Les Armées de Waterloo
By Bernard Coppens and Patrice Courcelle
Les Planches de La Belle Alliance: Les Armées de Waterloo 1815 Volume 1; Bruxelles, Belgium: Editions de La Belle Alliance. 1999. ISBN 9 771374 119001 (Price: 995 Belgian Francs or 165 French Francs)
For all of you, who yawn at the whisper of the syllables Wa-ter-loo...
For all the sons of Erin, who claim their wild ancestor displayed the better part of their anatomy on a Belgian field in the middle of June, the year 1815...
And above all, for those who are dying to get some quality documentation on the armies who fought in that all-too-famous campaign 14-18th June 1815.
There is a NEW book and NEW series coming out on this topic. This is the first volume in this series. It is 80 pages long and contains 19 colored uniform plates Bernard Coppens and one by Patrice Courcelle. These plates, except for the one on Prussian Infantry by Courcelle, originally published in the 1980s. The title is somewhat misleading as the plates cover ONLY infantry and not all the units. Regardless, this is first rate documentation.
Coppens' style aims at reconstructing the way soldiers looked. The plates look a bit like card soldiers as they are all "at the ready." The real treat is that Coppens being a true historian and re-enactor he's gone to pains to understand what soldiers really wore. The plates are:
1st Regiment of Foot Guards, center company
2nd Regiment of Nassau-Unsingen
Old Guard: Foot Grenadiers, Foot Chasseurs
The text is more than just a description of clothing and equipment but delves into such items as "how tall were voltigeurs," "How Highlander units were raised," etc. The only problem with the book for some will be that the text is in French.
The next book in the series one will be the republishing of Patrice Courcelleís plates in the same handy format and should be available in March. These plates will be reproductions of the "Ceux qui Bravaient L'Aigle" series that came out in the 1980s. This was the only series I know of that tried to seriously study non-French uniforms. The plates include:
Hussars 1798-1815: Rank and File
Heavy Dragoons: Rank and File 1812-1815
Generals and Staff, 1808-1815
Chevaliers-Gardes: Rank and File 1803-1808
Foot Chasseurs, 1815 (New, by Bernard Coppens)
Even better, after that there will be a series of 12 volumes dealing with the battle, BUT with new information on the uniforms and equipment. The first title will be Hougoumont scheduled to be published March. I have been told that some serious research in archives has been made for these.
At approximately $25 and given the quality of printing (A4 format, softbound, glossy paper) this initial volume is good value for money. I really recommend it especially for wargamers and anyone looking for interesting trivia.
Reviewed by Yves Martin
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