Happiness is a Large Busch: Prussian Foot Guard Regiments in 1813 (15mm AB Figures)

The Prussian 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss receives its colours, circa 1808

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).

I. Bataillon, 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss

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!

I. Bataillon, 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss

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:

The Fusilier Battalion of the 8. Infanterie-Regiment (Garde) at Gross-Görschen, 2nd May 1813

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.

The 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss

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.

The 2. Garde-Regiment zu Fuss

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 orange 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

An officer of the Garde-Jäger-Bataillon in full (and slightly non-standard) dress

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).

An NCO of the Garde-Jäger-Bataillon in full dress

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/Fusilier Command Pack in their 1813-1815 Prussian range, one of whom is handily wearing a full dress shako with feather plume.  Flags are by Fighting 15s, who are the UK distributor for AB Figures.

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic Prussian Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Happiness is a Large Busch: Prussian Foot Guard Regiments in 1813 (15mm AB Figures)

  1. Rhys Lewis-Jones says:

    Very interesting read, I’ve thrown myself into 28mm Napoleonics but those AB figures are gorgeous. For the VBCW my Welsh nationalist flags arrived from Solway Paper flags, great bang for your buck there, like 10 flags all told 🙂

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Rhys! Yes, AB Figures are top-notch. As it happens, they moved from Surrey to Carmarthenshire back in the 90s (and later to Pembrokeshire) and I became very closely involved with them for about 12 years, helping out on the trade stand, running demo games and organising Napoleonic mega-game weekends. Consequently, my already-large collection expanded at that time to humungous proportions and I’m still buying more…

      • Rhys Lewis-Jones says:

        Ah interesting, I’ll definitely look to get my grubby paws on some. Awesome that they’ve been in our area! I think they do 20mm WW2 which is a weakness of mine 😀 Not sure how much of a trekk it is for you but Cardiff (Firestorm) are doing a bring & buy this Saturday (20th). I picked up a lot of good miniatures in their last one. I’m also going to Penarth Crusade show in January, haven’t been for ages, used to go when I was a kid.

        • jemima_fawr says:

          Yeah, though all gone to Eureka Miniatures in Australia now, sadly. The 20mm WW2 are beautiful – absolutely the best on the market. I painted hundreds of them for the AB figures trade-stand demo games, though stupidly never took any photos of them (I was very proud of my German camouflage uniforms). A chap from Newcastle Emlyn once took a load of very nice photos of them, but his website is now long-dead and I foolishly never saved the photos. 🙁

          Yes, I was in Firestorm last week and picked up some more 15mm Cold War stuff. I have to visit Cardiff about four times a year for work and we also go there fairly regularly for pub-crawls. 🙂

          • Rhys Lewis-Jones says:

            I noticed that, was quite surprised when the prices were Australian dollars! I take it Fighting 15s stock them now. Shame I would have enjoyed seeing how you had painted them. I’m going to start 20mm wargaming methinks, I have my childhood 1/72 plastics, some of them are up to the job, a load of nicely painted die-cast tanks. I will supplement those with proper 20mm metals.
            Awesome that you pop in there once in a while, let me know if you are down and we could organise a game if you have time. Failing that I am back in Pembrokeshire Christmas and Summer holidays from University, might even be back for a stint after I graduated. Hoping to teach so I’m not sure where that will take me.
            Here is my contact e-mail if you want to keep in touch: [edited out for security – I’ve got it]. I find the comment system a bit clunky (your blog is excellent though!). Can I get your email if that’s easier?

          • jemima_fawr says:

            Hi Rhys,

            Sadly the amount of spam I get on this blog means that I have to approve all messages. I do approve them as soon as I see them, but I’ve been in Malta for the last ten days and I don’t have internet access at work, so sometimes it takes a while I did e-mail you a while back, as your e-mail does appear to me when you post a message. Did you get it?

            Yes, the UK franchise for AB Figures transferred to Ian at Fighting 15s when Mike Hickling retired. Ian’s a top chap!

            Christmas game sounds good!

          • Rhys Lewis-Jones says:

            Ah fair enough, no worries. No I haven’t had an email as such, just your replies. I might have stupidly deleted it or something.
            I’ll have to report back on any find from Saturday (Firestorm Brign & Buy) if you follow me on Youtube you’ll get updates on my painting/ miniature ‘acquisitions’!! Channel is called Busy Bristles 🙂
            Game sometime would be awesome.
            All the best

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