“La Garde au Feu!”: My 15mm French Imperial Guard (Part 4 – The Young Guard – Uniforms and Painting)

In the last part of this series I looked at the organisation of Napoleon’s Young Guard at various stages in its development.  This time I’m looking at the uniforms of the various regiments that made up the Young Guard infantry (in Part 1 I looked at the Old Guard and in Part 2 I covered the Middle Guard).

The Tirailleurs-Grenadiers (1809-1810)

The 1er & 2ème Tirailleurs-Grenadiers wore a blue, short-tailed habit-veste coat, cut to light infantry style with pointed bottom-corners to the lapels, which were blue, piped white.  The collar was red, piped blue.  The pointed cuffs, tail-turnbacks and shoulder-straps were red, piped white.  The turnbacks had white eagle badges as turnback-ornaments.  Buttons were brass.

Shakos had white cords and white lace chevrons on the sides, in the same manner as the Fusiliers-Grenadiers.  The front of the shako was decorated with the Young Guard eagle-plate in brass, with national cockade above and brass reinforcing to the edge of the brim.  There were initially no chin-scales on the shako, though they were soon added.  Plumes were officially red-over-white.  The proportion of white to red varies from source to source, though the majority view seems to be that the plumes were split half red to half white (some sources show white with just the very tip in red – perhaps the top quarter or so).  However, plain red plumes and white-over-red plumes are also recorded for the 2ème Tirailleurs-Grenadiers.

Breeches and waistcoats were white and worn with black gaiters, which were shorter than the usual French pattern, only coming up to just below the knee.  White gaiters were also retained for parade dress.  The black gaiters were secured with brass buttons down the outside edge, while the white gaiters had white buttons.

Equipment was exactly the same as the Fusiliers-Grenadiers, namely two white cross-belts, one supporting a black cartridge-box decorated with the brass Young Guard eagle badge and the other supporting a short-sword.  The sword was decorated with a white sword-know with a red tassel.

Drummers wore the same uniform, though with gold-yellow lace edging to the lapels, collar, cuffs and turnbacks.

NCOs had mixed gold/red shako-lace and cords and mixed god/red fringed epaulettes.

‘Old Hands’ will already have spotted my deliberate mistake in the unit pictured… Officers were seconded from the Fusiliers-Grenadiers and wore the uniform of their old regiment.  So the officer shown below should instead have white, square-cornered lapels a plain blue collar and red Brandenburg cuffs with white cuff-flaps, all topped off with a red plume.  In my defence, I was led astray by the numerous prints and painted wargames units showing officers wearing the same style of uniform as the rank-and-file… 🙁

Bah! 🙁

As for the the Fusiliers-Grenadiers, the regiments of the ‘New’ Young Guard were not authorised Eagles and instead had to make do with various unofficial fanions or marker-flags.  One fanion of the 1er Tirailleurs-Grenadiers is recorded as a sky-blue flag, decorated with red grenade badges, as shown here.

If you want to model these using AB Figures, use the Young Guard Infantry 1809-13 figures and Fusilier-Grenadier Officers.  The fanion is by Fighting 15s.

In 1810 the 1er & 2ème Tirailleurs-Grenadiers became the 1er & 2ème Tirailleurs (see below).

The Tirailleurs-Chasseurs (1809-1810)

The 1er & 2ème Tirailleurs-Chasseurs wore a uniform very similar to that of the Tirailleurs-Grenadiers above.  The differences are shown in the figure on the right, namely:

The shako had no lace chevrons and instead of a plume had a green spherical pompom.

The shoulder-straps were green with red piping (one source says white piping).

The sword-knot was plain white.

Tail-turnback ornaments were green eagle and hunting-horn badges.

NCOs wore mixed green/gold shako-cords, lace and fringed epaulettes.

Officers wore the uniform of the Fusiliers-Chasseurs; namely a blue coatee with white lapels, plain blue collar, plain red tail-turnbacks and a red-over-green plume.

