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"French Napoleonic Pontoniers Uniforms/Equipment Question?" Topic

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Atheling Inactive Member09 Apr 2015 5:56 a.m. PST


I'm a bit stuck for a couple of uniform questions and the colour of the actual ponts.

If anyone is able to help with any of these uniform/equipment questions that would be a fantastic help to me. And of course be very much appreciated!

I've enclosed some pics and what I wanted to know was what uniforms would the guys I've circled be wearing?

And, would the whole of the pontoon boat be painted French Artillery Green or would the metal sides have been left as bare metal?

Here are the pics:

Was their uniform really this sky blue?

Equipment- planks etc? Were they Artillery Green pre-fabrications?

Metal sides of ponts, were they artillery green or just left as care metal? If so, what sort of metal?

Thanks, hopefully someone in the know can help me out :)


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Artilleryman09 Apr 2015 10:07 a.m. PST

As far as I am aware, the carriages and wooden parts of the pontoons were painted 'artillery green'. The planks and beams would be 'natural wood' as they would form the roadway and painting would be pointless. The metal sides of the pontoons were copper, but every illustration I have seen has them 'artillery green'. It is quite possible they were so painted for protection.

The pontooneers were part of the Artillery so the Train d'Artillerie would pull them (not the Train des Equipages as shown in the pictures). I do not think that the blue would have been quite so bright. I use Vallejo Dark Blue Grey (157) which gives a good effect.

As to the two officers; they are both serving in the Guard as denoted by the gold aigulettes on the right shoulder. The officer on the left is an ADC who would be wearing a predominately blue uniform trimmed with gold and red with possible a red waistcoat. The officer on the right is catalogued as an engineer officer but would probably have been an artillerymen. Either way he is wearing a surtout jacket which would probably be plain blue as would be his breeches

Hope this helps. Try this site, for more.

Blue Max09 Apr 2015 1:40 p.m. PST

The officer with a busby and a plume is an aide-de-camp, the colour of his uniform can vary a lot, but the most common uniform is dark blue withe sky blue collar, cuffs and flaps, as can be seen on the link beneath (third from the left)


The officer with a plan in his hand is an officer from the pontonniers, see uniform beneath

The horsemen are from the Train des équipages:


Planks should be painted in artillery green, according to these illustrations:

And an additional picture:

Artilleryman10 Apr 2015 2:07 a.m. PST

Max, the illustrations you have linked do not seem to have green planks in them. Have I misinterpreted what you mean by 'planks'? In my interpretation of Atheling's question he is referring to the wood used for the roadways and practicality and usage would make painting pointless. As I said before, the vehicles and their bits and pieces would be 'artillery green' but not the planks.

bluewillow10 Apr 2015 6:08 a.m. PST


The pontoon train drivers had more of a steel blue coat, with black facings cuffs, lapels, turnbacks and collar with red piping, the trousers were grey along with the waistcoat which also had red piping. White metal buttons, white metal Shako plate, white metal chinscales, white belts, brass buckle, and sword fittings.

The horse harness has mixed references some are buff some black leather


Brechtel19810 Apr 2015 12:04 p.m. PST

The 'official' uniform color of the artillery train battalions, Guard or line, was 'gris de fer' which covered a pretty wide range of colors of some type of blue-grey. The facing color was dark blue, not black. Breeches would be white or buff. Grey pantaloons a cheval would also be worn, with the outer stripe being of the facing color.

Waistcoats were white and were not piped in any color.

It should be noted that the 'pontoon train drivers' belonged to the train d'artillerie.

The engineer train troops wore the same basic uniform as the artillery train, but it was their facings that were black. Their waistcoats were grey without piping.

It should also be noted that the pontonniers belonged to the artillery and not to the engineers.

Brechtel19810 Apr 2015 12:22 p.m. PST

The French used copper pontoons and these were probably painted the usual French artillery color.

As for the roadway planks, I would disagree that they would probably be painted. There would be no purpose it in, for the troops, horses, and vehicles that would cross would generally, and very quickly, wear the paint off the wood.

They might be 'stained' in order to protect them from the weather and the elements, but painting them would seem to be a waste of time and material.

Blue Max10 Apr 2015 12:24 p.m. PST

Artilleryman, you're right, I should have said "Planks should'nt be painted in green"

Brechtel, you have two type of uniforms for soldiers of the train, you have the "train d'artillerie", with dark blue facings and "train des équipages" with brown facings.

The soldiers in charge of the pontoons would be the "train des équipages":

Brechtel19810 Apr 2015 12:34 p.m. PST

No. The pontonniers were part of the French artillery arm. The train troops that pulled their equipment would be from train d'artillerie.

And there were three types of train troops in the French service-the artillery train, the supply train (train des equipages), and the engineer train.

Why would supply train troops be assigned to pull an artillery unit?

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2015 1:47 p.m. PST

Now I know nothing about this.

But that has never stopped me before. I have read every version possible, above, for the train that pulled these pontoons.

Whatever the colour of the coat (it looks so much better in a pale blue but, for the Grade anyway was much darker than usually shown….see the coat in La Musee de l' Armee)…where was I?

Oh yes. The facings. You have a dark blue facing if you are pulling a gun or the immediate ammo supply. You have rather fetching brown facing if you are pulling an ambulance or a cart laden with croissants or pains aux raisins. But if you are pulling an engineer vehicle you had black facings.

Now we always hear than engineers died building the bridges across the Berezina….even if part of the Artillery of the Garde….

I am with bluewillow……..but I know nowt.

Oddly, I seem to know more about the First Restoration Army of Louis XVIII at present, than I do about the Hundred days…but that is another story and still needs some painting

Brechtel19811 Apr 2015 3:32 a.m. PST

The troops responsible for building the two Berezina bridges were the pontonniers commanded by General Eble, who was an artillery officer.

They did not belong to the Imperial Guard.

Eble was supported by engineer General Chasseloup and his engineers along with sailors who were with the army.

However, the equipment belonged to the pontonniers and it was they who built and maintained the bridges and suffered 90% casualties because of exposure as they worked in the river emplacing and later repairing breaks in the two trestle bridges.

Eble died on exhaustion at the end of the retreat in Konigsbers.

serge joe Inactive Member27 Apr 2015 9:51 a.m. PST

Do not forget benthien and other who were at the bridges greetings serge joe

tvlamb Inactive Member15 May 2017 3:23 p.m. PST

May I ask where you got the figures and what scale/size they are? I'm looking for something similar in 15 mm.

Marc at work16 May 2017 4:55 a.m. PST

And just in case anyone is interested if they stumble across this thread (like I have just done)

In 1/72


Rod MacArthur17 May 2017 11:11 a.m. PST

I painted my plastic 1:72 French pontoon train vehicles and the outside of the pontoons in French Artillery Green, but the roadbearers and decking (which form the bridge itself) in a natural wood colour. They can be seen here (scroll down to reach Engineers).


I know that French pontooniers were part of the artillery, not engineers, and have painted them as such. When I painted them I understood that they had red plastrons, but I am less sure of that now. I currently have one company of Imperial Guard Pontooniers and one of Line Pontooniers, each with two pontoon vehicles and one small boat.

The drivers are in standard French Artillery Train uniforms.


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