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"Oudinot's Grenadiers Eagles?" Topic

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18CTEXAN05 Jun 2017 6:30 p.m. PST

In 1805-1807 did the regiments in Oudinot's Grenadiers carry "Eagles" and/or tricolor flags?

I did a search on TMP twice and it timed out without returning any hits.

18CTEXAN05 Jun 2017 6:31 p.m. PST

In 1805-1807 did the regiments in Oudinot's Grenadiers carry "Eagles" and/or tricolor flags?

I did a search on TMP twice and it timed out without returning any hits.

Alcibiades05 Jun 2017 10:12 p.m. PST

Not sure on flags but fairly positive they would not have been issued eagles. These were composite battalions made up of companies, depot and otherwise, from a number of regiments which would already have their own eagles.

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2017 12:44 a.m. PST

If I can quote from an article in Wargames Illustrated many years ago about French flags etc..

"… February 1809 Oudinot's division was expanded to thirteen three battalion regiments, now formally titled demi-brigades, and shortly after this expansion provision was made by the Emperor to provide drapeaux for the new units. The Emperor wrote to Berthier on 8 April 1809 ordering that each battalion of the demi-brigades was to have a ' … small flag of simple tricolour cotton, bearing on one side the number of the demi-brigade and on the other the number of the battalion. Thus for example 4th Battalion of the 6th Light Infantry on one side and on the other 1st Demi-Brigade… '

…in the Army Museum in Vienna is an example taken from the 1st Battalion of the 4th Demi-Brigade at Ebelsberg during the 1809 campaign. This fanion is " based upon a tricolour but with the stripes horizontal with red at the top and a plain spearhead fanion. ".. the legend is '4 Br 1 Ba' i.e. 4th Demi-Brigade, 1st Battalion. The reverse …. without inscription."

The regulations were very open to interpretation.

Hope this helps.

18CTEXAN06 Jun 2017 4:55 a.m. PST

Thank you very much for the replies….I thought they didn't have Eagles! You confirmed this.

Sapeur06 Jun 2017 8:54 a.m. PST

Rigo's Le Plumet plate No 166 shows details.

Nine pound round06 Jun 2017 5:19 p.m. PST

There have been several interesting discussions of these units, one of the most useful (in this context) probably being this one:

TMP link

This one discusses the variations over time:
TMP link

Depending on how you want to define it, the original "grenadiers of the reserve" went through at least two organizations, and the 1809 formations shared nothing but the name and the commander. I am currently painting the 1807 division for Empire, which amounts to about 102 grenadier, Voltigeurs and carabinier figures….fun if you like elites, but it will probably cure me of my love of bearskins for awhile.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP06 Nov 2020 4:40 p.m. PST

This article and those linked (in history only 10 years) have a number of factual errors and assumptions beyond any basis of truth, giving a misguided and disorienting theme to the subject.

Such as "the original "grenadiers of the reserve" went through at least two organizations"- no it didn't. From 1803 – December 1805 (post apocalyptic battle of Austerlitz) the ONE Division stayed the same, in complete format and plan completed by N.

