Sunday, 17 October 2010

" escrime à la baionnette"

Some Chasseur images from André... thanks!

They are " escrime à la baionnette" from the 1845 "Ordonnance sur les exercices et les manoeuvres des chasseurs d'Orléans".
Also from the same manual, the graph showing a chasseur bataillon in full battle order, with the positions of the clairons, officers, etc.


  1. Paddy Griffith, in his Military Thought in the French Army, 1815-51 explains that the French army’s enthusiasm for bayonet fencing in this period was a facet of a general preoccupation with physical fitness, as were the fashions for gymnastics and fencing with swords. He writes…"the Infantry - despite prolific evidence that it was scarcely ever used in battle - started to train in fencing with the bayonet….The method used by the Chasseurs à Pied was perhaps the least complicated and with the cachet of that corps behind it, it was found to be growing steadily in popularity".

  2. Hi Charles,
    I also read that one ( not a cheap one to buy !); it is very interesting and studies many subjects not covered elswhere but it is somewhat heavy to read and is maybe a bit "esoteric" at times while being not very "pedagogic".
    A new book published this year does fruitfully complement Paddy Griffith's work: L'Armée du Second Empire by Henri Ortholan ( a colonel in the French army and a former curator of the Musée de l'Armée). Unlike Paddy's work, this book is clarity itself !
    Louis Delpérier is also preparing a new book on the same subject, but with his specific approach centered on arms and uniforms.

  3. André

    I am glad you found Paddy Griffith’s book interesting. Given the nature of its subject matter and that it is based on his University doctoral thesis, I myself think it is remarkably readable. There are not many books in English on the French army of the nineteenth century. In any event, Paddy Griffith’s sudden and premature death was a sad loss to British military historical scholarship.

    I have just bought Colonel Ortholan’s book on the army of the Second Empire and I look forward to reading it. I enjoyed his two books L’Armée de la Loire and L’Armée de l’Est.

    I have been enjoying Louis Delperier’s books and articles for about 35 years. He has almost single handedly made a huge contribution to our knowledge of the uniforms of the Second Empire.


  4. L.Delpérier is reading on a new book with Bertrand Malvaux, following those upon the Imperial Guard and light calvalry (essential!!!) twi books will arrivede in 2012-13, African army and infantry !! i'm waiting for!!!

    We use to practise "escrime à la baionette" in our civil war group with Andfon (with the same regulation!!), it's very hard and a bit ridiculous !! But funny and very popular for public demonstrations!!

  5. Hi

    I am the founder of a reenactment group Voltigeurs de la Garde for the Crimean Period and also an author writing on the French Crimean Army. The whole physical fitness element in the French army was due to the adoption in 1852 of a new set of drill instructions for the entire French infantry developed by General Lourmel which had all the French infantry trained as Chasseurs a Pied. A survey was carried out of French infantry battalions and found most senior NCOs were over 40(!) and half of the officers were either too old to fat or too ill to be able to do the Chasseur style drill. Hence the establishmentin June 1852 of a School of MIlitary Fitness at Vincennes to get the army fit. The French army had been looking at the fitness of its soldiers since the late 1810s- General Duhesme in 1814 called for Light INfantry and Cavalry to be phyiscally fit to do their job and in the 1820s Gen. Morand came to the staggeringly obvious conclusion that fitter soldiers were healthier, could march further and have a higher battle field survival rate. The fact that he had to say so suggests no one thought about that...

    Paddy Griffith is sadly incorrect in stating that the French 1831 Ordnance had little in it for Light Infantry - I have a copy of the ordnance and it makes it quite clear that entire infantry battalions were trained to operate "en tirailleur" according to the new codified orders in the 1831 ordnance. They are massively similar to those developed by Gen Morand and Marshal Davour in 1811 for 1st Corps.

    I have a series of books on the French Army in the Crimean War coming out soon. First is the Infantry this year followed by Cavalry and then Artillery, Engineers and Support Services.