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"The Guarde Imperiale by Fallou" Topic

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1,147 hits since 26 Oct 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Sir Able Brush Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2017 3:44 a.m. PST

I thought I knew of most books – but clearly not!

Found this book on my to often noodling around on auction sites

Have done a search but can't find a modern version. Are they out there?

baxterj26 Oct 2017 3:58 a.m. PST

I think Editions Quatuor did a reprint

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2017 3:58 a.m. PST

Just love the binding. Lottery win, this goes on my shelf. Illustrations are obviously well known

von Winterfeldt26 Oct 2017 5:28 a.m. PST

text and black and white prints are good, coloured plate as white bearskin cap of GaC – seemingly not up to stanard, there was a re print of text and numerous black and white drawings in the book by Olmes, decades ago, much more affordable than this one on e – bay.

fredavner Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2017 10:01 a.m. PST

I have the black and white version (1975)…no color plates
Good shape ( heavy). If interested contact me

Brechtel19826 Oct 2017 10:52 a.m. PST

An excellent volume and well-worth having. It is full of organizational and uniform information.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2017 11:14 a.m. PST

von W, you are a foolish man..

We all know the Grenadiers a Cheval de La Garde Imperiale had a trumpeter avec a white bearskin. Despite so many postings here (and my trumpeter does not) I still believe.

It will soon be Christmas and already my two Granddaughters have asked the Santa Claus question…I believe…..they must

von Winterfeldt26 Oct 2017 12:49 p.m. PST

there was a good discussion on armchair general forum about this – the general winner – no white bearskin caps for grenadier cheval trumpeters, but I agree some have so strong believes that they simply cannot change them.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2017 1:27 p.m. PST

Do you have grand daughters? You cannot tell younger folk such things.

I have seen Letort turn in his saddle at Eylau, in the snow, and there is the trumpeter. This is the photographic proof….

Is it not?

von Winterfeldt26 Oct 2017 1:31 p.m. PST

even the Brits got it right

by Denis Dighton

ERROR - no url for link

dibble Inactive Member26 Oct 2017 5:29 p.m. PST

I'll post what Paul Dawson says in his latest tome 'Napoleons Gods' about the white bearskin tomorrow, unless that is, I'm beaten to it.

Link to the ACG discussion


Paul :)

dibble Inactive Member27 Oct 2017 1:27 a.m. PST

Napoleons Gods: By Paul Dawson . Pages 249-250.

"The bearskin was also worn by the trumpeters. The first image of a trumpeter sporting this headgear is by Hoffmann. The bearskin is black with what appear to be gold cords. The raquettes (482) were worn on the left side of the bearskin rather than the more typical right for the Grenadiers. So we may assume this was a particular style adopted by the trumpeters. The store inventories for 1804 lists the chapeau as the only specific item for the trumpeter along with the bearskin cords. The stores list no bearskin specific for the trumpeters between 1804 and 1814, so we can assume they wore a standard black bearskin (483)

Furthermore, the inventories fort the Cuirassiers of France from 1814 and 1815, as well as the Grenadiers a Cheval in 1815 list for the trumpeters specific items of hat, aiguillettes, bearskin cords, uniform coat, and schabraque; portmanteau, stable coat, fatigue cap and sleeved cape. Clearly they wore the black bearskin used by troopers in the period of 23rd June 1814 to November 1815. Further confirmation comes from period iconography.

The Otto manuscript shows the black bearskin having dark yellow and crimson or gold and crimson cords and raquettes, a sky blue plume. (484) The bearskin also has chin-scales. The Strasbourg collection, created in the late 1820s, show a black bearskin, with dark yellow cords, and sky-blue plume tipped crimson (485) The Alsatian collection shows a black bearskin as does Lejeune of 1805.

Detaille, Marbot and others show the trumpeters wearing a white bearskin; indeed Marbot is the earliest reference to this and may well be the progenitor of the white bearskin. Boisselier and Knotel copy Marbot's error. The marche accounts do not list any white bearskins being purchased from 1808 to 1814, which is also confirmed by the stores inventories which do not list these items either. The Brunswick Manuscript is the only from the period to show a trumpeter of the Grenadiers sporting a white bearskin, though it more closely resembles a colpack. The uniform worn is naively depicted, so no great reliability can be placed on the illustration (486) Therefore we can be certain that the white bearskin is the invention of the mid-nineteenth century."

(482) Woven oval decorating one end of the bearskin cords.
(483) SHDDT Xab 33 271 see also SHDDT Xab 34 62
(484) Dempsey, Napoleon's Soldiers. P.48
(485) Musee de l'Armee inventory number 2747
(486) M. Stein, pers. Comm, 21May 2008

The only contemporary 'Brunswick Manuscript' illustration of a white 'head-dressed' Grenadier a Cheval Trumpeter as mentioned by Paul Dawson, in the extract above.

