Ranks of the Grande Armée describes the military ranks and the rank insignia used in Napoleon's Grande Armée. Officers and the most senior non-commissioned rank had rank insignia in the form of epaulettes, sergeants and corporals in the form of stripes or chevrons on the sleeves.
Gold (yellow) or silver (white) were used in accordance with the metal of the uniform buttons of the regiment. Officers of regiments with gold buttons used gold epaulettes, those with silver buttons wore silver epaulettes. The epaulettes of majors were of contrary metal; gold buttons, silver epaulets etc. Generals and field officers used bullion fringes.
|Rank designation||Maréchal de France||Général de division||Général de brigade|
Colonel en second =
with a stripe in the center
Major en second =
with a stripe in the center
|Chef de bataillon|
|Rank designation||Capitaine adjudant major||Capitaine||Lieutenant||Lieutenant
|Designation||Non-commissioned officers and corporals|
Chevrons or stripes depended on the form of the regimental cuffs.
|Rank designation||Adjudant sous-officier||Adjudant sous-officier
version of 1808
|Médecin en chef||Chirurgien en chef||-|
|Médecin major||Chirurgien major||Pharmacien major|
|Médecin aide major||Chirurgien aide major||Pharmacien aide major|
|-||Chirurgien sous aide major||Pharmacien sous aide major|
Sergeants, corporals and privates were issued good conduct and long service badges, galons d'ancienneté in the form of chevron on the upper left arm of the uniform coat; one chevron for ten years service, two for 15 years service, three for 20 years service. The chevrons were officially of red cloth for all ranks, except caporal-fourriers who were issued chevrons in yellow or white cloth (depending on the metal colour), as a replacement for the stripe that denoted his rank. In reality, however, the sergeants used chevrons in yellow or white.
|Sergent-major with 15 years service||Sergent with 15 years service||Caporal-fourrier with ten years service||Caporal with ten years service|
The Grande Armée (French pronunciation: [ɡʀɑ̃d aʀme]; French for Great Army) was the army commanded by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1805 to 1809, the Grande Armée scored a series of historic victories that gave the French Empire an unprecedented grip on power over the European continent. Widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled, it suffered terrible losses during the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and never recovered its tactical superiority after that campaign.
It was renamed in 1805 from the army that Napoleon had assembled on the French coast of the English Channel for the proposed invasion of Britain. Napoleon later deployed the army east in order to eliminate the threat of Austria and Russia, which were part of the Third Coalition assembled against France. Thereafter, the name was used for the principal French army deployed in the Campaigns of 1805 and 1807, where it got its prestige, and 1809, 1812, and 1813–14. In practice, however, the term Grande Armée is used in English to refer to all of the multinational forces gathered by Napoleon in his campaigns of the early 19th century (see Napoleonic Wars).The first Grande Armée consisted of six corps under the command of Napoleon's marshals and senior generals. When Napoleon discovered that Russian and Austrian armies were preparing to invade France in late 1805, the Grande Armée was quickly ordered across the Rhine into Southern Germany, leading to Napoleon's victories at Ulm, Austerlitz and Jena.
The army grew as Napoleon spread his power across Europe. It reached its largest size of 1,000,000 men at the start of the invasion of Russia in 1812, with 680,000 men participating in the Russian campaign. The contingents were commanded by French generals, except for the Polish corps and an Austrian one. The huge multinational army marched slowly east, and the Russians fell back with its approach. After the capture of Smolensk and victory in the Battle of Borodino, Napoleon and a part of the Grande Armée reached Moscow on 14 September 1812. However, the army was already drastically reduced because of deaths and injuries from battles with the Russians, disease (principally typhus), desertion, and long communication lines. The army spent a month in Moscow but was ultimately forced to march back westward. It started to suffer from cold, starvation and disease, and was constantly harassed by Cossacks and Russian irregulars, so that the Grande Armée was utterly destroyed as a fighting force. Only 120,000 men survived to leave Russia (excluding early deserters). Of these, 50,000 were Austrians, Prussians, and other Germans, 20,000 were Poles, and just 35,000 Frenchmen. As many as 380,000 died in the campaign.Napoleon led a new army to the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813, in the defence of France in 1814 and in the Waterloo Campaign in 1815, but the Napoleonic French army would never regain the heights of the Grande Armée of June 1812.
Military ranks and insignia by country
|Commonwealth of Nations|