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"Italian Gardes d'honneur 1809" Topic

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WarEmblem17 Jun 2021 4:41 a.m. PST

I'm having some trouble sourcing the uniforms for the Italian Honor Guards in 1809. Here is what I know, or think I know anyway. There were companies from Milan, Bologna, Romagna, and Brescia. Each had its own kit. They still wore the bicorne and would not switch over to the dragoon-style helmet until 1810ish. I've seen conflicting uniform plates from the cities and most depictions of them are from the 1812 campaign when their uniforms had changed. I'm looking to build them for Eugene's Army in 1809.

A follow-up question as well, was the Honor Guards incorporated into the Italian light cavalry? Would they have been brigaded with the Italian guard infantry? Or would they have served as escorts to Eugene? Or would this escort role have been filled by the Italian Gendarmes d'elite (I've found a lot of uniform plates on them).

RittervonBek17 Jun 2021 11:30 a.m. PST

Hi bicornes in 1809. In 1813 the whole lot amounted to approx 130 officers and men. I think they were attached to the royal guard and served in Italy.

Prince of Essling17 Jun 2021 2:39 p.m. PST

Corpo Delle Guardie D'onore Reale formed part of the Royal Guard.
Part of Decree of 20 June 1805:
Article 2: It will be formed in our Kingdom of Italy, four companies of guards of honour who will have the following names:
1st company of Milan
2nd company of Bologna
3rd company of Brescia
4th company of Romagna
Article 3: Each company will consist of 100 men including 60 horse and 40 foot.
Article 4: The companies will be formed of brothers, sons, petit-son, nephews and petit-neveux and cousins of members of three colleges and young men of conscription age, son or nephews of the important citizens of the departments.
Article 5: The Milan Company will consist of young men from the departments of the OLONA, the AGOGNA, the LARIO and the ADDA. The company of Bologna will be composed of young men from the departments of the RENO, the CROSTOLO, the PANARO and the MINCIO. The company of Brescia will be of young people from the departments of the SERIO, the ALTO PO, of the MELLA and the Adige River. The company of Romagna is to consist of young men from the departments of the RUBICONE and the BASSO.
Article 6: Until these companies are filled, no brother, son, grandson, nephew, grandnephew or cousin of the members of the three colleges or son or nephew of the
families of the departments that would be conscripted will be allowed to be replaced.
Article 7: These companies will take service with the person of the King.
Article 8: Two years of service in these companies will give the conscript the rank of second lieutenant.
Article 9: All those who will be admitted must have an income of 1200 pounds from Milan, or their property or in a pension provided by their parents, to be paid to the
treasury of the company and will be released to the guards monthly at the rate of 100 pounds per month.
Article 10: It will be provided for the guard's horse, a uniformed groom and rations to feed the horse. The men both on foot and mounted will receive for food and clothing a loan of 30 credits per month. Armament and the barracks will be provided by the Royal quartermaster.

Note: With the aquisition of the city and territories of Venezia, on 2 August 1806 a fifth company was added to the Guardie di Onore to be entitled ‘Venezie cie' with a
recruitment from the young nobility of the Venetian province.

All companies of the Corpo Delle Guardie D'onore Reale wore an identical bicorn hat from 1805 until 1811 of black felt with white tape trim to the edges and white tighteners cords and tassels. The front of the hat was
decorated with a national cockade held with a white leather cockade-strap with a pewter button. The bicorm hat was worn until 1811 when it was replaced with a unique pattern of helmet of distinctly Germanic classical
design. The helmet was brass with a white metal plate which trimmed the front and base and was decorated with a brass crowned N monogram at the front. The crest or combe of the helmet was in the shape of a brass eagle
with a black fur ‘raupe' which fitted between the spread eagle's wings. The peak and rear visor were black leather edged with brass and chinscales were brass with plain round bosses. A tall white plume was worn for parade
dress fitted to the left side of the helmet in a brass socket. For campaign wear the fur raupe could be removed and the helmet was fitted with a oiled canvas cover.





Also go to link and drill down Garde / Gdes d'Honneur / Tenues and you will see good representation of the uniforms by company e.g.






SHaT198417 Jun 2021 4:06 p.m. PST

While thats a wealth of information on their dress, your premise is fundamentally flawed-- "I'm looking to build them for Eugene's Army in 1809."

The minute town focussed companies were 'Gardes d'honneur'- ceremonial figures of the wealthy who made an appearance for the 'King/Emperors' presence and that was about all initially.

Once the 'Empire' was set up, the draw on replacement manpower in the 'Army' was such that many experienced men were lost to the towns and cities. In order to 'dignify' the Imperial presence from time to time, almost every one created their 'Gardes' of civilians dressed as soldiers for parades and fetes etc.

It's bizarre to some extent, Imperial PR notwithstanding, that while we debate a multitude of uniforms in the Army (pick which one) for war- these civil authorities are taking and competing for the same resources and material, albeit locally…

Subject to being corrected, I believe (from my study of 1809 some years back) that no such single 'unit' existed in the Army of Italy. Not to say individuals may have appeared around HQ/ Vice-Roi, but these are 'ceremonial' town dandies in the main for when the 'royalty' came to town.

