Saturday, August 20, 2011

French 1806 White Regulation Uniform - 16th Regiment, 2nd Battalion

The new lads from the 2nd battalion in all their off-white glory. A mounted officer behind the rear ranks is happily making the mens life a misery ...
For those who may have been following this blog last winter this unit has been languishing at the rear of my painting desk for several months now so I thought it high time to get it done and ready for action.

The 16th Regiment, deployed in line, ready for action.
These three units depict the 1st, 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 16th Regiment of the Line. 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 would hold-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.

In 1806 the 16th was issued the white uniform with blue facings and turnbacks. John Elting mentions that this uniform was very sharp, being a hit in Paris, but (as could well be imagined) 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.

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 merely 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 (begrudgingly) converted back to blue.

I decided to keep the third battalion in greatcoats to indicate their more conscripted status (something I will probably continue to do with all the higher numbered battalions in my regiments). A portion of the figures from these three units I bought in an Ebay auction. Nonetheless they were a little rough around the edges, in need of a bit of 'tweaking' and fleshing out 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 all the battalions to tart them up a bit more. All of the flags, as usual, are from the indispensable Flag Dude.


  1. Good stuff Curt,
    Nice to get units that have been sitting around a while polished off.

  2. Really very nice! I'm enjoying following your progression.


  3. Yes they are a very nice looking regiment. I have always been tempted to have a white French unit.

  4. Thanks guys! Its good to get some more room on the hobby desk (of course only to be crammed with other stuff...).

  5. Great painting and history lesson, they do look rather dapper in the white uniform, it does make a nice change from the usual French blue line. Well done!

  6. Excellent work. Nice to see the old Foundry Nap range.


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