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"Polish Vistula legion headgear" Topic


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6,207 hits since 4 Apr 2007
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Comments or corrections?

photocrinch05 Apr 2007 6:29 a.m. PST

I'm trying to decide what figures to purchase for my Peninsular war collection. During the 1809-1811 period of the war, did the Vistula Legion (the infantry not the lancers) wear the shako or the Czapska? Thanks for your help, as I'm sure this is an easy one for all you Napoleonic scholars out there.

Dan Beattie05 Apr 2007 6:59 a.m. PST

Shako, in their distinctive pattern with a sunrise plate.

See Front Rank catalog.

Trokoshea05 Apr 2007 2:28 p.m. PST

Headgear is relatively easy to find, but the tricky part of their uniform is the cut of their coat which seems very polish in style.
I saw however 1 plate showing an officer at the siege of Saragossa with a French cut open lapel coat with yellow facings (in Osprey's MAA 87 Napoleon's Marshals Plate D). And on the cover of Nafziger's book Poles and Saxons of the Napoleonic Wars, there is an old painting of the same siege (unidentified because not referenced at all) that shows centre companies in polish cut coats but wearing the czapska (their officers in bicorne) and the grenadiers with peakless bearskins. The color plates of the same book give shako with sunburst plaque as the only headgar for 1810-1814… so who is right or are they all partially or wholy right? I'm unfortunately not the one who can tell you.

photocrinch05 Apr 2007 7:31 p.m. PST

I've been reading my uniform books by Haythornthwaite, and they imply that the Vistula legion changed to the shako sometime before 1812, but he never states what sort of headgear they wore previously. One would assume the czapska, as mentioned in the previous post from an old painting, may have been what they wore early in the war. Anybody else want to weigh in on this subject?

Thanks,

David

seneffe06 Apr 2007 12:32 a.m. PST

Hourtoulle gives all companies in the shako with large sunburst plate (small red carrot shaped plume for grenadiers, green pompom white yellow 'houpe' for voltigeurs, fusiliers as in the French infantry) from 1808-1811 at least. Bearskins with long yellow 'flamme' for sappers. Shakos or bicornes for oficers. Some authorities- Maurice Orange, JOB (I think) indicate that Schapkas were adopted (by Grenadiers only) in 1812.
From the outset, the coat was of the French short tailed 'habit-veste' type for the other ranks- with the lapels reaching right down to the hem unlike the Duchy of Warsaw uniform. Officers in longer tailed habit-veste (Haythornthwaite) or the old style habit (some French sources).

grenadier corporal06 Apr 2007 1:11 a.m. PST

You might want to look here

picture

The turnbacks of the coats are a major nuisance: French or Polish? Pouvesle at histofig.com now has them in Polish fashion now, but earlier versions of the same plate showed French cut. And there are other conflicting sources – so I still wait to complete my Vistula Legion infantry.
Officers of Polish infantry seem to have favoured French cut anyway, regardless of their men's uniforms.
The headdress for the Peninsula on the other hand seems to be easier to be sure: it was a shako. I do not know any conflicting sources for this period.

photocrinch06 Apr 2007 6:13 a.m. PST

Thanks guys,
Shakos it is. Hopefully the Front Rank figures have the approprite coat, but I guess I'll just wing it if they don't.

Thanks again,

David

hexblade07 Apr 2007 4:26 a.m. PST

front rank figures are as correct as it going to get, and they look nice too.

Cheers

agerweb16 Apr 2007 2:11 a.m. PST

Front Ranks Poles are indeed excellent, their best mouldings to date. They paint up lovely.

breakmanynecks30 Sep 2010 8:00 a.m. PST

Old Glory has figures for the Vistula Legion.

Matheo30 Sep 2010 2:52 p.m. PST

Shako and polish-cut jacket for other ranks, NCOs and junior officers. Senior officers dressed just like french officers, and wore bicornes.
Note however that VL infantry wore hungarian-type gaiters (at least elite companies).
Also – as mentioned above: sunrise shako plate.

There is some talk that in late 1813/early 1814 Vistula Regiment (because the "legion" was gone due to losses, they were reformed as single regiment) received lancer-style czapkas from Vistula Lancers depot; this isn't 100% sure though.

Some paintings depicting siege of Saragossa show VL infantry in czapkas and grenadiers in bearskins – this is wrong. Shakos for everyone ;)

Front rank figures are exceptionally correct, down to hungarian gaiters. Too bad the poses are limited.

