21eme Regiment de Ligne
   
 
  Tod Creasey
Jena 1996
Thoughts on the visit
Thursday
I arrived bright and early at Waltham Cross station where John, lain and James were already waiting. Once I determined that lain was not that Iain I settled down to a discussion about when Chris Durkin actually said he was going to arrive. The bus pulled in about 7: 30 and off we proceeded. On the bus I got to meet our Adjutant Chris and our Capitaine Chris Perko. After seating me next to the biggest man on the bus I managed to slide myself into what appeared to be a vacant seat later on the bus.

Next stop Dover and the trip across. Although I got dangerously close to spending my fIrst meal with the Regiment alone Richard and the gang came up and sat with me.All seemed to be going alright. Further onto the continent and I get talking to Ian and Mark about the Regiment. The evening turns to song which they kindly allow me to join in on despite my voice. Eventually they run out of French songs and we finish with a rousing chorus of "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda".

We arrive in Kassel and we unload the coach human chain style and then proceed to reload it after a bunch of campaign gear finds its way off. Curiously mine in the largest bag and I wonder why. I am passed my kit by Stuart and go off to my room to investigate.

Friday
Up bright and early for the ride to Jena. Attempt to put on my kit and I discover that I almost put my overalls on backwards but was sorted out by Steve(it only took me 3 trys to get them on right).. I smell like all of the old Colonial museums back home but figure that I will air out.

We proceed off to breakfast (meat and cheese) and I get to sit with our moral purity brigade, namely lain and our guest member Mike. After much discussion about the waitress we discover that she does not know the translation for "fluffy" and the lads assume that the word does not exist in German. Mike says something witty and she smiles, apparently to be polite so that she does not let on that she can't cut through a Huddersfield accent. Then back on the bus, off to Jena and the unloading begins.

At this point I am beginning to feel what it it is like to be a fusilier. I am assigned to a corporal and we set about putting up the tents. As I am the least experienced of the bunch I set about holding up the poles while the professionals do the pegging. The camp comes together and I meet Chris Mills (popular name Chris is) and we explore the area a bit. Take a couple of pictures and then return. Food is promised us later but I am warned not to rely on anything. I am elected (read conscripted) into the role of company cook for the meal when I make a suggestion. It turns out roughly palatable and we wolf it down, only to discover that food did materialize after all. Over to the food tent to forage for some bread for breakfast figuring that this was to be our only meal. We soon discover a beer tent nearby and proceed to imbibe. I don't realize that 2 of the 5 Deutschmarks that I was spending was a deposit and proceed to pay too much for my rounds. The group move inside and we find Mark and Ian who once again engage in the singing of the French regimental songs. With the help of some Klar Bier and a song book they produce a fine round of singing ensues.

Nature calls and I find a convenient bush. On my way back I stumble into 2 Prussian guards who appear armed and ready to take me prisoner. I decide to cut my losses and head for our camp where I decide to sober up before hitting the sack. Back in the beer tent the lads have bought me another round and send someone out to find me. Apparently the beer does not go to waste and Steve does not seem too upset about my disappearance.

The drum beats at 6:30 to prepare us to march for 8. Today we are provided with our meal and so the now unpleasant bread we foraged from the night before does not look quite as good. Most of us avoid the rather dry sausage but I find that it is a nice change, not realizing the amount of sausage that I am to consume over the next few days.

The camp comes together surprisingly well and we head to the coach for the trip into Jena. Things have been fairly uneventful until now and we unload from the bus behind some Imperial Guard. Prussians are marching close to us and the locals start to become interested.

Back on the bus and I am issued my Shako, a few sizes too small. Trevor is kind enough to swap me for his which is much better. I am placed in the premiere squad and we begin the march. Mike teaches me the correct use of the word "pillock" while I attempt to figure out when to step with my left. Swampy takes me under his wing and helps me fIrst in English and then in the French gauche, gauche, gauche, droit gauche. After a few wrong turns we finally manage to march into the square. At this point I am learning it is easier to be just a fusilier and listen to what is being said. As we enter the square I see that for the first time in my life I am being demonstrated against. Knowing that this will increase our exposure I smile inwardly as the "placard waving pillock" jokes begin to fly. Lots of speeches follow and we postualte that the statute in the square is of Hans Pokalem, inventor of the silly hat. March back to the coach and then to camp where we are instructed to just take what we need At this point I discover that we will spend the entire weekend in uniform and lament that I have but one shirt. I know begin to understand why some of the more senior members have undress jackets as well as the habit-veste.

