French flag 1804, from French flag 1812, from
French Cavalry of the Napoleonic Wars
1805 - 1815

Majority of the aristocratic officers left France during Revolution
and the quality of French cavalry had fallen badly.
It was Napoleon who made it as an effective force which
would have parity with any enemy. At Borodino the French cavalry
even captured a redoubt, a feat never repeated by any other cavalry.
The French cavalry became most renowned for their actions in large masses.



Picture: lieutenant of 8th Cuirassier Regiment
in parade uniform. Musée de l'Armée (

"And strange to say, this irresistible [French] cavalry
consisted of such inferior horsemen ... "
- "The Armies of Europe"
Putnam's Monthly, No. XXXII

French Cavalry Under Napoleon.
"Cavalry is useful before,
during and after the battle,"
- Emperor Napoleon

Napoleon reviews cavalry. The force of impact generated by cavalry, provided it was engaged at the proper moment, was out of all proportion to its numbers. Had this not been the case, after all, governments would not have spent so much money on maintaining mounted troops, which represented a heavy cost to the national treasury. A single cavalry regiment consumed 4 metric tons of fodder every day.

"Cavalry is useful before, during and after the battle," wrote Napoleon, and he stressed the need for audacity in its employment and careful training to achieve true discipline. He was also insistent that careful categorization according to role was of great importance... It was some time before the French cavalry reached its full potential, as it had suffered the loss of many officers during the Revolutionary period, but by 1807 it was reaching its prime. The great charges led by Murat at Eylau and Grouchy at Friedland played vital parts in the outcome of these battles." (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars" pp 85-86)

"Under Napoleon, the French cavalry were, in contrast to the infantry, far more renowned for their action in masses than for their duty as light troops. They were deemed irresistible, and even Napier admits their superiority over the English cavalry of that day. Wellington, to a certain degree, did the same. And strange to say, this irresistible cavalry consisted of such inferior horsemen ... no soldiers are so careless of their horses as the French." ("The Armies of Europe" in Putnam's Monthly, No. XXXII, published in 1855)

French cavalry in Egypt, 
picture by Detaille Albert-Jean-Michel de Rocca writes: "The various troops that composed our army, especially the cavalry and infantry, differed extremely in manners and habits. The infantrymen, having only to think of themselves and their muskets, were selfish, great talkers, and great sleepers. ... They were apt to dispute with their officers, and sometimes they were even insolent to them ... They forgot all their hardships the moment they heard the sound of the enemy's first gun.
The hussars and chasseurs were generally accused of being plunderers and prodigal, loving drink and fancying every thing fair while in presence of the enemy. Accustomed, one may almost say, to sleep with an open eye, to have an ear always awake to the sound of the trumpet, to reconnoitre far in advance during a march, to trace the ambuscades of the enemy ... they could not fail to have acquired superior intelligence and habits of independence. Nevertheless, they were always silent and submissive in presence of their officers, for fear of being dismounted. Forever smoking, to pass away his life, the light cavalryman, under his large cloak, braved in every country the rigour of the seasons. The rider and his horse, accustomed to live together, contracted a character of resemblance."

Organization of French Cavalry.
"Squadron will be to the cavalry
what the battalion is for infantry."
- Napoleon

Theoretical strength of regiment was between 800 and 1.200 men. During campaign the numbers decreased. For example during crossing of the Rhine River (September 1805) eight cuirassier regiments had 484 men per regiment on average. In December at Austerlitz it decreased to 317 men per regiment. (It gives 35 % losses within 4 months. For comparison losses in twenty five regiments of dragoons were 40 % {counted without the foot dragoons}, in seven regiments of hussars 25 % and in nine chasseurs were approx. 32 %.)

Most often regiment had 3 or 4 squadrons. For example at Austerlitz 44 cavalry regiments had 153 squadrons, on average 3.5 squadron per regiment. During the 1812-1813 campaigns there were several regiments 6 or 8 squadrons each. Below is structure of regiment four-squadron strong.

Originally there were 4 Eagles per cavalry regiment of 4 squadrons. In 1806 Napoleon ordered that regiments of chasseurs and hussars deposit all Eagles, dragoons deposit 3 and keep only one in the field and the cuirassiers retain 3 Eagles per regiment. Some regiments of hussars and chasseurs refused to give up their Eagles and in 1809 (and even in 1812 and 1813) they carried 1 in the field. In 1812 generally no squadron fanions were carried in the field, instead were used the small company fanions.

Organization of French
cavalry regiment.
Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleon said that "squadron will be to the cavalry what the battalion is for infantry." The squadron always consisted of 2 companies, each commanded by a captain. The senior of the captains commanded the squadron. The cavalry strength in battle was expressed in the number of squadrons instead of regiments or divisions.

The strength of cavalry squadron in the field varied between 85 and 250 men. In the begiining of campaign the squadrons were stronger.
In 1809 at Wagram the French had 209 squadrons with an average of 139 men per squadron.
On August 15th 1813, the French army stationed in Germany had the following numbers of cavalrymen:
12.818 chasseurs were in 67 squadrons (9.1 officers and 182 other ranks in squadron)
7.203 hussars in 38 squadrons (8.5 officer and 181 other ranks in squadron)
3.546 lancers in 20 squadrons (10.75 officer and 166 other ranks in squadron)
7.019 dragoons in 45 squadrons (8.33 officer and 148 other ranks in squadron)
5.789 cuirassiers in 40 squadrons (8.6 officer and 136 other ranks in squadron)

Each squadron had 2 companies. In 1805-1807 the wartime company had:
. . . . . . . . . 3 Officers: Captain and 2 Lieutenants (Captain was allowed 3 horses, lieutenant 2 mounts)
. . . . . . . . . 1 Marechal-des-logis Chef (Sergeant-major)
. . . . . . . . . 2 Marechal des logis (Sergeants)
. . . . . . . . . 1 Fourrier
. . . . . . . . . 4 Brigadiers (Corporals)
. . . . . . . . . Trumpeter
. . . . . . . . . 74 privates
. . . . . . . . . 3 Officers: Captain and 2 Lieutenants
. . . . . . . . . 1 Marechal-des-logis Chef (Sergeant-major)
. . . . . . . . . 4 Marechal des logis (Sergeants)
. . . . . . . . . 1 Fourrier
. . . . . . . . . 8 Brigadiers (Corporals)
. . . . . . . . . 2 Trumpeters and a Drummer
. . . . . . . . . 72 Privates and 46 foot dragoons

Organization of company according to Decree of March 27th 1815:
. . . . . . . . . 4 Officers: Captain, Lieutenant, 2 Sous-lieutenants
. . . . . . . . . 1 Marechal-des-logis Chef (Sergeant-major)
. . . . . . . . . 4 Marechal des logis (Sergeants)
. . . . . . . . . 1 Fourrier
. . . . . . . . . 8 Brigadiers (Corporals)
. . . . . . . . . 2 Trumpeters
. . . . . . . . . 58 dragoons, chasseurs, lancers or hussars, or 42 cuirassiers

The farriers and fouriers would usually have been kept in the rear.

The 1st Company in every regiment (except cuirassiers and carabiniers) was named Elite Company. Only brave, strong and seasoned men were accepted, and they rode on black horses. Sometimes the elite company was detached from regiment and served as an escort to a marshal. If there was several regiments the marshal took only 15 men from every elite company. Sometimes this was not enough and instead the elite companies were used entire regiments of cavalry. For example in 1812 marshal Berthier and his headquarters were guarded by 28th Chasseur Regiment and Saxon light cavalry. The colonels of cuirassier regiments decided to form elite companies but were reminded that they are elite. They received higher pay, were stronger and taller than other troopers, wore red plumes and epaulettes and had flaming grenade insygnia on coat-tails and saddlecloth.

Sappers were part of the Elite Company. They opened roads, improved campsites and guarded the regimental Eagle. Only hussar and dragoon regiments had sappers (1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 8 privates).

Quality of the French Cavalry
Majority of the aristocratic officers left France during Revolution
and the quality of French cavalry had fallen badly.
It was Napoleon who made it as an effective force which
would have parity with any enemy. At Borodino the French cavalry
even captured a redoubt, a feat never repeated by any other cavalry.

Napoleon and French cavalry
at Friedland 1807. In the cavalry served more nobles than in any other branch of the army. Majority of the aristocratic officers left France during Revolution and the overall quality of French cavalry had fallen badly. It was Napoleon who made it as an effective force which would have parity with any enemy.

- General Jomini; "When I speak of excellent French cavalry, I refer to its impetous bravery, and not to its perfection; for it does not compare with the Russian or German cavalry either in horsemanship, organization, or in care of the animals."
General Welligton - "I considered our (British) cavalry so inferior to the French from the want of order, that although I considered one squadron a match for two French, I didn't like to see four British opposed to four French: and as the numbers increased and order, of course, became more necessary I was the more unwilling to risk our men without having a superiority in numbers."
In 1812 at Maguilla (Maquilla) took place combat between the French and British cavalry. General Hill detached Penne Villemur's cavalry on the right flank, and General Slade with the [British] 3rd Dragoon Guards and the Royals on the left flank. French General Lallemand came forward with only two dragoon regiments, whereupon Hill, hoping to cut this small force off, placed Slade's British cavalry in a wood with directions to await further orders. Slade forgot his orders and drove the French dragoons beyond the defile of Maquilla. General Slade rode in the foremost ranks and the supports joined tumultuously in the pursuit. But in the plain beyond stood calm Lallemand with small reserve.
He immediately broke the mass of British cavalry, killed and wounded 48 and "pursued the rest for 6 miles, recovered all his own prisoners, and took more than a hundred, inluding two officers, from his adversary" (Napier - "History of the War in the Peninsula 1807-1814" Vol III, p 444)
- Archduke Charles comander-in-chief of the Austrian army - "The French cavalry was, on the whole, poorly mounted and poorly equipped; its men were awkward horsemen. Yet it outclassed its opponents simply because, when order rang out and trumpets clarioned 'Charge !' it put in its spurs and charged all out, charged home !"
- Officer Chlapowski: "The enemy [Hungarian hussars] had charged us 3 or 4 times during this engagement. Some of them would break into our ranks, many passed right through and circled back to regain their lines, and after charge they ended in complete disorganization. The French, on the other hand, although they also lost formation after a charge, kept together far more and every time were quicker to regain order. ... although the Hungarians drove home their attacks with determination, they were harder to reform into some sort of order. The French, on the other hand, knew that their own horses lacked the Austrians' speed and endurance, and would launch their attacks from closer range and so retained formation right to the end of the charge, and regained it more quickly afterwards."

7th Hussars in 1801-1803.
Picture by Knotel. Before the campaigns in 1805 and in 1812 the cavalrymen were intensively trained, supplied with splendid uniforms and horses and armed to teeth. They were enthusiastic and ready to fight. The officers and NCOs were battle hardened veterans. In 1805 the French had established a morale ascendancy over their opponents.

In 1806 and 1807 "The cavalry was excellent and well mounted, though, in the latter respect, they fell short of many Russian cavalry regiments." (Petre - "Napoleon's Campaign in Poland, 1806-1807" pp 27-28)

Much of the revolutionary ardour that had fired the French troops of the 1790s and early 1800s had been quenched by 1808. Napoleon himself sensed a lack of enthusiiasm for the forthcoming campaigns. In 1808-09, for the new war with Austria tens of thousands of new recruits joined the field armies. The influx of conscprits diluted the old ideals of austerity, self-respect and duty. After 1809 drunkenness and indiscipline increased, especially in the cavalry. They were hastily trained. "After 1808 fewer French soldiers received extensive training." (Elting - "Swords Around a Throne" p 534)

Sergeant-Major Thirion described the cuirassiers of 1812 participating in the Invasion of Russia: "Never had more beautiful cavalry been seen ! Never had the regiments (of cuirassiers) reached such high effectives." One of the conscripts wrote: "Oh Father !, this is some army ! Our old soldiers say they never saw anything like it." However the cavalry regiments left on the secondary theaters of war (Italy, Spain, and elsewhere) were of lower quality.

Wounded French cuirassier
and a Polish country girl. 
Picture by W. Kossak At Borodino the French cavalry captured a redoubt, a feat never repeated by any other cavalry. Colonel Griois watched the cavalry attack: "It would be difficult to convey our feelings as watched this brilliant feat of arms, perhaps without equal in the military annals of nations ... cavalry which we saw leaping over ditches and scrambling up ramparts under a hail of canister shot, and a roar of joy resounded on all sides as they became masters of the redoubt." Meerheimb wrote: "Inside the redoubt, horsemen and foot soldiers, gripped by a frenzy of slaughter, were butchering each other without any semblance of order..."

Murat's Reserve Cavalry numbered 42,000 at Niemen and 18,000 at Smolensk. Before the army reached Moscow it lost half of its strength. After Napoleon left Moscow the situation changed from bad to worse. The debris of the Grand Army which in June 1812 had crossed the Niemen River was now chased back by Cossacks and armed peasants. The Russians captured thousands of POWs. The cavalry was so reduced that it became necessary to form all the officers who were still mounted into four companies of 150 men each. Generals acted as captains; and colonels as corporals. This Sacred Squadron, commanded by General Grouchy, and under the orders of the King of Naples, kept the closest watch over the Emperor.

French carabinier and cuirassier
mounted on peasant ponies in 1812.
Picture by Kossak. Dead cuirassier during 
the winter retreat from Russia, 
1812 Many regiments ceased to exist. For example the 5th Regiment of Cuirassiers had 958 men present for duty on June 15th, 1812. On Feb 1st 1813 had only 19 ! The French cavalry never recovered from the massive loss of horses. Nine out of ten cavalrymen who survived walked much of the way home; most of those who rode did so on tiny, but tough, Russian and Polish ponies, their boots scuffing the ground. Napoleon wrote: "I have no army any more! For many days I have been marching in the midst of a mob of disbanded, disorganized men, who wander all over the countryside in search of food." It is estimated that 175.000 excellent horses of cavalry and artillery were lost in Russia ! The Russians reported burning the corpses of 123,382 horses as they cleaned up their countryside of the debris of war. So heavy were the horse losses that one of Napoleon's most serious handicaps in the 1813 campaign was his inability to reconstitute his once-powerful cavalry.

The rebuilding of the cavalry in 1813 was more dificult than infantry and artilery. Shortages of trained cavalrymen, officers, NCOs and war horses were critical. Promotions were rapidly handed out and temporary squadrons were formed. In the beginning of April 1813 General Bourcier gathered 10.000 battle-hardened veterans from 60 regiments spread across the countryside. The cavalry centers were in the cities of Magdeburg and Metz. Horses were coming from northern Germany. During Armistice was more time to train the young troops and many regiments showed improvements in their maneuvers. But they never reached the level of pre-1812.
"Perhaps the worst part of the [French] army of 1813 was its cavalry. In the first part of the war, up to Lutzen, it numbered by 15,000 mostly old soldiers ... It was opposed to a far more numerous cavalry of generally excellent quality, against which it was almost impotent. Later, it was greatly increased in numbers, but the recruits were of very inferior quality and training. On the other hand, the [French] artillery was very good and numerous." (Petre - "Napoleon at War" p 110)
There were too many young soldiers, hastily trained, and hardly 10-20 % of the officers were classed as capable. Retired officers had been recalled, many old NCOs had been promoted lieutenants. Nearly 80 % of the new cavalrymen had never ridden a horse. In Hamburg the young cuirassiers having been ordered to leave on reconnaissance and after few minutes all were dismounted, with their horses running free in the streets.
The Germans laughed openly.

The situation in French cavalry in 1814 was very difficult. Every soldier who could stick on the back of a horse was mounted - some on nags resembling the "four horses of the Apocalypse."

In 1815 (Waterloo Campaign) the French cavalry was impoverished and had considerably scaled back the strength of cavalry regiments. By contrast England had always good horses and the financial means to obtain more of them wherever they might be found. The Russians too had no problems with horses.

The German horse breeders and traders made fortunes
as Napoleon purchased huge amounts of horses for his cavalry.

10th Chasseurs in 1812
in tenue de pansage.
Picture by Knotel. The northern part of France called Normandy was one of the world biggest horse-breeding areas (Studs of Le Pin and St. Lo). Napoleon valued these mounts highly and during reviews often asked colonels how many horses from Normandy they have in their regiments. In 1810 the horse grenadiers of the Guard rode on black horses, 14 1/2 - 15 hands tall, between 4 and 4 1/2 years old and bought in the city of Caen (Normandy) for 680 francs apiece. The German horse breeders from Hananover and Holstein and traders made fortunes as Napoleon purchased huge amounts of horses for his heavy cavalry. The Prussian large mounts were also accepted.

The highest quality horses for light cavalry came from Hungary, southern Russia and Poland. These countries dominated light horse breeding in Europe in XVIII_XIX Century. For light cavalry Napoleon purchased horses from almost every province of France but especially from Ardennes, Taubes and Auvergne. In 1806 many Prussian (Mecklenburgian), Syrian and Turkish horses were purchased.

