Saxon Brigade and Divisional command groups. 1813.


Finding reliable information on the Saxon army of this period is problematic. For these figures I have had to rely principally on information generously provided by Peter Bunde. His plate on the Saxon High command (plate 293) [Available now])  is, by far, the best source of information currently available.

Despite the wealth of information provided in Peter’s plate, there are still gaps in our knowledge of the uniforms and insignia of the Saxon High Command of 1813. The main problem arises at the brigade level. Brigades should have been commanded by Major-generals. Many of these officers were casualties of the Russian campaign so that in 1813, the brigades were actually commanded by senior colonels.  Whilst Peter documents the uniform of the Major-Generals in his plate, we do not know for certain what uniforms the Colonels commanding brigades wore. Peter and I have discussed this at length and his best guess is that the colonels probably wore the uniform worn by staff officers at divisional or brigade level. His resume is as follows –

“In 1813, with Colonels leading the brigades, I suggest them wearing the chief-of-staff uniforms of the division staffs. This would relate to their function (chief of staff) and to their rank (colonel).”

His conclusion is well reasoned. Since there is currently no proof to the contrary, I accepted Peter’s advice and designed the brigade commanders wearing staff officer’s uniforms.

All staff officers wore the same uniform. The Kleine or Petit (campaign) uniform worn by staff officers in the field was all blue. A blue similar in shade to that of the French uniforms. The lapels, pointed cuffs, collar and turn-backs were blue and all of these were piped in red. The turn-backs also had a gold crown decoration at the bottom of each turn-back. The Saxon officers’ double pockets at the rear of the coat were also blue with red piping. Riding breeches worn with this uniform were blue. The only distinguishing item of the Colonel’s uniform in the field, compared to that of his staff, would have been his rank epaulets. 

Two staff officers, called “Adjoints”, assisted each brigade commander. These were usually captains. In addition, each commander had a number of personal ADCs. These were usually lieutenants.  These ADCs wore the staff uniform as well. The only distinguishing feature of the ADCs’ uniform was that they wore their epaulets in mirror fashion to other officers of similar rank on the staff.

It is worth noting that the staff officers’ lapels were cut straight, so that there was no outward fluting at the top (towards the shoulders) as was typical of French lapels. This is also seen in the uniforms of the Saxon Guard. There are some researchers who now believe that all Saxon uniforms may have had this type of lapel. Unfortunately, it has become accepted that the line troops had lapels cut in the French style.

Generally, Staff Officers wore a straight sword. It was acceptable, however, to exchange this for a cavalry sabre when on mounted duty. Sword scabbards are usually shown in black with gilded metalwork. Some sources show them in red leather scabbards with gilded metalwork. Sword knots were silver with carmine threads.

Lieutenant-generals commanded Divisions. This remained the same in 1813. Their field uniforms were similar to those of French officers of the same rank. They wore a plain French-blue jacket, similar in cut to a French officer’s Surtout. The jacket was single-breasted with red collar and round cuffs (also red). It had no lapels. The collar was decorated with one line of bullion gold lace. The cuffs were decorated with two thinner rows of similar lace. The turn-backs were plain blue with no piping but had the gold crown decorations at the base of each turn-back. There were two horizontal pockets at waist level at the rear of the jacket. These had no piping but were decorated with three gold buttons. The riding breeches worn with this field uniform were usually blue but could be white as well.

All officers wore a black felt bicorn.  This was worn in the traditional fashion, aligned with the shoulders. The only decorations were the white Saxon cockade held in place by gold ribbon attached to the bicorn by a single button at the point of the ribbon. The bicorn also had tassels at both corner folds. These tassels are shown in gold, white and silver but I have been unable to establish which is correct. All officers seconded to the staff from the cavalry wore a white plume. Lieutenant-generals had an edging of black feathers decorating the fringe of the bicorn.

Shabraques used by officers of various ranks are poorly documented. We know that they were red with gold lace decoration along the outer edge and around the pistol holster caps. Generals had two bands of plain gold lace. Staff officers had one single band but with gold crown decorations at both rear corners of the shabraque. Whether the brigade Colonels had a double or single band of lace is unknown. I have given the Colonels commanding the brigades a double line of lace on their shabraque to indicate that they are commanding the brigade rather than just another colonel. Please note that this is pure speculation as there is insufficient information on the shabraques of officers of different rank. Peter Bunde looked into this for me and concluded that the information was not currently available.