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I'm trying to identify the uniform in this picture of my great-great-great uncle Leon. The picture was taken some time between 1860 to 1890 we think. I've done image searches for uniforms from that time, but google generally ends up just showing pages of American Civil War uniforms. Things do show up from the Franco-Prussian war, but nothing seems to match the uniform Leon is wearing here.

Black and white image of the head and shoulders of a man in uniform. Collar tabs show "113", shoulder boards with tassels.

  • without wanting to jump in a extended response, i'd say French 113 line infantry regiment, either with a low rank ( Sergeant, Private), or in the regiment's Grenadier corps, french-prussian war. – CptEric Aug 14 '17 at 8:32
  • I had a hard time picking one of the responses as an answer - it took me four years, and the one I did pick is the one that I think may be the most likely, but I'm not an expert, and until my family finds out more specifically about Leon, we may never now for sure. Thank you everyone for your responses. They've been great and full of amazing information. I wish I could have picked all of the answers, but I only get to pick one. – DoWhileNot Oct 13 at 23:52
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The Uniform of your Great Great Great Uncle Leon is actually one introduced after the Franco Prussian War. The Uniform that he is wearing was introduced in 1872 to all the Army branches except for the Troupes de Marine (as suggested above) and Cavalry when the French decided to change their uniforms after their defeat to the Prussians. Before this the army conformed to the 1867 uniform regulations. The specific garment he is wearing is the 1872 tunic or "Tunique modèle 1872" We could say that he is an Infantryman based on the collar patch which indicates the 113e Regiment d'Infanterie but he could be from any Branch of the military because the Uniform was issued universally as i said.

For the date though i would say it is 1872-1900 based on the photo quality. Here are some photos of the Tunique Modèle 1872:

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

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I have a photo similar to that originally posted over a year ago. - Franco-Prussian War - 74th Infantry, active in Alsace 1870- Froeschwiller, Strasbourg, Metz, etc. Uniform is essentially identical with regiment number on collar and epaulettes. I can figure out how to post if the interest is still here.

Forgive me if this is not the correct way to do this: Here is the photo I mentioned: This is Henri Bourguignon - taken prisoner during the action in and around Strasbourg Aug-Sept 1870. My own research (not part of firm family info) seems to validate he was a member of the French Army of the Rhine -2nd Infantry Division of the 1st Army Corp, 74th Infantry Regiment of the Line. I assume from the bugle patch, we was in the "signal corp" and the epaulettes suggest he was an officer of some rank. This photos was likely taken between 1868-1872.Henri Bourguignon circa 1870

Sorry, just realized that the photo was most likely taken prior to Sept 1870

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  • another upvote and you can post it here – axsvl77 Sep 14 '17 at 0:43
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Probably French line infantry of the period, in which case 113 is the regiment number. Attached a couple of illustrations of Franco-Prussian War period line uniforms. <code>enter image description here</code> enter image description here

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  • This one shows the jacket closing on the same side as Leon's, and the shade of the red epaulets would show up as the same shade as the jacket in black and white. – DoWhileNot May 29 '16 at 20:33
  • Do the epaulets indicate an officer here's well? – DoWhileNot May 29 '16 at 20:34
  • Oh wow, I hadn't seen it the photo before, but you can see just barely that the collar is made of two different colors of fabric, matching the collars above. – DoWhileNot May 29 '16 at 20:39
  • The photos of the Uniforms attached to the Answer are from after the Franco Prussian War. – Guepe Jul 8 at 22:57
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I believe the double-breasted tunic (distinct from the greatcoat, for cold weather) is a signature of the troupes de marine as shown here;

enter image description here

and here

enter image description here.

Epaulettes are worn only by officers, and the 113 on the collar is presumably a unit ID, perhaps a regimental number. That there is not an anchor on the collar may suggest that the picture was taken after July 7, 1900, when the troupes de marine became Troupes Coloniales reporting to the Ministry of War instead of the Ministry of the Navy.

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  • Wrong number of buttons, colour of epaulettes, and date to be Troupes Coloniales? – Conrad Turner May 29 '16 at 17:39
  • And unless the picture is mirrored, the jacket closes on the wrong side. The color of epaulettes seems to have been different depending on location of service so that might not be an issue, but the threads in the epaulets look wrong. – DoWhileNot May 29 '16 at 20:31
  • Just realized that the picture can't be mirrored or the 113 regiment number would be mirrored as well. So the jacket closes on the left. – DoWhileNot Jun 2 '16 at 14:38
  • Small typo, it's “troupe de marine” (the first time you use the phrase, at the beginning of the answer). – Relaxed Aug 12 '17 at 7:12
  • There seems to be no regiment numbered 113 for the troupes de marine. There is however a 113th infantry regiment which fits the time period. – BOB Jun 28 '19 at 18:27
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I just tried to copy and paste a photo of my great grandfather in his French army uniform from 1880, coincidentally he's named Leon, last name Renault, from my facebook timeline, but it didn't seem to work.

The uniform appears to be about the same without the epaulettes. My great grandfather's pants were dark blue like the jacket. I know because I used to wear it sometimes for halloween when I was a child. I still have the sword as well. Btw, the number on my great grandfather's collar is 121. The number is on the front of the hat also.

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