Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Garde de Paris, first step

Well, well. Long on my list was the garde de Paris.

As First Consul, Napoleon Bonaparte created the municipal guard of Paris in 1802. Originally, it consisted of two half-brigades, which became two regiments in 1804.
These regiments were recruited from former soldiers who aged at least 30, but still were under 40, measuring over 1.65 m and able to read and write. To apply, the men must have had five campaigns under their belt. They had to commit for at least ten years, and more prosaically, had to carry a leave signed by the military authorities. [source: French Wikipedia]

The first regiment wore green uniforms with red facings/lapels/collars - this is the second regiment, which wore colours vice versa. Which means, I have to paint another regiment, plus both in the white uniforms that were used in 1807 only.

There are some tricky things about these regiments when it comes to uniforms. On the one hand, you find various plates that leave you puzzled about when this or that part of the unit wore either shakos or bearskin hats. I finally decided to let the grenadiers appear with the bearskin no matter what, as well as I took in that bearskin-hat chasseur on the left side although I weren't able to research if they actually served in this uniform parallel or before the chasseur uniform with the simple green feathered shako was used. Parts of the unit seem only to have existed during the time when the garde de Paris was part of the Flanders campaign that led them to Kassel, later Hamburg.

Next thing is the drummer uniform. On early regulation, drummers often wore a uniform in colours reversed to that of their units' common soldiers. But a uniform that was similar to the troopers' ones, only differing in golden/yellow pipings around cuffs, collars and breast, was also usual among French infantry units, although it is rather common for a use after 1807. Unfortunately, I found no evidence on what exactly was the case here. Uniform plates and paintings differ a lot, as if the painters also had the same troubles that I had. One time you see this, other times you see the other uniforms in use. Therefore, I decided to go with the golden piping version.

The garde de Paris, though being a municipal guard unit, saw lots of real battle. From October 1805 to February 1806, it served as an auxiliary force of the Grande Armée during the occupation of the Netherlands. The guards occupied Antwerp, Arnhem and Nijmegen, then moved forth to Hamburg. In 1807 they were vital part of the force that besieged Danzig. It also took part in the battle of Friedland, were it successfully stopped the approach of a ten times larger Russian force for nine hours.

In 1808, the unit was moved to Spain where it served until 1812 and participated in battles like Bailen and Burgos. It was dissolved due to an involvement of it's commanders in the Malet coup attempt of 1812 and later reinstalled as Imperial Guard of Paris in 1813.

I'd say that this is a unit of interest for wargaming scenarios. A municipal guard consisting of battle-hardened veterans.

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