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"Wurzburg Pioneers 1809" Topic

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Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 8:12 a.m. PST

Does anyone have any information on the uniform of the pioneers in the Wurzburg infantry regiment which deployed at the start of the Peninsular War? This is the uniform that they wore before they adopted the French style in 1812. After that date the pioneers had a light blue coat and a colpack. As, before 1812 they had an Austrian inspired uniform perhaps the uniforms were similar to the Zimmerman in that nation's infantry with the new shako? Any help gratefully accepted.

Prince of Essling14 May 2020 12:45 p.m. PST

Nafziger is silent – this Boiselier gouache shows the sapper supposedly in "1810-12" uniform


Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 1:12 p.m. PST

Yes I have seen that. It is the later ‘Frenchified' uniform. I am looking for the one it replaced.

MarbotsChasseurs14 May 2020 4:00 p.m. PST


This is the best I could find.

Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 4:19 p.m. PST

Peter Bunde doesn't include a pioneer in his plate on Wurzburg infantry uniforms,1806-1812.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 6:13 p.m. PST

Sapeur ≠ Pioneer.

They are a class apart, are they not?
'Pioneer' is closer to peons, not 'elites' and is work handed down to slaves/ imprisoned and captured workers.
I'm growing concerned that Boiselier was a bit of a 'Martinien' martinet and anything goes.
As an example- is it that Wurtembourgois suddenly grew beards to look like the French?

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 12:13 a.m. PST

Interesting point 1984. In asking my question I used the British Army equivalent term which is 'pioneer'. Of course the French equivalent is 'sapeur' which suggests a slightly different origin (i.e. one who digs saps) while still basically being the same job. The Austrians called their men 'Zimmerman' which roughly means carpenter. Interestingly, they were clean shaven. The beards in the Boiselier print are not too surprising given that the style of the Wurzburg troops had gone from 'Austrian' to 'French'.

Thanks to everyone for their help. It seems that a print of a pre-1810 Wurzburg pioneer/sapeur/Zimmerman is not going to be forthcoming. I think by extrapolation the figure I am looking for will have a shako, be clean-shaven, wear a white jacket and have a natural leather apron.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 12:44 a.m. PST

While that may be an indicator, French sapeurs of elite Grenadier companies were far from engineers, which is more akin to pioneers.
Their ceremonial role/ defensive colours escort probably far outweighed their swinging axes in battle; and they had nothing to dig saps with.

Zimmerman indicates a higher level of skill than pioneers (diggers).

I don't believe for a minute that mimicking a uniform would lead to Germans suddenly trying to look like the French.
Non, pas de tous…
allons mes enfants…. d wine

it only takes an 's' to make swine…

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 2:23 a.m. PST

Interesting points. I think this reinforces my view that the Wurzburgers would be a clean shaven 'zimmerman'.

Prince of Essling15 May 2020 5:46 a.m. PST

Just looked at Rawkins – no Zimmerman listed in early 1806-07 regimental establishment but see the extract below.
1808 1 corporal Zimmerman shown at Regimental HQ level, 4 Zimmerman with the grenadier companies.

"The Zimmerman, or sapper, wore the same basic uniform as the grenadiers in 1806 the only distinction was the red crossed axe and grenade badge worn on both upper sleeves. The apron was tan or brown leather and was worn over the uniformrock in 1806 and fastened with a wide brown leather waistbelt with a brass open buckle which supported the Austrian pattern infantry sabre-briquet. The pouch was as for the grenadiers and the sappers were armed with the short Austrian pattern engineer musket but no bayonet.

In 1811 the zimmerleute received new uniforms and equipment which mirrored those issued to the company drummers. The kasket was replaced with a black-brown bearskin kolpack with a red ‘flamme', or bag, red cords and a red pompon and tall red plume for parade. The bonnet was fitted with brass chinscales which fastened to the inside of the hat but were seldom worn in the field and were replaced with a plain black leather chinstrap. The new coat was a himmelblau short tailed coat of the same pattern worn by drummers with the collar, lapels and cuffs red piped white and the cuff-flaps and turnbacks himmelblau piped red. The shoulders were decorated with full fringed red epaulettes and the turnbacks with red grenade motifs. The upper sleeves were decorated with red crossed axe and grenade badges.

The sapper now wore the apron which was of tan or buff leather beneath the coat for parade and waistbelts were now whitened leather and supported a sapper pattern French style sabre with solid brass hilt often with either an eagle's head or lion's head pommel. The pouchbelt and the axe belt were whitened leather with brass buckles and fittings and both were decorated with brass grenade badges. Pouches were of the French pattern with a brass crossed axes and grenade badge on the lid and the zimmerleute were issued with French m 1777 infantry carbines but no bayonet. All other equipment and dress was as for the grenadiers. "

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 10:04 a.m. PST

Merci mon Prince. That is just what I needed.

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 2:18 a.m. PST

One final point here. This is why I love TMP. I asked a question about the clothes worn by, probably, no more than 20 – 25 people over 200 years ago and someone knew the answer. Brilliant!

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP03 Jun 2020 9:45 p.m. PST

And for continuity, a better explanation of the French situation appeared here:
TMP link


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