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"Napoleon's Uniforms and Equipment of the Grande Armée Series" Topic

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Lilian30 Jan 2023 8:41 a.m. PST


Paul Lindsay Dawson has shared the card covers of the first two volumes of his long expected series

Pen & Sword books. This is the first of 8 books in the series covering the entirety of the French Army 1789 to 1815. Two decades work to get to this point, and over 1,000 archive boxes. No one has ever studied the dress and equipment of a nations army over a 25 years period down to company level. A huge investment on my part in cash and time which I hope is worth it.

1. Hussars & Chasseurs (spring 2023)
2. Cuirassiers & Carabiniers (summer 2023)
3. Dragoons & Lancers (autumn/winter 2023)
4. Light Infantry, National Guard 134e-156e de Ligne, Artillery, Engineers, Train, Guides…
5. Line Infantry 1806-1812
6. Line Infantry 1812-1815
7. French Army of the Revolution and Marengo
8. French Army of Austerlitz

In design stage is our forthcoming title on the clothing and equipment of Napoleon's Light Cavalry. This will be followed by the Cuirassiers and Carabiniers, and then Dragoons and Lancers.

Hot on the heels of the Chasseurs and Hussars will be the Cuirassiers and Carabiniers. Each of the 19 regiments of cuirassiers is covered. The story explores the long gestation of the cuirassier arm, starting with the 8e Cavalerie, through to the Cuirassiers du Roi formed in 1814. A lot of myths are busted on the way about what the cuirassiers wore – scarlet epaulettes were a luxury not every man had a pair is just one – and the evolution of their armour. The so called 'officers pattern' cuirass of 1804 are no such thing, and are much older than 1804! Not forgetting the carabiniers and their mythical sky blue undress uniforms. Dragoons and Lancers will follow, and thence at the end of 2023 the first of the three volumes assessing the Ligne, Légère, Garde Nationale, Artillerie and Génie plus the troops of the Train.

if you are curious or interested in PLD's investigations across the French Archives we have shared datas in this thread
TMP link

ccmatty Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2023 11:40 a.m. PST

Wow! This looks amazing….

Sir Able Brush Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2023 5:53 a.m. PST

I've two of his – they make dense reading but they are remarkable in their detail.

I think his work in the supplies archives is invaluable. It has a deep logic – this is what they were buying so this must've been what they were wearing.

I used his work on Imperial Guard Infantry ( ) to paint two 28mm battalions of Flanquer Chasseurs:


So I'm really looking forward to these new works – even though ti will mean that when I decide to paint a unit I'm going to have to sit down with a deep frown and notebook and work out what is the difference between the sources I have and the info he has unearthed.

The plates by Keith Rocco are fabulous and there are also lots of photos. I've also bought the Imperial Guard Cavalry and the Waterloo Army books… so much to look forward too.

Now where's my paint brush….

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2023 5:32 a.m. PST

I would suggest using those books with care. There are just too many errors in fact in them to be reliable.

I completely agree that Keith Rocco's work is excellent. I have some of his prints framed and hanging in my library.

Oliver Schmidt21 Feb 2023 6:21 a.m. PST

Could you please give some examples for factual errors in these books ?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2023 12:29 p.m. PST

You can find some of them here:

I have reviewed all three…




All authors err in their writings however I believe that most in these and the authors other volumes on the period could have been avoided.

Oliver Schmidt21 Feb 2023 1:35 p.m. PST

Many thanks, Kevin. Judging from your reviews, the strength of the first book lies more in the details about uniforms, and of the second in gathering first hand accounts translated into English, and not so much in which Paul Dawson writes about the campaigns in general.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2023 4:32 p.m. PST

Looking over the other books by the same author, the same pattern of myriad mistakes in the text tends to render the volumes ineffective.

If the text had stuck with just uniforms and equipment, the books would not have as many errors.

4th Cuirassier27 Feb 2023 3:32 a.m. PST

PLD's approach is pretty interesting. Classical uniformology often relies on pictures and descriptions of troops, and on written accounts of what they were supposed to wear. In neither case can you be sure that what's depicted / described is what they actually did wear. A painting of one specimen cavalryman doesn't indicate that every single one looked the same. The Bardin designs took two to three years to become widespread and weren't universal even by 1815.

So in looking at what units bought and had in their depots, PLD has arguably dealt with the risk of a one-off being assumed to be typical. He's looking at the entirety of the inventory. My only reservation with this approach is whether we know the inventory was typical. A depot may have had x coats of the old pattern in August 1815, but this doesn't tell us for sure what was still on the men's backs. Did they turn in the old pattern and walk home in the new?

I was a reluctant RAF cadet at school. The school was paid £100,000.00 GBP a year to have a cadet force, in hopes that its stupider 18-year-olds would enlist. So everyone had to be a cadet. The cadets were clad in hand-me-down regulars' uniforms that were only gradually updated. You'd be issued with whatever fitted, and that would be what you kept for three years – unless you could show it was worn out or too small. At that point it would be replaced with whatever else best fitted. So in 1978, you saw the odd bloke in itchy battledress and itchy trousers from 1975, among others in pullovers and not-itchy trousers. When he turned it in, it might well be issued to someone else.

I am therefore not sure what you could reliably infer about the appearance of cadets from an inspection of the QM's inventory. The existence in stores of a large number of battledress and very few pullovers would not prove that most cadets wore battledress, for example.

I'll probably get the odd cavalry book, but if there's anything radical in these volumes, it will be interesting to see if the figure manufacturers keep up…

von Winterfeldt28 Feb 2023 12:56 a.m. PST

those are great publications, the author makes available to the public his thorough research he personally conducted at this own coast in the archives at Paris, they are indispesnible to gain a valuable insight for the French Army. Of course there will be some mistakes, as all will realize who did publish, but there is no reason to write a hatchet review other than having a personal axe to grind with the author. Of course it will be not easy, or for some next to impossible, to take on that a lot of so far artists or author held in high esteem, like Herbert Knötel, Forthoffer etc. are demolished.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2023 5:51 a.m. PST

It is incredible to me that in order to promote some new books older authors have to be attacked and 'demolished.' Seems a waste of time and effort.

I am still going to appreciate my collection of Rousselot's, Knotels and Leliepvres. I just don't see them being 'demolished.'

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