Home Forums Horse and Musket Napoleonic It’s not just modellers,

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    Avatar photoOotKust

    reenactors get it wrong too!

    I was researching horse furniture and uniforms for pre-Empire Austrian uhlans and came across:-

    Austerlitz-2011 Anniversary example_

    Notice? The uhlan officer has a ‘roqelor’ both stowed in the normal position, under the holster caps, but is also wearing one! Photo borrowed from Pinterest.

    I thought it would make an attractive illustration on my ‘Austrian Commands’ storage box.

    On modelling- I have a question about a certain specialty/ character figure from CRM (ex WF ranges) that I’ll post later.

    cheers d


    Avatar photoMartinR

    It is obviously a damp day so perhaps he’s just slipped on his field cape and left his saddle furniture nicely set up.

    I’ve got no less than ten Zeltbahns, it is a lot easier than finding a whole other section of pals to build a Zelt Palace.

    Most re enactors of my acquaintance have far more stuff than they can possibly wear, so why muck around when you can just get another item from the huge heap back in camp.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoMartinR

    I came across a photo of a Canadian private with his water bottle on his left hip, AND he didn’t have his anklets on, just rolled up BD trousers.

    Real soldiers don’t adhere to the dress regs either…

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photodeephorse

    Back in the day I carried two canteens on my 58 webbing.  One was the standard issue plastic model, and the other was made from aluminium.  It made the water cooler and more pleasant to drink.  I also stuffed chocolate bars into my respirator case.  They were much easier to access than if I had put them in my kidney pouches.  Soldiers will always try to modify what they carry and how they carry it.

    Play is what makes life bearable - Michael Rosen

    Avatar photowillz

    Yep agree with deep horse military uniform regulations when being examined by keen, enthusiastic and informative modellers/ reactors have not taken into account the practicality of the combat wearing and use of uniforms whilst in the field or on patrol.  My uniform when worn for several months had little resemblance to what was required in the regulations.  I always adapted my uniform for the required patrol or mission.

    Avatar photoOotKust

    I wonder, on further research, if we are to believe that even the great chroniclers of fashion took liberties? Looking at Edouard Detaille, whos passion and enthousiasm for his subjects, as a form of PTSD recovery after 1870, reputation being made on these bases.

    I’ve read criticism of that ‘position’ of carrying arms- so is it real?


    Did he extrapolate a later period ‘method’ that may not have existed at the time depicted?

    Similarly- a favourite and close subject to my heart, les Carabiniers:


    The horse furniture in use, varying over time- the ‘norm’ applied per Rousellot etc. among others, being the sheepskin and round valise- itself a rather anachronistic feature [according to whom it was re-introduced about 1808] since, the norm, being round for legere, and square portmanteaux for ‘heavies’.

    Thus is Detailles’ depiction an error, misjudgement or whimsy? The close resemblance to those of the grenadiers á cheval cannot be mistaken. His reputation for accuracy, research and thoroughness has sometimes been brought recently into question.

    I guess if records do exist, we will have to wait for ‘new’ confirmation via the incredible work of PLDawson coming out.

    I note sadly a degradation of the services from the NYPL- they’ve restricted their available online downloads to a miserable 1600px scan which is next to useless for serious research.

    regards ~d

    Avatar photoOotKust

    Thus is Detailles’ depiction an error, misjudgement or whimsy? The close resemblance to those of the grenadiers á cheval cannot be mistaken.

    I omitted to point out that other research on the ‘next Heavy’ regiment in la Garde, that of the ‘new 1806’ Dragons de la Garde– also adopted the two tier shell shaped holster covers, however in the traditional ‘dark’ green, as used by various others including ‘les gros talons’. Seems a perfectly natural progression to me.

    Despite the summary blanket illustrations by famous artists, the three-tier scallop shaped holsters, subsequently adopted by figure manufacturers everywhere, it seems these probably existed, at least among the first few squadrons as created, up to about 1809 campaign. They were rushed off to the campaign of 1806-07 in haste and I think Lachoque reports a motley crew.

    Another interesting point, perhaps, was that the Dragons never had a surtout (except trompettes- bleu de ciel); Rousellot repudiated his own original work illustrations at a later time.

    Seems in some bizarre twist of regulatory incompetence (?), they were only ever (from 1806 to 1814) issued two complete, full dress habits. No reference to or examples of a ‘second’ uniform have been found. Even, the Young Guard squadrons received them. Yes, there is a reference to all green ‘stable jackets’ being worn, perhaps in 1815.

    Interesting twists and turns, maybe…*

    regards d

    PS*- And in case you wonder, why do I care?
    Well in a plan of many decades age, I had indeed included some inventory for the said Dragoons- albeit without many horses. As I have arbitrarily now ‘extended’ my 1805 Corps and Garde Imperialé to include up to 1807, it seems churlish not to include the probable two complete squadrons that existed at the time.

