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The historical section. 2 – The sleeves for recognition

The first legislation on the shape of the uniform of the Italian units affiliated to the Grande Armée was the decree of 19 August 1796 with which it was established the Milanese national guard, whose uniform, unlike the French blue, was green with collar and sleeves edged red.

The base of all the uniforms, of course, was that of infantry, consisting of a green dress and a single chest with folded flaps (the double chest was adopted later); accompanied by a collar, a handguard, threads and flaps to be turned in red lining, tight Hungarian trousers, green (for special occasions), with red ornament, spats with six brass button. Two pairs of trousers and two canvas (work) waistcoats were distributed, the color of which varied according to the specialty, a cloth “jacket”, three shirts (the regulation provided that the shirt should not be seen) and a black tie around the neck. The outfit was completed by three pairs of insoles and a pair of leather shoes.

Each weapon and specialty was distinguished by the colors of the sleeves and collar. The first hat was a round hat with the left wing raised, white buffetteria, yellow buttons and a brass plate with the italian word of “Liberty” (Libertà). During the Napoleonic age the base of the uniform colors did not change, what was changed was the headdress: it went from the bicorn to the shako, passing through the colbacco; in the moments of rest in garrison was authorized the use of the bonnet.

The legislation must not be misleading because for a long time the units were unable to be supplied with clothing material and presented in a uniform manner.

A curiosity linked to uniforms is the supply chain: the vulgate wants the legend of cardboard shoes to be linked to Italy during the Second World War, nothing more incorrect!

This statement goes back to the problems of corruption of tenders of the Napoleonic armies of the Cisalpina and the Republic/Kingdom of Italy, but this will be the subject of another post!