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Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

Asher Croy
Hello all, hope the week has gotten off to a good start for everybody. I come with a question. I’ve been avoiding Napoleonics for quite some time now in our hobby as I’ve found them quite daunting. So many nations, so many campaigns, so many uniforms… but I’ve always loved learning about the era and knew embarking on a Napoleonic War project would be inevitable. So to get myself started I purchased about a dozen sets, but I haven’t done enough homework to start painting. I was wondering what the best sources for uniforms are. Is there a quintessential book that everyone uses, websites, catalogues, etc… I plan on eventually collecting all major nations involved, but my focus right now are France, Russia, Britain, and Bavaria. Any help at all would be tremendous.
Thanks,
Asher
I may be old-fashioned, Asher (and definitely getting old too!) but I still rely on books with colour plates to inform me about uniforms. There are many books on Napoleonic Uniforms out there, but if you were looking for just a few really good and comprehensive books on different campaigns, I'd probably go for the old Blandford Press series. These books are still available in print, or indeed second-hand via Amazon or similar. For Ligny/Quatre Bras/Waterloo there is the 'Uniforms of Waterloo' book, although as mentioned by Roger the Mont St Jean Cent Jour website has all you'd ever want on uniforms for the 100 days campaign in 1815. For the 1812 campaign of Napoleon's Grande Armee against Czar Alexander's Russia, I'd suggest 'Uniforms of the retreat from Moscow'...which actually covers the whole campaign including uniforms worn at Borodino, not just the retreat. And for the Peninsular War, there is 'Uniforms of the Peninsular War 1807-1814'. These three books are my 'go to books' for the Napoleonic periods that I am most interested in, but I have many others in my library as well.

There are also many decent books on specific armies of the Napoleonic period in the Osprey Men-at-Arms series. Included in this series is a book on Bavarians, which is book Number 4 of a mini-series on Napoleon's German Allies.

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

I too prefer books first and foremost minuteman. I find flipping through pages and looking at the illustrations as I paint, much more enjoyable than scrolling online. I’ll have to see if I can track those three books down. And I appreciate the recommendation of the osprey books. In the past I’ve found osprey can be hit or miss with their men at arms series (though mostly hit).

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

like others i prefer books as guides to painting figures, i too have Ospreys , Blandfords titles as well as Fred & Liliane Funcken books on Napoleonic Wars as well as Knotel colour plates (these were available on line, as well as Company of Military Historians plates for War of 1812, which i've printed off)

also used many magazine articles like Airfix magazines & annuals for conversions ideas as back in the day when i started collecting , gaming there wasn't internet !!! yes i'm that old
cheers Old John

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

Ah Asher, now that you are 'in', there is no looking back! A wonderful journey it is too.

There is a lot to cover from 1804–1815, even more if you go back to 1796 or 1792. The Russians alone had four completely different uniform styles over the entire period! Check out Viskovatov's series of books, most of which are translated and posted on Mark Conrad's marvellous website (sans images):
http://www.marksrussianmilitaryhistory.info

You'll find copious arguments about some specific aspect of a uniform too, some of which cannot be answered with complete certainty. Ultimately do what you think is best and what you like the look of and be confident in that regulations and what was done in the field seldom matched. For example, there is a 'marvellous' story in Lachouque's 'Anatomy of Glory' about the struggle that the commander of the newly raised Fusilier Grenadier and/or Chasseurs (I have to go to the book to recall all the details) had trying to obtain greatcoats for his men. Met with bureaucratic nonsense that'd make anyone's blood boil (likely the ordnance fella in question was getting some kick back, I am sure...). That was for the Guard. Imagine what it was like for line troops or 'foreign' contingents?!

There are plenty of books and websites out there and the books are so much easier and cheaper to obtain than when I started out and first drooled (metaphorically, of course) over the Funcken volumes.

I now have 3 228 files saved and a bookcase full of books devoted to uniforms of the Napoleonic period (revolutionary too), but am always on the lookout for others, especially those not in English.

For example, check out the ones published by Histoire et Collections (most of which have been translated).

Any book or website will have gaps, and some big gaps still exist too. No-one has done the definitive book on the Prussians, that I can find/know of, instead I get my info. about them from various books and sites.

Regards, James

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

Is Viskovatov a good source for Napoleonic Russians James? I had read somewhere that some of his information comes from a proposed reform of the Russian Army that never went ahead in the end? So I had bypassed him as a source. If that isn't true then I will take a look.

One thing that has always given me a headache when it comes to Russian regiments, & preventing me painting up a Russian army, is knowing who had what facings. I have found sources for the 1805 era, detailinh the colours of each regiment, but 1812 all I can find is how the "inspections" changed & the colour of a regiments shoulder straps. Did the actual collar/cuffs facings colours not change from the 1805 lists for the regiments?

And yes books are indeed still a good resource on the subject. As others have said Asher, there can be disagreement as to what a uniform looked like depending on the sources used. My advice is see how a particular uniform is referenced in a way more than others. If the majority of sources say a regiment had, for example, green tunics, but a couple say red, I tend to go with the common consensus until proven otherwise. It can be a minefield.....don't get me started on Hannoverian field battalions for 1815!!! I have a bit less hair thanks to them!!