After victorious war in 1806 Napoleon dismounted the Prussian cavalry, and in 1805 and 1809 dismounted the Austrian cavalry. Thousands of horses were also taken from Saxony, Hannover and Spain. Many horses were purchased or simply taken from Polish farms. After the disaster in Russia in 1812, several Polish cavalry regiments were still in good shape. Especially the Lithuanian uhlans. Napoleon stripped these regiments of all their horses in an effort to remount the cavalry of Imperial Guard. (Nafziger - "Lutzen and Bautzen" p 9)

John Elting wrote about the horsecare in French cavalry: "Too many French were careless horsemasters, turning their animals loose at night into fields of green grain or clover without supervision. Thousands overate and died of the colic. Germans and Poles were more careful."
Britten-Austin described the situation in 1812: "Without a drop of water to drink and only an occassional nibble of wayside grasses, they arrive at the first bivouc utterly spent, collapse, and have to be shot by their riders, who, adding horsemeat to a soup of uncut rye, promptly go down with diarrhea, an affliction not conducive to brilliant exploits on horseback." (Britten-Austin - "1812 The March on Moscow" p 125)
Graf Henkel von Donnersmark writes after the battle of Leipzig: "The captured [French] horse was big but in poor condition, so I exchanged it with a Russian officer for a strong Cossack horse; now I owned 3 such Don mounts. They are excellent for use on campaigns where there are lots of hardships, but they do have some beauty defects."

According to order issued on October 28th 1802 the horses for French cuirassiers and dragoons were to be between 15 1/4 and 15 1/2 hands tall (154.3m-158.3 m). After war in 1805 the minimum height for horses were relaxed, even for the cuirassiers. But when Prussian and Austrian horses were captured and new territories annexed the requirements were heightened. In 1812 the height of horses was as follow:
- cuirassiers and carabiniers - . . . . 155 cm - 160 cm
- dragoons and artillery - . . . . . . . . .153 cm - 155 cm
- chasseurs and hussars - . . . . . . . . 149 cm - 153 cm
- lighthorse-lancers - . . . . . . . . . . . . .146 cm - 150 cm
- Polish uhlans - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .142 cm - 153 cm
- Polish Krakusi - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 cm - 142 cm (nicknamed by Napoleon "my Pygmy Cavalry")

During every campaign there was always a shortage of good cavalry horses. In 1805 between Ulm and Austerlitz the French lacked so many horses that the Emperor sent officers to buy horses "of whatever breed" and color for the cavalrymen.
- The Arabian mounts were not as fast as European warmbloods but they were sure-footed. They were famous for elegance, toughness and almost legendary endurance. Arabian horses were very popular among officers and generals. Napoleon usually rode on Arabian: the snow-white "Euphrates" at Wagram, the dapple-gray "Taurus" in Russia (1812), at Leipzig (1813) and in France (1814), and "Marengo" at Waterloo. Napoleon encouraged the use of Arabians at the French national studs. Almost all European countries mixed their native mounts (coldbloods) with Arabians and getting new breeds (warmbloods). In 1800s the biggest studs of Arabians were founded in Hungary and Poland.
- The Andalusian horse was called "the royal horse of Europe". Many war-leaders rode on the Spanish horses. This is friendly, docile, strongly build, brave (used for bull fighting) and of catlike agility.
- The French horse Comtois of Burgundy was used by the army of King Louis XIV and by Napoleon. Characteristics: hardiness, endurance, good nature and easy to train.
- The French horse Auxois of Burgundy was a powerful one. This mount was a quiet and good natured, used also by artillery.
- The French horse Ardennais was a very popular horse in French cavalry.
- The French horse Percheron was a powerful mount used by heavy cavalry. By XVII Century it attained wide spread popularity. In early XIX Century the French goverment established a stud at le Pin for the development of army mounts. The horse was docile, energetic and of big size.
- The French horse Boulonnais of Flanders enjoyed a great popularity in every European heavy cavalry and among horse dealers. Napoleon purchased thousands of these horses for his cuirassiers.
- The German horse of Frederiksborg enjoyed numerous exports which seriously depleted the stock.
- The Hannoverian horse was used by light artillery and heavy and line cavalry. It was probably the most successful warmblood in Europe. The Hannoverian breeding industry has existed for 400 years. Even today this horse excel in equestrian disciplines of jumping and driving.
- The Holsteiner horse was developed in northern Germany. Their reputation was such that only in 1797 approx. 100.000 horses were exported ! This horse has a good character, is fast and strong. Napoleon purchased very many Holsteiners. The famous Saxon heavy cavalry and guard rode on Holsteiners.

During peacetime the regiments of light and line cavalry had color of horses according to squadron :
I Squadron: 1st 'elite' company rode on blacks, 5th company on browns nad blacks
II Squadron: 2nd company rode on bays, 6th company on bays
III Squadron: 3rd company on chestnuts, 7th company on chestnuts
IV Squadron: 4th and 8th company on grays and whites
However already in 1805 only some colonels insisted on keeping up these peacetime practicies. The heavy cavalry rode on black horses. (Prussian king Frederick the Great insisted that the black horses should go to the cuirassiers. He considered the black of the coat as a sign of quality.)

Black - - - - - Brown - - - - - Liver

Dark Bay - - - - - Light Bay - - - - - Dun

Dark Chestnut - - Chestnut - - - - - Palomino

Roan - - - - - - Gray - - - - - - White

Marshal Joachim Murat.
His love of war and glory made him
the very incarnation of cavalryman.
In combat Murat was supreme.
He was "woman-crazy; Napoleon complained that
he needed them like he needed food."

Murat and French cavalry at Jena 1806. The French cavalry was commanded by Marshal Joachim Murat. His father was farmer-inkeeper, his mother a pious woman set on making a priest of him. Murat was tall, athletic with a handsome face framed by dark curls. He was "woman-crazy; Napoleon complained that he needed them like he needed food." (Elting - "Swords Around a Throne" p 144)

From his first thundering charges on the plains of Italy to his last grand charge at Leipzig, no commander more epitomized the dash and ambition of the French cavalry than Murat. He was the embodiement of the cavalryman. Murat habitually led in the very forefront of the charge, and his presence elicited courage and devotion from his troops. His flamboyant and colorful outfit, his bravery, and his fun-loving nature was all that many daring European cavalry leaders aspired to be. His love of war and glory made him the very incarnation of cavalryman.

French Marshal Murat.
Commander of Napoleon's cavalry. In combat Murat was supreme. Britten-Austin writes: "Riding out in front of a line of red and white pennons which stretches from the Dwina's swamp on the right to the island of forest in the centre, he intends to harangue the Polish lancer division - but finds himself in a most awkward, not to say comical position. The Poles need no exhortion. With tremendous elan, like several thousand pig-stickers, they charge, driving the King of Naples like a wild boar before them. And Murat, unable to see or command, has no option but to 'lead' them ... Only thanks to his Herculean physique and the prowess of his gilded scimitar does he survive in the ensuing scrum." (Britten-Austin - "1812 The March on Moscow" p 134)

In 1807 at Heilsberg Murat charged with a headlong rashness but his horse was struck by canister. Horse and rider were knocked over together like a stand of muskets. Murat - now without one boot, it was stuck in the strirup of killed horse - quickly mounted another horse.

In 1815 Murat's Neapolitan troops were defeated by the Austrians. He eventually arranged a surrender and fled to France. Napoleon was furious and refused to see Murat. The Emperor rejected his offer to command the French cavalry during the Waterloo Campaign.

Execution of Murat Murat fled to Corsica after Napoleon's fall. During an attempt to regain Naples through an insurrection in Calabria, he was arrested by the forces of his rival, Ferdinand IV of Naples. Murat was told to move towards the place destined for his execution, an officer gave him a handkerchief to blind himself, but he refused it. Murat arrived at the destined spot, turning immediately his face to the soldiers, and placing his hand upon his breast, he gave the word “Fire.” The soldiers fired 12 shots at his breast, which killed him instantaneously, and 3 in the head after he fell. Murat was buried in a pit where they throw the most despicable felons.

- Napoleon: "He [Murat] loved, I may rather say, adored me. ... With me, he was my right arm. Order Murat to attack and destroy four or five thousand men in such ir such a direction, it was done in a flash. But left to himself he was an imbecile, without judgement."
- Officer of 16th Chasseurs: "personally very brave, but has few military talents. He knows well how to use cavalry in front of the enemy, but is ignorant of the art of preserving it."
- Von Roos: "Herculean in strength, excessively gallant, admirably cool in the midst of danger, his daring, his elegant costume inspired an extraordinary veneration among the Cossacks."
- Victor Dupuy, France: "[The Cossacks had] almost magical respect for him.... I was riding ahead with three troopers when I saw Murat at the far end of a little wood ... He was alone. In front of him ... some 40 mounted Cossacks were gazing at him, leaning on their lances."
- David Chandler, UK: "Murat was one of the most colorful figures of his time. His military talents on the battlefield, at the head of the cavalry, were considerable, but his rash initiatives robbed him of any chance of earning repute as a strategist... he had many enemies among the marshalate but was greatly admired by the rank and file for his dash and undoubted charisma.... He became the model for many another beau sabreur of the 19th century."
- John Elting, USA: " ... cheerful courage, a frank and unpretentious comradeship with colonel and private alike. That he had no military education bothered him not at all; he boasted that he made his plans only in the presence of the enemy. (Napoleon complained that Murat tried to make war without maps.) As a combat leader Murat was unequaled, storming ahead of his howling troopers, riding whip in hand, white plumes streaming high. Tactics, except the simplest, he scorned: Put in your spurs and ride at, over, and through anything that gets in your way !"


The carabiniers were raised in 1691
by Louis XIV (The Sun King), with the men
drafted from the better troopers of line regiments.

Horse Carabiniers [Carabiniers-à-Cheval]
In 1792 the French Ministry of War ordered that the carabiniers
must always be chosen from seasoned and reliable soldiers.
To increase their numbers Emperor Napoleon
strengthened them with young and robust recruits.

French horse carabiniers in 1809
wearing bearskins and 
dark-blue uniforms. The carabiniers were raised in 1691 by Louis XIV (The Sun King), with the men drafted from the better troopers of other line regiments. Rene Chartrand writes: "Commissions in the carabiniers could not be purchased, but were granted by the king to deserving and talented officers of modest means. ... In principle, carabiniers were to fight on foot when required, which they occasionally did, notably when they dismounted, stormed and captured the gates of Prague in 1741 .
The carabiniers were renowned for their superior horsemanship. From 1763 other line regiments were required to send few men to be instructed by the carabiniers and this led to the establisshment of the cavalry school at Saumur in 1768. The war record of the carabines was distinguished. They served in every campaign, displaying great bravery in victories such as Fontenoy or in defeats like Minden. One of the more spectacula feats by a carabinier occurred at the battle of Lawfeld, on 1 July 1747, when troopers Haube and Ibere captured the British cavalry's commanding general, Lord Ligonier." (

During the Napoleonic Wars there were only two regiments of horse carabiniers, the 1st and 2nd. (They briefly became 'Horse Grenadiers'). In 1792 the French Ministry of War ordered that the carabiniers must always be chosen from seasoned and reliable soldiers. They were armed with long, straight sabers and pistols.

In 1801 the strongest and tallest men and horses from the dissolved 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd Régiment d'Cavalerie were assigned to the horse carabiniers. Despite the flow of soldiers into their ranks in 1803 the two regiments were only 2 squadrons each. Napoleon strengthened them with young and robust recruits and brought their strength to 3 and 4 squadrons.

In Austerlitz (1805) the 1st and 2nd Carabiniers forught with the Russian dragoons and hussars with great result. In 1809 with the temporary absence of the Guard Cavalry, the 1st Carabiniers formed Napoleon's escort. The 1st and 2nd Carabiniers fought with Austrian cuirassiers at Alt-Eglofsheim.

French Horse Carabinier in 1812
wearing cuirass, helmet
and white uniform.
Musee l'Armee, Paris. In 1809 the carabiniers suffered badly in the hands of Austrian uhlans and Napoleon ordered to give them armor. Chlapowski, among others, described this combat: "The cuirassier division arrived, with the brigade of carabiniers at its head. ... Soon an uhlan regiment in six squadrons trotted up to within 200 paces of the carabiniers and launched a charge at full tilt. It reached their line but could not break it, as the second regiment of carabiniers was right behind the first, and behind it the rest of the cuirassier division. I saw a great many carabiniers with lance wounds, but a dozen or so uhlans had also fallen." (Chlapowski - "Memoirs of a Polish Lancer" p 60)
The tall bearskin was abandoned, and their new helmet was made of yellow copper, with iron chinstrap scales and a headband with the letter 'N' in front. The crest had a scarlet comb instead of the cuirassiers black horsehair. The cuirasses were almost identical in design to those worn by the cuirassiers, although they were covered with a sheet of brass (for officers red copper).
The visual effect was astounding !

Oficially the horse carabiniers wore white coats (jackets) but according to Rousellot (in 'Sabretache' 1987) only their officers wore white coats, the privates wore light blue ones. Faber du Faur also depicted the horse carabiniers in blue coats instead of white. According to some sources (for example Coppen) the carabiniers wore blue at Waterloo. Others claim that they also wore blue during the campaign in Russia (1812) and white only in the battle of Borodino.

In 1812 at Borodino the carabiniers repeatedly clashed with the Russian cuirassiers, hussars and dragoons. They fought with gusto until the end of battle when they were defeated by Russian Chevaliers and Horse Guard and then were charged - by mistake - by French cuirassiers. During the winter retreat from Russia they suffered horrible losses.

The campaign in Russia, and especially the reareat during winter, broke the backbone of the carabiniers and they never were the same. In 1813 in the Battle of Leipzig they panicked before Hungarian hussars. Rilliet from the 1st Cuirassiers witnessed the encounter. The 1st Carabiniers were in front and general Sebastiani was to the right of the regiment: all at once a mass of enemy cavalry, mainly Hungarian hussars, rode furiously down on the carabiniers. 'Bravo!' cried the general, laughing and waving the riding crop which was the only weapon that he designed to use.
'This will be charming; hussars charging the horse carabiniers.' But when the Hungarians were 100 paces away, the 1st Carabiniers turned about and fled leaving behind their brave general ! They hastily rode back on to the 2nd Carabiniers and both regiments hooved away. It was such a disgrace that when after battle a group of carabiniers entered a farm seeking quarters, the cuirassiers from the 5th Regiment teased them: "If you want hospitality, try the Hungarian hussars !" :=)
The Saxon cavalry also had young soldiers in their ranks but performed wonders at Leipzig. Marshal Macdonald describes another combat with the carabiniers: "My cavalry came up at the right time and performed very well but the Horse Carabiniers did very badly. I saw with my own eyes, ten sabre-lengths away, how one enemy squadron overthrew them."

In 1814 there was not much glory for the carabiniers neither, on one or two occasions they stampeded before the Cossacks and Russian cavalry.

In 1815 some of the carabiniers deserted to Wellington before the campaign began. There were enough carabiniers (and other cavalrymen) deserters, that Wellington formed a troop called "Bourbon Cavalry Corps." At Waterloo, a sergeant of 2nd Carabiniers and a thorough monarchist, deserted to the British just shortly before Napoleon's Guard attacked. He let the enemy know when and where the Guard will attack. (As claimed by British Sergeant Cotton) Captain Duthulit also stated that "this infamous criminal" was from the horse carabiniers, but he was an officer. Another carabinier deserted to the Netherland troops under Chasse. Other sources claim that it a cuirassier.
The remaining carabiniers however fought very well at Waterloo.

Horses and Weapons
Until the disastrous campaign in Russia in 1812 the carabiniers rode on big black horses. In 1813-1815 they were more flexible and rode on blacks, browns and dark bays. All the horses were of high quality, one of the best in Empire.
In 1805 the carabiniers received dragoon muskets. In 1810 their long straight sabers were replaced with slightly curved sabers (a la Montmorency). In 1812 the dragoon muskets were replaced with shorter cavalry carbines.

Colonels 1804-1815
1er Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1808 - Francois-Cajetan-Dominique-Phillipe-Andre- Antoine-Vincent-
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nicolas-Louis-Gaspard- Melchior-Balthazar Prince Aldobrandini-Borghese
. . . . . . . . . 1807 - Francois Laroche
. . . . . . . . . 1813 - Francois-Charles-Joseph de Bailliencourt
. . . . . . . . . 1815 - Arnaud Roge
2e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1803 - Pierre-Nicolas Morin
. . . . . . . . . 1807 - Amable-Guy Blanchard
. . . . . . . . . 1813 - Marie-Louis-Joseph de Seve
. . . . . . . . . 1815 - Francois Beugnat



The armored French cuirassiers were the descendants
of the medieval knights, who could turn a battle
with their sheer weight and brute force.
In 1809 arriving at Ratisbon, the 2nd Cuirassiers took part
in a fight with the Austrian Merveldt Uhlan Regiment first
and then against the Hohenzollern and Ferdinand Cuirassier
Regiments. Charged three times, the Austrians were routed,
the 2nd Cuirassiers took 200 prisoners fortified in a village.