[edit] duh, just checked the dates… serves me well for being helpful ;)

seneffe30 Sep 2010 5:14 p.m. PST

Above is correct except for the cut of the jacket- which had 'Bardin French' style lapels right down to the lower hem, not the 'Polish' style as worn by DoW Infantry, whose lapels stopped short of the hem.
Certainly shakos for all enlisted till at least 1812.
Hourtoulle's illustrations based on contemp Polish work show even subalterns in French style habits with bicornes.

Matheo30 Sep 2010 9:33 p.m. PST

senefe – it's all good, BUT :)

Vistula Legion wore TRUE Polish cut, with lapels. Same as Chevau-Legers de Garde. Duchy of Warsaw troops wore economic version, invented in 1807; lapels were replaced by "fake" lapels (polish term: rabat), consisting of a single piece of white cloth buttoned over the actual jacket, hence the two buttons' distance between it and the hem; in some regiments even this characteristic turnbacks were changed to something else. It was all due to lack of founds (not surprisingly), as it required a lot less woolen cloth to make.

All officers in Duchy of Warsaw regiments, subalterns and senior, wore french style habits and bicornes. Vistula Legion officers wore shako up to and including the rank captain.

The fact that people often seem to miss is that Bardin uniform's front lapels are "Polish cut", while true Polish troops actually wore mock-up version :)

[edit] Found it! and old photo from my early reenactment days; while many researchers regard reenactors as some jester funny men, those uniforms are often well researched and based on actual surviving samples. See the difference here: Polish cut (VL) on the left, Duchy of Warsaw (2nd Regiment) on the right.

link

seneffe01 Oct 2010 10:19 a.m. PST

So the French troops wore 'true Polish cut' uniforms, but the Duchy of Warsaw troops wore 'not true Polish cut' uniforms??…..
I think that line of argument may still need a bit of working on ;).

The style adopted by the French in the Bardin regulations with short tails and closed lapels reaching to the hem had been worn by several West European armies for years (eg Bavarians since pre-1805, Westfalia and many other Confederation states from c1807) and for troop types with no conceivable Polish heritage. As you will know this type of jacket was known as the 'Spencer' in these armies- after a forebear of the late Princess Diana.
The 1796 pattern British Dragoon Guard jacket was also of this type incidentally, as were Spanish and Swedish jackets of c1806, none of which seem very likely to have a Polish origin.

seneffe01 Oct 2010 10:29 a.m. PST

Ooops, hit submit by mistake.
The term 'Polish cut' is a bit of a misnomer anyway of course, as the great Herbert Knotel pointed out- it was simply copied from the Russian Potemkin uniform of 1786b

PS for Vistula Legion Subalterns in Habit and bicorne, see Jack Girbal's illustration based on contemp French and Polish sources of the Legion occupying Santa Engracia convent at Saragossa- featured in Hourtoulle's L'Epopee Napoleon.

Matheo01 Oct 2010 2:57 p.m. PST

"So the French troops wore 'true Polish cut' uniforms, but the Duchy of Warsaw troops wore 'not true Polish cut' uniforms??…..
I think that line of argument may still need a bit of working on ;)."

Not really. "Polish cut" is mostly recognisable by it's characteristic tail, with folds and pocket flaps. Pre-partition troops wore this kind of uniform, with lapels, however its hem reached way lower (I think it was a fashion thing; in napoleonic era the fashion for jackets was high hem and tight fit, unlike late XVIII century). It may or may not have been copied from the Russians, as you say – personally, I think those uniforms evolved simultaneuosly.
What we consider "Polish cut" is mostly visible in Chevaux-Legere Polonaise jackets. Hence my idea that Bardin copied from that particular source, but I won't argue on that one, as it doesn't really matter – Bardin uniform still sported typical western tail, though way shorter than previous models.

Duchy of Warsaw was all about lack of founds. Until 1810 and army uniform reforms, you could find troops in prussian shakos, jackets made from prussian coats, white jackets etc. It's no surprise that the cost of a uniform was supposed to be as low as possible. "True" Polish cut jacket takes a lot of woolen cloth to make, therefore, some adjustments were made. Vistula Legion enjoyed their elite status and were supplied from their own depot in Sedan, so they could afford more expensive wear. Same for Chevaux-Legere and Vistula Lancers.

Now, I don't mean to dismiss your sources, but Gembarzewski album shows Vistula Legion officers in shakos and jackets. Interestingly enough (yeah, I just checked it), it also shows officers in coats and bicornes, however those figures are desrcibed as "off-duty" uniforms. That would explain our disagreement. I can easily imagine officers switching shako for much lighter and more comfortable bicorne as soon as they could. I would go as far as to agree that some of them might have adopted shako for good; after all, officers were allowed some liberty towards their dress (Picton anyone?).

If you're interested, I can try to scan and email you some illustration from Gembarzewski; though it is secondary source, it's based on primary sources (paintings, reports, letters, memoirs) most of which has been destroyed during WW2. Today it is a bible of Polish uniform information, beaten only possibly by Zieliński's watercolour collection (currently in possession of Musee de L'Armee in Paris). However, those depict Duchy of Warsaw troops only.

As I mentioned, some Polish paintings depict Vistula Legion troops storming Saragossa in czapkas and bearskins, therefore pure fact that something is based on Polish sources is not a deciding factor for me ;) IIRC it was Suchodolski who painted all Polish troops in czapkas, Vistula Legion included.

One more interesting fact – this square topped headwear, from which Polish czapka evolved, is not really Polish in origin; it's simply eastern fashion. For example, there was one regiment in late XIX century Russian army, with no Polish connections whatsoever, which adopted square-topped soft cap.

seneffe01 Oct 2010 5:47 p.m. PST

Not sure we're going to agree on this one 100%, aside now from Bardin's uniforms not really being 'Polish' in origin.

The bad state of the DoW economy is pretty well known. Though the motley appearance of the rapidly expanding army in the early period is mostly to do with the problem of having quickly to (re)create the country's miltary production and supply infrastructure. Actually, although they received much direct French 'equipment aid'- the DoW did a very good job to get it up and running pretty well in only 2-3 years.

But even allowing for a bad economic situation- I really don't think that slicing a couple of inches off the lapels of already very trim uniforms would have affected military financing significantly. Outfitting many Grenadiers with bearskins, and raising expensive cavalry types like Cuirassiers and Hussars even in limited numbers would have have a much bigger impact on finances.

All of the various short tunics (whether "true Polish" cut or otherwise) were trim and economical garments- especially compared to say the French habit. Looking at the difference between the two guys in your link, and all the illustrations- the argument for an expensive 'true Polish' style requiring large amounts of cloth and only worn by elite units, and a cheap 'Polish-ish' variant worn by the bulk of the DoW army doesn't really look credible.
I think it was much more about preferred style- pure and simple.

Worth noting also that almost the only German army to adopt short Polish style lapels was Wurttemberg- one of the most prosperous states of Germany- unlikely in that case to be an economy measure.

Incidentally, Girbal and Hourtoulle's Polish sources for the Vistula Legion are Chelminski and Linder (not themselves primary either), and for the French Huen, Hoffman, Robert Louis, and the Alsace collection. So mostly French sources, but then it was a French army unit.

A very interesting exchange- many thanks for your points.

Matheo02 Oct 2010 12:41 a.m. PST

"Not sure we're going to agree on this one 100%"

That's the whole point of discussion, isn't it? :)

Actually, although they received much direct French 'equipment aid'- the DoW did a very good job to get it up and running pretty well in only 2-3 years.

Actually, French direct aid was limited to taking several regiments on the Franch pay (4th, 7th, 9th first, which went to Spain, and 5th, 10th and 11th, which were assigned as garrison troops to Danzig and Torun fortresses). What I think not many realise is that most of the equipment for DoW troops was prussian, especially muskets, short sabres and backpacks. I mentioned prussian shakos – those were worn by 8th, 10th and 13th, at least until 1810. Guns were mostly Austrian. The reason for this are the huge amounts of prussian equipment taken by the French and Polish troops during 1806/1807 campaign. Useless for the French, they were more than welcome by fresh DoW army, though they were never regarded as first-class (apart from Austrian 6-lbers).

Therefore the disparity between "home" DoW regimets and those that went to Spain: 4th, 7th and 9th were supplied from French depots, and so gradually adopted French equipment and uniforms. In 1812 it was made official by separate uniform regulations for those troops.

