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To Flambeau - Napoleon's sea soldiers

You asked for information on Napoleon's sea soldiers over on Benno's Forum.

Please note, there were no marines (meaning "Marineinfanterie") strictly speaking in the Napoleonic French army, only sailors and other naval personnel who were organized (and reorganized) into various units who fought both at sea and on land (often as infantry) and had different uniforms, as prescribed by a number of regulations.

However, the vast majority of information is in French. There is nothing in German and just a little in English. You seem to be German and as most Germans probably don't read French. Sorry for you.

René Chartrand's Osprey title on Napoleon's sea soldiers seems to be the best available in English at the time though it's not without mistakes. For example, he missed out some regulations and, accordingly, some of Francis Back's artwork is erroneous as well. The plate posted on Benno's, for example, shows an officer meant to be a "lieutenant de vaisseau" but wearing the epaulettes of a "capitaine de vaisseau" - two epaulettes with thick fringes when he should be wearing an épaulette with thin fringes on the left, and a contre-épaulette (without fringes) on the right (i.e., same rank insignia as that of an army captain; "capitaine de vaisseau" corresponds to an army colonel).

The Suhr watercolours are contemporary and I like them very much but, unfortunately, they aren't always reliable either. In the case of the plate shown (I refer to the original not to the copy posted over at Benno's), the naval officer ("en petite tenue") too is wearing the epaulettes of a "capitaine de vaisseau", with thick fringes on both shoulders but the two lace bars that should adorn his collar are missing, and he has not even a sabre belt and scabbard.

Perhaps, for the time being, the most comprehensive overview online on the various navy units and uniforms is that of "Le Garde Chauvin", but it is in French:. Just in case you want to give it a try ...

Click "Nos recherches", and then "Les différents corps militaires" and "Uniformologie".

Some nice pictures can be found elsewhere, e.g. here ...

Charmy, however, is a bit superficial and not without mistakes either. E.g., the "Aspirant en 1810 (d'après Dubois de l'Étang)" on the second picture has really nothing to do with the Napoleonic era but belongs to the 1820s at the earliest, and more likely to the 1830s or 1840s.

More pictures here (don't let the thread title "Infanterie de Marine Française" confuse you because - as mentioned before and also stated in the last contribution there - there was no "Infanterie de marine" in the French Napoleonic army :relaxed: ), by Patrice Courcelle. But even the reknown Courcelle has the epaulettes of the two "lieutenants de vaisseau" shown on the third plate (figures 2 and 3) not right and, accordingly, the corresponding notes on "Les Grades dans la Marine ..." aren't correct either.

And, finally, some more plates showing the dress of the "rank and file" on board ships by Michel Pétard.

Re: To Flambeau - Napoleon's sea soldiers

Wow, thanks! That was quite a bit of information and sums things up nicely - including my sadly rather limited knowledge of French :relaxed: but hey, we've got Google translator, so this is going to be amusing. Merci!

Re: To Flambeau - Napoleon's sea soldiers

You are welcome!

BTW, the guys in red need not bother you. They were a special unit raised by Général Kléber during the Egyptian campaign from sailors of the French ships lost at the sea battle of Aboukir - so, anyway, not within the timeframe you are interested in.


Re: To Flambeau - Napoleon's sea soldiers

Thanks a lot again! If you don't mind I'll quote your post in full at Benno's so that anybody interested in the subject can access it there too.
Great links by the way!

Re: To Flambeau - Napoleon's sea soldiers

No problem. Thanks for appreciating. :slightly_smiling_face: