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"Trumpeter Carabiniers during the 100 days campaign" Topic

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Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 1:41 a.m. PST

I haven't read Dawson's book, but isn't his reasoning that, on the basis of stores the carabiniers were known to have had, they cannot have made any more blue tunics for the 100 days? Because they only had materials for white faced blue?

This doesn't rule out their existing at all, it only rules out new blue tunics in 1815. No?

Existing ones still in use would be another matter.

Tassie15 May 2020 2:37 a.m. PST

At Vincennes, in boxes nos XC91 and XC93 (for the 1er and 2e Carabiniers respectively) which I have been through over a four year period, it is quite clear that:

i) there was only enough bleu-celeste uniform cloth ordered, bought and received to allow for collars, cuffs, etc on habits.

ii) about 20 times that amount of white uniform cloth was ordered, bought and received, the bulk of which was used to make habits. The stores returns even state how much had been used to make habits since the last inspection review.

iii) the inspection reviews of July 1814 and August 1815 show that there were only enough habits for one per man.

iv) there were no habits sat in the stores in Luneville that had been made in previous years (1810-1813) apart from a few of "grande tenue" that needed repairing before they could be reissued.

v) if the bleu-celeste habits had existed at all, then their manufacture and issue would have been carefully recorded, as with every other item of uniform and equipment.

Don't forget that the Carabiniers went into Russia nearly 1,600 strong, and it would have required a huge amount of cloth to make second bleu-celeste habits.

However, such uniform cloth was never ordered, bought or received. The manufacturing expenses involved in making an extra 1,600 uniform items would certainly have been mentioned in the regimental accounts, stores, invoices and returns.

An adjutant sous-officier or a marechal-des-logis chef *might* possibly have had such a garment for walking out, but these would have purchased privately and certainly were not paid for and issued by the regiment.

Any apparent eyewitness claims to have seen bleu-celeste habits in Russia I'm sure were made in good faith, but that doesn't mean that they are accurate. However, they can't be completely discounted, so my opinion is that what was seen by eyewitnesses was some of the men wearing their bleu-celeste stable jackets on the long marches in Russia, and in bivouac.

They can't have been wearing bleu-celeste habits, for they were never manufactured, let alone issued.

dibble15 May 2020 4:31 a.m. PST

von Winterfeldt

the top image is not for Restoration but from his plate published in Sabretache regarding the blue tunic of the Napoleonic time, he wrote a good text to the plate as well, which seemingly is completely ignored by Dawson where he very well explains his reasoning basing this on contemporary evidence – it should be read and not dismissed.

c'mon von' Just admire this great looking uniform.

Paul :)

Van Damme15 May 2020 4:40 a.m. PST

For the text on Rouselotte's article about the second uniform:
and for the uniform plate:

von Winterfeldt15 May 2020 4:50 a.m. PST

nice but I prefer the old uniform

Marc the plastics fan15 May 2020 5:16 a.m. PST

Paul. Careful, you'll turn into a Francophile soon 😀

I like both uniforms, but as the grenadier a Cheval wore the bearskin to the end, I am happy that the Carabiniers went full on fancy dress mode.

Gives me variety to paint

Tassie15 May 2020 6:08 a.m. PST

Many thanks, Van Damme, for the link to Rousselot's hypothesis on whether or not the Carabiniers wore a bleu-celeste habit in the Russian Campaign.

The paragraph beginning: "Bien que non reconnu officiellement," offers Rousselot's opinion.

He believes that when the Carabiniers' stable jacket changed from being double breasted to single breasted, the regimental tailors used this as an opportunity to experiment with converting the stable jackets into habits by sewing on short tails.

I guess there's some logic here ~ once the regimental tailor has a pile of stable jackets needing recutting from being double to single breasted, he might as well do any other required alterations at the same time.

Adding white piping would have been easy ~ there was lots of white wool uniform cloth at the Luneville depot, and the scarlet grenade turnback badges could have been easily cut out from the cloth still left in the stores from when the Carabiniers wore dark blue and red uniforms.

