French Light Infantry 1784-1815

From the Chasseurs of Louis XVI to Napoleon’s Grande Armée

Terry Crowdy

From the partisans and legions of the mid-eighteenth century to the Napoleonic regiments, this title is a comprehensive study of French light infantry between 1788-1815. It covers the formal chasseur battalions and regiments and the light companies of scouts and voltigeurs in Napoleon's armies. It details the separate roles of the chasseurs and car
Date Published :
November 2021
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
From Reason to Revolution
Illustration :
66 b/w illustrations, 24 pages of color plates, 23 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781914059780
Pages : 198
Dimensions : 9.75 X 7 inches
Stock Status : Available


In 1792 France unleashed a new form of warfare in Europe. Faced with the well-drilled Austrian and Prussian armies, the French introduced the tactic of mass skirmishing by tirailleurs. Soldiers were thrown forwards and told to fight in open order. Moving quickly and making use of cover, they fired on the enemy line, annoying it, goading it, and all the time distracting it from the infantry columns coming up behind, bristling with bayonets, ready for the charge and a shock action. Of these tirailleurs, the best were the professional chasseur light infantry battalions, raised and trained in the army of Louis XVI; but they were too few in number. A patriotic appeal for light infantry volunteers was made, and within two years the original twelve battalions became ninety strong. By the time of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, there were 185 battalions of light infantry in service, with hundreds of voltigeur light companies attached to the regular line infantry battalions. Although all infantrymen could fight as tirailleurs, specialist light infantry did it best, and were clearly an important part of Napoleon’s armies. Why was this?

In this book, Terry Crowdy explores the origins of the light infantry in the century before Napoleon came to power. From bands of irregular partisans, to sharpshooters and scouts, the book follows France’s early experiments with this arm. Drawing on contemporary documents, including the French parliamentary archives, this book charts the expansion of the light infantry arm, reviews the reasons behind organizational changes, and analyses the tactics employed by light infantry in meticulous detail. Lavishly illustrated, this book is an essential reference for students and hobbyists of the Napoleonic Wars.

About The Author

T.E. CROWDY is a well-established author specializing in the Napoleonic Wars and espionage history. Known for his lively narrative and attention to detail, Crowdy’s research on Marengo has won awards with the respected Napoleon Series Writing Contest. Marengo is the product of twenty years of research and visits to the battlefield. The author is the Fire and Emergency Planning Adviser for Historic Royal Palaces. He lives in Rainham, Kent.


"An abundance of unit composition and organization information flows over you, supported by a multitude of tabular information. This amazing compilation of data can help you organize and base your light infantry figures."

- Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

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