Glossaire des Guerres Napoléoniennes

Les armes du 19e siècle were relatively standardized - musket, cannon, épée - but uniforms had become quite varied et detailed. (F)rench et (G)erman terms dominate in this period, et they refer primarily to uniform items.

Terme Définition
à cheval (F) on horseback
à pied (F) on foot
atiradores Portuguese sharpshooters. One company per bataillon of cacadores.
Bashkirs Cavalerie asiatic tribal en service russe. The Bashkirs continued to use bows during the Guerres Napoléoniennes. Apparently, Lt-Col. Lee du 44e Foot Régiment britannique advocated the re-introduction of the longbow as late as 1792. The longbow was at least as accurate as the musket, it had a longer effective range, a much higher rate of fire, et a more devastating effect on morale. Nevertheless, the musket prevailed, because a recruit could learn to use it in a few hours of training. Archery took years to perfect.
belgic shako Short shako britannique, avec raised front plate (false front). First introduced in 1812, it gradually replaced the earlier cylindrical shako in régiments d’infanterie britannique, with the exception du 28e (North Gloucestershire) Régiment which still portait le shako stovepipe en 1815. Also worn by troupes belges engaged a Waterloo.
Beschussdelle (G) A bullet dent indicating that a newly manufactured Kürass breast plate has been tested for its resistance to shot. The small dent was an important confidence builder for the Kürassier who might be ordered to charge into a storm of musketry. To this day, soldiers are known to test Kevlar helmets et armour vests by firing at them.
Zweispitz (G)
A hat avec two corners, replacing the tricorne of the early et mid 18e siècle. L’infanterie révolutionnaire française, et saxonne pre-1808, prussienne, espagnole, et many soldats allemands portaient le bicorne until the more practical shako took its place. Many officiers maintained the bicorne even after their troops had adopted shakos ou helmets. The bicorne was worn side-to-side ou fore-and-aft, depending on national ou regimental preference.
culotte Three-quarter length trousers, wide at the waist et narrow at the calf. Designed to be worn avec gaiters ou long boots.
colback (F)
Pelzmütze (G)
A wide, cylindrical fur hat, flat on the top, avec a cloth bag hanging over one side. Worn by hussards d’elite français et britannique, quelques régiments des hussards prussiens, carabiniers de l’infanterie légère française, et grenadiers nassoviens.
cacadores Portuguese light infantry.
carabinier (F) Grenadier de l’infanterie française. Aussi qu’un cavalier lourde français.
chasseur (F) Literally, hunter. Infanterie et cavalerie légère française.
cocarde A circular decoration in national colors usually held onto a hat with a strap et button. Red, white, et blue - français révolutionnaire, white - Bourbon, yellow & black – Autrichien.
cohorte (F) Unité de la Garde Nationale Française, similar to a bataillon.
Congreve Rocket field battery named after major-general britannique Sir William Congreve who invented it.
cuirass (F)
Kürass (G)
Torso armour consisting of a back et breast plate. In some armies, only the breast plate was worn. Cuirassiers Prussiens took the field without armour en 1813, for reasons of economy, et they were instructed to equip themselves avec plastrons français capturé au course de la campagne.
Tschapka (G)
Casquette polonaise avec square top, avec the corners pointing fore & aft et side to side. Worn by most soldats et lanciers polonais of various nations.
dolman (F) Short, tight-fitting, braided jacket worn by hussars.
éclaireur (F) Cavalry scout. Une unité de la cavalerie de la Garde impériale française.
épaulette A shoulder board avec fringe, either wool ou mettalic, indicating elite ou officer status. Officiers subalternes might have one épaulette et one contre-épaulette, the latter without fringe.
flanker Tirailleurd d’infanterie britannique. The term derives de l’unité d’infanterie britannique which differentiated center companies et flank companies. The left flank company was a light infantry company, grenadiers stood on the right flank of the bataillon.
flanqueur (F)
Flankeur (G)
Tirailleur de la cavalerie protecting a formed unit against surprise attack. Flanqueurs used rapid figure-8 movement to evade enemy fire, et to keep pace avec the slower-moving parent formation.
Type d’infanterie de la jeune Garde française.
raquettes (F)
Large, flat, round knots on hat cords.
Freiregiment (G)
Freibataillon (G)
Volunteer unit of infantry ou - rarely - of cavalry.