I’ve not painted any Tirailleurs-Chasseurs, as my 1809 Young Guard brigade is already represented by the Tirailleurs-Grenadiers above.  However, if you want to model these using AB Figures, use the Young Guard Infantry 1809-13 figures and trim the plumes down to make pompoms.  Also use Fusilier-Chasseur officer figures, though retaining the shako-plume.

In 1810 the 1er & 2ème Tirailleurs-Chasseurs became the 1er & 2ème Voltigeurs (see below).

The Conscrits-Grenadiers (1809-1810)

The 1er & 2ème Conscrits-Grenadiers again wore a short-tailed habit-veste, though this time cut in the line infantry style, with square lower corners to the lapels.  The lapels and collar were plain blue without piping.  The cuffs were like those of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers, being plain red with white, three-pointed cuff-flaps.  Shoulder-straps were blue with red piping.  Tail-turnbacks were white with red piping and red eagle badge ornaments.  Buttons were brass.

The shako had the brass Young guard eagle badge on the front, with national cockade above and brass edging to the peak.  Brass chin-scales were also added at some point before their disbandment in 1810.  Cords were red.  The sides of the shako had the white lace white chevrons that were the mark of Young Guard grenadier regiments.  This was topped off with a red spherical pompom, or a red feather plume in full dress.

Waistcoats, breeches, gaiters and equipment were the same as the Tirailleur-Grenadiers.

Drummers had either gold-yellow lace edging to collar, cuffs, lapels and tail-turnbacks OR just lace edging to the collar, with six lace chevrons on each sleeve.

NCOs wore mixed red/gold shako-cords, lace and possibly had fringed epaulettes.

Unlike the Tirailleurs, the officers this time wore the same basic colourings of uniform as the rank-and-file, with the usual officers’ distinctions of gold epaulettes and shako-decoration.

As this was a short-lived regiment, the lack of information has led to a wide variety of uniform variations in paintings and plates, many of which are undoubtedly bogus.  These include white piping on the lapels, plain white lapels, white shako-cords, padded red ‘trefoil’ shoulder-straps, white-over-red plumes and drummers’ red shoulder-wings.

I don’t have any information on fanions for the Conscrits-Grenadiers.

I haven’t painted these, as they were short-lived regiments that didn’t fight in the main theatres of war.  Though if you want to model these using AB Figures, use the Young Guard Infantry 1809-13 figures. The lapels are the wrong shape, though as it’s all plain blue, this will be invisible.  Use Fusilier-Grenadier officer figures.

In 1810 the 1er & 2ème Conscrits-Grenadiers became the 3ème & 4ème Tirailleurs (see below).

The Conscrits-Chasseurs (1809-1810)

Conscrit-Chasseur

The 1er & 2ème Conscrits-Chasseurs again wore a short-tailed habit-veste, though this time cut in the light infantry style, with pointed lower corners to the lapels and pointed cuffs, like the Tirailleur-Chasseurs. The lapels were plain blue without piping, though some prints show white piping.  The collar was meant to be plain blue, though all prints show red collars with white piping.  The pointed cuffs were red with white piping.  Shoulder-straps were green with red piping.  Tail-turnbacks were blue with red piping and green eagle badge ornaments. Buttons were brass.

The shako had the brass Young guard eagle badge on the front, with national cockade above and brass edging to the peak.  Brass chin-scales were also added at some point before their disbandment in 1810.  Cords were white.  Pompoms were green and were either spherical or carrot-shaped (both varieties are recorded).  Note that white chevrons were NOT worn on the sides of the shako, despite what these pictures show (the chevrons were the mark of Young Guard grenadier regiments).

Waistcoats and breeches were blue, though white waistcoats are also shown.  Gaiters were cut in ‘Hessian’ style like those of the regular light infantry regiments, with green lace edging and green tassels on the front.  Equipment was the same as the Tirailleur-Grenadiers, though sword-knots were green with red tassels.

