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"Uniform of French Grenadiers 1803 to 1812" Topic

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William Ulsterman23 Aug 2017 6:48 p.m. PST

Am I right in understanding that each French Line Battalion had a company of Grenadiers and that from 1803 to 1812 they wore a busby with red (or white?) cords? Further to this was their uniform roughly the same as the Grenadiers of the Guard? Aside from the Guards having a blue collar. In other words could I use a few surplus grenadier guard figures for line grenadiers? 15mm I think no worries, 25mm I dunno as everything hinges upon my premise of similarity.

William Ulsterman23 Aug 2017 6:55 p.m. PST

Yes – that's delightful and also of interest in terms of French Grenadiers defending such an obstacle. But I really want to know if Guard Grenadier figures could pass muster for line grenadiers.

jwebster23 Aug 2017 8:31 p.m. PST

Depends how fussy you are

After about 1809 grenadiers are more likely to have shako with red plume instead of bearskin. Equally there are a few small differences in uniform, but they are pretty small


William Ulsterman23 Aug 2017 9:22 p.m. PST

For 15mm – not fussy at all.

25mm – rather fussy – the collar is the only item of significant difference in uniform that I am seeing, the slightly longer coat tail and golden grenade badges I can probably live with.

Yes – 1809: Change of headgear, but some line grenadiers still retained the busby in Russia in 1812.

JimDuncanUK24 Aug 2017 6:29 a.m. PST

Grenadiers wore a fur cap, not a busby. Often called a bearskin.

A busby is what a hussar would wear.

marshalGreg24 Aug 2017 8:11 a.m. PST

There were a regiment or two that did wear a busby in the line and several in the Legere, for the Grenadier/carabinier company.
There were some line units still with the volt co. wearing the busby. Do not have my sources in reach to shed light as to which units, sorry.
Many of the pennisula units were heavy with grenadiers in bearshin and many of these were made into battalions de elite.
For my 15s many of my regiments are using the OLD Garde figure since that is the only way I am able to create w/o head swaps for the mfg my collection is.

Regarding the differences ( other than how they get painted ) is the difference between Garde and line's cuff flap shape. This may be an issue in 25mm, but then again those companies sometimes had special differences on the whim of the Colonel, or who got what issue of jacket replacement and who could typically prove otherwise "anyway" without well known sources showing the uniformology of that unit for that specific year ( and good luck on that!)



d88mm1940 Supporting Member of TMP24 Aug 2017 8:13 a.m. PST

Carabiniers, the Grenadiers of light infantry battalions wore a busby.
The line grenadiers had a bearskin, like the Guard Grenadiers Chasseurs, without a plate.
I would say that yes, you could use them.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Aug 2017 12:06 p.m. PST

The Carabiniers of the French light battalions (legre) wore the bearskin and then switched to the Shako. The light company of the Legere, called Voltigeurs just like in the regular line battalions wore the "busby" or "colpack" and also switched to the shako at the same time -- the date of this change and if they all actually made the change will be argued to the end of time?

French line battalions = 4 companies of fusiliers
1 company of Grenadiers
1 company of Voltigeurs

French light or Legere battalions = 4 companies of "Chasseurs"
or fusiliers
1 company of "carabiniers
or grenidiers
1 company of voltigeurs

Generally speaking.

Russ Dunaway

setsuko24 Aug 2017 12:10 p.m. PST

The light infantry carabiniers that I got from both Foundry and Front Rank wear bearskins, not colpacks (busbys).

E: agreeing with the post above

von Winterfeldt24 Aug 2017 12:39 p.m. PST

to sum up – you could paint 15 mm Old Guard as line grenadiers – there you are not fussy at all.

marshalGreg24 Aug 2017 1:54 p.m. PST

as Russ has it!
Some Exceptions, as of 1809 [per fairly repeteable sources ( sorry can't quote them)]
7th Leger – Carabiniers in Busby/colpack w/red bag.


dibble24 Aug 2017 2:13 p.m. PST


Paul :)

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Aug 2017 4:09 p.m. PST

Never heard of a "Grenadier" or a "carbinier" in a colpack?
Not saying it's not so -- just never heard of it? 🤔

Russ Dunaway

William Ulsterman24 Aug 2017 7:17 p.m. PST

Thanks lads – I will use spare 25mm Old Guard Grenadiers in fur caps (sometimes referred to as bearskins, but never as busbys) as line Grenadiers, whilst taking particular care around the collars and the cuffs.

I am not up to my light infantry yet, but will bear(skin) in mind the Carabinier company wearing the busby/colpack thingy, when I get round to painting them.

