Wednesday, December 20, 2017

More men behind the lines - the Gardes d'honneur

When I discovered the departmental reserve troop system, I had already stumbled accross the Guards of Paris as a unit. In one of them articles, there was a remark that 'they had been in larger scale, what the honour guards had been for the smaller cities'. So I started to find out what that meant.

During my research, I found an old book on the public database of the Toulouse biblioteque. (Book: Gardes d'honneur)

And there they were - a whole lot of new uniform pictures that I had to put into my Pre-Bardin-uniform project, which backlashed to more then a hundred uniforms yet to be painted.

Garde d'honneur of the city of Rochefort

Large cities had to setup such guards for the means of internal security. They served as protectors of the cities' officials and the city infrastructure. They guarded roads and streets as well as public public buildings. Larger cities tended to have their own city guards since medieval times. Under Napoleon, they mainly had these guards because the larger cities had the financial capabilities to pay for their security on their own accounts.

And as long as they had to pay them all by themselves, the city officials were relatively free to decide about the look of their city guards - not the equipment, which was same as it was for the standing army. Some of these uniforms looked really flamboyant, while other cities decided to put their men into rather conservative coloured cloth.
Garde d'honneur of the city of Moissac

By the means of battle readyness, one might consider these troops as militia. I haven't found much evidence of city guards that were placed on the field in a real fight, except when their cities came under siege.

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