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Lets party with Cossacks Supporting Member of TMP28 Jan 2023 6:09 p.m. PST

For my sins I am doing the 33rd Division of La Grande Armee 1812, XI Corps (Augereau). Nafziger has the cavalry in General de Brigade Fracheski's brigade of that division as comprising:

Neapolitan Velites a Cheval Regiment(2)(22/320)
Neapolitan Gardes d'Honeur (2)(31/395)
Neapolitan Horse Battery (6/75).

I'm trying to marry up the first two with uniforms given in Digby Smith's "Murat's Army" (the the Horse Artillery uniform is unambiguously provided). He gives what I think are Boisselier plates for Hussards de la Garde Royale, Chevaulegers de la Garde Royale and Lancers de la Garde Royale but nothing sounding like Velites a Cheval or Gardes d'Honeur.

That being said in the uniform description for the Hussards it states that the white breeches/amaranthe dolmain hussar uniform is in fact for the Velites which are said to have adopted the hussar style dress in 1809, so that mystery seems resolved (at least for the troopers). Other Boisselier plates on the net appear to confirm this.

I discovered that Boisselier was born in 1881, and is hardly a contemporary source, but presumably did reasonable research himself. So my first question is, is his depiction correct or has it been criticised? If so, what is the most likely uniform for this unit in 1812?

As for trumpeters, my very lazy google search led me to Images de Soldats which plausibly suggested colour reversal to amaranthe/white but gave that with shako rather than busby which the rest of the unit wore, and gives the date as 1811. It also gives a bit of a technicolour dreamcoat scheme of amaranthe breeches, blue dolmain and white pelisse, all with white busby (attributed to Forthoffer but without a date). I've guessed the second applied after the white hussar uniform was apparently ditched in 1813. But this suggests that the trumpeter shako of 1811 was ditched for a white busby in 1813, which seems unlikely – although this is the world of trend busting Murat-pyrotechnic Neapolitan uniforms we are talking about.

So my second question is did the 1812 trumpeters wear busbies, and if so were they white or black?

Next the Gardes d'Honeur don't seem to appear in Digby's book but in Images de Soldat are given as black plumed yellow Czapska, yellow breeches and a red surtout (is that the right word for a cavalry coat with short tails?) with thick white braiding. These also appear on the MINIATURAS MILITARES POR ALFONS CÀNOVAS site which I recently discovered and is full of beautiful drawings, but I'm unsure by whom.

My third question is were these splendid yellow uber-canary uniforms used in 1812?

Lastly, on the assumption that these magnificent dandies actually saw combat (and to be fair I'm not sure how much the XI corps got up to in 1812) how did they perform? Part of me is hoping they did nothing and returned without a single loss!

Many thanks.

Prince of Essling29 Jan 2023 3:17 a.m. PST

Here is the Heeres und Tradition plate


According to the on page 147 of Digby-Smith's original "Armies of 1812" the XI Corps went only as far as Osmiana where it met the remnants of La Grande Armee on 5 December retreating with them to reach Kowno (Kovno) on 12 December. Will dig into my other books etc later.

Prince of Essling29 Jan 2023 4:55 a.m. PST

Cavalleria della Guardia
Reggimento Cavalleggeri 2 squadrons formed July 1806 until July 1808 when greater part taken to Spain by Joseph Bonaparte for his Guard.
Squadrone then Reggimento Cavalleggeri della Guardia formed September 1808 – 4 squadrons
Reggimento Guardie d'Onore 2 squadrons (of 4 ordered) formed February 1809; from 14 companies of Provincial Guards of Honour. March 1813 March disbanded and formed 2 squadrons of the Reggimento Guardie del Corpo
Reggimento Guardie del Corpo formed March 1813 with 2 squadrons from the Reggimento Guardie d'Onore, ordered to be increased to 4 squadrons in July 1814. Reduced to a single squadron in October 1814 and became Compagnia delle Guardie del Corpo the remaining 3 squadrons used to form the Reggimento Lancieri.
Reggimento Lancieri della Guardia formed October 1814 with 3 squadrons from Reggimento Guardie del Corpo
Reggimento Veliti a Cavallo della Guardia formed in September 1808 as a single squadron the Corpo Veliti a Cavallo increased to 2 squadron regiment 1809. In 1813 April became Reggimento Ussari della Guardia

I cannot remember the real source (i.e. book that this was taken from) for below – but it is mislabelled. It is in fact an Officer for the elite company of the mounted Velites of the Guard