Freikorps (G) Mixed volunteer formation of infantry et cavalry, sometimes including a detachment of artillery. Les corps francs du 18e siècle consisted primarily of foreigners, enemy prisoners et deserters. In the period of 1813–1814, les corps franches allemands were recruited among patriotic citizens, they were well disciplined et very reliable in combat. Formations like the Lützow et von Thielemann Freikorps eventually became regular army units. When Freikorps converted to line status, the infantry et cavalry contingents were separated to join their particular arm of service. If the individual contingents were too small to form un bataillon ou régiment régulier, they were incorporated into an existing line unit ou amalgamated avec other former Freikorps detachments.
Freischar (G)
Francs-Tireurs (F)
Literally "horde of volunteers", the individual guerilla is called a Freischärler en allemand. Un type de troupes commonly used durant le 18e et 19e siècle, but made illegal by modern conventions.
Freischütz (G)
Robin des bois (F)
A legendary figurine in possession of seven magic bullets - Freischüsse - which hit their mark at any range. One of the seven bullets – The last ou a randomly chosen one - is controlled by the devil, i.e. it takes a path unkown to the marksman. Johann August Apel first told the tale in his Gespensterbuch - book of ghosts (with F. Laun, Leipzig 1810–1814); Johann Friedrich Kind wrote the text et Karl Maria von Weber composed the music for the famous opera by the same name which premiered in Berlin on 18 Juin 1821.
Freiwilliger (G) Volontaire, literally "free-willed". La Prusse allowed the formation des Jägers volontaires en 1813, small units of marksmen attached to infantry et cavalry regiments.
fusilier (F)
Füsilier (G)
Originally an artillery train soldier armed avec the flintlock fusil which eliminated the need for burning match, thereby reducing the danger of accidental powder explosions. Fusiliers became an infantry troop type when the flintlock musket was introduced as the standard infantry weapon. En service prussien et allemand, Füsiliers were usually 2nd rate infantry, they received the young et unusually short hommes who were issued avec slightly shorter muskets to facilitate loading. By 1806, les Füsiliers prussiens et la plupart des unités allemandes had evolved to light infantry, et they adopted the green coat previously limited to Jäger units. En service britannique, les Fusileers became un type de troupe d’élite similar aux grenadiers, distingué by bonnets à poil.
guêtres (F)
Gamaschen (G)
Long cloth sleeves usually worn from the shoe to the knee, like false boots. Often black in winter, white in summer. These became shorter in later years, ou were replaced avec long trousers ou short boots.
Grenzer (G) Literally a borderer. Infanterie légère autrichienne raised en Croatie. Given land in return for service protecting border areas contre les Turcs. Bataillons d’infanterie de frontière nationale (Grenz) were used comme tirailleurs, although they did fight in closed order as well.
Inhaber (G) Literally the owner of a regiment of infantry ou cavalry.
Jäger (G) Literally a hunter. Fantassin d’élite de l’infanterie légère allemande typically recruited among professional foresters et game wardens.
Kaiserliche (G) Kaiserliks, imperial troops. Short for Kaiserliche und Königliche Armee or K.(u.)K.-Armee. The term referred to all imperial troops in the 17e et 18e siècle, et what was left of the Habsburg empire after Napoléon had annexed most of its satellites allemands et italiens.
Kalmyks Cavalerie asiatic tribal en service russe.
kiwer Shako russe avec curved top - high front & back, low on the sides. Nicknamed "the coal scuttle". Introduced en 1812.
Kollet (G) A short coat allemand.
Krümper (G)
Nickname for soldats prussiens recruited et trained under the Krümpersystem. Implemented by Gerhard von Scharnhorst, this system of recruitment circumvented the Tilsit peace treaty of 1807 which limited l’Armée Prussienne to 42,000 soldiers under arms. Regiments were instructed to reduce their active strength, et make the vacant slots available for Krümper, hommes who were trained only for a few months et then returned a la vie civile. By 1813, every regiment had a pool of 5,000 - 6,000 active soldiers et partially trained Krümper available. When mobilization came, the Krümper were called up to form 12 new musketeer bataillons et 39 bataillons d’infanterie de réserve.
