3rd French Line Regiment and Its White Uniform
By: Hans-Karl Weiβ and Gerhard Bauer
Translator: Justin Howard
This article previously appeared in Issue 1 of the German-language magazine Depesche, which is published by our partner, Napoleon Online. We appreciate the kindness of the editor, Markus Stein, for giving us permission to publish the translation. It is based on an article in the French-language magazine Le Briquet.
Having already dealt in detail with the other ranks’ uniforms in Issue 1 of Depesche, I would now like to present several images of officers and an interesting Sapeur (sapper) from the “Otto” Manuscript. The drummers and musicians of the regiment have already been dealt with exhaustively by Cdt. Bucquoy, and also by RIGO, both of which works are still generally available, so I will confine myself here to the figures mentioned above.
The sapper in Plate 1 was drawn by Gerhard Bauer after the Otto Manuscript and is noticeably missing two of the trademarks of French sappers – namely the beard and the bearskin cap!
However, now for the description of the sapper:
Black conical shako; black peak with thin brass rim; white loop; only the red centre and white outer ring of the cockade are visible; brass chin-scales and flaming grenade; short red plume.
Light blue coat; red lapels, collar and turnbacks, with white piping; red epaulettes; crossed red axes on the upper sleeves; brass buttons.
The leather belts and straps as well as the gauntlets and sapper’s apron are white; crossed brass axes and brass grenades on the shoulder belts – the grenades are on a red background.
Black gaiters and gaiter buttons.
Rolled-up light brown greatcoat.
Axe with black haft and brass ferrule.
Brass sabre hilt; red sword knot.
The chain of the vent pick is brass.
The sapper only has a moustache; however the sideburns are quite long.
Another interesting point with this figure is the fact that he wears brass buttons, not white as for the other ranks.
Like the sapper, the officers don’t wear the white coat; instead they wear the dark blue surtout (the interim coat of the French army) together with the bicorn. On this point see also Plate 1, where Gerhard Bauer has shown an officer as well as the sapper.
For colouring, the following should be noted:
Black bicorn; gold cords; gold loop with gold button; also with this figure only the red central and the white outer ring of the cockade are visible; red plume, shaped like a pine cone.
Dark blue surtout; red collar; red Polish (pointed) cuffs; white piping on the collar and cuffs; red piping on the button placket, which continues on the lower end of the coat and probably also includes the turnbacks (at any rate RIGO shows dark blue turnbacks with red piping in his Plate U5); gold buttons; gold epaulettes; gold gorget with silver-plated eagle.
White shoulder belt; black épée scabbard with brass chape; épée with gilt hilt and golden sword knot.
White trousers. The English hunting boots, with turned down cuffs showing the light brown lining, give the officer an elegant look.
Except for the green “pine cone” on the bicorn and the yellow collar with red piping, he is the same as the grenadier officer.
In his Plate U5, RIGO additionally shows the officer with yellow hunting horns on the turnbacks. He also shows a stamped-out “3” inside a silver-plated hunting horn on the gorget. According to Achard’s illustration, the grenadier and voltigeur officers have the same gorget – however there must certainly also have been variations.
In spite of the surtout, these officers seem to me to be shown in full dress uniform. Had the white uniforms already fallen out of fashion? Unfortunately, I am not able to provide any further details on this point.
Description of Plate 2
To complete the article from Issue 1 of Depesche, Gerhard Bauer has drawn a further plate showing various soldiers of the 3rd Regiment. The necessary information for the colouring of the plate can be found in the above-mentioned article.
The plate shows:
A) Fusilier in field uniform with blue coat and, contrary to regulations, a moustache
B) Voltigeur in field uniform with white coat – the shako plate is fixed exactly as specified by Colonel Schobert (see text)
C) Grenadier in full dress uniform – blue or white coat, as desired
D) Fusilier in full dress uniform – white or blue? Who can tell exactly?
See Issue 1 of Depesche
Placed on the Napoleon Series: May 2010