Somewhat motley appeariance of DoW was to change in 1810 with army reform. Going through my sources (Gembarzewski, where possible, quotes the whole passages from original documents, unlike the other autors) I believe that "economic" jacket was introduced that very moment. Before that, one may be under impression that regiments were equipped in more "ancient regime" way; each one being the responsibility of it's C-in-C. 1810 instructions are very precise, I guess that was exactly to avoid misinterpretations by officers commanding.

But even allowing for a bad economic situation- I really don't think that slicing a couple of inches off the lapels of already very trim uniforms would have affected military financing significantly.

It might not look like it, but the difference in front appeariance is way more than "few inches". To make a true lapels requires about twice more woolen cloth than to make "false lapes", i.e. rabat. And it requires more work. Multiply the cloth alone by thousands of soldiers needing uniforms, and it'll turn out it's not as insignificant as you'd have thought.

Outfitting many Grenadiers with bearskins, and raising expensive cavalry types like Cuirassiers and Hussars even in limited numbers would have have a much bigger impact on finances.

In an age where the look of the army meant much for morale of troops and civilians alike, especially for such political experiment as DoW was, it was very important to retain the feel of eliteness. Fun fact – one of the priorities while raising new regiments in 1807 was to have a full grenadier company, even if they would cost more to equip and maintain (this comes up very often in memoirs). That's one of the reasons for raising 14th Cuirassieurs (which otherwise was pretty useless for DoW army alone; the only action they'd see was during 1812 campaign, when they acted alongside French heavies). Economic measures were one of the reasons for raising only 2 regiments of Hussars (10th and 13th); other cavalry were Chasseurs and Uhlans with more plain uniforms.


Looking at the difference between the two guys in your link, and all the illustrations- the argument for an expensive 'true Polish' style requiring large amounts of cloth and only worn by elite units, and a cheap 'Polish-ish' variant worn by the bulk of the DoW army doesn't really look credible.

See, that's the clever thing about 1810 "economic" uniform: it doesn't look THAT different. But – you'll have to take my word for it here – it IS cheaper and easier to make; I did both (being first VL reenactor, and DoW now) and I felt the difference.

I think it was much more about preferred style- pure and simple.

The thing is that while lapels and tails and such were present for some years already, and also existed in civilian fashion – the cut of "economic" uniform was not: it was military-only thing, appearing out of nowhere during DoW years. This fact alone indicates that it was developed specifically for the army; reasons I accept I stated above.

Worth noting also that almost the only German army to adopt short Polish style lapels was Wurttemberg- one of the most prosperous states of Germany- unlikely in that case to be an economy measure.

If you're talking about "true" Polish lapels, than I agree – as those were not cheap (as I indicated above). I know of no other army adopting "false lapels" (rabat). The transition in uniform style went straight from lapels to buttoned tunic.

Incidentally, Girbal and Hourtoulle's Polish sources for the Vistula Legion are Chelminski and Linder (not themselves primary either)

There you go ;)
Actually, I have yet to receive my copy of Zieliński's watercolours. It was a collection of paintings comissioned by Prince Poniatowski, depicting every regiment of Duchy of Warsaw army. It is regarded as the holy grail of DoW uniformology. As I wrote in previous post, it is now in possession of Musee L'Armee in Paris, however thanks to Polish reenactig and historical societies, a limited run (some 200 copies) has just been printed, and I'm one of the lucky few who managed to preorder it ;)
Unfortunately, it won't solve our disagreements, as it doesn't portray Vistula Legion (them being French army units).

A very interesting exchange- many thanks for your points.

Likewise :)

seneffe04 Oct 2010 2:30 p.m. PST

Thanks again- some interesting points.
- re why the Grenadiers, Hussars and Cuirassiers were all made exceptions to the economy rule- or that the Guard Lancers and Vistula Legion had full lapels to emphasise their elite status- I'd still love to see any references for these explanations. Without that it is a bit thin looking- like the lapels;)

-re French equipment aid. I don't think I suggested this was exclusively of French origin. Much of it was indeed foreign equipment and clothing accumulated by the French and donated by them to the DoW. I don't actually think that is quite as obscure a fact as you might think- I've seen it in a number of fairly general English langauge works. BTW- evidently not all useless to the French- a good proportion of the 1812 Regimental artillery came from the Vienna arsenal.

