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France: Regimental flags under the First Empire

Premier Empire

Last modified: 2002-01-18 by ivan sache
Keywords: first empire (france) | eagle (yellow) | thunderbolt (yellow) | bee | irish legion | legion irlandaise | harp | imperial guard | garde imperiale |
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Imperial Guard (Garde Impériale)

[Imperial Guard, reverse][Imperial Guard, obverse]reverse and obverse, by Tom Gregg

The 2nd Foot Grenadiers were raised in 1811, the regiment's cadre coming from the 1st Foot Grenadiers. Thus it was considered part of the Old Guard and bore on its color the same battle honors as the 1st Foot Grenadiers.
I have illustrated the 1812 pattern color, which was basically the same for the whole French Army: a square fringed silk Tricolor, 28 inches square, with the inscriptions enclosed by a frame of Imperial and regimental devices.

The color of the 1st Foot Grenadiers was identical except for the regimental number, and those of the 1st and 2nd Foot Chasseurs (also part of the Old Guard) were similar except for hunting horns in place of bursting grenades.

The drawings are based on an illustration in Liliane & Fred Funcken's book on uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars.

Tom Gregg, 4 March 2000

In Military Flags of the World 1618 - 1900 [wis77], these flags showed the accents on the E capital letters.

Stephan Hurford, 5 March 2000

I wonder if those accents are really displayed on the flag because, in French, accents should not be present on capital letters.

Pascal Gross, 6 March 2000

The illustration I used for reference showed no accents except for "REGIMENT" (on the first E) and on "A Pied" (on the A). No doubt there were numerous variations from whatever standard may have been laid down for inscriptions.

Tom Gregg, 6 March 2000

Irish Legion (Légion Irlandaise), 1803-1815

The Regiment received its own flag and an eagle. The flag bore on one side a large gold harp, with the motto: "L'INDEPENDANCE D'IRLANDE". On the other side was the inscription: "NAPOLEON EMPEREUR DES FRANCAIS A LA LEGION IRLANDAISE".

The Irish Regiment did not participate in the Waterloo campaign. Upon the return of Louis XVIII, the Regiment once again swore allegiance to the Bourbons. The royalists returned to Paris in a vengeful mood, however, and the Regiment was officially disbanded on 28 September 1815 at Montreuil-sur-mer. The Officers were discharged, although most desperately wished to remain on active duty. The non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the Irish Regiment, who did not request a discharge, were sent to Toulon where a Royal Foreign Regiment was being formed.
Finally, all regimental property containing imperial markings were ordered destroyed. As a result, the flags of the 2d and 3d Battalions were burned, and the Regimental Eagle destroyed.

Source: Napoleonic Alliance website, quoted by Phil Nelson, 25 July 1999

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