Home Forums Horse and Musket Napoleonic French White Uniforms – or what do Funckens say?

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    Avatar photoJonathan Gingerich

    All right, I’m going to take this down, not because of anything Mike said, but because my assumptions were unfounded. None of the other authors explain how they came up with the information but it all appears to be based on Rousselot with small deviations. In the absence of explanation these are presumably errors creeping into the record.

    It appears that Juhel in “Soldats Napoléoniens” N°11 Septembre 2006 might have something new to offer. I’ll let you know if I find out.

    Avatar photoMike

    Please try not to slag off other sites and people.
    It is not what TWW is about.


    Avatar photoJonathan Gingerich

    I’m back. First of all, kudos to Le Livre Chez Vous. Postage was a bit pricey, but they sure came fast!
    I started by poking fun at the excitement a free 1977 article on l’habit blanc generated. Because the same author, Guy Dempsey, offers an improved version in “Napoleon’s Soldiers”. I much admire his research. So when I started comparing sources I got rattled, mostly due to a typo on page 76 where he says “12th” when he should have said “13th”. In retrospect, yes, his later work eclipses the 1977 article.
    That said, Juhel’s article pulls together the research done since Rousselot and adds his analysis of the 1807 inspection reports. It is a bit of a tease, as most often he can only estimate how many coats might have been sewn up on the basis of how much cloth in the distinctive was used. Sometimes those numbers are only company sized. And it only applies to the depots. The battalions we are most interested in, those on campaign, acquired their new term clothing locally. But, the take away is compelling – it appears most likely that all the regiments scheduled for change got some or all white uniforms. That is the 3d, 4th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 22d, 24th, 25th, 27th, 28, 32d, 33d, 34th, and 36th. In addition, the 46th is listed on a budget document as scheduled to change. Thus the existing relic uniform represents an official change rather than an ad hoc initiative. (The 90th is also listed, which is a puzzle as the regiment was disbanded in 1803). The colonel of the 53d is depicted in a white and rose uniform, and this could be dismissed as whim, except that according to the accompanying article by Vincent Bourgeot, there is a relic company officer’s coat at Musée de l’Armée. (Which is a surprise as I would have thought Rousselot would have been all over it.) For what it’s worth, one of the regimental histories of the 53d includes an illustration of the rose and white outfit.
    Finally there is the 13th, which is evidenced by a plate from the Suhr brothers. There are problems of interpretation, as one of the figures appears to have been incorrectly colored, but, regardless, the regimental history of the 13th indicates none of the regiment was ever anywhere near Hamburg, so it seems it is not eyewitness evidence.
    I may write this all up and add a page to my site if I get around to it.

    Avatar photoOotKust

    Just adding this as I bought Dempsey’s ‘Napoleons Soldiers’- the epic masterpiece on the a.k.a ‘Otto Manuscript’- not the painters name but the 20thC person who ‘sold’ the originals prior to WWII…

    But I digress… it has multiple examples of ‘white’ habits as described.


    Whilst doubt is now thrown on the exact/ potential original date of the paintings uniforms- gouache as Dempsey describes, they cannot be taken as less than fine examples of the variation, or similarity if you go glass half full way, of such military creatures between 1804 and 1809 inclusive.

    That uniforms of any nation weren’t and couldn’t be replaced wholly and army wide, let alone all over the continent, is patently misrepresented by ommission almost always.

    We are now far more pragmatic about the implementation of such variables, where were units; how were they supplied; need fr replacements etc. all applicable.

    Copied across to Reply To: General Truths of Napoleonic French Uniform so you don’t have to read twice!
    regards _d


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