French flag 1804, from French flag 1812, from
Guard Cavalry of the Napoleonic Wars
1805 - 1815
Officer Zaluski of the Guard Lancers was limitlessly confident
in Napoleon's genius: "We could have been asked to conquer the moon,
and we'd have responded with Forward, march !"


Heavy Cavalry
- - - Horse Grenadiers
- - - Élite Gendarmes
- - - Dragoons

Light Cavalry
- - - 1st Chasseurs-a-Cheval
- - - 2nd Chasseur-a-Cheval
- - - Mamelukes.

- - - 1st (Polish) Lancers
- - - 2nd Red Lancers
- - - 3rd (Polish) Lancers

- - - 1st Guard Scouts.
- - - 2nd Guard Scouts.
- - - 3rd Guard Scouts.

- - - 1st Honor Guards.
- - - 2nd Honor Guards.
- - - 3rd Honor Guards.
- - - 4th Honor Guards.




Horse Grenadier
of Old Guard.
Musee l'Armee. The horse grenadier (photo from Musee l'Armée):
"... steadiness that distinguished it among all
the other riders of the army. He was of tall stature ...
The general expression of his figure was the coldness."
The elite gendarme:
"... could be confused with the horse grenadier;
... it was he who ensured respect ..."
The chasseur:
"...a man, small in size and slightly squat;
...His legs are singularly arched, enormous moustache decks his upper lip;
in his ears silver rings are hanging ... intrepid ... "
The dragoon:
"... more slender in his physical form [than horse grenadier]. He was
studied to reconcile the severity of behavior with elegance in manners."
The Polish lancer:
"... Just the name of Polish lancer awakes the ideas of bravery
and of military fidelity ! ... all made him at first taken for German;
but with the quickness of his movements, with his instinctive exuberance,
one recognized that which one so precisely called the 'French of North'. ...
The Polish lancer, as well as the French lancer [Red 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."
The Red Lancer:
"... 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."

"When ... the Guard meets ... the Line en route,
the latter shall form in line of battle and port arms
or present sabers ... Flags and standards shall be dipped,
The colonels and commanders shall exchange salutes."

The Cavalry of Imperial Guard.
"An old adage runs: 'There is no temple without a God
and no throne without a Guard.' But there are guards and Guards."
- Henri Lachoque

Horse Grenadiers in 1806. In 1796 the Guard of the Directory was formed to escort the Directors in public ceremonies and parades. These guardsmen were 5'10" tall, literate, with perfect conduct and participated in at least 2 campaigns. These men were the elite of the army and formed 2 companies of foot grenadiers and one squadron of horse grenadiers. The horse grenadiers wore aiguillette on the right shoulder. It was the distinctive insignia of Guard cavalry. The Guard drew extra pay and allowances, additionally they got better housing and enjoyed the highest prestige. The guardsmen were forbidden, under pain of dismissal, to tend an officer's horse, or even hold it by the bridle.


Horse Grenadiers 2
Horse Chasseurs 1

In 1802 Napoleon submitted a permanent schedule of recruitment: 2 men from each cavalry regiment, tall, robust, of exemplary conduct, able to read and write and who participated in at least 3 campaigns. In 1806 each cavalry regiment was ordered to send 6 best men to the Guard.
The candidates from the hussars were at least 170 cm tall,
from chasseurs and dragoons 173 cm, and candidates from
cuirassiers and carabiniers 176 cm tall.

In September 1805 was issued decreee:
“Art. I - A corps of horse vélites will be formed with 800 men.”
“Art. II - This corps will be composed of conscripts from the 3 last years, at a rate of 6 per Department, taken among those who come forward voluntarily, or, failing this, indicated by the prefect.”
“Art. III - Among the 6 vélites provided by each department, three must be 5' 4" tall, and three 5'5" tall and above.” “Art. IV- The vélites will have to be well to do and to have, by themselves or their parents, an assured income 300 francs per annum.”
“Art VI - The corps of the vélites with horse will be divided into 8 companies."
“Art. XII - Those of the vélites who are distinguished by their control, their aptitude and their behavior, could be allowed in the Imperial Guard before having reached the age and the number of years of service required to belong to the aforementioned Guard.”
The Velites were created from conscripts with an income of 300 francs who could produce a pair of buckskin breeches, gauntlets and boots. There were 400 Velites for grenadiers and 400 for chasseurs. The vélites were admitted in the regiments of horse grenadiers and horse chasseurs and formed V and VI Squadrons. Theoretically after 3 or 5 years all the velites became second lieutenants of the line cavalry regiments.