March back to the coach through the cobbled streets of the old town and I am beginning to get the hang of it and like most of my comrades (I believe) begin to imagine what it must of been like to be a fusilier in those days. More interest from the locals. Especially gratifying to see the smiles on the kids faces. As it is still a few more hours until the battle the adjutant asks who would like to do a long march up the hill to the battle site. A few people decline but I thought I would go along to get more of the period feel. It is a long march but a good one Marcel helping me out when I muck up a bit and not getting mad at me when I step on him. I get the feeling that real period corporals would be a bit less forgiving but that lone bit of authenticity that I don't mind missing.


It is a warm sunny day and it turns out that we have more march stamina than the Imperial Guard (softies sitting at the back of the line!!) as we keep passing them taking a break. We begin to sweat through our woollen jackets but the experience is worth it especially when a shower of leaves comes down on us giving the feel that the forests are paying us tribute ( or that they are full of Apache, but being Germany I am not too worried).
We reach the top of the hill a full hour before the coach (marching must improve one's direction sense) and get some time to look about the battlefield. I get a lot of question in German which I speak pathetically but we manage to sort it out. Fed a large lunch (with something to drink! !) and get to take some pictures of the other units.


About an hour later the bus arrives (with our powder. ..whew! !) and we begin to form up. A couple of the guys take their safety test and I get to see musketry at close range for the first time.. rather impressive. The guns begin a cannonade and the crowd begins to form behind the barriers. We wait for our orders and Capitaine finally gets tired and decides that it is time to advance. We advance along the right flank until we meet up with some voltigeurs who are kind enough to let us have some fun. A few volleys are exchanged and then we proceed to charge some Landwehr bayonets at the ready. They are great sports and graciously die for us.

As we are finishing them of I hear the cry of"cavalerie! !' and realize that there is cavalry heading our way. I now know the feeling of being disorganized after a melee and we hurriedly attempt to form up, almost too late. We are joined by some obliging currasiers who clear out the cavalry for us. Capitaine gets a gleam in his eye and announces our plans to outflank the enemy. Seeing our unstoppable force Prussians (and Highlanders?) surrender to us in droves. Maybe it is the site of our really snazzy eagle that wins them over. Gradually we clear up the right flank and seem to be heading for some Austrians when we are stopped by an event organizer, perhaps concerned that we were planning to storm the ice creams trucks on the road. Bayonets are removed and we head back to the coach. First action over and a time well spent.

That evening we are treated to dinner and drinks by the organizers and I manage to get away without spending anything due to kind donations from the teetolalers and softies who went back to the hotel. A debate ensues about the protesters early in the day that lets me really get to know everybody.

Sunday
This is the parade day. I discover to my pleasure that my depot kit includes Parade overalls so I don't have to scrape two pounds of Germany off of myself before I continue on. Another early start but I am getting used to them. First stop Hassenhausen, the scene of some valiant action by those that we represent. We sit in on a church service and provide a guard of honour afterwards after the guests leave. I almost get the standing right but still hold my musket too far out.

We then proceed to march up to a monument to Auerstadt where wreaths are placed at a monument to the battle. After that on to the museum where a plaque to our regiment is placed (seems a bit strange as we were the invaders) and everyone, including the vicar's wife gives a speech. Once we wake up from that we walk around a bit and then off for lunch.

At this point I am wondering if any French army had an easy a time of foraging as we did. We are stuffed on pork and cabbage by the colonels of the modern 2lst (free beer too). Our final stop is the museum at Auerstadt where more speeches are given before we can have a look about. The Marseilles is played and some German bloke dressed up a as a sergeant calls out a command to stand at attention which we promptly ignore. Anyone can sew some stripes on his jacket, I'm only going to listen to the stripes I was on the field with. I discover that everyone else feels the same.


Another poke about the museum only pissing off the curator a bit as our lads point out that his Prussian muskets are actually Besses. A display in progress that needs a painting service to have a go at it. We return for dinner and I discover that I have no desire to eat. A bit of cheese and bread and then discover that the beer tent is closed. ..sniff. Now the emergency provisions are broken out and we suffer this indignity with ample supplies of red wine. Quote of the tour comes out form Steve of the I8th "I'll drink turps if it's red". I concur.

