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"SYW French Artillery Colors" Topic

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Digger12 Jul 2017 3:17 p.m. PST

From what I've read they should be blue, rather than red. What shade of blue do you use – the same as that used by the Prussians, or something slightly different?

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2017 4:57 p.m. PST

Sorry, do you mean the gunners or the carriages?

Digger12 Jul 2017 6:36 p.m. PST


Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP13 Jul 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

I believe the gun carriages were changed from red with black metalwork to blue during the 7YW. I would use a colour similar to Prussian guns myself, but I have no idea what the real shade would be.
A good idea may be from this picture:


…from this site link

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP13 Jul 2017 12:09 p.m. PST

So red in WaS and blue in Syw? Need 2 sets! Morbleu
Liked the red, different from others… Snif.

historygamer14 Jul 2017 10:45 a.m. PST

So is that blue or grey? A quick look at photos of French guns are Yorktown NBP shows some in grey carriages.

The Yorktown surrender paintings by Louis-Nicholas Blarenberghe also show the French guns of 1781 in grey as well.


Musketier18 Jul 2017 1:55 p.m. PST

A slightly greyish blue, weathering to a bluish grey…

Fridericus23 Jul 2017 7:28 a.m. PST

If you have another look at the Blarenberghe painting above you can see that the gun carriages are the same colour as the blue uniforms in the marching column. As they do certainly represent the Hessians who wore blue uniform coats, the carriages should be painted in the same colour: Blue!

Supercilius Maximus25 Jul 2017 11:46 a.m. PST

I always understood that red was the Valliere system and blue was the Gribeauval system (the latter being introduced only in 1765, so post-SYW). I also understood that French artillery regiments wore red or blue "small clothes" according to whose system they supported/used.

I believe that both systems were present at Yorktown, as St Simon's corps was still using Valliere guns.

I'm open to correction on all of this……

Fridericus25 Jul 2017 2:11 p.m. PST

Yesw, Supercilius Maximus, I share your view. My AWI French guns are all blue, and the gunners are all clad in blue, too. link

historygamer31 Jul 2017 1:34 p.m. PST

For whatever it is worth, I noticed that Fort Ti painted their garrison carriages red. Might be worth contacting them to ask what color they think is correct for F&I guns.

I noticed no one remarked on the Yorktown paint of French guns either. NPS paints the French guns gray as well.

Monsieur de Chevert02 Aug 2017 10:32 p.m. PST

Red is accurate for colonial troops, that were placed under the authority of the Ministry of Marine; colonial marine garrison carriage were red brick.

historygamer03 Aug 2017 7:21 a.m. PST

So for Fort Ti's case, it might depend on who owned the guns and/or who was manning them as artillerymen?

Monsieur de Chevert04 Aug 2017 10:48 a.m. PST

Safety of colonies were under resposability of the Ministry of Marine. They used iron barel guns as for a large part of navy guns; iron barrel was never used by land artillery (at this period). When infantry troops boarded on military vessel and were in colony they were placed under the autority of the Ministry of Marine.

Note for example that when, in 1755, infantry was sent to Canada, they recieved new guns, not from Charleville but from the Manufacture of Tulle under authority of Marine.

historygamer07 Aug 2017 8:11 a.m. PST

So were all garrisons "owned" by the Ministry of Marine? I am reading a journal now written by a man who was in the Colonial artillery. Had to wonder what uniform he was wearing during his travels all about the country, that of Colonial Marine or that of Colonial Artillery?

So were all the garrison guns owned by the Colonial Artillery? I assume they fell under the Ministry of Marine as well?

Were there any Army (Metropolitan) artillerymen serving in North America?

Monsieur de Chevert07 Aug 2017 11:30 p.m. PST

When Bougainville come back to France to claim reinforcements, he did'nt go to War ministry but to Marine ministry. The Minister of the Navy, Berryer, told him "When the house is on fire, you don't worry about the stables. " All correspondance from the colony (miltary also) was sent to the Marine ministry.

In garrison artillery crews belong to the "compagnies des canonniers bombardiers de la marine", and wore their uniform. There was no colonial (local) artillery companies.

The six artillery battalions (Metropolitan) served only in Europe.
It was likely that somme artillery officer and ingeneer were sent to Canada.

historygamer08 Aug 2017 4:08 a.m. PST


These were the men I was referring to and perhaps you were as well.

historygamer09 Aug 2017 9:46 a.m. PST

I don't have my books in front of me at the moment, but wasn't the compagnies des canonniers bombardiers de la marine part of the "real" French Marines – those who served on board ship? If so, these were not the men manning the guns at French garrisons on North America at the time. With all due respect, I think you are confusing Colonial Marines and the other Marines.

Monsieur de Chevert09 Aug 2017 1:25 p.m. PST

I know this plate from Leliepvre and the article on artillery in Chartrand's booklet (Osprey). But they didn't gave their source for this uniform.
Most of canonniers were recruited in Canada, instructors were sent from the Corps royal artillerie (Metroploitan) as from Marine gunners. This « colonial artillerie » was organised in small companies and the question is : which uniform did they wore. A marine type with red habit or clothed blue as Royal artillerie.

On november 5, 1761, the artillery of marine falls under the authority of the Corps royal de l'artillerie with the creation of three brigade destined to the cost guard artillery duty. They were based in Toulon, Brest and Rochefort. It was completed on december 8, 1762, by the creation of a 8th brigade (or battalion) of artillery, which was exclusively for colonial service.

On november 1769 was created the « Corps royal d'artillerie et d'infanterie de marine » and only on october, 24, 1784 a specific « Corps royal d'artillerie des colonies ».]




You will never offend me, as you I try to find accurate information, to share knowledges. I admint, I am not a specialist on colonial side of the Seven years War.

