1858: Last Napoleonic Veterans

‘Photographs of veterans of Napoleon’s Grande Armée and the Guard wearing their original uniforms and insignia.  Likely date May 5, 1858 – all are wearing the Saint Helene medal, issued on August 12, 1857 to all veterans of the wars of the Revolution and the Empire. May 5 – the anniversary of the death of Napoleon. Every year on that date veterans gathered in Paris:

“‘The base and railings of the column of the Place Vendôme appear this day decked out with the annual offerings to the memory of the man whose statue adorns the summit. The display of garlands of immortelles, and other tributes of the kind, is greater than usual… the old soldiers of the Empire performed their usual homage yesterday at the same place.’

- Times May, 1855″

- Brown University Library

13 Responses

  1. AlainEtCo

    Quand on pense à la vie de ces hommes…

    Ils ont peut être fait Essling, Wagram, Moskova, Leipzig, Montmirail et…. Waterloo.

  2. James

    Those things are just for show. Its surprising how long it took for the Modern combat uniform to evolve. Then again back them most battles took place in open fields. So at least you could look good as you face death

  3. Marc

    That man Verlinde is Flemish. I must have his dossier here somewhere…

    • Peter Lagan

      I should imagine he was. The second Lancers were also known as the Dutch lancers

  4. Frederik

    Those are amazing.
    Fashion before function is gone now in the military I guess.
    I would love to see the garb of an ordinary infantry man from this time.

    • Peter Lagan

      The uniforms you see have only survived because they were for “Full Dress ” only they would not have been worn in action. At this point 1812-1815 the Grande Armee was poorly equipped and uniforms tended to be a slap dash affair with soldiers making do with any clothing they could find for use in the field


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