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"Old Guard Insignia" Topic


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1,154 hits since 18 Dec 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Widowson18 Dec 2018 6:47 p.m. PST

Since OG membership required at least 6 years active service, and since they were in every campaign but seldom fought or incurred casualties, shouldn't they ALL be wearing long service stripes?

Yet, invariably, they are not show thus.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2018 7:10 p.m. PST

The Old Guard infantry (two or four regiments until 1815 when there were eight) seldom fought, but the artillery and cavalry did on a routine basis.

Widowson18 Dec 2018 7:21 p.m. PST

Long service stripes were given for long service, NOT battle experience. In order to get INTO the guard, battle experience was required.

So, again, why were they not all wearing long service stripes?

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2018 9:36 a.m. PST

My first thought was they must have meant 10, 15 and 20 plus years of Guard's service. But then the penny dropped, the Guard did not exist that long!


Puzzling and an interesting question!

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2018 10:31 a.m. PST

In order to get INTO the guard, battle experience was required.


The Old Guard were veterans. The Young Guard, however, were the pick of the conscripts and were not veterans.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2018 10:43 a.m. PST

My first thought was they must have meant 10, 15 and 20 plus years of Guard's service. But then the penny dropped, the Guard did not exist that long!


In 1804 the requirements to enter the Guard were 10 years' service, made several campaigns, and maintained a spotless record. There were also height requirements. New units were periodically added to the Imperial Guard, including more artillery, sailors, gendarmerie and service troops such as the artillery train. The foot artillery was formed by Druout in 1808.


The assembly of veterans that was the Guard ended in 1804 when the velites were added to the senior infantry regiments. The cavalry and artillery got them a year later. Velites in the infantry lasted until 1807; in the cavalry until 1811 except for the 2d Dutch lancers.

The first foreign regiment to enter the Guard was the Polish Light Horse in 1807. The Young Guard 'appeared' in 1809.

The formal classification into Old, Middle, and Young Guard didn't happen until Napoleon did it in 1812 before the Russian invasion.

The Imperial Guard was rebuilt twice: once after Russia and again after the return from Elba. The Old Guard regiments were rebuilt with veterans as before.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2018 10:49 a.m. PST

Thanks for that. It does make Widowson's point then. Every single member of the infantry of the Old Guard should have had at least one long service chevron…..from the day they joined.

Maybe they did and the fault is with us modellers and later illustrators!

If that is so, this is quite something to folk who are on the obsessional spectrum about such things. (amongst which I count myself)

von Winterfeldt19 Dec 2018 2:45 p.m. PST

just go and check the registration list in Vincennes, they are there and work out how many Guardsmen in the Old Guard come to those service records.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2018 4:19 a.m. PST

Here is the classification among the Imperial Guard as Old, Middle, or Young Guard as it was made official in 1812:

Old Guard:

-1st Regiment of Grenadiers a Pied.
-1st Regiment of Chasseurs a Pied.
-NCOs of the 2d Regiments of Grenadiers a Pied and Chasseurs a Pied.
-NCOs of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers and Fusiliers-Chasseurs.
-Grenadiers a Cheval.
-Chasseurs a Cheval.
-Dragoons.
-1st Lancer Regiment (Polish).
-Mamelukes.
-Gendarmerie d'Elite.
-Artillerie a Cheval and a Pied.
-Engineers (Sapeurs du Genie).
-Veterans.
-NCOs of the Young Guard artillery.

Middle Guard:

-3d (Dutch) Grenadiers Pied.
-corporals and privates of the 2d Grenadier and Chasseur Regiments a Pied.
-2d Lancer Regiment (Dutch).
-Corporals and privates of the Fusiliers-Grenadiers and the Fusiliers-Chasseurs.
-The artillery train battalions.
-Velites of Florence.
-Velites of Turin.
-Ouvriers.
-Dutch veterans.

Young Guard:
-Tirailleurs.
-Voltigeurs.
-Flanquers-Chasseurs (the Flanquers-Grenadiers would not be formed until 1813).
-The Regiment of the National Guard.
-Bataillon des Equipages.
-Corporals and privates of the Young Guard artillery.

Snapper6920 Dec 2018 8:34 a.m. PST

Just out of curiosity, does anyone intend to answer the question? Reams of information here, but not relevant to the enquiry.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2018 8:41 a.m. PST

Which is a very interesting question indeed…let us hope….

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2018 3:13 p.m. PST

If everyone in the Old Guard qualified for the long service chevron, there would be no point in having it. The Old Guard uniform would be sufficient, long service taken as read. Just a guess, and I'm intrigued to know the answer.

Whirlwind20 Dec 2018 4:55 p.m. PST

Since OG membership required at least 6 years active service, and since they were in every campaign but seldom fought or incurred casualties, shouldn't they ALL be wearing long service stripes?