For most of the other illustrations mentioned, see the ACG link that I posted in my last.

Paul :)

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP27 Oct 2017 6:36 a.m. PST

I am surprised no one mentioned Lucien Rousselot. He also said the white bearskin was an error.


von Winterfeldt27 Oct 2017 8:18 a.m. PST

read the armchair general thread, he was brought up

dibble Inactive Member27 Oct 2017 12:12 p.m. PST

Yup! I also posted a couple of plate examples of his in the ACG link which added to what was mentioned in the posts.

Paul :)

Brechtel19827 Oct 2017 6:10 p.m. PST

Old information; old discussion/argument.

There are those authorities that support the white bearskin for the trumpeters of the Grenadiers a Cheval and those who oppose.

Rousselot says no amongst others. General Vanson, Herbert Knotel, and Malibran say yes, along with Fallou.

What I believe from my own research is that the white bearskin was worn, but not on campaign or in the field. That was also the case with the Guard Chasseurs a Cheval and Horse Artillery. The trumpet major probably wore the elaborate bicorne on parade.

seneffe29 Oct 2017 2:35 p.m. PST

I would be interested in any research indicating that the Grenadiers' trumpeters ever had white bearskins in any order of dress (I'm just about to embark upon painting them).
Rousselot's research does look quite compelling, that the white bearskin is an error, based upon an extrapolation by Marbot in the 1850s that because the Chasseaurs had white colpacks in full dress the Grenadiers must have followed suit, and that several other artists continued the error.

Rousselot makes the point that no white bearskins ever appear in any purchase records or uniform inventories for the Grenadiers. He does though indicate that no fewer than 30 'general officers quality' bicorne hats were definitely procured for the regiment's trumpeters in 1809. This is a far larger number of hats than would be needed by the trumpet-major alone- indeed it looks like one for every trumpeter of the regiment with a few spares.

Rousselot also states that in the painting by Garnier of the wedding procession of Naoleon and Marie-Louise, the Grenadiers' trumpeters are wearing bicornes. I have never seen this particular illustration, but if Rousselot's description of it is correct- it is at a least a contemporary source.

I would quite like the Grenadiers to have had white bearskins for their trumpeters, because they would be very appealing visually. But- while I have seen some quite compelling documentary evidence against white bearkins- I have seen no evidence supporting it beyond mid/late c19th and c20th illustrations which don't quote any contemporary sourcing.

von Winterfeldt30 Oct 2017 12:06 a.m. PST

please read the thread dibble had linked, all those points you raised are discussed in detail.
And yes, instead of white bearskin caps – hats are a nice option.

Brechtel19830 Oct 2017 3:07 a.m. PST

I would be interested in any research indicating that the Grenadiers' trumpeters ever had white bearskins in any order of dress (I'm just about to embark upon painting them).

I would suggest the work of French General Vanson. It can be found in the old editions of La Sabretache. A look into Malibran's work on French uniforms might also help.

Oliver Schmidt30 Oct 2017 3:46 a.m. PST

You find Garnier's painting (1810) here:


Probably, the Grenadiers Cheval are the unit which is passing through the gate in the center of the far background. I couldn't find a photo in a high resolution which allows to discern any details of their headdress.



seneffe30 Oct 2017 3:48 a.m. PST

I'll look at Vanson to see if he can advance any primary sourcing to support his claim. Somehwere I have an abstract of Sabretache articles and will see if I can identify the relevant one and track it down. Malibran doesn't quote any evidence IIRC- certainly not the level of treatment Rousselot goes into.

In other matters of uncertainty concerning French Napoleonic uniforms- Rousselot is usually quite careful to present differing views and sources and give an objective evaluation. He certainly had access to and frequently refers to Vanson, Malibran etc in other contexts, so if they had anything compelling to say on this- I think it is likely he would have quoted them.

With the Grenadier trumpeters Rousselot is pretty adamant that there is no primary evidence for white bearskins- he even identifies the first instance where they occur in uniformlogy in c1850 with Marbot unilaterally changing the colour of the black bearskin shown in a contemporary Hoffman illustration to white- but without Marbot offering any explanation for why he did so.

I'll look at the other sources suggested in hope, but right now, the actual evidence presented against white bearskins and in favour of bicornes looks somewhat stronger.

Oliver- many thanks for the picture. I too can't find one with sufficient resolution to identify this point for myself- but Rousselot appears to have studied the original, and would certainly have had the opportunity to do so.

Marc at work30 Oct 2017 5:05 a.m. PST

Always good to read about the research. Much appreciated.

Mine will continue to have white as it looks good to me, but that doesn't stop me enjoying the reasoned and well supported debate people bring to the topic.

But then, my troops tend to wear full dress and that is unrealistic as well. I guess in truth I am playing with toy soldiers from my imagination.

Great thread, and civilised so far


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