Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Norwegian Army of The Napoleonic Wars - 1808


    Having completed my long series on the Danish Army of the Napoleonic Wars last year, I have some information to share with you about the Norwegian Army of the Napoleonic Wars, used here by the kind courtesy of Eric Starnes of Poland  (jestarnes66 AT gmail DOT com). Norway was joined to Denmark by the "personal union" under the same king, namely (in the Napoleonic Era), King Christian 7th and later King Frederick the 6th of Denmark. The Norwegian army was organized and uniformed in a fashion similar to but not identical to that of the Danish Army of the same period. I'll let Eric take it from here...

The Norwegian Army of 1808
(by Eric Starnes, 2013)


Organization – Norwegian infantry regiments were organized mostly in 2 battalions, each of 6 companies, each of between 150 – 175 men, total for battalions being 600 – 750 men. Each infantry regiment [not counting ski battalions and the light battalions] also contained 2 companies of grenadiers of between 150-200 men.
Unless marked, all battalions contain 2 battalions.
Uniform – Red jacket with small white front turnbacks. Blue or grey pants depending on the supply situation, white belts and black hat with white plume [called a ‘feather’ in Norwegian accounts]. Regimental distinctions were on the collar, cuffs and lapels. White or yellow metal buttons depending on the regiment.
Drummers were dressed the same as men but with swallows nest and sleeve lace in the button color and white tipped red plume.
Officers normally wore a tail coat with white turnbacks.
Grenadiers wore the same uniform as musketeers but with the addition of the 1789 cap, which was a black leather cap with a brass plate, white transverse crest and bag in regimental color. The plume was white tipped blue.
1st Akershusiske – Dark blue [without piping], yellow buttons.
2nd Akershusiske – same as above but with white buttons.
Oplandske – Dark green [white piping] with white buttons.
Telemarske – same as above but with yellow buttons.
Vesterlenske – [3 battalions] – Green with white buttons.
Bergenhusiske [4 battalions] – Black with yellow buttons.
Sondenfjeldske Enlisted [3 battalions] – Dark blue [white piping], yellow buttons.
Nordenfjeldske Enlisted [3 battalions] – Dark blue [white piping], white buttons.
1st Trondhjemske [3 battalions] – Yellow [white piping], white buttons.
2nd Trondhjemske [3 battalions] – Yellow [no piping], white buttons.
Nordenfjeldske Ski [3 companies] – Light blue or medium blue jacket [with no turnbacks] and pants. Yellow collar and cuffs, with yellow buttons. Black casquet with yellow metal Norwegian lion plate. Normally, this unit was subordinated to the Nordenfjeldske Enlisted regiment.
Sondenfjeldske Ski [3 companies] – same as Nordenfjeldske Ski but subordinated to the Sondenfjeldske Enlisted, normally.
Norske Jager Korps – [5 companies] – Green jacket and pants [no turnbacks], black collar, cuffs, and lapels, white buttons. Black top hat with green plume. Black belts.
Norske Light Battalion[6 companies] – same as above but with yellow buttons.

There were also around 10 battalions of militia dressed in various ways but most wore a stocking cap of some kind.


Organization – Each cavalry regiment was organized with 8 companies of 125 men. Normally, Norwegian cavalry in 1808 was used in a scouting role but were trained as normal battle cavalry [dragoons]. They did not perform any charges in any battles of the 1808 war but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t.
Uniform – Red jacket without turnbacks. Regimental distinctions were on collar, cuffs and lapels. Blue riding overalls [covering the riding boots]. Top hat with white plume. Buglers were dressed the same as the men with the following exceptions – white swallows nests and white piping on the sleeves. Top hat for buglers was white tipped red. Officers were dressed the same as men but with piping in gold on the collar, cuffs and lapels. Officers could have worn a tail coat while mounted, with yellow turnbacks.
Horse furniture was red with piping in the regimental color. Portemanteau could be black with black straps or grey with black straps.

Akershusiske – White distinctions and white buttons.
Smalenske – [7 companies] – Yellow distinctions with white piping, white buttons.
Oplandske – Dark blue distinctions, white buttons.
Trondhjemske – Green distinctions with whte piping, white buttons.


