Uniform Guide: 7eme du Hussards 1815

I'm not maintaining that this post is a definitive reference point for the uniforms of this regiment. I'm really just a painter of miniatures who wanted to know how to paint this fabulous regiment of hussars. There appears some contradictory information out there from the colour of shako to the dolman for 1815 which is very confounding. It remains frustrating how unhelpful individual books and guides can be and my recent purchase and greatest hope from Andre Jouineau's Histoire & Collections (French Hussars 2. From the 1st to the 8th Regiment) stops short at 1812 and there is no other edition I can identify in English or French to plug the gap. Sacre Bleu! This article is about what I found which informed my choices of representation. I hope it may prove useful for others.

My figures are all Perry's French Hussars - my second foray into plastics for 28mm. Helpfully, they come with a painting guide but like this posting, it is only a guide. For the 1815 campaign dress, they have elected to refer to the green shako, blue dolman and red overalls. Being more inquisitive, I decided to check the choices and regrettably for me, their representation is not definitive. I'm going to first concentrate on the main points of divergence.

DOLMAN & PELISE (blue for colonel and green other ranks)
I am assuming the dolman will largely be reflected in the pelisse also. In most depictions, the dolman for this period (when represented) is referred to as green, rather than blue. Philip J. Haythornthwaite maintains in his Uniforms of Waterloo (Blanford Press, 1974) that both dolman and pelisse were green. Similarly, John Rafferty's Painting Guide to Napoleonics Part Four: French Line Hussars and Chasseurs (Active Service Press) has them as dark green - though this is a simplified guide and does not delineate through our period. Clive Palmer's illustration of a 7th hussar trooper depicts a green pelisse worn as a jacket in Mark Adkin's Waterloo Companion (Aurum Press 2001) who perhaps conversely maintains (pp 245) the 7th dolman was blue. The dolman is not visible in Palmer's illustration but there may be a conclusion to be drawn that they believed the dolman was blue but the pelisse to be green? I rate Adkin as a suspect source as he also has the overalls in blue - clearly contrary to any other source and Palmer's illustration. Bukhari & McBride's Napoleon's Hussars (Osprey Men-At-Arms 76) have the dolman and pelisse dark green in their leading reference table but do not specify any time period.
Marbot's shako, pelise & dolman
A cautionary note is the difference between dark green and dark blue is not great and may have led to confusion in general. The actual dolman purported to be that of the commanding officer, Colonel Marbot, appears to be (to me) dark blue with grey fur trim. It is housed at the Musée de l’Armée and can be seen on-line at the website Waterloo 200. Confusingly, the text accompanying the image claims the dolman and pelisse to be dark green - I can assure you that I do not suffer colour blindness but there can be curious anomalies in even digital photography and dark green and dark blue may be confused.
Due to the long standing adoption of dark green for previous campaigns and because it is cited in the majority of references, I have elected to represent my rank and file in the dark green dolman and pelisse. Due to the habit of officers to differentiate themselves from their troopers, my Marbot will have his dolman and pelisse blue. For me, this will be the best fit against what might otherwise be seen as contradictory evidence.
The collar and cuffs for all are red and the lace yellow for other ranks and gold for officers. The buttons are gold for the officer pelisse and dolman and likely brass for troopers. The pelisse is trimmed with grey fur for the colonel and black for other ranks. Jouineau has the pelisse lined white (sheepskin).

GILET (VEST) (Red with yellow/gold lace)
The sleeveless gilet vest or waist coat is rarely seen, being worn beneath the dolman but is shown scarlet (bright red) in all depictions for all ranks including Marbot's surviving gilet.

Again, much inconsistency with the overall trousers of the 7eme. Perry's and many images have the trouser in red with a yellow stripe. Haythornthwaite has it in green and as a general principle it is usually consistent that French hussar regiments overall trousers matched the dolman and pelisse which the name 'overall' usually suggests. Whilst Adkin departs from everyone with the blue reference, Palmer's illustration has it in green with a red stripe and presumably brass buttons. Whilst sometimes green, grey, blue or even red, Bukhari & McBride refer to the 1812 regulation green overall trousers. They also cite breeches (differing from overall trousers) as scarlet - which is universally applied in all references and illustrations (thank goodness). McBride has illustrated Brigadier-fourrier in green trousers with red stripe for 1807-8. Nevertheless, the sheepskin leather inside reinforced lining and cuffs of overalls were often tailored to imitate the traditional Hungarian breeches and boots and it seems reasonable to imagine the trousers would have been in red also.  So, I will have both red (with yellow/gold stripe) and green (with red stripe) throughout my unit to represent retention of previous issue. 
Leather lining, cuffs and shoes and boots were always black and stirrups steel with nickle or silver plate for officers.

