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Ist Grenadiers Flag 1815

Discussion in 'General Figure Talk' started by TADATSUGU, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. TADATSUGU Guest

    Grenadiers flags.JPG
    1815 flag.jpg

    Let me first explain the reason for this post to those who don't know. I have recently responded a couple of threads expressing concern that the wrong flag was being used on a model depicting the Ist Grenadiers at Waterloo. These threads have became a bit of a free for all, as understandably, very talented sculptors and modellers work had been questioned and in the ensuing debates I'm sure people on both sides were upset, myself included.
    For this reason I do not wish to make reference here to any modeller or model. I have been asked to post my sources both on the last thread and by PM. I now do so and open up the topic for general discussion of the evidence I present alone, either for or against. Please do not bring any individuals work to the table, I do not wish to threaten anyones reputation or integrety , only to make comparision of source material.

    It is my understanding that the 1812 pattern flag was surrendered following the abdication at Fontainebleau. Prior to the 1815 campaign, on the 1st June, six new eagles and standards were issued to the Guard . Only two of these were issued to the infantry, one to the 1st Battalion of the 1st Grenadiers and the other to the 1ST Battalion of the 1st Chasseurs. Only one of the six flags has survived (that of the horse artillery) and shows the pattern shown in the attached pictures, showing no Regimental distinctions, only battle honours on one side and capital cities on the other. (I know
    of no evidence of any loss of the other five flags at the battle itself).

    I have attached a picture of the 1815 pattern flag taken from the Victrix site. They are producing it as a purchase bonus and indicates that they believe in its validity. The other illustration is from “Officers and Soldiers of the French Imperial Guard 1” by Andre Joineau and Jean- Marie Mongin. (Histoire & Collections collection), Published 2002. (apologies for the slight distortion as I had to photograph it).

    The pattern shown for 1815 and used by Victrix agrees with illustrations or descriptions in:-
    1)Foot Regiments of the Imperial Guard by Michael Head, Published by Almark in 1973. (this shows the first line of the reverse side in four lines, from t-to- b as “VIENNE, BERLIN” over “MADRID, MILAN” over “MOSCOW, VARSOVIE” with “VIANNE, LE CAIRE” on the bottom line. (?)

    2) Flags and Standards of the Napoleonic Wars by Keith Over, Published by Bivouac Books in 1976. (Over gives the Distinctions as “VIENNE/BERLIN, MADRID/MILAN, MOSCOU/WARSOVIU/VENISE/LE CAIRE”. (?) - No illustration is provided.

    3) Armies at Waterloo by Scott Bowden, Empire Games Press 1983. An unbelievably extensive coverage of the regiments at Waterloo shows details agreeing with the Victrix version.

    4) Osprey’s Guard Infantry by Philip Haythornthwaite in 1984, on page 38 states that the 1815 pattern; “may conceivably have borne battle honours(sic) on both sides”

    5) The Waterloo Companion by Mark Adkin, Published in 2001 by Aurum Press. Adkin only shows the 1812 details (as per the model) but refers to them as on “the pre-1815 Colour”.

    6) The previously mentiond Histoire & Collections volume. (note that this varies from the Victrix version by omitting the MILAN,MOSCOU distinctions)

    I cannot account why the quoted inscriptions vary – but no one said this was going to be easy! The only way to resolve this would, I suppose, be to hunt down the surviving Horse Artillery flag.

    I have never found any contemporary written evidence describing the embroidery on the 1815 Grenadiers flag but the general consensus of my named references is based on the reasoning that it was customary for flags issued to the Guard units to all bear the same titles (i.e. of the same pattern). I see no reason to believe why this tradition would be any different in 1815.

    The Almark Publication by Bryan Fosten (Date published not known) mentions the new Standards but then goes for the 1812 flag being used, assuming that it had been kept after 1814 by General Pelet, but even he considers this conjectural. I do not follow this logic as; 1) Fostern gives no source for this rumour only that “it has been said".
    2) Fostern also says he feels it is “unlikely that the Emperor...would have allowed his beloved ‘Vielle Garde’ to have substandard provision of Eagles and Standards” (referring to the 1815 allocation).
    3) If Fostern accepts in (2) that a new pattern was probably issued why wouldn’t they have used it?

    I concede that it can never be proven definitively that depicting the 1812 flag at Waterloo is incorrect, (and this means of course that many will dismiss the 1815 evidence) but the general consensus over 29 years of published material suggests that it is widely, if not universally, considered highly unlikely by many reliable sources. Historically, in the absence of hard evidence, the most probable or likely option is what is usually agreed upon.

    It has been the continuing depiction of the 1812 flag at Waterloo, without any counter-evidence or solid reasoning that I object to. Now it's over to you. I would be very interested if anyone had photographs of the actual Horse Artillary flag or information on it's current whereabouts.

    Don't worry, be happy!

  2. peedee A Fixture

    Well reasoned David,
    VERY Interesting.
    Beautiful illustrational examples.

