“Mother Russia, Rain Down, Down, Down!”: My Napoleonic Russians (Part 3: The Pavlov Grenadier Regiment)

As the surviving readers of this blog will know, I often get stuff wrong and this blog mostly exists as a warning to other wargamers, being a record of where I went wrong and how to avoid such schoolboy errors…  However, it’s not often that I get a unit wrong even before I start painting… 

That is until I came to paint the Pavlov Grenadier Regiment…

I think it’s fair to say that almost every wargamer with a Russian Napoleonic army will have the Pavlov Grenadiers/Guards somewhere in their collection and most will look like these fellas; splendid in their tall grenadier mitre-caps… Which of course, is where the story goes horribly wrong…

Tony Barton sculpted these figures in around 1998.  There was a lot of demand for them and in those days, ‘everyone knew’ that the Pavlov Grenadiers all wore the 18th Century Prussian-style mitre cap.  At the time, I’d already painted a lot of Russian infantry and had moved on to other things, so I collected these figures when they were first cast, but never got around to painting them. 

Everyone probably already knows the story, but the Pavlov Grenadiers were meant to have replaced their mitre caps following the change in dress regulations of 1805, which dictated that Grenadier Regiments were meant to replace their headgear with the 1803 Pattern shako with large busch plume.  However, military procurement being what it is, they were still wearing their old caps in 1807 and following their heroism at the Battle 0f Friedland, were allowed to retain their caps as a badge of honour.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia opened up to the West (that worked out well…) and with the advent of the internet, a wealth of archival material and historical research flooded out of Russia, including stacks of new information about the composition and dress of the Russian Army of the Napoleonic Wars.  Thanks to the first wave of this new research, Tony was able to sculpt his Early Russian Napoleonic figures, which included the Fusilier Battalions of the Grenadier Regiments, with their distinctive short mitre caps in the style of 18th Century Prussian Fusilier Regiments (until October 1810, the Grenadier Regiments had a single Grenadier Battalion and two Fusilier Battalions, but then changed to three Grenadier Battalions).  

In 2008 or thereabouts, some Russian contributors began posting on the Napoleon Series forum and others, pointing out that the short Fusilier caps were in use well beyond 1810 and that therefore, everyone’s 1812 Pavlov Grenadiers were wrong!

The confusion stemmed from that fact that although all three battalions in the regiment were re-titled ‘Grenadier’ in 1810, each battalion was actually made up of three Fusilier companies and only one Grenadier company.  The Fusiliers retained their old short mitre-caps and therefore only one-quarter of the regiment was actually wearing the ‘classic’ tall mitre-cap!  As evidence, there is surviving correspondence between General Lavrov and Army headquarters, discussing what to do with the old mitre-caps and being ordered to issue the caps in this manner.

Pavlov Grenadier Regiment circa 1812.  Note the short Fusilier mitre cap on the right.

As a consequence of this new research, a few 28mm figure manufacturers such as Perry and Warlord have released Fusilier Company figures for the Pavlov Grenadiers, though AB Figures have yet to follow suit.  I’m also a painter, not a modeller*, so I’m not about to go to the massive faff of swapping heads!  And as this blog has amply demonstrated, I have very little concept of shame, so I’ve painted my Pavlovs as they are, as a ‘classic’ wargames unit with 100% Grenadier mitres! 🙂 

The mitre-caps of both type had brass front-plates and were backed with a red ‘bag’.  The headband was white and was studded with brass grenade badges at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions.  The Fusilier cap had a domed top to the red bag, with brass strips up the sides and a finial on the top (depicted variously as a spike or a knob).  The bag of the Grenadier cap was piped white up the sides, was attached to the front plate all the way to the top and was crested with a mushroom-shaped white pompom.  Most depictions show the pompom as being white, with red for drummers and quartered orange/white for NCOs, without any variations by battalion (companies and battalions were in any case identified by the colouring of sword-knots).  Brass chin-scales were a post-war addition and black leather chin-straps were used until then.

Officers apparently had mitre-caps for parade, but wore shakos in the field.  These were of Grenadier style, with tall black plume, three-flamed gold grenade badge, silver cords (changing in 1812 to cheaper white) and a silver pompom with orange centre and ‘A’ cypher in gold.

As for the rest of the uniform, they wore the standard Russian double-breasted coat in dark green with red collar, cuffs and tail-turnbacks.  As with all Grenadier regiments, the shoulder straps were red with the regimental initials embroidered in yellow.  Cuff-flaps were dark green and buttons were brass.  NCOs had gold lace edging to the collar and cuffs.

Drummers had green swallows’-nests on the shoulders, decorated with white lace tape, with further strips of lace down the front and rear sleeve-seams, upward-pointing chevrons down the sleeves and strips across the chest.  Drums were brass, with hoops painted in alternating triangles of green and white (green outermost).  

These figures are depicted in the long white Summer ‘gaiter-trousers’.  In winter they wore heavier white wool trousers with false black leather ‘booting’ on the lower leg (the difference being clearly shown on the plate above).  Belts were white and backpacks were black, though musket-slings were deep red leather.  The black ammunition pouches were decorated with the brass three-flamed grenade badge of the Russian Grenadiers.  The colour of greatcoats is variously described as ‘grey’, ‘brown’, ‘grey-brown’, ‘drab’… I’ve painted them the same khaki-brown colour I’ve always painted them.