SHAKO (green) and COLPACK (black with red bag)
There appears to be little dispute that the last iteration of the hussar shako - the rouleau shako - was green, but the shade is often referred to a light green. This design of shako was not apparently ever regulation issue but immensely popular from 1812. Marbot's rouleau shako is green but much faded no doubt from use in all weathers and for being over 200 years old which may be the source for this reference. I am inclined to think that a richer mid-green is more likely for the bold uniform of a hussar but still lighter than the dark green dolman and pelisse.
At its centre is the tricolour cockade with yellow/gold lace from the cockade to the pom-pom. The pom-poms were red for the first squadron (sometimes also plumes), green for the second and blue for the third as pictured above as per the 1812 regulations onwards. Several on-line pictorial references have curious yellow or white pom-poms which I am dismissing as inaccurate but Marbot's is gold. The 7eme fielded only three squadrons at Waterloo. The top band is in regimental lace (sometimes shown as black leather reinforcement) with a double band and scrolled lace work on the Colonel's. The back of the shako had black leather reinforcement. The chin scales are brass.
Not the 7eme but the 5eme - note pom-pom.
It appears the elite company of the first squadron retained their black fur colpacks with red bags and regimental lace. Whilst I accept that shakos and colpacks may have had oilskins for the wet season and on campaign in general, I do not believe men went into battle in anything less than their most magnificent kit unless belting down with rain at the time. The colpacks by 1815 may have retained their plumes for parade (red) but I believe they are more likely to have retained the solid red pop-pom in the field such as depicted in Knotel's 1812 example (above). As such, I am pruning the Perry plastic plume back to its pom-pom for my hussars.

Belts and straps were all white buffalo hide for troopers with black leather cartridge box. Officer cartridge belts and straps were red with gold edging and I opt for red leather cartridge box seen below (reproduction) but with gold options. This image was taken from the Empire Costumes site and I defer to their sources being better than mine.
Scabbards were steel, swords were steel-bladed, brass handled and black gripped. Buckles were brass. Scabbards might be brass with a black mid-section for officers and trumpeters.
Barrel sashes were all broad banded red and yellow affairs.

By 1815 more decorative versions had all but given way to simple black leather carriers with a simple brass eagle and the regimental number 7 beneath it. Given the foul weather of the previous day, I will depict some with their plain black oilskin covers. Officers may have had the more decorative wreathed versions in gold, bordered gold on green by 1815. Trumpeters carried reverse sabretache colours (red). 
The 7eme Hussars definitely took their gold plated Eagle on campaign for Waterloo as per Napoleon's orders. Curiously, their Eagle for the return of the Emperor was that of the old 23rd Chasseurs a Cheval which was previously commanded by their Colonel Marbot who seems to have retained it. According to Wise & Rosignoli Flags of the Napoleonic Wars (1) (Osprey Men-At-Arms 77) they were mounted on a blue staff as before and beneath flew the square tricolour standards (not a guidon) with gold chords and blue cravat.
The standard measured 55cm square with comparatively paler blue and red fields than the 1812 issue. Like all cavalry standards theirs was bordered on all edges with a gold fringes and a single row of gold laurel leaves. The obverse side bore the gold lettering (on black cloth, sewn onto the silk): L'EMPEREUR/NAPOLEON/AU 7eme REGIMENT/DE HUSSARDS. The reverse bore the battle honours: JENA/EYLAU/FRIEDLAND/WAGRAM.
PORTE-AIGLE (flag bearer)
This honour was assigned to a Lieutenant of the Elite Company from the first squadron with at least ten years service. In keeping with my approach to the colpacks, my Porte-Aigle will wear overall trousers but in red (scarlet) and a colpack with pom-pom but no plume. His mount will have an officer shabraque.
Not the 7eme: note elite co. porte-aigle on a trooper shabraque. The 7eme would be with colpacks.

