Historical Periods

Napoleonic – French Artillery and Grenadier

Entry requirements

  • Minimum height was 1m 80cm
  • At least 10 years military service
  • An exemplary record

Grenadier’s Equipment


  • Equipped with the 1777 model Charleville musket
  • Calibre 1.75cm (0.69 inches)
  • The Garde muskets had brass fittings but at the time of Waterloo a lot were equipped with the line infantry model which did not have the brass fittings
  • Length of musket is 143cm

One Cross Belt Containing The Giberne (The Cartridge Box)

Designed to hold 30 paper cartridges in two packets of 15 with an additional 5 spare cartridges, oil, a worm and a spring clamp.

One Cross Belt Containing the Sabre Briquet (Short sword) and the bayonet

  • Sabre Briquet - Elite soldiers were equipped with this.
  • Length 70cm
  • Width at widest point was 3.6cm
  • Sword knot attached to the sabre briquet for ordinary grenadier was white with a red tassel

A Bread Bag

This contained their rations i.e. twice baked bread designed to last whilst on campaign.

Water Bottle

This was not an issue item and soldiers made do with hollowed out gourds or bottles enclosed in a wicker framework.


  • Habit Long ‘Jacket’
  • Garde Imperiale buttons with the embroidered grenade on the turnbacks and red fringed epaulettes
  • Waistcoat
  • Fall Front trousers, white for summer and blue for winter wear

Rank Distinction

  • Two aurora (orange) stripes backed in red on lower sleeve denotes a corporal
  • One yellow stripe, backed in red denotes a sergeant.
  • Long service stripes of aurora (orange) on the upper left sleeve:
    • One stripe 10 years service
    • Two stripes between 10 and 20 years service
    • Three stripes between 20 and 25 years service
6 inch Howitzer and carriage
6 inch Howitzer and carriage.

Most of them had the Legion of Honour medal which was instituted in 1802.

The Garde Imperiale had better equipment than the line regiments and was paid at a rank higher than that of the Line regiments. A Garde corporal would be entitled to the pay of a line sergeant.

When the Garde passed by all other regiments had to get out of the way and present arms as they passed – as befits Napoleon’s personal bodyguard.

French 6 inch Howitzer
French 6 inch Howitzer.

French army was in the main more democratic than the British army. There were no limits to how high you could be promoted. It is said that a sergeant was, over the years, promoted to officer and then given the rank of baron. His wife used to horrify the other officer’s wives by declaring that she had in her time done the washing of the soldiers.

History of the 3e Grenadiers a Pied de la Garde Imperiale > View Napoleonic events gallery >