Cuirassiers [Cuirasiers]
"One of French cuirassier regiments developed a unique test
for newly assigned officers. You were given 3 horses,
3 bottles of champagne, and 3 'willing girls' and 3 hours
to kill the champagne, cover the girls and ride a 20-mile course.
(Of course you could draw up your own schedule of events" :-)).
- Colonel John Elting, US Army

French cuirassiers.
Musee l'Armee in Paris. Napoleon formed cuirassiers as follow: the first twelve régiments d'Cavalerie received the strongest and tallest men and horses. Napoleon gave them armor and they were considered as elite troops. They were numbered 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Cuirassiers.
The 13th Cuirassiers was formed in 1809 from the 1st Provisional Heavy Cavalry Regiment.
The 14th Cuirassiers was formed in 1810 from the 2nd Dutch Cuirassiers. During the Invasion of Russia in 1812 this regiment had only 2 squadrons, other squadrons were formed in Holland and became available in 1813. In May 1812 they wore the white old (Dutch) uniforms and the new dark blue (French). Regiment was disbanded in 1814.
The 15th Cuirassiers was organized in 1814 in Hamburg from the elements drawn from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th Cuirassiers, officers were taken from many other regiments and all of them were mixed with big number of recruits. When the officers finally were able to mount one squadron the populace witnessed the warriors sprawled on the ground while their horses galloped away along the streets. They were disbanded in 1814.

While other types of cavalry had their important roles to play, it was the cuirassiers, the descendants of the medieval knights, who could turn a battle with their sheer weight and brute force. They looked dangerous everytime they ventured forward and the generals never employed them frivolously.

Some British officers thought that the cuirassiers were "Bonaparte's Bodyguard." But for the Russians, Austrians and Prussians Napoleon's heavy cavalry was a familiar opponent. The cuirassiers also fought with the famous Hungarian hussars. Chlapowski writes: "... regiment of [French] cuirassiers which after one charge got into a melee with some Hungarian hussars. I was surprised to see when the Hungarians retreated that far more of their bodies were lying dead than French" (Chlapowski, - p. 63)

The French cuirassiers were victorious in Austerlitz (1805), Jena (1806), Eylau (1807), Friedland (1807), Aspern-Essling (1809), Alt-Eglofsheim (1809) , Wagram (1809) , Borodino (1812) , Berezina, Dresden (1813) and Leipzig (1813).

In the battle of Berezina in 1812, battalions of Russian 18th Infantry Division stood in the wood. (There were two small meadows, open patches, in the wood, in which the infantry was posted.) The Russians were formed in columns and did not expect cavalry attack because of the forest cover. General Doumerc struck the Russians with the 4th, 7th, and 14th Cuirassier Regiment (totalling 450 men). The cuirassiers passed through the brush and woods, reformed, and fallen on the enemy. They sabered 500-750 men and took 2,000 prisoners.

French cuirassiers and infantry
captured the Great Rodoubt at Borodino In 1812 at Borodino, the French and Saxon cuirassiers captured the Great Redoubt defended by Russian infantry and artillery (see picture). Chlapowski of Old Guard Lancers writes: "The redoubt had been so ruined by cannon fire that the Emperor rightly jidged cavalry capable of taking it. So we watched the beautiful sight of our cuirassier charge." General Caulaincourt, with his eyes aflame with the ardor of battle, rode to the front of the cuirassiers and shouted: "Follow me, weep not for him [Montbrun], but come and avenge his death."
Grand Charge of French,
German, and Polish cuirassiers at Borodino. In reply to Murat's order to enter that redoubt right through the Russian line, he said, "You shall soon see me there, dead or alive." The trumpets sounded the charge, and putting himself at the head of this iron-clad cavalry, he dashed forward. The cavalrymen pressed on with sabers drawn. Wathier's 2nd Cuirassier Division arrived at the redoubt first, and as they were about to enter its rear they were greeted by a heavy volley from the infantry inside. General Caulaincourt was killed. The Raievski Redoubt was captured by cavalry, a feat never repeated ! Heinrich von Brandt writes: "I saw General Auguste de Caulaincourt, mortally wounded, being carried away in a white cuirassier cloak, stained deep red by his blood. There, in the redoubt, the bodies of infantrymen were scattered amongst French, Saxon, Westphalian and Polish cuirassiers uniformed in blue and in white. ... This was a crucial moment in the battle and the firing abated a little as if both sides wondered what to do next."

In 1815 at Quatre Bras, French cuirassiers, Private Henry and NCO Gauthire captured King's Color of the II Btn. of 69th Foot [GdD Kellermann wrote in his report (now in S.H.A.T. C15 5) to Ney after the charge: "We took the Color of the 69th which was captured by the cuirassiers Valgayer and Mourassin" (added with pencil by another hand: "Albisson and Henry ?").] American historian John Elting writes: "The 69th at once ordered its regimental tailors to make up a new flag, and denied any loss. Unfortunately, Napoleon had already announced the capture." (Elting - "Swords Around a Throne" p 352)

Elting: "Amazingly, at Waterloo the French had lost only 2 eagles, and those early in the battle to English cavalry." By contrast, they had taken either 4 or 6 colors - the number naturally is much disputed - from Wellington's army."
The captured colors were brought to and deposited in the farm of Le Caillou, farmhouse Napoleon had been using for his headquarters. Unfortunately during the retreat after battle the trophies were left there.

French cuirassier with 
captured British Color.
Picture by R. Desvarreux, France. Names of the French cavalrymen who captured Allies Colors:
- one Color was seized by Marechal de Logis Gauthier (Gautier) of 10th Cuirassiers
- one by Fourier Palau of the 9th Cuirassiers
- one by unknown cuirassier of the 8th Cuirassiers. He captured the Color of the British 69th Foot Regiment. (Kellermann to Davout, 24 June 1815, Arch.Serv.Hist.)
- one by Capitaine Klein de Kleinenberg from the Chasseurs of the Guard. He captured one Color of the KGL. (Lefebvre-Desnouettes to Drouot, 23 June 1815, Arch. Serv.Hist.)
General Delort mentions an English Color captured by an NCO of the 9th Cuirassier Regiment. Delort particpated in these charges and his account is in Houssaye’s ”1815 Waterloo” and in the Nouvelle Revue Retrospective. (published in 1897)

In 1815 at Waterloo Gen. Dornberg decided to attack a single cuirassier regiment with two of his own, British 23rd Light Dragoons and 1st KGL Light Dragoons (Germans). Dornberg's men outnumbered the French by 2 to 1. The two frontal squadrons of the French regiment were attacked on both flanks and routed. Dornberg's entire cavalry dashed after the fleeing enemy. But the French colonel, unlike his adversary, was holding two other squadrons in reserve, and these counterattacked and smashed the enemy. The British and Germans were remounting the slope in great disorder when another cuirassier regiment appeared and blocked their way. The French drew their sabers and awaited the enemy unmoving. "At the moment of impact, the light dragoons realized that their curved sabers were no match for the cuirassiers long swords, nor could they penetrate the French cuirasses. Seeing that his men were losing heart, Dornberg tried to lead some of them against the enemy flank. (Barbero - "The Battle" p 192)
General Dornberg writes: "At this point I was pierced through the left side into the lung. Blood started coming out of my mouth, making it difficult for me to speak. I was forced to go to the rear, and I can say nothing more about the action."

Blucher on the ground.
Battle of Ligny. In the Battle of Ligny in 1815, the commander of the Prussian army almost died under the hooves of the cuirassiers horses. General Blücher's horse (it had been a present from the Prince Regent of England) was hit and fell to the ground trapping the commander underneath it. His adjutant's horse was hit too.
According to Peter Hofschroer "Two more charges of French cavalry passed over the pair before help could arrive."

Although magnificent warriors the cuirassiers were not super humans, and sometimes failures and defeats happened. In most of such cases the enemy heavily outnumbered the cuirassiers. Or the cuirassiers had to deal with enemy's artillery, cavalry and infantry formed in squares - all in the same time.
Probably the only combat they ever lost while being numerically superior was at Heilsberg. In 1807 near Heilsberg the French dragoons and cuirassiers were badly mauled by Russian and Prussian cavalry. De Gonneville of the 6th Cuirassiers writes: "At this moment the grand duke of Berg (Murat) came up to us; he came from our right rear, followed by his staff, passed at a gallop across our front, bending forwards on his horse's neck, and as he passed at full speed by General Espagne, he flung at him one word alone which I heard, "Charge !" In the front was GdB Fouler's brigade (7th and 8th Cuirassiers). Murat throws himself into the thick of the fighting, heedless of all danger. On the fields by Langwiese - 1 km southwest from Lawden - developed a cavalry battle bewteen Uvarov's cavalry and d'Espagne's cuirassiers and Latour-Mauborg's dragoons. It was a bloody fight and costly for the French. Wounded were GdD d'Espagne, GdB Fouler, and colonels of 4th, 6th and 7th Cuirassiers. Col. Fulgent of the 4th Curassiers received a serious head wound from a sabre from which he eventually died. Also wounded were Col. Davenay and Col. Offenstein of the 6th and 7th Cuirassiers respectively. The only regimental commander to escape unscathed that day was Merlin of the 8th Cuirassiers, but one of the squadron flags of 8th was captured. Among the dragoons were wounded colonels of 4th, 14th and 26th Dragoons. Colonel Chipault of the 4th Cuirassiers had received 56 sabre cuts ! Murat's 6.000-9,000 cavalrymen were thrown back by 3,000-4,500 Russians and Prussians. By day's end, each cavalryman sabre will be dripping with blood.

In 1809 at Aspern-Essling approx. 2,500 French heavy cavalry (4th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Cuirassiers) led by Espagne attacked the Austrian center defended by strong artillery and numerous light cavalry (uhlans, hussars and chevauxlegeres). The French heavies received canister and then encountered four cavalry regiments deployed in a very long line. The Austrians instead of countercharging remained stationary. Their impressive stance communicated great resolve, and the French wavered. Then, two Austrian cuirassier regiments crashed into French flank and sent them reeling backward. Major Berret received two lance wounds from Schwarzenberg Uhlans. General Durosnel was wounded and taken prisoner.
The second attack made by Espagne's cuirassiers took place 1-2 hours later. This time they took three Austrian cavalry regiments in the flank. The Albert Cuirassiers, Ferdinand Cuirassiers and Knesevich Dragoons were routed. The Hungarian insurection cavalry stood in second line. They were irregulars and fled before the iron-clads reached them. Fresh Austrian cavalry advanced against the cuirassiers and the artillery and infantry opened fire. Espagne was struck in the face with canister and fell dead. General Fouler was wounded and taken prisoner by the Austrians. Three of his four colonels died in this battle.

In Borodino the French cuirassiers were unable to break Russian infantry formed in squares. Only the elite Saxon Garde du Corps managed to break one, weak square. "... Colonel Hrapovitsky [of Russian Guard Infantry] ordered [infantry] columns to form squares against the French cavalry. The cuirassiers made a vigorous attack but quickly paid a heavy price for their audacity. All squares, acting with firmness, opened fire and delivered battalion volleys ... The armour proved to be a weak defence against our fire and added no courage to them. The cavalrymen quickly showed us their backs and fled in disorder." (- Col. Alexander Kutuzov to Gen. Lavrov, report after Borodino)
In Waterloo (1815), the British, German and Dutch-Belgian infantry squares were repeatedly attacked by the cuirassiers. The British claimed that not a single square was broken. British researcher Siborne wrote that one square had a side "completely blown away and dwindled into a mere clump." The French sources however disagree with the British. For example Brigadier (then private) Pilloy of the French cuirasiers wrote that he charged three times against a British square finally riding "over and through it". (E. Tattet - “Lettres du brigadier Pilloy ...” in Carnet de la Sabretache, Vol 15th)
General Delort of the cuirassiers writes that: "several squares were broken."
Wellington's defensive line was overwhelmed by the French cavalry, his generals were forced to seek protection inside the squares, from where it became impossible to exercise command and control of own troops. The numerous British-German-Dutch cavalry counterattacked but made little impression on the French. Few weeks after the battle frustrated Wellington wrote to Lord Beresford that the French cuirassiers were moving among the squares as though they were their own. One battle was enough for the British to learn a healthy respect for the iron-clad warriors. Soldier Morris was so awestruck by the sheer size of the men and the horses, by their shining armor, that he thought "we could not have the slightest chance with them."

In 1813, on the last day of the battle of Leipzig, group of desperate cuirassiers charged into the city packed with Allied infantry. Swedish officer Wossido writes: "... part of the open space was strewn with abandoned wagons and that the Prussian and Swedish riflemen were in disorder. As a result we could hardly move forward and soon had to halt. Suddenly there came a shout from the gate: Cavalry ! For a moment we were so squashed by the troops withdrawing that we could scarcely keep on our feet. French cuirassiers rushed out of the gate and attacked us. There must have been 40 or 50 of them. They were fired upon from all sides and these reckless horsemen, who made this desperate charge, were in an instant laid down besides their horses." Graf von Hochberg of Baden described the same moment: "A squadron of French cuirassiers and a detachment of Polish lancers ... managed - for a short time - to take the gate from the enemy."

Horses and Weapons
The cuirassiers rode on big and strong horses.
When it came to hardware they were riding arsenals.

French cuirassier sabre and scabbard.
Photo from Military Heritage. On photo: French cuirassier sabre from Military Heritage >
When it came to hardware the cuirassiers were riding arsenals: body armor, helmets, pistols and long straigh sabers. When in 1812 they received carbines they made considerable effort to avoid carrying them. However, according to regimental inspections only 20 % had pistols. Rousselot moted that most contemporary illustrations shows the cuirassiers without cartridge box and carbine belt. He wrote that inspections reports conducted in 1805 showed that the 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th Cuirassier Regiment lacked cartridge boxes and belts. The troopers caried few rounds of ammunition in their pockets. Inspections in 1807 again showed lacks of the same items in 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th Cuirassier Regiment. They kept ammunition in their pockets.

The body armor was expensive. In 1815 there was not enough time to make the armor and at Waterloo the entire 11th Régiment was without it. It was also very uncomfortable to wear in summer. In 1809 many young cuirassiers discarded their armor.

The cuirassiers rode possibly on blacks, browns and dark bays.

General Nansouty.
He was considered cautious, reliable
and level headed commander.

Nansouty The most known cuirassier commanders were Generals Nansouty and d'Hautpoul. Etienne-Marie-Antoine Champion de Nansouty (1768-1815) came from aristocracy, went with the Revolution but did not put himself forward. Nansouty was a man of tradition, education and exactitude. "His men were always carefully trained and cared for. Yet there was no elan in his character, no readiness for an unexpected, all-out blow to save a desperate day. His disposition was mordant ... " ( John Elting, - p 162)

"He was considered cautious ... or even reluctant to bring his squadrons to battle, but that was mainly on those occasions that Murat was in overall command, who Nansouty considered to be somewhat over zealous and headstrong ... Although he was considered a good, level headed, reliable and tactically sound commander he lacked the flare and initiative of a LaSalle or Montbrun." (Terry Senior,

In Jena (1806) Nansouty commanded 1st Cuirassier Division made of 1st and 2nd Carabiniers, 2nd and 9th Cuirassiers. In Eylau (1807) Nansouty's 1st Cuirassier Division had only 9th and 11th Cuirassiers. In Wagram (1809) Nansouty's 1st Cuirassier Division had 1st and 2nd Carabiniers, 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 12th Cuirassiers. In 1812 during the Invasion of Russia and in the battle of Borodino, Nansouty commanded the I Cavalry Corps (6 cuirassier, 1 chasseur, 2 hussar, and 2 lancer regiments. He also had one German and two Polish regiments).

General Hautpoul
He was a giant of a man, a fiery commander
eager to charge at any time.

Hautpoul Jean-Joseph-Ange D'Hautpoul (1754-1807) was a giant of a man, with enormous body strength. He was a self-confident and very proud individual. In contrast to Nansouty, d'Hautpoul was a fiery commander eager to charge at any time. In 1794 at Aldenhoven Hautpoul crushed enemy cavalry twice as numerous and was promoted to the rank of general.

In Jena (1806) Hautpoul commanded 2nd Cuirassier Division (1st, 5th and 10th Cuirassiers). In Eylau (1807) Hautpoul's 2nd Cuirassier Division was made of 1st, 5th and 10th Cuirassiers. The giant man led his cavalry against Russian infantry and artillery. Hautpoul was struck by a Russian cannonball, which dented his armor and shattered his hip. He was taken wrapped in his bloodstained cloak to the nearby village where he died the following day.