Guardie d'Onore


From Rawkins CD:
MUSICIANS Very little is known of the uniforms of the trumpeters prior to 1809 except that the coats were of reversed colours, yellow with dark blue collar, cuffs, lapels and turnbacks and white epaulettes with scarlet crescents.
The collar, cuffs and lapels were trimmed with a unique lace or white with a scarlet zigzag thread through the centre with blue dots in the loops. This was probably lace found in the stores left over from the Bourbon rule and possibly even of British origin.
In 1809 the trumpeters were wearing a czapka of the same pattern as those of the men and a short tailed coat of reversed colours, yellow with dark blue facings with the collar, cuffs and lapels trimmed with the musician's livery lace of amarante and white. Swallows-nest epaulettes of dark blue with dark blue shoulder-straps and musician's livery lace trim are worn at the
An alternative, for the 2nd Squadron about 1810 is shown as a shako of the same pattern as for the men with mixed amarante and white cords and an amarante plume with white tip. The coat is the habit a la Kinski of yellow with dark blue collar, cuffs and dark blue swallows-nest epaulettes, all trimmed with the musician's lace. The turnbacks are plain dark blue. White
fringed epaulettes with mixed white and amarante fringes are worn over the swallows-nests. The breast of the coat is decorated with nine double galons of yellow braid with a small button and tassel at the outer tips. The figure is shown with dark blue overall trousers with a double wide yellow stripe.
Herbert Knotel also shows this uniform for the 1st Squadron with the czapka as for the troopers, but gives a broad period of 1808-1813. It is possible that these earlier uniforms were retained as undress uniform for the trumpeters until after the 1812 campaign.
With the issue of the hussar uniform in 1811 the trumpeters received a new uniform in line with the regiment. The shako was white with yellow lace trim at the upper and lower edges, brass shield and chinscales and cords of mixed amarante and yellow. The uniform was again of reversed colours with the dolman amarante with white collar and cuffs trimmed with yellow lace and yellow lace braid and edging. The pelisse was white with white fur trim and amarante lining and yellow lace trim. A yellow and amarante barrel sash was worn over the dolman with the cords and tassels allowed to trail on the right side. A uniform from an unsigned 1970s coloured sketch in the author's
collection appears to be for a Tromba-Maggiore in 1811. The figure wears the same dolman except that the lace and braid is gold and the sergeant-majors chevrons are worn above the cuffs. The pelisse is white with white fur trim and gold lace and braid and the breeches are white with a white amarante double stripe, possibly piped with gold. The Hungarian boots have gold lace
trim and tassels.

The trumpeters wore a uniform that was basically reversed colours. The czapka was yellow with scarlet piping and mixed yellow and scarlet cords and flounders; the plume was scarlet with a white tip.
The 1809 coat was as for the cavalleri but white with scarlet collar, cuffs and turnbacks and scarlet lace, epaulettes and aiguillettes. The collar and cuffs were trimmed with white lace. The piccolo uniforme in 1810 for trumpeters was a tunic of the same design but dark blue with white lace and
dark blue collar and cuffs edged with the musician's livery lace. Turnbacks were white and scarlet swallows-next epaulettes edged with musician's lace were worn at the shoulders.
The 1813 coat was as for the troopers but was yellow with scarlet collar, cuffs and turnbacks and white lace batons on the collar and cuffs. The lace on the breast of the coat was white and as for the men. Epaulettes and aiguillettes were white.
Trousers are shown with all uniforms as being dark blue with a double white stripe before 1813 and yellow stripes thereafter.

