per annum, for his maintenance allowance.”

                “ART.  31. Each crew will have an officer attached, moreover, these are taken from among the lieutenants.”

                “ART.  32. The battalion of the sailors will have:

1 Master shoemaker. (cordonnier)

1 Master tailor.

1 Master gunsmith. (armurier)”

                “ART.  33.  The officers composing the battalion of the seamen will receive the same housing allowance as that granted to the other officers of the Guard.”

*  For the various changes brought successively in the corps of the sailors see the special article entitled The Sailors of the Guard, placed at the beginning of BOOK VIII of our work.



                “ART.  34.  A veterans company will be made up of officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of all arms of the Guard, as their seniority, their wounds or their infirmities place them in a state unable to return to continue active service to their corps; however only the men who, being in this condition, that have already served at least five years, either in the Consular Guard, or in the Imperial Guard will be admitted to this company.”

                “ART.  35.  The composition of the company of veterans will be the same one as that of a company of Foot Grenadiers, at the head of which there will be a battalion head, who will provide an accounting directly to the colonel commanding the Foot Grenadiers.”

                “ART.  36.  The pay and the allowances will be the same as those of the Foot Grenadier Regiment; the administration of this company will be made by the council of the aforesaid regiment.”


                “ART.  37.  The Hospital of Gros-Caillou will continue to be especially made up for the corps of the Imperial Guard, under the monitoring of the colonels-généraux, and more particularly under that of the Commissioner of Wars; they will regulate the administration of the aforesaid hospital in the most suitable way for the well being of the patients, and the interest of the allowances intended for this service.”

                “ART.  38.  The number of the medical officers will remain the same one as that fixed by the decree of the 17 ventose year X  (8 March, 1802).”

               The Emperor named all the medical officers to their positions in the Guard, based upon the nomination of the colonels-généraux of the army, and the medical officers of the hospital, on the nomination of the four colonels-généraux.
               The medical officers attached to the various corps of the Guard were not under the orders of the doctor or the surgeon in charge of the hospital, but very much under those of the colonels-généraux of the different bodies of the Guard to which they already belonged.  However, when the situation required it and as one needed them, the colonels-généraux consequently gave orders.
               The medical officers of the hospital were not to grant any permission for convalescence, nor of discharge from the hospital, for any patient, without the approval of the colonel of the corps to which this patient belonged.  This permission was always to be approved by the colonel-général of the arm.


               Each regiment of infantry, cavalry, foot and horse artillery of an arm, and each battalion of the train, prepared a list of six non-commissioned officers or soldiers likely to be called upon to belong to the Guard, having met the measurements of the needs of that Corps.
              The conditions to be included to fill these lists were:
               For the regiments of dragoons and chasseurs, at least six years of service, and two campaigns:
               height of one meter 733 millimeters (5 feet 4 inches).
               For the regiments of gendarmes, cuirassiers, foot and horse artillery, the same time in service, and height of one meter 760 millimeters (5 feet 5 inches).
               For the regiments of line infantry and light infantry, five years of service and two campaigns:  height of one meter 760 millimeters (5 feet 5 inches).

               For the battalions of the train, same time in service, and height of one meter 678 millimeters at least (5 feet 2 inches).

                The subjects were constantly to be distinguished by their moral and military conduct.

               The formation of these lists was the responsibility of the corps chiefs; their choice was to encompass all the men who were present in the corps or whom were detached from it.

               “No corps head,” said the decree, “can refuse to place non-commissioned officers on this list, under pretext that while entering the Guard, they are obliged to give up their rank, because, if these non-commissioned officers are in that case to make a temporary sacrifice, they will soon attain an advance which will compensate them in this elite troop, if they are led well.”

               In accordance with the intentions of the Emperor, these lists were presented to the Inspector-Generals of arms, and, in their absence, the Generals commanding the departments, who were charged to pass in review the designated men, and to approve definitively the lists to which they were responsible, while certifying, in the report of the heads, for the candidates who belonged to the detached battalions or squadrons, that they had all the necessary qualities.

Foot Grenadiers of the Guard

[Foot Grenadier (non-commissioned officer), summer walking out dress.—Foot Grenadier musician, parade dress.]

