French Infantry Junior Officer sword 1800 from the Napoleon Army

This sword was carried by a French Infantry officers serving in the Grenadier, Voltigeur, Carabinier or Chasseur a pied from Napoleon's infantry.

It is known as the "1800 Officer Infantry Pattern" even through it has never been an official pattern as officers did buy swords of their own.

While they varied somewhat in pattern, this particular example is one of the more elegant with a simple Stirrup "D" hilt.

17th French Light Infantry Officer with a 1800 pattern sword carried
 on a shoulder belt by A Yejov ©

Grenadier Offcier of the 6th Line Infantry Polish Regiment leading his men with a 1800 pattern sword during the battle of Raszyn in 1909 ny AF Telenik ©

© SabresEmpire

Officer of the 7 Th Light infantry carrying his sword on a shoulder belt at the battle of Rastibon the 23 April 1809 by by Charles Thévenin

This Officer pattern  has never been an official one, but has been very popular throughout the battlefields of the Napoleonic era.

This pattern appeared around 1800 and often takes the name of Infantry 1800 pattern.

The hilt has a D guard shape with a  finely cast pommel (known in French as Cote de Melon).

© SabresEmpire

It has a quadrangular wooden handle, ebony style, the quillon of the main branch is bent in a double ridged button.

The D guard style is at right angle with the quillon. It has at its center a large oblong pearl.

The Solingen blade is curved, 71 cm long with engraved laurels and trophies, with remaining of gilding and blueing.

Even the scabbard shows attention to detail with engraved lines on the brass mountings.

Line Infantry Officier Grenadier Cie by Leroux ©

The scabbard seam is gone; originally it was sewed with a 4 strands unbleached string then was waxed in black leather polish.

Although not uncommon to find, these swords are not to be despised because they are the humble beautiful witnesses of the Imperial glory throughout the battlefields, this sword has a soul.

Carabiniers from the 7Th Light Infantry after 1812 by AF Telenik ©

For sure the young French Lieutenant when he was unsheathing his blue and engraved blade was becoming a rallying man for the troops.

These officers Infantry swords were carried by junior officers trying to copy the grenadiers officers ... who themselves were copying the Light Infantry officers …according to the light cavalry fashion after the Egyptian campaign…and the use of Mameluk sword  (see our model displayed)... they loved curved sword ... contrary to the fusilier preferring straight blade carried with a frog belt!

Wounded 3Th Swiss Regiment of the Grande Armée Voltigeur Officer with a 1800 sword
 Pattern along a Voltigeur, Grenadier and Officier Grenadier

This sword was carried by officers on frog belt or with a shoulder belt, which was more convenient during long walks with their men.

The chasseur and voltigeur officers did like to carry their sword with a shoulder belt proper for their skirmishing missions.

Fusilier company...Forward!!!

It is a small sword for a young lieutenant freshly nominated from the ranks, since the sword is not ostentatious as the models carried by posh and wealthy officer from the Officer graduation schools or with aristocratic background.

But for sure that young officer got the best sword that he could afford with his money.

Officer nominated from the ranks got a lump sum from the French Army to buy his full kit…including the sword.

By Circular 6 Frimaire Year XII is said:

Ligne Infantry Officer With sword
on shoulder belt by Leroux ©

" A government decree ordered that the NCOs who will be promoted from the rank to the officer rank of lieutenant, after five years of service, will get a welcome bonus of 3oo francs for clothing uniform, equipment and weapons.

The First Consul decided that these effects, instead of being provided … would be paid in cash by the board, and the amount to be awarded will be determined as follows:

 - Line Infantry 250 fr
 - Light Infantry 270 fr.

With this lump sum, the lieutenant will have to buy coat, jacket, pants, boots, belt and shoulder belt… plus a sword or saber.”

Our young officer has bought a very simple but beautiful and elegant sword with its limited lump sum to ensure a proper decorum to his newly officer role.

Throughout their career, officers will face death ... statistically the risk were higher during the campaign in Spain, Russia ... especially during the retreat and finally in 1813.

Buth the majority of discharges and death were due to disease, rather than battle casualties.

The probability of dying in battle was higher than 15 %, a figure slightly higher for Infantry officers, with a high probability of falling under the bullets, canon balls, canisters ... rather than from a sword fatal cut.

Infantry formed the backbone of the Grande Armée.