-know of no other army adopting false lapels. One fairly well known example is the Bavarian army 1790-1803. False lapels, false waistcoats, false turnbacks, etc. Funnily enough however, after 1803, as the effective strength of the Bavarian army massively increased (and completely rebuilt in 1813) it adopted the 'Spencer' jacket with real lapels and real everything else. From what you say above- these were presumably much more expensive to produce in the greatly increased quantities needed. But maybe cloth was a lot cheaper in Bavaria?? ;).

-re Chelminski and Linder. I mentioned them only to acknowledge I knew they were secondary sources. In the debate over subalterns headwear, I refrained from referencing Chel's famous painting of the Vistula infantry fighting in Spain- I'm sure you know the one- because it was secondary and I didn't know its basis.
To be honest though, as a default, I think more store is to be set by French sources than Polish ones for a French Army unit. Hourtoulle's French sources are very strong- I believe some of the Alsace collection material was actually done at the depot at Sedan.

-re Zielinski- you lucky man. But I would advise some caution even with Holy Grails. The equivalent Holy Grail for myself and others whose principal area of interest is the c18th British army, is the collection of David Morier paintings commissioned by the CinC the Duke of Cumberland, of every regiment in the British army. This is a fantastic resource and generally very accurate. But even though the paintings were done in a period of peace and stability for the Army, and Cumberland was an obsessive stickler for uniform regulations- memoires, inspection returns etc still keep turning up to show odd regiments just not wearing quite the same as the Morier paintings- very irritating….

But back to the Vistula infantry in the Peninsula. Aside from details like the coat tails and (according to some sources I think) coloured piping on the seams- I really don't see them wearing what could meaningfully be described as Polish style uniforms. Their overall style has much more in common with Westfalian, Berg, Saxon and other shakoed, Spencer jacketed, 'Frenchified' Confederation of the Rhine troops than anything Polish.

Another good round. I applaud your obviously excellent knowledge of DoW uniforms; and genuinely, if you haven't published anything yet on the subject- you certainly should do so IMHO.

Matheo05 Oct 2010 3:11 a.m. PST

- re why the Grenadiers, Hussars and Cuirassiers were all made exceptions to the economy rule-

I strongly believe it was a matter of raising morale in newly created state and give the sense of eliteness to soldiers themselves.
Grenadier and voltigeur companies were – according to memoirs and reports – created first and foremost in infantry battalions, as early as 1806/1807. Most of these soldiers would previously serve in Prussian or Austrian armies. Interestingly though, they were the first to go into action, contrary to French practice of forming grenadiers into regimental or brigade reserve. My explanation of this is that during campaign there was simply no time to form fresh recruits into effective fighting force confident enough to perform on their own; therefore the need for elites who'd lead the way and give example. In return, they'd enjoy higher pay and their elite status (better lodging, equipment and priority in loot ;) ). Bialkowski, young officer of what was later to become 12th Regiment, notes that during the looting of Tczew in 1807 even he wouldn't dare to oppose the voltigeurs, whom he describes as "veteran moustachios". He clearly referred to their status gained by previous service, which gave them instant pass to elite companies.
That status and elan thing was as important to common people as it was to soldiers themselves. Parades and reviews were frequent and always accompanied by huge crowds. Looking good in the eyes of the society was actually pretty important to the army; it all served to consolidate multi-national society into a nation. Also, I don't think that people back then really made difference between "true polish cut" and "economy version"; however, the'd realize the difference in status between fusilier and grenadier thanks to their head dress :)

On to cavalry – this is interesting and may finally prove some of my points: first cavalry units in DoW army were chasseurs and uhlans; regulations for their uniforms were laid down in 1807, and specified square-topped czapka and "kurtka polskiego kroju" (Polish-cut jacket). This was identical to jackets worn by Chevau-Legeres and Vistula Lancers, and is best described here link . Now, on these pictures you can see the most "Polish" element of Polish-cut: the tail. Now, that is what I believe VL infantry also wore as their uniform, although of course less ornate and with straight, French type cuffs. But I digress…

Hussars and Cuirassieurs were different type of units – they were formed following the succesful campaign of 1809. Some additional units were formed then, and they all had one thing in common, which was different from 1807 army: they were mostly enthusiastic volunteers. Especially cavalry, which was formed by young local nobility, and some squadrons were completely founded by local counts.

