The Young & The Mid­dle

History of War - - NAPOLEON’S ELITE -


The Im­pe­rial guard was not only com­prised of The fa­mous old guard, but In­cluded other units That fought valiantly for Their em­peror

if the old guard is still fa­mous to­day, it should not be for­got­ten that the im­pe­rial guard was also made of sev­eral other units. two are of­ten ne­glected by the his­to­ri­og­ra­phy. the mid­dle guard was cre­ated in 1806 to wel­come the vélites and was com­posed of grenadiers and chas­seurs, all vet­er­ans of the 1805 to 1809 cam­paigns. used on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, it was even­tu­ally merged with the old guard but was still re­ferred to by many soldiers by its for­mer name.

the Young guard was the name given to the units of the im­pe­rial guard cre­ated af­ter 1812. it was sup­posed to train ju­nior cadres be­fore they could be in­te­grated into the old guard or the line as of­fi­cers. it in­cluded both in­fantry and cavalry reg­i­ments (such as the chas­seurs of the Young guard).

the Young guard was sys­tem­at­i­cally em­ployed on the bat­tle­field, lead­ing to high ca­su­alty rates, but its value var­ied greatly. af­ter the dis­as­trous rus­sian cam­paign of 1812, vol­un­teers and con­scripts were taken di­rectly into the Young guard with min­i­mal en­try re­quire­ments to min­imise the de­ser­tion prob­lem. the re­sult­ing lack of ex­pe­ri­ence re­sulted in vary­ing de­grees of skill and mo­ti­va­tion, but there is no doubt that the Young guard fought bravely in 1814 and dur­ing the hun­dred days.

Por­trait of Jac­ques de Tro­bri­ant, com­man­der of the chas­seurs of the Young Guard

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