Squadrons Squadrons of
Regiment of
Horse Grenadiers
4 2
Regiment of
Horse Chasseurs
4 2
Elite Gendarmes 1 -
Mamelukes 0.5 -

Each squadron had 2 companies. Each company had: 1 Capitaine, 2 Lieutenant en premier, 2 Lieutenant en second, 1 Marechal-des-logis-chef, 6 Marechaux-logis, 1 Fourrier, 10 Brigadiers, 3 Trompettes, 1 Marechal-ferrant (blacksmith), 96 Privates. (In 1813 each company had 4 Marechaux-logis instead of 6, and 8 Brigadiers instead of ten.)

Eagle-bearer of the Guard Dragoons.
Picture by L.Rousselot, France. In 1806 was formed third regiment, the Guard Dragoons -->
(Regiment de Dragons de la Garde Impériale).

In 1807 fourth unit was raised, the Polish Guard Lighthorse
(Regiment de Chevau-Légers de la Garde Impériale Polonais).

In 1807 it was ordered that all cavalry regiments will send approx. 700 bravest soldiers who had distinguished in battles regardless of their length of service.

In 1810 fifth regiment was formed, the Dutch lancers.
(2e Regiment de Chevau-Légers Lanciers de la Garde Impériale).

In December 1811 Napoleon wrote to his Chief-of-Staff Marshal Bessieres: "I see that thanks to your efforts the cavalry strength of Guard amounts to 6.450, or 400 men short of establishement. I have decreed that the following regiments shall each provide 10 men of the required quality, to wit the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 10th Hussars, and the 10th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 22nd, 26th, 27th, 29th and 30th Chasseurs, totalling 140 men.
These men will be taken from the regimental depots, and if enough men of the required quality are not available at the depots, then the shortfall will be made up from the combat squadrons in Spain.
The 20 dragoon regimentsd serving in Spain will each provide 10 men, making another 200. The 16 regiments of cuirassiers and carabiniers will each provide 6 men, making another 96. As for the 60 men needed to complete the 2nd Lighthorse (Dutch Lancers), the Velites will provide them."

Picture: Guard Dragoons and Napoleon in burning Moscow, 1812.

Some time before the campaign in 1812 in Russia the Guard was ranked into three categories: Old, Middle and Young Guard. The Old Guard enjoyed the highest prestige, in 1811 Napoleon made it clear to Berthier (chief-of-staff) "I wish it clearly understood that this priviledge doesn't apply to the 2nd Grenadiers and 2nd Chasseurs, nor to the Fusiliers (Middle Guard), voltigeurs and tirailleurs (Young Guard) nor the 2nd Lighthorse-lancers ("Red Lancers"). ... Keep this decision for your guidance alone."

Old Guard:
. . . . Regiment of Horse Grenadiers
. . . . Regiment of Horse Chasseurs
. . . . Regiment of 1st Lancers (Polish)
. . . . Regiment of Dragons
. . . . Mamelukes
. . . . Gendarmes
. . . . Officers and Sergeants in the units of Middle Guard
. . . . Officers in the units of Young Guard
Middle Guard:
. . . . Regiment of 2nd Lancers (Red Lancers, Dutch)
. . . . Sergeants in the units of Young Guard
Young Guard:
. . . . Squadrons of Velites (in Regiment of Horse Grenadiers)
. . . . Squadrons of Velites (in Regiment of Horse Chasseurs)
. . . . Squadrons of Velites (in Regiment of Polish Lancers)
. . . . Squadrons of Velites (in Regiment of Dragoons)
In the squadrons of Velites (Young Guard) only privates were the raw recruits, the real Young Guard. All officers were veterans of Old Guard. The NCOs were of Middle Guard.

