The Saxon Jaegers presented me with a problem I have not had before. I game in the traditional ratio of 20:1. There was only one company of Jaegers. It was composed of just over 120 men, including officers. This meant that I only had 6 figures to play with when it came to designing the jaeger figures.
It would have been nice to have a jaeger bugler or NCO but this would have detracted from the look of a skirmish screen composed of only 6 figures. I decided that I would have an officer, as he has a very distinctive uniform and that he would have to represent the command element. The other five figures are all in skirmish poses. Two figures are firing, two are holding fire and one is loading. A couple of figures are in the kneeling position, as you would expect from riflemen.
The jaegers were an elite formation. Although small in number they were all handpicked riflemen and expert marksmen. Many were volunteers. When the formation was expanded from a company to a battalion in 1814, it lost its elite status within the army as the men were not of the same quality as before. The Jaegers did not go into Russia but they were part of the first brigade of the 24th divison of the army of Germany. Initially commanded by Oudinot and later by Ney. They were part of the same brigade as the Saxon Guard Grenadier battalion. By the end of the campaign in Germany, they had been reduced to just over 40 men.
The Jaegers wore a green jacket of a habit vest pattern. The plastron lapels were also green with red piping round the border. The collar was green piped in red but it also had a black pointed patch on either side of the collar opening. This patch was also piped in red and had a small yellow metal button at the apex of the point of the patch. The turn-backs were of a lighter green than the jacket and were also piped in red. There were bugle badges on the turn-backs in yellow piped in red. I actually sculpted the bugles onto the turn-backs but when I added the equipment to the figure, there was so little of the turn-back showing that the bugles looked more like smudges rather than the bugles they had been. I removed them and the figure looked better for it. You can paint these on if you wish but I did not bother.
In the field the jaegers wore overalls like the rest of the Saxon infantry. These were either white or grey. The overalls were not the grey breeches with red decorations normally worn by the jaegers. The overalls were supposed to be worn over the breeches to prevent the breeches from being soiled.
The shako was of the normal Saxon type and is usually shown covered in the field. The normal cover was the black waterproof cover but there are several illustrations of the Jaegers with green shako covers and also the ubiquitous calfskin cover. The pom-pon worn on campaign was dark green.
The jaegers were equipped with a rifle, with a red leather sling and brass fittings. They had a black cartridge pouch with a bugle horn badge on the lid, suspended from a black cross belt. They also carried a straight bladed sword, also on a black shoulder belt and with a red leather scabbard. Sources differ as to the design of this sidearm. Most seem to agree that it had a straight blade and a bone handle. Some give it a straight handle with brass fittings. Others give it a guard as on a sabre. I have opted for the hunting knife as shown in Peter Bunde’s Brigade plate and supported by Frederic Berjeaud’s and Jorg Titze’s illustrations.
Mr. Titze also provides the information for the jaeger’s pack. All sources are in agreement that the jaegers did not have a backpack. Instead they had a red leather bag with a similarly coloured belt worn over the right shoulder. I could find no illustrations for the design of this bag until I came across an illustration in Frederic Berjeaud’s work credited to Jorg Titze. Mr. Titze shows a bag very similar to a modern kit bag. It is basically a leather tube with one open end and the other one closed. The open end can be tied shut with a length of leather thong. The “open” end is shown (in the few illustrations) pointing to the left of the figure presumably so that it does not snag on the cartridge pouch. The leather carrying belt was sewn to the back of the bag in such a way that the bag would sit lengthwise along the back of the jaeger’s left hip. Not knowing Mr. Titze’s work, I was unsure of how accurate his kit bag illustration might be. Then I noticed that there are a couple of illustrations – one by Knotel and the other by Jurgen Olmes which show the end of the bag peeping round the left hip of a jaeger. While it is impossible to see most of the bag, the tied mouth of the bag and the leather tie can be clearly made out.
This bag must have been quite large as we know that the jaegers were issued with both greatcoats and water bottles. There are no illustrations of jaegers wearing these items about their body (presumably to avoid clutter when skirmishing) so one must assume that they were carried in the kit bag in addition to any other bits of clothing required on campaign.
One last piece of equipment often shown on the better illustrations is a powder horn. This contained finely ground powder for the more difficult shots. It also caused less fouling of the rifle barrel. It is depicted as having a brown body (possibly wood) with brass fittings. It was draped over the left shoulder from a green cord.
All buttons were in yellow metal.
The officer’s wore a very different uniform. They are frequently shown wearing the bicorn rather than the shako. The only decoration on the bicorn is the white Saxon cockade held in place by a gold lace loop. His uniform is also dark green and several illustrations show him wearing green breeches of a similar colour tucked into Hungarian boots with gold lace tops and tassels. The Jacket has green lapels piped in red, light green turn-backs also piped in red and the usual piping along the edge of the double pockets on the jacket tails. The bugle horns on the officer’s tail-backs are in gold thread. The jacket collar was black, piped in red. The officers had two rows of gold embroidery on either side of the collar opening.
On parade the officers carried a cartridge pouch worn off the left shoulder and the curved sabre was worn on a waist belt. On campaign, the cartridge belt was not used and the sabre was carried on a black shoulder belt worn over the right shoulder. Many illustrations show the campaign shoulder belt decorated with a couple of yellow metal plates joined by chains in the same colour. The top plate is surmounted by what looks like a yellow metal crown. On campaign the officers are shown wearing their greatcoat rolled and over the left shoulder.
The sabre is shown in either brown or black leather with yellow metal fittings. The officer’s sword knot was silver with crimson flecks. Epaulettes and buttons were in yellow metal.