Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The 'Garde municipale de Paris'

Paris, being the heart of France, always had it's very own guards. After the revolution, this guard went through several stages of organization, slowly deteriorating in men and functionality in the latest years of the 1790s. Therefore, the Garde municipale de Paris (or 'Guards of Paris', as I'll call them from now on) where created by personal decree from Napoleon Bonaparte himself in 1802.

Members of this troop had to fullfill some interesting criteria: they had to be between 30 and 40 years old, more then 1.65m tall, able to read and write and (!) they should have to be involved in at least five army campaigns. In other words: the Guards of Paris where not some background police dudes hanging around, they were real war veterans.

Their duties were the same as for the Gardes d'honneur in major cities or the Departemental reserves - they were responsible for inner security, guarded governmental infrastructure, patrolled in the streets, guarded prisons, city gates and protected governmental officials.

The Guards of Paris were organized in two demi-brigades, totally 2154 men strong.What is a bit tricky about this unit is the uniform documentation. Due to several sources claiming this or that configuration for the same time frame, it's a bit hard to say how the uniforms really looked like at this or that time. Although the general colours are of no doubt at all, this problem mostly is about cuff shapes and bearskin/shakos. Therefore, I had to decide for a certain variation in case of the tirailleur/voltigeur figure.

The basic uniform colour of the 1st regiment was green with red cuffs'n collar. The 2nd regiment wore it's uniform with the same colours the other way 'round. For the drummers, I basically found two versions: the one with the golden rims and the reverse-colours version. Well.

In 1806, both uniforms received white uniforms. Sitting at the center of the distribution chain, it is confirmed that they really got those uniforms. The distinctive colour of each regiment - red or green - remained. After the white uniforms were abandoned, they switched back to the old ones (what a waste of money, eh?).

What makes this unit interesting for wargamers is that here you have a 'militia' or 'city guard' unit with veteran status. Plus it makes a bright and colourful appearance.

The Guards of Paris were active on the battlefields from 1806 to 1812. Two batallions were involved in the campaign against the Netherlands and later took part in the occupation of Hamburg. In 1807, they took part in the siege of Danzig and the battle of Friedland. Detachements of the guards also fought in the battle of Alcolea, Bailen and Burgos in Spain.

In 1812, the Guards of Paris got involved in the coup d'etat led by general de Malet. The coup was quickly put down, the guard's colonel and his staff were shot and the Guards of Paris were disbanded. The infantry was used to reassemble the former 134th line infantry regiment, which later took part in the battles in Germany throughout 1813, were it was utterly destroyed.