FRENCH REGIMENTAL COATS (HABIT):
The coat of the Royal Deuxponts was made of deep sky blue wool with citrons the distinguishing color. The lapels and cuffs were citron and the horizontal pocket flaps (en travers) were piped (liserée) in citron. Each coat will be made drap (wool) and lined with cadis (fine woolen serge). Linen will be used for the pockets and interfacing (droits fils). Regimental officers were provided uniform models in order to render the detailed proportions more sensibly and to make them more aware of the need to observe the proportions of the size of the men being uniformed. A model of each part of the uniform will be sent to each Corps, that the workers are to conform to and to prevent any divergence from the prescribed pattern (Ordinance 2 Sept. 1775, p.4).
The Ordinance of 1779 simply states that the coats and vests shall be cut in the customary style, in proportion to the height and thickness of the men. They will be cut sufficiently large for the Soldier wearing a gilet under the vest to button the vest, and to hook the facings of the coat for one third of their length. If necessary, the Soldier should be able to button the first two buttons below the facings without being constrained in any of his movements nor exposing the seams to tearing. The length of the coat will be such that hooked and buttoned it comes to three and one half inches from the ground when the man is kneeling.
The collar was in the dark sky blue of the body of the coat and differed from the closed collar described in the 1789 regulation. The collar was cut at an obtuse angle on the ends forming a V-shaped slit in front. Malibran describes the height as petit (27mm) moyen (34mm) and grand (41mm) depending on the size of the coat. The combination of collar and neck stock permitted a distinctive appearance. The shirt collar extended well above the neck stock, was turned downward over the stock and tucked under the coat collar. Worn with the black stock common to German-speaking troops in French service, the result was a pleasing black diamond at the throat.
The fusiliers' epaulets were dark sky blue piped (liserée) in citron. The grenadiers' epaulets were brick red piped in dark sky blue (Koch and Lelieprve: 81). The chausseurs epaulets the were green put unlike the elite companies in the rest of the army who used white piping, they followed the German tradition and piped them in the distinguishing color, citron. (Nussbaum: 1929: 42).
Each epaulet consisted of a piece of cloth 54mm wide, including the piping. This piece was sewn against the base of the collar followed its contour. The other end extended to the shoulder and ended in a three pointed "goose foot" (patte d'oie) which was 86mm wide and held in place by a small button sewn to the shoulder of the coat. The epaulets were designed to receive a piece of ribbed steel (tôle à cóte) which was placed in the lining in time of war to provide real protection against saber blows (Petard: 19)
Fringed epaulets along with sword knots and bearskin bonnets traditionally associated with the elite grenadier companies, were forbidden under the Ordinance of 1779 but the prohibition was poorly obeyed. The body of the epaulet was of woven wool with one rounded end bordered by a cord called the tournant on which was mounted four rows of fringe. The other end of the ribbon was cut square and the corners turned back to create a button hole to receive the small button sewn near the collar of the coat. A small of cloth was sewn to the underside of the epaulet along the fringed end and passed under a loop stitched to the sleeve seam to hold the epaulet in place.
This made it possible to transfer the epaulet from the regimental coat to the vest, a practice condemned in the Ordinance of 1775 as "the mania for epaulets on the vest supposedly used to hold the giberne strap" (Petard: 19). The prohibition was not too successful since they are featured prominently in period paintings and illustrations and are again expressly forbidden in the Ordinance of 1786.
The sleeves will be lined in a good boiled linen to provide ease in taking off and putting on the coat without undoing the vest. The cuffs, cut four inches wide, will be fully lined, sewn to the sleeve and will show only three and one half inches when they are turned up. Their length is proportional to the thickness of the arm and go exactly around the sleeve to which they are attached in such a manner that they cannot fall back down; they will be open on the outer side between the two seams and will close by means of two small buttons. The opening will extend four inches up the forearm and will be similarly closed by two small buttons, all four being evenly spaced, set on a strip of material one inch wide, attached to the back side of the opening and on the upper side there will be corresponding button holes, which will be crossed without a flap (p.3).
The lapels were citron, the distinguishing color of the uniform, backed and trimmed (liserée) in the same dark sky blue as the body of the coat. The lapels were cut square at the bottom, the upper extremity extended toward the epaulette forming a three pointed tab near it. The lapels varied in length according to the size of the coat and their total length when measured from the upper point of the tab to the bottom edge of the lapel was petit (449 mm), moyen (486 mm) and grand (513 mm).
Each lapel was trimmed with seven buttons of the "petit model" set 18mm from the outer edge. The top button is placed at the median point of the tab, the last button 27 mm from the bottom. Although designed to be buttoned along their entire length, they were closed at the upper edge by three hooks and fasteners for one third of their length. Below the right lapel were three large buttons. Below the left lapel were three corresponding button holes which were not open. The pocket flaps are horizontal and placed at waist level.
The pockets flaps were piped only on their free cut edges and were purely ornamental. The junction of the pocket with the coat was marked only by two rows of stitches. The flaps were cut in three points on which were placed three large buttons. The flaps were 203mm long, 115mm at the points, 97mm at the concavities, and the middle point descending 18mm below the others. Under the Regulation of 2 September 1775, the "side pleats are definitely sewn except for the passage toward the pocket which is hidden in the tails of the coat" The openings to the real pockets were henceforth in the pleats of the tail.
