Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Marins de la Garde Imperial

Originally part of the Consular Guard, Napoleon incorporated the sailors’ battalion into the Imperial Guard on becoming emperor in 1804. At that time the battalion consisted of 5 crews totalling 818 officers and men with each crew commanded by a ‘capitaine de fregate’.


Their first assignment was to join the force at Boulogne earmarked for the invasion of Britain but when this was called off they travelled to Austria where they were present at Ulm and Austerlitz. The battalion subsequently fought at Jena, Eylau and Friedland during the campaigns of 1806-1807.


After Tilsit they were sent to Spain where they suffered heavy losses at Bailen, with many becoming prisoners. Because of this the unit had to be rebuilt from scratch in 1809 but with only a single crew of 150 men who fought at Wagram as gunners.


In 1810 more crews were added and the battalion rose to a strength of over 1,000 in time to take part in the invasion of Russia. Only 85 of its officers and men returned to Germany following the campaign but it was brought up to strength again in time to fight at Leipzig alongside the Young Guard.


A small detachment of sailors accompanied the emperor in exile to Elba and during the Hundred Days one crew of 150 was re-formed and fought at both Ligny and Waterloo. The unit was disbanded in August 1815.


My own unit of Marins has a few Engineers of the Guard mixed in the ranks in recognition of the combined attack these units made at Ligny (and to give me an excuse to paint up some engineers). The unit is comprised as follows:

16 x FN/93 Marine (charging)
1 x FN/90 Officer (charging)
1 x FN/4 Colour Bearer (charging)
1 x FN/6 Drummer (charging) – Variant
1 x FN/180 Officer, reading map
1 x FN/177 Guard using pickaxe
1 x FN/178 Guard, digging with spade
1 x WN.10. Officer, charging
1 x WN.15. Officer, marching

I’m hopeful that this unit will be seeing action quite soon.

16 comments:

Matt said...

And very smart they look too.

Stryker said...

Thanks Matt!

Rob said...

They are great - the drummer stands out like a precious gem in the more restrained setting of the other figures in their darker uniforms, although they themselves are pretty jewel-like with their fine braid. I can’t wait to see them in action - will they get a run out against WM while he’s over here? They should be able to dice up his C-class Prussian hordes a treat.
Rob.

Stryker said...

Ah Rob, that would be telling now wouldn't it?

Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

I hope having such magnificent uniforms and being brigaded with the Guards was some consolation to these sailors for having to slog across Europe on foot.

Stryker said...

It must have been an odd life for a sailor! I was surprised at just how much action they saw.

the Archduke said...

Let's face it, they were never going to get much glory in Napoleon's navy. This was always going to be a beautiful unit and so it has turned out. My congratulations. How nice that they have brought their own gravedigger...........

'Lee. said...

Stunning unit once again Ian. The shiny varnish really brings out the colours. Nice mix of figures.

Stryker said...

Nigel - the chap with the spade does look a bit out of place (the pickaxe looks more menacing) but he's become one of my favourite HH figures!

Stryker said...

Lee - yes they seem to go together well to make up a rather unique unit!

lewisgunner said...

Beautiful painting, Were they any good at being line infantry? I rather imagine that they were there to get Napoleon and his staff across rivers when necessary and to help with getting pontoons in position when bridging the Berezina. Do you have any pontoons in the lead pike?

Stryker said...

Don't tell him your name Pike! They appear to have acquitted themselves well in the assault on Ligny at least. It remains to see how they get on on the table.

Alastair Morrison said...

Some lovely shiny toy soldier there.

All the best. Aly

Stryker said...

Cheers Aly!

Anonymous said...

Excellent looking unit, should offer some support to the Guard.

Paul

Stryker said...

My thoughts exactly Paul!