Battaglione Bersaglieri Voluntari

Uniform Guide

History

The battalion was formed as a result of a decree from the Viceroy on 30th August 1813 and was to be raised from hunters, foresters and others skilled in the use of rifles. Men were encouraged to join the colours with a bounty of 100 lire and the promise of transfer to the Guard Cacciatore regiment after a year's service. Nonetheless recruitment was slow, even when the opportunity to join was extended to convicts and deserters. Potential recruits preferred to wait and see how events would favour the Kingdom of Italy. Furthermore, they were concerned that captured members of a "volunteer" regiment would be sentenced to hard labour or even execution. For these reasons the battalion (forming in Brescia) numbered only 142 men by 13th December 1813 - and 60 of these deserted a month later on the approach of the Austrian Army!

It is not clear whether this battalion was ever engaged in the field. One would not expect them to have fought very well if they did.

Organisation

In theory, the battalion was organised into four companies of 130 men. As noted above, this strength was never attained.

A soldier in the Besaglieri

Uniform

The battalion wore a "tyrolean" uniform based on that worn by Austrian Jäger regiments:

Headgear
A black corsican hat, with the brim tured up on the left side and decorated with a green lace V, a national cockade and a green, lenticular (carrot-shaped) pom-pom. The hat was secured with a black chin strap.
Coat
The coat was dark green and similar to the 1812 "Spencer" coat in cut - being closed to the waist and secured with brass buttons. The collar and cuff-flaps were mid-green as was the piping around the lapels, turnbacks and distinctive clover-shaped shoulder straps.
Trousers
The overall trousers worn by the battalion were grey with a broad mid-green stripe down their outer seam. Gaiters (worn nder the trousers) were also grey.
Equipment
It was originally intended to equip this regiment with rifles, but in the end they received the dragoon pattern musket. Many men would have carried their own hunting rifles. Straps and belts were black leather and the cartridge box was worn on the belly as opposed to the back.

Sources

Software error:

Can't locate Net/Amazon/AWSSign.pm in @INC (@INC contains: /usr/local/lib64/perl5 /usr/local/share/perl5 /usr/lib64/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/share/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/lib64/perl5 /usr/share/perl5 . /home/napitali/public_html/cgi-bin/require) at /home/napitali/public_html/cgi-bin/require/libio.pl line 16.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /home/napitali/public_html/cgi-bin/require/libio.pl line 16.

For help, please send mail to the webmaster (webmaster@napitalia.org.uk), giving this error message and the time and date of the error.

Software error:

[Thu Mar 23 02:15:26 2017] cite.pl: Can't locate Net/Amazon/AWSSign.pm in @INC (@INC contains: /usr/local/lib64/perl5 /usr/local/share/perl5 /usr/lib64/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/share/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/lib64/perl5 /usr/share/perl5 . /home/napitali/public_html/cgi-bin/require) at /home/napitali/public_html/cgi-bin/require/libio.pl line 16.
[Thu Mar 23 02:15:26 2017] cite.pl: BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /home/napitali/public_html/cgi-bin/require/libio.pl line 16.
Compilation failed in require at /home/napitali/public_html/cgi-bin/cite.pl line 26.

For help, please send mail to the webmaster (webmaster@napitalia.org.uk), giving this error message and the time and date of the error.

I am also indebted to Marcello Marconi of Verona for information he provided about this unit.

The picture of a Bersaglieri soldier was drawn by Peter Schuchardt. You can see (and buy) many more of his excellent illustrations at his website - Compagnie d'Elite.

Note

There seems to be no connection between this unit and the elite Italian Bersaglieri corps, founded a generation later and which still serve today. An introduction (in english) to the latter formations can be found at these sites: