Over the last couple of years and since getting back into 15mm Napoleonics with our Waterloo Bicentennial Game I’ve been steadily been building up armies that were largely absent from my collection (such as Austria, Portugal and Spain), as well as filling gaps in my existing armies. One such gap was the Foot Guard Regiments and Grenadier Battalions of the Prussian Army for the 1813 Campaign.
1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss
As it happens, the 1st Foot Guards (1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss) were the very first 15mm Napoleonics I ever painted, being Hertiage Miniatures ‘Napoleonettes’ (remember those…?). I then did them again some years later using Battle Honours figures, but they have long since died and it was time to do the Gardes zu Fuss for a third time!
The Garde-Regiment zu Fuss was first raised from the remnants of Infanterie-Regiment 6 ‘Garde-Grenadier-Bataillon’ and Infanterie-Regiment 15 ‘Garde’, following the destruction of the Prussian Army in the catastrophic year of 1806. The regiment was initially numbered as the 8. Infanterie-Regiment (Garde), but in June 1813 it was brought out of the line infantry regiment numbering sequence and was designated as the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss. This then meant that the infantry regiments numbered 9-12 now became regiments 8-11!
In 1808 the infantry of the Royal Prussian Army was completely reformed and reorganised and was dressed along Russian lines, though in blue instead of green and very little in the way of facings, lace and ornamentation. However, given their ceremonial role, the uniform of the Garde-Regiment zu Fuss was slightly more ornate than this rather plain standard pattern. The dark blue, double-breasted coat was of basically the same cut as the line infantry, but had ‘Swedish’ cuffs instead of the ‘Brandenburg’ cuffs worn by the line infantry (Brandenburg cuffs had a vertical slit covered by a dark blue flap and secured by a row of three buttons – Swedish cuffs had no slit or flap and instead had two buttons sewn along the top edge of the cuff).
The facing colour was poppy-red and buttons were pewter/silver instead of the brass/gold worn by the line infantry. Two bars of white litzen lace (silver for officers and NCOs) were worn horizontally on each side of the colour and vertically from the two buttons on each cuff. This lace signified Guard status. NCOs also had lace edging to the cuffs, as well as to the front and lower edges of the collar. Drummers has red ‘swallows’ nests’ on the shoulders, with white lace. Legwear normally consisted of dark grey breeches, though white breeches were also retained for parade dress. Officers also had the option of wearing grey overall trousers, with a red stripe and silver buttons down the outer seam.
Belts were of whitened leather for the 1st & 2nd Battalions of each regiment, while the Fusilier Battalion (which formed each regiment’s light infantry battalion) wore black belts. The black leather cartouche was decorated with a silver Guard Star badge and was suspended from the left shoulder by a white cross-belt. There was initially a waist-belt for the short-sword, though by 1813 this had changed to a second cross-belt. Musket-slings were red leather for all battalions. Footwear was somewhat ostentatious, tall black leather boots, though these would normally be replaced with shoes and black gaiters when on campaign.
Headgear was a shako, which was decorated with a band of white lace around the top edge (silver for officers and NCOs), a black-within-white pompom/cockade centrally at the upper edge and a silver Guard Star badge on the front. This was topped off with a bottlebrush-style horsehair plume, which was white for the rank-and-file, tipped black for NCOs and completely red for drummers. Officers had a falling feather plume, with black feathers at the base. The Fusilier Battalion wore black plumes, though drummers of the Fusilier Battalion wore red plumes, as for the other battalions. These plumes were initially narrow (see the top picture), but soon grew to become the enormous busch style previously worn by the Russians (ironically just as the Russians were switching over to tall, thin plumes!
As for flags; as the vast majority of the Royal Prussian Army’s flags were captured in 1806, the army had to make do with what they had left, mainly by reducing the number of flags carried by a regiment, by re-distributing the few that survived and by using what paltry funds they had available to manufacture some new flags.
From 1808 the 1st and 2nd Battalion of each infantry regiment were each issued two flags – an Avancierfahne and a Retirierfahne. The Avancierfahne of a regiment’s 1st Battalion was also known as the Leibfahne and was usually of a slightly different pattern to the other three flags, which were normally identical to each other. From 1813 only the Avancierfahne was to be carried by each battalion when in the field and the spare Retirierfahnen were in some cases distributed to other regiments. The Fusilier Battalion for each regiment did not carry flags.
The Leibfahne was plain white silk, with a silver cloth centre and silver corner-medallions. Wreaths, crown and cyphers were all painted in silver. The central black eagle had a silver sword, with gold sword-hilt, crown, beak and claws. Above the eagle was a blue scroll with ‘PRO GLORIA ET PATRIA’ in silver. The other three flags were identical, except that the central panel was orange. Staves were yellow and finials were silver.
Experts on the Prussian Army will no doubt be howling in derision by now, as on campaign the Gardes zu Fuss looked almost identical to any other Prussian line infantry regiment, with black oilskin shako-covers, only one flag per unit and NO PLUMES. They will also have noticed some errors of equipment details (e.g. a waist-belt in addition to a cross-belt over the right shoulder and when seen from the rear, the knapsack is of the wrong type). However, I had some spare AB Russian grenadier figures in busch plumes and I really wanted to make my Prussian Guards stand out from the crowd… I know for a fact that I’m far from the first wargamer to have the same idea! 🙂
This spirited print by Carl Röchling, showing the Fusilier Battalion of the 8. Infanterie-Regiment (Garde) at Gross-Görschen, during the Battle of Lützen, gives a very good impression of how the Gardes zu Fuss actually looked on campaign:
2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss
The 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss was a late addition to the Prussian order of battle, being created during the Summer Armistice of 1813.
