Osprey Men-at-Arms 146 : Napoleon's Light Infantry
Although light infantry tactics formed one of the cornerstones of Napoleonic warfare, their employment was by no means restricted to Light regiments but could be adopted by virtually any formation. Thus, from the early 1800s if not before, the distinction between Light and Line infantry was largely one of costume and tradition. Although the opponents of the French also possessed light troops, sometimes in considerable quantities, the vital difference between the two systems was that their opponents continued to regard close-order alignment as the principal formation for infantry, and light infantry as mere auxiliaries. With such numbers of skirmishers required, it was obvious that there were insufficient French Light regiments to fulfil the tasks required of them. Therefore it was usual for whole regiments of Line infantry to be deployed as skirmishers, while the Light infantry par se acquired the steadiness and discipline normally associated with the Line. One marked difference from the Line infantry, however, was in the superior ésprit de corps of the Light regiments. They ranked as senior to the Line and regarded themselves as such, an attitude of superiority reinforced by their different and often more impressive uniform, the theoretical difference in role, and supposed superior training. This superiority of ésprit de corps led to many units adopting the equipment and élan of the light cavalry, their equivalents in the mounted branch of the French army. Philip Haythornwaite examines the uniforms of Napoleon's Light infantry backed by plenty of illustrations including eight full page colour plates by Brian Fosten, who does details the various outfits of these colourful troops.
- Light Infantry Tactics
- Weapons and Equipment
- Regiments of Light Infantry
- The Plates