Saxon Guard Grenadiers.-

Uniform information and painting Guide-

Let me start by dealing with the question of the Guard bearskins. I have been asked multiple times about the Saxon Guard Grenadiers wearing the bearskin hats. The figures I have sculpted wear the shako not the bearskin. When I started doing the research for these figures it took me less than half an hour to establish that most of the images we have of the Saxon Guard show them in parade attire, hence the bearskin. However, all the major sources, from Knotel to Peter Bunde, agree that the bearskins were only worn for ceremonial purposes. When carrying out their normal duties and when on campaign, the Grenadiers wore a shako of the same design as the rest of the line infantry. If you want to march your figures up and down the table in parade format read no further and go to the Black Hussar website. They sell very nice Saxon guard Grenadiers sculpted by Paul Hicks and they all wear bearskins. Even the officers wear their wonderful parade garb dripping in silver lace. If what you want is the Saxon Guard on campaign read on.

The Saxon Guard did not take part in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. As a result of this, they were intact at the start of hostilities in 1813 and were probably the most experienced and veteran formation in the Saxon Infantry during the 1813 campaign in Germany. The first battalion was attached to the Saxon forces which formed part of Oudinot’s Army of Berlin. They were part of the first brigade of the 24th army division under General de Division Lecoq. The second battalion stayed with the Saxon King doing guard duties but was later involved in the Battle of Dresden. By the time the two battalions came together again at Leipzig, both battalions had suffered considerable losses and were amalgamated into a single battalion. During this period, Napoleon took them into his guard and for a time, they were officially part of the French Imperial Guard. The Saxon Grenadier Guards remained loyal to their King when the rest of the Saxon forces defected to the allied side during the Battle of Leipzig. When Napoleon realised that he could not defeat the forces ranged against him, he released the Saxon Guard from his service. As a parting favour he requested that they pass their shakos to the newly formed Polish Guard Battalion as they were very short of equipment. As the allies marched into Leipzig, the Saxon Guards stood guard around the palace wearing their bearskins. This was the only occasion that they wore their bearskins in a “conflict” situation.


As I have already mentioned, most of the images we have of the Saxon Guard show them in their parade finery. It has been tricky establishing what they may have looked like on campaign due to the paucity of images. The main sources for these figures are Peter Bunde’s Brigade plates, the plates by J. Donner on the Saxon army of this period and the rest is educated guesswork extrapolated from the research I have carried out on the Saxon army. The Saxon Guard Grenadiers wore shakos on campaign. In the field, they were stripped of plumes and cords and covered in waterproof shako covers. These were usually of the black oilskin type but there are several pictures (Donner for example) where they are shown wearing the calfskin shako covers as well. As was the case with the rest of the Saxon forces, the calfskin shako covers seem to have been distributed at random with no pattern discernible. The shako chin scales were brass. Peter Bunde shows the grenadiers with no plume or pon-pom on the covered shakos. Donner shows them with a red grenadier pon-pom. In my opinion, it seems highly unlikely that the premier infantry formation of the Saxon army would have gone on campaign as the only formation in the whole army without pon-poms. In this respect I am in agreement with Donner. However, the colour of the pon-pom is more likely to have been white – the same colour as the Guard plumes. Drummers may have worn red pon-poms as they had red plumes. NCOs may have had the white pon-poms with black tips as worn by the NCOs in the rest of the line infantry. I have sculpted these figures with pon-poms. You can paint them in white or red or even snip them off and have them without pon-poms as shown by Peter Bunde. Note also that some of the figures have their plumes (covered in waterproof covers) strapped to the side of the saber in the French style.

Officers also covered their shakos in the oilskin cover and would have removed the plume but left the silver “tulip” plume holder in place. Officer's chin scales were silver and their shakos had a silver trim along the edge of the visor.

The Grenadier’s jackets were red. They had long tails and yellow facings on collar, cuffs, lapels and turn-backs. The rank and file and junior NCOs had white woollen epaulettes. Senior NCOs had epaulettes with yellow boards and silver fringes (this information was supplied by Peter Bunde). The yellow turn-backs were adorned with red grenades at their base. Drummers wore a special uniform. The jacket was of the same cut as the grenadier’s but was yellow in colour. It had mid-blue facings. The yellow and blue of the drummer's unifoms reflected the traditional colours of the Saxon rulers. The drummers wore white epaulettes like the grenadiers but also had blue “swallow’s nests” piped in white at each shoulder. The grenade decoration on the turn-backs were yellow. The drum hoops were decorated in blue and yellow.

The grenadiers wore overall trousers on campaign with white gaiters (these were more comfortable on the march). The issue overalls were white but there are images (Donner) of guards wearing grey overalls with yellow stripes down the side. In all probability, these would have been personal purchases mimicking the practices of the French forces they associated with. Overall trousers would have been reinforced by experienced soldiers before setting out on campaign. The leather patches sculpted on some of the figures are not repairs but reinforcement to points of wear. All leather equipment straps were white. The scabbards for the sword and bayonet were in the traditional red leather, as was the musket sling. The sword was of a special type used only by the Guard. It was a more elaborate form of the Grenadier saber. As was the case for the line Grenadiers, this sword had a wrist strap in white leather, ending in a red toggle. Water bottles were of the standard Saxon issue type.

Officers wore their “interimsuniform” on campaign. Their jacket was similar to a French officer’s surtout. It was red, double breasted and had yellow collar, cuffs and turn-backs. It had silver grenades on each turn-back. There was no piping on the breast or along the bottom of the jacket. The rear of this jacket was probably similar in style to that of the light infantry officers with no double pockets, as on the parade uniforms, but rather two simple flap pockets. When on normal duty they wore a silver aiguillette on the right shoulder and silver rank epaulettes of the French model. They also wore a silver gorget with a gold centre. On campaign, the aiguillette was removed but the silver gorget seems to have been kept in use. Normally officers wore the bicorn and breeches tucked into boots as part of their service uniform. On campaign however, the more protective covered shako and grey overalls were probably standard. The rolled greatcoats worn across the body were a form of very basic protection against sword and bayonet thrusts to the body. Most images of Saxon infantry officers of this period show them wearing their coats this way and the Guard officers would have done the same. The horse furniture on the mounted officer is entirely conjecture. There is no image of a mounted Guard officer that shows the shabraque in use at this time. Knotel tantalisingly shows a mounted Guard officer in one of his cigarette cards but he is in the background and the shabraque cannot be seen. There is one image of a mounted officer dated 1791 in Frederick Berjaud’s work on the Saxon army. This is before the 1810 uniform reform but we can take several things from this image. The shabraque has rounded corners of the style used by the infantry prior to 1818, but it is yellow with a silver border much as we would expect. The likelihood is that the colours of the shabraque stayed the same, yellow and silver but that the cut of it changed to the style prevalent in the rest of the infantry after the 1810 reform - square corners with the French style holster caps. I added the grenade in the rear corners of the shabraque because they were grenadiers but the emblem may have been a Guard shield, or maybe there no emblem here at all.

NCOs had rank markings in the French style but only on the left arm. The junior NCOs had rank bars in yellow wool while the senior NCOs had silver ones.


Paint suggestions –

For the red jackets - I used Vallejo 70957 Flat red. Darkened with Lefrank and Bourgoise “Flash” Raw Umber and highlighted with Lefrank and Bourgoise “Flash” Naples Yellow.

Yellow facings – Vallejo 948 Golden yellow. Shades created by mixing with Lefrank and Bourgoise “Flash” Raw umber.

(Peter, 28th June 2020)