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The Napoleon Series > Book Reviews > Memoirs

Reviews: Uniform Plates & Studies

The W. J. Rawkins Uniform Books

By W.J. Rawkins

In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, W.J. Rawkins produced a series of uniform books on the various armies of the Napoleonic Wars. These books were unique because they covered most of the minor countries of the period. The books are similar in size and contents, with each about 30 pages long, with four pages of line drawings illustrating the various features of the uniforms, plus charts showing facings, plumes, lace, and other regimental distinctions. Titles in the series include:

The Armies of Baden and Wurttemberg

The Armies of Naples & Kleve-Berg: 1806-1814

The Armies of Westphalia & Wurzburg: 1806-1814

The Army of Sweden: 1802-1814

The Army of Saxony: 1805-14

The Austro-Hungarian Army: 1805-1814

The Bavarian Army: 1805-14

The Confederation of the Rhine: Hesse-Darmstadt, Mecklenburg & Nassau

Foreign Regiments in French Service: 1805-14

The Italian Army: 1805-14

The Polish Army: 1807-14

The Prussian Army: 1797-1806

The Prussian Army: 1808-15

The Russian Army: 1805-14

Swedish Infantry & Artillery of the Napoleonic Wars

Each book is organized in a similar matter, discussing the different branches of each army, including the infantry, artillery, cavalry, engineers, staff officers, and general officers. Some also include information on standards. Each section discusses the organization of the regiments of each branch to include the number of men, battalions, and usually the battalion and regimental staffs. For each type of cavalry or infantry there is usually a sub-section with at least one paragraph covering the uniforms and equipment of enlisted men, one for the officers' and NCOs, and another for the musicians. The paragraphs on the musicians usually have details on the colors of the drums! Saddle clothes and harnesses for the cavalry are also given. For example the book on Baden and Wurttemberg, has the following information on the Wurttemberg line infantry:

2 paragraphs and 2 charts on the organization of the infantry regiment.

3 paragraphs on the different headgear

3 paragraphs on the coats

1 paragraph on breeches,

1 paragraph on greatcoats

1 paragraph on equipment

1 paragraph on NCOs uniforms

7 paragraphs and a chart on the officers uniforms

2 paragraphs on the musicians

3 charts on regimental distinctives, one each for the uniforms of 1897, 1811, and 1813.

1 page of line drawings of the different style of uniforms, cuffs, lace, headgear, etc.

The book also contains detailed information on the light infantry, cavalry, artillery, and Royal Guard. Additionally half of the book is devoted to the Baden Army also!

The following is the entry from The Armies of Westphalia and Wurzburg and is typical of an entry in the books. It is referring to the saddlecloth of the Wurzburg Grossherzoglich-Wurzburgischen-Dragoner-Regiment.

"The shabraque of 1806 was dark green and squared at the fromt and rear corners with a double scarlet band edging. The valisse was squared and dark green with scarlet edging and pistol holster covers had triple flaps of green with scarlet trim. Officers' shabraques were of the same pattern with gold edging and trim. Wilst serving in Spain the troopers would appear to have adopted the French style sheepskin saddle cover of white with scarlet dog-tooth edging, and the trumpeters black sheepskins edged scarlet."

Over the years I have heard several derogatory comments about these books, as compared to other sources. Some of the comments are valid, however others were not. For example Rawkins at times will conflict with other sources, however most of the conflicts that I have seen are minor and deal with interpretations of color. For example Rawkins may call a facing color red, while another source will say it is poppy red. That being said, the books do contain several flaws that detract from their overall quality. The first is the author rarely cites his sources. The reader has no way of crossing checking the information to determine its accuracy. The second flaw is the poor editing prior to publication. The books have numerous typos. For example, in the above paragraph on the Wurzburg cavalry there were three misspelled words. (Note: I deliberately did not correct them).

That being said, these are minor flaws for the average wargamer who needs a comprehensive guide on the more obscure armies. The books are relatively inexpensive and are well worth the money. I strongly recommend them to the wargamer who is looking for the best buy for dollar. Unfortunately they are difficult to find, however the Last Square Hobby Shop sells them for about $10 each. The Last Square can be reached via the Internet.

Reviewed by Robert Burnham


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