In 1813 Napoleon ordered that every cavalry regiment in Spain will send 20 best veterans into the Old Guard. The squadrons of Young Guard were made up of true volunteers from the towns and departments near Paris. These volunteers were not those who went into the Honor Guards. (Bowden - "Napoleon's Grande Armee 1813" p 39)


Squadrons of
Old Guard
Squadrons of
Middle Guard
Squadrons of
Young Guard
Regiment of
Horse Grenadiers
4 - 2
Elite Gendarmes 2 - -
Regiment of
4 - 2
Regiment of
Horse Chasseurs
4 - 6
Regiment of
Polish Lancers
4 4 2
Regiment of
Red Lancers
4 (5) - 6 (5)
Regiment of
1st Honor Guard
- - 5
Regiment of
2nd Honor Guard
- - 5
Regiment of
3rd Honor Guard
- - 5
Regiment of
4th Honor Guard
- - 5

Not always the best soldiers were sent to the Guard by the colonels of the Line. And this is easy to understand why. In July 1811 Napoleon wrote: "Communicate my displeasure to the colonel of the 9th Cuirassiers. He has sent the Guard a bad character who has spent 3 months in jail. Order him to place the responsible parties under 24-hour arrest and publish the fact in his orders. ... The inspectors will select the men for the Guard hereafter."

A common criticism of the guard was that it drew off the best men from the line and from the conscripts, thereby robbing them of potential sergeants and corporals. But it must be remembered that Napoleon intended that the guard serves as a training ground for the NCOs from the army so the guard functioned as a military school. For example sergeants of the Old Guard were commisioned as the second lieutenants in the line.

    The Horse Grenadiers of Old Guard (nicknamed The Giants, and The Gods) and the Polish Guard Lancers were the only two cavalry regiments of Napoleon's Guard never defeated by enemy's cavalry in combat. The other regiments suffered only few setbacks during the many years of campaigning. In almost each case they were outnumbered by the enemy.
    On Dec 15 1813, 60-100 Elite Gendarmes were routed by Colomb's Hussars and Cossacks.
    The Guard Dragoons were defeated in 1807 by the Russians. After battle of Friedland Napoleon sent Guard Dragoons and Saxon cavalry in pursuit of the Russians. They met with a strong force of Russian light cavalry from the rear-guard, were defeated and prsued all the way to the main French army, creating confusion in the ranks of the infantry and artillery. (Elting, Esposito - "A Military History and Atlas ...")
    The dragoons were again defeated on 24th September 1812 by two squadrons of Russian Lifeguard Dragoons. According to Caulaincourt the loss of 150-250 Guard Dragoons caused more consternation in Napoleon's headquarters than "the loss of 50 generals." (Curtis Cate - "The War of The Two Emperors"). Lachoque writes from his pro-French perspectice: "On the 23rd St.Sulpice was sent to Bezovka, halfway to Mozhaisk, with the Guard Dragoons, two horse batteries, and an infantry regiment to guard the line of communications. Two days later a patrol of 200 dragoons fell into an ambush set up by 4,000 Cossacks ... More than 80 dragoons were killed, wounded, or captured."
    The Guard Chasseurs (Chasseurs-a-Cheval de la Garde) were defeated in December 1808 at Benavente by British and German cavalry (3rd King's German Legion Dragoons, and British 10th Hussars and 18th Light Dragoons). The chasseurs lost 127 men, and their commander, Lefebvre-Desnouettes, was captured by a German named Bergmann, who gave up his prize to British hussar Grisdale.
    In 1812 the 2nd Guard Lancers (Middle Guard, Dutch 'Red Lancers') were harrased mercilessly by Ataman Platov's Cossacks and suffered heavy losses. The Cossacks and their methods of combat were unknown to the Dutch. Only very few survived this campaign.
    In 1812 the 3rd Guard Lancers (Young Guard, Polish) was defeated in 1812 at Slonim by a large number of Chaplitz's Cossacks and Russian Pavlograd Hussars. General Konopka, 13 officers, and 253 men were captured.
    The squadrons of Young Guard were routed in Leipzig in 1813 by Chaplitz's Russian uhlans and dragoons.