Drummers had basically the same uniform, though with red shoulder-wings, red tail-turnbacks and yellow-gold lace edging to collar, lapels, cuffs and tail-turnbacks.  One description also shows NCO-style fringed epaulettes, being green with yellow-gold crescents and red fringe.

NCOs wore mixed green/gold shako-cords, lace and had fringed green epaulettes with gold crescents and red fringe.

Unlike the Tirailleurs, the officers this time wore the same basic colourings of uniform as the rank-and-file, with the usual officers’ distinctions of gold epaulettes and shako-decoration.

I don’t have any information on fanions for the Conscrits-Chasseurs.

Again, I haven’t painted these, though if you want to model these using AB Figures, use the Young Guard Infantry 1809-13 figures.

In 1810 the 1er & 2ème Conscrits-Chasseurs became the 3ème & 4ème Voltigeurs (see below).

The Tirailleurs (1810-1815)

Tirailleur (1810-1813)

The Tirailleurs continued to wear a uniform almost exactly the same as that worn by the Tirailleurs-Grenadiers, with one or two very minor differences.  The most obvious difference was that the shako-cords now changed from white to red.

The shako-plumes were retained for full dress and were still meant to be red-over-white, but the 2ème Tirailleurs is also recorded as wearing white-over-red plumes, while the 3ème Tirailleurs are recorded as having plain red plumes (almost certainly inherited from their days as the 1er Conscrits-Grenadiers).  However, pompoms were also adopted for wear in the field and were coloured by regiment.  Recorded colours are 1er: red-over-white, 2ème: white-over-red, 3ème: red lentille with white centre, 4ème: white lentille with red centre, 5ème: white lentille with blue centre, 6ème: blue lentille with white centre (N.B. a lentille pompom was a padded cloth disc rather than the typical wool pompom).

Tirailleurs with plume variation (1810-1813)

While officers were still seconded from the Fusiliers-Grenadiers and wore the uniform of that regiment, the expansion of the Young Guard in 1810-11 meant that officers were commissioned directly into the regiments of the Young Guard to fill the junior posts.  These officers would wear a uniform of the same style as the rank-and-file, though with the usual officers’ gold epaulettes and shako-lace and cords (so I’ve got it right this time! Yay!). 🙂

In March 1812, Napoleon decreed that the Middle and Young Guard battalions would carry fanions of a plain pattern.  For the Tirailleurs these would be a plain white flag (stop sniggering at the back…).  However, somewhat inevitably, the various regiments quickly began creating their own versions with various decorations on the variation of grenades, eagles, wreathed ‘N’s and the like; some of them not even being in the regulation white colour.  Only a few of these are positively identified and recorded, such as that of the 5ème Tirailleurs in 1813, which was a crimson flag with a gold star in each corner and a white central disc superimposed with the Young Guard crowned eagle badge in gold and a gold grenade on the reverse.

Aside from the Flanqueurs (see below), the Young Guard didn’t initially adopt the Bardin (commonly known as the ‘1812 Pattern’) uniform, though the re-constitution and massive expansion of the Guard in 1813 meant that manufacturing processes had to be streamlined and the uniform simplified.  The Young Guard was therefore ordered to adopt the new Bardin style on 8th April 1813.  However, as with the line regiments who had officially adopted the new Bardin uniform in 1812, old-style uniforms continued to be issued from stocks and until manufacturers had changed their manufacturing processes, so the Bardin uniform was probably not common until 1814 or late 1813 at the earliest.

The Tirailleurs‘ new coat was coloured the same as before, with brass buttons, red collar piped blue, red pointed cuffs piped white, blue lapels piped white, red shoulder-straps piped white and red tail-turnbacks piped white with white eagle badge ornaments.  The big difference was that the lapels were now very square in appearance and closed all the way down tow the waist, with no waistcoat visible.

