French greatcoat colors

Discussion in 'Historical References, Literature & Media Review' started by aknific, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. aknific Member

    French Napoleonic experts : I have a question on French Greatcoats circa 1807-1814, in relation to this image as seen on the Hat webiste :

    (Directly seen here if not rendering above):

    The image seems to infer different colors for Greatcoats depending on Light Infantry(grey) vs Grenadiers (brown) vs Guard (blue), etc. Is this accurate?

    Or was it more a case of wearing what was available? Or even the Commanding Officers preference?

    Specifically for officers, I am under the impression they would wear what they could afford... would it be reasonable for say, a Dutch Grenadiers officer of the Imperial Guard to have a gray or brown greatcoat like depicted in those in the image referenced above? Or would they be wearing blue only?

    Thanks for reading,

    ps: If you haven't seen any of it yet, the box art for the HaT figures is very nice:
  2. megroot A Fixture

    The different colors belong the different regiment. No doubt about that.
    They wear the same greatcoat but in different colors.

  3. IIICorps Active Member

    I don't have any references showing the brown. You might want to ask HAT where they got their information.

  4. aknific Member


    Thank you for the responses!

    The brown is what intrigued me - something different and very tempting to use on a figure I have on the bench rather than "run of the mill" gray or dark blue. I was hoping to get some confirmation that would put me more at ease trying it.

    My guess is that probably some units, somewhere, used brown as that would be the cheapest or only available material at the time under the conditions (e.g.: Spain)... I have seen many illustrations showing infantry and even some cavalry using brown for trousers, especially in the afformentioned Spanish campiagn. My problem is saying this was possible for an officer of an elite unit as well. ;-)

    If I find any more info and/or get a response from HaT I will pass it on.

    Thanks again,
  5. IIICorps Active Member

    I agree. I've seen the references for pants, but not greatcoats. Just the same, Napoleon took two green riding coats to St. Helena. They were in his effects after he passed away.
  6. aknific Member


    HaT has their own forum which is pretty active, so I posted my question there and got these 2 responses:

    "French Greatcoats varied in color for many reasons. Chief was supply, coats
    were generally made of the least expensive fabric possible and the color
    was often dictated by the local wool. Shades of gray and blue were very
    common, throughout northern Europe. In Spain, the cheapest wool was brown
    and so were the greatcoats.

    To the best of my knowledge there was no regulation regarding the color of
    greatcoats worn by elites in Line regiments, although I do believe that the
    Old Guard Grenadiers were outfitted with dark blue ones and other Guards
    regiments may have had signature greatcoat colors."

    - and -

    "My sources suggect that the "regulation" greatcoats were grey for the line, blue
    for light infantry regiments and Guard regiments. This ideal was hardly ever
    achieved so it really is a case of what ever goes, especially in Spain and for the
    post 1812 campaigns where the troops wee thankful for whatever they got
    (or supplied their own!)"

    Thanks again for your help!


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