Commander of Guard Cavalry - Marshal Bessiers
Bessieres was a thorough soldier and all soldier ...
"possessing a cold courage that never flinched."
His death in battle "made my Guard cry" - told Napoleon.

Marshal Bessieres The cavalry of the Imperial Guard was commanded by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessieres (1766-1813). He was a tall man, always impeccably uniformed and rigorous in discipline. Bessieres was one of the Good Marshals, like by soldiers. "He alone kept the old-fashioned military style of both powdering his hair and wearing it in a long queue."
The combination of being calm and intrepid attracted Napoleon. According to Colonel John Elting of US Army, Bessieres was a thorough soldier and all soldier - loyal, brave and even-tempered, "possessing a cold courage that never flinched."

Bessiers was wounded at the battle of Wagram. Henri Lachoque writes: "At this moment Bessieres was needed to charge Liechtenstein's cavalry - but the Marshal had just been hit. ... Bessieres was borne unconscious from the field on a litter. His guardsmen thought he was dead and some were sobbing. All swore to avenge him. 'That was a fine shot, Bessieres' the Emperor told him later. "It made my Guard cry...'"

Georges Blond described how Bessieres was killed: " .... staff surrounded him [Bessieres] and this ciolorful party was spotted by the gunners of an enemy battery. The first round decapitated a sergeant of the Polish light cavalry of the escort. Bessieres, saddened, galloped toward the enemy to inspect their position more closely, then returned: 'I want this young man buried.' Hardly had he spoken, when a round from the same battery struck him fully in the body. Napoleon, learning shortly afterwards of his death, appeared distressed." ... When walking away, he murmured: 'Death is coming near to us."

In Spain Bessieres ordered a reign of terror, seizing hostages and arresting magistrates and priests.

Napoleon's Escort and Duty Squadrons.
Napoleon had in his disposal 4 squadrons drawn from the four regiments
of Guard cavalry: Horse Grenadiers, Chasseurs, Dragoons and Polish lancers.
These squadrons were called "the duty squadrons".
Among the four duty squadrons the Chasseurs had a special task:
a group of 20-30 men rode in front and behind the Emperor.

Picture by Rousselot The Emperor was guarded by a squadron of Guard cavalry, usually of the Chasseurs-a-Cheval (Horse Chasseurs). Only on rare ocassions other troops enjoyed this priviledge. In 1806 when the Guard couldn't catch up with the Emperor, the 1st Hussars escorted him. The Guard was so exhausted on arrival that the hussars continued to escort Napoleon. In the battle of Eckmuhl in 1809 the 1st Chasseurs-a-Cheval (this was line regiment, not guard) escorted the Emperor. Shortly, also in 1809, the 1st Horse Carabiniers enjoyed this priviledge. In 1813 after the battle of Dresden, Napoleon was escorted by the Elite Gendarmes.

In most campaigns Napoleon had in his disposal 4 squadrons drawn from the four regiments of Guard cavalry: grenadiers, chasseurs, Polish lancers and dragoons. These squadrons were called "the duty squadrons". In the beginning the duty squadrons were one each from the chasseurs and grenadiers, later augmented by the dragoons and Poles, when they became "Old Guard".

In Leipzig in 1813 the situation was critical and Napoleon was forced to unleash the four duty squadrons (grenadiers, Polish lancers, dragoons and chasseurs). These 800 superb cavalrymen led by Letort "scored a brilliant victory against the Austrian horse, including the capture of 190 officers and men of the famous Vincent [Latour] Chevaulegers." (Parquin - "Napoleon's Victories")

Guard Chasseurs and Napoleon 
in Russia in 1812. Among the four duty squadrons the Guard Chasseurs had a special task: a group of 20-30 men rode in front and behind the Emperor, while a corporal and 4 chasseurs cleared a way for him. One of the four carried his despatch case and another his field glass. If the Emperor dismounted these men would immediately do likewise.
Rousselot writes: "The picket that accompanied Napoleon during his frequent excursions away from his field Headquarters was drawn from the Chasseur service squadron and comprised a lieutenant, a marechal-des-logis, two brigadiers, a trumpeter and 22 chasseurs, some riding in advance and some to the rear of the group immediately surrounding the Emperor. The latter included a brigadier and 4 chasseurs, one of whom carried Napoleon's portfolio containing his maps, writing materials and dividers, while another bore his telescope."
(There were dangers not only on the battlefield. From 1800 to 1805, a terrorist organization led by the Bourbon Comte d'Artois and supported by the British Government, attempted no fewer than six times to assassinate Napoleon. The most infamous was the 'infernal machine' ( which exploded in Paris. This horse-drawn bomb killed many people and demolished a building.)

