Zappatori, 1° Reggimento Fanteria di Linea
Sappers, 1st Line Infantry Regiment
From the Otto and Hamburg Manuscripts

Sapper Sapper

Sappers were chosen from amongst the ranks of the granatieri to march at the head of the column and clear any obstacles in the battalion's way. This tête de colonne position explains the extravagant white bearskin these characters wear. Their coat colour may be another sapper distinction or an early issue of the white coats that were replacing the green ones at this time (though the facing colours imply the former explanation). The crossed axe badges, apron and beard are all typical of sappers, note also the short mousqueton carried by the Otto figure (right) instead of a musket.

The Manuscrit du Bourgeois de Hambourg was published in 1899 from a set of contemporary plates painted by Christian Suhr (1771-1842) and printed by his brother Cornelius (1781-1857). They depict all the troops stationed in or passing through Hamburg from 1806 to 1815. The Italians would have been there in 1807, on their way to or from the fighting in East Prussia.

The Otto manuscript appears to have been painted in the summer of 1807, possibly by the German artist Carl Wilhelm Kolbe but more probably by an unknown French artist. It contains over a hundred figures, mostly of French subjects but with a small contingent of Italians.

Sources

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