Colonels 1804-1815.
1er Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1803 - Marie-Adrien-Francois Guiton
. . . . . . . . . 1805 - Sigismond-Frederic Berckheim
. . . . . . . . . 1809 - Antoine-Marguerite Clerc
. . . . . . . . . 1814 - Philippe-Christophe de la Mothe Guery
. . . . . . . . . 1815 - Michel Ordener
2e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1799 - Jean-Frederic Yvendorf
. . . . . . . . . 1805 - Claude-Louis Chouard
. . . . . . . . . 1811 - Pierre Rolland
. . . . . . . . . 1813 - Leonard Morin
. . . . . . . . . 1814 - Louis de la Biffe
. . . . . . . . . 1815 - Louis-Stanislas-Francois Grandjean
3e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1801/03 - Claude-Antoine-Hippolyte Preval
. . . . . . . . . 1806 - Jean-Louis Richter
. . . . . . . . . 1811 - Charles-Eugene-Lalaing d'Audenarde
. . . . . . . . . 1813 - Jean-Guillaume Lacroix
4e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1803 - Fulgent Herbaut
. . . . . . . . . 1808 - Francois-Cajetan-Dominique-Phillipe-Andre- Antoine-Vincent-
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nicolas-Louis-Gaspard- Melchior-Balthazar Prince Aldobrandini-Borghese
. . . . . . . . . 1812 - Michel-Menou Dujon
. . . . . . . . . 1815 - Jean-Nicolas Habert
5e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1802 - Jean-Baptiste Noirot
. . . . . . . . . 1806 - Jean-Charles Quinette
. . . . . . . . . 1811 - Philippe Chritophe
. . . . . . . . . 1814 - Armand-Louis Gobert
6e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1799 - Leonard Cacatte
. . . . . . . . . 1805 - Archange-Louis Rioult d'Avenay
. . . . . . . . . 1807 - Francois-Charles-Pierre-Marie d'Avrange d'Haugeranville
. . . . . . . . . 1811 - Isidore Martin
7e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1800/03 - Francois-Joseph Offenstein
. . . . . . . . . 1807 - Jacques-Charles Dubois
. . . . . . . . . 1812 - Michel Ordener
. . . . . . . . . 1813 - Claude-Francois Richardot
8e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1799/01 - Jean-Baptiste-Gabriel Merlin
. . . . . . . . . 1805 - Grandjean
. . . . . . . . . 1813 - Louis-Jean-Claude-Clement Lafaivre
. . . . . . . . . 1815 - Garavaque
9e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1799 - Jean-Pierre Doumerc
. . . . . . . . . 1806 - Pierre-Louis-Francois Paultre de Lamotte
. . . . . . . . . 1811 - De Murat-Sistrieres
. . . . . . . . . 1813 - Jean-Nicolas Habert
. . . . . . . . . 1814 - Francois Bigarne
10e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1797 - Pierre-Francois Lataye
. . . . . . . . . 1806 - Samuel-Francois L'Heritier
. . . . . . . . . 1809 - Louis-Bernard Frank
. . . . . . . . . 1812 - Pierre-Adrien de la Huberdiere
11e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1801/03 - Albert-Louis-Emmanuel Fouler
. . . . . . . . . 1806 - Antoine-Constant-Dioville Brancas
. . . . . . . . . 1809 - Pierre Duclaux
. . . . . . . . . 1813 - Francois-Nicolas Lefebvre
. . . . . . . . . 1815 - Eleonore-Ambroise Courtier
12e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1796 - Jacques-Renard Belfort
. . . . . . . . . 1805 - Joseph Dornes
. . . . . . . . . 1809 - Jean-Louis-Matheron de Curnieu
. . . . . . . . . 1813 - Michel-Jean-Paul Daudies
. . . . . . . . . 1815 - Charles-Nicolas Thurot
13e Régiment:
. . . . . . . . . 1807 - Guillaume-Francois d'Aigremont
. . . . . . . . . 1813 - Francois Bigarne

Cuirassier's uniform displayed
the markings of elite status.

Cuirassier's helmet was made of steel with brass comb, a black horse mane (for trumpeters red or white mane), a black cow-hide turban, black visor edged with brass, a tall red plume on the left side, and brass chin scales. The cuirass had front and back plates made of steel. It had leather straps with brass scales, the cuirass lining was edged with white in all regiments. The coat was dark blue with collar, facings, and cuffs in regimental color.

The tall black boots were considered necessary to protect the legs when the files of cavalry were pressed together. During the Napoleonic Wars there were two types of the tall boots. Boots with soft legs were worn during a long march but for parade they were replaced with boots with stiff legs. The hard boots looked great but they were not comfortable.

For the Grand Parade Uniform (Tenue de Grande Parade) was helmet with red plume, cuirass, coat, sabre, tall boots, and white culottes de peau. For the Campaign Uniform (Tenue de Campaign) was helmet with red plume (pompon was also popular), cuirass, coat, sabre, tall boots, and buff surculottes. For the Exercise Uniform (Tenue d’Ecurie) instead of the helmet and plume was worn a comfortbale bonnet de police. No cuirass.
The were also petit tenue, stable dress, walking-out dress, and a dress worn in barracks and billets.

French 1st Cuirassiers in 1812.
Musee l'Armee. The French cuirassiers of the Napoleonic wars wore dark blue coat, a flaming grenade on coat-tails and saddlecloth, red epaulettes and plume attached to their headwear. Inspections conducted in cuirassier regiments showed lack of epaulettes on big scale.
The cuirassiers also wore campaign heavy cloth breeches called surculottes. They were also called "over-breeches" as many soldiers wore them over the white breeches (or over the bucksins) for field service, march, battle etc. The over-breeches were buttoned down the sides and tucked into boots. These were made of wool or linen and were off-white, brown, brown-grey, light grey or dark grey.
Before campaign every cuirassier received white sheepskin to the regulation shabraque (cloth covering the saddle) and grey overalls called pantalons a cheval. The overalls were worn with or without the breeches underneath. Some overalls had cloth covered buttons down the outer seams while other had red laces instead of buttons. The first time the overalls were mentioned in official order was in the year of 1812 although they were used already in the 1790s. The decree of 1812 described the overalls as made of grey linen with cloth covered buttons. Due to its weight and numerous buttons this type of overalls was replaced by lighter overalls, often reinforced on the inside of the legs and around the bottoms with black leather. These lighter overalls might be grey, blue, red or green but during 1812-1815 the grey with orange or red stripe and without buttons were more common.

According to Decree isuued on April 7th 1807 : "From March 1st to December 1st the cuirassiers have to wear a mustache but must be clean shaven for the remaining 3 months." This regulation was until new one was issued on March 3rd 1809.

Cuirassier regiments.

No. Coat Breeches Collar and Turnbacks
1er dark blue white red
2e dark blue white red
3e dark blue white red
4e dark blue white orange
5e dark blue white orange
6e dark blue white orange
7e dark blue white yellow
8e dark blue white yellow
9e dark blue white yellow
10e dark blue white pink
11e dark blue white pink
12e dark blue white pink
13e dark blue white crimson
14e dark blue white crimson



"It has been said that the greatest inconvenience
resulting from the use of dragoons consists in the fact
of being obliged at one moment to make them believe
infantry squares cannot resist their charges, and the next moment
that a foot soldier is superior to any horseman..."
- General Jomini

Dragoons [Dragons]
"Opinions will be always divided as to those
amphibious animals called dragoons."
- General Jomini

Captain of 4th Dragoons, 
Musee l'Armee. During the decades before Napoleonic Wars only the dragoons were trained in infantry and cavalry duties. General Jomini wrote: "Opinions will be always divided as to those amphibious animals called dragoons. It is certainly an advantage to have several battalions of mounted infantry, who can anticipate an enemy at a defile, or scour a wood; but to make cavalry out of foot soldiers is very difficult. ... It has been said that the greatest inconvenience resulting from the use of dragoons consists in the fact of being obliged at one moment to make them believe infantry squares cannot resist their charges, and the next moment that a foot soldier is superior to any horseman... But it cannot be denied, however, that great advantages might result to the general who could rapidly move up 10,000 infantrymen on horseback to a decisive point ..."

During the Napoleonic Wars however all cavalrymen were trained in some infantry duties. They were universal soldiers capable of fighting from horse and on foot. The dragoons however were trained in infantry duties more than other cavalrymen and for this reason their horsemanship "was wobbly" and their swordsmanship was not of the highest order. They were teased especially by the hussars who considered themselves as the master swordsmen and horsemen.
Furthermore, dragoons horses were not as big and strong (and expensive) as cuirassiers' mounts, and their uniforms were not as colorful (and expensive) as hussars' outfits. It attracted less volunteers and thus in their ranks served more conscripts.

French dragoons with a guide.
Picture by Meissonier. In 1799-1800 France had 20 dragoon regiments.
Napoleon formed five new dragoon regiments (22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th) from the disbanded regiments d'cavalerie.
The 22nd Dragons was formed from the 13th and 20th l'Cavalerie,
the 23rd Régiment from 14th and 20th,
the 24th Régiment from 15th, 21st and 22nd,
the 25th Régiment from 16th and 21st,
the 26th from 17th and 21st,
and the 27th Régiment was from the 18th and 22nd l'Cavalerie.
The 21st Régiment was formed in 1800 from Piedmontese dragoons.
The 29th Régiment was formed in 1803 from Piedmontese hussars.

In 1804 Napoleon had 30 dragoon regiments.
In 1811 the 1st, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th and 20th Régiment were converted into lancers.
In 1815 there were only 15 dragoon regiments.

Foot dragoon, 
Musee de l'Armee French foot dragoons
by Keith Rocco. Napoleon could mount only part of his dragoons. That fact, combined with Napoleon's modern ideas of combining fire power and mobility, led him to the conclusion that units of foot dragoons should be formed. For his planned cross-Channel invasion of England, he organized two divisions of dismounted dragoons. They were put into infantry-style shoes, gaiters and packs. They also received drums to supplement their trumpets.
Colonel Elting writes: "The assignement was sensible, but troopers caught up in the shuffle remembered that veteran dragoons, who hadn't walked farther in years than the distance from their barracks to the nearest bar, ended up in the dismounted units, while their mounts were assigned to raw recruits. The results were rough on everybody: hospitals filled up with spavined veterans, recruits got saddle sores.
Also, J.A. Oyon wrote gleefully, matters turned ugly when mounted and dismounted elements of several regiments bivouaced together. The limping veterans crowded over to check on their old horses and found them neglected, sore-backed, and lame. Blood flowed freely, if only from rookies' noses."

French dragoons with
captured Prussian color. In the first phase of Napoleonic Wars they served on the primary theater of war, in Central Europe, before being sent to Spain and Italy. The dragoons distinguished themselves in several battles.
In November 1805 the dragoon brigade under Sebastiani took 2,000 prisoners at Pohrlitz.
In 1806 and 1807 large numbers of the green-clad dragoons participated in the Jena and Friedland Campaigns. They distinguished themselves in several actions against the Prussians and Russians. According to Eduard Löwenstern in 1807 at Golymin the Russian Soumy Hussars was attacked by French 4th and 7th Dragoons and was overthrown. The fleeing hussars run toward the Ingermanland Dragoons but these dragoons didn’t let them pass without jeering.
In 1814 at Nangis the French dragoons, veterans from Spain attacked Pahlen’s cavalry. The Russian center was broken and the Chuguiev Uhlans, Soumy and Olviopol Hussars and some Cossacks fled. Even General Witgenstein and his chief of staff had to run for life. The hot pursuit only slackened near Maison-Rouge.

In 1807 near Friedland the dragoons defeated Russian uhlans. Below is a description of this combat by Kornet F. V. Bulgarin of [Russian] Duke Constantine Uhlans. One squadron of uhlans under Shcheglov stood by 2 light guns that fired at French foot skirmishers. This little cannonade went for a while before a column of enemy cavalry went out of the wood. The front of this column was not too wide but its depth was unknown to the uhlans. According to Bulgarin two squadrons of uhlans and one squadron of Lifeguard Cossacks advanced against the enemy. They moved in column by platoons (each squadron had 4 platoons) with intervals on the distance of platoon, passed through a village, formed by squadrons and then rushed forward with loud battle cry. Shcheglov rode in the front with outstretched saber.
The column of French dragoons halted and stood motionless like a stonewall [kak kamennaia stiena] waiting for the enemy. The dragoons from the second rank grabbed their muskets and began firing while these in the first rank drew sabers and waited. The charging uhlans first slowed down and then halted. The French sounded massive “En avant ! Vive l’Empereur!” and advanced forward en masse. The uhlans and Cossacks gave way before the sheer weight of the column. Their retreat was covered by flankers who opened fire on the pursuing dragoons. The column made a half turn to the right and tried to cut off the way of retreat for the uhlans and Cossacks.
The Russians dashed rightward but here unforseen misfortune blocked their path, it was a robust wattling. The Cossacks jumped off their mounts and tried to remove this obstacle, while the rear ranks of the uhlans frantically fought with the head of the French column. The French officers fired their pistols at point blank, while some dragoons used their muskets and long swords. Bulgarin's horse was hit by two bullets to the head and fell down like an oak. Bulgarin barely escaped on foot.

French dragoons in Spain, by M.Churms. After 1807 majority of the dragoons served on secondary theaters of wars, Spain and Italy. Many of the regiments in Spain lacked uniforms, horses and equipment. For example in Spain they were dressed in the brown cloth of the Capucines found in convents and churches. They also had difficulty in obtaining eppaulettes for their elite companies and chin straps. For lack of sufficient number of regulation sabers the old Toledo-swords with three edges were used. But the dragoons were efficient troops. They fought a grim and deadly war of ambush and retaliation against the hostile Spaniards. They guarded communication lines and escorted convoys.
In Spain the British cavalry inflicted several notable defeats on the dragoons. The British cavalrymen were superior swordsmen to the dragoons, and had better horses.

If not the best horsemen and swordsmen many dragoons were brave men. British author Costello writes: "One of their videttes, after being posted facing English dragoon, of the 14th or 16th [Light Dragoon Regiment] displayed an instance of individual gallantry, in which the French, to do them justice, were seldom wanting.
Waving his long straight sword, the Frenchman rode within 60 yards of our dragoon, and challenged him to single combat. We immediately expected to see our cavalry man engage his opponent, sword in hand. Instead of this, however, he unslung his carbine and fired at the Frenchman, who not a whit dismayed, shouted out so that every one could hear him, Venez avec la sabre: je suis pret pour Napoleon et la belle France. Having vainly endeavoured to induce the Englishman to a personal conflict, and after having endured two or three shots from his carbine, the Frenchman rode proudly back to his ground, cheered even by our own men. We were much amused by his gallantry, while we hissed our own dragoon ... " (Costello "The Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns" pp 66-67)

Lord Paget captured by French dragoons, by Dubourg One of the dragoons' greatest successes in Spain came in 1812. The second in command of the British army, Lord Paget, as Henry William Paget was then styled, was captured by the French dragoons.
Napier writes: "In one of these charges General Paget was carried off from the midst of his own men, and it might have been Wellington's fortune, for he also was continually riding between the columns and without escort." (Napier - "History of the War in the Peninsula 1807-1814" Vol IV, p 152)
[In 1815 at Waterloo, Henry William Paget, commanded allied cavalry and led the charge, which checked and in part routed D'Erlon's infantry corps.]

French dragoons. In 1815 during the Waterloo Campaign there were only 15 dragoon regiments and these fought to the very end of the war. On 1 July (approx. half month after Waterloo) several dragoons regiments marched toward Villacoublay. This force was screened by a small vangaurd. The vanguard met two Prussian squadrons and was thrown back in the first clash. Behind it, however, the 5th and the 13th Dragoons deployed out of the wood. Two Prussian regiments arrived, the (3rd) Brandenburg Hussars and (5th) Pomeranian Hussars The dragoons were driven back and fled to the village.
Meanwhile, General Exelmans had found another way into the village for his following regiments and the 20e Dragoons with an unlimbered battery appeared in the flank of the Prussian hussars before they had reformed. The hussars had to retreat, but quickly rallied and counter-charged the French, forcing them again to the village. With another regiment just joining the French, the hussars retired to Versailles. The French pursuit was so vigorous that the rearguard, the Brandenbourg Hussars, had to make several charges to force Exelmans to break off. The dragoons reached Versailles from several directions and the Prussians were caught in a trap. The commander of the Prussians, von Sohr, was severely wounded and taken prisoner. Only few escaped. Major von Klinkowstroem, commander of the Brandenburg Hussars, wrote: "In the hopeless bloody battle that followed many of us fell."
Prussian General Blucher After rallying the survivors Major von Wins went to report the defeat to Blucher, who was colonel-in-chief of the (5th) Hussars. Nostitz described the scene: "... Major von Wins unexpectedly rode up and stopped. The major dismounted ... came up to me, saying in a very excited voice, 'What you see here is all that is left of the two hussar regiments. Everyone else is either dead or taken prisoner.' I was very surprised. ... Major von Wins ... demanded to be taken to the Prince (Blucher). I tried to stop him, telling him his reception would be highly unpleasant. However, that did not help and I had to announce him. The Prince heard the report in growing anger and then cried out in rage, 'Lord ! If what you are saying is true, then I wish the devil had fetched you too !"