In 1812 the Cossacks attacked Napoleon's headquarters at Gorodnia [Horodnia]. The only troops with the Emperor was the Duty Squadron of the Polsih Guard Lancers under Kozietulski. Kozietulski's men threw themselves at the swarm of Cossacks, Kozietulski was pierced by lance "which entered his shoulder as far as the bone." It was a dramatic fight. There then appeared the Old Guard Horse Grenadiers in line formation and the Cossacks disappeared into the forest. (In Museum of the Polish Army in Warsaw is exhibited his uniform with the visible hole in the sleeve and stained in blood). The Cossacks returned in large numbers and surrounded the Red Lancers on three sides. The Dutch lost more than 100 men and the Poles lost approx. 20 killed and wounded.

Chlapowski of Guard Lancers writes: "He [Napoleon] liked to ride downhill at a rapid gallop, regardless of the risk of a broken neck to those following him. He never used spurs nor did he use leg pressure to put the horse into a gallop - he started it with a blow of his whip."

According to J.F. Lozier, Napoleon owned approx. 150 horses during the course of his life. Napoleon preferred Arab horses though he often had to make do with other mounts. His horses were schooled by Jardin, who accustomed them to every kind of object. "He even went so far as to drive pigs and dogs between their legs." (Georges Blond - "La Grande Armee" publ. in 1995)
List of names of some of his horses include: Austerlitz, Artaxercés, Babylonien, Cid, Conquérant, Extrême, Euphrate, Kurde, Montevideo, Sheikh, Sahara, Triomphant, Tamerlan.
- Désirée was one of the horses ridden at Waterloo.
- Intendant was a Norman horse mainly used for parades and reviews
because of his graceful nature during such ceremonies.
- Marengo was one of the horses ridden at Waterloo.
His skeleton is kept at the National Army Museum in London. (
- Roitelet was an English-Limousin chestnut, it was ridden
in 1813 at Lützen and in 1814 at Arcis-sur-Aube.
- Styrie was ridden by Bonaparte at Marengo.
- Tauris was a gift from Tsar Alexander of Russia ( and was ridden in 1812 by Napoleon
at Smolensk, Borodino, during his entrance in Moscow, and during the retreat from Russia.
In 1814 being brought to Elba, and in 1815 it was ridden from Golf-Juan to Paris.
- Vizir it was a gift from the Sultan of Turkey ( in 1805
and one of the Napoleon's favorites. In 1815 Napoleon brought it
with him to Saint-Helena. It now resides - stuffed - in the Musée de l'Armée in Paris. (

Napoleon was never the best of horsemen, and most often travelled by coach. It was painted in green, drawn by 6 large grey horses (three ex-drivers of Guard Horse Artillery rode on them), and had 2 coachmen on top and a servant on the box. The coach contained pull-out bed, hand-operated printing press, his mobile treasury, and small library. The escort of the coach was as follow: four Guard Chasseurs-a-Cheval rode in pairs before the coach, and twelve pairs were behind it. At night 5 lamps illuminated the coach, which gave extraordinary appearance as it raced through villages.

Napoleon, Rustam, 
and Polish Guard Lancers In 1814 the Russian, Prussian, and Austrian armies entered France and after several battles reached the gates of Paris. Napoleon abdicated on April 6. However, occasional military actions continued in Italy, Spain, and Holland throughout the spring of 1814. On April 7th Napoleon called for volunteers from his Old Guard to serve in his guard on Elba Island. The Allies allowed for 500 infantrymen, 120 cavalrymen and 120 artillerymen. Generals Petit and Pelet were soon swamped with requests. Many officers asked to serve as simple privates. Out of the French and Polish cavalry only 100 Polish lancers were chosen. There were additionally several hundred volunteers from infantry, 300 grenadiers and 300 chasseurs of Old Guard. These men were his escort, his protectors in thisvery difficult and sad time.

