Saturday, March 9, 2013

Kingdom of Italy Pt 1 - Line and Light Infantry

    General Bonaparte's successful conquest of Northern Italy Italy in his remarkable first Italian Campaign of 1796-97 lead to the establishment of sister Republics satellites of France, the Cisalpine Republic centered on Milan, and the Cispadine Republic, centered around Modena. The Venetian aristocracy gambled and unwisely backed the wrong player when they declared war on France after having given their assurances of neutrality after Bonaparte passed them by on his way to invade Austrian territory. Immediately after the preliminaries of the Peace of Leoben in 1797, the Dodge and Senate of Venice were replaced with yet another new Republic, that of Venice... at the tips of French bayonets! Although the bulk of Venice's territory was later transferred to Austria as part of the peace, a large portion of Northern Italy was ultimately incorporated directly into the territory of France. After becoming First Consul of France in 1800, Napoleon became President of a  newly reorganized Italian Republic in 1802. Following his coronation as Emperor of France on December 2, 1804, this arrangement became incongruous, and Napoleon was proclaimed King of Italy in March 1805, with his coronation taking place in Milan in May, using the ancient Iron Crown of Lombardy.

   This post concerns the army of the Kingdom of Italy; The Kingdom of Naples occupied the lower half of the Italian Peninsula  and as previously noted, a large portion of Northern Italy was incorporated directly into the territory of the French Empire. Indeed, some seven "French" Legere and twenty-three Line Infantry regiments had depots in such territories, along with nine regiments of Chasseurs a Cheval, one of Hussars, and six of Dragoons.

  By late 1806, the army of the Kingdom of Italy included six regiments of line infantry  three of light infantry  plus the Dalmatian regiment. A seventh line regiment was added in 1808, and a 4th Light Infantry regiment in 1811. In 1813 four more line infantry regiments were raised (the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th). in 1814, Viceroy Eugene de Beauharnais was recalled to Italy, and fought a generally successful delaying campaign against the Austrians. He ultimately abdicated in May 1814, following Napoleon's own abdication in April.

    The original uniform of the Line Infantry (Fanteria di Linea)of the Italian Republic was very similar to that of France, except with dark green replacing dark blue. In 1806, the Line infantry adopted a white uniform, with different combinations of facing colors for each regiment. The cuff flaps were three pointed. In the table below, the color of the text for each item is the color that item was piped with. The shoulder straps for all regiments were white, piped with red or green (Von Pivka cops out by saying "in the facing color", which is obviously not very helpful given the scheme below).


Italian Line Infantry, 1806 - 1813 (per Osprey of Von Pivka)

Regt
Lapels
Collar
Cuffs
Cuff flap
Turnback
Button
1st
red
green
red
green
red
Y
2nd
red
white
white
red
white
Y
3rd
red
red
red
red
red
Y
4th
white
red
white
white
white
W
5th
green
red
green
red
white
W
6th
green
white
white
green
white
Y
7th
white
green
red
(none)
white
W
The same information is on the Italian Line Infantry of the Napoleonic Wars site (see below).


Another, very different version of the distinctive colors for each regiment (as shown on the Napiltalia and Gruppo Murat sites):
Regt
Lapels
Collar
Cuffs
Cuff flap
Turnback
Button
1st
green
green
green
red
green
W
2nd
red
white
white
green
white
W
3rd
green
red
green
red
green
W
4th
red
red
red
green
red
W
5th
green
green
green
green
white
W
6th
green
green
white
red
white
W
7th
red
red
green
green
white
W
The shoulder straps are all shown as being white, and piped in the same color as the turnbacks for that regiment (as are the pockets on the tails of the jackets as well).

And just to make things perfectly muddy, the Napoleone in Italia site has a plate with still another slightly different scheme. None of these really seems reconcilable with the others.  Mamma Mia!  In any event, my own Kingdom of Italy units were painted back when the Osprey and Funken books were all I had available  and thus follow the first scheme, although I suspect that the one listed on the Italian language sites is more likely to be accurate - but maybe not!



Be that as it may, this is my version of  the 1st Italian Line. The light blue sphere on the French-inspired "lozenge" style standard (hand painted) reads:
 NAPOLEONE
(Imperatore di Francesi)
RE D'ITALIA
AL 1 REGG D' INF
DI LINEA


The shako plates were brass. The colors of the company pom poms for the center companies were the same as their French counterparts, worn with white cords on the shako.


Like their French counterparts, the Grenadiers (Granatieri)had red plumes, epaulettes, and cords on the shako, while the Voltigeurs (Volteggiatori) had (usually) yellow over green plumes, green epaulettes with yellow crescents, and green shako cords.


Next is the 3rd Italian Line; like all the rest of my Italians, composed of Minifigs painted more than 20 years ago. I did update them a bit with some touch up and a coat of "magic wash".


Drummers wore red, white and green lace piping to the collars, cuffs and swallows nests (which were "in the facing color"). Drums were brass, with the rims painted with red/white/green diagonal stripes.


The grenadiers might also wear a bearskin in place of the shako, with red cords, plumes, and a red "cul-de-singe" with a white cross on the back, and a brass plate on the front.


This is my version of the 4th Italian Line regiment; note the coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Italy in the white lozenge, which appears on the reverse of the standards. 


Packs, greatcoats, belt, rank insignia, etc were all as per their French counterparts.


The Italian regiments adapted the familiar six company organization (one each of grenadiers and voltigeurs, four of fusiliers) about the same time as the French army did.