But the savings in blue-celeste tricot (jersey) wouldn't have given sufficient cloth to make and line the tails for 1,600+ stable jacket conversions. Nothing like enough.

And that's my big reservation about this seemingly logical and practical idea. Here's why:

i) there is no record of ish 500 metres of expensive bleu-celeste tricot having been used to make and line the tails of 1,600+ stable jacket conversions.

ii) there are no invoices or receipts for the work that would have undoubtedly been subcontracted out to complete the massive task, as was normal procedure.

iii) for the inspections and reviews of the Luneville stores and regimental accounts, the stable jackets are still described as stable jackets: "vestes d'ecurie"

Interestingly, Rousselot adds that in his opinion, despite having the bleu-celeste stable jacket conversions in Russia, he believes that the Carabinier regiments would probably have worn their best grande tenue (white) habits at Borodino, as Napoleon was in personal command:

"alors qu'ils auraient du etre dans la plus grande tenue possible, l'Empereur commandant en personne."

So, thanks again, Van Damme and thanks also to Rousselot, for a most interesting and compelling contribution.

Personally, I'm not convinced that Rousselot's hypothesis here is right. Upon balance, I still don't believe that these stable jackets were ever converted into short tailed habits.

Of one thing we can be certain ~ if they were worn in Russia, I doubt more than a handful ever made it back again.

Van Damme15 May 2020 9:01 a.m. PST

The absence of any records of the purchase and subsequent fabrication of blue celeste habits for the troopers, whatever date (from 1812 onwards), is to me the most telling issue to doubt the opinion of Rouselotte. Most of the arguments are subjective and the objective proof to establish if the blue celeste habit was worn (if it exist) during the campaign in Belgium, hinges on the existence of records of purchase of enough blue celeste fabric to manufacture these habits. Rests the question why experts like Rouselotte and Patrice Courcelle amongst others believe their is a blue celeste habit.

Tassie15 May 2020 9:28 a.m. PST

My guess, Van Damme, is that although Rousselot certainly did look at some original regimental documents during his career, he wasn't able to (or chose not to) access the Carabinier records, particularly the inspection reviews, for some reason, in XC91 and XC93.

When you look at the huge range of material that he covered, not only for the First Empire, but also the Restoration period, The Second Empire and the French Army before 1789, and everything from Hussars to the Artillery Train, it's not surprising that he wasn't able to study original archive material at Vincennes for every uniform plate that he produced.

I still regard him as a very valuable uniform resource, but I believe that his hypothesis about the bleu-celeste habit is unfortunately incorrect.

Van Damme15 May 2020 10:22 a.m. PST


About the colors;
I have a picture from (I believe Paul Dawsons)research which stated to be from original samples of clothing.
You mentioned earlier that you had seen the original cloth that was used to send to the manufacturer.
Do you find the colors in this picture accurate or do you find they are incorrect?

Tassie15 May 2020 10:52 a.m. PST

I have an original Carabinier officer's epaulette in my collection. The wool uniform cloth used for the underside / lining of the epaulette is pretty much identical to the larger of the three samples, on the right.

However, the trooper's shade is decidedly a more rich blue, and the sample at the bottom left of the photo is the original sample that Raoul Brunon (the then curator of the collection) gave to me at the Musee de l'Emperi in 1991, that I lent to Paul Dawson in order for him to make that comparison photo.

(It's a bit like British officer's scarlet is quite a different shade to the red worn by the rank and file)

The habit worn by the Carabinier officer mannequin at the Musee de l'Emperi is actually an original trooper's habit. You can see how different the bleu-celeste turnbacks are to what one might have expected for the Carabiniers.


Bleu-ciel (sky blue) and bleu-celeste (heavenly blue) are indeed two distinctly different shades.

Hope that helps.

von Winterfeldt15 May 2020 10:52 a.m. PST

Don't be too obsessed by the colour – it could vary, in case you look at the original contemporary print in the article by Petard, here it is quite dark, in case you look at the Rousselot plate – where he copies this NCO is is much lighter.

