Sunday, January 9, 2011

28mm White Uniformed French (16th Regiment in 1806 Regulation Dress)

From 1806-1807, due to a lack of indigo dye, Napoleon issued a new uniform regulation that would see his line infantry begin a conversion from its standard blue uniforms to new ones in white. He initially chose 19 regiments in order to determine how they held-up in the field. It is not known exactly how many of these 19 regiments were actually issued the uniform but it is confirmed that there were at least eight regiments dressed in white by the end of 1806.

Napoleon ultimately changed his mind on the white uniforms. Some say it was because he was appalled at how the blood stood out on them after the battle of Eylau, but I think this is a little sensationalist as Bonaparte was a man not easily moved by the sight of carnage. I think it was mearly due to the fact that French producers found a way to source blue dye to maintain the established uniform. Nonetheless the white uniform was popular amongst those regiments that received it and it was not until late 1809 that the last battalions were converted back to blue.

These two units depicts the 1st and 3rd battalions of the 16th Regiment of the Line (the second battalion is pretty much ready to go, just needing some extra NCOs and command figures to finish it off). In 1806 this regiment was issued the white uniform with blue facings and turnbacks. Elting mentions that this uniform was very sharp, being a hit in Paris, but very difficult to keep clean in the field. I also chose the 16th as it saw heavy action in one of my favorite Napoleonic battles, Aspern-Essling. At that battle they were under the command of Molitor and were in desperate close-combat contesting the town of Aspern.

I decided to keep the third battalion in greatcoats to indicate their more conscripted status (something I will probably do with all my lower battalions). A portion of the figures from these two units I bought in an Ebay auction. Nonetheless they were a little rough around the edges and in need of a bit of 'tweaking' to get ready for the table (shipment repairs, highlighting, washes, rebasing, drybrushing, etc). I also added new NCOs, colour party members and mounted commanders to tart them up. Flags are from the indispensable Flag Dude.


  1. These are excellent Curt,
    Always liked the look of French in white uniforms. My brother painted some for our 15mm armies and they always get taken for Saxons.

  2. Thanks Paul. Yes, I've always thought the white uniform looked quite smart as well. I like having some of these oddball units in each of my French divisions as it helps players to differentiate their commands when it all hits the fan.