As mentioned before, French Napoleonic infantry regiment would normally have two flank companies: one made up by their best skirmishers, and one made up by their tallest, hardiest men. The latter were called Grenadiers for line infantry, and Carabiniers for light infantry. This is not at all confusing, as there were also Carabiniers à Cheval, heavy cavalry actually equipped with carbines (when they were not using Dragoon muskets), unlike the carabiniers on foot, who did not use carbines. Napoleonics, ladies and gentlemen! :)
Either way, the carabiniers and grenadiers were chosen for height, experience, and reputation as good soldiers. Some other countries ended up pooling their grenadiers together into big formations, but the French kept theirs together with their respective regiment. They were expected to get stuck in where the fighting was the hardest, and in exchange they got better salaries and were allowed special attributes that showed their higher status such as sabres, bearskin hats, moustaches and red epaulettes.
I knew pretty early on that I wanted both line infantry and light infantry for my French force. The light infantry will be collected "backwards", starting with the elite carabiniers, after which I plan to get another box of Perry infantry to paint as centre company soldiers, which were called Chasseurs. If I get carried away (I will) I'll add the skirmishing company, which were called Voltigeurs just like in the line infantry, because hey why try to maintain some kind of logic here.
These first couple of Carabiniers are from Front Rank, including command: a sapeur (engineer), a drummer, an officer and an NCO. These miniatures have uniforms from an earlier period, and more of a parade dress than one worn in harsh campaign weather. Notice the huge bearskin hats, which were gradually abandoned as they were expensive, and plumes. The campaign in Russia is kind of a breaking point in French uniforms, and even though the 1812 regulations would replace the bearskins completely for shakos, they were common enough in Russia. Since they make the unit stand out a lot, I chose to go with the bearskins. I also decided to make these elite units tidier and better dressed than the center companies, to make the distinction as visible as possible on the tabletop. With blue uniforms and not a greatcoat in sight, they really stick out next to the units I painted up before.
I had quite some trouble finding out the proper way to paint the various details like shako chords and boot trimmings. I felt like every time I found a reference picture, it would be slightly different! Then it turns out that it was, indeed, that each regiment could have their slight variation. I decided to not worry about researching an actual regiment, and settled for painting all those details red.
After you've spent some time on your army, chances are that you know more about what you what you want to assemble. When I started collecting my French, I imagined a small core of line infantry, and then a cavalry contingent consisting of Dragoons. Now, those plans have been radically altered. While we stick to the campaign in Russia 1812 there are more troop types on my to-do list, and I'm already looking at getting my first allies. The invasion was very much an international affair, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers from other countries, and I'd like to represent at least a little bit of that.
When I'm planning and collecting I find that I easily lose track of things, especially since most of my painted miniatures are stored at our club. I made a simple graphic guide for myself, which I fill in as I paint. This way I can make sure I get the right miniatures, don't miss out on officer models, and also keep track of how far I've come with the project.
French Invasion Force
Squares are 8 models or a cannon with crew, circles are NCO's, and stars are officers.
Between the Warlord Games winter sprue sale and a big order from Great Escape Games, I have more or less all of these miniatures on the ol' lead/plastic pile now. Progress on painting the infantry is actually going along better than I expected, and except for the Austrians it's a matter of bulking out existing units. No, my main worry is all those big white squares filled with magnificient horses...
(There might be more Hussars actually.)
(Like, definitely more Hussars.)
"Glory is fleeting,