Charles Parquin writes: "General Krasinski who commanded the Polish lancers ... came forward with his officers. As he took his leave of the Emperor he uttered these words, which do the greatest credit to his nation: "Sire, if you had mounted the throne of Poland, you would have been killed upon it; but the Poles would have died at your feet to a man."

Krasinki wearing his parade uniform announced to his lancers that "God has visited misfortune upon the Emperor" and all began to weep. They regreted they had not all been killed before hearing that anyone had dared demand Napoleon's abdication. Loud cries for vengeance were heard along with "Vive l"Empereur!" Sabers and lances were brandished and the cavalry moved toward Fontainebleau. They passed through Nainville before Sebastiani's ADC halted them.

Troops on Elba Island:

  • infantry battalion (607 veteran grenadiers and chasseurs of Old Guard)
  • cavalry squadron (125 Polish lancers of Old Guard, and 7 chasseurs of Old Guard)
  • artillery battery (100 gunners of Old Guard)

    "A squadron of Polish lancers under Chef d'Escadron Jerzmanowski and Major Roul - 125 men divided into a mounted company of 22 under Capitaine Schultz (a giant over 2.13 metres who was present at Waterloo); a dismounted company of 96 under Capitaine Balinski... There was also a group of 7 chasseurs and Mamelukes commanded by Lieutenant Seraphin (a Mameluke...) The lancers had a white standard emblazoned in crimson with the words, 'Polish Light-Horse, Napoleon Squadron' with a crowned 'N' on the reverse." (Mark Adkin - "The Waterloo Companion" p 14)
    The squadron was given a standard with the inscription 'Polish Light-Horse, Napoleon Squadron."

  • ~

    In 1807 at Eylau, the Russian cavalry and Cossacks surrounded
    the horse grenadiers and called for surrender. General Lepic
    responded: "Take a look at these faces and see if they want to
    surrender !" Then he shouted to the grenadiers "Follow me !"
    and set off at the gallop back through enemy lines.

    Regiment of Horse Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard
    [Regiment de Grenadiers-à-Cheval de la Garde Impériale]

    The Horse Grenadiers became known for their
    austerity and haughty demeanor.
    The army nicknamed them "The Giants", "The Gods"
    or simply "The High Heels" (from their tall boots).

    Horse Grenadiers, by Rousellot Picture: Eagle-Bearer of Horse Grenadiers [Grenadiers-a-cheval de la Garde] in parade uniforms, by Rousellot. For parade their horses were decorated with red, braided forelocks and crupper rosettes.

    The Horse Grenadiers were the senior regiment in the Guard and the Army. Their priviledged position the whole army - and even the Guard - had envied. Below is a short history of this splendid unit.

    In 1796 the Guard of Directory (Garde du Directoire) was organized and one squadron of Horse Grenadiers was raised. Soon Napoleon enlarged the troop to two and then to four squadrons. The privates wore dark blue coats and collars, white lapels and tall boots. In 1797 they received tall fur caps.

    In 1804 the Consular Guard became Imperial Guard. The troopers were quartered at the barracks in the Ecole Militaire where they slept in solid oak beds 6'8" by 4' with a shelf at the head. The food was good and the wine even better.

    The regiment usually had four large squadrons and 1-2 squadrons of so-called velites. In 1813 (Leipzig Campaign) the regiment consisted of 6 squadrons and enlarged staff. See below:
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Staff:
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Colonel-commandant: General de Division Walter
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Majors: General de Brigade Laferriere and Castex
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Quartier-maitre tresorier: Chef de Escadron Perrot
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Chefs de Escadron: Hardy, Morin, Veniere, Pernet, Delaporte, Jimcker
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Capitaine adjudant-majors: Scribe, Lepot
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Capitaine adjudant-de admin.: Varnout, Messager
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lieutenant sous-adjudant-major: Dessofry, Le Roy, Gainde, La Bachellerie
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lieutenant porte-aigle: La Tartre, Bertrand, Manant, Dalery
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Chirurgien-mjr. and 3 Aide-mjr.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lieutenant a la suite: Desiles, Tabary, Leleu