The infantrymen were the easiest to train and the cheapest to equipt when cavalry especially the Cuirassier were very expensive and artillery even more costly, with a training even more complicated than for the cavalry or infantry.

The French infantry was the most numerous infantry in the World circa 1810, the Grande Armée relied heavily on conscription.

Conscription originated during the 1789 French Revolution, when the nation needed stronger military forces, initially to defend France against counter-revolutionary invasion and then to expand its ideas throughout Europe.

In 1808 Napoleon ordered the organization of war battalion to be changed from 9 to 6 companies (1 grenadier, 4 fusilier, and 1 voltigeur).

The new companies were larger and numbered around 140 men each.

The new battalions were 840 men.

Voltaire wrote… “God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.”

Infantry fought by battalion, the battalion being its basic tactical unit and the unit by which generals of that period reckoned the strength of their infantry and even their army.

In cavalry it was squadron and in artillery…batteries.

Infantry was using the  'Charleville' musket model 1777 (AN IX) with an overall length 151.5 cm, (barrel length 114 cm), improvements were made in musket designed in the 'Year XIII' (1805).

The Infantryman was also equipped with a white leather belt, over the left shoulder to support the cartridge box on the right hip and a white leather shoulder belt to support the infantry saber or briquet!...for the elite with a X white belts it was easy to spot them!

Officer from the Guard

In order to fire his musket it has to:

- opened his priming pan…the”bassinet”
- plucked a cartridge from his “giberne” (ammunition bag)
- bit off the tip of the cartridge containing the powder charge
- primed his musket by squeezing some powder into the pan
- closed the bassinet
- emptied the rest of the powder down his musket barrel
- rammed the rest of the cartridge down on top of it, 
using his iron ramrod (the cartridge paper served as wadding
to keep powder and ball in place)
- then he cocked his musket and was ready to shoot!

He could shoot 2 to 3 bullets a minute, the musket miss-firing once out of 15 shots, depending on weather conditions.

The shooting was precise up to 70 meters…but could kill with a range of  300 to 400 meters.

At 70 meters he was aiming at the torso…at 150 meters at the head…and at 300 meters he was aiming for the top of the shako.

The smoke was sometimes so dense that the infantrymen 
could hardly distinguish friends from foes. 

There were two types of french infantry, line and light.

Both were able to execute all maneuvers, including skirmishing, they were using the same musket the Charleville model 1777.

French Infantry Uniforms colours

The light infantryman, however, was more intensively trained in marksmanship and in executing all maneuvers in higher speed.

The big difference was on the elite companies used for skirmishing and reconnaissance.

Voltigeur French Light Infantry 
Each field battalion had only one grenadier company (carabinier in light infantry). They were the elite shock troop often used as spearhead of attacking force. They were also granted a higher pay...they were on the right of the battalion...

On the left...The voltigeurs...they were a new branch of infantry and were introduced by Napoleon in 1803...usually the smallest men with hight military skills.

Each field battalion had only 1 grenadier (carabinier in Light Infantry) and 1 voltigeur company, the remaining 4-8 companies were made of fusiliers (chasseurs in light infantry)...they occupied the center of battalion line.

Line Infantry coats were blue with white lapels and turnbacks. Lapels and turnbacks were piped red.

Collars and cuffs were red with white piping.

Before 1812, the infantry coat had long tails then the coat tails were shortened.

Carabinier 1th Light Infantry by Leroux ©

Grenadier wore basically the same coat with red epaulettes and red plumet on the bearskin.

Carabinier from the
 Light Infantry

Voltigeurs had yellow collars and green/yellow epaulettes and plumet on the shako.

Soldiers did wear white breeches with above knee black gaiters...after 1812, the gaiters were shortened to below the knee.

The light Infantry did wear blue breeches.

In Light Infantry...the equivalent of the Grenadiers were called Carabiniers...they did wear as the grenadier a bearskin with red plumet and red epaulettes.

The voltigeurs of the Light Infantry has a plumet yellow and red with same colours on the shoulder straps.

Until 1806...the french infantry had a black felt bicorne...then in 1806 it was replaced by the black shako.

The shako had a brass diamond plate in front..changed in 1812 with a brass eagle above a semicircle...with the number of its regiment.

The shako had a coloured "ponpon": green, sky blue, orange and violet for fusiliers!
Grenadiers from the Line Infantry