Patrice Courcelle wrote a response as to why he thinks the Carabiniers did very often wore a light blue tunic compared to the white one in Tradition magazine.

It cannot be denied, that as well contemporary evidence in picture as well as contemporary text evidence (Nansouty, Breitenbach) speak about a blue tunic, is it the long sleeved waistcoat, which is also shown by Carle Vernet – or is it indeed a second coat for everyday and field wear , is difficult to say.

Tassie15 May 2020 11:04 a.m. PST

Von W, I completely agree with you that the shades of uniform cloth could vary somewhat.

Forgive me if my record seems stuck in its groove, but the so called bleu-celeste habits apparently seen worn by Carabiniers in the Russian campaign, must have been a sleeved stable jacket.

Habits were made by and for the regiments, using their own stocks of cloth, all of which had to be ordered, delivered and accounted for.

They were not delivered from central warehouses, already sewn and finished.

As the Carabiniers didn't have them made (they didn't have anything like the required amount of bleu-celeste cloth, and all the paperwork shows that they weren't ever paid for, received, issued, or put in the stores) and as the stork didn't deliver them, then the only conclusion left is that they were never made.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 12:52 p.m. PST

I just hope this keeps going.

It has been very politely and professionally conducted and the subject is actually very important for those of us obsessed with Napoleonics.

OK, only two regts, but there cannot be many that do not have them on their wargames table. I do not have them on my display shelf, as I have never seen figures worthy of showing. (I am tempted to stop dismissing Foundry as too small, based on recent showings, I do admit). Front Rank I binned eventually. Perry heads are tiny in the coronal plane. Anything else in 28mm…..naw….

MarbotsChasseurs15 May 2020 1:11 p.m. PST


I hate to change the subject but do you by any chance have a reference guide to the archives? I have XB and YB documents for the 3e, 57e Ligne and 10e Leger for 1809 and An X.1810, but I am unaware of other categories at the archives. I was able to reach out to someone who helped me with research, but would like to find more things such as inspection reports and such. Could I contact you or could you reach out to me? My email is Boomerlc23 @ gmail . com

Thank you

von Winterfeldt15 May 2020 1:33 p.m. PST

Well – for my part I will close the discussion, other than saying that also in a memoir of Schehl, who served in the carabiniers – the light blue coat is mentioned.

I won't negate those plenty contemporary evidence and won't base my opinion only on the clothing review – which must also have a limited time span.

Tassie15 May 2020 3:31 p.m. PST

I've just emailed you the required information on how to access documents in the Vincennes archives, with all the catalogue numbers for the regimental boxes, as well as some of the crucial information from the 1815 inspection review for the 2e Carabiniers ~ the original document, not a typed up copy. Cheers, Ian

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 4:43 p.m. PST

What Deadhead said – it's been really useful. I'd never even heard of carabiniers until I came by Haythornthwaite's Uniforms of Waterloo and was instantly blown away by them: the red crests, the white coats, the yellow metal cuirasses. Imagine my disappointment when other sources suggested they wore another boring blue coat instead! Imagine my delight at discovering I can have them all in white after all!

What do people use for artillery train steel-grey by the way? I'm thinking an RAF blue might work?

dibble15 May 2020 5:19 p.m. PST

Let's finish on the old style just for the von.

Paul :)

MarbotsChasseurs16 May 2020 6:12 a.m. PST


slightly larger pic!


More modern painting of Carabiners at Battle of Friedland 1807.


Officer Portrait

Robert le Diable16 May 2020 6:43 p.m. PST

Looking at that picture of Friedland in particular, I can't help adding, in what might be an irresponsibly unscholarly way, that if you don't have miniature representations of Carabineers in copper-faced cuirasses, white habits with bleu celeste facings, then you might as well have a triple-strength body of Grenadiers a Cheval. That does have certain attractions, but of course Trompettes and their headgear might be problematical. So's that gopaleen.

Interesting, and "forensic". Great to follow, thanks.

