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"Many books out there on the Imperial Guard but..." Topic

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19 Sep 2020 7:28 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "Many books out there in the Imperial Guard but..." to "Many books out there on the Imperial Guard but..."Removed from Napoleonic Discussion boardCrossposted to Napoleonic Media board

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Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2020 10:17 a.m. PST

There is quite a selection of old and new books out there regarding Napoleon's Imperial Guard organization and uniforms. Which titles have you considered the most useful and why?


Don Manser19 Sep 2020 10:49 a.m. PST

The Anatomy of Glory by Lachouque and Brown

Andrew Preziosi19 Sep 2020 10:59 a.m. PST

Agreed, TAoG!

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2020 11:06 a.m. PST

The Anatomy of Glory is a classic and well-worth having and reading. The original French title is Napoleon et la Garde Imperiale. It is also worth having even if you cannot read French.

L Fallou's La Garde Imperiale is excellent on uniforms and organization of the Guard.

Emile M de St Hilaire's study on the Imperial Guard is also worth-while. It is entitled Histoire Populaire de la Garde Imperiale.

Napoleon's Elite Cavalry by Edward Ryan is an excellent volume, not just for the Rousselot Plates, but for the information contained in the volume.

La Garde Imperiale pendant les Cent Jours by Pierre Juhel is packed with information for the last muster of the Guard and the campaign in Belgium in 1815.

Extrabio194719 Sep 2020 2:05 p.m. PST

Definitely "The Anatomy of Glory."

It's the classic treatise on The Imperial Guard and highly readable. It covers organization, command structure, and battles/campaigns.

Uniform information is readily available from any number of sources, but if you can find books or prints by Lucien Rousselot, go with them. He was an official painter of the French Army, and had access to many original uniforms, accoutrements, and artifacts.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2020 3:37 p.m. PST

>>Definitely "The Anatomy of Glory."

However not all aspects are equally covered. While the tome inspired me to add customised personalities to re-create a mini Army, don't expect all encompassing details all the time.

Want to see the 'order of march' for a Guard exodus from Paris? Done.
Want to know how the Guard performed their limited endeavours at Austerlitz, the Emperors greatest battle- not so much. The battle is dryly dismissed in a few exciteable sentences with little detail compared to other parts of the book.

So it is both an enlightening and frustarting read. Dozens of great reasonably sized (full page) artwork in colour. How the Guard was a population in itself is tangible, epic and more beievable than ever before.

Widowson19 Sep 2020 7:13 p.m. PST

Can any of you guys who own this book tell me if they give a uniform description of the conscrit grenadiers – 1809?

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2020 11:34 p.m. PST

I wouldn't put any faith in it.
p147 states- "raised 29-31st March 1809… paid the same as the line and wore the same uniform, except with short tailed… shako cords and buttons of the Guard."

Does one presume the 'legere' uniform? Maybe not.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2020 3:15 a.m. PST

There is a Knotel watercolor of the Conscript Grenadiers in 1809 in Plate 31, Volume II of Napoleonic Uniforms by John Elting.

They wore a dark blue, short-tailed light infantry habit with dark blue lapels. Turnbacks were white piped red with red eagle emblems. Red light infantry cuffs piped white, blue collar, red shoulder straps. White waistcoat, white breeches, knee-length gaiters.

Black shako with white chevrons on the sides, brass eagle plate, white cords and flounders. Front-mounted red and white plume with the bottom half red.

There a differing descriptions of their cuffs, some sources describing them as identical to the fusiliers-grenadiers. Similarly, the shoulder straps are sometimes described as blue with red piping instead of just red.

There were two regiments of conscript grenadiers, the 1st and 2d. They became the 3d and 4th Tirailleurs in 1811.

Facing page 151 in The Anatomy of Glory is an excellent painting of a Tirailleur-Grenadier whose uniform is similar to the Conscrit-Grenadiers. The particulars are different, however (collar, cuffs, piping, turnbacks, etc.)

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2020 3:18 a.m. PST

It should also be noted that there is an excellent chapter on the Guard in John Elting's Swords Around a Throne (Chapter IX), and the Imperial Guard section of Volume II of Napoleonic Uniforms covers the Guard quite well in 173 plates.

