The Duchy of Warsaw
was officially created by French Emperor Napoleon I
, as part of the Treaty of Tilsit
. Its creation met the support of both local republicans in partitioned Poland, and the large Polish diaspora in France, who openly supported Napoleon as the only man capable of restoring Polish sovereignty after the Partitions of Poland of late 18th century. However it was created as a satellite state (and was only a duchy, rather than a kingdom). Prince Poniatowski
was the only foreigner Napoleon promoted to marshal of France
The newly recreated state was formally an independent duchy, allied to France, and in a personal union with the Kingdom of Saxony. King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony was compelled by Napoleon to make his new realm a constitutional monarchy, with a parliament.
In 1809, a short war with Austria
started. Although the Duchy of Warsaw won the Battle of Raszyn, Austrian troops entered Warsaw
, but Duchy and French forces then outflanked their enemy and captured Kraków, Lwów and some of the areas annexed by Austria in the Partitions of Poland. During the war the German colonists settled by Prussia during Partitions openly rose up against Polish government. After the Battle of Wagram, the ensuing Treaty of Schönbrunn
allowed for a significant expansion of the Duchy's territory southwards with the regaining of once-Polish
lands. In 1812 the Poles formed the largest of the contingents provided by any of the states allied with France which later would fight valiantly in Russia. In the course of the wars both the Polish army led by their prince and polish french regiments within the guard and legions were known as some of the finest fighting men in Europe! There was even rivalry within the officers and generals between those who had served in the army of the Duchy of Warsaw and those who had joined Polish units in French service.
1814, officer Skarzynski overwhelmed and ridden down by a flood of Cossacks, wrenched an "especially heavy" lance from one of them and - wild with the outraged fury of despair - spurred amuck down the road, bashing every Cossack skull that came within his reach. Rallying and wedging in behind him, his Polish handful cleared the field. Impressed Napoleon made Skarzynski the Baron of the Empire.
The last stand of Polish troops took place in March 1814 at Soissons. Soissons was defended by a very weak garrison: 792 men of Vistula infantry, 80 eclaireurs, 20 French guns and 300 French municipal guardsmen. The overall command was in the hands of GdB Moreau. Napoleon ordered him to hold his position at all costs. On 1st March numerous Prussian and Russian troops arrived before Soissons. The next day they bombarded the town and stormed the ramparts. Approx. 300 men of Vistula Regiment "attacked them with such impetus that they were pushed out of the suburb, far into the surrounding fields."
In the evening an emissary arrived with a call to surrender. During a war council Moreau and the commander of Vistula Regiment voted categorically against capitulation. Soon another emissary arrived with stronger worded ultimatum threatening to put the garrison to the sword and sack the town. Moreau agreed to capitulate.
When informed of this the Vistula Regiment nearly mutined. The Allies were in such a hurry that at 3 pm two battalions entered the town and found themselves facing the angry Vistula Regiment. The commander of the Poles told the allies general to leave for another hour or he would start shooting !
The Allies general quickly agreed. At 4 pm the garrison departed Soissons with its weapons, receiving military honors. Allies generals asked Moreau why he didn't order his division to march after the vanguard, Moreau replied that this was his entire force. The Vistula Regiment was awarded by Napoleon with 23 crosses of Legion d'Honneur for its actions at Soissons. By Waterloo, only a single unit of red lancers remained. The puppet Polish Kingdom, ruled by tsars (kings of Poland), with some autonomy and for a while even it's old liberties granted by the Polish constitution ,and separate armed forces, which fought in the Polish-Russian War 1830–1831, largely known as the November Uprising; after the war the Kingdom became officially part of the Russian Empire, hence all Polish forces were disbanded. The Polish under the rule of Berlin and Vienna had no military formations of their own until World War I.
In the Polish infantry served mostly Poles, this is obvious, but there were also Lithuanians and some Prussians. Chlapowski writes: "I had several Germans [Prussians] from Leszno in my company [of voltigeurs]. I even made one of them a NCO and was very content with him. These men were less able to endure hardships than our Polish men, and so took greater care of themselves in everything which could preserve their health. In Gniezno, when they first joined us, they did not speak Polish, but soon learnt it well and were always our equals in the thick of battle. I made sure my Poles did not make fun of them and always treated them as comrades."Classes
Infantry Officer, (Would match line so no yellow voltigeur collar, could keep plume though)
Flag Bearer, (would match the first line)
Line Infantry, 11th Regiment
Line Infantry #2, 1st Regiment
Grenadier, Garde Nationale
(National Guard), 1812
Light Infantry, 2nd Infantry Regiment
Riflemen (Until I find an image for the Lithuanian Chasseurs
who used austrian rifled carbines, it will be a Veteran
Drummer and Fifer, 1st Regiment
Or10th Infantry Regiment
Bugler, 9th Infantry Regiment
, Voltigeur Company Cornet
Surgeon, Surgeon, 3rd Class
Or17th Infantry Regiment
Guard, Grenadier, 5th Infantry Regiment
Or Polish Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard
But with the bearskins they acquired in the the battle of Leipzig. There were not enough bearskins, so the grenadiers actually wore Saxon (French) shakos with no plates - the intent having been to replace the Saxon coat of arms with an eagle, but time was too short. It is possible that on the third day of Leipzig, the unit picked up Polish bearskins from the battlefield.Cannoneer, Foot Artillery, Private 1812
Light Cavalry, 13th Hussar Regiment
Lancer Cavalry, 16th Uhlan Regiment image shows officer, troopers, and musician
Or, Lithuanian Gendarme
You can read about their valiant actions below, napoleon sent 200 of these honored men to the 1st Lancers of the Guard. Kinda like a mounted version of the French Customs class basically
Dragoon Cavalry, 5th Regiment of Chasseurs
14th (Cuirassier) Cavalry Regiment, Private, 1812.
Music Tracks (Work In Progress)
, will probably have to draw from France unfortunatelyPoland Is Not Yet Lost
, "Mazurek Dąbrowskiego"
, very popular with the Polish Legions serving France, and polish forces even after the wars, the Polish national anthem, written and first sung by the Polish legionnaires.La Charge/Marche des Grenadiers a ChevalLa Marche des Cuirassiers/ La Victoire est a nous
"Marsz trębaczy" (‘’Trumpeters March’’)
The regimental song of the 1er Régiment de chevau-légers lanciers Polonais de la Garde Impériale). No video or file I've found on it so far, but I have the lyrics.