Regiments follows on from the immense amount of research that
Digby Smith performed and collated for The Greenhill Napoleonic
Wars Data Book. These two books are the result of 30 years
of collecting data from many sources on the period 1792-1815.
Regiments is based on this broad research but concentrates
on the French Army during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
The book examines the regiments and corps that did the actual
fighting and excludes other minor or obscure units, mainly for
reasons of space.
author explains in the introduction how the reader may use the
book to trace the ancestry of the regiments and track a unit throughout
the period and after (to 1854).
data has been compiled from not only French sources but also British,
German and Austrian material, with an explanation of the material
used and its reliability.
are sections describing the organisational developments in the
French Army during the period, such as the effect the Revolution
had upon the infantry by the brigading of one Regular Battalion
with two Volunteer Battalions.
illustrate units of infantry and cavalry in line of battle, showing
the position of officers and others within the formation.
bulk of the text covers the infantry, cavalry and artillery of
the Imperial Guard and the Line, and such is the comprehensive
nature of this work that all regiments are included in some detail.
This detail also notes when each unit was raised and when disbanded,
which is useful especially for the units of the Guard.
you ever wondered who The Little Dutchmen were? This was the nickname
given to the Régiment des Pupilles of the Imperial Guard, and
where known, the nickname(s) for each regiment listed is/are given,
which is an interesting aside from the main text.
entry includes short accounts of any officer of the unit who was
prominently involved in a particular action; plus details of actions
in which the unit was involved, plus losses.
of this information is abbreviated, presumably for reasons of
space, and there is an explanation of the abbreviations at the
start of the book. The one criticism I have of the book is that
the abbreviations used do become confusing without constantly
referring back to the list. The text is a continuous narrative
and I feel that it would be clearer and easier to use if it were
tabulated. I still use the book by Emir Bukhari (Almark Publishing
1973) entitled French Napoleonic Line Infantry, in which the regiments
are described in the form of brief lists, making this an easy-to-use
Regiments is an excellent concept and will be a useful reference
tool, but it could have been presented in a more user-friendlier
the Imperial Guard was formed during the Napoleonic period, many
of the Line Infantry regiments had an ancestry going back much
further, and this information is included.
are also interesting section on Troops not of the Line, such as
the Battalion de Tirailleurs du Po and the Compagnie des Miqueletes;
and Colonial Troops such as the Lègion de Sainte-Domingue and
the Chasseurs de la Réunion.
of these units had brief lives and saw little action of note.
Auxiliary Troops looks at such units as the Infanterie Suisse
and the Foreign Infantry Regiments, and following this, the Line
Cavalry is divided into sections on the Cuirassiers, Dragoons
and so on.
of the Appendices are tabulated making for ease of reference,
which is the style I would have preferred to see in the rest of
the book. This section looks at regimental establishments; the
growth and reduction of the infantry 1792-96; the re-organisation
of the infantry after the Royal Decree of 12 May 1814; actions
and ship losses of the Equipages de la Flotte (Naval Crews) 1793-1815.
This latter listing is very detailed but not easy to sift through.
extensive Bibliography details the sources used. Napoleon's
Regiments represents a comprehensive study of the units that
made up the Emperor's armies, from the well known to the relatively
concept is a good one, and it will certainly complement the author's
other monumental work The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book.
If you have need of detailed information on the French regiments
then this work will be of immense value to you, but be prepared
to go to some effort to sift out the information you require.
review first appeared in First Empire magazine)