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Uniforms Of France

UNIFORMS OF FRANCE The Revolutionary simplification of the varied uniforms of the Ancien Regime has endured to the present day. Even in the various waves of flamboyant military fashions they have remained simple in the sense that all troops of an arm or branch were dressed practically alike, with none of the regimental differences that England, deferring to tradition, and Germany, systematizing the ordre de bataille to the last detail, preserved and introduced.

The line infantry wears a single-breasted blue tunic with red collar, a small red flap on the cuff, red epaulettes and gold buttons. The number of the regiment appears on a blue collar patch. The cap is a madder-red kepi, with blue band, brass grenade, tricolour cockade and a ball. The trousers are loose, madder-red, and worn either with shoes and gaiters or with high ankle boots. The men usually march in the blue double-breasted greatcoat, under which is worn the plain veste (Plate III., line 2, No. l). With this is worn a kepi without ornaments and having the number in front. The officers wear a tunic of a different blue, almost black; otherwise, except for rank badges, it is similar to the men's; epaulettes and braid, gold. The officers' full dress kdpi has a golden ball and the trousers have a black stripe (Plate III., line I, No. l).

The chasseur battalions (Plate III., line 2, No. 2) wear the same pattern of tunic as the line, but the collar and cuffs are self-coloured, the epaulettes green, the trousers grey-blue with yellow piping, kepidarkbluewithyellowedgingsand green ball, buttons, etc., silver. Chasseur officers are dressed as the men (with the usual officer's blue-black tunic), but have a drooping green plume. The Alpine battalions wear a plain dark blue jumper and soft cap (beret) or tamo'-shanter. Under the jumper, which is usually half-open, they wear a light blue shawl round the waist. The trousers are wide, dark blue knickerbockers, and puttees are worn with them.

The Zouaves (Plate III., line I , No. 8) wear dark blue red-trimmed jackets and waistcoats, with a light blue cummerbund, baggy red trousers with blue piping and <jark blue or white spats. The headdress is a red tasselled cap (chechia). The " false pockets " round which the braid circles on the front of the jacket are red for the ist, white for the 2nd, yellow for the 3rd and blue for the 4th Zouaves. Zouave officers have the ordinary officer's tunic, with blue-black collar and gold ornaments, but wear it unbuttoned (showing a red cummerbund) and without epaulettes. The cuff is pointed and slit almost to the elbow, the edges of the slit being gold laced according to rank and having a scarlet lining. Only the service kepi is worn. The red trousers have the usual black stripe, and are cut very wide.

The Turcos are dressed similarly to the Zouaves, but with light blue jackets and waistcoats, light blue or white trousers, red cummer- bund and yellow braid ; the four regiments are distinguished among themselves in the same way as the four Zouave units. Their officers have a light blue tunic with yellow collar, Zouave cuff, red trousers with light blue stripe; kepi red, with light blue band.

The Foreign Legion is dressed as line infantry, with certain minor distinctions. The colonial (formerly marine) infantry wears a double-breasted tunic with gold buttons, blue grey trousers and dark blue kepi with red piping, plain collar and cuffs. The full dress cap badge is an anchor.

Cavalry. Cuirassiers (Plate III., line I, No. 3) wear dark blue tunics with red collars and cuff-flaps, silver ornaments and steel cuirasses, steel helmet with brass ornaments, black horsehair tail, red " shaving-brush " at the front of this tail and another shavingbrush, of colour varying with the squadron, etc., on the left side of the helmet. The trousers are red (officers with dark blue stripes, men with blue piping). The number is borne on a blue collar patch. The officers wear silver, the men red, epaulettes. Undress cap as infantry, silver-laced for officers.

Dragoons wear blue tunics (the black-braided " dolman, " shown on Plate III., line I, No. 6, is gradually passing out of the service) with white collars and cuff-flaps, silver buttons, etc., helmet as for cuirassiers, but without the " shaving-brush " at the front of the horsehair tail, trousers red with dark blue stripe. The men wear shoulder-cords instead of epaulettes, and the officers only wear their silver epaulettes on ceremonial duties. The number appears on a blue collar patch. Undress cap as for cuirassiers.

Chasseurs & cheval (Plate III., line I, No. 7) wear a light blue tunic or dolman (the latter black-braided) with silver buttons, red collars and cuff-flaps. The trousers are red with light blue piping (two broad and one narrow light blue stripes between for officers). The full dress head-dress is a light blue shako, with dark green plume in full dress, coloured ball in other orders. The badge on the shako is a brass bugle. The kepi is red with light blue band and piping (silver braid for officers). Number on the collar.

