Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bavarian Infantry of the Napoleonic Wars

   I don't know about the rest of you, but when it comes to the armies of the minor states involved in the Napoleonic wars. the Bavarians always come first to my mind. They fought in many of the battles, and their "cornflower" (medium) blue coats and raupenhelms (dating from 1799) are particularly distinctive. They were the first allies I added to my French Napoleonic army way back in the 1970's, and it was the Foundry figures depicted below that finally made me take the plunge and replace my veteran Scruby figures wholesale in the mid 1990's.

Maximillian Joseph, Elector (Kurfurst) of Bavaria from 1799, allied himself with France and Napoleon in 1805, and as a reward became King in late 1805. The Bavarians contributed the single largest contingent to the newly formed (1806) Confederation of the Rhine.  They played a particularly large role in the the 1809 campaign in Germany, fighting at Abensburg, Eggmuhl, Regensburg (Ratisbon), Neumarkt, Aspern-Essling, Wagram, and Znaim, as well as extensive (and unpopular) duty against the rebels in the Tyrol and the Voralberg.

Bavarian Line Infantry

In 1809, there were thirteen regiments of Line Infantry in the Bavarian army,  numbered 1-14 (with #12 being vacant): 
Bavarian Line Infantry Regiments, 1809
No.
Title
Collar
Lapels/cuffs
Piping
Buttons
1
Leib Regiment*
Red
Red
None
white
2
Kronprinz*
Red
Red
None
yellow
3
Prinz Karl
Red
Red
White#
yellow
4
Salern
Yellow
Yellow
Red
white
5
von Preysing
Pink
Pink
Red
white
6
Herzog Wilhelm
Red
Red
White
white
7
Lowenstein
Pink
Pink
None
yellow
8
Herzog Pius
Yellow
Yellow
Red
yellow
9
Graf von Ysenberg
Red
Yellow
Red
yellow
10
Junker
Red
Yellow
Red
white
11
Von Kinkel
Red
Green
Red
yellow
12
vacant




13

Red
Black
Red
white
14

Red
Black
Red
yellow

ALL regiments had red turnbacks, and blue shoulder straps, piped red.
 * The first (later renamed “Konig” in 1811) and second regiments had wide button hole tape in the button color as well, 7 bands on each lapel, 4 on each cuff, and 2 at the rear waist of the jacket.
# ? on the collar only

The 11th regiment was disbanded in  1811, and the 13th was renumbered as the 11th, while the 14th was renumbered as the 13th. In 1814, all regiments changed to red facings with yellow buttons, and the button hole lace of the 1st and 2nd regiments was abolished.



First up is IR #8, "Herzog Pius". this regiment has "sulfur yellow" collar, lapels and cuffs, all piped in red. Its buttons were yellow metal, so the lace chevrons on the drummer's coat are yellow,, and the wings are in the facing color, here also yellow, which also bore the crest of Bavaria embroidered upon them (and no, I haven't even tried to paint THAT on the figures!).


I am using my standard six stands per unit organization, and thus the Grenadier company has red plumes, and the Schutzen company green plumes on their raupenhelms.


Although hard to see here, like all the line regiments, the turnbacks on the jackets are red.


The next unit is I.R. #5, "von Preysing". This regiment has pink collars, cuffs, and lapels piped in red, with white metal buttons.


This picture shows the 1803 pattern of the Ordinarfahnen, namely an overall pattern of white and light blue diamonds (rhombi), already associated with Bavaria in heraldry for centuries. It was re-issued again in 1813.


This picture shows the Bavarian cockade, light blue with a white center and rim.


Company distinctions were worn on the raupenhelm above the cockade (not shown on my troops) in the form of wool tufts; 1st company white, 2nd white and yellow, 3rd company green, and 4th company green and yellow. To make things confusing, in the 2nd battalion, the plumes of the elite companies had white lower halves. When third battalions were raised in 1814, the company tufts were changed to solid colors for the first battalion: 1st company white, 2nd yellow, third blue, 4th green; the tufts of the second battalion had white lower halves, and for the 3rd battalions, the lower halves of the tufts as well as the plumes of the elite companies were black.