Add caption
For the uninitiated, the only real explanation required after the attached image is perhaps that a Marechal des Logis is a sergeant and the ranks progress from top left, reading down from left to middle to right columns. Lace is regimental.
Years of service were also indicated by red woolen chevrons fixed to the upper left sleeve of the dolman and pelisse as follows: 1 for ten years, 2 for fifteen years and 3 for twenty years service.  The image is taken from the very useful napoleon-series website:

1809 7eme trumpeter: reverse dolman and vandykes
The shabraques, consistent with most French cavalry were sheepskin for rank and file (black for trumpeters and white for all others) and a cloth for officers which for a change is universally referred to and depicted green. The plain regimental cloth officer shabraque is regulation and bore the number of the regiment in the corners but senior officers preferred the leopard skin. The vandykes on the other ranks shabraque; however, are shown sometimes green, sometimes red and blue when presenting the regiment in that colour.  Bukhari & McBride have it that the 'scallops' (vandykes) were in the regimental colour - so for me that's green with perhaps red (reverse) for trumpeters.
The Hungarian bridle was black leather and is universally depicted as such but the portmanteau straps are 'natural leather' or brown. The stirrup leathers are either depicted black or brown, white by Jouineau and red for officers. The saddle and pistol cups, pouches and straps concealed beneath the shabraque were brown or natural leather. It is likely the girth strap and others may also have been and so I opt for the brown leather stirrup straps also. As a separate harness array, the black bridle should not necessarily dictate the other harness. Note that Jouineau has all harness as black. Most buckles and fixtures were white metal and copper - akin to brass in appearance. The bit was steel.
The portmanteau was in the regimental colour (green for me) with lace border at the ends and the regimental number centre also in regimental lace.

Knotel for 1810: note old plumed shako
Depicted by Knotel (for 1810) and others wearing reverse colours, showing red dolman and pelisse with green cuffs and collar and black fur trim. If modelled, a regular company trumpeter may have a plume which after 1810 was green over red. In some examples, regimental lace is retained. I'm representing two trumpeters across my three squadrons: one elite company and the other regular. Whilst the trumpeter's colpack appears in black more often, Richard Knotel has one impression in white with red bag for 1811. There appears room for much speculation here. As already discussed, sheepskins are black with reverse (red) vandykes.
Elsewhere I have found on-line depictions of a regular company trumpeter with imperial lace in regular regimental dress with shako and no plume (see right). It appears consistent with the artwork from Andre Jouineau's Histoire and Collections publications but I can't guess which one it could be or I'd have it already. Referring to Rigo (for 1809) Jouineau has an elite company hussar with colpack (black) with reversed colour bag (green). The portmanteau was in reverse colour (red). Trumpet chords were green and yellow for imperial livery but otherwise have been depicted throughout the Napoleonic wars as red, green, gold or yellow and red. I have yet to decide on my choice but will most likely adhere to imperial for line company and yellow and red for the elite company trumpeter. The agony of choice.

Trumpeters as was normal in French cavalry service were mounted on greys and aside from regimental affectations, the remainder of the regiment were mounted more variously on everything from champagnes to duns, from bays to black.


  1. Hello,

    I don't know if you have it yet, but Histoire & Collections 9, as well as covering the 9th to 14th Regiments from 1804 - 1812, also covers all the regiments for the Hundred Days.

    your picture for the 7th Hussars trumpeter is on P69 (The 7th Hussars at Waterloo, 1815). Regarding the blue/green issue, quite a few of the cavalry illustrations in Rousselot's 'Napoleon's Army show jackets with a marked blue tone.

    Hope this helps,

  2. S Carroll - thanks very much and NO ... I had no notion that the other Histoire & Collections issue covered 1815. How maddening. Still, all references are good references. AND me half way through painting my unit. I'm ordering it now.

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  4. The green pigments of the uniforms age badly in the sun and turn blue. This is a recurring problem well known to museum curators. This is the reason why paintings are never hope directly in the sunlight.
    The coat and dolman of the 7°hussard are imperial green, the shako roll carried in 1815 is covered with light green cloth.


    1. Yes, some knowledge of period dyestuffs goes a long way in these cases. The yellow dyes (needed to combine with blue to create most greens) of the time were notoriously weak in light fastness and wash fastness. Field-worn clothing would have changed color in just a matter of months. The yellow fading out in a green turns it blue-ish. Napoleon's chasseur tunic at the West Point museum has the same issue. Even though the display case (last time I saw it) was a very low light housing, the tunic appeared quite blue. The aurore facings however were still dark orange.


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