    I wonder, (only because because I haven't got one to look at),,
    which version Historex used to print on their exemplary illustrations
    in the Grenadier model Pack, they could very well have used the 1812 pattern too.
    I can't remember.
    Regards Paul
  3. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    Hi David,
    Thanks for posting, your information is contradicted in the reference I have in that my references state none of the gold embellishments other than the writing and a laurel border.
    The new flags were less ornate according to my references and as you mention it refers to the flag you show as prior to 1815. Without wishing to discredit the Fosten references and he one of my favourite authors, he has also depicted the British napoleonic backpack wrongly for many years.
    Your references do speculate that that the 1812 was used ( Almark) and one refers to it as pre 1815 (Companion). Some of the others also contradict each other in the wording. As there is no definitive I see no reason to believe yours any more than mine so we will have to disagree.
    Either way I stand by my particular piece carrying the 1815 colour and it will not be changed.
    I will find my book and post the relevant passages and quotes.
    Best wishes
  4. TADATSUGU Guest

    Thanks Gra30,
    I have no problem with that. Maybe we can start to come together on this. I would like to know your references too.

    I hope this post has given people more information to make a choice.
    As I have said, I was not trying to prove the new flag was used, only that I thought most unlikely that the 1812 was. It is the number of different writers who have subscribed to this view which sways my mind. I don't think there can be any doubt the new pattern was issued though due to the alleged existance of the Horse Artillary flag. If as many authors are brought forward arguing the opposite case I am still open to changing my own mind. (I personally dont think the standard would have been used in battle at all as the it was,I believe, the Eagle itself that was considered the "soul" of the regiment. That however, opens up a whole new can of worms, and I have no evidence on this, either way).

    I also have great respect for Fostern, but as has been pointed out, no expert knows everything, and he may not have had accesss to the same sources at the time he was writing. I only raise my doubts in his case because even he seems to be uncertain in his text.
    Siborne's account of the Battle was accepted for over 150years, he was (still is) highly respected and had great integrity. It is only relatively recently that his own sources, which he trusted implictly, have started to be proven wrong in many instances, as new diaries and letters have come to light.

    The very fact that the other Author's I have quoted (who I think are also due respect ) do not all depict the exact same details makes me think they are not simply copying each other and therefore there must surely be something about what they say.
  5. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    Hi David,
    I own an 1845 original of Sibourne (Siborne), the battle between him and Welligton it took 4 re writes and changes before Wellington would even meet him. It had to be written and the model built in Wellingtons favour.
    image.jpg image.jpg
  6. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    Best read ever or the new book 24hours at Waterloo image.jpg
  7. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    But I am glad this conversation has started, hopefully we can learn off each other and a constructive discussion does no harm in the right place.My only point is if one fact can be discredited ( Fosten/Sibourne) then all that is left is personal interpretation, there is no right or wrong.
    I do agree, the eagle was more the status than the colour and the colour (flag) most likely did not go in to battle, where the British army shows loyalty to the colour rather than the finial. But we then have records of French colours being taken. A minefield of history :)
  8. Mirofsoft A Fixture

    Yes but here I count 762 fringes on the flag, it seems ( according to corporal Bonneblague ) that there were 764 ;)
  9. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    Lol :)
  10. Funky50 Guest

    Not really anything to do with the colours but another case of history being maybe seen differently in as much as the 1st Foot Guards (British) are always credited with the turning Of the Old Guard and thereafter being allowed to wear the Bearskin when this feat was I believe actually down to the Oxfordshire Light Infantry 47/52nd as I often remind my Dad (ex Grenadier) LOL...the point being I think even Wellington Hinted that the history of the battle was written pretty much how he wanted it to be seen.....interesting Thread by the way....Kevin
    Gra30 likes this.
  11. megroot A Fixture

    I find it interesting and had no idea who whas wrong or right.
    But I have the buste from CGS and gonna paint it as the boxart tells me to do, but I wanted to know more.

    So I asked around on the Napoleonic Uniforms and Equipment and they came around with this.
    Ole Thureholm
    My sources are "Nos Drapeuax et Étendards De 1812 a 1815" by O. Hollander. Printed in Paris 1902, but reprinted by Ken Trotman in 2006, and "Drapeaux & Etendards de la Revolution et de l'Empire" by Pierre Charrié. Printed in Paris 1982.

    The Guard had kept its eagles, but not the 1812 drapeaux. Napoleon approved that the guard carried the old eagles, but never the less issued new eagles to the following regiments: 1st Grenadiers, 1st Chasseurs, The Chasseurs a Cheval, The Grenadiers a Cheval, The Chevaulegers-lanciers, The Dragoons, The Foot Artillery and The Artillery a Cheval. Eight eagles in all. Seven of the eagles and drapeuax were destroyed in Bourges in september 1815. The only drapeau escaping destruction was the drapeau of the Artillerie a Cheval. The drapeau is described and pictured in detail in Hollander's book. It measured 52 1/2 cm by 54 cm excluding golden fringes 1 cm long. The cravatte was 112 cm by 19 cm.