* Truth to tell, when I first saw pictures of Chasseurs a Cheval and Grenadiers a Cheval de la Garde, the Trompettes with white kolpaks and bearskins respectively, I wondered just how regular the supply of polar-bears' skins had to be…..

""*[//]) {>

La Belle Ruffian17 May 2020 4:32 a.m. PST

Robert – and for a later period you might as well have extra cuirassiers if you go with blue. As a wargamer that would be my rationale for the white alone.

Robert le Diable17 May 2020 6:00 a.m. PST

Yes, indeed (helmets, though). I've pursued not-dissimilar thoughts with regard to Hussar regiments (especially when bearing in mind the practice of wearing either dolman OR pellisse, rather than both); as far as I recall offhand, there were a lot of them in light blue – whether sky, heavenly, or faded from something in indigo – and if I made the yellow lace kinda pale, the white maybe a bit yellowed….
I painted one regiment of Carabineers for a friend's collection about twenty or thirty years ago (cuirasses). They had two Trompettes, each in a different uniform. Neither was Restoration, unsurprisingly.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 9:04 a.m. PST

@ Robert

There are indeed a lot of hussars in light blue, but on the basis of this thread, it seems possible that they shouldn't be. Or rather, more precisely, there should be many in the same shade of blue, but bleu ciel isn't light blue. It actually looks closer to Bavarian ( = BMW badge) blue.

dibble18 May 2020 3:03 p.m. PST

The artist, Malcolm Greensmith got the colour about right with his rendition of the said 5th Hussar in the above photo.

Here's my copy of it that I have had hanging on my wall for years.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 5:30 p.m. PST

The French would sometimes dye the cloth darker than the regulation shade and then it would eventually fade to something near the regulation color.

It should also be noted that some shades were considered 'fugitive' it that they wouldn't last too long exposed to the elements.

DrsRob18 May 2020 5:47 p.m. PST

The French would sometimes dye the cloth darker than the regulation shade and then it would eventually fade to something near the regulation color.

I'd like to see some reference for that statement…

As far as 'fugitive' is concerned: indigo blue was considered particularly fast, red and orange being the most fugitive See: J.F. Teupken, Kleeding en Wapenrusting van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Troepen ('s Gravenhage 1823) p. 99.
This is stil the case today. A car or motorcycle painted bright red is most likely to suffer from fading.

La Belle Ruffian19 May 2020 3:01 a.m. PST

Robert, I game in 15mm so for me there's little difference between red plumes on Cuirassier helmets and red-crested Carabinier pots at tabletop distance. That's why I like the distinct jackets and cuirasses.

Robert le Diable19 May 2020 11:45 a.m. PST

Yes, I can see the logic there, as well. Mind you, Myopia allows me to appreciate shako-plates, cockardes and piping when within six inches or so of any figures – and at seven inches away, Russian Grenadiers might as well be French Voltiguers, and they wouldn't even have to be in greatcoats. Same scale, by the way. The 5th Hussards I have in 15mm, but do intend to paint one larger figure – probably 28mm, perhaps 54mm – for each of the Hussar regiments, and anticipate that it will be exacting to get the White pellisse looking convincing. I see the picture above has the dolman & waistcoat only, common practice.

With regard to different shades of blue (and I remember reading years ago that the colour given as "sky blue" in translation was rather darker than often thought), it occurred to me earlier in this thread that the French use of "ciel" and "cieux" for both "sky"/"the skies" and "Heaven"/"the heavens" might be of some unexpected relevance. That is, might an expression such as "Heavenly blue" come originally from Church practice, or at least that of artists employed by it? The Madonna was traditionally represented in a blue gown, the pigment being made from powdered Lapis Lazuli. This mineral came from Afghanistan (hence "ultramarine", from over the sea), so I'm not suggesting that any French regiments had clothes of such exotic and costly origin – but someone might know otherwise…..

An interesting and discursive trip this has been.
""*[//]) {>

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 1:57 p.m. PST

I'd like to see some reference for that statement…

'…the dark green of the chasseurs of the Guard is almost black, the sky blue of the 5th Hussars is almost royal blue: in general the tints are much darker than they are usually shown.'-Roger Forthofer.