Hussars are dressed as chasseurs a cheval, but with white braiding on the dolman instead of black, and self-coloured collar. The badge on the shako is an Austrian knot.

The Chasseurs d' Afrique wear the half-open veste, which is light blue with yellow collar and edgings. The cuff is slit in the Zouave style, the visible lining being yellow. A red cummerbund is worn. The shako is almost invariably worn with a white cover and neck curtain. The trousers are red. Officers as the corresponding chasseur officers in France, but with yellow instead of red collars, etc.

The native Algerian cavalry, the Spahis, wear national costume red jacket with black braiding, red cummerbund, light blue wide trousers, and red morocco boots. Above this they wear a flowing red mantle of thick cloth, and over this mantle the ample white burnous, which covers the head and shoulders. Their French officers wear a red tunic, with self-coloured collar and cuffs, gold buttons and epaulettes, number with crescent in gold on the collar, gjold rings on cuff according to rank, trousers as for the hussars, etc., in France.

Artillery. The rank and file wear blue tunics or dolmans (more usually, however, the veste). The dolman has black braiding but a red shoulder-cord, and has red collar, with black patch and number, and red pointed cuffs; buttons, etc., gold. The trousers are dark blue, with two broad and one narrow red stripe. The kepi is dark blue, with dark blue band and red ornaments, the full dress cap having a badge, in red, of crossed guns and grenade. Artillery officers wear a black-braided dolman (blue-black) with gold shouldercord and Austrian knot. Their kepi has the artillery badge in brass, gold braid, and a red plume. Plate III., line I, No. 5 shows an artijiery officer serving on the general staff.

Engineers, dark blue tunic with gold buttons, black red-edged collar patches bearing the number in red, black red-edged flap on cuffs ; red epaulettes, trousers and kepi as for artillery. Engineer officers have the same tunic as infantry, without facings, and the engineer badge (a cuirass and helmet) on the full dress kepi.

Train (Army Service Corps), blue-grey dolman, black-braided, with red collar, black braid on the cuff, and red shoulder-cord; infantry kepi, officers as officers of the chasseurs a cheval but with (silver) Austrian knot on the sleeve, and red plume. Medical officers have dark blue dolman, red trousers with black stripe, and red collars and cuffs. Their distinctive marks are a whole red kepi (with gold braid), awhite armlet with the red cross, Aesculapius' staff on the collar, gold-laced shoulder-strap, and a curious pouch-belt which is entirely wrapped in a red cloth cover that buttons over it.

Generals wear in full dress the uniform shown in Plate III., line I, No. 4, with some distinctions of rank. In undress they wear a dark blue jacket with black braiding, the black Austrian knot on the sleeve carrying the silver stars of rank; trousers red with black stripe; kepi red, with a blue band covered by gold, oak leaf lace. General staff officers (see Plate III., line I, No. 5) wear their regimental uniform, with gold ,or silver aiguillettes, and on the collar, instead of the regimental number, the thunderbolt badge of the staff, the badge or number being removed also from the kepi. Their special distinctions are the armlet and the plume, which vary according to the staff to which the officer belongs.

Badges of Rank. ^General officers (on the epaulette or on the Austrian knot), one silver star for general of brigade, two for general of division. Other officers (rings on the cuff and kepi band, or strands of braid on the Austrian knot), I for sub-lieutenant, 2 for lieutenant, 3 for captain, 4 for commandant, 5 (3 gold and 2 silver) for lieutenant-colonel, 5 for colonel (Plate III., line I, figs. I and 5). Epaulettes: sub-lieutenant, _ I with fringe on right shoulder and i scale on left; lieutenant, fringed on left and scale on right shoulder; captain, both fringed; commandant, as sub-lieutenant but with thicker fringe; lieutenant-colonel and colonel, both with thick fringes (in the case of the lieutenant-colonel the body is silver). The vertical braids of the kepi also vary according to rank. Field officers as a rule wear in full dress " shaving brush " plumes instead of a ball. Under-Officers. The badge is a stripe crossing the lower half of the sleeve diagonally; lance-corporals I, corporals 2 worsted stripes; sergeants i, sergeant-majors 2 gold or silver stripes. The " adjutant," who corresponds to the British sergeant-major, has a ring of lace, like an officer's, but narrower.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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