Count Malachowski went as far as forming his own regiment, and cuirassiers no less! However, they proved so expensive that he eventually formed only two squadrons, and 14th Regiment (in which it transformed) never rose above that number. They also proved very expensive to maintain; they were such a burden to DoW army that Duke of Warsaw demanded TWICE that they convert into regular chasseur regiment. First time Prince Poniatowski objected (he was happy to have yet another troop type in his army; he said so himself in letters of the day), second time even he had to give up and so forwarded Saxon King's order to Malachowski; however (and here my knowledge is lacking) for some reason this didn't happen, and 14th Cuirassieurs went into Russia brigaded with Saxon Cuirassieurs. Now, if this alone isn't enough a proof of how highly DoW command valued elite status of units (even though their impact on actual fighting capabilities was marginal), then I don't know what is! :D

As for hussars – these were also formed in 1809, and mostly recruited from young nobility. However, while uhlan and chasseur regiment were being founded by single districts, both hussar regiments were founded by 3 districts each. They were later garrisoned in Warsaw, and cut quite a figure among local community – exactly because of their look and status; 25 troopers from each squadron were payed by the French.

To resume – those regiments and infantry elites did indeed made an impact on Duchy's finances, I'm not denying it; however, it seems there was a need for maintaining elite units, and they were valued by general staff enough to keep them on strenght. It's possible that it was all on expense of other formations: Bialkowski mentioned how they (12th Regiment) would be issued old and worn uniforms, previously used by 1st Division regiments; to make things clear, 1st Division was Poniatowski's division, consisting of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and initially 4th Regiments; they were the best equipped and supplied units, their C-in-Cs being often Poniatowski's personal friends ;)

or that the Guard Lancers and Vistula Legion had full lapels to emphasise their elite status

That's not really what I meant: they sported full lapes and Polish tails because that was their original uniform; thanks to their elite status (officialy for the Guards, unoficially for Vistula Legion and Lancers) and dedicated depot in Sedan, they could afford to maintain that look and original cut of their uniforms; on the opposite, DoW Regiments sent to Spain had to adopt French uniforms, only retaining their distinctive colours.

-know of no other army adopting false lapels. One fairly well known example is the Bavarian army 1790-1803. False lapels, false waistcoats, false turnbacks, etc. Funnily enough however, after 1803, as the effective strength of the Bavarian army massively increased (and completely rebuilt in 1813) it adopted the 'Spencer' jacket with real lapels and real everything else. From what you say above- these were presumably much more expensive to produce in the greatly increased quantities needed. But maybe cloth was a lot cheaper in Bavaria?? ;).

Look at the dates ;) this is all well before 1807 and DoW. I admit that I have absolutely no knowledge of Bavarian army of this time. I think, however, that Bavaria as a state seemed to be in somewhat different situation than newly created DoW, which in itself was a curiosity ;) I'd have to delve deep into Bavarian amry history of that time to be able to fully compare those two subjects.

Hourtoulle's French sources are very strong- I believe some of the Alsace collection material was actually done at the depot at Sedan.

But then again Gembarzewski's illustration showing VL officers in shakos is described as being based on Hourtoulle's! Interesting.

There's one thing to remember: very often Polish troops were shown wearing square-topped headgear simply to indicate that they are Poles. My favourite example of this are contemporary illustrations of Russo-Polish war of 1831, made for French and Prussian newsletters. They all show Polish infatry in either tall, cavalry czapkas or even soft, pre-napoleonic square-topped caps known as "konfederatka". But Polish infantry in this war wore black shakos, many of which are still well-preserved in Polish Army Musem! So much for the contemporary sources! I believe that might have been the case with at least some of contemporary illustrations (nevermind the secondary sources) of Polish napoleonic troops. Given the fact that even today they are still recognised as one of the best Napoleon's troops and allies, there seems to be the need to emphasize their nationality.

As a side note – that was one of the controversies back when I started my reenacting career in 1re Regiment d'Infaterie Legion de la Vistule. Our commander, an expert on Vistula Lancers (credit where credit is due), insisted that we wear cavalry type czapkas and lancer type jackets (the photo I linked previously shows just that – VL lancer's jacket). Some of us objected, stating that we should wear shakos; he explained that "we should be instantly recognizable as Polish". So much for historical accuracy of some reenacting groups, eh?

-re Zielinski- you lucky man. But I would advise some caution even with Holy Grails.