    General Duchand, Baron de Sancey, who commanded the guard horse artillery, refused to carry the white cocarde, and offered his resignation, which was promptly accepted. He left the regiment on July 30th, bringing the drapeau with him. That is the reason why the drapeau survived. Today the drapeau is preserved in Musée de L'Armée in Paris.

    So I hope we all learned alot in this threat.

    Gra30 likes this.
  12. ivopreda A Fixture

    Pierre Charriè on Drapeaux et Etendard de la revolution et de l'empire gave to the first grenadier guard two main possibilities for their flag..

    the two below solution are the "most" possible. for sure the guard didn't use the simplified flag for the line troops ( version without embroideries ) Slide1.JPG here attached the picture requested of the guard artillery flag conserved in Paris at museum de l'Armèe. In any case he description of the flags explain that the name of the capitals have to stay in the right side and the battles name on the other
    Gra30 likes this.
  13. TADATSUGU Guest

    Wonderful stuff guys!, I am happy at last!

    Gra30, I have also now found a comment by Philip Haythorntwaite referring to "some units" being issued with
    "a plainer type devoid of almost all decoration save lettering" (Weapons and Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars Published 1979) but he refers to the army as a whole, not the Garde specifically. I can't imagine Napoleon letting that happen to his Grumblers if the Horse Artillary got the flag shown in Ivo's post (which cannot be said to be simple in it's execution and shows fringes).
    Another couple of points also come to mind (and these are only my own thoughts).

    1) Brian Fosten also stated that the family of General Pelet donated the 1812 Fontainebleu standard to the Musee de l'Armee in 1927. This suggests that the family took very good care of it, and that, if used at Waterloo, Pelet must have managed to secret it away again after the battle for a second time. I know he was the unit commander but it hardley seems likely to me.
    2) As for damage to the flag. That Artillary flag looks prestine to me. I do not know where it would be held during the battle but the horse artillary presumably saw more action than the Ist grenadiers at Waterloo in supporting the Garde cavalry in the afternoon charges (?).
    I can very well see how the 1st Chasseurs flag , if they used it, may have received significant damage during the destruction of their square, but I remain unconvinced about the Grenadiers.

    I know that not everyone will agree but Marc and Ivo's post's resolve it for me.
    Marc's account casts some doubt as it states 8 new eagles which seems odd with other accounts of only six new flags.
    Ivo's picture, however proves the 1815 flag did exist, it shows the exact wording (assuming the same for the other regiments) and the complexity of its manufacture. It's the one for me.

    Only one remaining question. Were these blasted flags actually carried at Waterloo or just the eagles?
    Any thoughts Ivo?

    I'm pretty sure that horse artillry colours would not have been carried in battle, especially by an arm potentially used in a dispersed and mobile manner. That makes sense even if it is determined that infantry and cavalry did carry theirs. Giving it to the senior battery to carry around would be asking for trouble. The fact that it is pristine does not surprise me.

    Funky50 likes this.
  15. ivopreda A Fixture

    flags were rarely carried in battle, I don't think that the grenadiers have their inside theie square.

    But... the legend is better than reality
  16. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    Well, if more information has come to light then I have to go with that, and as I do regard Ivo as an expert in his field then I must go with him.
    As said before, my references were and say completely different. Now the question really is do I continue to produce the piece if people think it is wrong and doubt has been put on its accuracy, it has certainly taken some of the magic away for me as I researched the piece and it is my responsibility, maybe and in light of a recent person in Poland, I should withdraw the piece, I would welcome opinions.
  17. smudger1960 PlanetFigure Supporter

    Hi Graham,under no circumstances should you withdraw the figure,it's a beautiful piece of work and for me a beautiful piece with emotion,I can't believe its come down to this,I don't care how many experts there are,who can actually say what's right and wrong,it was 200yrs ago,the piece should stay and you should continue to produce it,this issue has all gone to people's heads,it's a Modeling forum for christs sake.
    I'll continue to support your products and this one,and I would buy it again if I had to,words fail me over this,I'm sitting here typing this message and I'm fuming,absolutely bloody ridiculous,all over a flag

    With all due respect that is very silly Gra. Don't fall into the perfectionist trap. We still really don't know what if any colour was carried, absent access to Dr Who's Tardis to check. I would reference you to the discussion of why historical accuracy is completely omitted from the balanced scorecard in the Chicago Open Awards system (available on the MMSI site). I think we need to read that more often. At least your bust doesn't have Tom Cruise's head :)

  19. ellie A Fixture

    Graham it's a great piece in it's own right to take it off the market would do you and carl a disservice it's a great bust and one that I think should be left to stand the test of time. I'm not a Napoleonic expert and it's not a period I'm into but I bought the bust because of it's artistic look and the story it told. I'm sure other people will feel the same way take it off the market people will still buy it for the art work it is. Well that's my thoughts on it mate it would be a sad day if you take it off the market.


    Ellie's Miniatures
    Gra30, ChaosCossack and megroot like this.
  20. megroot A Fixture

    Totally agree with Brian.
    It's a piece of work that every figurepainter must have........It is and ever will be one of the best Napoleontic time bust's I've seen.

    Gra30 and ChaosCossack like this.

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