               These lists were formed in duplicate; they indicated the last and first names of the subjects, their rank, age, size, birthplace and the department; the residence and the profession which they were in before entering to the service, and finally the profession of their parents: these lists contained, moreover, the details of the service and campaigns of the candidates.
               After the Inspector-Generals of the army or the Generals ordering the departments, had approved them, the Minister of War dispatched these lists, and then he was apprised, within a short time, of the state of the changes that could had occurred among the designated men.
               The soldiers chosen to enter the Guard remained with their corps, where they continued their service until the Minister of War ordered them to be directed to Paris to be placed in regiments there.


Various corps of the Imperial Guard. 

                “Being at Tilsit with Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia,” said Napoleon at Sainte-Helena, “I was most ignorant of facts about military uniforms.  These two sovereigns, the King of Prussia especially, were perfectly aware of the details of the number of buttons, which a coat was to have, in front, and behind; how the turnbacks, the facings and the collar were to be cut.  Not a tailor of the army knew better than King William how much cloth one needed to make a great coat (capote) or a pair of gaiters.  Finally,” he said while laughing, “I added that I could not compete with them.  They continuously tormented me with questions of which I did not understand a word, though not to offend anybody, I answered as seriously as if the fate of an army had depended on the cut of a jacket.  The first time that I went to see the King of Prussia, I found in his chamber, instead of a library, a large room, with the aspect of an arsenal, furnished with shelves and wall hooks to which fifty or sixty uniforms in various ways were hung, it was his guard’s robes; each day, he changed costume and put on a different dress from that of the day before.  He appeared to attach so much money to the cut of the dress of a dragoon or a hussar, that he did not have any for the preservation of his kingdom.”



                “At Jena, the Prussian army, I must still acknowledge,” the Emperor remarked, “carried out the most brilliant maneuvers in the world; but soon, I made him know the difference that there was between carrying out beautiful maneuvers, wearing rich uniforms and to know how to fight.  If,” Napoleon added while finishing, “the French Army had been commanded that day by a tailor, it would certainly have gained a victory; but success usually, in these kinds of businesses, depends on the skill of the General who commands rather, than on the tailor who cuts out the clothes, the Prussian army was completely beaten.”

               One would be wrong however to take too literally in this letter of what Napoleon said about the uniforms of his army; but while scoffing at the mania of the King at Prussia, nobody more than the Emperor wanted that the officers of his Guard were distinguished from the other officers of the army by the magnificence from the uniform.  Those of the various corps of the Imperial Guard were remarkable not only for the severity and the richness of their ornaments, but also by cleanliness and a variety of nuances hitherto ignored in the French Armies.  We will give here a meticulous description of clothing and armament of each regiment of the Guard, by indicating their various dress [like parade (grand) and walking out (petite); winter dress and summer dress), as well as the luxury articles which were assigned to them by the regulations.


Foot Grenadiers.

               With the formation of the Imperial Guard, a bonnet plate of brass representing in relief a crowned eagle holding thunderbolts in its talons, with two small grenades in each angle of the bottom of this plate, replaced that of the Consular Guard that had the Republican fasces.  The brass buttons also carried a crowned eagle.  The cartridge pouch was decorated by a large eagle similar to that on the bonnet plate, and with a small grenade in each angle of bottom, with the flame turned toward the inside.
               The winter walking out dress (petite tenue d’hiver) of the foot grenadiers was usually in blue cloth trousers with Suvorov styled boots.
               Breeches of nankin, white cotton stockings with shoes having silver buckles and white knitted gloves, formed the summer walking out dress (petite tenue d’été). These last objects were provided to the costs of grenadiers.
               As for the great coat (capote), it was of blue cloth, with two rows of buttons, collar fastened on the right. 


               Grenadier coat:  on each arm a crossed double axe, embroidered out of gold on red; epaulettes and sword knot of a sergeant, gold shoulder straps and grenades.  Bonnet without plate; saber with broad blade, hilt with the head of cock *.  Axe with black handle and copper trimming.  White apron as was all the remaining leatherwork.