    A ‘mini’ regiment of 8 figures seem possible to me. Tho it is way, way down the ‘ToBeStarted’ list.

    — —

    Avatar photoHeroy

    “is Detailles’ depiction [of the carabiniers’ portmanteaux] an error, misjudgement or whimsy?”

    Looking only at contemporary images, and awaiting Mr. Dawson, it looks like troopers received round ones in 1810 and both officers and troopers received square ones for the Russian campaign.

    Carle Vernet – Eugene Lami

    Aaron Martinet

    Christian Wilhelm Faber du Faur

    Carle Vernet

    Avatar photoOotKust

    Thanks Alexandre, yes I was aware of the variety posed.

    Thankfully I’m not doing ‘late’ troops but the same ‘mix’ appeared to co-habit in the Republican period, where my ‘new’ 1st Regt (though bearing for 1805) will be based; the existing painted unit becomes the Second.

    The ‘new’ First regiment Carabiniers (edit added for clarity) will exhibit some variety as I see- sheepskins a la legere with round portmanteau; similar double holsters to Grenadiers a Cheval, no sheepskin; and a few of the ‘1808’ standard issue* square portmanteau with anochronistic round portmanteau.

    Hopefully all very entertaining… won’t be till next year as I have to modify GáC figures (bearskins)  in various ways and add epaulettes in Milliput! In ‘true’ 25mm Miniature Figures™.

    cheers dave

    *I’m guessing the Martinet plate influenced figure manufacturers to make these models.


    Avatar photoOotKust

    Looking only at contemporary images, and awaiting Mr. Dawson,..

    Invoking some other research, I reopened my chest of wares and in the Gazette des Uniformes I have found some more, exotic and pre-1807 contemporary illustrations. for the Carabiniers.

    So I will photograph and post these tomorrow in deference to my conceptions (which this article clearly influenced a long way back but I’d forgotten [again]…)

    Perhaps my delaying until we see the ‘Dawson Manuscripts’ published won’t be necessary- I should just get on with the job! Of course I also have to create the General and his entourage (along with HIS general, the great Nansouty et al).

    Avatar photoOotKust

    The Carabiniers á Cheval– an elite ‘brigade’ of paired regiments continuously maintained from the Ancien Regime through the entirety of the Revolution, Republican and Empire of France.

    They took the right of the line- as both age and status granted their rights over mere cavalry.

    Most famously highlighted for their uniforms first, and their actions second. Michel Petard in 1977  traced the use of ‘carabines’ amongst the 16th Century development of light cavalry- a pair of them to every compagnie. This expanded to a full compagnie, that is half an escadron, then…

    The famous bearskins, oursons, date from 1791. Always with white cords and tassels, only the specific regulations of 1801 cite scarlet wool- yet these were apparently never worn (if even produced). The similarity of Grenadiers á Cheval and that of the a pied form, were being compared and aligned. Not so in either case actually.

    Such are the vagaries of men, power and decision making, seldom aligned it seems.

    Thus my consideration, when forming such regiments for gaming (only one at first) was to use the existing figures most closely available, since no accurate 25mm figres were made. And the horses. Ahh yes, yet more variation in horsey culture and depiction.

    The ‘1808’ designation of their uniform, didn’t really change much, but the horse saddlery was highlighted, with a somewhat anachronistic round portmanteau.

    Wait! What? Those were used by light cavalry, not the heavies, weren’t they? Well, yes and no. Since 1808 is not early Empire, but a short slice of peace time, my consideration was for what was used in 1805- itself the end of a period of restructuring and reformation more controlled, yet with rather loose edges, for almost the entire French armed forces.

    To cut to the chase, or is that a pursuit…?, we have  a variety of period material offered by M.Petard and his own conclusions, in his series ‘The Man of __ insert year here‘- in this case 1807. He shows what came before, according to artists and documentation, and what followed for these men of war.


    Petards illustration shows the same sheepskin we know about, but with a square portmanteau topped with the white/ pale blue (drap blanc pique de bleu) but grey at a distance, capote or manteau.

    The article header includes a Martinet illustration- not I hasten to point out one of the 1821+ series that were intially printed but later mere engravings that suffer the ‘copyist’ problem of reproductions brought down to us.

    The same attributes, but this is an original document, taken as a sighted example by Martinet of uniforms from 1800-06, as the caption states.

    Neither of these helps with saddlery as the sheepskin protective cover is shown. However another original, from the Library of the Musée de l’Armée does show this.

