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"Firing Line Painting- Adjutant-major mounted?" Topic

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MarbotsChasseurs20 Nov 2020 7:58 a.m. PST

Hello everyone,


I found this great picture last night during some research. Shown are French grenadiers in a firing line with what looks to be a mounted officer. I was interested because the officer seems to be wearing his epaulet on the right side as would be worn by an adjutant-major. I know according to regulations they were not mounted, but if one looks at casualties for battles, they are usually at least one to two wounded and or killed per battle per regiment. What is the group's opinion on mounted or not mounted?

I will show a few documents to back up my point. One comes from the 26e Legere prior to the 1809 campaign. The document is on the left. As you can see below there are six horses for the three adjutant-majors! This is dated 1 Jan 1809 so not on campaign, but I can imagine being mounted would allow for better control of the wing of the battalion that the officer is in command. However, all 16 captains also have a horse.


Second, comes the memoirs of adjutant-major Alexandre COUDREUX of the 15e Legere in 1809. From a letter dated on 19 Feb 1809 " I have just been interrupted by the arrival of the general of the division: we all set off on horseback to go and reconnoiter the defiles of Hof and Kupferberg;" (Coudreux,1908, p.145) Next he recounts the early battles of April 1809, " My horse was killed between my legs, my saber scabbard was cut in half by a piece of grape-shot, I received a small contusion in my left thigh, and I am slightly injured in my right hand; my clothes have holes in five different places" (Coudreux,1908, p.148). The last letter before the battle of Wagram, "P.-S. It is precisely the beautiful Coquette that I lost in the Regensburg affair. It is a real mourning for me; this beast was worth its weight in gold! I told you by my last that I had bought another horse, which is beautiful, but not worth much; I have just bought another one from Colonel Brunet (1), from the 24 chasseurs cheval, who lost an arm in the affair in front of Ebersdorf and who is returning to France. Our job as adjudant major is very difficult in the countryside; I am completely in the opinion of my colonel and therefore still on my feet" (Coudreux, 1908, p.151)

His letters can be read here on google books link

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2020 9:37 a.m. PST

Interesting question – as I recall in the 1808 regs the only mounted officer in a battalion was the Chef de Bataillon but I think the regimental Adjudant-Chef (rank of captain) was mounted

Hard to discount people's accounts – you could see how the Adjudant-Major having a horse would help with command/control

MarbotsChasseurs20 Nov 2020 9:55 a.m. PST


Thank you for the response. I always was confused why someone who was responsible for a wing of the battalion was not mounted. One would imagine during the heat of the battle and all the noises, hearing the orders from the Chef would be impossible and only the drummers would be heard.

Looking at the records for before 19 April 1809, at least half of the Adjutant-majors were Lieuts in the 4th Division regiments.

I am looking at the REGULATIONS CONCERNING THE EXERCISE AND MANEUVERS OF INFANTRY, For the 13. Line Regiment in google books. Found here link As far as I can tell this is for the 9 company battalion and not the later 6 company battalion.

Places of Senior Officers, Adjudans Majors, and Adjudans.

"The Colonel and the two Lieutenants colo. they will be on horseback; the Adjudans majors and Adjudans will be on foot. The Colonel will be placed thirty paces behind the row of file- closers, opposite the center of the interval between the two battalions of his regiment; Each Lieutenant colonel twenty paces behind the row of the Giles greenhouse of his battalion, opposite the flag line; The Adjutant major of each battalion, eight paces behind the row of greenhouse tiles of his battalion, opposite the center of the right half battalion;"

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2020 12:09 p.m. PST

Excellent painting and documentation. I envy your abilities…

>>""Each Lieutenant colonel twenty paces behind the row of the Giles greenhouse of his battalion, … behind the row of greenhouse tiles of his …"<<

Michael I earnestly suggest that you stop trying to translate material that does not require translation.
That sentence above makes no sense in English, at all. It is garbage.

I'm also amazed that, when you have the specific information in your hand proving a situation to exist, you continue to 'seek the alternate truth' by referring to other documents as if they hold some value.

'Regulations' about drill are not immutable laws of physics- like, don't swim in a raging river; don't walk on lava etc.

Human Laws like 'don't drink and drive; don't speed above the stated limit', like drill 'regulations' of history, are merely taken as guidance to be used or ignored at the whim of those who purport to create, manage or deny them.

Just as now, the world evolved and is dynamic in human terms, as it was 200-1000-10,000 years ago. Apart from carvings, very little is 'locked in stone'…
all the best, respectfully

MarbotsChasseurs20 Nov 2020 12:27 p.m. PST


I appreciate your comment. I forgot to change the word greenhouse to file closer in the second sentence like I did the first one. That is why I always try to link the books. I do not speak French, so I need to use a translator, but my understanding of the written text is getting better.

I ask the question because my knowledge of French regulations are limited. I know the basics, but what I am good at is finding names of men who served. So yes Coudreux memoirs are pretty concrete evidence they were mounted, but I like to have other opinions.

My goal is to share my findings and then learn from others who have more knowledge than myself. If it was up to me I would share everything I have, but it seems it isn't the most interesting topics for all members here.


von Winterfeldt21 Nov 2020 1:17 a.m. PST

According to regulations, only the chef de bataillon was mounted in battle – aside form the chef de brigade or colonel.

About mounted officers, when you read memoires you will find out that whenever possible officers tried to get mounted, regardless of what rank, so they could travel mounted and ride around, this is different for the battle field however.

the left wing of a battalion was commanded by the Adjudant sous officier who wasn't mounted either.

However your citation gives room for speculation that they may have been different in practice.

MarbotsChasseurs21 Nov 2020 6:39 p.m. PST

From Napoleon's Finest page 4 a letter from Marshal Davout on 10 November 1805 describing the merits of the 108e ligne in the combat of Mariazell.

"Adjutant-major Higonet, a young man with a great future, while on his horse, rode into the ranks of the enemy, forcing the Colonel and Major of the [Austrian Regiment] Colloredo to lay down their arms."

von Winterfeldt22 Nov 2020 7:22 a.m. PST

thanks again for that piece of information, will be pasted and copied.

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