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French Line Infantry

French Line infantry fusiliers in post 1812 uniform. Note that the lapels extend all the way to the waist (contrast with the inverted 'V' cut into the lapel of the earlier uniform). Graphic reproduced with kind permission of Hät Industrie.

Organisation

From 1805, French Line infantry regiments were composed of 4 battalions of 4 fusilier companies, 1 grenadier company and 1 voltigeur company. Nominal company strength was 140 men and 3 officers - giving a total of 858 per battalion.

Uniforms

Headdress

French infantry headdress until 1806 was a black felt bicorne. This was replaced in 1806 by the now familiar black shako. The shako had a brass diamond plate in front (This was changed in 1812 to a brass eagle above a semicircle - see title graphic). The shako had a coloured pom-pom. Each company had its own distinct colour as follows:

- red - grenadier coy

- yellow or green - voltigeur coy

- green, sky blue, orange and violet - fusilier coys 1-4.

In addition, grenadier shakos had red top and bottom bands and cords. Voltigeur shakos had yellow top and bottom bands and green cords.

Note: Grenadier coys wore bearskins with brass plates and red cords and plumes until 1807/08.

- Coat

Infantry coats were blue with white lapels and turnbacks. Lapels and turnbacks were piped red. Collars and cuffs were red with white piping. Shoulder straps were blue with red piping. Before 1812, the infantry coat had long tails and the front of the coat was cut with an inverted 'V' (see graphic at left). After 1812, the coattails were shortened and the front of the coat was cut square (see title graphic).

Grenadier coys wore basically the same coat with red epaulettes and red grenades on the turnbacks.

Voltigeurs had yellow collars and green epaulettes.

- Legwear

Regulations stipulated white breeches with above knee black gaiters. After 1812, the gaiters were shortened to below the knee. On campaign, a variety of loose trousers were often worn.

Line Infantryman in pre-1806 uniform - note the bicorne.

Line Grenadier - note the inverted 'V' cut of the lapels. Also note the red epaulettes and above knee gaiters.

Line Voltigeur - note the green pom-pom and epaulettes, yellow collar. The gaiters should be black.

Note - for the sake of clarity, the above description has been simplified. It should suffice for wargamers. For more detail, please consult the following references:

Haythornthwaite - Uniforms of the Peninsular War

Haythornthwaite - Uniforms of the Russian Campaign

Haythornthwaite - Uniforms of Waterloo

Chartrand - Napoleonic Wars: Napoleon's Army (Brassey)

Napoleon's Line Infantry (Osprey Men-at-Arms)

Pericoli - The Armies at Waterloo

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