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"Old Guard - 10year requirement - how strict?" Topic

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664 hits since 12 Jan 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Korvessa12 Jan 2018 7:35 p.m. PST

How strict were they with the 10 year rule?

It occurred to me you if one joined up just before Austerlitz, you could have been a veteran of an awful lot of famous battles and campaigns and not have been eligible until Waterloo

von Winterfeldt12 Jan 2018 11:11 p.m. PST

where did you read about the 10 years rule?

ancientsgamer Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2018 12:12 a.m. PST

Consular Guard goes back to the early 1790s.

Brechtel19813 Jan 2018 6:53 a.m. PST

The Consular Guard was formed after Napoleon became First Consul. It was made up from the Guard of the National Convention which would eventually be reformed and renamed the Garde du Corps Legislatif.

In 1796 the Directory created a Maison composed of a company each of grenadiers a pied and grenadiers a cheval (the newly formed grenadiers a cheval came from veterans in the line dragoon regiments). A twenty-five piece band was formed with them from the Paris Conservatory of Music.

Napoleon's Guides were put into the newly formed Consular Guard. These three units made up the Consular Guard in 1799.

The Consular Guard was small-2,089 all ranks which was made up of a company of light infantry, two grenadier battalions, a company of chasseurs a cheval (who were from Napoleon's Guides), two squadrons of grenadiers a cheval, and a company of artillery. There were also two bands-one for the infantry the other for the cavalry.

When the Consular Guard became the Imperial Guard and the requirements and honors became 'official.' The ten-year requirement was introduced in 1804, but as with many requirements, undoubtedly waivers were granted. For example, Coignet did not meet the height requirement for a grenadiers, but during his interview Davout advised him to put a pack of cards in his shoes.

Other requirements were having made several campaigns and have a clean record book.

An excellent reference is La Garde Imperiale by L Fallou.

Lou from BSM13 Jan 2018 7:39 a.m. PST

+1 La Garde Imperiale by Fallou.

Le Breton Inactive Member13 Jan 2018 7:54 a.m. PST

Mentions of minimum service requirements, using grenadiers à pied or equivalent as the example :

October 1796 : "grenadiers à pied de la garde constitutionelle" – 2 year prior service requirement – or – to have performed an "action d'éclat"
The other unit that was later included in the formation of the garde consulaire was the "grenadiers de la garde du corps législatif" (ex- "grenadiers-gendarmes près la représentation nationale", ex- "gendarmes de la prévôté de l'hôtel royale") – and this formation had no minimum service requirement.

March 1802 : "grenadiers à pied de la garde consulaire" – prior service of 4 campaigns – or – to have performed an "action d'éclat" – or – to have been wounded for new selectees

July 1804 : "grenadiers à pied de la garde impériale" – prior service of 5 years service including 2 campaigns for new selectees

In the decree of organization for the guard of 15 April 1806, Art. 3 it says,
"Les bataillon de vieux soldats seront composés de 4 compagnies fort de 120 hommes chaque. Les bataillons eront composés de 480 hommes chaque, et la totalité du corps de de 1920 hommes, tous soldats ayant au moins 10 ans de service dans la ligne."
This is the text as reported by Perrot & Amoudru (1821), Marco de Saint-Hilaire (1846), Fieffé & Raffet (1859) and Pigeard (1993)
Given that large numbers of prior governments' guards had been previously incoprorated (some of which had soldiers with no line experience at all), we may have to think of this requirement having application to only new selectees
Article 34 provided that a vélite (the vélites wee formed in July 1804) who made a campaign would then be admiited to the guard proper.

The creation of the 2e grenadiers (ex-hollandais) was by incorporation of pre-exisitng Dutch units in 1810, which was renamed 3e grenadiers in 1811.
The creation of the 2e grenadiers (français) was by incorporation of a prior cadre of the regiment, a draft on the fusiliers and soldiers selected from the line.
I could find no requirements for minimum prior service for these.

During the Cent Jours, per the decree of 8 April 1815 specified in Art. 46 :
For the 1e grenadiers : 12 years of service
For the 2e grenadiers : 8 years of service
For the 3e grenadier : 4 years of service, which might be assumed to apply to the 4e grenadiers formed per a decree of 9 May 1815

Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2018 8:25 a.m. PST

Quick answer: Not very, there were lots of exceptions

A few more details in my post in this thread: TMP link

(although read at risk – figures from the Napoleonistkya website IIRC)

Osage201715 Jan 2018 1:48 p.m. PST

Was really that big difference in quality between 10 years vets and 2 years vets ???

Le Breton Inactive Member15 Jan 2018 8:21 p.m. PST

From personal experience in the modern era (US Navy, French Infanterie de marine), the answer would be "oh God, yes!" …. but a part of that is just learning to use all the modern technical equipment – not an issue for Napoléon's guards.


GR 20 YC 1 à 217. Registres matricules des sous-officiers et hommes de troupe de la garde (1799-1815).
1er régiment de grenadiers à pied, 1799-1814
SHD/GR 20 YC 5bis 16 ventôse an X [7 mars 1802] – 6 janvier 1810 (matricules 2 965 à 5 756)

The 10-year requirement would have kicked in about page 200.

There were also exceptions even in 1806/1807 :
- vélites who made a campaign with the garde
- a draft of 20 men on each of the régiments d'artillerie de la marine – not to be gunners, just to be infantrymen
- gendarmes who had made a campaign with the army as gendarmes (but these usually had long careers in the line before becoming gendarmes)

Anyway, you can go man-by-man and check to see how many met the 10-year requirement.

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