Yellow, orange, and scarlet dyes were considered fugitive dyes as they faded quickly. There was also trouble getting the color correct for the regiments of chasseurs a cheval 'whose distinction were jonquille (bright yellow), aurore (golden orange), orange, and capucine (dead leaf).-John Elting, Swords Around A Throne, 440-441.

DrsRob19 May 2020 2:54 p.m. PST

'…the dark green of the chasseurs of the Guard is almost black, the sky blue of the 5th Hussars is almost royal blue: in general the tints are much darker than they are usually shown.'-Roger Forthofer.
The French would sometimes dye the cloth darker than the regulation shade and then it would eventually fade to something near the regulation color.
Those are two entirely different statements.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 3:56 p.m. PST

No, they are not.

ConnaughtRanger19 May 2020 11:31 p.m. PST

"No, they are not."
I'm afraid they are – they are unrelated. Not to mention, it stretches credibility to believe that you would produce something of a different colour on the basis that, for a very brief time in the overall fading process, it would be the colour you actually want. Not even the French would come up with that one.

Marc the plastics fan20 May 2020 3:15 a.m. PST

Sigh. And this thread was going so well. Oh well, it was good while it lasted

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2020 3:48 a.m. PST

I'm afraid they are – they are unrelated.

We'll have to agree to disagree on the subject.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2020 4:28 a.m. PST

@ Robert

That's a really superior, fascinating and thoroughly plausible bit of uniformological speculation, shored up by its taking in linguistic and art historical cues as well. Blimey. I recall lapis lazuli and the association with Mary from a Robert Browning poem: lapis lazuli…Blue as a vein o'er the Madonna's breast, this being a joke on the narrator who's a Bishop and not supposed to be thinking about the Madonna's breasts.

Your guess is also borne out by the actual colour of lapis lazuli


which depending on whether it's natural or polished looks remarkably close to actual swatches of blue celeste or as we might have it, Vallejo 70925

or perhaps Vallejo 930 Dark Blue

Wow. What a fabulous digression that was.

At the risk of derailment here's another, unrelated but interesting: the name Hasdrubal, as in brother of Hannibal, means "Abdullah" or "Abdul", because both mean "servant (asdru / abid) of God (Baal / Allah = God)". Who knew? Hannibal means "Grace of God". The cognomen / surname "Barca" means "lightning", a word which survives into modern times as the consonantally very similar Arabic bariq (ÈÑÞ).

So if they lived in Tunisia today, they'd be the brothers Amin and Abdul Bariq, which gives "About 7,410 results" if you Google that name.

How fascinating is that? I actually find it oddly moving, like handling a roundshot fired at Waterloo. Hannibal Barca is a legend from history, but Amin Bariq is someone who you can imagine living and breathing. Relatedly, IIRC Caesar more or less means "skinhead", which is…not unfair.

OK, back to the squabbling

von Winterfeldt20 May 2020 4:46 a.m. PST

So we are back to colours, again ignoring French primary sources and relying only on dubious sources alone won't bring anything forward.

I never read that the French would dye their cloth darker as required – I would agree that the people then had a different feel of hues. What they would regard as light blue, we would usually regard as mid blue.

This wasn't helped by artists as Herbert Knötel, Forthofer, Lienhardt and Humbert (to name a few) who just changed sources to their whim, e.g. introducing ultra light blue cloth – for Bavarians, or France. This is in contrast to Richard Knötel who paid much more attention to such matters.

The Administration de la Guerre published lists of colours and prices according to the decisions of le 24 octobre 1808 – which should be employed for 1809.

For greens for example there is listed

Vert – dragon, vert – chasseur, vert-de-mer, vert-clair, on "light" blue, bleu-céleste foncé and bleu-céleste clair.

It was also decided that the bleu-céöeste foncé should re place the gris-de-fer mélange.

I cannot see why those professionals would have difficulties to dye colours like orange, or the different yellows.