*  The creation of the sappers dates only from the reign of Louis XIV.  One finds the first indication of this troop in the lists of regiments of 1674.  As in this time the sappers were, in their capacity as ancient soldiers, specially appointed as the camp guard, the handle of their sabers were decorated with a head of a cock, symbolizing vigilance.


               The parade (grande) uniform of the drum major was the grenadier coat, braided on all the seams in gold lace, with ribbons (lames) and crests (crêtes) of 15 line of width; collar, reverse and facings edged with the same lace; braided pocket flaps in the same manner; gold grenades embroidered on white; Brandenburgs, the buttons of the reverses and those of the pockets of gold gros bouillons; quartermaster-sergeant stripes on the sleeves.
                “Epaulettes of gros bouillons; the body of a diagonal stripe (en gallons à baton).
                “Sword knot fringes of the same on the saber handle.
                “White jacket (veste) braided with gold.  White Hungarian trousers, braided with the same lace on the sides, with the Hungarian knot out of gold.
                “Black laced boots, bordered in fringes with large twists and not going up higher than the top of ankle.
                “Hat trimmed inwardly with red and white plumes, edged with a gold lace of 18 lines, with sheets (lames) and with tuffs (crêtes); the piping as those of the officers, in 10 line lace; tassels with gros bouillons; floating white plume, decorated at the bottom with three white ostrich feathers.
                “Shoulder belt embroidered with oak leaves on scarlet velvet, bordered with fringes like Brandenburgs, with gros bouillons, decorated on the front with an oak branch in gold; below this branch, a square gilded plate, carrying two small rods of ebony wood, furnished out of ivory, and joined by a silver chain; above this plate, a grenade embroidered in gold spangles; behind the collar, small sewn grenades of gold.
                “Infantry officer’s saber; red belt embroidered with oak leaves of gold.
                Baton with silver pummel, decorated with clusters and stars in gold; a double chain of silver twisting around, top to bottom, the tip of this baton is silver.
                The walking out uniform of the drum major consisted of a undress coat (surtout) whose collar and facings only were bordered with a double 12 line lace in gold, scarlet linings and pocket turns furnished with same the lace; epaulettes with simple fringes; sword knot and tassels of hat, in the same way.  Simple red plume.  White trousers; boots in the fashion of Suvorov, plain.

Grenadiers-à-Cheval of the Guard

(Horse Grenadier, soldier, parade dress, and Officer, walking out dress).


                Parade uniform:  Grenadier coat; gold lace mixed with red wool of 10 lines, bordering the collar, turnbacks, facings and linings of Basque; 6 line lace on the sleeve flaps; gold losange with the folds; gold and red Brandenburgs on the turnbacks and the turns of pockets; gold grenades.
                Walking out uniform:  Undress coat (surtout) braided in gold of 10 lines, only on the collar, the facings and the turns of pockets. 
                “All the rest of parade and the walking out uniform like the grenadiers.
                “Shoulder belt furnished with a plate for holding the (drum) sticks and a grenade, the whole in brass.
The drum (caisse) furnished with brass grenades on ring of sky blue, and three copper grenades on the barrel.  Drumsticks out of ebony furnished out of copper on top. 


                Parade uniform:  Royal blue, of the same cut as those of the grenadiers; reverses, straps (pattes), facings, collar, braid and lining crimson; collar, facings, reverse and sleeve straps of bordered in gold lace of 10 lines, in a simple diagonal stripe (à baton simple); linings of the tails of the coat edged in the same way; gold Brandenburgs with simple fringes, reverses, folds and buttons of pockets.  Gold clover on crimson in place of epaulettes.
                “White jacket (veste) and breeches; boots with turn down tops (retroussis).
                Sword belt white, with sword knot gold mixed red silk.
                Hat edged in gold lace, diagonal stripe (à baton) and crest, decorated with piping; simple gold lace of 6 lines on crest; tuffs with gold fringes, interior furnished with red and white feathers.  White plume.
                Walking out uniform:  Undress coat (surtout) of the grenadiers braided with gold, with the collar, the facings and the lining red; the turn of the pockets with lace; losange gold with folds.
                In winter:  blue trousers and boots in the style of Suvorov.  In summer:  trousers of nankin with similar boots.
                Bicorn (chapeau uni), with the lace of cockade and marrons in gold; red plume.  Sword with white belt. 

                *Among the musicians of Foot Grenadiers of the Guard, we will note among others:  MISTERS Guebeaur, Band Leader;  Blangie, Assistant Leader;  Letopès, First Clarinet;  Caussades, idem;  Jassinte, Clarinet;  Drapeau, idem;  Fouquet, Oboe;  Waguener, idem;  Dubois, Small Flute;  Guebeaur (cadet), Bassoon;  Féval, idem;  Mangin, Trombone;  Evrard, First Horn;  Mazeau, Horn, etc, etc.

                And among those of the Foot Chasseurs:  MISTERS Martin, Band Leader; Petit, Assistant Leader;  Pelport, First Clarinet;  Bergeret, Clarinet;  Cassignol, idem;  Michel, idem;  Bertolin, idem;  Wermann, idem;  Tribert, idem;  Cechaps, Clarinet;  Blanc, idem;  Gauthier, First Horn;  Mathieu, Horn;  Laurent, Oboe;  Persillié, idem;  Leclaire, Trumpet;  Klett, idem;  Masconneau, Bassoon, Chérié, idem;  Kircoff, Small Flute;  Mauclair, Trombone, etc, etc.


Horse Grenadiers. 

                “Dress entirely the same as the Foot Grenadiers.  White jacket (veste), breeches of white leather, riding boots.
                “Two fringeless epaulettes, aiguillettes on the right and sword knot of saber in buff white.
                “Bearskin bonnet without plate, with chinstraps out of brass, national rosette, yellow wool cords, at the top a yellow wool grenade on red base, plume red.
                “Cartridge pouch decorated with a copper eagle.  Saber right; snap hook and two guns.  White belt with copper plate, carrying an eagle.
                “White leather gloves with yellow Brandenburgs, and red lining on the front.
                “For the officers all the lace-work was of gold.
                “The walking out uniform of horse grenadiers consisted of an undress coat (surtout); breeches of nankin; stockings of white cotton, shoes with silver buckles, gloves of deerskin or white knitting.
                “The hat was similar to that of the foot grenadiers.

Chasseurs of the Guard

(Horse Chasseurs (Guides), walking out and parade uniforms)

Horse harnessing.

                “Saddle like the dragoon; cover out of royal blue cloth, bordered of a double lace of yellow wool, and decorated with crowns in the rear angles.  Holster cover (chaperons) of three parts in same cloth, bordered with the same lace.  Bridle of the heavy cavalry and bit with bosses carrying a grenade.  Snaffle-bridle of yellow wool.  Rosettes of the head and tail in red wool, with tassels of white wire, decorating the fasteners (ferrets).  Front piece (frontal) red wool.

                Blue cloth cloak roll, having at its ends a grenade surrounded by a double lace of yellow wool.

Horse Chasseurs.

                Parade uniform:  Green cloth Dolman furnished with yellow wool braided lace and fringes, green collar, red facings.
                “Trousers of yellow leather, close-fitting deerskin; Hungarian boots bordered with a yellow lace and decorated with a yellow wool tassel.
                “Scarlet pelisse with laces, cording, olives and braids out of yellow wool.  The collar of the pelisse and facings of the sleeves in black fur.  Red waistcoat with yellow cording and laces.
                “Barrel sash, out of green and red wool.  Sabretache background green, showing the coat of arms of the Empire embroidered in color, with a copper eagle, and edged by a broad yellow lace.
                “Saber curved with copper sleeve.
                “Busby with red sack, with yellow cords and tassels, chinstrap of copper chain. 
                “Plume green with red at the top.
                Walking out uniform: Long coat (habit) of green cloth; reverses coming to points, of the same lining cloth; red collar and facings points, base flap in the folds green, edged in red (not of showing pockets), the turnbacks decorated with hunting horns out of yellow wool.  Clover and aiguillettes on the left, out of yellow wool.  Red waistcoat with yellow cords, laces and buttons like the hussar.
                “Hat like that of the foot chasseurs; plume red and green.
                “In summer, trousers of nankin.
                “Same uniform for the officers; only lace-work and the ornaments were out of gold.  On parade the boots of red morocco.