One of the worst defeats the dragoons have ever suffered, occured in Eastern Prussia, at Burkersdorf. On February 14th 1807, the 5th, 8th, 9th, 12th, 16th and 21st Dragons (total of 18 squadrons) led by GdD Milhaud were at Burkersdorf, a village between Eylau and Königsberg. These regiments formed the 3rd Dragoon Division that was retreating after a reconnaisance in force. (In 1815 at Waterloo, Milhaud led eight weak cuirassier regiments against the British, German and Netherland infantry, artillery and cavalry).
An inferior force of 400 Soumy Hussars and 350 Cossacks followed Milhaud for some time. According to Löwenstern the first encounter took place in the morning and the French appeared to be eager to fight. But he exagerrate somehow that after the first “hoorah!” the dragoons fled. Actually two hussar squadrons and 200 Cossacks attacked the frontal six squadrons but were pushed back. Then four hussar squadrons came out of village and struck with great impetuosity the French flank.
Milhaud ordered the nearest dragoon brigade to face the attackers but it failed to do so on time. Instead the brigade was broken and fled. Whereupon the two other brigades, seeing the rout, turned about and hooved away. The dragoons could not be rallied until they had gone three miles to the rear.
Milhaud was infuriated at their perforance and ashamed at the swift defeat. General Milhaud attempted to commit suicide by attacking the Russians while being accompanied by only four dragoons. Yermolov mentions that two of the exhausted French squadrons fled across a frozen lake. The Soumy Hussars and the Cossacks caught up with them and took as prisoners. Sir Robert Wilson writes that the French dragoons lost 400 killed and 288 captured as prisoners. Bennigsen gives the French casualties at 400 and one standard (guidon?). Löwenstern wrote that the hussars didn’t allow the French to gather, chased them to Ludwigsdorf (Ludwigswalde ?) and captured 300 prisoners. He explains that Colonel Ushakov send for two squadrons who were 2 miles away from Burkersdorf but these forces came too late to participate in the battle. (Löwenstern - “Mit Graf Pahlens Reiterei gegen Napoleon” Berlin 1910, Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn, page 18.)
Shikanov gives 180 prisoners and squadron standard/guidon of the 8e Dragons. (Shikanov V.H. - “Pervaia Polskaia Kampania 1806-1807” page 178)
Löwenstern also described how the village quickly became a market place where captured watches, weapons, uniforms, tobacco, pistols and horses were offered for sale.

Despite being defeated by the British cavalry in Spain, mercilessly harassed by the Cossacks in Eastern Prussia and Russia, and despite being teased all the time by the French hussars, the dragoons served well. And they were loyal to the Emperor. In 1814, shortly after Napoleon's first abdication, the Russian and Prussian armies were drawn up on both sides of the road leading to Paris. They presented arms to the French. General Bordesoulle met the 30th Dragoon Regiment and ordered them to draw sabers and render the honors. The colonel of the 30th Dragoons was in very bad mood. He replied: "If my dragoons draw sabers it will be to charge !"

Horses and Weapons.
Many dragoons were mounted on foreign horses.
When the dragoons expected to go into action
they drew sabers and muskets slung on their backs.

Napoleon had problems to find the right horses for his dragoons. In 1805 approximately 6.000 of them were without mounts and were organized into 4 foot dragoon regiments. Their duty was to guard the artillery reserves and the baggage trains. After the 1805-campaign Napoleon mounted the foot dragoons on captured Austrian horses. Then after the 1806-campaign Napoleon mounted the rest of the "walkers" on captured Prussian and Saxon horses.

The hardships of war in Spain, plus poor horsecare killed thousands of dragoons' mounts. For example in May 1811 the 3rd Dragons had only 139 horses left out of 563 ! The situation was so desperate that in 1812 was issued an order that all officers in infantry regiments have to give their horses to the dragoons.

The dragoons were armed with straight sabers and muskets. Their muskets were longer and had longer range of fire than light cavalry's carbines. While a light cavalryman's eqipment included a carbine sling as a means of keeping his weapon readily available for use, the greater length of musket issued to dragoons made a sling impractical. Thus the stock of the musket was seated in a boot attached to the saddle, and irs barrel restrained by a strap attached to the pommel.
When the dragoons expected to go into action they drew sabers and muskets slung on their backs. In 1813 at Dresden the Austrian infantry kept falling back, with their muskets useless during rain. The French dragoons followed them, loaded their firearms under their capes and fired into the enemy ranks. Two companies of infantry surrendered to the dragoons.

In 1814 the dragoons gave away their long muskets for the infantry.


In February 1808 Napoleon gave each dragoon regiment 8 sappers.
They wore red eppaulettes and bearskins but with no front plate.

Emmanuel marquis Grouchy (1766-1847)
"A thin-skinned man, reluctant to assume responsibility
yet conscientious in discharging it. ...
He was far superior to Murat in tactical skill,
administrative ability, and common sense."

Grouchy One of the most known dragoons was Emmanuel Grouchy. John Elting writes: " [he] was of the ancient chivalry of France, his family acknowledged aristocracy from at least the 14th Century. ... From the first it was clear that he was 'a horseman by nature and cavalry soldier by instinct.' Better, he knew how to handle forces of all arms and took good care of his men. When he was suspeneded in 1793 because he was an aristocrat, his troopers came close to mutiny. ... Grouchy's correspondence shows a thin-skinned man, reluctant to assume responsibility yet conscientious in discharging it. Actually he was abler than he realized. He failed to show the necessary initiative during Waterloo but, left isolated after that battle, managed a masterful retreat. As a cavalryman, he was far superior to Murat in tactical skill, administrative ability, and common sense. Clean-handed and very courageous ..."

In 1806 and at Jena, Grouchy led 2nd Dragoon Division (10th, 11th, 13th and 22nd Dragoons). In 1809 at Wagram, he led Dragoon Division [Brigade ?] (7th, 30th Dragoons, and la Reine Dragoons) against the Austrians. When Blankenstein Hussars routed Jacquinot's cavalry Grouchy's dragoons, in turn, routed the hussars. Hohenzollern Cuirassiers and O'Reilly Chevauxlegeres came and then forced back the dragoons. But it was Grouchy who had the last reserve and he drove off the Austrian horse. In 1812 in Borodino, Emmanuel Grouchy commanded the III Cavalry Corps (4 dragoon, 3 chasseur, and 1 hussar regiment. He also had three German regiments).

Dragoon's uniform was elegant
but was a not very fancy.

The dragoons wore green coats, white breeches and tall black boots.
The distinctive headgear of the dragoons was their brass, neo-Grecian style, helmet with its black horsehair. Troopers had a brown fur turban around it, officers an imitation leopard skin. The dragoons wore insygnia of elite troops, but only a flaming grenade on coat-tails and saddlecloth.

Uniforms of French dragoon regiments.

No. Coat Breeches Collar Turnbacks
1er green white scarlet scarlet
2e green white green scarlet
3e green white scarlet scarlet
4e green white scarlet scarlet
5e green white green scarlet
6e green white scarlet scarlet
7e green white crimson crimson
8e green white green crimson
9e green white crimson crimson
10e green white crimson crimson
11e green white green crimson
12e green white crimson crimson
13e green white pink pink
14e green white green pink
15e green white pink pink
16e green white pink pink
17e green white green pink
18e green white pink pink
19e green white yellow yellow
20e green white green yellow
21e green white yellow yellow
22e green white yellow yellow
23e green white green yellow
24e green white yellow yellow
25e green white orange orange
26e green white green orange
27e green white orange orange
28e green white orange orange
29e green white green orange
30e green white orange orange

French dragoons between 1809 and 1812, picture by Jouineau of France



At Waterloo Sir Ponsonby together with his adjutant, Mjr Reignolds
made a dash to own line, and a French lancer began pursuing them.
While they were crossing a plowed field, Ponsonby's horse got stuck
in the mud and in an instant, the lancer was upon him.
Ponsonby threw his saber away and surrendered.

Reignolds came to his aid, but the lancer compelled both of them
to dismount under the threat of his lance. At that moment, a group
of Scots Grays happened to pass a short distance away, saw the three
and galloped shouting in their direction with the idea of liberating
Sir Ponsonby. "In a flash, the Frenchman killed the general and his
major with 2 blows of his lance then charged the oncoming dragoons
striking down 3 in less than a minute. The others abandoned the combat
completely incapable of holding their own ..."
A. Barbero - "The Battle"

Lighthorse-Lancers [Chevau-Légers Lanciers]
"The Polish lancer, as well as the French lancer distinguished himself
by his elegant appearance; but the looks of this last were softer
and the colors of his origin moderated,
in respect to the military roughness of the first figure."
- St. Hilaire

Picture: officer of 1st Lancer Regiment in parade uniform
in 1812-1814. Picture by S.Letin.

St.Hilaire writes: "The Polish lancer, as well as the French lancer distinguished himself by his elegant appearance; but the looks of this last were softer and the colors of his origin moderated, in respect to the military roughness of the first figure. As brave as the Polish lancer, the French lancer had a lively mood; he was more sober especially in his way of living, while the intemperance of Polish had become proverbial in the army."

The Poles were acknowledged to be the finest lancers in Europe and Russia, Prussia and Austria recruited their uhlan units from among the Polish subjects. It was followed by an imitative creation of lancer regiments all across Western Europe (France, Germany and even the British got around to it after Napoleonic wars).

French lancers with
captured Austrian cuirassier,
picture by Lalauze Before the Russian campaign Napoleon wanted to oppose the Cossacks who were nimble, tough warriors.
The 1st, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th and 29th Dragoons were converted to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Lancers. The Vistula Uhlans and the Old Guard Lancers sent their troopers as instructors to the newly formed French units. Colonel of the Vistula Uhlans, Jan Konopka, became Chief Inspector of Training for the newly formed French lancer regiments.
Once trained by the Poles the regiments received tough lot of French officers "such as Perquit... who didn't recognize any danger." (Elting - "Swords Around a Throne")

The 7th and 8th Lancers were formed from Poles, by conversion of the 1st and 2nd Vistula Uhlans. They wore their traditional Polish style uniforms (no helmets). The 9th Regiment was considered also Polish but actually it was made of Germans and small number of Poles and Frenchmen. This regiment was formed by conversion of the 30th Chasseurs. "The 9th Regiment was raised in 1811 in Hamburg and initially had green uniforms with chamois facings. In 1813 the basic uniform colour turned to dark blue as for the 7e and 8r regiments, but with its own facings in chamois." (- Dr. E. M. Theewen)

Quatre Bras: the French lancers attacked
the 42nd Highlanders. Black Watch Museum, Dalhousie Castle in Perth. Only few lancers served in 1812 in Russia. There was however much more to do for them in 1813 in Saxony and in 1814 in France. The French lancers fought with success at Dresden and Leipzig.
In 1815 at Quatre Bras the lancers created havoc among the Netherlands and British troops. Peter Hofschroer writes: "... squares of British infantry held off the French cavalry at first, but the square of the 42nd was broken and the 44th was thrown into disorder, the colour of the 44th being fought over. ... The Prince of Orange was caught in the rout, but was saved by the speed of his mount... [Wellington] with his steed also helping to extract him from similarly precarious position." (- Hofschroer "1815: The Waterloo Campaign")

Sergeant Anton of the 42nd Highland recorded the attack of the lancers: "Marshal Ney ... observed our wild unguarded zeal, and ordered a regiment of lancers to bear down upon us. We saw their approach at a distance, as they issued from a wood, and took them for Brunswickers coming to cut up the flying [French] infantry ... a German [KGL] orderly dragoon galloped up, exclaiming 'Franchee ! Franchee !' and, wheeling about, galloped off. We instantly formed a rallying square; no time for particularity: every man's musket was loaded, and our enemies approached at full charge; the feet of their horses seemed to tear up the ground. ... our brave Colonel [Sir Robert Macara] fell at this time, pierced through the chin until the point reached his brain. Captain Menzies fell covered with wounds. ... The grenadiers [of 42nd Highland], whom he commanded, pressed round to save or avenge him, but fell beneath the enemies lances." The official report of the Hanoverian brigade described the action that soon followed: "... Verden Battalion was not able to fall back quickly enough and was largely ridden down or taken prisoner."

Scots Greys routed by
the French lancers in 1815.
Picture by Brian Palmer. In 1815 at Genappe, Colonel Surd of 2e Lanciers, was badly wounded by the British cavalry. His arm was amputated by surgeon Larrey. But Surd insisted on maintaining command of his regiment and in fact led his men all day long against the Prussians at Plancenoit.

In the memoirs of Waterloo, the French lancers, galloping at will over the battlefield, sending saber-armed cavalry fleeing before them, and calmly stopping to finish off the wounded without even having to dismount, appear as an image of horror. Wyndham of the Scots Grays saw the lancers pursuing British dragoons who had lost their mounts and were trying to save themselves on foot. He noted the ruthlessness of the lancers' pursuit and watched them cut their victims down. Some British cavalrymen on foot slipped in the mud and tried to ward off the lance blows with their hands but without much success.
In the Battle of Waterloo, Sir Ponsonby together with his adjutant, Major Reignolds made a dash to own line, and a French lancer quickly began pursuing them. While they were crossing a plowed field, Ponsonby's horse got stuck in the mud in an instant, the lancer was upon him. Ponsonby threw his saber away and surrendered. Reignolds came to his aid, but the lancer compelled both of them to dismount under the threat of his lance. At that moment, a small group of Scots Grays happened to pass a short distance away, saw the three, and galloped shouting in their direction with the idea of liberating Sir Ponsonby. "In a flash, the Frenchman killed the general and his brigade major with 2 blows of his lance, then boldly charged the oncoming dragoons striking down 3 in less than a minute. The others abandoned the combat, completely incapable of holding their own against the enemy's deadly weapon." (Barbero - "The Battle" p 163)

Giving lances to poorly trained men
didn't make them good lancers.
They were rather 'men with sticks' than lancers.

French lancers in 1812,
during the campaign in Russia. 
Picture by Detaille, France. Mastery with lance required training and strong hand. "It took a lot of extra training to produce a competent lancer. A British training manual produced some years after Waterloo stated that he had to master 55 different exercises with his lance - 22 against cavalry, 18 against infantry, with 15 general ones thrown in for good measure." (Adkin - "The Waterloo Companion" p 247)

Giving lances to poorly trained men didn't make them good lancers, they were 'men with sticks' not lancers. Lancer was a formidable opponent. Before World War I Mr. Wilkinson "have watched and recorded hundreds of competitions between men equally experts in the use of their weapons but lance won by the every large majority of them."

In 1813 the 125-men strong company of French lancers (regiment had 4-8 companies) was armed as follow:

  • in 1st rank
    . . . . . . . 2 sergeants each with a saber and 2 pistols
    . . . . . . . 4 corporals each with a saber, 1 pistol, musketoon with bayonet and lance
    . . . . . . . 44 troopers each with a saber, 1 pistol and a lance
  • in 2nd rank
    . . . . . . . 4 corporals each with a saber, 1 pistol, and a musketoon with bayonet
    . . . . . . . 44 troopers each with a saber, 1 pistol, and a musketoon with bayonet
  • supernumerary rank
    . . . . . . . 1 sergeant-major, 1 farrier and 2 sergeants each with a saber and 2 pistols
    . . . . . . . 3 trumpeters, and 2 farriers each with a saber and 1 pistol
    . . . . . . . 9 troopers each with a saber and a carbine
    . . . . . . . 9 troopers each with a saber and a lance
    (Total of 125 sabers, 109 pistols, 57 lances, 52 musketoons with bayonets and 9 carbines.)

    Colonels 1811-1815.
    1er Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811- Paul-Ferdinand-Stanislas Dermontcourt
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas Jacquinot
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Jean-Baptiste Dubessy
    2e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Pierre-Marie-Auguste Berruyer
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Jean-Sylvestre Joannes
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Bouquerot des Essarts
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Sourd
    3e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Alexandre-Louis-Jules Lebrun
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Charles-Joseph Hatry
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Eugene-Gabriel-Louis-Texier d'Hautefeuille
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Charles-Francois Martique
    4e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Jean-Louis-Charles Guenon Deschamps
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Louis Bro
    5e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Francois-Felicite Chabert
    6e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Jacques-Phiippe Avice
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Laurent-Francois-Marie Marbeuf
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Nicolas-Marie-Mathurin de Galbois
    7e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Ignacy-Ferdinand Stokowski
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Kazimierz Alexander Tanski
    8e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Tomasz Lubienski
    9e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Martin-Charles Gobrecht
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Jan-Maximilian Fredro

    Uniforms of French lancer regiments.

    left: 5th Lancers, right: 7th Lancers
    No. Coat Breeches Collar &
    1er green green scarlet
    2e green green orange
    3e green green pink
    4e green green crimson
    5e green green light blue
    6e green green red
    7e dark blue dark blue yellow
    8e dark blue dark blue dark blue
    9e dark blue dark blue light beige

    French lancers in 1813. Picture by Jouineau, France.

