HISTORICAL MINIATURES BY GEORGE GRASSE

FRENCH NAPOLEONIC CAVALRY ORGANIZATION

1804-15

Updated 25 June 2007

FRENCH CAVALRY ORGANIZATION

The regiment consisted of a regimental staff (état-major) and four squadrons (escadrons) each of two companies (compagnies).   The 1st Company of the 1st Squadron was the Elite Company (compagnie d'elite) and all officers and men wore a fur busby (hussars & chasseurs), a fur bonnet (dragoons), or the headgear unique to their regiment (cuirassiers, lanciers).  All of the other companies were called center companies (compagnie du centre) and they wore the shako.  Each company was further divided into two platoons (peletons).

The état-major had a strength of nineteen men: colonel, major, chefs d'escadron (2), adjutant-majors (2), quartier-maître, surgeon-major, surgeon aide-major, surgeon sous-aide(2), adjutant sous-officiers (2), brigadier-trompette, veterinerian, master tailor, master saddle maker, master boot maker, and master armorer/sword maker, plus eight sappers (sapeurs) and a corporal sapeur (brigadier-sapeur).

Each company had a total war-time strength of 116 officers and men as follows: captain, lieutenant, sous-lieutenant, sergeant-major (maréchal des logis chef), four sergeants (maréchal des logis), a fourrier, eight corporals (brigadiers), 86 mounted troopers (soldats), 10 unmounted troopers, and 2 trumpeters (trompettes).

Total authorized war-time strength of a line cavalry regiment was 947 officers and men.  In reality, when on campaign, a regiment of four squadrons probably averaged about 450 men due to casualties, illness, leave, and availability of mounts.

 

LACE COLOR NOTES FOR FRENCH CAVALRY OF THE LINE

REFERENCE TO "LACE COLOR" IN THE TABLE BELOW IS EITHER WHITE OR YELLOW IN FABRIC FOR ENLISTED MEN OR A CORRESPONDING METALLIC COLOR IN GOLD OR SILVER FOR OFFICERS AND SENIOR NCO'S.  IN GENERAL, "LACE COLOR" IS TYPICALLY REFERRED TO AS "WHITE" OR "YELLOW" IMPLYING EITHER FABRIC OR METALLIC COLOR FOR APPROPRIATE RANKS.

REGIMENT LACE COLOR
CARABINIERS WHITE (SILVER)
CUIRASSIERS WHITE (SILVER)
DRAGONS WHITE (SILVER)
LANCIERS YELLOW (GOLD)
CHASSEURS A CHEVAL WHITE (SILVER)
HUSSARS WHITE (SILVER) OR YELLOW (GOLD)

 

RANK AND INSIGNIA SYSTEM FOR TROOPS OF THE CAVALRY OF THE LINE

THE FRENCH SYSTEM OF RANK INSIGNIA WAS DISPLAYED ON THE LOWER SLEEVE FOR ENLISTED MEN IN THE FORM OF DIAGONAL BARS IN RED BORDERED BY THE LACE COLOR.  OFFICERS OF HUSSARS TYPICALLY DISPLAYED THEIR RANK AS CHEVRONS ON EACH OF THE LOWER SLEEVES OF THE DOLMAN AND PELISSE BUT OFFICERS OF THE REST OF THE CAVALRY OF THE LINE DISPLAYED THEIR RANK IN THE NUMBER AND STYLE OF EPAULETTES ON THE SHOULDERS.  THERE ARE TWO TABLES PRESENTED BELOW: ONE FOR THE CAVALRY OF THE LINE (EXCEPT HUSSARS) AND ONE FOR HUSSARS.  NOTE THAT SOME CHASSEUR A CHEVAL REGIMENTS WERE WHOLLY OR PARTLY CLOTHED IN HUSSAR-STYLE UNIFORMS ESPECIALLY OFFICERS AND ESPECIALLY IN THE EARLY PERIOD OF THE EMPIRE.

 

RANK AND INSIGNIA FOR TROOPS OF THE LINE CAVALRY REGIMENTS (EXCEPT HUSSARS)

RANK IN ENGLISH JACKET
Brigadier Corporal Two diagonal bars in lace color
Brigadier-fourrier Corporal Two chevrons plus one bar on the upper sleeve in lace color
Brigadier-trompette Trumpeter Corporal Two chevrons in lace color
Marechal-des-logis Sergeant One chevron in silver or gold
Trompette-major Sergeant One chevron in silver or gold
Marechal-des-logis chef First Sergeant Two chevrons in silver or gold
Adjustant-sous-officier Sergeant Major Three chevrons in silver or gold
Sous-Lieutenant 2nd Lieutenant One chevron in silver or gold
Lieutenant 1st Lieutenant Two chevrons in silver or gold
Capitaine Captain One large and two small chevrons or three small chevrons in silver or gold
Chef de Escadron Major Two large and one small chevron in silver or gold
Major Lt. Colonel Three large and three small chevrons in silver or gold
Colonel Colonel Three large and three small chevrons in silver or gold

 

 

RANK AND INSIGNIA FOR TROOPS OF THE HUSSAR REGIMENTS

RANK IN ENGLISH JACKET (DOLMAN IN HUSSARS) PELISSE (IN HUSSARS)
Brigadier Corporal Two chevrons in lace color Two bars in lace color
Brigadier-fourrier Corporal Two chevrons plus one bar above in lace color Two bars plus one bar above in lace color
Brigadier-trompette Trumpeter Corporal Two chevrons in lace color Two bars in lace color
Marechal-des-logis Sergeant One chevron in silver or gold One bar in silver or gold
Trompette-major Sergeant One chevron in silver or gold One bar in silver or gold
Marechal-des-logis chef First Sergeant Two chevrons in silver or gold Two bars in silver or gold
Adjustant-sous-officier Sergeant Major Three chevrons in silver or gold Three bars in silver or gold
Sous-Lieutenant 2nd Lieutenant One chevron in silver or gold One chevron in silver or gold
Lieutenant 1st Lieutenant Two chevrons in silver or gold Two chevrons in silver or gold
Capitaine Captain One large and two small chevrons or three small chevrons in silver or gold One large and two small chevrons or three small chevrons in silver or gold
Chef de Escadron Major Two large and one small chevron in silver or gold Two large and one small chevron in silver or gold
Major Lt. Colonel Three large and three small chevrons in silver or gold Three large and three small chevrons in silver or gold
Colonel Colonel Three large and three small chevrons in silver or gold Three large and three small chevrons in silver or gold

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Splendeur des Uniformes de Napoléon: CavalerieÉditions Charles Hérissey, Évereux, France, 2002.  ISBN 2914417071.

La Cavalerie Légere, Les Uniformes du Premier Empire, Collection du Cdt E. -L. Buquoy, Jacques Grancher, Editor, Paris, 1980.

L'Armée Française, All of the Plates in the French Napoleonic Series.  Lucien Rousellot.

Napoleon and Austerlitz, "The Glory Years" of 1805-1807, Volume 1.  Scott Bowden, The Emperor's Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1997.  ISBN 0962665576.

Men-at-Arms Series Various Napoleonic Titles by Various Authors.  Osprey Publishing Ltd, London, 1978 to present day.

 

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