To suggest, as one reverred author does, that there was a 'continuous' so called formation- is grossly incorrect. There was no hereditary continuous lifeline between 1805 and 1809 campaigns. Any suggestion to such is erroneous and false. 4 years, 4 campaigns, unlike Corps d'Armee, completely changed.
In brief__
-Each campaign had its' own formation created.
-They were each created with different infantry corps.
-They were not, in the first two campaigns, formed with any 'untrained conscripts' or 'depot' troops. They were taken from battle battalions in service. That is not to overstate that completing company strengths and losses on campaign would subsequently have come from the core regiments in the normal manner.
-They were not all bearskin wearing Grenadiers. Those companies of regiments that had worn them continued to do so in this new Division. Yes the Division received a 'bonus' elite pay supplement, just not as much as the Garde.
-Those companies (such as often 3rd Bons) may have originally worn bicornes received the new shako in replacement.
-The root of the use of shakoes by the Corps certainly does go to Junot and his training camp. As do other 'housekeeping and training' matters of infantry in general. As does the combined arms 'attachment' of artillery, both horse and foot to the formation in actual field manoeuvres.
-Its' broad adoption for a single corps was exceptional and no doubt the early adoption of the shako by this corps clearly influenced Napoleon. He reviewed them regularly as well as reports from Inspectors-Genereaux and visitors to Junot.
- As was the shaving of heads and disposal of the hereditary 'powdering' of the Ancien Regime. Quaintly retained by the Revolutionaries as a 'military necessity'!.
-The terminology of naming conventions changed from time to time under the Empire just as the structures did. The use of 'regiments de marche' and 'demi-brigades' harked back to revolutionary times in a practical way to avoid the over-complication and use of 'regiments' to avoid confusion.
These bodies were 'regiments' in a practical sense- but their 'disposition' was not in the accepted form/ normality of the time.
-Eagles were never issued or carried; the companies retained full membership of their regiments force (just like those companies assigned to the flotillas, it was a secondment, not a termination).
-Large 'fanions' became most visible for the 1809 campaign when the rules around general infantry carrying Eagles was changed. Prior existence is very sketchy with AFAIK only one illustrated early example.
-The batallions and 'regiments' so formed, were officered by their own corps. The nominated 'Colonel' of each regiment was a Colonel of one battalion; the 'second' commanded by a Major of the other. These both formed the staff of the amalgamated unit.
-Hand picked Generaux-de-brigade had two regiments to look after (4 bns) and lead. A highly deployed leadership expected to be versatile and adaptable to changing needs.
-gold stargold stargold star Oudinot had more wounds and seen more campaigns than all his subordinates put together.
Whatever else may be levelled at his performance, he was at least an inspirational leader and organiser (ie team-leader/CEO in modern parlance) who could motivate and, leading by example, get the best from his officers men.
regards davew cup

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2020 3:30 a.m. PST

The regulations were very open to interpretation.

French regimental commanders routinely ignored regulations regarding colors, eagles, uniforms of 'heads of column' etc.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2020 5:06 a.m. PST

From another thread, supposition and heresay, not factual in any way- numbering is mine for reference below:

( 1805 was mainly true as elite being the elite co of the [i ]3rd and 4th [ii ]depot battalions) up to 1809 [iii].

_ _ _

1. While called ultimately 'the Reserve Grenadier Division', it was composed of Grenadiers and either formatve or actual Voltigeurs companies for line; or Carabinier and chasseur (formative) or Voltigeur companies from Legere. Most of these would be classed as elite.
I use 'formative' because- under the decrees set out by N. some of the chosen regiments had integral Voltigeurs already selected, others did not.

Many writers cite the late date of Spet.1805 as the official 'start-date' for Line Infantry formed Voltigeurs- in fact like uniforms, this has been misinterpreted and/or mis-translated, then repeated ad-infinitum as fact by English texts.

Napoleon raised in mid COnsulate the idea of the 'vaulters, tirailleurs/ eclaireurs previously in use under the Directory and some still existed, before as a means of enhancing reconnaisance and intelligence, as well as combatting enemy probes, using light cavalry as temporary 'hosts'. Mixed light legions had been used earlier as we know.

The biggest fallacy perpetrated in English texts is that either the second or third fusliers entire company(s) were to be "converted" to this new form, called Voltigeurs (decided upon via Min. of War etc./ Berthier).

What he actually preached was that the able, nimblest, but bravest or most resolute, who had performed feats of valour and deserved recognition (having received arms of honour etc.) but too short to be Grenadiers, would be enabled and welcome in such a company.

This meant that regimental manpower was 'adjusted' to suit the needs and criteria- thus men from all companies had to be considered- the good conduct clause ensuring that officers couldn't quit themselves of worriesome individuals or face penalty themselves.

Given this- it is inconceivable (and has been worrisome to me for decades) that an entire 'company' suddenly becme the voltigeurs 'elites' (and with the extra pay awarded the grenadiers).

The errors arise where his (N.) response to a query from the Min. of War as to 'ranking' of this 'now officially sanctioned' company. All the tactical matters had been covered- the opposite end of battle line to the grenadiers; opposite end of a column, except the column of attack formed inverse, when both companys would be side by side in the front, or rear.

The problem given was where was it in the regimental/ battalion structure rankings? Napoleons response was- the third- First the Grenadiers, then the First Fusilier company, then the (third) Voltigeur company,followed by respective balance of the fusiliers in order.

2. The 'corps' was designated from 1802, near the end of the Consulate and with a peace-time treaty of sorts, training opportunity despite the 'inconvenience' of the English.
In 1803 approaching a new regime, the title of 'Regiment' became re-established and along with it a lot of tweaking of the army organisations as had been for a decade. This change from Demi-Brigades of the revolution included much soul seraching and strengthening of units AND formations, as well as tightening of leadership values, morals and expertise.(*5).