Prince of Essling29 Jan 2023 1:21 p.m. PST

The ‘Corpo Veliti a Cavallo' was ordered raised in 1807 although by September 1808 when Murat replaced Joseph Bonaparte on the Neapolitan throne only two companies existed, one mounted and one still awaiting horses. By early 1809 Murat had increased the corps to squadron strength and in 1810 the establishment was set at two squadrons each of four companies organised with a staff and company strength as for the line cavalry.
The unit was now retitled the ‘Reggimento Veliti a Cavallo Della Guardia Reale'. As with most of the guard units the recruitment was made mostly from experienced officers and men from French or Kingdom of Italy units and from the middle classes and lower nobility of Neapolitan society. In 1813 following the disastrous 1812 Russian campaign, the remnants of the regiments were reformed and became the cadre for the ‘Reggimento Ussari Della Guardia Reale'.
The Corpo Veliti were issued with a black bicorn hat in 1807 with yellow lace trim to the upper edges, tricolour cockade and yellow leather cockade straps held with a brass button.
The bicorn hat was replaced in 1808 by a lancer style czapka with a black cap and yellow upper part separated by a wide yellow band. The upper ‘box' of the hat was piped with dark blue at the edges and the top of the hat was decorated with an X of dark blue piping. The front of the cap was decorated with a brass French style sunburst plate with a semi-circular plate embossed with the Royal J monogram. The chin-scales were brass and the peak was black leather with a brass edging. The tips of the top of the czapka were decorated with white metal caps, those at the east and west corners having small hooks from which the cords and flounders could be suspended. The national cockade was worn on the left upper edge of the czapka and was surmounted by a tall white feather plume. In 1809 yellow cords and flounders were authorised for parade dress.
The 2nd Squadron, raised in 1810 wore a shako of black felt with the same brass sunburst plate at the front, surmounted by the amarante and white national cockade and held by a yellow leather cockade strap with brass button. The peak was black leather edged with brass and chin-scales were brass. The upper edge of the shako was trimmed with yellow and the full dress cords and flounders were yellow and plumes white.
When the new hussar style uniforms began to make an appearance in 1811 the elite company were issued with a black fur colpack with amarante flamme with yellow piping and tassel. Both squadrons received new shakos in 1811 of amarante with white lace trim at the upper edge for the 1st Squadron and yellow trim at the base, and yellow trim at upper and loweredges for the 2nd Squadron. The front of the shako was decorated with a brass Samnitic shield with a small crown at the top and embossed with the Royal J monogram. Plumes were white and the cords were yellow for both squadrons.
There has been no record found of a fatigue cap; however the regiment continued to wear the bicorn hat for dismounted duties as part of the piccolo uniforme until 1813.
The coat worn by the Corpo Veliti in 1806 – 1807 was a dark blue, long tailed coat with high collar and plastron lapels closed to the waist and double turnbacks and small horizontal pocket on the tails. Collar, square-cut cuffs, lapels and turnbacks were all yellow and the tail pockets were piped yellow.
The epaulettes were ordered to be ‘yellow and scarlet'. Strangely, Boisselier a very reliable near contemporary source, shows these as having mixed yellow and scarlet crescents and fringes and yellow straps piped scarlet. It is more likely that the alternative version is correct; full epaulettes with yellow strap and crescents and scarlet fringes.
In 1808 Murat ordered the newly enlarged squadron into uniforms of a more modern style. It had been his intention to dress the Velites in an hussar style uniform from the outset but permission was denied by Napoleon who considered that to do so would be nothing more than a flamboyant expense for an army which was unable to fund basics for the fighting units. The proposed uniform consisted of a white hussar dolman with yellow braid, and a pelisse of azzurro celeste with brown fur trim, and scarlet breeches with yellow lace decorations. This uniform was never officially put into production. The coat finally chosen was a Spencer style tunic with short tails with double turnbacks and lapels closed to the waist.
The facings remained unchanged, the coat was dark blue, with the collar, lapels and turnbacks yellow. Cuffs were now of the pointed style and yellow with two buttons at the training edge, one on the cuff actual and one above. All buttons were brass and were now embossed with the Royal JN cipher. The epaulettes were yellow with scarlet fringes.
At the same time a piccolo uniforme uniform was issued for undress and campaign wear. The tunic was a dark blue habit a la Kinski coatee, singlebreasted with short tails and soubise tail pockets. The cuffs were pointed with two buttons and the front of the coat was closed with a single row of nine or ten buttons, according to the height of the wearer. Collar, cuffs, turnbacks and piping were yellow and the epaulettes were yellow with scarlet fringes. This tunic remained the undress uniform for the regiment until 1810 when the new hussar style uniforms were introduced.
From 1811 to 1813 a coat of the same style was worn but with the additions of a gallon of yellow braid across the chest at each button hole with a small button and tassel at the outer tip. A yellow lace baton with a button and tassel at the rear point was added to the collar and a similar vertical baton to the front of the cuffs.
In 1811 despite Napoleon's opposition Murat issued orders for the regiment to be re-uniformed as hussars and perhaps as a defiant gesture to the Emperor chose a flamboyant uniform of white and amarante, however, it is unlikely that the new uniforms were issued until early 1812.
The dolman was white with amarante collar and cuffs. The collar coat edges and ‘trees' at the rear seams were trimmed with yellow lace and the cuffs were piped yellow with a small Hungarian knot at the tip. The front of the tunic was decorated with yellow braid galons and five rows of small semi-spherical buttons.
The pelisse was amarante with black fur edging and white lining and the inner edges of the fur and the rear seams were trimmed with yellow lace. The front of the jacket was decorated as for the dolman with yellow braid galons and five rows of semi-spherical brass buttons.
This uniform was worn until April 1813 when the Reggimento Veliti officially became the ‘Reggimento Ussari Della Guardia Reale' and received new orders of dress.
A white single breasted waistcoat was worn with the 1806, 1808 and piccolo uniform, with a single row of brass buttons and small pockets at the waist with three pointed flaps.
In 1806 the breeches were dark blue and worn with Hungarian style boots with shaped tops with yellow lace trim and tassels. In 1808 Murat ordered that a yellow stripe be added to the outer seam and in 1809 dark blue overall trousers with a wide yellow stripe wear issued for campaign wear.
The 1810 regulations for the hussar style uniform prescribed amarante coloured breeches with yellow lace spearhead decorations on the thighs and a wide yellow stripe on the outer seam extending around the rear over the buttocks. The boots remained as before and were trimmed with yellow lace and tassels.