Two small buttons were sewn on the back of the coat at waist level on the back seams. As the French adapted the close order Prussian drill, they also adopted the closer fitting coat. Since the front panel retained its width, the back piece had to get smaller. With this reduction, the pleats passed from the hips to the small of the back. The pleats were scarcely visible and were often reduced to a simple seam which retained only the name " plis" ("pleats") As a result, the distance between the waist buttons was only a small interval. On coats destined for the troops, the back panel on the left side showed a notch (cran) at the small of back where it lay over the right panel. Such coats were to be " croisée par derriere" (crossed in back). Officers' coats made for grand uniforms or ceremonies are never crossed in back.
The tails of the coat were hooked to form the turnbacks such that the lining of the coat was turned to the outside. The ornaments on the turnbacks were three inches high and cut of wool in the facing color. The fusiliers and musicians had a fleur-de-lis, the Chasseurs a hunting horn and the grenadiers a grenade with five flames.
The issue of coats, vests and gilets is fixed at three years for the French infantry, replaced at a rate of one third each year. Coats and vests for the foreign infantry will be replaced by half each year owing to the lesser quality of the materials from which they are made. As a result, a considerable variation in condition and color of fabric could be expected.
The buttons on the Regimental coat and the Vest were to be made of pewter as per 1779 regulation for the Royal Deuxponts. They were of the standard French pattern with a wreath surrounding the regimental number,104. The large size was 7/8 inches in diameter and the small ones were 5/8 inches. There are eleven large buttons on the coat: two at the waist, three on each pocket, and three below each lapel. There are 24 small buttons on the coat: seven on each lapel, four on each cuff, and one on each epaulet. In addition, there were twelve used on the vest and one on the hat.
EVOLUTION OF THE FRENCH REGIMENTAL COAT
The following is a translation from Malibran (1907).
Prior to 1767. It is necessary to explain the structure of the justaucorps or habit: independently of the sleeves or the collar, the justaucorps is formed of four pieces of cloth going from the neck to the knees, of which the two back pieces are sewn from the neck to the small of the back and the front pieces sewn to the former for the whole length. The free side of the right front is garnished with buttons, the left side pierced with button holes. Under Louis XV the modified justaucorps was called the habit. Below the waist, the fronts were cut of such fullness that a packet of thick pleats formed at the junction with the back piece on top of which was placed a button called the hip or waist button. To free the thighs the fronts were cut obliquely and the bottom part passed over the side, then on a large scale parted for the back. Since the front panel retained its width, it was the back piece that got smaller. The pleats passed from the hips to the small of the back; the waist buttons were no longer separated by more than a weak interval, the side seams were drawn to the back, departing from the shoulder in a curved line: the lower end of the back piece is reduced to a narrow band. The pleats of diminished importance were flattened, scarcely visible and often reduced to a simple seam which retained the name "plis" (pleat).
Ordinance of October 1767
The reduction of the pleats began in 1767. Pocket flaps were retained on the coat but only as decoration. The real pockets were henceforth in the pleats of the tail the number of which had diminished quite a bit since the War of the Autriche Succession (17411748). Under the regulation of 2 September 1775, the "side pleats are definitely sewn except for the passage toward the pocket which is hidden in the tails of the coat" (emphasis in the original).
Ordinance of 2 September 1775. The coats and vests shall be fashioned proportionately to the size of the men, sufficiently large and comfortable that the Soldier can button the facings for their entire length and the three buttons that are below. New coats shall be cut to reasonable length so that on arrival from the hand of the worker they come to four inches or less from the ground (when kneeling). One will take care that the facings and three lower buttons are buttoned for their entire length before taking this measure; that they are disposed in such a fashion that they cover, as much as possible, the soldier's thigh when they are buttoned, as is prescribed. The chests should be large and comfortable, the measure taken of each man, his shoulders well back ... (pp. 12)
Ordinance of 31 May 1776. This ordinance was short lived and radically changed the regimental coat. The tails were shortened and the watch coat (redingote) introduced providing the soldier true protection from the elements. While the Ordinance of 1776 was soon abandoned, many of the personal accoutrements introduced were retained.
Ordinance of 21 February 1779. This ordinance formed the basis for the Grand Ordinance of 1786 so much so that many authors, including Lefferts and Leliepvre, have tended to overlook it relying instead on the Ordinance of 1786. Since the French Expeditionary Force was equipped under the 1779 Ordinance, it is important to identify there differences.
The Ordinance of 2 Sept.1775 describes the approved method for cleaning the uniform. The use of chalks, pipe clays and ochre with which it has been customary to whiten or redden part of the woolen cloths, having been recognized as caustic and corrosive and as a result prejudicial to longevity, is and will remain forbidden (p.5). The parts of the uniform will be beaten with many stranded hide whips; this method best cleans and maintains woolen fabrics and best gets the dust out, is preferred to the riding crops and switches which are sometimes used. All stains which are noticed in the field are to be treated immediately and which could happen to coats, vests or breeches, whether with soap or with a spotting stone (pierre à detacher) used with very clear water which is left to dry naturally on the stain and which is later removed by lightly rubbing the cloth against itself. It is expressly forbidden to completely wash coats under any circumstance whatever; what is referred to here is military sweat and that does not degrade at all (p.28). The troops will use only bran (son) and then only the smallest possible amount to maintain the cleanliness of their uniforms; the use of other materials recognized as caustic and corrosive remains forbidden. (21 Feb. 1779)