Tirailleurs in 1815

Along with the change in coat-style in April 1813, the sabre-briquet (short sword) was removed from Young Guard service and the number of cross-belts was therefore reduced from two to one.  This was of the line infantry style, incorporating a ‘frog’ for the bayonet-scabbard.  The shako was also simplified from April 1813, with cords being removed and shako-lace (including the distinctive white chevrons) also being removed for all except officers.  The pompoms now became spherical and red for all regiments.

When the Tirailleurs were re-formed in 1815 they wore the 1813 Pattern uniform described above, though now with the addition of red fringed epaulettes.

For my Tirailleurs I’ve used the AB Figures Young Guard 1809-1813 figures.  These are modelled with full-dress plumes and there isn’t an option for boring pompoms, but why would anyone want them…?  😉 The fanions are by Fighting 15s.

For Tirailleurs in 1813-1814 wearing the 1813 Bardin uniform, use the AB Figures Young Guard 1814 figures.

For Tirailleurs in 1815 you’ll need them with fringed epaulettes, but AB Figures at present don’t make these.  They do produce 1813-1815 line infantry grenadier figures wearing fringed epaulettes, but these also have the sabre-briquet and two cross-belts, so aren’t really a good match unless you’re not that fussy…

The Voltigeurs (1810-1815)

Voltigeur (left) & Tirailleur (right) 1810-1813

The uniform of the Voltigeurs was essentially the same as that of the Tirailleurs, with the following differences:

The collar was chamois-yellow with blue piping.

Instead of shoulder-straps, the Voltigeurs wore green epaulettes with yellow crescents and a green fringe.

The sword-knot was green with a red tassel.

The tail-turnback ornaments were green hunting-horn badges.

The shako had white cords and a red-over-green plume.  Some sources show a green pompom at the base of the plume.  The Voltigeur shako lacked the white chevrons worn by the Tirailleurs.

Some sources describe the gaiters as being cut in ‘Hessian’ style, but I’ve not seen this depicted in prints and paintings.

As in their predecessor regiments of the Tirailleurs-Chasseurs, some officers were seconded to the Voltigeurs from the Fusiliers-Chasseurs of the Middle Guard and would wear the uniform of their original regiment.  However, as with the Tirailleurs, a lot of officers were now directly commissioned into the Voltigeurs and would wear the same style of uniform as the rank-and-file, with officer distinctions of gold epaulettes, shako-cords and shako-lace.

In common with the other regiments of the Young Guard, the Voltigeurs were not authorised Eagles or flags.  In March 1812 the Voltigeurs were ordered to carry plain red fanions, without inscription, badge or device.  However, this order was once again casually ignored and fanions soon appeared in other colours such as chamois-yellow (the traditional colour of Voltigeurs) and featuring inscriptions and devices such as hunting-horns.  The 1er Voltigeurs had a particular ornate example, being a fringed red fanion featuring a wreathed ‘N’, surmounted by a crowned imperial eagle and surrounded by hunting-horn and grenade badges (see below).

The 13ème Voltigeurs meanwhile had a white fanion emblazoned with a gold hunting-horn and the number ’13’ and surrounded by more hunting-horn badges (see below).

Voltigeurs (1813-1815)

In April 1813 the Voltigeurs were ordered, along with the Tirailleurs, to adopt the simplified Bardin uniform, though again this conversion was probably not fully-realised until 1814.

As with the Tirailleurs, the sabre-briquet was withdrawn from the Voltigeurs at this time, though numerous prints and paintings show them still being used with Bardin uniforms.

The shako was also simplified at this time, with cords, plumes and NCOs’ shako-lace being abolished and replaced with a green spherical pompom.

When re-formed in 1815, the Voltigeurs appear to have worn exactly the same uniform as that prescribed for 1813-1814.

For my Voltigeurs I’ve used the AB Figures Young Guard Voltigeurs 1809-1813 figures.  The fanions are by Fighting 15s.