Organization: The artillery was divided into 26 companies based in the various fortresses in Norway. In the field, the Norwegian artillery mostly fielded batteries of 3 and 6 pdrs. of between 6 and 10 guns and 2 howitzers per battery. There was also one mounted battery of 3 pdrs.
Uniform: The foot artillery was dressed like the infantry – red jacket with dark blue collar, cuffs and lapels and pants, white plume to the black top hat and white belts. Officers – could be dressed in tail coat with white turnbacks. [Note: There seems to be some confusion as to the distinctions – I’ve read both dark blue and green. I’ll try to clear this up in a future posting.]

The mounted battery was dressed in a yellow jacket with green collar, cuffs and lapels and green pants. White belts and plume to the black top hat and white belts. Officers – same as men but with silver epaulettes, green turnbacks to a yellow tailcoat, pants had yellow Hungarian knots and a red stripe on the pants seam.

[Peter's Comment:  OMG, you just gotta have this unit, right?]

Bibliography of the Norwegian Campaigns of 1808 and 1814

H. Angell – Syv-aars Krigen [published in 1914].

G. Bjorlin – Norska Kriget 1814 [published in 1893]

J. Mankell – Falttaget i Norge ar 1814 [published in 1887]

O. Lindback-Larsen – Den Norske Haer og 1814 [published in 1945]

H. Holm – Med Plotons! Hoire-Sving! Marsch! Marsch! Norsk taktikk og stridstekritk pa begymelsen av 1800-tallet med hovedvekt lagt pa fotfolket [published in 1991]

D. Schnitler – Blade af Norges Krigshistorie [published in 1895]

C. Sorensen – Kampen Om Norge I aarene 1813-1814 [published in 1871]

E. Aagaard - Den Norske Haer I Dansketiden: Et Billedhefte [published in 1992]


The following fascinating material is taken from a posting by Kai, January 2013 :

Norwegian Ski troops 1808

Ski troops have been in use in Scandinavia since the Viking ages, and during the war between Sweden and Norway in 1808 and 1814, the Norwegians deployed several companies of light infantry using skis.

These are from the "Elverumske Skiløbercompagnie". The uniforms are surprisingly "modern" compared to some of the other uniforms wore by troops in Europe at the time.

The ski troops used rifles and were generally expert marksmen, some of them reportedly being able to securely hit targets 250-300 meters away.

The equipment was generally manufactured locally (except weapons) and through a regional conscription system, 3-5 farms were responsible for outfitting 1 soldier. In general service in the ski troops was attractive, and this meant they had among the best soldiers (other regiments would often receive whatever local troublemakers the farmers wanted to get rid of...).

The uniforms worn by these two guys have been recreated from period drawings and patterns, and we see to the left a private light infantryman (jaeger) and to the right an officer. The color is designed to work as camouflage in the forested areas along the border towards Sweden, and they did also have cream/white overcoats for use in open areas. Other Norwegian troops, i.e. line infantry and dragoons, at the time wore bright red jackets, not particularly well suited for concealing them in snowy areas...

For those interested in the weapons, the ski troops used the M/1807 jaeger rifle.  
The rifle had a special firing system, designed by Christian W. Kyhl, which kept most moving parts protected internally, as well as having only about half the parts of other contemporary rifle firing mechanisms. This helped protect the rifle in rough conditions.

As far as the skis, they used one long (267cm) and one shorter (188cm) ski. The shorter one had a fur cover underneath, to increase maneuverability and make it easier to go uphill;

The basic binding has not changed much since 1808, and similar systems are still used by modern army skis - which allow regular army boots to be used as ski boots;

Each company operated as a separate unit, and transported its own supplies of food, ammo, gunpowder etc, on sledges (called "pulk") pulled by a skier in front. Again, the design is remarkably similar to what is used today, both by armed forces, as well as polar expeditions etc;

Map for orientation purposes

Here's a link to an excellent post on another blog about the Russo-Swedish War of 1808, which involved Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, France, and Great Britain,

And here's another excellent post on the Norwegian Swedish fighting of 1808, with nice accounts of a number of small battles:


  1. My goodness Peter you post the most interesting stuff on Naps!

    1. Well, even I'll admit the Norwegians are an obscure facet, but it just serves to demonstrate the global reach and wide ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Wars - indeed, as explained previously, Norway will change hands, involuntarily, at he end of the Wars as a result!