Horse harnessing.

                “Saddle like the hussar, furnished with copper at the rear end.  Shabraque bottle green cloth, with yellow lace and crowns in the angles.  Blanket roll, out of green cloth, with yellow lace at the ends; breast strap bearing a copper heart; bridle decorated with copper and bridle-bit without bosses *.

* All the other regiments of light cavalry of the Guard thereafter the same had the same harnessing which varied only by the color of the cloth or by that of the laces, according to the affected uniform with the unit.



                “The uniform of the Mamelucks was a rich Turkish costume.  It varied in the uniform dress, according to the taste and the whim of their commander.  The mamelucks usually wore a blue turban surrounding a red cap surmounted with a brass crescent; the sky blue jacket (veste) was cut in an Eastern style with black olives, laces and trimmings.  The waistcoat (gilet) was red without trimming, and the belt similar to that of the horse chasseurs.  Red trousers extremely broad (baggy) called in the style of the mameluck, and yellow boots.
                “The mamelucks were armed with a Turkish saber, a blunderbuss that they carried like a rifle, two pistols and a dagger with ivory handle stuck in the belt.  They had, moreover, small a cartridge pouch decorated with a brass eagle suspended by varnished black leather cross-belt.
                “All the trimmings of weapons, and those of the horse harness as well as the spurs were of brass.
“Harnessing was similar to that of the horse chasseurs, except for the saddle, which had a high pummel and seat back; the stirrups were in the Turkish style.
                “In the summer, the mamelucks wore white trousers of fabric with the turban of white muslin.

Gendarmes of the Gurad

(Elite Gendarme and Sapper of the Foot Grenadiers)


The standard was of a Turkish form:  a black horsetail, surmounted by a gilded copper ball.

For the officers, the ornaments and embroideries were out of gold and the boots of blue morocco.

Elite Gendarmes.

                “The same cut of coat (habit) as that of the horse grenadiers, royal blue; reverses, facings and turnbacks red; pockets configured transversely; white grenades on the turnbacks; white buttons.  Jacket (veste) and breeches yellow leather; riding boots.  Clover and aiguillettes on the left, white.
                “Bearskin bonnet with patent leather visor, white chinstraps, white cord; at the top of the bonnet a white grenade on red background; plume red and very short.
                “Cartridge pouch furnished with a copper eagle.  Pouch strap and belt yellow, bordered of a white lace; belt plate white, decorated with a copper eagle.
                “Sabers like those of the horse grenadiers.
                “Yellow gloves.  Distinctive marks of the ranks silver.


                “The uniform of the foot grenadiers, with reverses and collar blue edged in red.
               “Red facings with blue straps (pattes); turnbacks red, with blue grenades; red epaulettes and sword knots, vest and breeches blue.
                “Black gaiters going up above the knee.
                “Bearskin cap without plate, with red cord and plume, brass chin-straps.
                “At the top of the bonnet, a yellow grenade on red.
                “Equipment and armament like the grenadiers.
                “On the cartridge pouch, two crossed cannons surmounted by an eagle.
                “Overcoat (capote) royal blue.

HORSE ARTILLERY, called light artillery. 

                “Same cut of uniform as the horse chasseurs.  Dolman, pelisse and tight trousers of royal blue cloth, decorated with lace, cording, braiding and olives of red wool.  Dolman with red facings.  Blue waistcoat (gilet), red laces and braids.
                “Hungarian styled boots, edged and decorated with a red tassel.  Blue and red belt.  Sabretache with a blue background, carrying an eagle on two crossed cannons, and bordered with a broad red lace.  Round blue cloth blanket roll.  Busby with red bag, red plume.
                “The walking out uniform of artillery was similar to that of the horse chasseurs, but blue and decorated with red laces.  In summer trousers of nankin.

Artillery train.