Here is IR #1, the Leib or later "Konig" (King's) regiment. It has the white lace tabs on the buttonholes. As this unit has white metal buttons, the lace chevrons and edging to the wings of the drummer's coat are all in white as well.


The design of the Leibfanhnen changed numerous times in the early years of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, as territories were added and subtracted, necessitating changes to the central coat of arms. When the realm added Protestant districts in 1803, the Virgin Mary disappeared from the Leibfahnen as well. The elevation of Maximillian Joseph to King from Elector in 1806 required the electoral cap to be changed to a crown. In 1808, the central crest was simplified to just light blue and white rhombi, as seen here.

The central device of the 1808 pattern is seen better in this photo.


Here seen deployed in line is IR #11 "von Kinkel". They probably did seem a bit "kinky", as only this regiment had dark green facings for the lapels and cuffs (piped in red). White metal buttons. Note the blue and white striped patterns on the rims of the brass drum.


The rear view shows the light blue and silver sash of the officer better. This unit's flag has the central crest on a light blue field instead of a white one, a known variant.



Bavarian Light Infantry

Also in 1799, the Light Infantry adopted the Raupenhelm and the more traditional uniform cut from the earlier Rumford styles. The coats of the Light Infantry were initially light green, but changed to dark green in 1809. Unlike the Line infantry Regiments, which were named for their proprietor or "Inhaber", the Light Infantry battalions were named for their commander, which lead to very frequent name changes. All battalions had red turnbacks, white belts (Gill says black, probably an error as Funken, Knoetel, Hourtoulle, and von Pivka all say or show white belts), and grey breeches. The 5th and 6th battalions were added in 1803, and the 7th in 1808. The elite (Schutzen) companies had green plumes, with the Karabinier companies (added in 1811 according to Otto von Pivka in Osprey Men at Arms #106 dealing with Bavaria) wearing red plumes.

Bavarian Light Battalions, 1809
No.
Collar
Collar Piping
Buttons
1
Red
None
Yellow
2
Red
None
White
3
Black
Red
White
4
Black
Red
Yellow
5
Lemon Yellow
Red
White
6
Lemon Yellow
Red
Yellow
7
Light Blue
Red
White


For my Light Infantry battalion, I chose #6, in 1809 titled "La Roche". This unit had "lemon yellow" collars, while the lapels and collarss were black piped in red; red turnbacks.


This view shows the officer's sash well. The hornist has yellow lace chevrons and edging to the wings, similar to that of the line drummers. I have given the sapper figure here a sort of unofficial Bavarian fanion to carry; the light infantry battalions did not have standards.


Late in the Napoleonic Wars (late 1813 to 1814), a number of new infantry formations were raised, including volunteer Jagers, a Grenadier Guard regiment, Garrison regiment, and Landwehr. The above cited Osprey has details of their uniforms for those interested in pitting their Bavarians against the French, instead of being allied with them. Roger, of our gaming group, has every unit in the entire Bavarian army in his collection!


   
    Although it was way back in May 1974, while on tour with the University of Connecticut Marching Band, I was fortunate enough to visit Bavaria. Our trip started in Ingolstadt on the Danube. Unfortunately, our plane had been delayed in Boston by more than 12 hours, so by the time we arrived in Germany, we were all very jet lagged. Therefore, it wasn't until our last few hours there that I realized this city was the home of the Bavarian Army Museum! I made a mad dash there and had a whirlwind tour that lasted a little over an hour, where I could easily have spent a half a day or more there. Oh well! I did get to visit Regensburg (Ratisbon) and see the famous bridge there. When seen in person it is obvious why it could not be easily or completely demolished in 1809, a fact which allowed the Austrians to escape after the battle of Eckmuhl. After visiting Wurrtemburg (Freiberg), Switzerland (Lucern, Geneva, and Zurich), France (Lyon, Nice), Leichtenstein, and Austria (Feldkirch), we returned to Bavaria and spent our last 2 days in Munich. This of course entailed mandatory trips to the Marienplatz and the famous Hofbrau House.