A yellow and amarante barrel sash was worn over the dolman with the cords and tassels allowed
to trail on the right side.
The riding cloak was of the same pattern as issued to the light cavalry of the line and was dark blue with a yellow collar and yellow lining to the shoulder cape. After the hussar style uniform was introduced the cloaks would appear to have been white with a plain white collar and the cape lined with amarante.
In 1807 the Corpo Veliti a Cavallo would appear to have een equipped with items acquired from the arsenal left by the departing Bourbon royal guard. The waist belt was of the narrow light cavalry pattern and was red leather with a yellow edging and brass S buckle. The sabres were of the curved light cavalry pattern with brass single bar hilt and a yellow sabre-strap with scarlet knot and tassels. The scabbards are shown as being either polished brass or black leather with brass heel and fittings. In 1808 Murat had the belts replaced with plain black leather and the sabres were replaced by 1809 with French pattern light cavalry sabres with a three bar brass hilt, black leather scabbard with brass fittings and an all dark blue sabre-strap.
There is no record of pouch belts being worn prior to 1808 and as the company only performed ceremonial duties for King Joseph, it is possible that they were not issued. In 1808 the Veliti received black leather pouch belts with brass buckle and fittings and a light cavalry style pouch with shaped lid of black leather decorated with a brass JN cipher.
From 1811 with the issue of the hussar uniform the pouch and waist belts became buff leather with brass fittings for parade and the black leather belting was retained for campaign and wear with the piccolo uniform. Sabre-straps were now made from buff leather. A sabretache of black leather was issued forparade dress of amarante with a wide yellow edging and the Royal J monogram in yellow.
The Velites were armed with the French pattern light cavalry carbine from 1808 with a whitened leather sling with steel hook for campaign. This was not worn with the parade dress and the carbine was carried on the right hand side of the saddle muzzle down.
The non-commissioned-officers of the Veliti were distinguished in the same style as those of the line light cavalry with gold lace chevrons worn above the cuffs; two gold lace chevrons for the Sergenti Maggiore, one gold chevron for Sergenti. The Caporal wore two chevrons on each cuff on each cuff of yellow wool and the Sotto-caporal one chevron. The Caporal-foriere was distinguished by a gold diagonal lace bar, worn on the left upper sleeve. The corporals had the same epaulettes as the men and sergeant-major had crescents and fringes of mixed gold and scarlet. The sergeants were distinguished by mixed gold and scarlet crescents.
The NCO headwear was basically the same as worn by the other ranks, however, after 1810 and the cords and flounders were mixed white and amarante for corporals and mixed silver and amarante for senior NCOs. Corporals carried the same arms and equipment as their company other ranks. The non-commissioned-officers were basically equipped as the troopers, except that the senior grades were not armed with the carbine.
The senior grades had sabre-straps of the national colours, silver with mixed amarante and white tassels. Chevrons for long service were worn on the left upper sleeves and were gold lace, one chevron for each five years of service. Prior to 1808 the officers wore the bicorn hat with gold lace edging, gold lace cockade-strap and white plume. This hat was retained for wear with the piccolo uniforme until 1813.
After 1808 the headgear was basically as for he cavalleri. The officer czapka or shako was as for the troopers with gilded metalwork and gold cords and founders. The shako had gold lace trim to the upper edges. With the issue of the hussar uniform in 1811 the officers of the elite company wore the black bearskin colpack with amarante flamme piped with gold and with a gold tassel.
The coats followed the same styles as worn by the other ranks. All buttons were gilded and embossed with the Royal cipher and epaulettes of rank were gold and as for the line cavalry officers. The coat worn for the piccolo uniform was a dark blue habit a la Kinski style tunic but with vertical three pointed pockets on the tails piped yellow. The breast of the coat was decorated with nine galons of gold braid with five rows of buttons, the central row closing the coat of standard pattern and the other four rows of smaller diameter. The collar and cuffs were decorated with gold lace batons, horizontal on the collar and vertical on the cuff. This coat was retained as the piccolo uniforme in at least late 1813. It is shown possibly worn with a dark blue waistcoat beneath, edged with gold lace and braided as for the front of the coat.
The officer's dolman and pelisse were basically as for the men with all lace and braid gold and rank was now shown on the sleeves in the form of gold lace chevrons.
Colonello – 5 gold chevrons of alternate 14mm and 23 mm widths.
Maggiore – As above with centre chevron silver
Capo-Squadrone – Four gold chevrons 14mm and 23mm alternate
Capitano – Two 14mm gold chevrons and central 23mm chevron
Tenente – Two 14mm gold chevrons
Sotto tenente – One 14mm gold chevron
Officers' breeches were dark blue and decorated with gold lace Hungarian knots on the thighs and a narrow gold stripe on the outer seam in 1807, however, plain dark blue breeches with a gold stripe were worn from 1808 with a dark blue waist-coat worn beneath the tunic the lower edge showing beneath the waist of the coat. In 1809 officers received tight fitting dark blue overall trousers with a double gold stripe on the outer seam for everyday wear and heavier overalls of dark blue with black leather cuffs and inserts for campaign. Boots were of the Hungarian pattern with gold lace trim and tassels. From 1811 the breeches worn with the hussar style uniform were amarante with a gold lace stripe on the outer seam, extending around the rear of the breeches over the buttocks. The front of the breeches were decorated with gold lave Hungarian knots of increasing width and embroidery according to rank and matching the sleeve chevrons. The boots were as before and in 1812 officers would appear to have been still wearing the heavy duty overalls for campaign.
Officer's riding cloaks followed the style of the troopers, but were generally of finer quality and were dark blue or white with the cape lined with the facing colour. The collar would appear to have been as for the uniform prior to 1811 and amarante edged gold thereafter. Chamois leather gloves were worn with all orders of dress.
The officer's waist belts were of the same light cavalry style as those of the other ranks but were buff leather with gold lace edging and gilt S buckle and fittings and the sabres had gilded hilts, polished brass or gilded scabbards, and gold sabre-straps. The pouch-belt was buff leather edged with gold lace, the lace covering all but the centre of the belt for senior officers. The pouch was of the light cavalry pattern with shaped lid and plain black leather for the junior officers and with gold trim to the edges for the senior grades. The lid was decorated with a gilded cipher badge. The officers sabretache were as for the other ranks but with the edging gold lace piped amarante and the cipher gold.