  • ~


    The dragoons and the chasseurs were
    the most numerous French cavalry.
    Napoleon's escort was made of chasseurs.

    Horse Chasseurs [Chasseurs-à-Cheval]
    They thought being equal to hussars,
    the hussars however thought otherwise.

    8th Chasseur Regiment. The dragoons and the chasseurs were the most numerous French cavalry. The horse chasseurs [chasseurs-a-cheval] were light cavalry and were often brigaded with the hussars. The most famous was the Infernal Brigade (9th Hussars, 7th and 20th Chasseurs) commanded by General Colbert. Two other brigades worth mention are Col. Soult's Brigade (8th Hussars, 16th and Chasseurs) and Gen. Pajol's Brigade (5th and 7th Hussars, 3rd Chasseurs).

    The chasseurs-à-cheval thought being equal to hussars, the hussars however thought otherwise. Frequent quarrels arose between the two on the most triffling pretext.

    Some of the chasseurs were reckless bravados - in 1809 an officer of 20th Chasseurs dismounted so that he could go a little toward the enemy in order to relieve nature. When he was standing with his legs apart and facing the Austrians, a cannonball hit him killing on the spot.
    "Among the bravest chasseurs in the regiment was reckoned a corporal of the Elite Company who, when he was only a trumpeter, and barely at the age of 15, made captive with his own hand a gigantic dragoon of [Austrian] Latour regiment." ( Parquin - "Napoleon's Victories")

    Many chasseurs kept their hair braided like the hussars and were proud of their mustaches. Charles Parquin of 20th Chasseurs was not so lucky in this aspect, he wrote: "to my grief, my moustache had refused to grow despite constant encouragement with the razor." ;=)

    In 1798 the Directorate had 22 regiments of chasseurs before Napoleon increased their numbers. In 1804 there were 24 regiments, and in 1811 as many as 31 regiments. Only in 1815 were 15 regiments.
    In no other branch of cavalry served so many foreigners, six regiments of chasseurs were formed of foreigners:
    16th - Belgians.
    19th - Swiss, later of Italians.
    26th - formed in 1802 of Italians.
    27th - formed in 1808 of Belgians and Germans.
    28th - formed in 1808 of Italians.
    30th - formed in Feb 1811 of Germans,
    (in June this unit became 9th Lancers)

    Chasseur and his horse.  
Picture by Bellange, France. There were several reasons why the Emperor formed so many regiments of chasseurs. Their uniforms were cheaper than hussars' outfits and their horses were cheaper than cuirassiers' mounts. The chasseurs were also capable of dismounted action, like the dragoons.
    Some regiments were trained for several months (at least in 1805) to handle the cannons. Although they "we never had the opportunity of using the talent which we acquired" (- Charles Parquin of 20th Chasseurs.)
    Chasseurs were probably the most universal type of French cavalry. Napoleon's escort was formed of seasoned veterans selected from all the chasseur regiments.

    The chasseurs were also capable of charging in a pitched battle.
    In 1805 at Austerlitz 5th and 26th Chasseurs captured Allies flag.
    In 1809 at Wagram, Colbert's 'Infernal Brigade' (9th Hussars, 7th and 20th Chasseurs) rushed against Austrian infantry. The 7th Chasseurs was greeted with musket volley and fell back. Colbert was seriously wounded. The 20th Chasseurs moved against the square that had just repulsed the 7th. Despite having emptied their muskets the infantrymen were standing firm. The chasseurs however attacked and broke the square. Other square was broken by the 9th Hussars. Now Oudinot advanced against Wagram and took it.
    On June 14th 1812 part of the Russian Yamburg Dragoons covered the distance of 105 verst from the village of Zbegi, through Shaty, Zheimy to Vepry, all without sleep and feeding the horses. Two young Russian officers led two squadrons of the Yambourg Dragoons as they ran into a body of French chasseurs and accepted the battle. Most of the Russians were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners. (Krestovski - “Istoriya 14-go Ulanskago Yamburskago Eya Imperatorskago Vysochestva Velikoi Knyazhny Marii Aleksandrovny Polka” St. Petersburg 1873, pages 180-182)

    5th Chasseur Regiment.  
Picture by Keith Rocco, USA. The chasseurs however were best suited to reconnaissance duties and small warfare. On 8th February 1814 a half squadron of 31st Chasseur captured 150 Austrian infantry near Massimbona. Another squadron captured 300 infantry between Marengo and Roverbella. Even the scouts of the regiment did something to be proud of, they captured an Austrian baggage column, which was moving into Villafranca with its escort. (Nafziger and Gioannini - "The Defense of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Northern Italy, 1813-1814" pp 160-162)

    There were also few failures in this type of warfare. De Rocca writes: "Not far from the village of Mia Casas, the Spaniards had placed several squadrons of their best cavalry in ambush, this chosen cavalry fell unawares upon the chasseurs of our advanced guard, who were marching without order ... Our horsemen were overpowered by numbers ... and, in less than 10 minutes, our enemies completely destroyed upwards of 150 of the bravest of our 10th Regiment. ... We arrived too late; we saw nothing but the cloud of dust at a distance, which the retiring Spaniards left behind them. The colonel of the 10th was endeavouring to rally his chasseurs, and tearing his hair at the sight of the wounded strewed here and there over a pretty considerable space of ground."

    The chasseurs had problems especially with the Cossacks in 1812. "Each morning it's the light cavalry, joined by Murat in person, that opens the march, the hussar and chasseur regiments ... Day after day the Russian rearguard carries out the same maneuvre. By pretending to make a stand, it lures Murat into mounting a full scale attack - and then melts away into forests. Towards midday the heat becomes intolerable; and the chasseurs and hussars 'seeing the Russians dismount, unbridle their horses and give them something to eat. Yet General St. Germaine kept us standing in battle array, bridle on arm, at our horses' heads. (Britten-Austin - "1812 The March on Moscow" p 124)
    In the Battle of Ostrovno the 16th Chasseurs withheld its volley until the Cossacks were 30 paces away. Despite the fire the enemy closed with the chasseurs and drove them back. Only the intervention of Murat’s cavalry allowed the chasseurs to take refuge behind the 53rd Ligne and in the ravive. The Russians attempted to go after the chasseurs but the steady musketry from the 53rd Ligne repulsed them several times.

    Uniforms and Weapons.

    French light cavalry sabre and scabbard, 1802.<br>
Photo from Military Heritage. Picture: French light cavalry sabre and scabbard (1802). Photo from Military Heritage >
    In early campaigns the chasseurs-a-cheval were armed with two types of sabers: a la husarde and a la chasseur. Both weapons were replaced by light cavalry saber Pattern XI. It was a good weapon, with a slightly curved blade.

    1777 Model Carbine or Musketoon
used by the French cavalry.
Photo from Military Heritage. Picture: French cavalry carbine from Military Heritage >
    The chasseurs were armed also with carbines and bayonets. The bayonets were disliked by cavalrymen, they were used for digging up the potatoes and then threw away.

    The chasseurs wore shakos, green coats, green breeches and short boots. The elite companies wore colpacks instead of shakos. In 1812 was ordered to replace the colpacks with shakos with red bands and shevrons.
    Chasseurs' legwears:
    - the green tight breeches were also called parade trousers or culotte hongroise
    - the overalls made of rough, unbleached cloth were called stable trousers or pantalons d'ecurie.
    - the color or gray trousers with leather reiforcement were called campaign trousers or charivari. There were several types of the campaign trousers. See below:
    LEFT: during campaign and in battle the Guard chasseurs wore dark green trousers, strengthened with black leather on the inside and around the bottoms. The trousers were closed on the outside by 18 buttons sewn on scarlet bands.
    RIGHT: in 1808 new trousers were introduced. They were without the closures and buttons on outside of each seam. Instead each seam was covered by 2 orange stripes (golden for officers). In 1811 the leather reinforcements were replaced by an layer of green cloth.
    In 1812 after the campaign in Russia the grey overalls became more popular than ever. Many were made of so-called 'Marengo-grey' cloth with black leather reinforcements and 2 crimson stripes along each outside seam. The grey overalls were cheaper and more practical as the chasseurs were light cavalry and participated in numerous marches and counter-marches, scoutings, often in bad weather. In my opinion it was the most practical legwear for light cavalry. It was used in 1813 and 1814 (Dresden, Leipzig, Craonne, La Rothiere, Arcis sur Aube, Paris).
    Before the Waterloo Campaign however the old-style , side-buttoned green overalls have been resurrected. These items came from regiment's depot stores. The side-buttoned overalls had proved to be more trouble than they were worth but the light cavalry liked them. White or grey overalls were good enough for heavy cavalry but not for the flamboyant hussars and chasseurs.

    General Montbrun.
    "Very tall, scarred, and soldierly,
    with an eye that compelled obedience ..."
    - John Elting

    General Montbrun. One of the most known chasseurs was Montbrun. Louis-Pierre Montbrun (1770-1812) joined the cavalry in 1789 in the age of 19. According to Terry J. Senior of "This soldier was a superb equestrian, with a brilliant sword arm, and a terrific combat record. He possessed an exceptional talent for controlling large formations of mixed cavalry. Rated ahead of LaSalle on the basis that he was less headstrong and more calculating than the legendary hussar commander."

    Elting writes: "Montbrun was a worthy comrade. Very tall, scarred, and soldierly, with an eye that compelled obedience, active and tireless, he had risen from private to colonel of the 1st Chasseurs-a-Cheval. Davout got him promoted to general of brigade. He was at once prudent and reckless, careful of the lives of his men yet a driving, aggressive leader. In August 1812 he was suffering an attack of gout when the Russians attempted a counteroffnsive; unable to pull on his boots, he rode to the rescue in his stocking feet. A month later at Borodino a chance cannon shot killed him."

    In 1809 at Raab "Montbrun led 1st Chasseurs-a-Cheval in a spirited charge that routed the few remaining Austrian cavalry defending the Austrian left flank." (Arnold - "Napoleon Conquers Austria") At Wagram, Montbrun commanded Cavalry Division (1st, 2nd, 11th and 12th Chasseurs, 5th and 7th Hussars). In 1812 during the Invasion of Russia and in the battle of Borodino, he led the II Cavalry Corps (4 chasseur, 4 cuirassier, 2 carabinier and 1 lancer regiment. He also had two German and one Polish regiments).

    Colonels 1804-1815
    1er Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1800 - Louis-Pierre Montbrun
    . . . . . . . . . 1805 - Joseph-Isadore Exelmans
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Andre-Charles Meda
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Pierre-François-Antoine Huber
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Jean-Leonard Laboure
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Alfred-Armand-Robert Saint-Chamans
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Pierre-Joseph-Victor Simoneau
    2e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1803 - Ignace-François Bousson
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Louis-Jean-Baptiste-Marie Mathis
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Francois-Garnier Laboissiere
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Benjamin-Louis Robert Dubreuil
    3e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1799 - Alexandre Grosjean
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Charpentier
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Charles-Joseph Saint-Mars
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Achille Royer
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Pierre-Jacques Potier
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin Marbot
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Anatole-Charles-Alexis de la Woestine
    4e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1802/03 - Claude-Denis-Noel Bruguiere
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Urbain-François Lambert
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Charles-Louis-Narcisse Lapointe
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Louis-Jacques-François Boulnois
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Clement-Louis-Helion de Villeneuve de Vence
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Louis-Alexis Desmichels
    5e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1800/03 - Claude-Louis-Constant-Esprit Juvenal Corbineau
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Pierre Bonnemains
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Joseph Baillot
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Louis-Claude Duchastel
    6e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1794 - Joseph Laffon
    . . . . . . . . . 1808 - Francois le Dard
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Guillaume Eulner
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Auguste-Frederic de Talhouet de Bonamour
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Paul-Eugene de Faudoas-Barbazan
    7e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1801 - Adelaide-Blaise-François le Lievre la Grange et de Fourilles
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Hippolyte-Marie-Guillaume de Rosnyvinen Pire
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - François-Joseph Bohn
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Alexandre Montbrun
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Antoine-Charles-Bernard Delaitre
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Alfred-Amand-Robert Saint-Chamans
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Auguste-Ambroise-Joseph de verdiere
    8e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1804 - Jean-Baptiste-Theodore Curto
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Alfred-Amand-Robert Saint-Chamans
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Edmund-Alexandre de Talleyrand-Perigord
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Joseph-François Planzeaux
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Pierre-Henri-Joseph Schneit
    9e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1799 - Jean-Pierre Thullier
    . . . . . . . . . 1808 - Charles-Henri Delacroix
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Pierre-Antoine Bruneteau Saint-Suzanne
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Eugene-François d'Avranges Dukermont
    10e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1800/03 - François-Marie-Auguste Colbert
    . . . . . . . . . 1805 - Jacques-Gervais Protais Subervie
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Auguste-Houssin Houssin de Saint-Laurent
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Eugene-Gabriel-Louis Texier d'Hautefeuille
    11e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1800 - Bertrand Bessieres
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Charles-Claude Jacquinot
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Mathieu Desirat
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Jean-Baptiste Nicolas
    12e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1800/03 - Jean-Marie-Antoine Defrance
    . . . . . . . . . 1805 - Claude-Raymond Guyon
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Charles-Etienne Ghigny
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Alphonse de Grouchy
    13e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1803 - Nicolas Pultiere
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Jean-Baptiste Demengeot
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Charles-Eugene Montesquiou-Fezensac
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Eugene-Redmond Shee
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Bernard Prues
    14e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1798 - Jaques Boudet
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Pierre-Frederic Sachs
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Jean-Dieudonne Lion
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Hilaire Lemoyne
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Perquit
    15e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1799 - Louis Lepic
    . . . . . . . . . 1805 - Pierre Mourier
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Francois-Jacques-Guy Faverot de Kerbrech
    16e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1799 - Antoine-Jean-Auguste-Henri Durosnel
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Louis-Joseph Maupoint
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Jean-Baptiste-Michel-Francois L'Hullier de la Serre
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Antoine-Henri-Armand-Jules-Elisabeth Latour-Foissac
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Ignace-Louis Duvivier
    17e Régiment:
    18e Régiment:
    19e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1798/03 - Louis-Urbain Brue
    . . . . . . . . . 1808 - Charles-Joseph Leduc
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Etienne-Louis Maulnoir
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Henri-Catherine-Baltazard Vincent
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Alphonse de Grouchy
    20e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1799 - Joseph-Bernard Marigny
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Bernard-Pierre Castex
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Jean-Baptiste-Alexandre cavrois
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - August-Francois-Joseph Lelievre de la Grange
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Sourd
    21er Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1803 - Jean-Baptiste Berruyer
    . . . . . . . . . 1808 - Charles-Francois-Antoine Steenhaudt
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Louis-Charles-Barthelemy Sopransi
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Louis-Claude Duchastel
    22e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1800 - Marie-Victor-Nicolas de Fay Latour-Maubourg
    . . . . . . . . . 1805 - Etienne Tardif de Pommeroux de Bordesoulle
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Jean-Baptiste Pieton-Premale
    . . . . . . . . . 1808 - Francois Michel dit Defosses
    23e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1795 - Antoine-Louis Decrest Saint-Germain
    . . . . . . . . . 1805 - Pierre-Joseph Bruyeres
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Urbain-Francois Lambert
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Antoine-Valentin La Nougarede-Lagarde
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcelin de Marbot
    24e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1802 - Antoine Maurin
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Vivant-Jean Brunet-Denon
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Auguste-Jean-Joseph-Gilbert Ameil
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Pierre-Henri Schneit
    25e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1802 - Pierre-Benoit Soult
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Nicolas-Francois Christophe
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Paul-Eugene Faudoas
    26e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1802 - Alexandre-Elisabeth-Michel Digeon
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Jacques-Laurent-Louis-Augustin Vial
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Jacques-Francois-Joseph Miller
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Benjamin-Louis Robert
    27e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Prosper-Louis d'Arenberg
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Francois-Xavier Strub
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Charles-Gaudens-Aloise-Marie Bruno de Saint-Georges
    28e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Pierre-Victor Laroche
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Eleonore-Ambroise Courtier
    29e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1810 - Jean-Francois-Nicolas Maucombe
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Francois-Gabriel Dornier
    30e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Martin-Alexis Gobrecht
    31e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Louis-Alexis Desmichels
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Jerome Frin de Cormere
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Chevalier



    The hussars had the cleanest bodies and the filthiest minds.
    There was a saying: "The hussars were loved by every wife
    and hated by every husband".