The Pavlov Grenadiers carried this very striking set of 1797 Pattern flags in orange and white throughout the Napoleonic Wars (by GMB Flags).  Each Russian battalion carried a pair of flags; the 1st Battalion carried the regimental ‘White Flag’ and a ‘Coloured Flag’.  The other battalions each carried a pair of Coloured Flags.  It’s hard to tell the difference in this instance, but the White Flag is the flag with the white field and orange corners.  The Coloured flag has an orange field, with white corners.

In April 1813 the regiment became the Pavlovski Life Guard Regiment, which in turn led to a further change of uniform.  The regiment was ordered to add a pair of ‘Guards’ lace bars to each side of the collar, as well as three lace buttonholes to each cuff-flap.  However, they were ordered to use the white lace used by the drummers and not the golden-yellow lace normally used by Guards regiments.  This was probably a temporary measure, as the Pavlovs were on campaign and white drummers’ lace would have been readily available to them.  It’s not clear how quickly this uniform change came into place, but is recorded as being worn by Pavlovski Guardsmen in Paris during the peace of 1814 (the collar colour had also apparently changed to green with red piping). 

Pavlovski Guards in 1813 or 1814, wearing the new white ‘Guards’ lace.   Although the caps are shown as being tall, Grenadier-style caps (perhaps exaggerated), these appear to be Fusilier caps with brass finials rather than pompoms.

The uniform changed again in 1814, with the lace colour being changed to golden-yellow and red plastron lapels added to the front of the coat.  The flags were also changed to the ‘St George’s Pattern’, having a yellow field with black/white corner-darts (the yellow and white switching places on the White Flag) and inscriptions around the edge.  However, these changes didn’t come in until after the Napoleonic Wars.

* I’m also a lover, not a fighter.**

** Which is ironic, as Mrs Fawr often puts up a fight.

Pavlovski Guards in 1814, wearing the new golden-yellow lace and red plastron lapels ‘Guards’ lace.  Once again, the caps are perhaps exaggerated in height, as the design appears to be that of Fusilier caps.

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

17 Responses to “Mother Russia, Rain Down, Down, Down!”: My Napoleonic Russians (Part 3: The Pavlov Grenadier Regiment)

  1. Martin Radcliffe says:

    Good stuff. Mostly new to me as my Napoleonic er…”research” has been in some kind of stasis since about 1985.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Martin! 🙂 The key to Napoleonic ‘research’ is to pull it out of your arse, post it under a pseudonym, wait for the howls of outrage and then make notes when you’re inevitably corrected. 🙂

  2. Richard says:

    I have been loving coming back to your blog as I attack my Napoleonic project in anger. Have just spent some time reading through the Guard posts as I arrange the castings I have.

    As to the Pavlovs, I think I am in the same trouble as you. But I don’t think anyone will notice as mine are 6mm Adler miniatures 🙂

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks Richard! I take the view that if artists making sketches from life in 1814 could barely tell the difference, why am I bothered…? 😉

  3. Anthony Miles says:

    Nice, informative post. Oh and like the Sisters of Mercy nod 🙂

  4. jemima_fawr says:

    Edited to remove some cut’n’paste gibberish.

  5. Steve J says:

    Even thought the mitre might be wrong, they’re still a damned fine looking unit, which is waht really matters IMHO.

  6. jemima_fawr says:

    The Great Man, Mr Barton commented on my post on another forum:

    “Oh Dear. I had long feared that the Fusilier caps v Grenadier caps thing might be more complex than the usual received wisdom for the Pavlovs. Never mind, I shall Do Something About It.”

    That’s excellent news (even if it does mean having to paint more!) 😍

  7. Willz Harley says:

    Wonderfully painted figures, they are looking cool.
    Your toys your rules, keep them coming.


  8. Neil Youll says:

    I bought the Pavlovs from the original suppliers of Old Glory some years ago and have so far painted 2*24 man battalions so only another 2 to do. This now means that I have about four times as many bemitred Pavlovs than I will ever need!

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Ah yes, the good old 100-man bags… I’m still working my way through a gigantic stack of Austrian grenadiers and Austrian artillery that I bought in the 90s (the artillery in particular, as I bought one bag each of Austrian, French and British artillery, only to find that they were all the same (Austrian) figures, but with different labels on the packs… It’s also the reason I never had Prussian horse artillery until very recently, as I only wanted one crew (two at the very most)!

  9. C. R James says:

    The Fusilier cap of the Pavlov Grenadiers.
    “It was perhaps “2 – 3 vershoks shorter than the one worn by Grenadiers and its face plate of brass material stood a fraction above the wool bag. The bottom rim was white and adorned with grenades and the frame was shorter than that of the taller grenadier miter. It carried a black leather chinstrap and had another embellishment crossing the bag and surmounted by a small metal or leather dome.
    The taller miter cap, to which many aspired, was only issued to the tallest, best trained soldiers that formed the Grenadier company.”
    A Russian friend gave me this translation, one done as near to English as possible. He had lists of military dress statistics and information written in the Cyrillic alphabet around 1810 as part of his collection of antique books.
    As a collector for many years I have never seen a “model ” Pavlov in anything but the tall miter. Your models are superb.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks very much! Very useful info. Funnily enough, I was recently reading about Prussian mitre caps and was surprised to read that the Grenadier and Fusilier mitres in the same regiment were the same height! The grenadier mitres looked taller due to their pompoms. Some regiments (6th, 12th, 15th and a few others) had significantly taller grenadier mitres.

      Re models; The only ones I’ve seen of Pavlovskis in Fusilier mitres are those 28mm models by Warlord and Perry. Tony Barton is also currently doing them in 18mm, having read this article. 🙂

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