+26 Franco Prussian War Uniforms

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The Franco-Prussian War Uniforms: A Glimpse into 19th Century Military Attire


As history enthusiasts, it is always fascinating to delve into the details of significant wars and conflicts that have shaped the course of nations. One such conflict is the Franco-Prussian War, which took place between 1870 and 1871. Apart from the strategic and political implications, this war also witnessed the evolution of military uniforms. In this article, we will explore the uniforms worn by soldiers on both sides of the conflict, highlighting their distinct features and historical significance.

The Prussian Army Uniforms

The Prussian army, led by Otto von Bismarck, played a pivotal role in the Franco-Prussian War. Their uniforms were not only practical but also symbolized the military might of the Prussian forces.

Field Uniforms

Prussian soldiers wore distinctive field uniforms that were designed for combat efficiency and durability. These uniforms consisted of a dark blue tunic with red piping and brass buttons. The tunic was typically worn over a white or light blue shirt, along with dark blue trousers.


One of the most recognizable elements of the Prussian army uniform was the Pickelhaube, a spiked helmet made of leather or metal. This helmet, adorned with brass fittings and a Prussian eagle emblem, provided protection to the soldiers' heads during battle.

Rank Insignia

The Prussian army had a well-defined rank structure, and soldiers' uniforms featured distinctive insignia to denote their ranks. Officers wore silver or gold braids on their cuffs and collars, while enlisted men had chevrons and lace on their sleeves.

The French Army Uniforms

The French army, led by Emperor Napoleon III, faced a heavy defeat at the hands of the Prussian forces. The uniforms worn by French soldiers during the Franco-Prussian War showcased the rich military tradition of the nation.

Red Trousers

One of the most notable features of French army uniforms during this period was the bright red trousers. This vibrant color, combined with the blue tunics worn by soldiers, created a striking contrast on the battlefield. However, these trousers also made French soldiers more visible targets for Prussian marksmen.

Shakos and Kepis

The headgear worn by French soldiers in the Franco-Prussian War varied depending on the unit. Infantry units typically wore a shako, a tall cylindrical hat made of felt or leather, adorned with brass plates and a plume. On the other hand, cavalry and artillery units favored the kepi, a smaller cap with a flat top and a chinstrap.

Buttoned Tunics

The French army's tunics were characterized by their distinctive buttoned design. These tunics had rows of buttons down the front, with different colors indicating the soldier's rank and branch of service. The tunics were often made of a dark blue fabric, providing a sense of unity and identity among the troops.

Historical Significance of the Uniforms

The uniforms worn by soldiers in the Franco-Prussian War not only served practical purposes but also had significant historical and cultural implications.

Symbolism and National Identity

The uniforms of both the Prussian and French armies were designed to evoke a sense of national pride and identity. The distinct colors, symbols, and designs helped soldiers identify with their respective nations and fostered a sense of unity among the troops.

Evolution of Military Attire

The Franco-Prussian War marked a transition in military attire, with both sides adopting new elements and innovations. The Prussian uniforms, with their practicality and efficiency, set the stage for the future development of military clothing.

Influence on Fashion

Like many historical events, the Franco-Prussian War had an impact on civilian fashion as well. The distinctive elements of the Prussian and French army uniforms, such as the spiked helmet and buttoned tunics, found their way into civilian clothing, influencing trends and styles of the time.


The uniforms worn by soldiers in the Franco-Prussian War provide us with a fascinating glimpse into the military attire of the 19th century. These uniforms not only served practical purposes but also symbolized national pride, influenced fashion, and marked a significant milestone in the evolution of military clothing. By studying these uniforms, we gain a deeper understanding of the historical context and the impact of this war on both military and civilian spheres.

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