    For the hussars "The wolrd was divided by them into two parts,
    the happy zone, in which the vine grows, and the detestable zone,
    which is without it." - Albert-Jean-Michel de Rocca, 2e Hussars

    French hussar The hussar-mania contaminated France after sweeping over Europe. The dash of attire and behaviour of Hungarian hussars displayed on the battlefields in the service of Austria certainly made the best impression, and in due time the French army started changing her cavalry regiments into hussars, in dress and in title. Lynn writes: "The last type of horsemen to join the ranks of the French cavalry were hussars, a form of mounted unit composed of Hungarian light cavalry who forged their methods of combat fighting against the Turks. Hussars were true light cavalry, used best for raiding and scouting. ... The first genuine French hussar regiment was raised in 1692 from Imperial deserters, and by 1710, the French counted 3 regiments of these often outlandish cavalry, regarded by some more as thieves on horseback than as true cavalrymen." (Lynn - "Giant of the Grand Siecle" p 492)

    In 1798 the Directorate had twelve hussar regiments.
    In 1803 the 11th and 12th Hussars became 29th and 30th Dragoons.
    In 1804 were ten hussar regiments numbered 1st-10th.
    In 1810 the 11th Hussars was reraised from Dutch 2nd Hussars.
    In February 1813 the 12th Hussars was reraised from the 9th Bis Hussars
    (which was made of detached squadrons).
    Between Jan and Dec 1813 existed 13th Hussars.
    This unit fought well and suffered heavily.
    It was disbanded and its remnants were put into
    new 14th Hussars formed in Northern Italy in 1813.
    Majority of them were Italians. The 13th Hussars was reraised
    in January 1814 from Hussars of Jerome Bonaparte.
    In 1815 (Waterloo Campaign) however there were only seven hussar regiments.

    Photo: Hussar of Lasalle's "Hellish Brigade." Reenactor group 7eme Hussards.

    Hussars' overbearing arrogance, their military pride, the fastidiously sensitive brutality of their honor, had an intensity hard to realize today. The hussars considered themselves as better horsemen and swordsmen than everybody else. They liked to sing songs that insulted dragoons and considered themselves distinctly more dashing than chasseurs.

    In combat the hussars rode yelling most unearthly, cursing and brandishing their weapons. They had their own code - that of reckless curage that bordered on a death wish. The hussars were the eyes, ears and … egos of the army.

    With their look suitably piratical their hair plaited and queued they were one heck of mean buggers. Some regiments were composed of fellows who had a natural longing for a fight.

    The mutually supporting camaraderie of the hussars was important factor of their esprit de corps. Tactically they were used as scouts and screen for other troops and due to their combativeness were also used in pitched battles. It was not a rare sight to see a hussar in a forefront of a hack-and-slash melee, gripping his reins with his teeth, a pistol in one hand and saber in the other.

    Hussar Guindey killed 
Prussian prince Louis Ferdinand
in 1806 in the Battle of Saalfeld. The scarface Guindey Guindey was quartermaster of the blue-clad 10th Hussars. He became fomous for killing Prussian Prince Louis Ferdinand at Saalfeld. As a prominent leader of the Prussian court war-party, his death was grievously felt. King of Prussia told his generals afterward: "You said that the French cavalry was worthless, look what their light cavalry has done to us! Imagine what their cuirassiers will do!" Guindey was awarded and transfered to the Horse Gerenadiers of the Imperial Guard.

    In 1805 at Austerlitz the 2nd Hussars captured Allies flag. The 2nd Hussars was a famous unit. Raised in 1734 by Count Esterhazy, this regiment took the name Chamborant from its colonel. "The color of its uniform, a most distinctive chestnut-brown with sky-blue facings and breeches, was reputedly suggested by Marie Antoinnette who remarked upon the color of the habit of a passing monk when Chamborant asked what color she would suggest for the uniform of his regiment." (Philip Haythornthwaite)

    The 1st Hussars was not worse than the 2nd Hussars. In 1806 before the battle of Jena the Guard cavalry had not yet arrived in time and the 1st had acted as the Emperor's body guard.

    In 1809, with an escort of hussars - Napoleon had given the 7th Hussars this honor - Empress Marie-Louise traveled to France to meet her husband. Everything about the journey was heavy with ceremony and when they arrived in Paris the artillery (and Paris journals :-) made a terrific noise.

    The garrison of Stettin 
surrenders to Lasalle's hussars. The 5th and 7th Hussars formed Lasalle's legendary Hellish Brigade with Colonels Francois-Xavier Schwarz and Ferdinand-Daniel Marx as regimental commanders. In 1806 After the victorious battles of Jena and Auerstädt, Lasalle participated in the pursuit of the Prussians. His two regiments, total of 600-900 men, bluffed the great Prussian fortress of Stettin with 180 guns and a garrison of 5,000 men. into surrender !
    (Overjoyed Napoleon made comment: « Si votre cavalerie légère prend ainsi des villes fortes, il faudra que je licencie mon génie et que je fasse fondre mes grosses pièces. » )

    Although adventure and war were the breath of their nostrils they were also boasters, as no troops are invincible. The hussars had their own share of defeats. In 1807 at Golymin General Lasalle led "Hellish Brigade" against Russian artillery (battery of 12-15 guns). The hussars charged with vigor but then were abruptly seized with panic. The two regiments turned about and, in an indescribable disorder officers and men mixed, stampeded back to the rear. "Of the whole brigade only the elite company of the 7e Hussars, placed immediately behind the generals, remained firmly at their posts." (Dupont - "La panique de Golymin" Cavaliers d'épopée.)
    Lasalle was furious. He rode after them, halted and brought them back. Lasalle kept them within a short range from the Russian guns as punishment for their earlier behavior. Now nobody dared to leave his post.

    One of the most known cowards was squadron leader of the 5th Hussars "whose colonel had even undertaken in General Montbrun's presence to issue him with a certificate of officerly cowardice any day he asked for it. Several times he'd let his men charge without accompanying them. At Inkovo [Russia] he'd even slid from his horse and surrendered !" (Britten-Austin - "1812 The March on Moscow" p 381)

    Picture: two French hussars and a girl. Picture by S.Letin.
    The hussars had the cleanest bodies and the filthiest minds. There was a saying: "The hussars were loved by every wife and hated by every husband". The women loved their colorful, elegant uniforms.



    Antoine Charles Louis, comte de Lasalle (1775 – 1809)
    Lasalle was utterly brave, loving danger, laughing at his own hardships,
    frequently charging with a long pipe instead of a saber in his hand.
    Only Murat was more popular among the French cavalry.

    Lasalle The most famous hussar commander was General Antoine-Charles Lasalle, "the man for high adventure and reckless deeds.
    In 1806 after the Battle of Jena, with only 900 hussars at his back and no weapon heavier than their popgun carbines, he bluffed the great fortress of Stettin, with 200 guns and a garrison of 5,000 men, into surrender.
    ... He had no enemies and rode with open heart and open hand. Utterly brave, loving danger, laughing at his own hardships, frequently charging with a long pipe instead of a saber in his hand, he had too much heart and too little head to handle masses of cavalry, and so got himself uselessly killed at the end of day at Wagram ...
    His trick of the trade was to charge at the trot, holding his men solidly in hand to meet an enemy exhausted from galloping." (Elting, - p 163)

    Lasalle wore striking uniform, admired by all hussars. It was an ultimate showoff. His horse was one of the best in the French Empire. Only Murat was more popular among the French cavalry.

    In 1806-7 Lasalle commanded the Hellish Brigade (5th and 7th Hussars). In 1807 he led II Cavalry Corps (the I Cavalry Corps was under Murat). In 1809 and at Wagram Lasalle commanded Cavalry Division (8th Hussars, 13th, 16th and 24th Chasseurs).

    Colonels 1804-1815
    1er Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1803 - Phillipe-Augustin Rouvillois
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Jacques-Begougne de Juniac
    . . . . . . . . . 1810 - Antoine-François-Eugene Merlin
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - François-Joseph-Marie Clary
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Nicolas-Charles-Victor Oudinot
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - François-Joseph-Marie Clary
    2e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1793 - Ignace-Wilhem Rith
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - François-Joseph Gerard
    . . . . . . . . . 1808 - Gilbert-Julian Vinot
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Alexandre-Louis de Seganville
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Joseph-Marie de Savoie Carignan
    3e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1804 - Anne-Charles Le Brun
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Louis-Marie Le Ferriere-Levesque
    . . . . . . . . . 1811 - Paulin-Louis Rousseau
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Marie Moncey
    4e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1800 - Andre Burthe
    . . . . . . . . . 1811- Jean-François Christophe
    . . . . . . . . . 1815 - Louis-Joseph Blot
    5e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1794 - François-Xavier-Nicolas Schwartz
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Pierre-Cesar Dery
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Charles-Claude Meuziau
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Alphonse Fournier
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Jean-Baptiste Liegeard
    6e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1799 - Pierre-Claude Pajol
    . . . . . . . . . 1807 - Louis Vallin
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Joseph-Marie Carignan
    7e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1803 - Jean Rapp
    . . . . . . . . . 1803 - Daniel Marx
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Pierre-David dit Edouard Colbert
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Robert-Nicolas-Gaspard Custine
    . . . . . . . . . 1810 - Guillaume-Joseph Eulner
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin Marbot
    8e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1803 - Jean-Baptiste Franceschi - Delosne
    . . . . . . . . . 1805 - Jean-Baptiste Laborde
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Jean-Simon Domon
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Charles-Yves-Cesar-Cyr du Coetlosquet
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Nicolas Thurot
    9e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1801 - Etienne Guyot
    . . . . . . . . . 1805 - Jean Barbanegre
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Pierre-Edme Gauthrin
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - Louis-Charles-Gregoire Maignet
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Etienne Montagnier
    10e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1800 - Antione-Charles-Louis Lasalle
    . . . . . . . . . 1805 - Louis-Chretian-Carriere Beaumont
    . . . . . . . . . 1806 - Andre-Louis-Elisabeth-Marie Briche
    . . . . . . . . . 1809 - François-Marie de Laval
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Jean-Nicolas Curely
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - François Monnier
    11e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1793 - Jacques-Phillippe Avice
    . . . . . . . . . 1810 - Marie-Joseph-Ferdinand-Gerard Colbert
    . . . . . . . . . 1812 - Jean-Baptiste Liegeard
    12e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1802 - Jean-François Dupre
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Louis-Pierre-Alphonse Colbert
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Nicolas-Marie-Mathurin Galbois
    13e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Aldonce-Charles-Joseph-François-Paule-Samaritan de Rafelis de Saint-Sauveur
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Adelaide-Joachim-Irenee Bureaux de Pusy
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Antoine Brincard
    14e Régiment:
    . . . . . . . . . 1813 - Antoine-Laurent-Marie Garavaque
    . . . . . . . . . 1814 - Joachin-Irenee-Adelaide Bureaux de Pusy

    Uniforms and Weapons
    Their brilliant uniforms exemplified
    the panache with which they lived and fought.

    The hussar was armed with pistols and curved saber. Only some had carbines, and most had pistols. The hussars were the most flamboyantly dressed soldiers of every army. Their brilliant uniforms exemplified the panache with which they lived and fought.

    Uniforms of French hussar regiments.

    No. Dolman Pelisse Breeches Lace Cuffs Collar
    1er sky blue sky blue sky blue white red sky blue
    2e brown brown sky blue white sky blue brown
    3e blue gray blue gray blue gray red red blue gray
    4e dark blue red dark blue yellow red dark blue
    5e sky blue white sky blue yellow white sky blue
    6e red dark blue dark blue yellow dark blue dark blue
    7e green green red yellow red red
    8e green green red white red red
    9e red sky blue sky blue yellow sky blue sky blue
    10e sky blue sky blue sky blue white red red
    11e dark blue dark blue dark blue yellow red red
    12e red sky blue sky blue white sky blue sky blue

    From left to right: 2nd, 4th, 7th, and 9th Hussar Regiment in 1807-1812. Pictures by Andre Jouineau.

  • 2nd Hussar Regiment: 4 battle honors, 45 combats
  • 4th Hussar Regiment: 5 battle honors,
  • 7th Hussar Regiment: 5 battle honors, 51 combats, part of Lasalle's 'Hellish Brigade'
  • 9th Hussar Regiment: 4 battle honors,
  • ~

    Best Cavalry Regiments.

    Charge ! Picture: Hussar. "Napoleon's Cavalry Recreated in Color Photographs" by Maughan

    The light cavalry enjoyed reputation for bravery and an uninhibited joie-de-vivre when not. There were many excellent regiments of light cavalry, including the 1st Husards, 2nd Husards, 5th Chasseurs-a-Cheval or any of the lancer regiments.
    NCO Guindey of 10th Hussars killed Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia. NCO Pawlikowski of Vistula Uhlans captured Prince Liechtenstein.
    The heavy cavalry was not worse. In 1809 arriving at Ratisbon, the 2nd Cuirassiers took part in a fight with the Austrian Merveldt Uhlan Regiment first and then against the Hohenzollern and Ferdinand Cuirassier Regiments. Charged three times, the Austrians were routed, the 2nd Cuirassiers took 200 prisoners fortified in a village.
    In Spain the French dragoons and chasseurs had their hands full with the Spanish guerillas and the British cavalry. Costello of British 95th Rifles writes: "... a loud cheering to the right attracted our attention, and we perceived our 1st Dragoons charge a French cavalry regiment. As this was the first charge of cavalry most of us had ever seen, were were all naturally much interested on the occassion. The French skirmishers who were also extended against us seemed to partiicipate in the same feeling as both parties suspended firing while the affair of dragoons was going on. The English and the French cavalry met in the most gallant manner, and with the greatest show of resolution. The first shock, when they came in collision, seemed terrific, and many men and horses fell on both sides. They had ridden through and past each other, and now they wheeled round again. This was followed by a second charge, accompanied by some very pretty- sabre-practice, by which many saddles were emptied, and English and French chargers were soon galloping about the field without riders. These immediately occupied the attention of the French skirmishers and ourselves, and we were soon engaged in pursuing them, the men of each nation endeavouring to secure the chargers of the opposite one as legal spoil. While engaged in this chase we frequently became intermixed, when much laughter was indulged in by both parties at the different accidents that occured in our pursuit." (Costello - "The Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns" p 67)


    6e Regiment de Chevaulegers-Lanciers
    4 Battle Honors: 1812 - La Moskowa, 1813 - Hanau, 1814 - Champaubert, 1815 - Fleurus
    16 Battles: 1812 - Krasnoe, Smolensk, Valoutina, La Moskowa, Wiasma, Beresina, 1813 - Jauer, Leipzig, Hanau, 1814 - Champaubert, Montmirail, Vauchamps, Arcis-sur-Aube, Saint-Dizier, 1815 - Fleurus, Waterloo
    Note: This regiment was formed in 1811, from the 29e Regiment de Dragons

    1er Regiment de Vistule Lanciers (In 1811 the "Vistula Uhlans" were renamed to 7e Lanciers)
    0 Battle Honors: it was not French unit so no battle honors. The French 20e Dragoons were awarded with battle honor for Albuera, but not the Vistula Uhlans who took at this battle 5-6 British colors, destroyed British infantry brigade, and captured hundreds of prisoners.
    44 Battles: 1798 - Sessa, 1800 - Hohenlinden, 1806 - Naples, Gaete, 1807 - Strigau, Dantzi, Saltzbrun, 1808 - Tudela, Mallen, Alagon, Saragosse, Almaraz, 1809 - Guadalajara, Jevenes, Ciudad-Real, Santa-Cruz, Alenbillas, Talavera, Almonacid, Santa Maria de Nieva, Ocana, 1810 - Sierra Morena, Baza, Arquillos, Orgas, Tortosa, Almanzor and Lorca, 1811 - Cor, Albuera, Olivenza, Baza, Berlanga, 1813 - Magdebourg, Naumbourg, Bautzen, Dresden, Pirna, Leipzig, Hanau, 1814 - Montereau, Neuilly-Saint-Front, Chalons, Chartres
    Note: The uhlans defeated Prussians at Strigau, Austrians at Hohenlinden, at Mallen and Tudela trounced the Spaniards, at Albuera and Talavera routed the British, in 1813 it was turn for the Russians. No other light cavalry regiment participated in so many combats, in so different terrain and climate, took so many Colors and prisoners and fought even after Napoleon;s abdication. NCO Pawlikowski of Vistula Uhlans captured Prince Liechtenstein. During the Siege of Saragossa they climbed down from their saddles and stormed the entrenched enemy camp. The 1st Vistula Uhlans were nicknamed "The Picadors of the Hell."

    8e Regiment de Chevaulegers-Lanciers
    4 Battle Honors: 1812 - Polotzk, 1813 - Bautzen, Dresden, 1814 - Champaubert
    9 Battles: 1812 - Jakubowo, Polotsk, La Beresina, 1813 - Lutzen, Bautzen, Kulm, Dresden, Leipzig, 1814 - Champaubert
    Note: This brave regiment existed only 2.5 years. It was formed in May 1811, from the 2e Regiment de Vistula Lanciers which had been formed in France (not in Poland). In January 1814 this regiment was disbanded.
    Colonels: Baron Lubienski, general in 1814


    2e Regiment de Hussards
    4 Battle Honors: 1798 - Honschoote, 1805 - Austerlitz, 1807 - Friedland, 1809 - Medellin
    45 Battles: 1792 - Grisvelle, Verton, La Croix-aux-Bois, Grand-Pre, Montcheutin, Valmy, Jemmapes, 1793 - La Roche, Hondschoote, Landrecies, Wissembourg, Edelsheim, 1794 - Marolles, Fleures, Mons, Anderhoven, 1795 - Capture of Dutch Fleet at Texel (, Schwalbach, Kreutznach, 1796 - Burg Eberach, 1797 - Passage of the Rhine at Neuwied 1799 - Mannheim, Engen, Hirchberg, 1800 - Dillerich, Bopfingen, Kelheim, Germersheim, 1803 - Nienberg, 1805 - Austerlitz, 1806 - Halle, Crewitz, Mohrungen, 1807 - Osterode, Friedland, 1809 - Medllin, Alcabon, 1810 - Ronda, Sierra de Cazala, 1811 - La Gerboa, Los Santos Albuhera, 1812 - Somanis, 1813 - Leipzig, 1814 - Montereau, 1815 - Belfort

    4e Regiment de Hussards
    5 Battle Honors: 1794 - Fleurus, 1800 - Hohenlinden, 1805 - Austerlitz, 1807 - Friedland, 1813 - Sagonte
    36 Battles: 1792 - Valmy, La Croix-aux-Bois, 1793 - Maestricht, Aldenhoven, Tirlemont, Hondschoote, Wattingnies, 1794 - Fleures, 1795: Langenheim, 1796 - Blockade of Mayence, 1797 - Passage of the Rhine Neuwied, 1799 - Altiken, Winterthur, Zurich, 1800 - Neubourg, Ampfingen, Hohenlinden, 1805 - Austerlitz, 1806: Jena, Lubeck, 1807 - Liebstadt , Mohrungen, 1809 - Alcanitz, Belchite, 1811 - Stella, Chiclana, Sagonte, 1813 - Yecla, Col d'Ordal, 1813 - Gross Beeren, Leipzig, 1814 - Lons-le-Saulnier, Saint Georges, Lyon, 1815 - Ligny, Waterloo

    5e Regiment de Hussards
    5 Battle Honors: 1792 - Jemmapes, 1806 - Jena, 1809 - Eckmuhl, 1812 - Borodino, 1813 - Hanau
    32 Battles: 1792 - Valmy, Jemmapes (as 6th Hussar Regiment), 1793 - Wattignies, 1794 - Blockade of Nimegue, 1795 - Capture of Dutch Fleet at Texel (, 1797 - Neuwied, 1799 - Ostrach, Stockach, 1800 - Mosskirch, Biberach, Kirchberg, Hohenlinden, 1805 - Austerlitz, 1806 - Crewitz, Stettin, Golymin, 1807 - Waltersdorf, Eylau, Heilsberg, Konigsberg, 1809 - Eckmuhl, Wagram, 1812 - Borodino, Winkono, Berezina, 1813 - Bautzen, Leipzig, Hanau, 1814 - Arcis-sur-Aube, 1815 - Ligny, Waterloo, Versailles
    Note: This regiment was part of the legendary 'Hellish Brigade' under General Lasalle.
    Colonels and chef-de-brigade: 1793 - Ruin, 1794 - Scholtenius, 1794 - Schwartz, 1806 - Dery, 1809 - Meuziau, 1813 - Fournier, 1814 - Liegeard

    7e Regiment de Hussards
    5 Battle Honors: 1806 - Jena, 1807 - Heilsberg, 1812 - Borodino, 1813 - Hanau, 1814 - Vauchamps
    51 Battles: 1793 - Pirmasens, 1794 - Treves, Grevenmachen, Siege of Mayence, 1795 - Mannheim, 1796 - Bopfingen, Neubourg, Villingen, Siege of Kehl, Lichtenau, 1798 - Soleure, Berne, Coure, Einsieden, 1800 - Engen, Nesselwangen, Feldkirch, Salzbourg, 1805 - Mariazell, Affleng, Austerlitz, 1806 - Gera, Zehbenick, Prentzlow, Stettin, Lubeck, Czenstowo ?, Golymin, 1807 - Eylau, Heilsberg, Konigsberg, 1809 - Peising, Ratisbone, Raab, Wagram, Znaim, 1812 - Vilna, Smolensk, Ostrowno, Borodino, 1813 - Borna, Altenbourg, Leipzig, Hanau, 1814 - Vauchamps, Montereau, Reims, Laon, Paris 1815 - Fleurus, Waterloo
    Note: This regiment was part of the legendary 'Hellish Brigade' under General Lasalle. In 1806 member of this regiment captured Color of Prussian Queen's Dragoon Regiment.
    Colonels and chef-de-brigade: 1792 - Lamothe, 1792 - Boyer, 1794 - Marisy, 1803 - Rapp, 1803 - Marx, 1806 - Colbert, 1809 - Custine, 1810 - Eulner, 1814 - Marbot


    5e Regiment de Chasseurs-à-Cheval
    4 Battle Honors: 1799 - Zurich, 1800 - Hohenlinden, 1805 - Austerlitz, 1807 - Friedland
    86 Battles: 1792 - Valmy , 1793 - Pellemberg, Bliebech, Corblech, Dunkerque, Propinghen, Honschoote, Furnes, 1794 - Lannoy, Tournai, Mont-Cassel, Tourcoing, Pont-à-Chin, Zonnebech, Hooglede, Oudenarde, Gand, Alost, Breda, Boxtel, Passage of the Meuse, Nimegue, 1795 - Driel, Nieuw-Schanz, 1796 - Camp de Mulheim, Cologne, 1797 - Mayennce, 1798 - Ostende, Herenthals, Breda, 1799 - Ettlingen, Zurzach, Andelfigen, Zurich, Bussingen-Bergan, 1800 - Engen, Moeskirch, Biberach, Ochsenbrunn, Abach, Werth, 1805 - Munich, Wasserbourg, Haag, Austerlitz, 1806 - Schleiz, Furstenberg, Waren, Crewitz, Lubeck, 1807 - Morhungen, Lobau, Krentzberg, and Friedland, 1808 - Pont d'Alcolea, Baylen, Burgos, Somosierra (?), Pont d'Almaras, 1809 - Medellin, Torrigos, Talevera, 1810 - Cadiz, 1812 - Bornos, 1813 - Alembra, El-Coral, Caracuel, Olmeda, Hilesca, Burgos, Vittoria, 1813 - Juterbock, Dennewitz, Mockern, La Partha, Leipzig, Hanau, 1814 - Orthez and Toulouse, 1814 - Remagen, La Chaussee, Mormant, Troyes, Bar-sur-Aube, Sommepuis, Saint- Dizier
    Colonels and chef-de-brigade: 1791 - Chevalier de Lameth , 1792 - Monard, 1793 - Richardot, 1793 - De la Noue, 1793 - Poichet dit Prudent, 1800 - Corbineau, 1806 - Bonnemains, 1811 - Baillot, 1814 - Duchastel

    22e Regiment de Chasseurs-à-Cheval
    5 Battle Honors: 1805 - Ulm, Austerlitz, 1806 - Jena, 1807 - Eylau, Friedland
    39 Battles: 1805 - Enns, Botzen, Wischau, Ulm, Austerlitz, 1806 - Jena, Waren, Lubeck, 1807 - Hoff, Eylau, Guttstadt, Heilsburg, Friedland, 1808 - Medina-del-Rio-Seco, Niou, Burgos, 1809 - Hoya, Benavente, Pont-Vedra, Salamanque, 1810 - Astagora, 1811 - Sabugal, 1812 - Arapiles, Pancorbo, Torquemada, Burgos, 1813 - Vittoria, Gross-Beeren, Luchenwald, Wittenburg, Juterbock, Bautzen, Monasterio (Spain), Leipzig, 1814 - Montereau, Orthez, Saint-Dizier, Joigny, Toulouse
    Colonels and chef-de-brigade: 1800 - Latour-Maubourg, 1805 - Bordessoule, 1807 - Pieton-Premale, 1808 - Michel dit Defosses


    20e Regiment de Dragons
    4 Battle Honors: 1798 - Les Pyramides, 1806 - Jena, 1807 - Friedland, 1811 - Albuhera
    54 Battles: 1793 - Siege of Quesnoy, 1794 - Landrecies, Quesnoy, Valenciennes, Aldenhoven, 1796 - Mondovi, Lodi, Castiglone, 1797 - La Favorite, Saint-Georges, Due-Castelli, Castelluchio, Mantoue, 1798 - Alexandrie, Chebreiss, les Pyramides, 1799 - El-Arich, Gaza, Jaffa, Saint-Jean-d'Acre, Mont-Tabor, Aboukir, 1800 - Heliopolis, 1805 - Wertingen, Memmingen, Neresheim, Ulm, Austerlitz, 1806 - Jena and Pultusk, 1807 - Eylau, Heilsberg, Friedland, 1808 - Andujar and Tudela, 1809 - Ucles, Ciudad-Real, Almonacid, Ocana, Salamanca, Pampelune, Tamames, 1811 - Albuera, 1813 - Leipzig, Dresden, and Hanau, 1814 - S.Dizier, Brienne, La Rothiere, Mormont, Monterau, Troyes, 1815 - Ligny, Waterloo
    Colonels and chef-de-brigade: 1793 - Gontran , 1797 - Boussart, 1800 - Reynaud, 1807 - Corbineau, 1811 - Desargus, 1815 -Briqueville

    Cuirassiers and carabiniers

    1er Regiment de Cuirassiers
    4 Battle Honors: 1792 - Jemmapes, 1805 - Austerlitz, 1807 - Eyau, 1812 - Borodino
    49 Battles: 1792: Jemmapes, Anderlecht, Tirelemont, 1793: Maestricht, La Roer, Nerwinden, Maubeuge, 1794: Mouscron, Pont-a-Chin, Rousselar, Maline, 1796: Rivoli, Tagliament, 1799: Le Trebbia, La Secchia, Novi, Genola, 1800: Mozambano, 1801: San-Massiano, Verone, 1805: Wertingen, Ulm, Hollabrunn, Raussnitz, Austerlitz, 1806: Jena, Lubeck, 1807: Hoff, Eylau, 1809: Eckmuhl, Ratisbonne, Essling, Wagram, Hollabrunn, Znaim, 1812: La Moskowa, Winkowo, 1813: Katzbach, Leipzig, Hanau, Hambourg, 1814: La Chausee, Vauchamps, Bar-sur-Aube, Sezanne, Valcourt, 1815: Ligny, Genappe, Waterloo
    Note: In 1791 the regiment was named the 1er Regiment de Cavalerie, in 1801 became the 1er Regiment de Cavalerie-Cuirassiers, and in 1803 became the 1er Regiment de Cuirassiers.
    Colonels and chef-de-brigade: 1791 - de Clermont-Tonnerre, 1792 - Deschamps de la Varenne, 1793 - Doncourt, 1793 - Maillard, 1795 - Severac, 1797 - Juignet, 1798 - Margaron, 1803 - Guiton, 1805 - de Berckheim, 1809 - Clerc, 1814 - de la Mothe Guery, 1815 - Ordener

    1er Regiment de Carabiniers-à-Cheval
    0 Battle Honors:
    42 Battles: 1792 - Valmy, 1793 - Arlon, Bliecastel, Climbach, Wissembourg, 1794 - Tourcoing, Tournay, 1795 - Frankenthal, Mannheim, Biberach, 1800 - Engen, Moeskirch, Augsbourg, Blenheim, Passage of the Danube, Hochstett, Neresheim, Hohenlinden, 1805 - Nurembourg, Austerlitz, 1806 - Prentzlow, Lubeck, 1807 - Ostrolenka, Guttstadt, Friedland, 1809 - Eckmuhl, Ratisbonne, Essling, and Wagram, 1812 - Borodino, Winkowo, Wiazma, 1813 - Dresden, Leipzig, and Hanau, 1814 - Montmirail, La Guillotiere, Troyes, Craonne, Laon, Reims, 1815 - Waterloo
    Colonels and chef-de-brigade: 1791 - Valence, 1791 - Meillonas, 1792 - Berruyer, 1792 - Antoine, 1792 - Baget, 1793 - Jaucourt-Latour, 1795 - Girard, 1799 - Cochois, 1805 - Prince Borghese, 1807 - Laroche, 1813 - De Bailliencourt, 1815 - Roge

    2e Regiment de Carabiniers-à-Cheval
    0 Battle Honors:
    42 Battles: 1792 - Valmy, 1793 - Arlon, Bliecastel, Climbach, Wissembourg, 1794 - Tourcoing, Tournay, 1795 - Frankenthal, Mannheim, Biberach, 1800 - Engen, Moeskirch, Augsbourg, Blenheim, Passage of the Danube, Hochstett, Neresheim, Hohenlinden, 1805 - Nurembourg, Austerlitz, 1806 - Prentzlow, Lubeck, 1807 - Ostrolenka, Guttstadt, Friedland, 1809 - Eckmuhl, Ratisbonne, Essling, and Wagram, 1812 - Borodino, Winkowo, Wiazma, 1813 - Dresden, Leipzig, and Hanau, 1814 - Montmirail, La Guillotiere, Troyes, Craonne, Laon, Reims, 1815 - Waterloo

    Battle Honors
    1790 - 1815
    formed in 1811
    - - - - -
    - - - - -
    4e Hussards
    5e Hussards
    7e Hussards
    22e Chasseurs
    1er Hussards
    2e Hussards
    3e Hussards
    4e Hussards
    6e Hussards
    8e Hussards
    9e Hussards
    1er Chasseurs
    4e Chasseurs
    5e Chasseurs
    6e Chasseurs
    8e Chasseurs
    9e Chasseurs
    11e Chasseurs
    14e Chasseurs
    18e Chasseurs
    19e Chasseurs
    21e Chasseurs
    4e Lanciers
    5e Lanciers
    6e Lanciers
    8e Lanciers
    1er Dragons
    2e Dragons
    3e Dragons
    4e Dragons
    5e Dragons
    8e Dragons
    9e Dragons
    10e Dragons
    11e Dragons
    12e Dragons
    20e Dragons
    21er Dragons
    22e Dragons
    23e Dragons
    24e Dragons
    25e Dragons
    26e Dragons
    1er Cuirasiers
    2e Cuirassiers
    3e Cuirassiers
    4e Cuirassiers
    5e Cuirassiers
    6e Cuirassiers
    7e Cuirassiers
    8e Cuirassiers
    9e Cuirassiers
    10e Cuirassiers
    11e Cuirassiers

    Battles and Combats
    5e Chasseurs-a-Cheval
    20e Dragons
    7e Hussards
    10e Chasseurs-a-Cheval
    9e Hussards
    1er Cuirassiers
    12e Chasseurs-a-Cheval
    3e Hussards
    2e Chasseurs-a-Cheval
    2e Hussards
    1er Hussards
    Vistula Uhlans
    1er Carabiniers
    2e Carabiniers

    Sources and Links.
    Recommended Reading.

    Plates - du projet de règlement sur l'habillement du major Bardin. Paris, Musée de l'Armée, Dist. RMN P. Segrette
    Colonel John Elting - "Swords Around a Throne"
    Bukhari - "Napoleon's Cavalry"
    Rousselot - "Napoleon's Elite Cavalry"
    Maughan - "Napoleon's Cavalry Recreated in Color Photographs"
    Johnson - "Napoleon's Cavalry and Its Leaders"
    Costello - "The Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns"
    Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars"
    Charmy - "Splendeur des Uniformes de Napoleon: Cavalry"
    Lacahouque - "Waterloo."
    Napier - "History of the War in the Peninsula 1807-1814"
    Chlapowski - "Memoirs of a Polish Lancer" (translated by Tim Simmons)
    Picture of French foot dragoons by Keith Rocco, USA.
    La Cavalerie Française
    Histoire de la cavalerie française
    Valeur et Discipline French Napoleonic Cavalry.
    History of Cavalry.
    Joachim Murat "The First Saber of Europe" - commander of Napoleon's cavalry
    Antoine-Charles-Louis de Lasalle - commander of "Brigade Infernale"
    The fighting 7th Hussar Regiment
    French cavalry 1812 - Uniforms.
    French Cavalry
    Saber or sabre.

    Parade, Battle and Campaign Uniforms

    Cavalry Tactics and Combat - Part 1
    Types of Cavalry, Weapons, Armor, Organization, Tactical Formations
    Cut and Slash vs Thrust, Charge, Melee, Pursuit, Casualties in cavalry combat
    The Best Cavalry

    Napoleon, His Army and Enemies