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The Napoleon Series > Book Reviews > Memoirs

Reviews: Uniform Plates & Studies

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:

British Army:

1st Regiment of Foot Guards, center company

33rd Regiment of Foot, center company

69th Regiment of Foot, light company

79th Regiment "Cameron Highlanders," grenadier company

2nd Light Battalion, King's German Legion

Brunswick: Leib Battalion

Dutch Army:

2nd Regiment of Nassau-Unsingen

National Militia

French Army:

Old Guard: Foot Grenadiers, Foot Chasseurs

Young Guard: Tirailleurs, Voltigeurs

Line Infantry: Fusiliers, Grenadiers, Voltigeurs

Light Infantry: Chasseurs, Carabiniers, Voltigeurs

Prussian Army:

Line Infantry

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:

Austrian Army:

Hussars 1798-1815: Rank and File

Line Infantry 1799-1815: Rank and File, Drummers

Hussar Officers and generals 1799-1815

Artillery 1798-1815: Rank and File

British Army:

Heavy Dragoons: Rank and File 1812-1815

Heavy Dragoons: Officers1812-1815

Light Infantry: Rank and File, NCO's, Musicians 1808-1815

92nd Highlanders: Officers and Colonel 1814-1815

Horse Guards: Rank and File, 1813-1815

Horse Guards: Officers, 1813-1815

Prussian Army

Generals and Staff, 1808-1815

Line Infantry: Rank and File, 1806-1808

Lützow's Corps: Cavalry 1813-1815

Lützow's Corps: Infantry 1813-1815 (New, never before published)

Russian Army

Chevaliers-Gardes: Rank and File 1803-1808

Guard Heavy Cavalry: Rank and File, Musicians, 1808-1815

Generals and Imperial staff: 1802-1815

Imperial Guard, Cossacks: Rank and file 1812-1815

Imperial Guard, Cossacks: Officers 1812-1815

Line Heavy Infantry: Rank and File 1807-1808 Parts 1 and 2

Dutch Army

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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