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Napoleon's Imperial Guard (Hardback)

Organization, Uniforms and Weapons

Colour Books Military > Pre-WWI > Napoleonic

By Gabriele Esposito
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 160
Illustrations: 50 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781526786715
Published: 30th June 2021



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A detailed analysis of the organization, uniforms and weapons of the French Imperial Guard created by Napoleon I. The author describes how this large military body evolved from the Consular Guard created by Bonaparte as early as 1799 and how this came to include dozens of different military units belonging to each branch of service (infantry, cavalry, artillery, specialist corps). The Imperial Guard was a 'miniature army' made up of veteran soldiers, who were dressed with the most spectacular and elegant uniforms ever seen on the battlefields of Europe. The Guard also included several 'exotic' non-French units that are also covered in the text: Egyptian Mamelukes, Polish and Lithuanian lancers, Tatar scouts, Dutch grenadiers and lancers. The way in which Napoleon employed the Guard in battle is discussed and also how it differed from the rest of the French Army in terms of military dress and weaponry.

In Gabriele Esposito's Napoleon's Imperial Guard he examines this elite unit as it grew from some 3600 men before 1801, into a massive army of its own numbering 100,000 soldiers by the 1812 campaign in Russia.

Esposito produces good, solid books on his subjects and presents the targets of his focus in a defined clear way.

In Napoleon's Imperial Guard the really impressive thing is the colour plates of troops in various uniforms. Taken from the Vinkhuijzen Collection of Military Uniforms they bring the troops he is writing about to life.

Read the full review by Richard Moore here

Napoleonic Guide

"This work is a worthy addition to the library of those with an interest in the Napoleonic era and the Imperial Guard in particular."

Martin Willoughby, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

"...you will certainly come away with a better understanding of where this army came from and how it developed into one of the most formidable fighting forces of its day."


"...a useful guide to the many branches of the Imperial Guard..."

Read the review here

The Miniatures Page

Featured in

Military Trader Magazine 2021 Gift Guide

This Book would would be of interest to any one who enjoys reading about this period of history, alongside modellers who seek the small details and colours that are often absent from so many pre made castings and mouldings.

A very informative and well researched book with a wealth of detail.

Read the full review here

ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

Featured on the website of

Portsmouth Napoleonic Society

"This shows that a summary-style book can still offer up a surprise or two."

Read the review here

The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

Everything you could possible wish to know about Napoleon's elite Imperial Guard.

Books Monthly

Super colour plates and hence a great reference for modellers/wargamers for these magnificent, and often elaborate uniforms. Add these to the detailed text which describes them and gives more background to the assortment of Guard units and how they were employed in the service of their Emperor. Recommended.

Read the full review here

Military Model Scene

We recommend this book as an eye opening introduction to this special element of the Napoleon myth.

Read the full review here

Clash of Steel

This is a compilation of well known source bibliography that delivers a concise explanation of the history of the Imperial Guard and its many constituent units. There is particular emphasis on the uniforms and this is well supported by colour plates. A useful book for the general reader and for wargamers intent on accuracy.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Gabriele Esposito

Gabriele Esposito is an Italian researcher and a long-time student of military history, whose interests and expertise range widely over various periods. Most of his recent studies have been dedicated to the reconstruction of the organization, functioning and tactics of the armies across history; in each of his publications there is always some relevant space dedicated to the 'material culture'of the various armies taken into account and - more in particular - to the empirical science known as 'uniformology'. Gabriele is the author of numerous books on armies and uniforms and is a regular contributor to many specialized magazines in Italy, France, Netherlands and UK. His many previous works include Armies of Early Colonial North America 1607-1713Armies of the Late Roman Empire 284-476Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC to AD30Armies of Celtic Europe 700 BC-AD 106Armies of Ancient Greece, circa 500 BC to 338 BC; and The Macedonian Army of Philip II and Alexander the Great 359-323 BC, all published by Pen & Sword since 2018. He lives in southern Italy, near the ancient battlefield of Beneventum.

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