Here is my version of the 5th Italian Line Regiment. Oddly, the Osprey doesn't have a color plate with even a single figure from the Kingdom of Italy after 1806, an odd omission indeed!


Close up of the 5th Italian Line; like the French, they carried a gold Eagle at the tip of the pole, of slightly different design. Pants were officially white, but on campaign might be white or even brown, the later especially on service in Spain.

*****************************************************************

The uniforms of the Light Infantry (Fanteria Leggera) were once again inspired by their French counterparts  but with the short jacket and pants being dark green. Cuff flaps were rectangular. Buttons were yellow metal. Once again there are conflicting versions of the facing colors for the various regiments.

Von Pivka's Osprey gives the following, possibly pre-1811:
RegtCollarCuffsPipingWaistcoatTurnbacks
1stredredredgreenwhite
2ndyellowyellowyellowyellowyellow
3rdwhitewhitewhitewhitewhite
4thlt bluelt bluelt bluelt bluelt blue


While other sources give this version, at least from 1811 onward:

RegtCollarCuffsPipingWaistcoatTurnbacks
1st
yellow
yellow
yellow
yellow
yellow
2nd
red
red
red
green
red
3rd
orange
orange
orange
green
orange
4th
crimson
crimson
crimson
green
crimson



This is my version of the 2nd Italian Light Infantry, with yellow collars and cuffs, yellow piping on the lapels, turnbacks, and outer seams of the pants. In all versions, the regiment with yellow facings is noted to also have yellow waistcoats, which gives them an especially dashing appearance; the waistcoats for all other facing colors are always noted to be green. 


I have given this unit a rather elite appearance, with the Chasseur (Cacciatori) companies having green cords and plumes, the Carabinier  (Carabinieri) company in bearskins (without a plate in front), and the Voltigeurs in colpacks. 


Note the red sword straps of the Grenadiers; these were green for Voltigeurs and white for Chasseurs.  The cockade for the Italians was green within red within white, once again same as for France but substituting green for blue.  In general French figures can be used for Italians, with just a "paint conversion".


A brief note is also in order regarding the Dalmatian Regiment (no, they did NOT wear white coats with black spots!). This light infantry unit was raised from the newly aquired territories in Dalmatia in 1806. Uniform consisted of a dark green single breasted coat of Austrian style cut, with with scarlet collar (yellow for the Voltigeurs), pointed cuffs, and Austrian style turnbacks; white buttons. Pants were dark green of a tight "Hungarian" fit. Initially a round hat turned up at the side (rather like the Tyrolean Jagers) was worn, with red pom-pom for Carabiniers, Yellow for Voltigeurs, and green for Chasseurs. The hat was abandoned in favor of the shako in 1809; this had a diamond shaped white metal plate on the front bearing the initials "RRD"  (Von Pivka says RDI, probably in error - RRD is the abbreviation for "Royal Dalmatian Regiment" in Italian ) under the iron crown of Lombardy. Red epaulettes for Carabiniers, yellow epaulettes for Voltigeurs, and green shoulder straps piped in scarlet for the Chasseurs.


Part 2 will cover the Artillery  Cavalry, and Royal Guard of the Kingdom. Part one turned out to be more work than I had anticipated, largely due to the very confusing situation with conflicting sources! Troops from the Kingdom of  Italy saw action far out of proportion to the relatively small size of their army - Prussia in 1806-1807 (mostly sieges , in Spain from 1808 - 1813, against Austria in 1809, during the invasion of Russia in 1812, in Germany and Italy in 1813, and in defense of the Kingdom in 1814. A contingent of Italians will add a nice splash of color to your "French" forces, and are usable in many campaigns, as noted above. 

Sources and other sites for additional information:

Napoleon in Italy
Site has a wealth of information including the Italian Republics; sometimes hard to read the plates, etc, but well worth browsing! Also includes the Knotel plates on the Kingdom of Italy.

Italian Line Infantry 1807-12
Pretty much what bit says, no illustrations.

Troops of the Kingdom of Italy 1805-14
French language site, takes a bit of work to find what you want, but literally dozens of plates contained within the site

Hiostorex plate of Italian Line Infantry

Napitalia
Many useful plates of Line Infantry, Light Infantry, and Chasseurs a Cheval

Army and Uniforms of the Kingdom of Italy, 1805 - 1814
Italian Language site with good brief descriptions and illustrations

Hiostofig plates (5) on the Italian Royal Guard
Very well done; unfortunately nothing from them on the line troops.

Divertirsi!

Peter

12 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Paul; they were painted long ago, and if I did them now they would come out a bit differently. Still they look presentable and have seen much action ion the tabletop

      Delete
  2. I've done these in 6mm so was interested in the post. Figures and post were well worth taking the time to look at.

    Ian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad you found it worthwhile, Ian!

      Delete
  3. Maybe a unit in white coats with black spots would be fun to paint!



    Great detail and supporting references.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Really enjoyed this post, some time I may be tempted to do some Italians, I will keep this for a reference.

    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it, John! It is a very useful force, both for battles in Spain and Europe.

      Delete
  5. Great stuff, just the inspiration I needed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great! I moved it to the top of my list due to your plans. Probably be another month or so for the next Italian post!

      Delete
  6. Another good post, very informative. My friend, Dan, has an Italian army so I can keep my white coat focus on the Austrians.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mike; it is a good thing Dan did the Italians then; helps prevent "Snow Blindness"! :-)

      Delete