Reviews: Uniform Plates & Studies

Armies and Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars

Rawkins, William J. Armies and Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars. E-Book. The History Book Man. 2013. £3.99

The first review published by the Napoleon Series was in 1996 and was of The W. J. Rawkins Uniform Books.  There were 15 books in the collection, each about 30 pages long and were designed to be painting guides for the wargamer. Published between 1977 and 1984, there was a limited print run on each and they quickly went out of print.  For those who owned them, they were prized possessions, because of the detailed information on almost unit in the army the book covered.  Unfortunately the physical quality of the book did not match the superb information in the books.  Over time my copies have grown tattered and are slowly falling apart from too much use.

For many years I have sought to replace them; however Mr. Rawkins seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth. Rumors abounded about him; the most prevalent was that he had died.  I am happy to report that there is no truth to these rumors!  Mr. Rawkins has contacted me and given me some fantastic news!  He has resurrected the books, have expanded them, cleaned up the typos, and is re-publishing them as e-books.  They are available on cds in a .pdf format.

As of February 2014, there are five titles:

The Army of Sweden 1802-1814

The Army of the Duchy of Warsaw 1807-1814 

The Army of the Kingdom of Naples 1806-1814

The Army of the Grand Duchy of Berg 1806-13

The Army of the Grand Duchy of Baden 1806-1814

For those who are familiar with older editions, they will remember strange formatting (they were published was before the advent of word processors), numerous typos, and misspelled words.  The books needed a good editor.  The new editions are nicely formatted, still filled with many tables laying out uniform details (such as lace, button and facing colors, etc.), and black and white drawings of the front and back of uniforms.  They also contain color images from contemporary artists and others such as Knötel and Bosselier.  The new volume on the Swedish Army has 11 color images, while the Naples book has 96!!

In addition to providing color images placed throughout the text, Mr. Rawkins has expanded the information almost exponentially.  For example the 1980 edition of the book on the Polish Army was 34 pages. The new book is 132 pages. The 1978 edition on the Swedish Army was 24 pages; the new edition is 77 pages.  The book on the Army of Naples expanded from 15 pages to a staggering 186 pages!

I have three of the five new books and will use the The Army of the Kingdom of Naples to illustrate their quality.  The table of contents is extensive, with the following chapters:

Chapter

Page

The Napoleonic Kingdoms of Italy

5

The Making of Murat’s Neapolitan Army

9

The Line Infantry

15

NCO Rank Distinctions

28

Officer Rank Distinctions

34

The Light Infantry

45

The Line Cavalry

59

The Cacciatori a Cavallo

61

Light Cavalry NCO Rank Distinctions

65

Light Cavalry Officer Rank Distinctions

67

The Lancieri a Cavalleggeri

71

The Artillery of the Line

79

The Train of Artillery of the Line

87

Corps of Engineers

94

The Marine Artillery

98

The Royal Guard

100

The Grenadiers of the Guard

103

The Voltigeurs of the Guard

110

The Velites of the Guard

114

The Marines of the Guard

121

The Veterans of the Guard

124

The Royal Halberdiers

124

The Light Cavalry of the Guard

126

The Mounted Velites of the Guard

134

The Hussars of the Guard

142

The Guard of Honour

144

The Elite Gendarmes of the Guard

149

The Cuirassiers of the Guard

149

The Lancers of the Guard

154

Artillery of the Guard

155

Train of Artillery of the Guard

161

General Officers and Staff

164

Gendarmes and Provincial Legions

170

Flags and Standards

180

Notes on Sources

185

The information on the line infantry is typical of the book.  The book has 44 pages dedicated solely to the line infantry. There are sections on the regimental organization; the strength for various years; uniforms, weapons, and equipment for the common soldier; uniforms, rank distinctions, weapons, and equipment for officers and NCOS; information on the uniforms worn by the musicians of every regiment; and even a separate section for the regimental sappers!

The following is a typical entry.  This one covers the breeches worn by the infantry:

“Breeches were white and worn with high, white over the knee gaiters for parade and black gaiters for campaign and winter dress. Buttons on the white gaiters were brass and those on the black gaiters, cloth covered. By 1808 the white gaiters were retained only for parade dress and most units were wearing the shorter, knee length gaiters of black, with brass buttons for campaign and everyday wear. White cotton, loose fitting trousers were issued for fatigue wear from about 1808.

From 1809 all infantry regiments were issued with white overall trousers for wear on the march and during campaign. These were cottons for summer wear and heavier cotton canvas for winter. The winter trousers could sometimes be grey, and those regiments who were serving in Spain adopted locally made overalls from 1807 in a wide variety of colours; white, beige, brown, grey or dark blue.

From about 1812 white overalls with a facing colour stripe on the outer seam began to make an appearance and by 1814 new trousers of white for summer and dark blue for winter, both with a narrow facing colour stripe were being worn by all regiments.”[1]

As I mentioned earlier one of the hallmarks of the first editions were tables that laid out uniform distinctions.  The new editions continue with them.  The following is an example of one such table, this one covering regimental cockades worn by the Swedish infantry.[2]

Regiment

Cockade Field

Horizontal Arm of Cross

Vertical Arm of Cross

Uplands regemente

White

Blue

Blue

Skaraborgs regemente

Yellow

White

Blue

Sodermanlands regemente

Yellow

Blue

Blue

Kronobergs regemente

Yellow

Sky-blue

Sky-blue

Jonkopings regemente

Scarlet

Blue

Blue

Dalregementet

Yellow

Black

Black

Elfsborg regemente

Yellow

Scarlet

Scarlet

Vestgotadals regemente

Scarlet

Yellow

Yellow

Bohulans regemente

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Vestmanlands regemente

Scarlet

Blue

White

Vesterbottens regemente

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Kalmar regemente

Yellow

Scarlet

Blue

Nerikes och Vermlands regemente – disbanded and reformed as the Vermlands & Narikes regemente June 1812 *

White

Yellow

Yellow

*Vermlands regemente 1812-1814

White

Yellow

Yellow

*Nerikes regemente 1812-1814

White

Yellow

Yellow

I thought Mr. Rawkins made a mistake with the first editions when he published information about two of the smaller countries in one book.  For example in 1978 he published The Armies of Naples & Kleve-Berg 1806-1814 in one volume.  For the new editions he has corrected this and each country will have their own book.  Like the books on the Polish and Swedish armies, Naples and Berg now have their own volumes.   

According to his website, The History Book Man, five more books will be published in early 2014:

The Army of the Kingdom of Wurttemburg 1806-1814
The Austro-Hungarian Army 1798-1814
The Army of the Kingdom of Italy 1805-1814
The Army of the Kingdom of Bavaria 1805-1814
The Army of the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt 1806-1814

All can be ordered through The History Book Man website.

Needless to say, I am a big fan of Mr. Rawkins’ books.  For the wargamer who is looking for information on how to paint his figures, these books are worth their weight in gold!  They are superb resources on uniforms that I have constantly referred to over the years.  Even if you already have the original editions, the new ones have been vastly improved and thus it will be worth buying the updated ones. Considering how fast the first editions sold out, I strongly recommend you do not wait to buy the new ones.  At £3.99 ($7) each, they are steal!

Reviewed by Robert Burnham

Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2014

Notes:

[1] The Army of the Kingdom of Naples 1806-1814. Page 26

[2] The Army of Sweden 1802-1814.  Pages 18 - 19

 

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