    As of this writing, it is pretty much right in the middle of Oktoberfest in Germany, which lasts 2 weeks. It starts in September and ends the first Sunday in October. The best known and most often heard of all German drinking songs, "Ein Prosit", is below. It is usually played by a brass (oompah) band every 15 minutes or so during the Festival.





Roughly translated, the lyrics mean:

"A toast, a toast, to the the warm spirit of comradeship" (and of being pleasantly buzzed, LOL!). So, a toast to all of my fellow wargamers and military history enthusiasts... although, sacrilege that it is, I'll make mine a nice dry Reisling, thanks. Ein, zwei, drei - Gusuffa!

Peter

16 comments:

  1. An excellent and informative post !

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  2. Great stuff. The Bavarians have always been a favourite of mine.

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    1. and of mine as well; might have to go back and add a few more regiments! :-)

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  3. Gruss Gott! Nice job on the infantry of good old Bayern. BTW, there is room yet, Rodger's army does not include the Landwehr, so there are 12 to 14 units you could still do!

    Joe (whose Bayerische stay was 39 months, not a couple of days.)

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    1. Bavarian Landwehr - hmm, I have Austrian and Prussian Landwehr already... nah! :-)

      Yes I know your tour in uniform was considerably longer... and our Band uniforms were nicer, too! :-)

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  4. I agree! Focusing on the 1809 Campaign, Bavarians were the first allies I added to support my French.

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    1. Yep, nothing like some nice Bayerlisches to brighten up the army! :-)

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  5. Good, informative post. I have a division of Bavarians painted and need to do more. I hadn't heard of the Bavarian Landwehr; need to do some research and add them to the list.

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    1. Thanks, Mike.

      Raised in late 1813, the Landwehr wore shakos and had cornflower blue coats and pants. The coat was single breasted and had red collar, cuffs, and turnbacks.

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  6. Great figures and information.

    I'm looking to build a Bavarian army, but can't decide on pre-1811 or post-1811. Are these figures based as battalions of 6 companies, like French battalions?

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  7. Yes, they are essentially orgabnized the same as the French - 4 center companies and one each of grenadiers and schutzen. Exactly when the Bavarian army made the transition, but it may well have been 1811, when the schutzen adopted the green plumes. In 1809, Gill says they were still organized with five companies of 180 men per company, one being the depot company. He doesn't mention the Grenadier companies, but I'm pretty sure they existed pretty sure they existed at that, red plumes and all time, and then goes on to say that, at the start of the campaign, the number of Schutzen was increased from 20 to 36 per company, and they were then given the green plumes.

    So, like so many minor uniform details, you take your choices! I like them in the six company organization, so that's how mine are. In 1814, all the regiment's facings were changed to red.

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    Replies
    1. Many thanks for your quick reply, and once again great post and great-looking figures.

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    2. Thanks, and you are most welcome!

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  8. I bought some used Bavarians off ebay and was going nuts trying to figure out which unit was which, as I was unable to find any online guides. Then it hit me -- I bet Gonsalvo has some information on his site! Sure enough, there's the exact guide I'm looking for. Now I know exactly what I have and what I still need. Many years after your original post, it's still helping people (or at least me)! Thanks for posting.

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    Replies
    1. Glad to hear it! Providing a wargamer's level detail guide to Napoleonic uniforms using my own troops as the main illustrations was one of the main goals of starting the blog almost 5 years ago. With the unfortunate demise of the Histofig site, the need for such a thing has perhaps increased. There are of course many other great uniform sites on the web, but they all have their own weaknesses and strengths. When feasible I try to link to the most relevant ones.

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