    (4 squadrons)
    Old Guard
    (2 squadrons)
    Young Guard
    Uniforms fur caps with red plumes and golden cords
    dark blue coat with white lapels
    fur caps without plumes and cords
    dark blue coat without lapels
    no aiguilettes
    Horses 16-hands tall, blacks, few browns 15-16 hands tall, bays, few chestnuts

    The Horse Grenadiers participated in several battles and many small combats. Below is a list of their most known exploits.
    In 1800 at Marengo the Horse Grenadiers waited calmly under fire. 'Keep your chins up !' shouted their sergeants. Moments later they drew their sabers and charged overthrowing everything on their way.
    In Austerlitz in 1805 they defeated Tsar's best cavalry. The Horse Grenadiers advanced from behind infantry clutching their long sabers and shouting, "Let the ladies in St. Petersburg to cry!" The fight was sharp but short. The Russians were thrown back and pursued until Krenowitz. Russian Guard Cavalry was defeated and only Repnin's squadron continued its desperate fight. The surrounded Russians suffered heavy casualties.
    In 1807 at Eylau they stood under hellish fire from 60 Russian cannons, when their commander General Lepic noted some of his troopers ducking incoming shells. "Heads up, by God!" he cried "Those are bullets - not turds." Few moments later they charged and overthrew several Russian units. (Chandler - "The Campaigns of Napoleon")
    The horse grenadiers shortly campaigned in Spain. Not big battles just a lot of problems with the Spanish guerillas. Henri Lachoque writes: "A squadron of horse grenadiers tethered their horses in the garden of a monastery and fell into a trap. Lured by an urchin to 'come in and quench his thirst', one trooper did not return. A grenadier who went in search of him also disappeared. Some men of their troop returning from a foraging detail conducted an investigation, sabers in hand. They found the child, followed him, and discovered their two comrades with their heads cut off. They arrested 8 monks and threw them all out of the window." (Lachoque - "The Anatomy of Glory" p 133)
    In 1812 the horse grenadiers were in Russia. Chlapowski writes: "There then appeared the Horse Grenadiers, in line formation. This line of black horses, its tall riders also in black bearskins, so impressed the Cossacks that they disappeared into the forest." (Chlapowski, - p 123)
    Ten patrols of horse grenadies guarded the inside of the Kremlin.
    In the very end of the battle of Waterloo, when the entire French army fell apart before the Prussians and British-Netherland army, the horse grenadiers made a great impression on the pursuers. Cpt. Barton of the 12th Light Dragoons described how his regiment advanced against the giants on black horses. The grenadiers "appeared to take but little notice of our advance, when opposite their flank they fired a few pistol or carbine shots. We were ... being too weak to make an impression [on them], they literally walked from the field in a most majestic manner."

    In November 1815 the regiment was disbanded. On 25 November for the last time their trumpeters sounded the Ban. The standard-bearer advanced to the Inspector and presented the standard. It was the last unit of the whole Imperial Guard (infantry, cavalry, and artillery) disbanded by the Bourbons.
    The Guard was no more.

    The Big Men Mounted on Black Horses.
    In 1814 a major of Horse Grenadiers was wounded at Craonne.
    He had his foot carried away by a Russian cannonball and
    the surgeon had to amputate his leg. During the extremely painful
    operation "which he bore with great courage, the man called out
    "Vive l'Empereur!" and lost consciousness.

    When it came to muscle and physique, the grenadiers, man for man, could have thrown the chasseurs, Mamelukes, and the Young Guard, all outdoors and walked on them. The horse grenadiers were strong, tall and handsome, and their colonel forbade "any woman under 40 to come in and make soup for them." :-)

    For new candidates there were strict requirements: 176 cm tall, 10 years' service, minimum 4 campaigns and citation for bravery. The legionaires were exempted from all requirements.

