Napoleon’s Waterloo Army, Uniforms and Equipment — Review

My goodness, where to start with this book. Firstly, it is a heavy tome, weighing in at 1.86 kgs so after sitting with it in the lap and reading through it, it does get a little uncomfortable. This is definitely a book for reading at the desk, which has the added advantage of making it easier to take notes as you do read through it, you will mostly likely refer to the information jam-packed in the book if researching or looking for some specific information on a French regiment present at Waterloo.

Napoleon’s Waterloo Army — Uniforms and Equipment by Paul L Dawson is published by Frontline Books. It was published on 2 October 2019, contains 696 pages of information and 250 illustrations on the Napoleon’s Waterloo Army (ISBN: 9781526705280).

Paul Dawson is an historian and author who has specialised in the Napoleonic Wars, writing about the French Army, mostly around the time of Waterloo. His other volumes with Frontline include:

  • Battle for Paris 1815
  • Marshal Ney At Quatre Bras
  • Napoleon and Grouchy
  • Waterloo: The Truth At Last
  • Napoleon’s Imperial Guard Uniforms and Equipment
  • Napoleon’s Imperial Guard Uniforms and Equipment

The volume on “Napoleon’s Waterloo Army” to some extent extends the volume “Waterloo: The Truth At Last” and covers the troops that fought at Ligny, Quatre-Bras and Waterloo. The author has based his research and writing on thousands of pages of French archival documents and translations. The written information is backed by many photographs of original artefacts. The photographs have been supplemented with many colour illustrations and paintings by Keith Rocco, well known to many military historians, wargamers and modellers. This book is the most complete study of Napoleon’s field army of 1815 that I have seen.

There are 23 Chapters and an Appendix, as well as Bibliography and Endnotes, Introduction, Acknowledgement and Foreward in this book. In addition, from page 427 to 447 there are 21 pages of Keith Rocco Paintings covering various troop types within the French army. I keep turning back to those pages and looking again and again at those paintings.  The rest of the book is structured into the following chapters:

  1. Clothing the Army
  2. Remounting the Cavalry
  3. The Armée du Nord
  4. Logistics
  5. Headquarters Staff
  6. 1st Corps
  7. 2nd Corps
  8. 6th Corps
  9. 1st Cavalry Division
  10. 2nd Cavalry Division
  11. 3rd Cavalry Division
  12. 5th Cavalry Division
  13. 3rd Cavalry Corps
  14. 4th Cavalry Corps
  15. Support Troops
  16. Imperial Guard Heavy Cavalry Brigade
  17. Guard Light Cavalry Brigade
  18. Young Guard Cavalry
  19. Guard Infantry
  20. The Young Guard
  21. The Artillery and Support Troops
  22. Clothing and Equipment of Napoleon’s Last Army
  23. What Happened to the Men?

The Appendix deals with the 1815 Dress Regulations.

To write this book, Dawson has delved into the:

  • National Archives, Kew, London
  • Archives Nationales, Paris
  • Service Historique Armée du Terre, Paris
  • Personal record boxes of a number of personalities of the time
  • Officer’s records
  • Correspondence Hundred Days
  • Prisoners of War
  • Imperial Guard regimental boxes
  • Line infantry regimental record boxes
  • Light infantry regimental record boxes
  • Line cavalry regimental boxes
  • Artillery record boxes
  • Imperial Guard regimental muster lists
  • Line and light infantry regimental muster lists
  • Line cavalry regimental muster lists
  • Line artillery regimental muster lists

along with more recent works and digital sources.

The volume of research that is in this book is staggering and the information provided on the clothing and equipment of the armies appears quite complete with reasonable assumptions and reasoning behind the assumptions where necessary.

Taking the first chapter, “Clothing the Army” as an example, Dawson discusses the cost of clothing the existing army, as well as the additional costs for the new regiments. He looks at the material used for various items on uniform, the colour of those materials, arguing colour differences. For example, he examples a sample of Aurore cloth from 1823 noting that “Aurore has been shown by many artists to be a shade of yellow, when in fact it is a vivid shade of dark orange”. A colour photo of the cloth is shown as well. He looks at all the cloth used for various items of clothing, and at the end of the chapter, I knew more about the cloth used in the Armée du Nord than I ever thought I would learn in my lifetime.

If you are at all interested in the Armée du Nord uniforms and equipment, then this book is an indispensable addition and an absolute must to be added to your bookshelf. Very highly recommended.

Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC to AD 30 by Gabriele Esposito – Review

I have had an interest in the successor states since I first read Alfred Duggan’s historical fiction, “He Died Old”, which was set in the life and times of Mithradates of Pontus, who fought Rome for around 60 years.

From there it was a short step back to Robin Fox’s “Alexander” for some more academic ancient history. This was at the same time as starting to wargame as a hobby so building a Macedonian Army in 25mm size was a natural step given the interest I had in Alexander. Off to university studying Economics but at the same time managing to squeeze in some Ancient History in between lectures covering Malthus, Adam Smith, Galbraith, Solow, Keynes and Friedman, among others.

Pike phalanxes and Alexander’s Successors led to reading about the political machinations that exceeded even the best the popular soap operas could manage for skulduggery and I was hooked.

Over the years I referenced many Osprey publications as well as those from the Wargames Research Group when painting the models trying to achieve accuracy when painting them.

Gabriele Esposito, well known already for his articles in Karwansaray Publishers Ancient Warfare magazine has turned his attention to the Hellenistic States in a book published by Pen & Sword Military, titled Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC to AD 30, History, Organization and Equipment. The book is 155 pages long, (ISBN: 9781526730299) and was published on 17 July 2019.

Esposito has attempted to cover 350 years of Hellenistic history in a single volume analysing the organization and equipment employed by the armies of the Hellenistic States. Alexander the Great died in 323 BC and this resulted in his empire fragmenting into the various states of the Diadochi. Kingdoms were formed from Asia, to  North Africa and the Eastern European areas.

The book covers the complex Hellenistic military forces from the breakdown of Alexander’s empire until contact with the simplified Roman military machine obsoleted the pike phalanxes almost over night (OK, well it might have been over several years but in all interactions between the Legions and Phalanxes the Legions won and excuses were made for the failure of the Phalanx).

The Diadochi fielded armies with thousands of men, chariots, elephants and siege machines. The book covers these armies and analyses the forces of Macedon, the Seleucid Empire, Ptolemaic Egypt, the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Armenia, Pergamon, Pontus, Cappadocia, Galatia, the Bosporan Kingdom, Epirus, Sicily, the Achaean League and the Aetolian League.

To take such a broad subject and cover it within 155 pages means that the text rips along and Esposito’s writing style is very easy to read. The book is well illustrated with colourful maps (taken from Wikimedia under the Wikimedia Commons license). To illustrate the uniforms of the time the author has used the resources of a German based Hellenistic re-enactment group, Hetairoi which are a group covering much of the period. The re-enactors are used to illustrate uniforms, armour and weapons, shields and the like all in colour. Particularly impressive are the photos of the pikes.

The book is organised into 15 chapters, and Acknowledgement, Introduction, Bibliography and Index. There is also an appendix that discusses the re-enactors, Hetairoi e.V. (hetairoi is the Greek for “companion” and a reference to Alexander’s companions).

The chapters present are:

  1. The Military Revolution of Philip of Macedon
  2. The Macedonian Army of Alexander the Great
  3. The Succession to Alexander and the Wars of the Diadochi
  4. The Wars of the Hellenistic World
  5. The Armies of the Early Successors
  6. The Antigonid Army
  7. The Ptolemaic Army
  8. The Seleucid Army
  9. The Attalid Army
  10. Hellenistic Anatolia
  11. Pontus, Armenia and the Bosporan Kingdom
  12. The Epirote Army
  13. The Greek Cities
  14. Hellenistic Israel
  15. The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and the Indo-Greek Kingdom

That pretty much covers the entire Hellenistic world post Alexander.

At the end of the book there is a bibliography. Interestingly, after listing some 20 primary sources, Esposito lists the secondary sources he used. These are a mix of academic works such as Bar-Kochva’s, The Seleucid Army to popular works such as Peter Connolly’s, Greece and Rome but by far the largest number of secondary sources are the publications of the Wargames Research Group, Montvert and Osprey. Esposito then lists his 17 secondary article sources, which are all from various issues of the Ancient Warfare Magazine.

This book will be of interest to ancient wargamers and military modellers in particular, full as it is with uniform and weapon detail. It is a good primer on Hellenistic Warfare. It would also interest those undertaking more serious Ancient History studies, at least enabling them to more clearly see uniforms and equipment from the past. Best of all, it is currently on sale at Pen and Sword. I will admit, now I am looking forward to both reading his older work on the Armies of the Late Roman Empire as well as the imminent release of Armies of Celtic Europe 700 BC to AD 106 at the end of next month. Recommended.