Friday 21 January 2022

French Light Infantry from Helion


Another recent publication from Helion in their From Reason to Revolution series is this excellent book on French Light Infantry from 1784-1815, by Terry Crowdy. The book explores the development of light infantry in the French army from the Chasseurs of Louis XVI to Napoleon’s Grande Armee. The author is well-established as a military historian and specialises in the Napoleonic Wars. 

We start with the role of light infantry in the army of Louis XVI and how they developed into the Demi-brigade legere of the Wars of the French Revolution, before examining their role in the First Empire. The level of detail is really good, and I found the chapter covering the many changes that occurred during the Revolutionary War especially interesting considering the confusion that reigned at that time. Chapters follow covering light infantry tactics, uniforms and equipment, and light infantry eagles and colours. The last chapter is directed towards re-enactors and wargamers which is an infrequent yet welcome occurrence in books of this genre.

The book is jam-packed full of contemporary black and white illustrations and the central 24 pages are devoted to numerous contemporary colour plates, and from Patrice Courcelle many specially commissioned colour images. There are also examples of light infantry flags drawn by Anderson Subtil. 

Terry Crowdy clearly knows his subject inside and out. Overall a well written and clear account of the complicated evolution of French light infantry, where I found the whole section covering the organisation, unit structure, uniforms and unit provenance during my particular area of interest the French Revolutionary Wars particularly useful in raising my understanding. I would buy it for that alone.

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