Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Extracts from "Manual for the Sub-Officers of the Regiments of the Royal Guard", c.1820


"The men are expected to wash and shave daily using the hot water which is provided in the large basin.
The Sub-Officers of all regiments and the Sub-Officers and Soldats of the 1st and 2nd Regiment are allowed to grow the moustache. The moustache is to be no longer than the depth of the upper lip. The Sub-Officers and Soldats are forbidden from using wax.
The Sidebeards are to be worn to the depth of the earlobe.
The Hair to be cropped short" - if the Sergent-Major was able to "take hold" of the hair on the back of the head it was too long!
"The feet of the men are to be inspected every week."


"The Bonnet a Poil is to be stored in a moisture-proof cardboard box on the Bread Shelf.
The Bonnet a Poil will be thoroughly brushed once per week. First, following the grain of the fur, second along the grain of the fur so as to present a full appearance."
"The plume to be kept clean by rolling it gently in the palms of the hand to dislodge the dust."

On the March or on Campaign the Bonnet de Police is to be stored under the Giberne.
"The Turban is to be unfolded and the Bonnet to be rolled, commencing with the Gland, so that the soutache forms a perfect spiral. It is to be stored in it's [waxed] linen Etui."


The Capote was to be rolled into a "perfect sausage shape" and carried on top of the Havresac in its Etui made from blue and white "cloths of a million stripes" (A mille raies). On Parade it was fitted wth carboard ends - Rondes - which were painted with two coats of blue paint and to bear a stencilled "suitable device" in facing colour, i.e. a yellow grenade for the 1e Regiment etc.

The Havresac was to be "packed in such a way as to be perfectly square" and so that it "conformed to the company measure" (which is described as nothing more than a over-size wooden set-square, used by the Sergent-Major to ensure the Havresac was square and the Capote was rolled to the correct size.)


To be "very ample"; in Winter Guard Mounting the Cross Belts were to be worn over it. On the March or Campaign or in Wet Weather it was to be worn over the Cross Belts (to keep the equipment dry).


The Giberne was annually to be stripped of all its' polish and laquer using a flat-iron and grease-proof paper. The surface of the Giberne was to be made "perfectly smooth" using the "back of a brush" and it, and the brass ornaments polished until "quite brilliant". After having been inspected by the File-Leader they were to be lacquered (two thin coats to prevent it cracking) ensuring that they were free from "any particle of dust" .

On the March and on Campaign the highly-polished flap was to be covered with a  blackwaxed linen cover.

The Cross Belts were similarly to be stripped of all whitening and lacquer. They were whitened using a mixture of white slip, Gum-Arabic and "blueing" in several thin watery coats to prevent them cracking. This one, a "lead crayon" was used to draw a line on the side of the stitched edge (pique). Again, after having passed inspection the belts were to be varnished (to make them wipe-clean).

"On the March and on Campaign" the end of the bayonet was to be protected with a black waxed linen Etui, which closed with a draw-string. File-Leaders wereto ensure the Etui was properly fitted and covered the "opening to the scabbard" to prevent any ingress of moisture. Sabre and Bayonet scabbards were to be well waxed so as to remain waterproof.

On the March or Campaign

"After the March, but before the Soup" each File Leader was to:

Inspect tho shoes, gaiters, socks and feet of each Soldat. He was to ensure that the Shoes had their nails; the soles were in good repair; the gaiters had their buttons and were well-fitted; the Soldat was wearing socks and they were in good repair. The Shoes were to be "well waxed"  before commencing the march (i.e. so they stayed properly waterproofed).

Where possible the men were to wash and dry their feet.

The Sergent was to inspect the Sabre, Bayonet and Giberne to check that they had not been affected by damp, were free from dirt and rust, and were well-oiled. The cartridges in the Giberne were to be inspected for moisture and not damaged in any way.

The Sapeur was to carry his axe in its pouch (Porte-Hache) and he also carried a spade - its head protected by a black leather Etui - in a leather tube buckled to the Havresac. A saw was also to be carried in a leather sheath.

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