    The matched pair of holster covers are laced and the broad lace of the saddle blanket, all white remain the same. These holsters are those same as used by the Consular and Imperial Guard regiment, the Grenadiers á Cheval.

    So we have a distinct variation from the ‘norm’ of modelling these. The use of the sheepskin ‘blanket’ was for two reasons- protection from inclement weather of the invaluable pistols and powder kept in the holsters; but also as a riding aid taking the aggravation out of saddle time AND clothing wear- breeches suffered whereas the lanolin in the [natural] wool of the whole or part sheepskins provided a frictionless padding. So there was science involved in the reasons they were utilised.

    Other variations of uniform and equipment exist, such as this painting of a lieutenant ‘charging’ at Wagram 1809. Not only is the red plume missing (we are accustomed to paintings depicting soldiers, particularly elites, in ‘full dress’/ Grande Tenue for battles as parades. Some pragmatism had become evident in la Grande Armée since the arduous campaigns of 1806/07 were completed.

    Carabinier officer

    This also illustrates a debated issue- did they have chinscales or not? It seems to have been an elevated issue even then. The ‘reversed’ position of the cordons (right instead of left) may be a result of error, or preference by the ‘new’ officer; along with second or campaign dress blue overalls protecting or replacing the expensive breeches. The last point of a slightly larger stylised horse blanket but with an expensive ‘leather’ seat in lieu of sheepskin; and a single covered holster, also a feature of second dress and equipment.

    Finally, the ‘traditionally’ depicted carabinier of 1808 ‘renewal’ most religiously modelled as the only form; here another and the later versions from Martinets dossier-

    yet still showing the double holster covers.

    So, is this the true version? Well, is there ever such a thing. Yes, we can choose…

    The article has a couple of other illustrations but I will hold those for later. Trust this helps anyone interested in making ‘unique’ units for the early Empire campaigns,

    regards- davew
    – – –

    PS- for the short continuation of this article please refer to copy made in thread:-

    thanks d

    Avatar photoOotKust

    I read, with not a little bemusement… the latest “Jonas De Neef’s Napoleon Chronicles’ article at https://napoleonchronicles.wordpress.com/2023/11/22/recollections-on-the-battle-of-austerlitz-by-captain-ballue/

    Given the rather poor composition and well intended but errored ‘facts’ of the day by the memoirist, I myself would not place any weight on it or have even exposed it as a ‘thing’ of value.

    The composition is shown to be based on a redacted text, parts of the original. That he could see anything more than Suchets actions, and Claparedes, plus the cuirassiers as he describes the armor, is to me unlikely.

    Could he have seen further, as busy as his Division was with Bagration or Grand-Duke Konstantines cavalry, I doubt it? Soults Corps was near 2-3 kilometres distant obliquely from Lannes.

    Even the reference to Marshal Moncey is wrong, whose countenance N. was soothing with baubles, was not present in the campaign.

    “But the enemy leaned against the hill and, without breaking up, managed to pass through a defile with great loss, as it was blasted by our artillery.”

    May be a description of Bagrations withdrawl over the Rausnitz slope and out of sight. Did the French have the artillery duel all their own way? No!

    Both a pair of Austrian reserve 12 pounder batterlies, plus Yermelev and his Russian Horse company, fixed Lannes Corps in place from any active pursuit late in the day from the high ground thus deployed. Only the working of the associated Kellermans light cavalry around the weakness of Bagrations right flank caused his retirement.
    [ Edit ] That and his own observation that his left flank, or the ‘Centre’ as it is commonly reported, was withering away and before 4pm I think, retiring (the Russian BodyGuard -not Austrians) over the reverse slope on the way back to Austerlitz Castle. Thus once again, the Avant-Garde became a Rear Garde for the defeated armies of the Emperors…

    Both Lannes and to an extent the ‘Reserve’ Heavy Cavalry Corps (Murat) were spent entities by then, almost.

    de Neef wrote “Or, as many memorialists do, he might have gotten the sequence of events wrong. In Ballue’s case when he wrote this, the battle of Austerlitz took place 10 years ago (sic).” He meant ‘earlier’ I’m sure.

    So a POW wrote his memoires, got  bit wrong, published somewhere? Hard to tell the truth from the rhetoric and heresay. It doesn’t seem personal as much as a memorial to the Empire. I wonder what he might have written about Spain and then 1813? But not a lot…


    Avatar photoOotKust

    And another, gaff if I may… by an illustrator of some repute? Or a mishandling publisher..

    Now as a military artist I cannot see how one could, in all faith, label these two guys as ‘recruits’!
    A legere veteran sapeur of ten, or is it twenty ? years (injured- with pointed cuffs and colpack), and a de ligne caporal (light coloured squared lapels.

    Perhaps it is a contemporary illustration of 2nd Empire or something…

    From –


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