Sapper’s axe of the Sapeurs de la Garde Impériale

Manufactured in France c.1810′s for Napoléon’s imperial guard.
Sappers in the Napoleonic era were specialized infantrymen equipped with a heavy axe, thick leather gloves and apron, and an equally thick beard. This last privilege was granted to them due to the inherent risks linked to their job of clearing the enemy’s static defenses ahead of their main forces.


                                               Napoleon Bonaparte

                                           Napoleone di Buonaparte

                                                        Napoleon I

                                               Emperor of the French

                                                        King of Italy

                             Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine

                                (August 15, 1769 – August 15, 2017)

                                          Happy 249th birthday, Sir!


Uniform and Musket of a Voltigeur of the Imperial Guard from the French Empire dated between 1812-1815 on display at the Musée de l’Armée in Paris

Formed from the

Tirailleurs-Chasseurs and Conscrit-Chasseurs regiments of Young Guard, the Voltigeurs (vaulters or leapers) provided a skirmishing screen for the Imperial Guard of the Grande Armée.

During the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 the Voltigeurs defended the village of Plancenoit against the flanking Prussian attack under

Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. After three assaults upon the village the Imperial Guard overwhelmed and almost annihilated by the Prussian Army.

Photographs taken by myself