Black Powder, Napoleonic Wars 1789-1815

Napoleonic French Imperial Guard Head of Column

March to war with a rousing tune of victory from the Napoleonic French Imperial Guard Head of Column.

Napoleonic French Imperial Guard Head of Column
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The regimental music was divided into two sections: the Band and the Corps of Drums. Under the Chef de Musique (Bandmaster) the Tambour Major (Drum Major) led the Drums and the Band, while the Tambour Maitre (Sergeant Drummer) was responsible for the discipline of the Drums, which he led on those occasions when this section paraded alone. Both the Drum Major and the Sergeant Drummer carried the mace or baton.

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Imperial Guard Regimental Sappers

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On the march, the Drum Major led the Crops of Drums (on the left flank of which marched the Sergeant Drummer) and the Regimental Sappers, followed by the Band. On parade, the Band took the position on the right of the Regiment.

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Imperial Guard Corps of Drums

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Until the regulations of 1812 fixed the uniform as green with Imperial Livery lace, the dress of the musicians was extremely fanciful, often bearing no relationship to the rest of the regiment, especially in the infantry. The Cavalry, with more restraint, used the dress of the trumpeters, sometimes with a change of headdress-bicorne hat, busby or fur bonnet.

The dark blue worn by the French Army of this period was not quite as dark as the British army blue, while the brass used was of a distinctly coppery tinge.

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Imperial Guard Band

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The regiments maintained a band composed of specially engaged musicians, the numbers of which were fixed by regulation at 7, plus the Bandmaster, but this figure was exceeded by the Corps in a quite remarkable fashion (up to as many as 40 musicians, but on average 20).

The band was formed in three ranks: the first comprised the “Turkish” style percussion: Jingling Johnnie, bass drum, side drum, cymbals and triangle; the 2nd, the woodwinds: clarinets, flutes, oboes and bassoons; in the 3rd rank was the “brass”: serpents, trombones and horns.

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Imperial Guard Drum Major Senot

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Completing the Head of Column comes the Bandmaster. He had the rank of Sergeant Major, with the same uniform as the musicians, two gold lace stripes diagonally above each cuff.

Time to parade for Napoleon himself!

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Dan Hewitson
Dan can often be found contemplating the mound of unpainted minis building up under his desk. He has a tendency to roll lots of ones. He also has a tendency to complain about rolling lots of ones.