                “Dress coat (habit veste), out of sky blue cloth; collar, reverses right and square, facings round; sleeve cuffs three pointed, out of royal blue cloth, red edging; Basque lining of royal blue cloth; red edging; braid of the pockets configured out of scarlet cloth, turnbacks furnished with scarlet cloth grenades; small white buttons with the eagle.  Epaulettes and sword knots red.
                “Sky blue waistcoat hidden by the coat.  Tight trousers of the same cloth, furnished with red laces, in the hussar style.  Sky blue cloak (manteau).  Shako like those of the line regiments, furnished around the top with a red wool lace; red cord; large crowned eagle with copper chin-straps and copper chains; visor edged with a crescent of the same metal; plume red.
                “Russian style boots with, braid and tassel out of red wool.
                “Cartridge pouch furnished with an eagle on two cannons.  Saber broadsword (briquette) of the infantry.


Mamelucks of the Guard

(Officer, standard-bearer of the Mamelucks and trumpeter of the Horse Chasseurs)


                “Jacket (veste) of blue cloth decorated with braids of yellow wool, blue collar, red cloth facings.  Red cloth waistcoat (gilet).  Broad blue cloth trousers with a yellow wool lace on the seams, and a braided Hungarian knot on the front.  The blue cloth overcoat (capote).  Brass buttons.
                “Shako bordered with a yellow wool lace, surmounted by a pompom and a red plume.  Half boots under the trousers.
                “The Chief Petty Officers, Petty Officers and leading seamen carried the same badges as the non-commissioned officers of the Guard in which they were assimilated, namely:
                “For the Chief Petty Officers (maîtres): those of the Master Sergeant. (le maréchal-des-logis chef)
                “For the Petty Officers (contre-maîtres): those of the Sergeant. (le maréchal-des-logis)
                “For the leading seamen (quartiers-maîtres); those of the Corporal. (le brigadier)
                “The clothing of the buglers and drummers was the same as those of the units of the infantry of the Guard.
                “The officers wore ornaments, epaulettes and the aiguillettes out of gold.
                “The armament of the battalion of the sailors was of three types:
                “A third, armed with sabers.
                “A third, armed with hatchets.
                “A third, armed with pikes.
                “All carried pistols in their belt.
                “Later, all the sailors of the Guard were armed indistinguishably with a rifle and a saber.  The pistols, pikes and hatchets were removed.

Artillery of the Guard

(Foot Cannoneer and Officer of the Light Artillery)




                Near the end of the Consulate some innovative bald people of the Grand General Staff had tried to persuade the First Consul that nothing was more disparate to the eye than the braids and queues of the infantry and cavalry of the line; while the infantry and cavalry of the Consular Guard wore their hair comparatively short.  Napoleon, who, usually, did not bring great attention to the often-puerile observations of these Messrs, finally however, responded with a languid indifference to their tendency to always repeat the same thing, or conviction, by being of their opinion.

                At some after this (in the month July 1804, being then an Emperor), Napoleon passed in review at the court of Tuileries all of the Paris garrison.  This day, which was a Sunday, the heat had been extreme and a violent stormy shower had occurred during the operations.  On returning to the palace, and while the heads of corps who had accompanied him circled around him in the room of the marshals:

               — Definitely, Messrs, Napoleon tells them, I do not want more troops with hair covered in hats.  In whatever manner that it is positioned on the head, there is always a horn, which makes a gutter.  They are as disgraceful to the sight as harmful to health of the soldier.  And this then isn't the only ridiculous thing to see, one day of rain or a hot summer day, as we had today both at the same time, finds a soldier with the collar of his coat covered with a whitish paste, his hair badly contained in an ambiguous ribbon, a face with cheeks streaming with a milky water, and all that covered with a skimpy felt, badly cocked sides, which saves the face from neither the rain nor of sun?  It was in Italy and Egypt that it failed to save those poor devils!  In truth I suffered for them.

               —Sire, what should we make of that?  One of the heads of corps objected, it is the ordinance.

                —The ordinance!  The ordinance!  Retorted Napoleon, it is not those, which upsets me, but the dress, and still more the health of the soldier.  Nothing is easier to keep clean than close cropped hair; nothing is more advantageous than a shako or a grenadiers’ bonnet even for the cavalry; but what embarrasses me most, is not to adopt a uniform hairstyle for the remainder of the army as for my Guard, it is not to cut off all these useless braids and all these queues.