But as James has said, welcome to the world of Napoleonics, now Napoleons imperial eagle has its talons in you, you'll find it hard to pull yourself away!!! 😂

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

Dear Roger,

Yeah, Russian shoulder straps, pompom centres, plumes, flags are all great fun. I really enjoy the 1802–07 uniforms. (Hannoverian field battalions for 1815 :grin: :upside_down_face: :slightly_smiling_face: !)

For me, I went around in circles and settled mainly on a combination of information from Viskovatov, The Napoleon Series (https://www.napoleon-series.org/military-info/organization/Russia/Infantry/c_facings.htm), issues of Soldats Napoleoniens and a wonderful book "L’Armee Russe Sous le Tsar Alexandre 1er de 1805 a 1815" by Marcel Gayda and Andre Krijitsky (with English captions by Stephen Summerfield).

The book, originally published in 1950, was published in 2016, in hardcover, as 'a completely adapted reworking of the original French 1950 volume by Le Sabretache' by Ken Trotman, so you'd be able to get it easily and for less for postage than me, I'd say.


It's even more fun if you go back to the Potemkin reforms (for Kosciousko's revolt and early wars against the Ottomans) and then on to the 'back to the future' uniform under Paul I—if you want confusion and uncertainty go there! Not a reversion to a Frederickian-style uniform, but based on it with Russian adaptations and a real backward step for the men after the ahead-of-its time Potemkin uniform (figs for that available in 1/72 from Hagen).

All great fun and trying to piece a puzzle together is a big part of the joy, I reckon.

I hope that I am not putting Asher off with all this. I am trying to indicate how interesting the search can be and that it can continue as a lifelong thing.

In the end, settle on something, paint the figs and it will 'do' for one's purposes!!

Kind regards,

James

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

Agreed, the research can indeed be just as interesting as the buying and painting of the figures themselves. Its all part of the hobby, and it can be an eye opener too when you come across sources that completely turn on its head what you had become acustomed to knowing.

I will have to give Viskovatov another look I think. As you say, its probably a case of combining the info from several sources in regards to painting up some Russians for Smolensk/Borodino.

I am hoping that the 1805 facing colours did indeed make their way into the 1812 uniforms, as there was some much more vivid colours used than what I have normally painted.

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

I wouldn’t want to mislead you Roger, they were simpler from 1810 with collar standardised to red, like the turn backs had been. Shoulder straps by division. No Pom-pom centres.
That page on the Napoleon Series I gave the link to has it, the book I mentioned and I think Viskovatov does too?
(I’ve not painted any of my late Russians yet).
Cheers James

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

Just like anything James this sounds like something that gets easier with time and practice. Modeling the the American War of 1812 has given me some very modest experience in these sorts of matters, but that small theater of war is child’s play compared to the entirety of the Napoleonic Wars. Thank you for the recommendations though. The goal is to also have a entire bookshelf filled on the subject someday, but I have to start somewhere, and these seem like some great options. Thank you again!

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

Hi Asher

For 1815 cant get better than the Mont St Jean website already mentioned, its superb

Another good on line source is the Napoleon Series - lot of links to original uniform plates, which form basis of a lot of the modern plates used.


Bavarians are good starting point, from your list, as they fought both for and against Napoleon and Strelts have a great and growing range.

French will provide opponent to almost every other army and many allied forces used French style uniforms, with added colour.

I would recommend the following books which can be found second hand fairly easily:

Fred and Liliane Funken Arms and Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars (2 vols) - not entirely reliable but excellent overview and the pictures inspired many of us to get involved in first place!!

Blandford Books - mentioned above (Retreat from Moscow, Waterloo and The Napoleonic Wars)

Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars An Illustrated Encyclopedia by Digby Smith, Lorenz Books another helpful overview and relatively cheap

Histoire & Collections - the 1812 or 1814 campaign books contain uniform schematics of most of the units involved (the text is less useful) but if you can find 'Soldiers and Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars (FG Hourtoulle) that is perhaps the best single book IMHO, covers topics across the whole period and the artwork is fantastic. Its probably bit more pricy

Osprey Men At Arms series covers most armies, pick the more modern versions though.

Enjoy

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

Thank you John! I’ll add those to the list. I really appreciate the guidance and advice. Obviously building a French force is a must for the napoleonic period (I’ll have to use a variety of brands for this) but after that I’m basing my other factions mostly off of what Strelets has available. I really love the way they are approaching this range of figures. Organizing it by firing line, in square, in attack, on the march, etc… Since the British (highlanders and regulars) and Bavarians are further along than most other factions I have made them my focus.

Re: Napoleonic Uniform References?

Hi


one last suggestion if its Bavarians:

https://www.napoleon-series.org/military-information/organization-strategy-tactics/#bavaria

free uniform plates always a good thing!

HaT do Bavarian Cavalry and Artillery, to supplement the Strelets new range of Bavarian infantry

Enjoy