No details have been found of the horse furniture between 1806 and 1808 except ‘saddle cloth blue with yellow edge', the shabraque would probably have been of the light cavalry style with rounded front and rear corners. From 1808 to 1811 it was of that pattern and dark blue with a wide yellow edging piped dark blue on the outer edge. The Royal JN cipher appeared in the rear corners in yellow. The valise was round and dark blue with yellow trim to the ends. Officer's shabraques were the same with gold lace edging and trim instead of yellow and the cipher gold.
From 1811 the shabraques were of the same pattern but were amarante with yellow trim and J monogram, and amarante piping at the extreme edge.
The trumpeters now had a white saddle cloth with yellow edging and amarante piping both sides of the yellow trim. Officers had gold lace and the royal J monogram on the ends of the valise.

Prince of Essling29 Jan 2023 1:39 p.m. PST

When Napoleon left La Grande Armee to return to Paris to organise a new army he was accompanied by some of Neapolitan cavalry (unfortunately the sources I have consulted do not say how many or from which of the two units). I would expect the remainder would have accompanied Murat back to Naples when he left the Army.

Histofig Plates;



Bill N29 Jan 2023 7:06 p.m. PST

Good information. Thanks.

Bill N29 Jan 2023 9:43 p.m. PST

Is there any proof that Murat's horse guard carried lances before 1810?

von Winterfeldt30 Jan 2023 6:33 a.m. PST

@Prince of Essling

thanks for all those immages in text information

Prince of Essling30 Jan 2023 3:15 p.m. PST

@Bill N,

On your question of lances for the Reggimento Cavalleggeri della Guardia, no proof as sources are silent on the date of issue – merely saying black stained wood staff with steel tip and an amaranth over white swallow tail pennon.

Bill N02 Feb 2023 11:38 a.m. PST

Thanks PofE. My suspicion has been they did not, despite what some artwork suggests.

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