Napoleonic Uniforms

John R. Elting
Illustrated by Herbert Knotel
Casemate Publishing
1016 Warrior Road
Drexel Hill, PA 19026, USA
ISBN: 1-932033075-0
MSRP: $299 USD

Reviewed By Bob Pearson

About 15 years ago I saw some advertisments for a two volume set on Napoleonic Uniforms that seemed to be most intriguing. My initial interest was quelled somewhat when I saw the price. A few months ago my partner at IM asked if I would be interested in reviewing the re-issue of them. A look at the announcement on them in the July issue answered that for me.

Well, they have arrived and I am very impressed!! As an artist myself, I always thought it would be too expensive and unlikely for any publisher to market a book consisting of hundreds of colour plates. I have been shown to be wrong.

Before I get to the contents, I'll mention the books themselves, they are cloth bound and stored in a clothbound slipcase with a ribbon to aid in removing them from within. They also have a ribbon as a page marker. The pair weigh in at 12 lbs according to the shipping invoice.

Within the two 8.5x11 volumes are a series of 918 watercolour portraits by the late Herbert Knotel showing the uniforms of Napoleon's armies. To go with each illustration, John Elting has a short, concise caption that serves to point out any interesting variations in the uniform, as well as historical facts related to that particular figure or unit. Unlike other books which may show the uniform as laid down in orders, Knotel made it a point to show what the troops actually wore, and Elting tells why.

To develop his illustrations, Knotel consulted materials from the period and many of the captions reference the fact that his portrait was done because of a certain reference.

Most of the illustrations are full page, but roughly a third are two to a page.

Besides the captions, there is a short overview preceding each section. The sections themselves are divided as such:

Volume One
Part One: The Royal Army
Part Two: Emigrant Troops
Part Three: Revolutionary Armies
Part Four: Army of Egypt
Part Five: La Grande Armee
........Command and Staff
........Light Infantry
........Line Infantry
........Special Infantry Units
........Chasseurs a Cheval Regiments
........Heavy Cavalry

Volume Two
Part Five: La Grande Armee (continued)
........Gendarmie, Police and Disciplinary Organizations
........Service Troops
........Foreign Troops
........National Guard, Schools, Guards of Honor
........Imperial Guard
Part Six: Royal Army (1814-30)
Appendix I: Sources
Appendix II: Bibliography
Appendix III: Glossary

These books will be a useful reference for anyone interested in uniforms or the Napoleonic period as a guide to what was worn and why. As a modeler I can see numerous possibilities for figure conversions. But in addition, it is informative just for the little snippets that are included in the captions.

My thanks to Casemate for the review sample.

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