The new regiment was built up from a cadre formed by the Normal-Infanterie-Bataillon (which had been originally created as a ‘model’ infantry unit to demonstrate the new organisation, tactics and uniforms of the infantry arm of the reformed Royal Prussian Army) and the 1st Battalion of the 9. Infanterie-Regiment (Colberg), which had performed admirably during the Spring Campaign of that year.
The 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss was uniformed almost identically to the Normal-Infanterie-Bataillon, being a standard blue double-breasted coat with brass/gold buttons. The collar was identical to that of the 1st Regiment, being poppy-red with two white bars of litzen lace. The litzen was gold for officers, while NCOs had white litzen plus a gold lace edge to the front and bottom edges of the collar. Shoulder-straps were poppy-red, indicating the 2nd Regiment. Cuffs were poppy-red and cut in the ‘Brandenburg’ style, with a vertical opening, covered by a blue flap and buttoned with three brass/gold buttons. There was no cuff litzen. NCOs cuffs had a gold lace edge. Turnbacks were poppy-red.
Headgear was very similar to that of the 1st Regiment, being a shako with a white lace band around the top edge and a black & white national cockade/pomp0m. Officers and NCOs had gold shako-lace. The front of the shakos were decorated with brass/gold Guards Star badges and officers’ shakos were additionally decorated with gold chains. Plumes were plain black for the rank and file of all three battalions. NCOs’ plumes had a white base, while drummers’ plumes were plain red, as for the 1st Regiment. Officers wore plain black feather plumes in panache style.
All other details of uniform and equipment were the same as for the 1st Regiment, except that the 2nd Regiment had brass/gold Guards Star cartouche-badges.
As for flags; the 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss was only issued with two flags – one each for the 1st and 2nd Battalions. The 1st Battalion carried the regiment’s Leibfahne, which was actually a hand-me-down Retirierfahne from the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss, exactly as described above (namely a white flag with silver centre, silver detailing, silver finial and yellow stave).
The Avancierfahne of the 2nd Battalion was actually the former Leibfahne of the Colberg Regiment, which had a black field superimposed with a white ‘Iron Cross’. The centre was orange and was superimposed with a black eagle of the new style, being depicted looking back over its shoulder, with the sword held at a slant. Above the eagle was a blue scroll with ‘PRO GLORIA ET PATRIA’ in gold. Below the central panel was a blue oval, edged in gold and bearing the battle honour ‘COLBERG 1809’ in gold. All wreaths, cyphers, etc were painted in gold. The stave was white with a gold finial. I’m at a loss as to what the 1st Battalion of the Colberg Regiment carried after this date. Presumably one of their two spare Retirierfahnen?
The observant will notice that I’ve depicted this unit with both flags in the same unit, which is clearly wrong, as the battalions of the 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss only ever had one flag apiece… I freely admit to taking some liberties with historical accuracy here… That said, in Napoleon’s Battles, each unit represents a whole brigade/regiment rather than an individual battalion, so it’s up to the individual as to how that brigade/unit is depicted. I’ll normally pick one battalion from the brigade and paint that, though I do occasionally take liberties, as here… 😉
Guard Freiwillige-Jäger Detachments and the Garde-Jäger-Bataillon
Although I haven’t painted any Jäger yet, it’s probably worth mentioning them for the sake of completeness. As with the infantry regiments of the line, each of the two regiments of the Gardes zu Fuss had a contingent of Freiwillige (i.e. Volunteer) Jäger, who provided a rifle-armed boost to the regiment’s skirmish screen.
Volunteers were largely expected to equip themselves, with the payoff being that they automatically became NCO and officer candidates. Fashionable regiments therefore attracted a greater number of Volunteers and the two Garde zu Fuss regiments at their height in 1813 each had around 300-400 Freiwillige-Jäger (i.e. two companies per regiment).
Uniforms for the Freiwillige-Jäger largely mirrored those of the parent regiment, except that the coat was now dark green instead of blue. Facing colours, buttons and litzen lace were exactly the same as the parent regiment. Belts were black leather and the plumes were plain black and much narrower (being in any case removed on campaign and the shako covered with a black oilskin cover).
The Garde-Jäger-Bataillon was an independent Jäger battalion of four companies, numbering some 800 men. In 1813 this battalion was frequently divided into two separate half-battalions; at Leipzig, one half-battalion served with Alvensleben’s Foot Guard Brigade while the other served with Yorck’s I Army Corps.
The uniform was essentially the same as that of the Freiwillige-Jäger, being a dark-green double-breasted coat and grey breeches. Collar, cuffs, shoulder-straps and turnbacks were all poppy red and buttons were brass/gold. The collar had two bars of metallic gold litzen lace and another two bars of litzen on each cuff, which were of ‘Swedish’ style, as for the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss.
Jäger battalions did not carry flags.
As mentioned above, the majority of the models used are AB Figures 15mm Russian Grenadiers, taken from their ‘1805-1811’ Russian range. However, the officers are taken from the Jäger/Fuslier Command Pack in their 1813-1815 Prussian range, which is handily wearing a full dress shako with feather plume. Flags are by Fighting 15s, who are the UK distributor for AB Figures.