In case one would want to delve more into this subject, I would recommend :

Virgaud, Gilberte : Vêture et Parure en France au Dix – Hiutième Siècle, Paris 1995

Some colours seemed to be not so stable than others, the Austrians recommended to dye green on a basis of a blue cloth instead of a natural wool colour with the argument that when fading a blue would be more pleasing than a faded green which would create a not so attractive green greyish colour.

Other nations, like the Russians or indeed the French seemingly did not have such a problem.

Van Damme20 May 2020 11:44 a.m. PST


This topic was started to identify the habit color for carabiniers during the 100 day campaign in 1815! We were trying to find the historical accurate color and design for trumpeters, officers and troopers.
When we are talking about color, I saved a document/publication about the french blue colors used during the empire with the name Blue De ?
I saved the text but have no link or origin. I remember it being published by Paul L Dawson (if I`m not mistaken). I also understood that @Tassie was present and had a feel and look of the original samples.

Here is the text;

Re-enactors, artists and figure painters by and large seem to get the four shades of blue used by the French Army in the Napoleonic wars into something of a muddle. Four primary shades of blue used were Bleu Imperiale [with it seems some degree of variance between cloth manufacturers, and perhaps the way the cloth was made, and the cloth itself], Bleu Clair, Bleu de Ciel and Bleu Celeste. These light shades of blue are all in most cases considered as one colour, Sky Blue. What we show here is that Sky Blue or Bleu de Ciel was not a light blue colour, and that the colour re-enactors and artists used to show this colour was actually Celestial Blue or in French Bleu Celeste.
All the blue colours were Indigo derived. In the 1st Empire from Woad [Pastel in French] was mixed with a percentage of Indigo, of a ratio of 256g of Indigo to 100kg of woad. Woad contains indigotin, but at a a weaker concentration to indigotin derived from other plants. A variety of plants have provided indigo throughout history, but most natural indigo was obtained from those in the genus Indigofera. The primary commercial indigo species in Asia was true indigo (Indigofera tinctoria, also known as I. sumatrana). A common alternative used in the relatively colder subtropical locations such as Japan's Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan is Strobilanthes cusia. In Central and South America, the two species grown are I. suffruticosa (añil) and dyer's knotweed (Polygonum tinctorum), although the Indigofera species yield more dye. In Napoleonic France woad was primarily grown around Albi, Turin and Florence, selling the dye at 18 to 20 francs per kg under a set tariff introduced in 1791. The cost of obtaining Indigo dye is why the French army became dressed in un dyed cloth uniforms for a period in 1806 and 1807.
The colour blue was created by the length of time the cloth or yarn was in the vat and how old the vat of dye was. Cloth was dyed in two ways. For high quality cloth used by the middle and upper classes, Generals and the Imperial Guard, the yarn was dyed to the required colour before the cloth was woven. For the lower classes and the soldiers of the Line, the cloth was dyed once it was made. The yarn used in this high grade fabrics contained a percentage of imported Spanish marano wool, mixed with high quality French produced yarn. This high grade cloth was produced in the Elbeuf region. Dyeing the yarn before weaving gave a better quality of colour, but it meant that a mill had to produce minimum quantities of cloths of different colours, where as the mills producing cloth that was dyed later, could produce a cheaper product as the looms produced a natural cloth, using yarn which was not as well sorted or selected as the higher grade fabric. This coarser fabric was known as Drap de Lodeve, and was it seems the ‘bog standard' army cloth. The better quality yarn and finish on the cloth would also reflect the way in which the dye was taken up into the yarn fibres, so the same dye on a high grade superfine would look different to the same dye on a much lower grade and coarser fabric. Of importance to this study, cloth once dyed with Indigo, does not fade [darken or lighten] it is a fixed colour. Bar 200yrs of dirt accumulation, the colour of the cloth in 2015 is the same as when made in 1815. All our visual colour matches were made from interior surfaces of garments, behind linings, so a colour lacking 200years of grime could be exposed.
But what where the four colours of Blue used in the Empire?
Thanks to the late Roual Brunnon, we had the opportunity of being able to compare provenanced examples of Napoleonic uniforms as well as to take cloth samples away from the museum collections for further study. In this way we have been able to make visual matches, under natural light or the four shades of blue, as well as take samples to be analysed to determine the cloths actual shade, and likely dye. This ground breaking research has allowed us to define exactly what the four shades of blue were. Below we have two images of Bleu de Ciel cloth. This color, Bleu de Ciel was used as the facing cloth of the Carabinier regiments. However re-enactors and artists show the use of Bleu Celeste, which was we will see is very much a different color.