For Voltigeurs circa 1814-1815 you’ll need them with fringed epaulettes, but as mentioned above, AB Figures at present don’t make Young Guard figures of this style.  Again, if you’re not too fussy about the cap-badge, second cross-belt and sabre-briquet, you could use their 1813-1815 line infantry grenadier figures.

The Flanqueurs & Flanqueurs-Chasseurs (1811-1814)

When created in 1811, the Flanqueurs were probably the first regiment in the French Army to wear the Bardin style of coat, which was already being worn by various German allies and which featured very square lapels, closed all the way down to the waist and with no visible waistcoat.

The coat had green lapels, collar and shoulder-straps, piped yellow.  The cuffs were pointed and were either coloured green or red (the sources differ), with yellow piping.  Note that the plate on the right shows solid yellow collar and cuffs; this was apparently a mistake by the person who hand-coloured the print.  The tail-turnbacks were red with yellow piping and green hunting-horn badges as ornaments.  Buttons were brass.

Breeches were white and short black gaiters were worn, like the other Young Guard regiments.  However, some sources show the gaiters as being cut in ‘Hessian’ style and edged in yellow lace, with yellow tassels on the front, as shown in the print on the right.

Flanqueurs-Chasseurs skirmishing in front of a formed body of Flanqueurs-Grenadiers

The shako was of the usual Young Guard pattern, with brass edging to the peak, brass chin-scales and the brass Young Guard eagle badge with national cockade above.  Most sources do not show or describe shako-cords, though a few show white cords.  White shako-cords certainly seem to have been worn by drummers.  The pompom is described variously as a spherical or carrot-shaped pompom, coloured either green-over-yellow or yellow-over-green.  Another variant (shown here) was a mushroom-shaped pompom, being mainly green, with a yellow ‘stalk’.

Equipment was much the same as the other Young Guard regiments, namely two white cross-belts; one supporting the cartridge-pouch and the other supporting a sabre-briquet.  The badge on the cartridge-pouch is recorded as being a brass hunting-horn rather than the usual Young Guard eagle badge.  Information on the sword-knots is scant, though one print shows a white knot with a red tassel.

Drummers had the same uniform as the rank-and-file, though with chevrons of green & yellow ‘Imperial Lace’ running down each sleeve.  They also seem to have worn white shako-cords, as mentioned above.

Most officers were seconded from the Fusiliers-Chasseurs of the Middle Guard and wore the blue uniform of that regiment.  Only the most junior officers were commissioned directly into the Flanqueurs and these officers wore the green Flanqueur uniform.

Flanqueurs-Chasseurs skirmishing in front of a formed body of Flanqueurs-Grenadiers

As with the other Young Guard regiments, the uniform was simplified during 1813, with the removal of sabre-briquets and shako-cords.

The fanions of the Flanqueurs were ordered to be of plain yellow cloth.  However, it is highly likely that once again this order was casually ignored!

I’ve used the AB Figures Young Guard 1814 figures.  However, note that these are modelled with overall trousers and lack the sabre-briquet and second cross-belt.

The Flanqueurs-Grenadiers (1813-1814)

When this regiment was raised in 1813 it wore a uniform essentially identical to that of the Flanqueurs-Chasseurs and the main differences were in terms of headgear and equipment:

The shako had the white lace chevrons on the side that were also worn by the Fusiliers-Grenadiers and Tirailleurs.  The pompom is described variously as spherical or carrot-shaped and was coloured either red-over-yellow or yellow-over-red (sources are pretty evenly split).  Shako cords were red, though it seems that these were removed at some point, in line with the general attempt to simplify the uniforms.  The white chevrons seem to have remained on the shako.

The tail-turnbacks had white eagle badges as ornaments.

The Flanqueurs-Grenadiers were not issued with sabre-briquets and therefore only had one cross-belt, supporting the cartridge-pouch and bayonet frog.