Landsturm (G) The Landsturm Edict of 20 Mars 1813 was a directive regulating the formation of the Landsturm, second line militia. Scharnhorst et Gneisenau introduced the idea of an armed populace, but this was not fully implemented par le gouvernement prussien. In light of the Révolution Française it is not surprising that the monarchy did not support the idea of a nation in arms. Nassau et l’Empire d’Autriche raised Landsturm units during the Guerres Napoléoniennes.
Landwehr (G) The Landwehr Edict of 17 Mars 1813 was a directive regulating the formation of the Landwehr, first line militia, based on Scharnhorst’s publications supporting universal conscription.
légère (F) Light.
Leib- (G) Literally "body" ou bodyguard. Prefix used to indicate elite ou guard status, as in Leib-Garde, Leib-Régiment, Leib-Kompanie, etc. La Leib-Kompanie du premier bataillon carried the Leib-Fahne (sovereign’s colour) of the regiment.
levée en masse (F) Large-scale conscription de la population française. The nation in arms successfully defended itself against counter-revolutionary forces.
licorne Pièce d’artillerie russe, a hybrid between howitzer et field gun.
mirliton (F)
Flügelmütze (G)
Couvre-chef des hussards du 18e siècle, still worn during the Révolution Française et early Guerres Napoléoniennes. A tall, et slightly conical shako, narrow at the top et avec a cloth trail or wing (Flügel) attached to one side. This relatively long Flügel could be wrapped around the shako. Hussards prussiens are popularly known as Flügelmützen-Husaren ou Pelzmützen-Husaren, depending on the type of hat the regiment was issued.
ordananza Portuguese militia.
ordre mixte (F) The regimental practice française of deploying one bataillon d’infanterie en ligne, et protecting each of its flanks avec a bataillon in column. Les régiments d’infanterie française consisted of three bataillons, et they were trained to form ordre mixte together.
pelisse A short, braided, fur-trimmed coat worn by hussars. When not worn, the pelisse was carried over the left shoulder as a protection against sword cuts.
passepoil (F)
Paspel (G)
Trim lines along cuffs, cuff flaps, lapels, turnbacks, shoulder boards, pockets, and other clothing edges. Often referred to as edging. The colour of the passepoil usually contrasts avec that of the facing.
Plänkler (G) Tirailleur. Plänkeln, blänkeln ou blänkern was the act of escarmouchant.
plastron A single piece of cloth replacing the coat lapels, buttoned at the edges like a double-breasted coat.
pupilles (F) Cadets. Usually recruited before they had completed their training ou reached adulthood. Une unité de la Garde impériale française.
Schabrunke (G)
Cavalry pistol cover usually made of the same cloth as the Schabracke.
chabraque (F)
Schabracke (G)
Saddle cover made of cloth ou sheepskin, the latter being more popular on campaign, because it provided additional padding et warmth.
sabretache (F)
Säbeltasche (G)
Literally sabre pouch. A flat pouch worn over the scabbard, usually decorated with regimental designations. More decorative than practical.
Schütze (G) Literally a shooter, marksman. Infanterie légère d’élite allemande, slightly less adapt than the professional Jäger. Büchsenschütze - rifle-armed marksman.
Shrapnel Fused exploding cannister shell fired from field guns, named after lieutenant Henry Shrapnel britannique who invented it.
stovepipe shako Cylindrical shako britannique worn during much of the Napoleonic era, until gradually replaced by the belgic shako after 1808.
tirailleur (F) Tireur d’élite français. Designation of the elite light infantry company du bataillon d’infanterie légère français.
troika (R) Three horses hitched in triangular formation to tow un chariot ou avant-train russe.
turnbacks Turned coat tails, revealing the coat lining. The colour of the lining was often used to differentiate regiments in an army.
Ulan (G) Lancier allemand, based on the original troop type polonais. En 1853, les Uhlans prussiens received a special uniform coat known as Ulanka.
portemanteau (F)
Round ou square pouch behind the saddle, usually used to hold a raincoat.
velites (F) Juvenile recruits. Une unité de la Garde impériale française.
voltigeur (F) Tirailleur d’élite de l’infanterie légère française. Designation of the light infantry company in line bataillons.
waistcoat Un gilet porté sur la chemise et sous l’habit-veste. Most pre-1812 style uniform coats were cut to reveal the bottom of the waistcoat.

Chris Salander

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