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"French Sapeur companies" Topic


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470 hits since 4 Aug 2022
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Comments or corrections?

GeorgBuchner04 Aug 2022 5:59 a.m. PST

Hi
so just looking at the french OOB for a battle in an ESR Campaign guide and it lists a company of Sapeurs. I am just wondering what a Sapeur company looked like and how big it was – was it all bearded fellows with aprons and bearskins? or some other kind of appearance.

I have seen many an image of a Sapeur but never one of a whole company of Sapeurs, so if anyone has knowledge of such and or pictures of their own miniatures featuring a Sapeur company, i would love to see them!

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2022 6:20 a.m. PST

Sapeur companies were sub units within the Corps de Genie (Corps of Engineers). There were also Mineurs, bridge builders etc. Company size was about that of an infantry company but the detail varied depending on role. The uniform was the same as the artillery but with black facings. There are plenty of books on the subject and Osprey's Napoleon's Specialist Troops (Men at Arms) is a good start point.

link

GeorgBuchner04 Aug 2022 6:55 a.m. PST

ah cool thanks yes its an area of that the armies that i dont know that much about to be honest, and havent ever played much with such units in games – at most, using bridge builders in the HPS napoleonic battles Wagram pc game

Lilian05 Aug 2022 7:55 a.m. PST

bridge builders?…if you refer to the Pontoneers/Pontonniers Battalions, in the French Army they belonged to the Artillery Arm until 1894

The French Engineers units concerned only Sappers Battalions, 1st to 5th under Napoléon, then 6th from Dutch, 7th from Italians and 8th Sappers Battalion from Spaniards and the Miners Companies in 2 Battalions

don't mix the regimental Sappers in the Infantry Cavalry with the basic soldier of the Engineers, the Sappers and Miners

Michman05 Aug 2022 1:07 p.m. PST

French/Italian Engineering Troops 1812
--- 1 compagnie de sapeurs du génie de la garde impériale
--- 12 compagnies de mineurs
--- 1 compagnie de mineurs du génie italien
--- 45 compagnies de sapeurs du génie
--- 12 compagnies de sapeuers du génie étrangers (hollandais, italien & espagnol)
--- 8 compagnies de sapeurs du génie italien
--- 1 compagnie de sapeuers ioniens (à Corfu)
--- 6 compagnies du train du génie
--- 1 compagnie d'ouvriers du génie

--- 16 compagnies de pionniers coloniaux (à l'île de Walcheren, Corse, l'île de Ré et Belle-Île) – un-armed, military court convicts
--- 4 compagnies de pionniers espagnols (à Nimègues, puis Dantzig) – un-armed, former PoW's

=============

compare : Russian Engineering Troops 1812
--- 4 guard miner/sapper companies
--- 6 miner/sapper companies
--- 18 pioneer compamies

just joe05 Aug 2022 2:50 p.m. PST

any banners?/eagles

Michman05 Aug 2022 6:52 p.m. PST

French

Eagles and banners were distributed in 1804 to the then 5 battalions of sapeurs du génie. As the sapeurs deployed by company, these were kept at their dépôts until 1811, when they were requested to turn them in.

There had been a "bataillon de pionniers noirs", mostly manned by Dominicans loyal to the French. They received an eagle and banner in 1805, but promptly returned it when they were transferred to the service of the kingdom of Naples in 1806.

No other flags, fannions, banners, etc. that I know about.

See : PDF link

===============

Russian

The Life-Guard Sapper batallion received 1 yellow-cross flag in 1824.

picture

For Army engineering troops ….
As with the French, they were deployed as separate companies, and any flags would be kept at dépôts. Viskovatov is explicit that they had no flags until a well-ttested issue of flags in 1828.

According to one (and only one) source *, in 1798, when the miners, sappers and pioneers were part of the artillery, Emperor Paul awarded 12 flags Model 1797, 2 (white-cross ?) to the miner/sapper companies and 10 (color-cross) flags to the pioneer companies. Detail of colors unknown, but black would have been appropriate. Black woodwork.
Maybe something like :

picture

picture

For 1803 through 1812, these would have been distributed :
--- 1st Pioneer regiment, 1st battalion : 1 miner/sapper flag, 1 pioneer flag
--- 1st Pioneer regiment, 2nd battalion : 2 pioneer flags
--- 1st Pioneer regiment, 3rd battalion : 2 pioneer flags
--- 2nd Pioneer regiment, 1st battalion : 1 miner/sapper flag, 1 pioneer flag
--- 2nd Pioneer regiment, 2nd battalion : 2 pioneer flags
--- 2nd Pioneer regiment, 3rd battalion : 2 pioneer flags
For 1813 through 1815, these would have been distributed :
--- Sapper regiment, 1st battalion : 1 miner/sapper flag
--- Sapper regiment, 2nd battalion : 1 miner/sapper flag
--- 1st Pioneer regiment, 1st battalion : 1 pioneer flag
--- 1st Pioneer regiment, 2nd battalion : 1 pioneer flag
--- 1st Pioneer regiment, 3rd battalion : 1 pioneer flag
--- 2nd Pioneer regiment, 1st battalion : 1 pioneer flag
--- 2nd Pioneer regiment, 2nd battalion : 1 pioneer flag
--- 2nd Pioneer regiment, 3rd battalion : 1 pioneer flag

* Г. Прасоленко
Историческая справка о знамени и прошлом 1-го Саперного баталиона
Санкт-Петербург : тип. и лит. В.А. Тиханова, 1897
prlib.ru/item/416456

Lilian06 Aug 2022 5:08 a.m. PST

--- 16 compagnies de pionniers coloniaux (à l'île de Walcheren, Corse, l'île de Ré et Belle-Île) – un-armed, military court convicts
--- 4 compagnies de pionniers espagnols (à Nimègues, puis Dantzig) – un-armed, former PoW's

in 4 and one battalion

there were also independant French pioneers companies, the famous Blacks, others foreign pioneers regiments, battalions and companies such as the Whites/Foreign Volunteers and others short-lived units

but the Pioneers units in the French Army from 1778 to 1958 NEVER belonged to the Engineers, but to the Infantry, they were only infantry auxiliary units or labour corps and even disciplinary units in the case of Colonial Pioneers Battalions mentionned and the French Pioneers companies, nothing to do with Engineers Sappers-Miners considered as a technical elite corps of the French Army

the Pioneers units in French and British military history are much less rewarding and lower ranked corps than the German 'Pioneers' equal to the French Engineers Sappers

Michman06 Aug 2022 9:54 a.m. PST

@Lilian

I agree.

I gave the list as of 1812, hopefully correctly (pionniers noirs sent off to Naples, pionniers blancs repatriated, etc.)

I also left a gap after the actual "troupes du génie". The pioneers listed worked as laborers under the direction of the génie with the Army in the field or at fortifications. The PoW pioneeer battalions doing roadwork or at ports were not listed.

I added the pioneers so that it was clear that the large number of French sappers and miners were not a result of counting laborers.

To make the comparison better, I might have noted that within Russia in peacetime, the same function was performed by drafts of temporary serf laborers and it wartime by militia or nearby infantry units.

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