Saturday, 28 December 2013

Sapeurs de la Garde

The uniform worn by the Sapeurs of the Grenadiers a Pied is supposedly well known, but from primary archival sources the uniform may not be what we expect to see...


The well-known heavily lace Habit de Grande Tenue is depicted only twice in contemporary iconography, in both instances associated with the Coronation of Napoleon I. The print-maker Hoffmann shows a Sapeur wearing the familiar habit with lavish gold lace to the collar; lapels and button holes; cuffs and cuff flaps and their button holes; turn backs and presumably the turnbacks, long pockets and their button holes.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Drums and Fifes at Waterloo

Perhaps one of the enduring myths - and certainly images - of the Napoleonic army is the 'brave little drummer boy', perhaps best summed up in the somewhat saccharine painting by Lady Butler 'Steady the drums and fifes' depicting golden-haired innocent youths caught up in the hell of war. The historical reality, however, is that drummers were most definately not boys: they were grown men.
 No. 3040 Henry Wattel. Born in Lille 10 November 1794 (aged  21 at Waterloo) was 1m 70 tall and volunteered into the 3e Regiment des Grenadiers 1 May 1815. He served as Tambour (Drummer) in 2e Co., 1e Battn., 3e Regiment at Waterloo where he was taken prisoner.