Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics



YEAR 1809.




FTER Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau and Friedland, Napoleon understood that it was necessary to increase the circle of the reserves of his army with elite troops.  He had had opposite his Old Guard, the Imperial Guard of Russia, that of Austria and the Royal Guard of Prussia; he knew the power of these masses of choice men, which fell upon one, head lowered, through iron and fire to decide a battle.  Napoleon thus increased the cadres of the infantry of his Guard with eight new regiments, namely:  two regiments of tirailleurs-grenadiers, two regiments of tirailleurs-chasseurs, two regiments of conscript grenadiers, two regiments of conscript chasseurs, who formed a corps of the Young Guard sixteen thousand men strong.  As for the old Guard itself, nothing was changed in its organization.  Its martial aspect always pointed out beautifully the times of the Republic and the Consulate; only on almost all the chests the star   f of the Legion of Honor shone, because all the ranks of this elite troop had deserved with beautiful distinction on the battlefield also.

The infantry of the Guard, in 1809, thus formed a formidable corps, and when the regiments of Young Guard advanced, with fixed bayonnettes on the end of their fusils, with the balance of the old soldiers, no army could have resisted.  Then all care had been taken in the organization of this Young Guard; it had a vast number of ambulance personnel, a complete surgical service at the head of which had been placed a talented and noble-hearted man, one of these veterans of the army of Egypt, Larrey, in a word, whose memory was attached to those of Kléber and Desaix, in the battles of the Nile that the painter Gros knew to reproduce on the canvas with such an amount of truth and happiness.

A decision of the Emperor, of January 11, 1809, taken in Valladolid, said that: “From January 1 of this year, the aides-de-camp of the Marshals, Colonel-Generals of the Guard, the Generals aides-de-camp of the Emperor and the General corps heads in the Guard will no longer form any part of the Imperial Guard.”

By Imperial decree also going back to Valladolid, later the 16th January, a regiment of tirailleurs grenadiers and a regiment of tirailleurs chasseurs were created.

Another decree dated from the Elysée-Bourbon, in Paris, March 27 of the same year, the corps of the seamen of the Guard into only one crew.

Two other decrees of the 29th and 31st of the same month, created, in the Guard, a regiment of conscript chasseurs and a regiment of conscript grenadiers.

“Each one of these regiments,” said the first decree, “will be commanded by a major.”

The second decree ordered the formation of a 2nd Regiment of Conscript Grenadiers and a 2nd Regiment of Conscript Chasseurs.

April 25th, a 2nd Regiment of Tirailleurs Grenadiers and a 2nd Regiment of Tirailleurs Chasseurs, were created, organized and treated in just the same way as the regiments of the Young Guard.

By a decision of June 9 it was known that: “An artillery company will be attached to each brigade of fusiliers, tirailleurs and conscripts of the young Guard.”

 “These three companies will be made up of conscripts, but the officers and the noncommissioned officers will belong to the Old Guard and will be treated like such.”

Three drummers were granted to each company of infantry of the Young Guard.

An adjutant major, captain treated as from the Old Guard, was added to the staff of each regiment of tirailleurs and conscripts of the Young Guard.

The next October 21st following, three new companies of artillery train intended for attachment to the three new artillery companies assigned to the regiments of fusiliers, tirailleurs and conscripts of the Guard were created in Fère.




Jacket (habit-veste) of royal blue, cut like the uniform of the light infantry, with the same cloth turnbacks coming to points, white edging, with seven small buttons.

Red collar with blue edging; red facings coming to points, white edging, with two buttons.

Basques lining of scarlet serge, white edging; white braids on the pockets, with three large buttons.  Blue goose footed (three pointed slit pockets), edging white, coming out of the folds (of the coat tails), and attached by the two buttons at the opening. 

On the turnbacks, four eagles out of white cloth; goose footed epaulettes, out of scarlet cloth, white edging.

Jacket and trousers white.

Black gaiters in the shape of boots in the Russian fashion, copper buttons.

Shoulder belt and cartridge pouch belt plain.  Cartridge pouch furnished with a small crowned eagle.  Short sword of the model of those of the line.  Fusil bands iron.

Shako decorated with chevrons in a V, white lace, and furnished with a red cord.

The sergeants majors, sergeants and quartermasters carried shakos edging in a V, red lace, crossed with two edged gold lines, with two lines on each edge; a gold cord and red wool; the appropriate pompom of each regiment, decorated the shako.

