Uniform Guide: Late Napoleonic Prussian Army


This painting guide is focused on the uniforms of the late Prussian ‘national’ army and not on the transitional period and the Russian campaign. It’s useful for all scales but I included 6mm Prussian painting tips..

After  the battles of Jena, Auerstädt and Eylau a defeated Prussia had a shattered army. Organization, staff and uniforms were modernized to meet 19th century standards. The Prussians remained neutral in 1809, and supplied a contingent Prussians to Napoleons Grande Armee.

After Napoleon’s failed conquest of Russia, Prussia broke with Napoleon and iron man Blücher became commander in chief. The United Kingdom quickly rearmed Prussia and in the end the Prussians saved the day at the Waterloo battlefield.

Regiments were several times numbered, reorganized and renumbered between 1807-1812. This is a paintin guide for the Leipzig 1813-Champaubert 1814 and Waterloo 1815 campaigns.

NB: my media library is incomplete at the moment due to blog domain change, so I included copypasted pics from other blogs and sources. Respect to the original artists!

Specific Prussian 6mm army painting tips

  • Basecoat: painting techniques differ. Personally I can recommend to basecoat your heroes grey. and wash them as undercoat, before block paint the jackets etc. I don’t wash after painting, that only darkens the colours.
  • Prussian blue is said to be darker than French blue. However,  for 6mm, mid-blue, same as the French, is best. A (too) dark blue dims the unit. 6mm needs extremely vivid colours.
  • Red cuffs/collars:  historically the Prussians used different shades of red (and other colours, see below): instead of different reds, just use bright red and/or orange, that works best.
  • Prussians had ‘waxed’ shako’s. Paint/drybrush them (dark) grey
  • Most (Baccus) Prussian cavalry looks very similar, with their waxed shako and blue Kollett. It’s hard to spot the difference between the dragoons and the hussars and the Uhlans (lancers) and the reserve cavalry with lance, in particular from a distance. So, for easier recognition
    • paint the hussars in a non-blue colour scheme.
    • Base heavy cavalry and Uhlans in a V-formation but base the hussars and reserve as a more irregular group.
    • You could also convert hussars with dolman and pelisse from other armies to Prussian hussars.
  • Reserve regiments wore originally grey but gradually received the regular uniforms in 1813-1815. As painter, make a choice. If for gaming purposes you want a clear distinction with regular line regiments, paint them all grey. If you want a more ‘historical’ outfit, paint them as line but with some variety.
  • The (Baccus) Austrian/Prussian general set  is not very varied and a blue painted Prussian general staff might look too similar to the French marshalls. Better paint a few of the figures in a different colour scheme, white/red like the cuirassiers or green like the Jägers.

Cavalry

Prussia had in 1815 a Guard Cavalry brigade (Garde du Corps Cuirassiers, Guard Dragoons, Guard Hussars and Guard Uhlans), 4 regiments Cuirassiers, 8 regiment Dragoons, 12 regiments Hussars and 8 regiments Uhlans

Cuirassier Regiments

All cuirassiers had a white tunic called ‘Kollett’ with collars and cuffs in facing colour, mid-grey trousers, a white shoulderbelt and a black cartridge box. Helmet: black with brass plate. Saddle cloth in facing color, lining white or red

Facings/trim, cords &  lining

  • Garde du Corps: poppy red/ silver
  • 1st Silesian: black/yellow
  • 2nd East Prussian: light blue/white
  • 3rd Brandenburger: poppy red/white

On campaign the Cuirassiers wore a dark blue overcoat, the Litewka. After 1814 sometimes cuirasses were worn, black by the Garde du Corps, captured French brass or white metal cuirasses by the others.  Below an example from Interloping Infantry & Falling Rigging:

IIR blog,

He thinks it’s too bright (I think not) but he painted them in blue campaign litewka. Many Prussian cavalry including Landwehr are dressed in the blue litewka. I prefer the white kollet, for easier identification on my tabletop.

28mm Cuirassiers, Blunders on the Danube blog

Dragoon regiments

Blue Kollett, mid-grey trousers, white shoulderbelt and black cartridge box. Shako: black with a brass eagle plate (troopers) or black & silver roset (officers) and trim & cords in button colour . Saddle cloth: light blue with saddle  lining in facing colour.

Dragoon facings & saddle lining/trim, cords& buttons

  • 1st Guard Dragoons: crimson/white
  • 2nd West Prussian 1st: white/white
  • 3rd Lithuanian: red/yellow
  • 4th West Prussian 2nd: red/white
  • 5th Brandenburg: black/yellow
  • 6th Neumark: light red/ white
  • 7th Rhenish:white/yellow
  • 8th Magdeburg: yellow/white

Some examples:

Craig via the blog Paul Alba Napoleonics in Miniature
IIFR blog

Hussars

Uniform with dolman and pelisse.

