Zouave Walking Forward

Price: $40.00


Team Miniatures

The French Army consisted in peacetime of approximately 400,000 soldiers, some of them were veterans of previous French campaigns in the Crimean War, Algeria, the Franco-Austrian War in Italy, and in the Mexican campaign. However, following the "Seven Weeks War" between Prussia and Austria four years earlier, it had been calculated that the French Army could field only 288,000 men to face the Prussian Army when potentially 1,000,000 would be required.
Under Marshal Adolphe Niel, urgent reforms were made. Universal conscription (rather than by ballot, as previously) and a shorter period of service gave increased numbers of reservists, who would swell the army to a planned strength of 800,000 on mobilization. Those who for any reason were not conscripted were to be enrolled in the Garde Mobile, a militia with a nominal strength of 400,000. However, the Franco-Prussian War broke out before these reforms could be completely implemented. The mobilization of reservists was chaotic and resulted in large numbers of stragglers, while the Garde Mobile were generally untrained and often mutinous.

French infantry were equipped with the breech-loading Chassepot rifle, one of the most modern mass-produced firearms in the world at the time, with 1,037,555 available in French inventories. With a rubber ring seal and a smaller bullet, the Chassepot had a maximum effective range of some 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) with a short reloading time. French tactics emphasized the defensive use of the Chassepot rifle in trench-warfare style fighting. The artillery was equipped with rifled, muzzle-loaded La Hitte guns. The army also possessed a precursor to the machine-gun: the mitrailleuse, which could unleash significant, concentrated firepower but nevertheless lacked range and was comparatively immobile, and thus prone to being easily overrun. The mitrailleuse was mounted on an artillery gun carriage and grouped in batteries in a similar fashion to cannon.