                —How!  Sire, said the same officer, Your Majesty would like to shear everyone indistinctly!

                —Yes, Sir, like sheep.

                —Sire, Your Majesty, would even make the senior officers cut off these beautiful braids that go so well with their faces?

                —It is precisely with them that I want to start.

                —Perhaps he is an officer who did not agree to it, not to mention an old colonel who dates from the Republic, and whose queue was of a monstrous volume.

                —I would like to see that, colonel gentleman!  Napoleon exclaimed by throwing a fiery glance on this last.  I would like to see that the men who only owe to me what they are today, that my soldiers, in a word, to perceive them to hesitate in the least!  It is enough that I want it!  Was my Guard seen to utter a word when I required all of them to cut their hair?

                And Napoleon, promptly passing a hand over his head added:

                —Do I carry a queue, on me!  Do I not have close-cropped hair?

               With these words, Junot, who hitherto had abstained from delivering his opinion, was caught saying merrily: 

                —The soldiers of the Guard, Sire, don’t call Your Majesty the Little-Sheared (Petite-Tondu) for nothing. 

                In this observation of his aide-de-camp, Napoleon smiled in spite of himself.

                —Ah well!  Reason enough!  He began again; a soldier must always follow the example of his leader.  I know well that some fops (godelureaux), some Adonis of the staff will not be very-satisfied; but then those who will not be content...

                And without completing his sentence, Napoleon crossed the hands behind his back and started to walk in the midst of the circle of officers, who surrounded him.  After a silence that no one dared to interrupt, he began again:

                —Moreover I will speak about it to Bessières and Murat.  I will start by requiring of Murat the sacrifice of his head of hair in the style of Louis XIV, which is only ridiculous with our practices and military costume.  It is for the heads of the army to show the example of obedience:  I want neither braids, neither tails, neither powder, nor pomade.  Thanks to God, we are no longer in the time when the soldiers carried clubs (catogan) and Marshals of France wore wigs.

                Having spoken, Napoleon dismissed all those who were present.

                The evening of the same day, Murat, who had attended the review of the morning, came in the evening to the palace, in his capacity as governor of Paris, to take the orders of the Emperor.

                —Sire, he said, may I dare ask Your Majesty if he was content with the procession of the cavalry, he honored me by placing me at the head?

               —Very-content, my dear marshal; but, Napoleon added by intentionally stopping with glances on the long hair and curls of his brother-in-law, if you had made me cut off all the braids and queues of your riders, I would have been even more satisfied.

                Murat judging that the Emperor was not as content as he wanted not to say it openly, and knowing better than anyone that there was nothing to reply, bowed and was lost in the crowd of the General officers who started to encumber the large gallery of the palace.  With his ordinary tact, he had understood that the reign of the queues was going to pass without return and that Napoleon had just erased forever from the Empire the military style, that illustrated at one time both by the hussars of Berchini and the Constitutional Guard of Louis XVI, of which even he had formerly belonged.  At the end of the gallery, he met Marshal Bessières, one of the Colonel-Generals of the Guard, whose formidable queue had grown popular in the army.

               —Ah well!  My dear, he said by approaching him in the both a sad and joking tone at the same time, you heard the words of the Emperor a few moments ago:  no more queues!... Accept in advance my compliments of condolence on the approaching downfall of yours.

               —My dear, the young marshal answered coldly, the root of the queue is similar to me as the one that goes to the heart, and the Emperor, with all his power, could not come to reach a point to cut it.  I wish, added Bessières while supporting these words, that our old comrades of Italy and Egypt be less recalcitrant than me on this subject.

