125 Seamen of the Guard
Seamen of the Guard. 1st Empire Marins de la Garde wore one of the most unusual uniforms of the Grande Armee. The hussar style dolman has rows of braid down the chest, and on the front of the trousers, two Hungarian knots. Suspended from the waist belt was the sabre briquette of unique pattern.
In 1803 Napoleon formed a battalion of seamen recruited from veterans of the naval service. Initially they were to serve as crews for the boats transporting Napoleon’s staff. Eventually they became a multi-role unit, fighting as infantry in Spain, manning gunboats on the Danube in 1809, and helping the engineers build the bridges over the Beresina River in 1812. The seamen of the Guard kept a naval organisation, being formed into ‘crews’ rather than companies. They were commanded by Vice Admiral (Count) Baste, who was killed at Brienne in 1814’.