  • The high collars and cuffs were in facing colour.
  • Dolman decorated with thick cords in the button colour (white or yellow) and three rows of buttons.  
  • Fur black or white.
  • Black shoulder belt. Waist sash in facing colour with lining in  piping colour.
  • Grey legwear.
  • Shako: black with a black & white  rosette (skull & bones for the Life Regiments). On campaign, shako covered with wax cloth. Saddle cloth in dolman colour with stripes in facing colour.

Dolman&pelisse/cuff&collar facings/buttons&cords&piping

  • Guard: dark blue/poppy red/ yellow

  • 1st Life: black/poppy red/white
  • 2nd Life: black/black /white
  • 3rd dark blue/poppy red/white
  • 4th : brown/yellow/yellow
  • 5th dark blue/dark blue/yellow
  • 6th green/poppy red/yellow
  • 7th black/poppy red/yellow
  • 8th dark blue/ light blue/white
  • 9th corn blue/ corn blue/yellow
  • 10th green/light blue/yellow
  • 11th green/poppy red/white
  • 12th corn blue/ corn blue/white

Uhlans

  • Blue Kollett with poppy red cuffs &collars, mid-grey trousers,
  • Shoulderbelt black (Guard) or white (Line). Black cartridge box.
  • Shako (pre-1815) black, with black & white roset, czapka (1815) black with dark blue top. On campaign headwear covered with wax cloth. Saddle cloth: red with white lining.
Baccus Uhlans, from IIFR blog

Landwehr/Militia Cavalry

Militia cavalry was ordered to wear dark blue litewka’s with collars & cuffs in the provincial colour. Headwear: black cavalry shako’s with white cross. The uniform under the litewka varied.

Line Infantry

During the 1813-1814 campaign the Prussian infantry consisted of 12 line infantry regiments, 12 reserve infantry regiments, numerous small troops of light infantry and volunteers and regiments of Landwehr. In 1815 Prussia could field 32 line infantry regiments.

Tunic: dark blue ‘Kollet’. Light brown knapsack and grey linen bread bag. Regiments from the same province had collar & cuffs in provincial colours (different shades of red, and white, yellow, pink or light blue). See below:

  • East Prussia – brick red
  • West Prussia – crimson
  • Pomerania – white
  • Brandenburg – poppy red (scarlet)
  • Silesia – golden yellow
  • Westphalia – deep rose
  • Elbe/Magdeburg – light blue
  • Rhineland – crab red

Grey greatcoat was worn rolled en bandolier over the shoulder. Trousers: grey, worn under grey or black gaiters, or linen worn over the gaiters.  Shako with oilskin cover. Belts white.

  • For line infantry painting instructions, although with a black undercoat, check the wargaming site, philbancients advice

After Jena, the elite Foot Guards were dressed in the same fashion as the line infantry. They had a much higher plume on their shako, but only on parade.

The light infantry units (Schützen/Fusiliers) which where part of the Line regiments had the same uniform and facing colours as the Line regiment they belonged to.

Reserve Infantry

Until 1813 many reserve infantry regiments had all grey uniforms with grey caps instead of shako’s, and white belts, but from 1813 on the reserve regiments received new blue-grey uniforms albeit in a slower pace than the line regiments. Thus, the reserve infantry look much like the regular infantry in a more irregular style: sometimes with officers with blue Kollett but (some) troopers in grey;  sometimes with blue or linen trousers; sometimes with captured French shako’s without eagle crest; sometimes with a British Belgic shako or a cap or with a green Kollett supplied by the Russians. Paint them either grey or varied blue.

Light infantry

Uniform: as Line Infantry, but with dark green Kolletts instead of dark blue and black belts instead of white.

Landwehr Infantry

Landwehr infantry troops were equipped by provinces. They were meant to be a Home Guard but fought also at Ligny. The men wore either a black, grey or dark blue Litevka coat with white, dark blue or grey trousers. Belts: white or black. Headwear: black cap. Cuffs, collars: in provincial colours, see table above.

Massed Miniatures Marvels blog

Artillery

In the end of August 1813 Prussia had 400 field pieces in 50 batteries, but not enough trained gunners. Untrained troops from infantry and cavalry provided manpower instead.

Uniform:  similar as the infantry but with black facings. Horse gunners: idem, sometimes with litewka.

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