Prince August

French Imperial Guard Tête de Colonne I 1805

Complete moulding set

painted example

The massed band or Tête de Colonne were the massed sappers, standards, drummers and musicians which led the regiment during parades and other important occasions. The band itself consisted of Tambour Major, two Tambour Maîtres, 46 musicians and 32 drummers. Also included were two lieutenant porte-aigles and two sappers.

During campaigns, musicians very rarely took part in the actual combat, but sometimes served as stretcher-bearers or ammunition carriers. French drummers of the time, unlike their British counterparts, were seasoned campaigners and often closely followed the assaults of their comrades and suffered quite considerable losses.

Napoléon himself appreciated the importance of military music as a morale booster and sponsored composers to produce anthems and songs suitable for various occasions. Coignet thought that music of the band of the Imperial guard at Austerlitz was "Enough to make a paralysed man advance".

Drum-Major As the leader of the band the Drum-Major wore one of the most magnificent uniforms of the period. His rank was equal to that of Sergeant-Major.

Serpent-Player This musician plays a typical French woodwind instrument of the period, which had fittings of ivory and brass. His uniform is typical of that of the other musicians in the Tête de Colonn.

Standard Bearer The standard Bearer was very important as the standard served as the focus and rallying point of the regiment. The Imperiaal eagle was an almost sacred symblol to its regiment, and its loss in battleinvolved great shame and loss of morale. Up to 1808 each battalion carried its own eagle. Later the number of eagles was reduced to one per regiment.