Monsieur de Chevert09 Aug 2017 1:32 p.m. PST

Uniform of marine gunners and another painting from Blarenberghe.]



(I have problem with the size of my pictures !)

historygamer10 Aug 2017 4:12 a.m. PST

Excellent stuff! Thanks for sharing. I am reading a book written by a man from Paris who joined the Colonial Marine (???) forces in Quebec in the early 1750s and fought during the French and Indian War. He said he was chosen to serve in the artillery, probably because he could read and write. He went on several expeditions with Marines and militia as far out as Fort Michilimackinac and to Fort Duquense.

It has me wondering what uniform he wore at the time. He often served with the infantry, but also mentions the artillery at the different outposts as well.

historygamer10 Aug 2017 4:15 a.m. PST

In the last painting you posted, some of those guns look like a bluish-gray, while others just seem gray in color.

It is also hard to tell if the iron fittings are painted black of the overall color of the carriages.

Monsieur de Chevert10 Aug 2017 4:57 a.m. PST

It seems that colonial marine is an expression to distinguish troops in colony from seamen on board vessels, both belonged to Marine.
Artillery men were chosen for their capacities, they had to be able to read and write

Yes, I also remark that caissons are more greyish than the blue of the artillery pieces, I have no explain.
I never read any recommendation on treatment or color for metalic parts of artillery pieces before the Revolution period.

von Schwartz12 Oct 2018 5:29 p.m. PST

A couple things come to mind re: this discussion, apart from a headache that is.
Artillery sometimes changed hands frequently during and after engagements and I can't believe that the armies always had the proper shade of blue, or grey, or red or whatever, nor did they have the time nor inclination to repaint their ordonnance and all rolling stock. Also, a friend of mine once commented that even when fashions, or colors, changed the colonels, in order to save money, would not change until the old stuff was totally worn out and then change to the newer styles.
Consider this, the Hessians and Hanoverians captured a lot of French ordonnance and much of it, according to some contemporary accounts, was still painted French blue weeks and often months later.

von Winterfeldt21 Oct 2018 4:25 a.m. PST

@Monsieur de Chevert

Those Blarenberghe prints are superb, while I recongnize the surrender parade at Yorktown, what is the other – with the stacked artillery ammunition and ammunition cards with the cavalry in the background???

While the blue stuff is seemingly Gribeauval design the grey charts are not, so maybe the different colours are due to design?

Here a picture from a French camp in Germany in 1800, you see 3 different colours, I was always under the impression that the old Valiere stuff was red??

The grey gun carriage colour (at least in the French Revolution) changed later to the "green"

ERROR - no url for link

Monsieur de Chevert29 Oct 2018 5:18 a.m. PST

Very nice painting we can see red brick supply carts and blue artillery wagons.

About the two pictures from Blarenberghe's artwork. The first is from a painting « le siege de Tournay – avril mai 1745 and the second from the « bataille de Lawfeld juillet 1747 ».
There is no relation between red color and Vallières system and blue color for Gribeauval system.
At he beginning of the 18th artillery pieces were red.
I suppose that greyish carts were civilians, from requisitions ?

Where is the truth ? I have an opinion but no absolute conviction.

von Winterfeldt05 Nov 2018 11:56 a.m. PST

So de Blarenberghe was strictly no eyewitness for 1745 and 1747 but for Yorktown?

Monsieur de Chevert05 Nov 2018 3:14 p.m. PST

While reading your comment, I realize that many do not know about the Blarenberghe dynasty.
This family had six miniature painters over five generations. Louis Nicolas (1716-1794) is the third of this dynasty.
Louis Nicolas lives in Lille, near the battlefield of Fontenoy ..
In 1748 he was introduced to Count Drummond de Melfort, who was staying in Lille with his regiment. It is Louis Nicolas who will make the drawings of his book « Traité de la cavalerie » "Treaty of the cavalry". All the drawings of the 33 plates of the atlas of the treaty of the cavalry were realized by L. N. van Blarenberghe then engraved with etching. But because of the number, and the size of the boards to engrave and therefore their cost they will be late and the book published in 1776. He will also be the friend of the geographer Jean Baptiste Berthier (father of famous Marshal of the Empire); He produced numerous sketches, studies of soldiers, scenes of camp, artillery …. In 1753 he moved to Paris. He will regularly paint military scenes, scenes of battles.
Van Blarenberghe becomes a painter of battles in 1769 then painter of the navy in 1773.
He produced a large amount of sketches, layers.

So de Blarenberghe was strictly no eyewitness for 1745 and 1747 but for Yorktown?

No eyewitness for 1745 and 1747 and no more for Yorktown….





von Winterfeldt07 Nov 2018 12:39 p.m. PST

@Monsieur de Chevert

Many thanks for this answer, the paintings attached – are formidable – is there any source – link where one can see them bigger – tons of interesting stuff.

So in case Van Blarenberghe is strictly no eye witness – he must have used the French Army as de did see in his area as source.

Monsieur de Chevert08 Nov 2018 5:16 a.m. PST

Most gouaches are kept in the collections of Versailles:


Type Blarenberghe

Most of sketches are not available on the web. The collection of the city of Lille are not on line.

von Winterfeldt09 Nov 2018 6:05 a.m. PST

thanks a lot – a pity that the camp scene is not available

Monsieur de Chevert09 Nov 2018 9:33 a.m. PST

If you are speaking about picture of the last post, it is box decorated with miniature paintings. A gift to the duc de Holstein kept in Ermitage Museum (1761).

As paintings for Versailles were orders placed by the King we know exactly which part of the battle scene it was.


von Winterfeldt11 Nov 2018 12:46 p.m. PST

Wow impressive, thanks again

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