bulk of the French army, which in 1803 numbered some 350,000
men, was made up of line regiments.
These troops were generally conscripted from those aged between
18 and 25.
Their regiments, known as demi-brigades during the Revolution,
were divided into three, or four, battalions and in 1808 were
at full strength with 108 officers and 3862 NCOs and lower
infantry officially became part of the army in 1801, when
voltigeur (leaper) companies were added to the line-ups of
French line regiments.
The voltigeurs were usually nimble fighters whose job it was
to advance in front of the attack and try to disrupt enemy
formations or artillery crews.
skirmishers were introduced to every regiment in 1804 and
they usually had the run of the field, except when they ran
in to British riflemen.
The Riflemen and their rifles,
weapons spurned by Napoleon
Bonaparte as being too slow to reload, took a great toll
during the Peninsular War
and at Waterloo.
Imperial Guard was the elite military force of its time and
grew out of the Garde des Consuls and Garde Consulaire.
Napoleon Bonaparte wanted it as the example for the army to
follow and also as a force that had fought with him over several
campaigns and was utterly loyal to him.
To join the Imperial Guard a soldier had to over 25 years
old, above average height - no less than 178 centimetres -
be literate and have fought in a number of campaigns and served
at least five years.
The benefits of life in the Guard included better food and
clothing, as well as a very much larger pay purse.
Usually kept in reserve, the Guard was often thrown in to
a battle as the killing blow.
Of course, the morale of line troops soared when the Grumblers
moved forward into the fray.