A demi-brigade by nature, was 3 battalions, half a brigade. Thus 1803 found 90% or near that of 'regiments' with three battalions. A very few had 4, another very few had only two. These were active service, battle battalions. Except in very few exceptional cases (perhaps like distant Corsica), there was a depot elsewhere to the cited post of 'the regiment'.

Napoleon, like Baldrick, was full of cunning plans. One was, he didn't assign regiments to their home depots'- to do so only incited desertion.
No, they were despatched far from their homes for 'service'. Thus we find that the Tirailleur du Po from the the old Cisalpine Republic formations and the newly created Tirailleur Corse both ended up in North west France; while 'French' regiments went South to Italy, Naples and the various 'island' and overseas garrisons as well as Netherlands and ceded Hanover etc…

Napoleon ensured that the Armee des Cotes de l'Ocean had mostly full, three battle battalion regiments on hand. Barring one exception- none of these regiments lost their 'elites'. [See addendum below (*4)].

The Reseerve Grenadiers Division in 1805 was drawn from other regions garrisons- there were 25 military districts to choose from- and each regiment of them yielded their first, second and third battalion elites, such as existed. Each of these regiments 6 companies, formed one elite battaalion. No extras were dictated, so fourth battalions men, if such existed beyond 'depot/ home recruiting' troops, were not used until the much later campaigns when extensive manpower changes occurred (by 1809 some regiments had 5 full service battalions etc.) presaging the 'massive effort' for 1812.

3. As stated in previous explanation, each campaign, each year, or 'war' if you like, was a discreet entity that had its' own particular nuances. The premise cited by some that a continuous 'entity' existed is a complete fallacy. Even when in some parts this has been acknowledged it is often incorrectly dated or glossed over

While the Armée des Cotes de l'Ocean became on August 1st 1805 the first 'Grande Armée' care of Napoleon, Junot, Corps Genereaux-en-Chef and ultimately General de Division Oudinot leading the Reserve Grenadiers, immense training and work had gone into the administration and work ethic of the body. Thye had trained not only for land warfare, but naval as well, on the pretext of the invasion of England, loading and unloading, manning cannon and rowing exercises etc.

If the 'army' had been just veterans it would only been have been a part of one thing. The fact that it had, much like both Armies of Italy and Egypt (Orient), been 'customised' and fine tuned with bags of additional knowledge and experiences.

The express leadership, enduring welfare, uniform, equipment, special housing of the 'camps' etc. if not actual good tucker and pay on time on campaign, was a significant step beyond what many nations provided their soldier class.

Arms of hounour had been supplemented by the Legions cross and emolument in 1804 and the time had come to step up for another and be recognised.

THe 'brotherhood' of the Army and the 'elites' of the line, given privileges similar to the Emperors Guard determined many to be recognised, regardless of the reasons for doing so.

Thus these men were far distant from those of 'the class of 1809' who formed a far different and less homogenous body, despite the title similarity and leadership.
- -

*4 – "Barring one exception- none of these regiments lost their 'elites'." That one belonged to a regiment stationed in "Belgium" or Helder I think (to late to look up). This 'extended' frontier of France was under the military command of the very ablest Marshal- Davout and thus we find the active 'regiment' split among two corps.

His 15th Legere, in Friants Division, was the only regiment 'within' the Grande Armée whose manpower had been 'touched' for inclusion in the Reserve Grenadiers. This produces something of a quandry to analyse as toward the end of the campaign, this little unit was a vital cog in the very major action on the right flank of the Battle of Austerlitz.
I plan to expand on this with another post soon.

*5- AN anecdote on 'experience'- Whilst travelling to inspect a portion of the Army on the coast, on the road between Paris and Boulogne, he came across a Major who had recently changed regiments. Napoleon, as he did, cross examined the man closely about his unit, the officers, who the NCOs were he trusted; their arms, rations, illnesses etc. The major was unable to provide very many satisfactory answers whereas he should have known his men and their needs intimately.

Napoleon was dissatisfied with this, and upon dismissing the officer on his way, had his military clerk note to Berthier, that Major such and such was to be transferred to the Reserve Grenadiers under Junot and his Generals so that he could learn his proper role in the Army.

At a later Imperial review the Major gave a much better indication and impression as second ranking officer in command of a regiment.
- -
regards davew

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