Prince August

French 88th demi-brigade of the line

Complete moulding set

View officer from all sidesView drummer from all sidesView infantryman from all sides

painted example

Napoleon had conceived the idea of concering the East including Egypt, partly to weaken the British in India. With some good fortune the Frech fleet evaded Nelson and landed at Alexandria on July 1st 1798 with the L'Armee de l'Orient and and prepared to fight the Battle Of The Pyramids. Napoleon is quoted "Soldats! Du haut de ces Pyramides, 40 siècles nous contemplent", Soldiers! From the top of these Pyramids, 40 centuries are looking at us. Napoleon's troops were less respectfull when they fired a cannon at the Sphinx and removed it's nose. During the first weeks of the Egyptian adventure, it was realised the need to create a uniform better suited to the climate. The felt bicorne hats were replaced by Arab crafted caps of leather. The tunic-jacket was locally made from cotton cloth of many colours - each half-Brigade would wear a different colour. The trousers were unbleached cloth over short gaiters.

The French infantry regiments underwent a transformation during the revolutionary wars of the early 1790's. In order to absorb the huge number of inexperienced volunteers into the army, the old 3 battalion regiments were broken up, and each old battalion of regulars was formed up with a new volunteer battalion and the new unit designated a Demi-brigade. There were two types of Demi-brigade the light and the line; the 88th was of the latter type. Although on paper the demi-brigade had a strength of 3000, in practice numbers varied substantially, and upon landing at Aboukir in 1799 it was found that the 88th had a muster of only 1500. This Demi-brigade was also peculiar in another respect in that although its uniform coats were originally ordered to be scarlet, shortages of equipment caused them to be issued with violet coloured coats.

The 88th took part in the capture of Cairo in 1798 and also in the battle of the pyramids the same year. Later when Bonaparte embarked upon his Syrian adventure, the 88th remained in upper Egypt, and along with the 21st and 61st managed to tie down a Turkish force of three times its own strength for a sustained period. In 1801 the 88th was also part of Lanusse's division which was despatched to counter, unsuccessfully as it turned out, the British seizure of Alexandria.