  2. Norwegian army during the Napoleonic wars? Now, that is an army I have never seen on the wargame table! Very interesting stuff. When you commented about my WWII Norwegian ski troops and their Napoleonic ancestors, I thought you were kidding. You were not kidding!

    Another great addition!

    1. LOL, no, Jon, I was decidedly NOT kidding about the Norsk Skilobers!

      Eric has some more information coming for us about some of the many small actions the Norwegians were involved in, among other things.

  3. Cool photos of the reenactors and the ski equipment!

    1. Yep, just came across them as I was searching for some additional material to include in the post

  4. This is great. Perhaps I can finally find a use for all those Swedes I painted long ago. Tack så mycket.

    1. I've painted up about fifty 54mmNapoleonic Swedish and Norwegian toy soldiers (54mm Tehnolog figures that I've modified) and I'm working on another fifty. For the limited cavalry needed I' using the 54mm Airfix cavalry figures, modified. I'm using Song and Drums & Shakos for my skirmish rules.

  5. Take Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, and Russians (and add a few French and British) and you can have quite a complicated little drama in Scandinavia in 1808!

  6. I have some 2mm Napoleonic ski troops which I have never got round to painting.I got them through an advert in the back of a wargames magazine homecast and sculpted by a chap. This is too many years ago for me to mention.
    Good to see you publicizing this really interesting Napoleonic field of conflict...

    1. Typo! What I meant to type was 25mm not 2!

    2. I was going to say, 2mm ski troops... having them in 28m is unique enough. I'd certianly be happy to add a troop or two of Ski troops to my Danes and Norwegians. Plus I want that Horse battery, LOL!

  7. Fantastic post once again! Napoleonic ski troops! Thanks for all the effort in putting these together.

    1. Definitely not your every day Napoelonic read, but quite fascinating, as is the largely untold (Outside of Scandinavia) story of thisd aspect of the conflict in general - a conflict that cvaused relatoively few war casualties, yet had a huge impact on the future course of events in that part of the world for the following 100 years!

      Oh, and thank Eric's work, which is really the core of all of the Norwegian material; I am just republishing it with his kind permission!

  8. Thanks to Peter for posting the info I've compiled - he is truly a gentleman of the old school.

    As far as obscure periods go - that's been my forte since I got into wargaming as a young boy.

    @ Jonathan - if you're really interested in obscure armies, check out my 1788 Norwegians and Swedes over at the Scandinavian Wars Yahoo! group or email me at and I'll send ya some pics.

    Gonsalvo, by all means, republish the info on the Norwegians where you want, as long as I'm credited, I don't care.

    Happy gaming, Gents and more is on its way!

    1. Thanks again for providing all the great information for mje to diseminate, Eric!

  9. What a post! Love the reenactors pics...very, very interesting!

    1. Thanks, Phil. Glad you enjoyed it. Basically all the work of other folks! :-)

  10. Amazing! Ski troops, who'd a thunk it?

  11. Evidently, ski troops in Norway go back to at least the mid 1700's!

    There is a reason the Biathlon was one of the original events of the Winter Olympics, even though it seems more than a bit odd event to us now days!

  12. You guys might be interested in the upcoming game we will publish on the 1814 War in Scandinavia (with a scenario for 1808 included).

    1. hanks for sharing; the game looks interesting, and I a, about to do some games based upon the Russo-Swedish War of 1808.

  13. Any information regarding regimental flags?

    1. I accidentally deleted instead of approved your other comment:

      I've painted up about fifty 54mmNapoleonic Swedish and Norwegian toy soldiers (54mm Tehnolog figures that I've modified) and I'm working on another fifty. For the limited cavalry needed I' using the 54mm Airfix cavalry figures, modified. I'm using Song and Drums & Shakos for my skirmish rules.

    2. That sounds like quite an interesting project, using 54's!

    3. Regarding flags, there's a post from another blog about a visit to the Norwegian armory at Trondheim, that has a lot of flags. There'/s a picture of flags from it and a link to the original sourtce post as well:

      You might try writing to them: