Troops on campaign

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ravenflight
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Troops on campaign

Post by ravenflight » Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:31 am

Hi All,

Just wondering about troops in campaign. Who decided if they were wearing greatcoats or not. I mean, would you have one guy in a battalion who was going into a fight and decided to wear his greatcoat, or would the entire battalion be ordered to wear greatcoats?

Sarmaticus
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Re: Troops on campaign

Post by Sarmaticus » Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:01 pm

Marbot gives the following account of Fuentes d'Onoro:
"Finally, to complete our disasters, our troops were thrown into disorder by a deplorable occurrence, which should have been foreseen. In Ferey's division there was a battalion of the Hanoverian legion in the French service. Their uniform was red, like the English, but they had the usual grey overcoat of the French soldier, and accordingly their commander, who had had several men killed by our people at Busaco, asked leave for his men to wear their greatcoats instead of rolling them up, as the order was. But general Loison replied that he must follow the order given to the whole corps."
Which would suggest that the order of dress was given at least by the corps commander (and the translation at least might suggest that the order was given to the corps from higher up - Massena in this case - which might be why Loison wouldn't make an exception).
So I'd say it was unlikely one guy could decide to wear his greatcoat into battle (unless that was all he had to wear). That sort of individuality was frowned upon in most armies.

ravenflight
Brigadier-General - 15 cm Nblwf 41
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Re: Troops on campaign

Post by ravenflight » Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:58 pm

Sarmaticus wrote:Marbot gives the following account of Fuentes d'Onoro:
"Finally, to complete our disasters, our troops were thrown into disorder by a deplorable occurrence, which should have been foreseen. In Ferey's division there was a battalion of the Hanoverian legion in the French service. Their uniform was red, like the English, but they had the usual grey overcoat of the French soldier, and accordingly their commander, who had had several men killed by our people at Busaco, asked leave for his men to wear their greatcoats instead of rolling them up, as the order was. But general Loison replied that he must follow the order given to the whole corps."
Which would suggest that the order of dress was given at least by the corps commander (and the translation at least might suggest that the order was given to the corps from higher up - Massena in this case - which might be why Loison wouldn't make an exception).
So I'd say it was unlikely one guy could decide to wear his greatcoat into battle (unless that was all he had to wear). That sort of individuality was frowned upon in most armies.
Brilliant. Thanks for that. I kinda thought that would be the case, but wanted to be sure.

Sarmaticus
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Re: Troops on campaign

Post by Sarmaticus » Sat Jul 19, 2014 4:46 pm

P.s. Marbot returns to this theme in his summing up of Massena's conduct in the Peninsula:
"Next was the fatal mistake occasioned by the red coats of the Hanoverians. As the same had already happened at Busaco, Massena should have made them wear their grey overcoats before sending them into Onoro to fight the English. By this amount of foresight, he would have retained the whole village; as it was, we lost the upper part, and could not retake it."
Which seems to confirm that the order of dress was Massena's.

hazelbark
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Re: Troops on campaign

Post by hazelbark » Fri Aug 15, 2014 6:57 pm

Several first hand diarist talk about in the morning of a battle putting on their finest and brushing out the dust and preparing to fight in all their uniformed splendor.

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