Monday, April 23, 2007

Learning all the time...

I had seen images of Russian infantry, supposedly from the 1701 period, about 14 years ago in a art gallery in Santa Maria, on the Azores part of Portugal.

I did not recall the artist or the exact depiction but did recall the year (due mostly to my 'trek' fascination most likely).

The Russian troops were fighting against Swedish cavalry, the Swedes were in tans, browns and blue (light blue). The Russians were wearing primarily red, including long jackets or overcoats that had no lapels at all...I had thought them similar to the Cossack coats of the Napoleonic period.

The red uniforms for regular Russian infantry was a point of discussion between myself and one or two other gamers, both of whom insist that the Russians only ever wore GREEN as thier primary infantry coat colors, from the 1650's onwards according to one.

I have found the written account that I have been looking for:

Russian Regiments 1700

In this document, a translation from a Russian text, the writer says:

These new regiments received coats of the so-called Hungarian pattern, which was introduced in Preobrazenski and Semenovski regiments in 1699. The Ordinance of January 20, 1700 made this pattern obligatory for the whole army. Today, only two such coats exists and both are now in Stockholm Military Museum. One coat is red and evidently belonged to officer or NCO, the second is a blue soldier's coat. The coat was about 1 meter long with Polish-styled cuffs and small stand-up collar. The officer's coat was decorated with horizontal tab made of metal cord or lace.


Regiments raised in Moscow received coats of five colors: red, blue, brown, green and dark green. We know regimental coats of seven regiments: Gordon - dark green, Gulitc/Mevs - blue, N Balk - red, Ungorn and I v Verden - green, Fliverk - dark green, Polman - brown. Coat colors of the other regiments are unknown. Both dragoon regiments received green coats.

The red coat was mentioned twice, as an 'officer coat' (something that carried on into the Napoleonic period as guards officers had red overcoats - usually blurred to a dull brick or even pink like color by the time the troops reached Paris) and as the first color of the infantry regiments.

Red is an easier color to make in quantity, since the Russians would have had little time to get the uniforms ready to face Charles XII it seems very plausible that RED was the color of choice, at least until 1704, when more 'western' european style uniforms would have become available in quantity.

Because of this find I am sticking with my plans to do the 'russian flavored' opponents to the Duchy of Mieczyslaw in RED.


Bluebear Jeff said...


As you know, my GNW Russians are in a mix of reds, greens, and blues with the occasional white and one yellow coat.

These colors were taken from an Osprey book (admittedly not always perfect) and one of the Editions Brokaw books by Pat Condray.

I believe that later in the century they became more uniform . . . but, after all, we are speaking of "imaginary countries" so you can choose whatever color you want.

Besides, now that you want to start our "Wars for Arcadian Glory" at the turn of the century, red is quite appropriate for your "Rooskies".

-- Jeff

Grimsby Mariner said...

At the Battle of Freustadt in 1706 the Russian infantry reveresed their coats so that the red linings showed. They did this because they were lined up next to the red coated Saxons and didn't want the Swedes to know they were Russian (having commited atrocities they knew that they would be given no quarter by the swedish infantry if captured). so you have an historical account to justify a red uniform (quite how you'd paint pocket linings though?)