JimDuncanUK25 Aug 2017 2:59 a.m. PST

Good lad.

d88mm1940 Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2017 8:42 p.m. PST


d88mm1940 Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2017 9:02 p.m. PST


Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Sep 2017 5:15 p.m. PST

I still doubt any Grenadier or Carabinier having the colpack -- especially in 1811??

Russ Dunaway

dibble04 Sep 2017 8:28 p.m. PST

Scroll down to second set of plates for Chasseurs in the link below.


Even Rousselot is vague as to the wearing of the colpack

Paul :)

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Sep 2017 8:57 a.m. PST

The link given only shows carbaniers in bearskin and voltigeurs in colpack.
Russ Dunaway

dibble06 Sep 2017 10:53 a.m. PST

I'm not trying to prove anything! All I'm doing is posting more information for perusal.

Napoleonic military dress is a minefield, even where the French are concerned.

Boisselier shows this for the 8th.

He also depicts the 7th in the same uniform as Knotel does above for 1811, but in Boisselier's case, for 1809

Paul :)

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Sep 2017 8:08 p.m. PST

Anything is possible I suppose and there is always something to learn?

Russ Dunaway

von Winterfeldt11 Sep 2017 2:19 a.m. PST

neither Knötel, nor Boisselier are primary sources, so one has to be very carefull to go with these.
Also the immages of the so called Carl collection are not contemporary.

In the "Otto de Bade" manuscript, 9e Légér shows a carabinier with he conventional high bearskin cap

dibble11 Sep 2017 6:28 p.m. PST

Neither does Martinet and nothing from Vernet. But then the illustrations are just a cross section of illustrations of the army. To find out what individual regiments wore is a minefield. As we know, even officialdom fell to the vagaries of many commanders.

Paul :)

von Winterfeldt11 Sep 2017 11:34 p.m. PST

I am not disagreeing, but artists of the old school just did not always treat sources seriously, like above see the piping around the bottom of the turnbacks, I cannot think of an original light infantry coat which did have it, yet it is frequently shown.
Such colpacks are seen in contemporary prints for Sappeurs, but not for elite companies as much.
It is a personal choice in the end, but I don't trust Herbert Knötel at all – without cross checking, too much ficition in his work.

Garde de Paris17 Sep 2017 2:00 p.m. PST

One of the joys of the Napoleonic French is the hope each day that some new illustration will come to light!

I have been able to gather some specific uniform data for each of the regiments that served in the I Corps in Spain – with the 54eme de ligne the most suspect. Adding a battalion of sailor, I can have la 12-battalion Ist Division for my army. Nice variety of bearskins for some, shakos for others. No colpaks for anyone in my infantry!

I have also found data on enough regiments that served in the II Corp in Spain at one time or other, for another 12 battalion 2nd Division.

I assume the colpak was the most rare of all head gear in the French infantry, and find it NOT worn in my 9eme leger; 16eme leger or 27eme leger in my 1st division.

It was not work in the 2eme (bearskin) leger, or 17eme leger in my 2nd division, and not by the Legion du Midi of my 3rd brigade.

Grenadiers of the 12nd Nassau in by German brigade DID wear it!

Lots of variety even in different years in the same regiment, so I would be DELIGHTED to learn more!


William Ulsterman05 Oct 2017 8:14 p.m. PST

The 2nd Nassau Usingen Light Infantry Regiment had colpack wearing flank (carabinier) companies in 1815. Not French, but even so they establish that the wearing of the colpack in the later years of the Napoleonic wars did happen.

I agree that the issue of elite (or flank) company headgear seems to throw up all sorts of variations.

Garde de Paris08 Oct 2017 12:03 p.m. PST

My bad!

I see a typo in my comment 17 Sept:
"Grenadiers of the 12nd Nassau in by German brigade DID wear it!" That should be 2nd Nassau.

There were 2 regiments in Spain, each of 2 battalions. Each battalion of 6 companies had a grenadier company wearing the colpak. The shoulder features were different for the two battalions.

They wore much the same uniforms at Waterloo, but with a side-satchel, as did the British.


Widowson13 Nov 2017 11:28 p.m. PST

Just in case you didn't think this could possibly be more complicated, the link above indicates that the Emperor bestowed Bearskins (the tall, Old Guard version) to any regiment that requested them. This would seem to apply to Light as well as Line Infantry.

Entirely separately, individual units bestowed the shorter "Busby" on its elite units – both carabiniers and voltiguers, on an individual basis.

So don't forget there are two different "fur hats" worn by Light Infantry elite companies, and maybe even some line units who's Voltigeurs might have worn busbies.

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