Foot Artillery uniforms –
As was the case with the infantry, the 1812 regulation uniforms did not get issued to the foot artillery in any quantity until 1813. The German campaign of 1813 was probably the first time the foot artillery wore the new uniforms in action.
The new habit had square lapels coming down to the waist and short tails. It was identical in cut to the new habit issued to the infantry. The collar was blue without piping. The lapels were blue piped in red. The turn-backs were red with blue cloth grenades sewn on them. The cuffs were red with blue cuff patches edged in red. There was also a line of red piping along the edge of the pockets on the turn-backs. The shoulder straps should have been blue edged in red. Rousselot mentions the regulation and then goes on to say that it was completely disregarded. My research confirms this. Traditionally, the gunners had worn red epaulettes. This tradition was so ingrained in the service that the provision of epaulettes for the gunners of the same type as was issued to grenadiers, does not seem to have become an issue.
The 1812 shako was completely black with no red lace as before. It had an artillery version of the eagle plate on the front in yellow metal and brass chin-scales. It was supposed to be topped by a flat woollen pom-pon in company colours, like the infantry, but this also went against the arm’s traditions. Most gunners were supplied with round tufted pom-pons in red. Shako covers were issued and used to cover the shako on campaign. The forage cap was in the ‘pokalem’ style. It was completely blue, edged in red and had the regimental number sewn in red cloth in the centre of the escutcheon.
Genty is considered by researchers to be one of the most reliable sources for late French uniforms. He drew his illustrations from live subjects. Although these are always in their best uniforms, he shows his gunners with the red tufted pom-pon and grenadier epaulettes. From this we can deduce that by 1815 these two items of kit had become standard.
The formal legwear was blue trousers worn inside brass-buttoned black gaiters that stopped just below the knee. The regulation also gave gunners white linen overall trousers. Again, this run counter to the artillery traditions, and not surprisingly, most illustrations show gunners of this period in blue overall trousers. As with the infantry, the overall trousers were the first items to suffer on the march, so most men would have supplied themselves with spare trousers and reinforced them as necessary. We know that many gunners supplied their own overalls as it not uncommon to see overalls with red stripes down the seams, which was definitely not regulation. There are reliable illustrations of gunners wearing blue, white, grey and brown overalls.
The greatcoat was double breasted in dark blue cloth. It was identical to the infantry coat but in blue cloth. As was the case with the infantry, shortages bit into the supply chain for the artillery as well. Although it is rare to see men in anything other than blue coats, different styles are evident. As the period progressed, coats became shorter and had a single row of buttons along the chest.
Artillerymen were supposed to be issued with a specially designed artillery musket – the 1777 artillery musket. However, by 1813, new supplies of this musket were impossible to get. Most men ended up with either the ‘dragoon’ musket or a standard infantry musket. The rest of the equipment issued to gunners is vague to say the least. We know that they had a cartridge box, a side arm and a bayonet scabbard but these are simply not mentioned in the regulations. Rousselot concludes that the cartridge box must have been plain as no decorative metal plate is mentioned in regualtions or equipment returns. In his illustrations he shows gunners wearing the standard ‘sabre-briquet’ bandolier as issued to grenadiers. Other illustrators confirm this. We certainly know that prior to the 1812 there had been severe criticism of the ‘decorative’ arms used by the foot artillery. It makes complete sense that more functional equipment was issued to gunners with their new uniforms, especially as it was already in production for the infantry. There is no mention of sword knots in the 1812 regulations but these had traditionally been red and probably continued in use. All belts were white leather.
Officers’ uniforms followed all the regulations of the line infantry but were tailored in the artillery colours I have described above for the men. The officers’ uniforms were like the men’s but were cut of finer cloth and had longer tails and rear pockets. (See the notes pertaining to infantry officers for uniform cut and rank markings and above for the colour of the uniforms.) One point worth mentioning is the preponderance of illustrations of mounted artillery officers using the campaign saddlecloth. This was the all-blue saddlecloth with the rank edging, not in gold, but in blue goat hair.
Drummers were supposed to wear the Imperial livery. As was the case with the gunners, the drummers would have added grenadier epaulettes and a tufted pom-pon to their shako. Their forage cap was green edged in red and their greatcoat was blue. On campaign, blue overall trousers would have been used.
NCO distinctions were as in the infantry. Two wool stripes in aurore or yellow for the corporals, one gold stripe for sergeant, and two gold stripes for sergeant-majors. Long service stripes were in red wool. First class gunners wore corporal’s stripes on the right sleeve only.