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Small sample of orignal Bleu de Ciel cloth. Image made under natural light. This sample is a visual match to the carabinier fraise and the facings of the only known Carabinier habit, both preserved at the Musee Emperi.
Having defined now Bleu de Ciel, we look at Bleu Celeste- the uniform colour of the 10th Hussards, and the facing colour of the 5th Line Lancers and 16th Chasseurs a Cheval.

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Top left dye match to Bleu Imperiale. Bottom left dye match to Bleu de Ciel. Right visual match to Bleu Celeste. Under bright natural light.
We can see under natural light how dark the Bleu Imperiale looks, also the Bleu de Ciel compared to the Bleu Celeste. The shade of Bleu Celeste here is an exact visual match to the interior of a pair of pantalons for the 9e Hussars preserved at the Musee de l'Armee. Modern days artists, and artists in the Napoleonic epoch, struggled to get the colour correct in their images. Vernet and his studio in his paintings for the Bardin regulations of 1812 consistently get the colour of Bleu de Ciel and Bleu Celeste confused, and show both colours as being the same colour, and far lighter in colour than in reality. This new ground breaking research is able to correct artist errors and show what Napoleonic cloth colours actually were, as opposed to what artists think they are. This is very important to both re-enactors and artists, so that they can depict regiments with the correct colours.
The fourth shade of Blue was Bleu Clair, a colour unique to the 9e Hussars. Many re-enactors and artists show the facings of this regiment as Bleu Celeste, when infact as the 1803 and 1812 make clear the facing colour and colour of the Pelisse was Bleu Clair. The pantalons were Bleu Cleleste. Visual match of two dolmans from the 9e Hussards at the Musee at Tarbes under natural light allows us to present the image below.
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Top Bleu Celeste. Bottom left Bleu Imperiale. Bottom right Bleu de Ciel. Centre Bleu Clair. Photographed under natural light.
As I said at the start of this page, the French used four shades of blue. Well not quite, Bleu Celeste Fonce was used by the 1e Hussard according to the 1803 and 1812 regulations. Extant items appear as a dirty shade of Bleu Celeste. The difference could be due to the colour of the base yarn, the age of the dye vat and length of time in the vat. However, it does seem a darker, dirtier shade of Bleu Celeste existed, Bleu Celeste Fonce.
To recap, for the first time since 1815, we have been able to identify and replicate five shades of blue used by the French army of the Napoleonic period. Re-enactors and artists take note, Bleu de Ciel [sky blue] is a mid blue, a very rich colour, which in the majority of cases, artists show as the paler Bleu Celeste [celestial blue]. Sky blue is not sky blue in colour, that is Bleu Celeste.
So the next time you see Carabiniers in paintings, at re-enactments or as model soldiers, and they are faced with a light blue color, this is wrong. They had a wonderful rich blue color. When you see re-enactors of the 9th Hussars with light blue facings, pantalon and pelisse, just remember what colors they actually were. The 9e Hussars had Bleu de Ciel facings, and Pelisse and Bleu Celeste leg wear- two very different colors.

So my questions; Are their any conflicting vieuws on this statement about the colors?
Which acrylic paints would replicate these colours; Blue Clair, blue Celeste (vallejo, foundry,…)
Lets get back on track for the carabiniers habits


von Winterfeldt20 May 2020 1:34 p.m. PST

Very good work, but I still cannot agree, the official document of the Administration de la Guerre – Bureau de l'Habillement speaks only of

bleu – impérial, Bleu-céleste foncé and bleu-céleste clair – I cannot find a bleu de ciel, this seems to be a modern term which was not in use for official fabric for the French Army.

