First Carlist War Painting Guide: French Foreign Legion

This is a painting guide for the French Foreign Legion when serving during the First of the Carlist Wars.

Item Description
Czapka Style hat – lancers only Black with Crimson piping, a Red plume, bronze metal and white braid (based on Lancer from 1840)
Infantry Cap (like a tall kepi) Red with a black peak (or covered in black oil skin)
Infantry Beret (stolen off a Carlist corpse) Red with yellow roundel and whatever tassel it had when stolen.
Forage cap Dark blue* with crimson tassel and piping
Frock coat (officers only) Dark blue*, piped crimson
Shell jacket (Lancers and infantry) Dark blue*, piped crimson. Unlikely to see this under the Infantry’s traditional Great coat.
Great coat (infantry) Blue grey – kind of like Napoleonic French Blue but greyer.
Great coat collar tabs Dark blue*
Epaulettes on coats & jackets Officers: Gold/yellow
Grenadiers: Red
Centre: None
Voltiguers: Yellow
Lancers: White
Jacket/coat Buttons Brass
Trousers Red or white (Each man carried both colours. Varied depending on weather: White for good and Red for bad. Use Red as my figures are for a Winter campaign)
Gaiters White
Shirt White
Long johns (if showing) Blue/Navy
Shoulder & waist belts Black with Brass fittings
Belly box Black or brown
Bayonet & Scabbard Black with Brass fittings
Officers sword Sword with Gilt hilt and Brass scabbard
Canvas haversack White
Canteen Brown or black or silver metal depending on style
Shoes Black
Gun Barrel Blued (dull metalic blue black)
Strap for musket White
Lance Natural wood with a French Tri-colour pennon

* The “Dark blue” could get very dark verging into what is described as “Midnight blue” (also called “French Navy”). Officers had some discretion in their uniform and their frock coats would tend to be ultra dark French Navy. French Navy is so dark that black was sometimes substituted when the real material wasn’t available. I personally have a coat in “French Navy” and on its own it is hard to tell that it isn’t black, although the blue tinge is obvious when it is next to a real black.

Roland – who painted my Carlist War armies – used the following colours:

  • The dark French colour is probably Tamiya blue with a tiny bit of black.
  • The FL colour is probably Tamiya medium blue (XF-18).


Cairns, C. (1994b, November). A Savage and Romantic War: Spain 1833-1840. Part II: The Cristino forces. Wargames Illustrated, 86, 36-46.

Haythornwaite, P. & Chappell, M. (1976). World Uniforms and Battles 1815-50. Hippocrene Books: NY.

See Figure 38 a.

Windrow, M. (1981). Uniforms of the French Foreign Legion 1831-1981. Blandford: Poole.

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