There is very little reliable information available in English on the Saxons of this period. Most gamers think of the Saxons as a pseudo-French force, so captivated by the glamour of Imperial France that they became French clones in white uniforms. I hope that the information contained in these notes will help to dispel this image and leave you in no doubt that the Saxons were thoroughly German in both organisation and equipment.

One other point I would like to make concerns the martial reputation of the Saxons which suffered as a result of their performance in the 1809 campaign against Austria. When I mentioned that I was planning to make Saxons I was surprised at the number of people who answered that the only arm of the Saxon army worth considering was the cavalry. Whatever the reasons for their failings in 1809, their performance in both the Russian campaign and the 1813 Berlin campaign was far from poor.

In the latter campaign, at the battles of Gross-Beeren and Dennewitz, they held Bulow’s Prussians almost single handed, yielding only to weight of numbers after the French Marshals failed to provide support. The Saxons were under no illusion about the consequences if they failed to occupy Berlin and they fought with determination to try to knock the Prussians out of the campaign. It was the French command that failed in their duty to both supply and command the Saxon contingent properly. They were also at fault for the Saxon defection during the Battle of Leipzig as the Saxon troops, already disaffected by French failures, could not help but notice the effect of months of foraging by the French army on the Saxon heartland.


The Saxon army underwent a radical reorganization in 1810. The heavy infantry was organized into eight regiments of two battalions each. Each battalion was made up of four companies of musketeers and one of grenadiers. These eight regiments were brigaded in pairs with matching facing colours but differentiated by the colour of their buttons and other metal decorations. These were either white or yellow metal. The pairing of regiments was as follows:

·         Blue facings: Infantry Regiment Prince Anton (white metal) / Infantry Regiment Low (yellow metal).

·         Green facings: Infantry Regiment Prince Clemens (white metal) / Infantry Regiment Prince Frederic August (yellow metal).

·         Red facings: Infantry Regiment von Niesemeuchel (white metal) / Infantry Regiment Konig (King’s) (yellow metal).

·         Yellow facings: Infantry Regiment von Rechten (white metal) / Infantry Regiment Prince Maximilian (yellow metal).

The four grenadier companies from each pair of regiments were grouped together to form a grenadier battalion (two companies from each regiment) with the same facing colour but with different colour buttons depending on the parent regiment. The Grenadier battalions were named after the commanding officer of the battalion-

·         Grenadier Battalion von Liebenau – Green facings.

·         Grenadier Battalion von Spiegel - Yellow facings.

·         Grenadier Battalion von Brause – Red Facings.

·         Grenadier Battalion von Anger – Blue facings.

In 1813, after the Russian debacle, there were not sufficient men of the right calibre to fill the ranks of the grenadier companies. As a result of this, two ‘combined’ Grenadier battalions were organised to replace the original four. The two new battalions took one company from each regiment instead of a company from each battalion, as such, the four companies which formed the new grenadier battalions would have had mixed facings as follows –

·         Grenadier Battalion von Spiegel – Made up of grenadiers from the Prince Maximilian (yellow facings), von Rechten (yellow facings), Prince Frederic August (green facings) and Von Steindel (green facings, this regiment had been the Prince Clemens infantry regiment in 1812) regiments.

·         Grenadier Battalion von Sperl – Made up of grenadiers from the Konig (Red facings), von Niesemeuschel (red facings), Prince Anton (blue facings) and von Low (blue facings) regiments.



I would like to thank both Peter Bunde and Frederic Berjeaud for their help. Without their research it would have been a struggle to form a clear picture of the Saxons.

The information from available sources indicates three levels of dress – parade, field and campaign.  Most plates and drawings show the Saxon army in parade uniforms and I will deal with this first as it was the ‘standard’ uniform and the most commonly encountered image of Saxon musketeers and grenadiers.

Parade Uniform

The white coat was a French-inspired ‘Habit’ in the style of what was to become known as the ‘Bardin’ uniform. The coat had double lapels in facing colour, closed from neck to waist.  There were seven buttons on each lapel. The collar, in facing colour, was also closed. The cuffs are a point of discussion and contention among researchers. There is agreement on the fact that they were in the facing colour and that there were two buttons on the line of the opening with one on the coloured portion of the cuff and the other above it on the white jacket.

The problem lies in the fact that reliable sources show both pointed cuffs and Swedish cuffs (square, without cuff flaps) on the jackets. Knotel, for example, shows the Saxons in parade uniforms with pointed cuffs in his ‘Uniformenkunde’ series but in his collaboration with Brauer all the jackets in his illustrations have square cuffs. There are several illustrations in Frederic Berjeaud’s work of men from the same regiment wearing jackets with both pointed and square cuffs. The current consensus is that both types of cuffs were used. I have found no viable reason for this but my observation is that the pointed cuffs are more common in illustrations from earlier in the period while the square cuffs are more common later on.

The coat had short tails and the turn-backs were white with a line of facing colour piping on the outer edge. There was a button on each of the coat tails where the points of the turn-backs met. The piping from the turn-backs followed the lower line of the jacket to meet with the lapels at the front. The shoulder straps were of the ‘bastion’ type with pointed ends. They were white with facing colour piping and had a button on the shoulder seam in the French style. There is no evidence of pockets on the jacket tails for the rank and file. Grenadier’s jackets were identical to those of the musketeers with the exception that they had facing colour grenades on the turn-backs. Line grenadiers did not wear epaulettes in the Saxon army.