DrsRob20 May 2020 3:08 p.m. PST

Van Damme:
This color, Bleu de Ciel was used as the facing cloth of the Carabinier regiments. However re-enactors and artists show the use of Bleu Celeste, which was we will see is very much a different color.
Yet, the comparative "Devis the Carabiniers" (nr. 30) in Le Goupil lists from 1810 only Bleu Céleste for facings and stable jacket alike.

Marc the plastics fan20 May 2020 3:20 p.m. PST

Interesting that not one artist got the Carabinier facing colours correct. Fascinating

Tassie20 May 2020 3:26 p.m. PST

Von Winterfeldt,

"I cannot find a bleu de ciel, this seems to be a modern term which was not in use for official fabric for the French Army."

Chateau de Vincennes, in box no. Xab38, one can find and study the inspection review of the Dragons de la Garde, dated 7th August 1814 (at that moment, they were the Corps Royal des Dragons de France).

On page 24 of their inspection review it states the following:

"Tableau des effets et matieres verses dans les magasins du Corps Royal des Dragons de France:

Drap bleu de ciel pour habits de trompette . . ."

I can email you a photo of the actual original document, if you wish.

So, bleu de ciel isn't just a modern term.

Hope that helps you.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2020 1:39 a.m. PST

Bleu celeste does look pretty light in those samples. It's not a bright sky blue like the underside of a WW2 plane – it's darker than that – but it's still pretty light.

So looking at this table again, what should one read for the various blues alluded to?

I don't have a source that says any hussar regiment had coats in one blue faced in another – is that definitely right?

Tassie21 May 2020 1:57 a.m. PST

May I refer you back to the original Carabinier trooper's habit at the Musée de l'Empéri:


The exposure of this 1971 photograph (taken by the curator, Raoul Brunon) is perhaps a little affected by the very strong sunlight reflecting off the sandstone in the courtyard of the Chateau de l'Empéri, but you can still see that it's quite a deep blue. It is in no way what one might casually describe as light blue.

Tassie21 May 2020 2:05 a.m. PST

This photograph of the same habit (but this time worn on the officer's mannequin at l'Empéri) is useful as you can see the contrast of the blue on the épaulières (shoulder straps) of the officer's pattern cuirass, with the blue of the collar and cuffs of the trooper's habit.


The officer's blue on the cuirass épaulières is bang on to what Paul Dawson shows and terms "bleu celeste".

However, as you can clearly observe, the trooper's habit blue is much deeper.

Don't forget that a British officier's scarlet would be quite different to the red used by the rank and file.

Tassie21 May 2020 2:12 a.m. PST

The contrast of the officer's blue on the cuirass shoulder straps, with the blue of the trooper's habit is arguably clearer here:

Tassie21 May 2020 2:17 a.m. PST

The blue and red silk of the model 1815 flag have clearly faded, however the contrast with the original trooper's habit blue is notable.


Tassie21 May 2020 2:39 a.m. PST

Having studied the original inspection reviews, seen the wax sealed cloth samples from the Ministry of War, and handled the original trooper's habit at the Musée de l'Empéri, let me sum up my personal thoughts on the shade of Carabinier blue, by putting it into a modern context.

Apologies to anyone unfamiliar with the English Premier League.

Carabinier officers: Manchester City football shirt

Carabinier troopers: Everton football shirt


Van Damme21 May 2020 3:54 a.m. PST


Is it the dark or light color for manchester?

And is this the right color for Everton?


Tassie21 May 2020 4:16 a.m. PST

Ha! Nice one, Van Damme! :-)

The lighter of the two blues for your first question, is pretty much bang on for Carabinier officers. I've got an original Carabinier officer's epaulette, and it's pretty much a perfect match to the wool lining on the underside.

And a definite "yes" to your second question, as it's a really good deep, rich (but not dark) blue for the collar, cuffs and turnbacks of Carabinier troopers.

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