                It is seen that Bessières knew well the type of idolatry and childish tenderness that the old soldiers carried for their queue.  In the end, this attachment that the soldiers then showed for their hair was not a new thing.  Tacitus, in its History of the Germans, and Julius Caesar, in his Commentaries, teach us that warlike trappings from long hair and wearing moustaches; and that none of these warriors had survived the shame of seeing themselves by cutting the one, or shaving the other.  But Napoleon had foreseen all the good which was to result from such a measure:  he still spoke about it the following day with Murat who, inwardly, was of the same opinion as Bessières, but who did not dare or did not want to express a contrary feeling with that of the Master.  The Emperor said to him extremely laconically:

                —My Guard alone will wear the queue; still it must not be more than two inches: such will be the ordinance. *

                *  Indeed, a regulation dated from the Pont-de-Brique (Boulogne), of the 8 fructidor year XII (26 August 1804), addressed to the heads of corps, said that the six corps of the Imperial Guard, indicated as follows, would wear only the queue, namely:
1st foot grenadiers;  2nd foot chasseurs;  3rd horse grenadiers;  4th horse chasseurs;  5th  the artillery and artillery train;  6th elite gendarmes.
                The veterans, the mamelucks and the sailors, although also forming part of the Guard, were to have short hair.

               The majority of the young General officers adopted with enthusiasm the project of Napoleon and posted, in the quarters and barracks, an agenda in which, after having emphasized the advantages to wearing short hair, it was announced that the soldiers of the Guard would like to cut their queues to the measurement of the new ordinance and removing their braids would be a useful thing for themselves and pleasing to their colonel; but the name of the Emperor did not appear in any manner in this piece.  The very same day of this publication, the wig makers of the Military Academy, of the Bonaparte district, of Célestins, of Vincennes, of Coubevoie and of Ruel, where the different regiments, of infantry and cavalry of the Guard were quartered, cut off more than two thousand queues, but in the same evening there were more than twenty duels, and that because a soldier who drank in a cabaret of the barrier with a comrade who had been sheared in the morning, had called him a poodle.  The comrade had answered him:

                —I would still rather resemble a poodle than have a head with a wig like you.

                From these words, they passed from there to menaces.  The two soldiers had fought, the comrades had taken up the case for one and the other:  this quarrel of the cabaret would have degenerated into an affair of the corps if the leaders had not hastened to intervene.

                Napoleon was informed of this collision by the particular reports, which were addressed to him in Aix-la-Chapelle where he was then.  He wrote to Marshal Bessières, while saying to him among other things, in a letter, dated from the 23 fructidor year XII (September 10, 1804):  “that it had to be made so that nobody mutinied, and for that, it was not absolutely necessary to convict.”  He also engaged him to say to the corps chiefs that:  “They did not employ what they called the Prussian ways;”  and finished by this sentence:  “Persuade your men, nothing must be tried by force.”  Marshal Bessières addressed to the Emperor the detailed facts of their after actions, while pointing out to him that in a garrison as large as that of Paris, it was impossible to hope, while thinking of the spirit of corps which animated all the regiments of the Guard, that such a complete change in the usual dress of the soldiers could suddenly took place and without opposition.  “It is still happy, he added, that the ordered reform did not cause more disorder.”  Finally the Marshal finished his report by saying that he could carry out this measure only gradually, but that moreover, he answered to its whole execution.

               Indeed, to arrive at this goal, the brave marshal, although he was by no means in favor of the measure (and this is so true, that he kept his queue until the last day of his life) *, did not neglect anything, and went himself to the Military Academy, spoke to the non-commissioned officers who displayed the most fervor to push back the change of hairstyle; because these are always the swells (faraude) of the regiments.  However, at the beginning of the Empire, the swells’ costume consisted mainly in a queue well tied up, pomaded, powered and decorated with a black ribbon, which formed a type of bouillonnée rosette.  The more colossal this queue was, the more the infantryman proudly showed this natural ornament; as for the rider (Chasseurs of the Guard especially, in other words the guides), it was displayed by knitted braids of a width of three fingers and falling perpendicularly down to the chest, by means of small lead strips, attached at the ends.  However, little by little the queues and the braids of the most recalcitrant fell under the scissors of the wig makers of the regiments, and soon after, the latecomers were the first to praise the excellence of the new hairstyle.

                *  In BOOK XIII of our work, i.e. the year 1808, we will speak of the death of this famous marshal.




Placed on the Napoleon Series: July 2005

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