Monday, 15 June 2015

Waterloo 200 - French Uniforms from the Les Invalides Collection

So it's the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Waterloo this week and I have been thinking about how JJ's Wargames is going to mark such an important event in world history. The project work for Talavera goes on, but for this week and building up to our trip to Belgium next week; to visit the four battlefields in the campaign, amongst other sites, I am planning a series of posts to compliment the anniversary. Starting with a set of great uniform illustrations discovered in my archive, I will be posting about the battle and how Waterloo and Quatre Bras looked in 1976. I hope to have pictures of a large Waterloo table top battle next weekend and then it will be Waterloo 2015.

In putting together my post looking at the Battle of Waterloo and pulling out my old photos from 1976 I rediscovered my collection of postcards that I bought that year at Les Invalides showing some of the amazing collection of French military uniforms of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period.

Musee Armee - Les Invalides

I had intended on getting the, no doubt, modern versions of these on my visit last year but couldn't find anything as good as these. So if you haven't seen these amazing manikins posed in a natural setting, then you are in for a treat. Remember the fact that these uniforms are the real deal, not reproductions.

JJ Wargames - Les Invalides 2014

Lieutenant of the 15th demi-brigade c 1800
Corporal of the 16th Dragoons (1796 - 1800) in marching order
Lieutenant of a Light regiment left c 1806-11, Fusilier of a Line regiment right c 1800
Hussar, Elite Company of the 8th regiment
Captain of Line Infantry left and Lieutenant of the 4th Dragoons right
Chef de Battalion, Fusiliers- grenadiers of the Imperial Guard 1806-14, left
and Captain of the 19th Chasseurs a Cheval 1813-14 right

Hussars - Trooper of the 7th regiment just wearing the dolman, left, c 1804
and Sergeant of the 4th Regiment wearing the pelisse over his dolman, right, c 1807-12
Corporal of the 8th Chasseurs a Cheval 1810-14, left and Captain of Foot Artillery 1812-13, right
Voltigeur, left and Major, right of line infantry 1814-15
Grenadier of the Foot Guards, Imperial Guard in marching order 1804-14
The forums are full of requests for information on the best colour to use for this regiment and that battalion. These daylight conditions help illustrate the folly of this unending pursuit. The years have, no doubt, taken their toll on the colours, but the greens of the dragoons and the blues of the artillery and infantry are quite different one to another. The key is to find a shade that seems to coincide with as many illustrations you can find and go for it. You can't be that wrong, as these pictures help illustrate.

Next up Waterloo a personal story and pictures from 1976.


  1. Those illustrations are great. You are so correct about uniform colors and their many shades, especially that corporal of the 16th dragoons. When you consider all of the elements those guys were exposed to during a campaign i can easily imagine regiments of those guys whose uniforms looked a bit more washed out color wise as that dragoon uniform indicates. On the whole those uniforms look oustanding considering their age at the time. Thanks for sharing this great collection.

    1. Hi Adam. I had completely forgotten I had the postcards filed away and they really are so good for being pictured in normal day light conditions. Glad you liked them.

  2. Thanks for these, it's wonderful how each manikin seems to have a different face too, actually pretty lifelike!
    Just got back from Waterloo last night as we couldn't face the crowds this coming week, it all looks amazing, they might even finish it in time...

    1. Hi Jeremy, pleasure. The quality of the manakins really add something to the look of the uniforms, although I was a bit conscerned with the Guardsman and his blonde hair with dark sideburns and moustache.

      Well I''ll be out there next week after the crowds have gone home, so I hope they don't make a mess before I get there.

  3. Very useful indeed. Thank you very much for posting these great details.

    1. Hi SRD, thank you, glad you liked them.