Osprey Publishing Men at Arms: French Naval & Colonial Troops 1872-1914

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France's colonial wars in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia were very largely fought by an organization completely separate from both the home-defense Metropolitan Army and the Armée d'Afrique in Algeria. The Naval Troops (Troupes de la Marine) were volunteers and earned a reputation for greater toughness and hardiness than the conscripted Metropolitan Army.

Spread throughout the French Empire, Naval Troops in this period were characterized by very large infantry and artillery regiments based in France, mixed race regiments (Régiments Mixtes), and entire native regiments raised in West Africa, Madagascar and Indochina. The latter, the so-called 'Tirailleurs' were organized and led by officers and cadres from the Naval Troops and wore very varied and colorful uniforms based on formalized versions of traditional local costumes.

French Naval & Colonial Troops 1872-1914 uses rich and detailed full-color plates as well as thorough analysis to detail the story of these tough colonial units which bore the brunt of French colonial campaigns in Africa and Vietnam.


  • Introduction - Organization of French forces for overseas service
  • Chronology
  • Campaigns: Indochina, from 1883 - West Africa, from 1886 - Dahomey, from 1890 - Madagascar, from 1885 - China, 1900
  • Locally raised units: Tirailleurs & Spahis Sénégalais - Tirailleurs Haoussas - Tirailleurs & Spahis Soudanais - Tirailleurs Sakalaves & Malgaches - Tirailleurs Annamites, Tonkinois & Cambodgiens
  • Minor island garrisons
  • Plate Commentaries