Due to my prattling about my homeland I am dubbed Fusilier Moose. Hoping that this is a good natured jibe we proceed to discuss fitting antlers under one's Shako. We are all shattered so we turn in fairly early.


Monday
Four days of dirt later and the research members of our party seem a little more reluctant to sit with the active service members. We go up to the museum in Auerstadt which is the best we have seen yet. I take too may pictures, buy a nice reproduction of a period map and then spy Richard with a pile of maps. As a wargamer a pile of maps always makes me feel warm inside so I follow him up to the heights. We check Chandler's map and a few others and discover that they were a bit misleading. Turns out no one marched up that mountain behind Jena but they did drag some artillery up a pretty impressive hill. A really good monument to the Emperor that has the distances to all of his significant battles on it. And I ran out of film ..sniff!

Finally off to bathe. We take about 5 pounds of East Germany off of us and realize just how bad we smelled. Quick dinner, couple of beers and then off to bed. I am shattered.

Tuesday
We head home and I have some time to consolidate friendships with the rest of the lads. I am singled out for wearing a shirt from a highland regiment but at least Nick thinks it is acceptable (maybe he will drum by our tent last next time). My Napoleon pin on the other lapel saves me from court martial by firing squad.

All in all in was a great trip, the best part being the fact that we really acted like a Regiment. I went into this to do living history, not to just dress up and that seems to be everyone's general attitude. The NCOs were NCOs, the officers officers and my sense of history was greatly heightened by this experience.


In winter quarters now I will assemble my kit for the next campaign. Vive L 'Empereur! !

Tod Creasey
Events 2017
 
Events 2017
25th February: East Midlands Napoleonic Day, Long Acre Studios, Bingham, Nottinghamshire.
12th March: Alumwell Wargame Show, Wolverhampton.
24th-26th March: Whittington Castle, Oswestry.
8th-9th April: Ickworth House, Suffolk
26th-29th May: Hole Park, Rolvenden, Kent.
24th-25th June: The Alamo, Weston Park, Telford, Shropshire.
5th-6th August: Cannon Hall, near Barnsley.
12th-13th August: Spetchley Park, Worcester.
2nd-3rd September: Fishguard, south Wales.Cancelled
23rd-24th September: Stamford, Lincolnshire.
2nd December: Recon: Pudsey, Yorkshire
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Commanding Officer
 
Chris Perko
Algrave Hall
Hassock Lane North
Shipley
Derbyshire DE75 7JB
The Adjutant
 
Chris Durkin
7 Lowcroft Crescent
Chadderton
Oldham OL9 9UU
Position of the Regiment
 
25th May
1790 Regiment Guyenne at Lyon
1792: Journal militaire:1st battalion arrived Besancon
1793 Landau, siege until 28th December.
1794 At Nice, General Kellerman formed a Polish battalion with men found in the 21eme demi-brigade, 9 companies of 3 officers and 70 men.
1796 Evening, Massena's division (21e) along left bank of the Ellero, from Mondovi to the Tanaro.
1798 Into garrison at Amiens, 2nd battalion at Nantes (formed March 1797), 3rd at Dunkirk
1799 Magnano, towards Brescia.
1800 Pas de Suse, and town of Suse.
1801 Battalion expeditionnaire formed on the Ile de Re, with 140 of the 21eme, 106 56th Line, 59 5th Light, 58 Colonial depot Ile de re, 28 legion Loire, 119 cannoniers 5th Foot artillery, on the frigate l'Africaine.
1803 Bruges Camp/Ostend, 3/4 battalions Flessigne until July 1804.
1804 3rd and 4th battalions to Cologne.
1805 Crossed the Danube at Pressberg, one battalion at Bruick, other in villages of Regelbrun, Arbestal, Collesbrunn, Willfersnauer, and Schadendorf, until 5th January 1806.
1806 Division Kreus Munster
1807 Division at the Hohenstein camp until 5th June.
1808 Juliers
1809 Division left Ebersdorf for Vienna
1810 Brunswick, until October.
1811 Stade
1812 Division Thorn
1813 Order to form 1st Corps, 1st division, 33rd Provisional demi-brigade (2/12, 2/21) forming near Erfurth, united into corps at Wittenberg.
1814 Bergen op Zoom
1815 Lille









1815 Between Quatre-Bras and Waterloo.
Waterloo 1985
 
Boulogne 1991 on the Video page.
 

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