After the battle of Borodino Franz Roubaud worked on a great panorama painting of 115 meters long.

looking at the big panorama painting by Franz Roubaud I noticed that some of the Russian imperial army soldiers were wearing what almost seemed like Santa hats.(Mitre caps as explained in answer)

If I am not mistaken this is frame two of the panorama painting.

What are these hats and the function of those wearing them?

My first guess would be they are officers or special units/soldiers, but a search on the internet did not help.

enter image description here

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    These do not look like Santa hats, but *St Nicholas'' hats. In fact they are mitres, and so they are bishops' hats. In a way at least. Aug 1, 2019 at 23:03

2 Answers 2


Those seem like the mitre caps which would be part of grenadier uniform in many armies of the time, including imperial Russia. I don't have a good source there but here's an example of a very similar uniform from a Russian grenadier regiment.

Here are grenadiers of three British regiments from what appears to be the late 18th century:

enter image description here

The hats don't have any special function aside from making an impression - grenadiers were generally elite troops selected among other things for their height, and a tall hat visually makes the already tall men seem even taller. Another hat type associated with grenadiers is the tall bearskin hat that modern tourists might have seen in London worn by the Queen's Guard.

It's also worth noting that by the time of Battle of Borodino the standard grenadier uniform in Imperial Russia had already switched to the shako hat (the other type of hats in this painting), so this picture might even be used to limit the troopers to a specific regiment such as the Pavlovsky Guard Regiment (Russian: Павловский лейб-гвардии полк) which retained the mitre hats after this reform.

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    I think you're right, but your answer would be improved with some supporting sources Aug 1, 2019 at 20:28
  • The British part could do with excommunication (London/Queen's guard…?) But I' say these are Pavlov grenadiers. Do you know any other wearing this hat in 1812? Perhaps some of the usual illustrations might help. For example like excerpted here? Aug 1, 2019 at 22:14
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    Maybe a note on grammar: the function of the hats themselves seems not to be the question. That they are worn by grenadiers on the other hand, and what a grenadiers function was supposed to be, might need some explication, well, if I read the question correctly… Aug 1, 2019 at 22:18
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    @LangLangC ah, yes, I misunderstood that part. However, there's not much to say about the function, because at that time (unlike 17th or 21st century) they had no special function e.g. something regarding grenades, at that time that was simply a traditional designation for regiments with selected elite troops.
    – Peteris
    Aug 1, 2019 at 22:30
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    Ah. ru.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Aug 1, 2019 at 23:11

The soldiers are from the Pavlovski Regiment. Allowed to keep the old 'mitre' cap (popular during the period 1700-1800) as a reward by Czar Nicholas after the uniform change of c. 1809 because the Pavloski or Pavlov Regiment acted bravely at the battle of Friedland (1807). For information, the 'mitre' cap was used by Grenadiers because they (originally, c.1700) threw grenades. Most troops 1700-1800 wore a three-corner hat, or tricorn, but you would hit your tricorn hat if you threw a grenade 'over arm' like a cricket ball!

  • 4
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