Yeah, I'm aware the problem here. Still, thanks for a heads-up ;)

But back to the Vistula infantry in the Peninsula. Aside from details like the coat tails and (according to some sources I think) coloured piping on the seams- I really don't see them wearing what could meaningfully be described as Polish style uniforms. Their overall style has much more in common with Westfalian, Berg, Saxon and other shakoed, Spencer jacketed, 'Frenchified' Confederation of the Rhine troops than anything Polish.

Ok, so I went again through my sources this morning. I'll stand by my point that the tails were "Polish cut" (as seen in the link I provided above in this post), however the front of the jacket isn't clear to me anymore. I noticed that those figures showing full lapels Bardin-style are dated 1812-1813; before that the infantry is shown wearing short lapels (though still true, not DoW "false" rabat) with 2-button distance between their lower edge and the hem. This might be secondary source innacuracy, or making "Polish units in French Army looking more Polish" by depicting them in DoW uniforms (the reason behind paintings representing VL in czapkas), or… it might be true :/ However, VL never even saw the DoW until 1812; they were ordered to France immediately after forming in Silesia, and right after that they went to Spain. So it'd be really far-fetched assumption to suggest that VL uniform was influenced by DoW look.

Another good round. I applaud your obviously excellent knowledge of DoW uniforms; and genuinely, if you haven't published anything yet on the subject- you certainly should do so IMHO.

Thanks :) however, please keep in mind that my knowledge isn't as good as some other folks around here; I'd even go as far as stating that it's pretty basic ;) To fully research and explain Polish uniforms of that era one would have to research the last years of Kingdom of Poland, before partition, as well as different Legions in French service (Polish Legions in Italy, Polish-Italian Legion, Legion du Nord, Danube Legion) before the creation of Duchy of Warsaw. I might someday do that, though too many hobbies leave me too little time… Btw, in my reenactment group I'm more versed in drill than uniforms ;)

seneffe05 Oct 2010 11:38 a.m. PST

Well we're still apart on some points, but actually close on others IMO, where I suspect we will remain. I very much enjoy and value the correspondence with you.

Matheo05 Oct 2010 2:53 p.m. PST

Glad to hear that, seneffe :)

And I'm kinda intrigued by some points you've made; I'm gonna have to delve deeper into this subject, as I'm not that sure about VL uniform anymore… (still pretty sure about DoW, but that's what I've been studying for several past years). It might as well be that I was wrong about some points; I'm kinda proud to say that I try to keep an open mind, and always take into consideration other people's information :)

Cheers

von Winterfeldt05 Oct 2010 11:08 p.m. PST

There might be a confusion between Polish regiments of the Duchy of Warsow and the Vistula Legion.

For good information as usual see and buy, in case you don'thave it

Dempsey : Napoleon's Mercenaries, London 2002
pages 134 – 143

And also Dommage provides some interesting plates in

L'Armée de Napoléon, plate 116 (Légion Polacco – italienne (out of which the Vistula legion was formed)
as well as
Plate 117 – Légion de la Vistule
Plate 118 – Légion de la Vistule, 1808 – 1813, 3e regiment

He gives Bardin style coats – including straight lapels right down to the bottom of the uniform, for officers the round lapel old French cut – and he shows also an NCO with that.
The headress is a shako with diamond shako plate and for grenadiers and voltigeurs the sunraye plate

Of course also Dommage is not a primary source.

Matheo06 Oct 2010 12:54 a.m. PST

There might be a confusion between Polish regiments of the Duchy of Warsow and the Vistula Legion.

Obviously there is:

He gives Bardin style coats – including straight lapels right down to the bottom of the uniform, for officers the round lapel old French cut – and he shows also an NCO with that.
The headress is a shako with diamond shako plate and for grenadiers and voltigeurs the sunraye plate

That's all ok for 1812+ uniforms, both VL and DoW Regiments sent to Spain. The difference is in shako plates: sunrise plate for Vistula Legion (all types, and also Vistula Lancers), but diamond for DoW "Spain" regiments (at least 7th, but 9th is also safe bet; some sources state that 4th has kept their czapkas to the bitter end in 1814).

And NCOs certainly wore rank-and-file uniforms, not officers'. There is somewhat mysterious rank of Seargent-Adjutant, mentioned in several sources (none of mine, unfortunately); it's possible that it was the only non-officer rank to wear bicorne and surcoat, however it's too debateable to quote ;)

And, of course, it has nothing to do with "home" regiments of Duchy of Warsaw, as has been stated in above posts (hopefully).

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