Dated: July 8, 1999.
The Austrian Empire at the time of the Napoleonic Wars was a huge polyglot empire with diverse populations and holdings all over Europe. It was ruled by Francis II and included Germans, Hungarians, Croats, Netherlanders, Italians, Rumanians and some other smaller nationalities (almost like having his own Warsaw Pact or NATO forces.) He ruled as the Austrian Emperor but King of Hungary, so his army was called the Royal and Imperial Army, on top of that he was also the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Austrians wore a very distinctive white uniform*, seemingly unbothered by the blood stains as the French were. The Germans wore white breeches, whereas the Hungarians wore blue breeches. (*The Saxons also wore a white uniform and there were incidences of friendly fire when the Saxons were allied with the French.)
The earlier Austrians wore first a Casquet, a small round peakless leather helmet with a large false front, then a Greco styled leather helmet with a comb on top (the ESCI and Italeri Austrians), then the more modern shako, which our Austrians wear. They further identified themselves with the Feldzeichen, a sprig of leaves on the shako. Not for camouflage purposes as our cleverer readers may assume (that would come hundreds of years later and with more foliage) but as a relic of identification purposes when uniforms weren't so, uh, uniform. In those days any homeowner unlucky enough to have the Austrian Army camped on their grounds would often wake up to find all their bushes denuded of leaves in the morning. The Austrian shako was also unusual in that it had a rear as well as a front peak.
Besides the fusiliers, which our figures depict, there were also Hungarian grenadiers with a distinctive bearskin (the Italeri grenadiers), and a variety of Landwehr, Grenz, Jäger and volunteers wearing Corsican hats, shakos, even tophats. The numbers and variety of these last units are outside of the scope (and knowledge) of this monologue and we recommend Osprey's #176: Austrian Infantry of the Napoleonic Wars for further reading. It is unlikely that any manufacturer will consider making any of the minor units, however, many of them can be created by head swapping or even painting conversions.
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