*In 1813, chinstraps were added to the shakos.  The regiments of tirailleurs were distinguished by the form and the color of their pompoms; those of 1st had the ball divided horizontally into two equal parts, the upper half was red and that of bottom white; the 2nd was similar in form, but was the opposite with white on top and red in bottom; the 3rd had a red indented pompom, with a white dot in the middle; the 4th, indented white with a red dot; 5th, indented white with a blue center; 6th, indented blue with a white dot.

The 1st regiment carried, at some times plumes, in accordance with the rest of the corps; they were, as with pompoms, of two colors:  red and white. 

The 2nd and 3rd regiments wore at times red plumes, to tell apart these men.

After April 8, 1813, the uniform of the tirailleurs underwent some changes.

The turnbacks, which, hitherto, had been cut as points, like those of the chasseurs, were replaced by squared turnbacks.

The shakos with edging and cords were replaced by ordinary shakos, only decorated with a cut out eagle, chin-straps, and a red pompom ball indistinctive from the whole army.

The sabers were also removed for the infantry of the Young Guard.

In 1815, the uniform was similar to that of the old formation, with the only exception that instead of epaulette flaps of cloth, the tirailleurs had the red epaulettes like the grenadiers.

(Tirailleur-Chasseur et Flanquer-Chasseur)

The shakos of the noncommissioned officers did not have any more, as with the first formation, the red edgings and gold, they only had black velvet lace around the top and bottom; the adjutant noncommissioned officers alone had a gold lace à bàton, of 12 lines, at the top of the shako.  The off-duty uniform of noncommissioned officers was in very similar to that of the soldiers, only their turnbacks had gold grenades.

They wore the same epaulettes, in each rank, as the grenadier noncommissioned officers.

Their laces, except for those of quartermasters (fourriers), came to a peak, according to the shape of the facings.

In 1815, they again wore the uniform from their creation.


Jacket (habit) like the tirailleurs grenadiers, with only the following differences:

Turnbacks furnished with eagles out of green cloth, and goose footed epaulettes of green cloth, edged red.

Similar vest, trousers, gaiters, equipment and armament to that of the tirailleurs-grenadiers.

Shako only furnished with one crowned eagle, a white cord and a pompom ball.

(See, for the other details, the article on tirailleurs-grenadiers.)

The noncommissioned officers of the Young Guard attached to the corps of the chasseurs wore the same uniform as the soldiers, lace at a peak, similar facings, except for those of the quartermasters (fourriers).

At all times, the shakos of the tirailleurs-chasseurs were furnished with chin-straps and an edge of copper on the visor and gold cords teased with green; lace of gold of twelve lines at the top of the shako of the sergeants; the sergeant majors added a lace of six lines below this first lace.

The noncommissioned officers wore entirely green epaulettes, but trimmed with gold for distinctive marks for each rank, as at the chasseurs of the Old Guard.


*Became tirailleurs in 1810. 

Jacket (habit) royal blue, cut like the uniform of the grenadiers, but shorter, and by that even called habit-veste (vest-jacket); plain blue collar; plain squared blue cloth turnbacks, with seven buttons; red facings, without edging, and small white cuff patch on the sleeve, with three buttons.

White basques lining, with scarlet edging, braid on the pockets scarlet, furnished with three large buttons; two large buttons at the folds of the split.

Turnbacks furnished with four scarlet cloth eagles.  Goose footed blue cloth epaulettes, edged scarlet.

Shakos similar to those of the fusilier-grenadiers, with red cord.

Vest and trousers white.

Gaiters like the tirailleurs.

Equipment and armament like the Young Guard.

In 1810, this uniform disappeared, because these two regiments of conscripts became the 3rd and 4th tirailleurs regiments.


 *Became voltigeurs in 1810.

Jacket (habit) cut like that of the tirailleurs-chasseurs, and different from this uniform only by basques lining, which was out of blue serge, decorated by green hunting horns.

Blue vest and trousers.

Black gaiters in the shape of boots.

Equipment and armaments like the tirailleurs-chasseurs; the same shako, green pompom out of perry.

In 1810, these two regiments, having taken numbers 3 and 4 voltigeurs, took the uniform of this arm, and the red collar was replaced by the chamois yellow collar, edged blue adopted to the arm of the voltigeurs.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: January 2006


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