Napoleon III’S Im­pe­rial Guard

The elite corps of The Napoleonic Wars Was re-es­tab­lished and up­dated To serve The se­cond french em­pire

History of War - - SECOND FRENCH EMPIRE -

The im­pe­rial Guard was the most fa­mous unit of napoleon i’s army, and they earned a rep­u­ta­tion as out­stand­ing sol­diers. When napoleon iii be­came em­peror of france, he ac­tively sought to em­u­late his un­cle in pol­i­tics, war­fare and the or­gan­i­sa­tion of his armed forces.

A vis­i­ble sign of the new napoleonic era was the re-estab­lish­ment of the im­pe­rial Guard on 1 may 1854. com­posed of two in­fantry di­vi­sions and one cav­alry divi­sion, the Guard re­tained some vis­i­ble as­pects of its fa­mous pre­de­ces­sor, such as bearskin head­dresses for grenadiers. All mem­bers of the Guard had to be ex­pe­ri­enced sol­diers of good char­ac­ter, which repli­cated napoleon i’s corps of re­li­able, loyal veter­ans. There were also some new fea­tures, in­clud­ing the wear­ing of red trousers and the estab­lish­ment of a north African Zouave reg­i­ment.

The im­pe­rial Guard’s ma­jor cam­paigns dur­ing the 1850s in­cluded the crimean War and se­cond ital­ian War of in­de­pen­dence, serv­ing with dis­tinc­tion. how­ever, the Guard mostly re­mained on gar­ri­son duty in paris for most of napoleon iii’s reign, which di­min­ished its fight­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties by the early 1870s. dur­ing the franco-prus­sian War the Guard num­bered 20,000 men, but they un­der­per­formed at the bat­tles of mars-la-tour and Grav­elotte as well as the siege of metz. it was for­mally abol­ished, this time per­ma­nently, by the french Third repub­lic fol­low­ing the fall of napoleon iii.

A cara­binier of the heavy bri­gade in the Im­pe­rial Guard Cav­alry Divi­sion

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