Officers were mostly seconded from the Fusiliers-Grenadiers of the Middle Guard and wore the blue uniforms of that regiment.  Only the most junior officers of the regiment wore the green regimental uniform.

I’ve used the AB Figures Young Guard 1814 figures for the Flanqueurs-Grenadiers, with an officer from the Fusiliers-Grenadiers and a fanion by Fighting 15s.

Well that’s it for the Young Guard infantry!  I’ve still got the Imperial Guard cavalry and artillery to go…

 

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

5 Responses to “La Garde au Feu!”: My 15mm French Imperial Guard (Part 4 – The Young Guard – Uniforms and Painting)

  1. Yith says:

    These are really great articles! Superb models and descriptions!

    I’ve been painting my Guard Corps for my 6mm scale army for use with Blucher and had been using other resources until I found your page. Your Young Guard posts in particular have been very helpful as deciphering other sources to work out how to paint them correctly has been very hard.

    I’m on to painting some Guard Cavalry next. I suspect though I might have finished it before your next article comes up…

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Yith, that’s very kind!

      I’m glad you found it useful. I found it something of a headache to discover exactly who was wearing what – somewhat surprising, given that they’re such iconic units! I think a lot of the confusion stems from the early makers of uniform prints, who employed painters to colour them in and who often got it wrong or who changed the colours on a whim! So it was very much my intention to make it easier for others to paint the Guard. 🙂

      Re the cavalry; I’ve just got eight Mamelukes to finish, so I’ll try to get them done and an article posted this week. I don’t have any Young Guard cavalry though, as AB Figures don’t really have any suitable figures in the range, such as a hussar with full shabraque for the Young Guard Chasseurs or Guard Lancers without epaulettes and aiguillettes.

      Oh and sorry for the slow rate of posts these last weeks! I was in Italy and have come back with Man-Flu… 🙁

      • yith says:

        Well I’ve got Grenadiers a Cheval and Empress Dragoons to do first. It’s only 10x 6mm minis of each going on a 60mm x 30mm base, so nowhere near the effort that you have to put in.

        In the scale I’m working to where a base is a brigade, there’s really no point in me doing Mamelukes as their numbers appear to be so small. I plan to do some lancers to round the cavalry off for my Guard Corps.

        Photos of my minis so far has been included on my blog http://www.yith.co.uk . No photos of the Guard yet. I think I’ll post about those when they’re done… and I will link back to your posts!

        • jemima_fawr says:

          Ah yes indeed! I must freely confess to having a few units that will hardly ever (if ever) make it on to the table, due to their numbers being insignificant, but I do like the figures… 😉

          My Mamelukes will basically just be added to other cavalry regiments of the Guard as an extra base or two when their strength warrants it. Each base of four cavalry figures represents 320 men in ‘Napoleon’s Battles’ and cavalry brigade units appear on the table as 8, 12, 16 or 20-figure units. At present I’ve got 16x Chasseurs a Cheval, 16x Grenadiers a Cheval, 12x Empress’ Dragoons, 12x Gendarmes d’Elite, 12x 1st Lancers, 16x 2nd Lancers and 12x Gardes d’Honneur.

          Similarly, my Seamen of the Guard will never represent their ‘proper’ selves, as they amounted to no more than a single battalion – I just HAD to get the models and they’ll fill in for an extra Young Guard brigade during the 1813-1814 period.

        • jemima_fawr says:

          In terms of which Guard Cavalry regiments to do – they did become absolutely huge in 1813 and each periodically became brigades in their own right. Even the Gendarmes d’Elite briefly became big enough to be fielded as a separate brigade (after that you can use them to fill in for the numerous Young Guard cavalry regiments), so it might be worth doing the full spread of Guard Cavalry regiments (apart from the Mamelukes, unless you want to add a few figures to the Chasseurs a Cheval, with whom they were normally deployed).

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