How you use them is of course open,
regards d

Prince of Essling17 Jun 2021 11:42 p.m. PST


Afraid not – a squadron accompanied Eugene into the field in 1809 – extract from July OoB

Royal Italian Guard: Général de brigade Fontanelli
Infantry: Général de brigade Lecchi
Garde d'honneur (l sqn)(374)
Royal Velites (l)(576)
Guard Infantry Regiment (2)(753)
Cavalry: Général de brigade Viani
Guard Dragoons (2)(324)
24th French Dragoons (l)(l95)
Artillery & Engineers:

These are not the equivalent of the French town GdH -they should be thought of the equivalent of Velites though not so designated – do your time & live, get promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.


SHaT198418 Jun 2021 3:58 a.m. PST

WEll, Garde d'honneur (l sqn)(374) had to br the biggest
squadron' of the era.
There were regiments wandering around at times with less men,,,

Prince of Essling18 Jun 2021 4:21 a.m. PST

I suspect the 374 is a typo as copied and pasted from a Nafziger OoB. Gill has them with 330 in April, by 21 May down to 137!

WarEmblem18 Jun 2021 5:19 a.m. PST

What an amazing post Prince of Essling! Thank you, sir. That's exactly what I was looking for. I appreciate the background information as well. The serve 2 years and come out a 2nd Lt is interesting. I wonder if they actually followed through with that?

I am going to brigade them with the Italian Guard, perhaps in a slightly idealized number since the uniforms are so striking.

Prince of Essling18 Jun 2021 4:03 p.m. PST

Before you get painting hard – from Rawkins:

COAT The 1805-1806 pattern coat was the standard guard pattern abito and was of individual colour for each company. The collar, lapels, cuffs and turnbacks were of the company facing colour and the collar had two horizontal batons of white lace at the leading edge. The buttonholes of the lapels, cuffs and vertical tail pockets each had a baton of white lace and the turnbacks were decorated with white Italian eagle motifs. The shoulders of the coat were decorated with white braid trefle epaulettes with white aiguillettes at the right shoulder. Epaulettes of the same pattern as worn by the guard dragoons with white metal scaled straps and facing colour underlay may also have been introduced around 1809 for service dress although the trefle epaulettes were still in use in 1811 when new uniforms were prescribed for the corps. The new coats were of the same style as before but were now of a common dark green colour with individual company facing colours on the collar, lapels cuffs and turnbacks but the new coat had white lace batons on the collar and cuffs only. All buttons for both coats were pewter and of the guard pattern embossed with the Italian eagle motif.

Guardia D'onore Facing colours 1805-1813
Company Coat 1805 Facings Coat 1811 Facings
1o Compagnia Scarlet Royal Blue [46] Dark Green Rose Pink
2o Compagnia White Dark Blue Dark Green Lemon Yellow
3o Compagnia Dark Blue Scarlet Dark Green Chamois
4o Compagnia Dark Green Scarlet Dark Green Scarlet
5o Compagnia Dark Green Light Orange [45] Dark Green Light Orange[45]
NOTE: [45] The colour given as Light Orange in reality was a very deep mustard yellow
rather than the modern perception of the orange colour palette.
NOTE: [46] The colour of the facings for the ‘Milano' company is generally given as simply ‘blu' and at sometime between 1807 and 1810 appears to have been changed to a darker ‘navy blue' shade.

In 1807 the Corpo Delle Guardie D'onore Reale were issued with a ‘uniforme-secondo' for everyday and campaign wear. The coat was a surtout coat, single breasted and closed with a single row of nine large pewter buttons with long tails with double turnbacks and vertical three pointed pockets and white eagle motifs on the turnbacks. In 1811 the new pattern surtout coat was apparently prescribed although these may not have been issued to all companies before the 1812 Russian campaign commenced. The new coat had slightly shorter tails with turnbacks cut square at the bottom, no tail pockets and the lace batons appeared on the collar only.
Guardia D'onore Surtout Coats 1807-1813
Company Coat 1807 Facings Coat 1811 Facings
1o Compagnia Dark Blue Scarlet Dark Blue Dark Blue
2o Compagnia Dark Blue Scarlet Dark Blue Scarlet
3o Compagnia Dark Blue Scarlet Dark Green Scarlet
4o Compagnia Dark Green Scarlet Dark Green Scarlet
5o Compagnia Dark Green Light Orange Dark Green Light Orange

BREECHES, ETC The gilet and breeches for all companies were to be soft white leather for parade in 1805 although these appear to have been replaced with cloth garments for everyday wear by 1807 and by 1811 were cloth for all companies. Boots were of the high, cuffed heavy cavalry pattern.

From 1807 dark grey overall trousers were issued for wear as ‘uniforme secondo' with the surtout coat with a row of white metal buttons on the outer seam and white cotton overalls were issued for stable dress. Dismounted duties the guards were issued with infantry style over the knee gaiters of white for parade and summer dress and black for winter and general duties.

For indoor palace duties white knee breeches were worn with white stockings and black buckle shoes. The Corpo Delle Guardie D'onore Reale were issued with both a greatcoat for dismounted duties and and riding cloak. The greatcoat was dark green and of the pattern worn by the guard dragoons with two rows of white metal buttons on the breast and a deep shoulder cape lined with the company facing colour. The upright collar and the deep Swedish cuffs were coat colour.
The riding cloak was white with a deep shoulder cape, with facing colour lining and was closed with a single row of four large white metal buttons. For full dress the troopers wore white leather gauntlets and for campaign the gauntlets had buff leather gloves and white cuffs.

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