Leg wear was a pair of white breeches tucked into the top of short black gaiters. These were worn over black shoes.

The shako was in the French style. Knotel shows this as having ‘V’ shaped leather reinforcing bands on the sides. The White Saxon cockade topped the decorations on the front of the shako. It was held in place by a length of button colour ribbon. Below this there was a brass shield and crown. On the shield was embossed the royal cipher. The chin-scales were brass. The decorative cords were white for the musketeers and red for the grenadiers.

Musketeers wore a coloured pom-pom. The top half of this was in the facing colour and the bottom half in white. There is confusing evidence as to the shape of this pom-pom. Some plates show the pom-pom as an ovoid, almost like an inverted pine cone. Others show spherical pom-poms. There is little doubt that pom-poms were spherical prior to the 1810 reforms and some use of old stocks is to be expected but they certainly continued in use right through to the end of the period. Just as in the ‘cuff’ question, most researchers have concluded that both types of pom-pom were used although the ovoid shape seems to have been the one that conformed to regulations.

A personal observation is that most of the men wearing spherical pom-poms seem to be in campaign gear so perhaps the ovoid pom-pom was replaced with a spherical one in the field. Grenadiers wore a tall red plume. This was replaced with a red pom-pom (often with a tuft) on campaign.

The white forage cap was of the type that was later to become standard in the Prussian army. It had a round top with no visor. There was a line of facing colour piping along the edge of the cap and a broad ribbon along the hatband.

There was an issue greatcoat in grey material with facing colour pointed patches on the collar. Cuffs and shoulder straps were grey. There are various styles and lengths of greatcoat seen in illustrations. Some were single breasted others double, the only uniformity seems to have been the standard grey colour.  This was tied to the top of the pack for parades.

The calf-skin pack was very similar to the French model. There is no evidence, however, of the the white edging around the seams of the pack often seen on French ones. The cartridge pouch was plain black leather for the musketeers but had a grenade on the front in button colour for the grenadiers.

Both musketeers and grenadiers carried a side arm. The musketeer sabre was straight-bladed and had no D-shaped guard protecting the handle. In appearance it was almost identical to the ‘Fashinenmesser’ worn by Prussian fusiliers. The grenadier sabre was curved. It had a heavy handle with a D-shaped guard as well as a plate on the side which protected the knuckles. These were carried on a belt with the bayonet scabbard. All belts were white. Scabbards for both the sabre and bayonet were red leather. Musketeers had no sword knot. The Grenadiers did have one, it had a white strap ending in a red ‘toggle’ and fringe.

The Saxons were issued with a metal water bottle which was generally carried attached to the back of the pack. In contemporary images the white straps of the water bottle can be seen looped over the greatcoat roll tied at the top of the pack. The musket was Saxon made but looked similar to the French musket as it had brass fittings. The sling was red leather.


Field Uniform

This was the uniform worn by troops on field exercises, when entering a town or parading in front of dignitaries or commanding officers in the field. The uniform is very similar to the parade uniform, however, the breeches were covered or replaced with white overall trousers and the black gaiters were usually replaced with white ones. Peter Bunde explained this by saying that the white gaiters were more comfortable on the march.

Campaign Uniform

This was the uniform worn in battle. The shako was stripped of decorations and covered with a shako cover. Several illustrations show no pom-pom on the shako when covered, others show the spherical pom-pom attached to the shako over the cover. There are three distinct types of shako covers evident in the illustrations.

·         The standard cover was black and had ties (probably) at the rear of the shako.

·         The second and most distinctive type is described as being made of ‘calfskin’ and also had ties at the back of the shako. It was a particularly hairy type of calfskin as it made the covered shako look like a Busby. As would be expected, the colour of these covers varied and I have seen illustrations showing them ranging in colour from dark brown to cream. These covers were not as common as the black covers but were still very much in evidence.

·         Shortages of shako covers were made up with stocks of French shako covers. These were the light coloured type with the ‘curtain’ sides.

There are several illustrations of troops in campaign gear with no covers but with stripped shakos (no ornamental cords). These could be troops who were either not issued with covers or lost them on the march. As mentioned previously, grenadiers removed their plumes and replaced them with tufted pom-poms. The plume is often seen in a protective cover, tied to the side of the sabre scabbard.

On campaign, the greatcoat was often worn instead of the jacket in the French style. The breeches and black gaiters were replaced with the white overalls and the white gaiters. There are several illustrations in Frederic Berjeaud’s and in Peter Bunde’s work of overall trousers in other colours. Mostly, these overalls are grey but there are examples in brown, blue and even green. Donner has several illustrations of Saxons wearing striped trousers (white with thin blue stripes).  It was common for some men to wear the greatcoat rolled up across the body in the Prussian style as this afforded some protection from sabre and bayonet slashes. The water bottle was often made more accessible by detaching it from the pack and carrying it looped over the head and shoulder at the front or side of the body.