Uniform of the Officers of the Grenadiers-á-Pied de la Garde: 1810-1815
By Paul Dawson
The Bonnet-á-Poil was of identical pattern to those of the grenadiers. The cordon, glands and fund du bonnet were all in gold bullion, which cost 46,50 francs. The cordon by themselves cost 26,50 francs and were supplied by M Aubineau 213 Rue da la Saint-Honore. The gilt plaque cost 24 francs. A bonnet with cordon cost complete 45,50 francs. All officers up to the rank of Chef-de-battalion wore red plumet, Chef de Bataillion 50/50 red and white, and Major all white. The bonnet sans plaque cost 100f and were purchased from Maillard rue Saint-Honore.
In 1810 the officiers plummet was officially regulated to be 560 mm long, and were to be white for Colonel, red with a white base for Major, and all red for Chef de Bataillon.
Two patterns of plaque were issued to the officers, the 1806 Model (Fig A) on 26 April 1805 costing 24 francs 50 and the 1811 Model (Fig B), which measured 214 mm wide and 166 mm tall.
Officers had a special pattern cockade , which cost 2,40 francs. Unlike the soldat or sous officer, the pompom was gold bullion and the eagle device was stamped gilt copper.
The chapeau was of a similar pattern to that of the soldat. The Major wore white carrotte in the chapeau. The chapeau could be purchased from Herbert et Godart, rue du Bac Paris, for 100 francs.
The bonnet-de-police was as previously described but with gold replacing aurore in all respects, as illustrated by the example below:
Officers wore the same habit as the grenadiers and sous-officiers, though in finer quality material. Turnback grenades were embroidered in gold wire, as were the brides, and the buttons were gold plated.
Unlike the Ligne, officiers up to the rank of chef-de-battalion, wore the same pattern epaulette, chef-de-battalion having bullion fringing.
A gilt copper gorget with silvered eagle within laurel leaves device, was worn when on duty.
When off duty or on campaign. the surtout was worn. This single-breasted jacket had turnbacks and long pockets identical to those on the habit. The collar and front seam were piped red. The plain blue round cuffs may have been pipe red. The front was closed by means of 9 large uniform buttons
Detail of the surtout tails of General Drouot, showing the grenade devices. Each turnback measured 10 mm wide. The grenades measure 45 mm wide by 60 mm tall, though the regulations dictate 68 mm.
Officers wore a white waistcoat. The white wool cost 18.25 francs, the serge lining 1.50 francs. The white wool was obtained by marinating the cloth in acid and boiling in vinegar. In walking out dress, a white waistcoat and nankeen breaches were worn.
Les Pantalon Tricot
In full dress white breaches were worn with white gaiters. Otherwise white breaches and jockey style cuff boots were worn. The pantaloon tricot were supplied by M. Garel rue d’Echille. On campaign the breaches were either replaced by white or blue overalls , which were worn along with the surtout and white waistcoat. In 1815, officers were being issued with grey pantalon toil.
Le Manteau Capot
Officers wore the same pattern greatcoat as the rank and file but in better quality cloth. 1815 saw officers being issued with a redingote gris which was closed at the front by two rows of 7 large uniform buttons. The bottom edge was to be 320 mm from the ground.
Two patterns of centurion existed, either in white leather or black leather for undress.
At least two different issue of plaque have been note, that of 1805 and 1809 which measures 73 mm tall by 113 mm wide. The centurion could be worn over of under the breaches flap. White waist belts and epees were worn exclusively in walking-out dress.
Officers also wore white leather gloves.
Subalterns wore black boots with faun folded down uppers. Mounted officers were shod in a choice of three boots: the totally smooth and highly polished, one piece full dress pattern; the semi rigid campaign boot with soft body and stiff knee section; or the fully soft-leather two piece, bottes a l’ecuyere, for foot duty and off duty. The spurs were of gilt bronzed iron and were detachable. All officers wore low shoes with silver or gold buckles in walking out dress.
The only mounted officers were captains and above. The schabraque was made from Imperial Blue cloth and was square cut, the edges of which had a double row of gold lace around it (the outer measuring 6 cm, the inner 3 cm wide). In the rear corner of the schabraque a gold embroidered flaming grenade device appeared. In revue order an Imperial Crown appeared in the rear corners. The rubbing plates were of black leather, the girth being grey on campaign and gold in full dress. The double pistol holster hoods carried the same lacing. The stirrup leathers were red. The snaffle rein and bridle were gold, whilst the parade harness was of black leather.
Officers carried a special pattern sabre that had a blued and gilded blade bearing the inscription “Garde Imperiale” on one side and “Grenadiers-á-Pied” on the reverse. The hilt was gilded brass as were the rest of the fittings. Both weapons were carried from a waist-belt. In full dress, sword knots were worn.
For full dress occasions and in walking out dress, officers the garde pattern, though many officers carried none regulation epee d’ville.
Mounted officers carried two year IX or XI Charleville pistols, or a pair of privately purchased pistols
Reconstructed officier en tenue d’campaign c.1810. Note the wearing of loose overall trousers in place of the breaches.
Pour Officier Fortunes!
Many officers of the Imperiale Garde lived and died in debt to their tailors, those of the cavalry and horse artillery, more so than their infantry counterparts. To equip a company officer with their basic uniform in 1809 incurred the following costs:
Thus upon joining the regiment, the officer (a Capitaine) had a considerable outlay, equivalent to nearly 8months pay, without taking into consideration mess bills, and other costs. Grenadiers were paid 0.80 francs a day. The deductions to this were: 4 to the mess, 2 to the underwear fund, 2 into the pocket.
A caporal was paid 1.66 francs a day, a sergeant 2.22 francs and a sergeant-major 2.66 francs.
A Colonel of the Grenadiers was paid 750 francs a month, while his Ligne equivalent drew 416.66 francs. Pay also differed between the different corps of the Garde: a Capitaine of Grenadiers-á-Pied drew 300 francs a month, while his counterpart in the Grenadiers-á-Cheval drew 333.33 francs.
In addition to paying for his basic equipment, if the officer was mounted, extra costs were encured:
Thus it cost nearly 8120 francs to equip a capitaine with his horse, saddle and equipment as well as his uniform, in excess of two and a half years pay!. It is little wonder that many officers, even the lowest, died in debt.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2003
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