Membership didn't always require this, it depends on the unit and the year. My post in this thread gives some of the details: TMP link

There were also those in the OG who were promoted from the Guard Fusiliers: since they were only formed in 1806, by definition they would never get the long service chevrons. Add that to the members of the OG given commissions in the line, or made NCOs for other guard regiments, that is quite a few ways to not have been in for 10 years.

von Winterfeldt22 Dec 2018 11:55 a.m. PST

Also Le Breton wrote this on TMP


Le Breton
13 Jan 2018 6:54 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

Widowson03 Jan 2019 1:35 p.m. PST

Still no answer to my original question. I've seen illustrations of guardsmen with long service stripes, and I've seen illustrations without. What I'm looking for, I guess, is a regulation re long service stripes on Old Guard Infantry. Without Scotty Bowden pulling such a document from the archives at Vincennes, I'm thinking this question will never be answered.

Whirlwind03 Jan 2019 9:05 p.m. PST

Still no answer to my original question. I've seen illustrations of guardsmen with long service stripes, and I've seen illustrations without.

I thought I had answered: membership did not necessarily require 6 years service and thus members of the Old Guard did not necessarily have 10 years service. At some periods, relatively few members had 10 years service, hence a mixture with or without long service stripes.

Widowson04 Jan 2019 12:32 p.m. PST

Hard to imagine a Guard Grenadier with less than 4 years service.

Whirlwind04 Jan 2019 7:04 p.m. PST

Hard to imagine a Guard Grenadier with less than 4 years service.

Well as von W and myself have noted:

Easy to imagine in the Consular Guard.
The Old Guard of 1804 would have been made up mainly of soldiers of 5 years' experience (so no long service chevrons until 1809).
The 1806 standard is higher 10 years (so here a long service chevron was the qualifying standard for new entrants) but presumably those who had less were not actually kicked out of the Guard.
A velite entering the Guard could not have had a long service stripe until Waterloo, nor could those entering from the Guard Fusilier regiments.
The 1811 standard was back to 5 years (so no long service chevrons)
In the 1813 rebuilding, the 2nd Grenadiers and 2nd Chasseurs were built from men with 8 years service, 10 years in the 1st of those Regiments (so again the long servce chevron was in effect the qualifying standard for new entrants)
In the 1814 rebuilding, the standards for the 2nd Regts were dropped again (effectively to 3 years)
In 1815, back to 12 (!) years service for the 1st Regts, all of the other Regts being 8 or 4.

So there are really lots of ways that Old Guard soldiers could have got there legitimately without qualifying for long service. Add in the fact that (IIRC) a soldier lost them if they became an officer or SNCO, and that the Old Guard was presumably creating a lot if they were providing cadres for all of the Imperial Guard units, then you have a several ways for qualifying soldiers to not have them too. That figure for 1811 I gave in the linked post (532 for the Old Guard being veterans of Egypt and/or Italy) suggests that it was quite common but by no means a majority (and 1811 would have been a high point for this, presumably).

Widowson17 Jan 2019 4:43 p.m. PST

As usual – clear as mud.

Whirlwind17 Jan 2019 8:18 p.m. PST

As usual – clear as mud.

I'm not sure how it could be that much clearer.

Soldiers could enter the Old Guard in ways which didn't require them to have 6 years experience and there were plenty of ways for them to leave the ranks before they had reached 10.

von Winterfeldt18 Jan 2019 12:03 a.m. PST

I agree very clear, in case a Guardsman wouldn't have had more than 5 years of service then evidently so service stripes, what is so difficult to comprehend?

All Widowson has to do is to look into the matricules and then see to what kind of percentage this was the case in the history of the Old Guard regiments.

Prince of Essling20 Jan 2019 1:40 p.m. PST

Various decrees governing the formation of the Consular Guard & Imperial Guard at the back of "Napoléon Ier et la garde impériale" texte par Eugène Fieffé,… ; dessins par Denis-Auguste-Marie Raffet; Publisher: Furne fils (Paris) 1859 link

Also see "Histoire anecdotique , politique et militaire de la Garde impériale" by Émile Marco de Saint-Hilaire ; illustrée par H. Bellangé, E. Lamy, de Moraine, Ch. Vernier Publisher: E. Penaud (Paris) 1847 link

Widowson22 Jan 2019 4:55 p.m. PST

I should have said, "overly complicated." In every sub-era, the rules for entry to the guard change. And the rules for long service change. It's a mess.

Whirlwind27 Jan 2019 11:07 p.m. PST

I should have said, "overly complicated." In every sub-era, the rules for entry to the guard change. And the rules for long service change. It's a mess.

Yes, quite. And it shows what a huge variation could be meant by an Old Guardsmen. Still, paint them with stripes, paint them without, no-one can say that you are wrong…

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