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2020 4:59 a.m. PST

Andrew Uffindell's "Napoleon's Immortals: the Imperial Guard and its battles, 1804-1815" is a terrific book. Wrt uniforms…no finer reference than Almark's old one "Foot regiments of the Imperial Guard".2 others come to mind, well detailed etc…a volume on the infantry and one on the cavalry of the Imperial Guard by Paul Dawson I believe.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2020 11:38 a.m. PST

The Anatomy of Glory also doesn't describe the uniform of the Middle Guard at Waterloo, which is a bit of an omission.

Prince of Essling20 Sep 2020 2:45 p.m. PST

Apart from the other volumes mentioned above, also useful are the 4 volumes of the Histoire & Collections series on The French Imperial Guard.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2020 5:04 p.m. PST

>>…no finer reference than Almark's old one "Foot regiments of the Imperial Guard"

Which was that I quoted originally to OP of the request. ;-}

>> also useful are the 4 volumes of the Histoire & Collections series on The French Imperial Guard

Based on the artillery ones, I'd say use with care. They seem to cut and paste an awful lot, likely to create errors, though I haven't seen these ones.

The Hourtelle (Joineau?) 'Austerlitz' printed copy I [just bought] have is atrocious, at any other time the book is largely a 'printers reject'- poorly composited and registration; overlay colours missing and truly abominable captioning errors. While some 'uniforms' are credited to regiments, others are a bit of a mystery.

The translations in particular also leave a lot to be credible (same for H&C papberbacks)… clearly not done by a natural English speaker, despite the 'Scots' name (made up personnas)?

While I truly appreciate the mass of work involved, and divulged, the publication is at best, mediocre. I hope others of the ilk are not the same.

d cup

Prince of Essling21 Sep 2020 5:13 a.m. PST

Head also produced Almark books on the Grenadiers a Cheval and the Chasseurs a Cheval.

Another useful book if you can get a copy is "La Garde Imperial et ses Uniformes" plan he's by Henri Boisselier, Text by Yves Martin from the S K Brown Collection

Andrew Preziosi21 Sep 2020 5:45 a.m. PST

And something of it's own history of the Guard…

Napoleon's Shield & Guardian: The Unconquerable General Daumesnil Kindle Edition


NapStein21 Sep 2020 6:20 a.m. PST

I agree with Lachouque for the general overview and Fallou for a start into uniforms. If you want to have a contemporary view with organization and history you should start with "Histoire de l'Ex-Garde" from 1821 which could be downloaded at Gallica (cf. link )

Regarding the uniforms also the two Bucquoy volumes next to the Rousselot plates are of help … and of course the two volumes of Dawson.

Yves Martin's publication of the wealthy Henri Boisselier plates is also a must-have for researching the Guard.

Greetings from Berlin
Markus Stein

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2020 7:32 a.m. PST

Markus do you have a title for Yves Martin's publication of the Boisselier plates?

Prince of Essling21 Sep 2020 9:45 a.m. PST
Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2020 11:25 a.m. PST


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2020 9:15 a.m. PST

The Anatomy of Glory also doesn't describe the uniform of the Middle Guard at Waterloo, which is a bit of an omission.

Perhaps because he realized and understood that there was no Middle Guard in 1815.

For the uniforms of the 3d and 4th Grenadiers and the 3d and 4th Chasseurs, all rated as Old Guard, see page 469.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2020 9:17 a.m. PST

The two Bucquoy volumes on the Guard are indeed excellent, but the Grenadiers a Cheval are not included, unfortunately.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2020 4:03 p.m. PST

>>but the Grenadiers a Cheval are not included, unfortunately.

Yes weird that, I have not quite fathomed why. IS there any explanation made?

dibble23 Sep 2020 9:10 p.m. PST

Rousselot didn't publish the Mamalukes in his plate series either. Though he did in one of his "Soldats d'Autrefois" four, six postcard-size sets.

Go here link and work your way forward in the thread for all the Rousselot plates and plate descriptions posted by me: Ignore the 'FOKI' site as it doesn't reproduce the plates very well and doesn't have the descriptions to each plate either. You will also find the Marmalukes mentioned above, somewhere on there too along with the other three sets.

PS. I mentioned that some of the plates and descriptions were missing in my collection. Well, I found them and posted them later in the thread…:)

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