On parade: 18th century French light infantry

Continuing in our inspection parade of my eighteenth-century French army, we now come to the light troops.

After a period of preoccupation with massed fire, light troops were gradually being re-incorporated into armies during this period. Marshal Saxe considered the aimed fire of light troops as being the only effective fire. There were always parts of the battlefield, woods, copses, hedges and buildings where they could be used to good effect.

So of course my miniature French army had to have at least a couple of these pioneering units.




The Chasseurs de Fischer were established in 1743 by a former officer’s valet who made a reputation for himself guiding other valets in and out of the islands of the Moldau River to pasture the officers’ horses.


The unusual cap worn by these troops is called a mirleton, more commonly worn by hussars than infantry during this period.


The officer wears a fur trimmed jacket. This is how he is modelled by Front Rank, but I believe the fur trim was worn by another light troop unit, the Arquebusiers de Grassin, not the Chasseurs de Fischer, so my officer might not be strictly accurate.




These light troops wear an odd type of helmet, called a ‘schomberg’. This makes quite an interesting change from the tricornes mainly worn by soldiers of this period.


According to my references, the Clermont-Prince’s coats were coloured ‘ventre de biche’. A request to French-speakers revealed this to translate as “doe’s belly”. I was told this colour was a kind of light pinkish white, so that is what I used to painted my troops’ coats.

However, I found out later that pinkish-white is incorrect – it should be a shade of ochre. Let’s say that their coats are very faded!


I particularly like Front Rank’s officer figure, with his voluminous frock-coat contrasting with his strange helmet, and wielding his sharp-looking sword.

That brings us to the end of my French infantry. My next posting will cover the cavalry. And don’t forget to visit my other On Parade! postings, in which I’m gradually doing inspection parades of every army in my wargaming collection.

I hope I've given you something to think about - please do leave a comment with your thoughts or reactions.

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