    Most candidates came from the regiments of heavy cavalry (carabinier and cuirassier regiments.) In 1809 just few days after the battle of Wagram, "The 3rd Cuirassier Division passed in review at the Schonbrunn. As was his custom when honoring gallant units, Napoleon stood before the 8th Cuirassier Regiment and asked who was the unit's bravest trooper. The colonel replied that the entire regiment was brave. The emperor directed his question to the troopers, and they answered 'Millot.' When that worthy stepped forward, Napoleon, exhibiting his formidable memory that so delighted his grognards, inquired if they had not already met. 'Yes', replied Millot, 'at Heilsberg'. Napoleon awarded him with the cherished Cross and would later promote him into the Imperial Guard Horse Grenadiers." (James Arnold - "Napoleon Conquers Austria")

    The scarface Guindey There were also candidates from the dragoons, chasseurs and even some hussars. For example the scarface Guindey, NCO of the 10e Hussars, who killed Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia in 1806. (He was killed in 1813 at Hanau by the Bavarians.)

    Among the officers Majors Venieres, Pernet, and Delaporte had fought in 23 or more campaigns ! Colonel, then General, Ordener has achieved fame by receiving 7 saber wounds, 3 bullet wounds and 1 wound from a cannonball !

    In May 1815, few weeks before Waterloo, 243 men of the Young Guard squadrons asked to return to the regiment. Guyot wrote: "Perhaps they are not as perfect as the old horse grenadiers, but they hope to be, and take pride in the regiment ..."

    The Horse Grenadiers were very devoted to the Emperor. In March 1814 a major of grenadiers was wounded at Craonne. He had his foot carried away by a cannon-ball and the surgeon had to amputate his leg. During the extremely painful operation "which he bore with great courage, the man called out "Vive l'Empereur!" and lost consciousness.

    - - - - 1801-1806 Michel Ordener
    - - - - 1806-1813 Frederic-Henri Walter
    - - - - 1813-1815 Claude-Etienne Guyot
    Colonels-en-Second and Majors
    - - - - 1804 Antoine Oulie
    - - - - 1805 Louis Lepic
    - - - - 1805 Louis-Pierre-Aime Chastel
    - - - - 1812 Remy-Joseph-Isidore Exelmans
    - - - - 1813 Bertrand-Pierre Castex
    - - - - 1814 Louis-Marie Levesque-Ferriere
    - - - - 1814 Jean-Baptiste-Auguste-Marie Jamin de Bermuy

    brown horse black horse The Horse Grenadiers rode on big black horses, with full manes and tails, bought in Caen for 680 francs apiece. Their daily ration was 10 pounds of hay, 15 of straw, and 2/3 bushel of oats or 1/3 of bran.
    The privates in the squadrons of Young Guard rode on browns.

    Uniforms and Weapons of Horse Grenadiers.
    In 1815 the Bourbons named them Royal Cuirassiers of France,
    but they protested against wearing helmets, and kept their bearskins.
    Their primary weapon was a saber a la Montmorency
    and it had a flared brass hilt decorated with a flaming grenade.

    They were armed with straight sabers, pistols and carbines.
    1806 - the carbines were replaced by longer dragoon muskets
    1806 - the straight saber was replaced by a slightly curved saber a la Montmorency
    1807 - the long dragoon muskets were replaced by guard cavalry carbines.
    The slightly curved saber a la Montmorency was 97,5 cm long, and it had a flared brass hilt decorated with a flaming grenade. The beechwood grip was covered with parchment, and the wooden scabbard with laminated strips of leather and brass. The rings and shoe, or drag, were iron.

    Their wardrobe was made by Bosquet, the master tailor, a celebrated artist in his craft. Their bearskins were made by Maillard of the Rue Saint-Honore, and their tall black boots by Fabritzius. The trumpeter's hat was of the same quality as a general's.
    In 1812 the Horse Grenadiers left Paris for the campaign against Russia in new fur caps and cords made by the Emperor's hatter Poupard. The war in Russia and the winter retreat broke the grenadiers and destroyed their splendid uniforms.
    In 1815 they were just in the process of being converted to the cuirassiers of the Guard. The Bourbons named them Royal Corps of Cuirassiers of France, but the grenadiers protested against wearing helmets, and kept their fur caps. There were many uniforms and fur caps missing already before the battles of Ligny and Waterloo. According to Mark Adkin "these once magnificient horsemen had, like much of the army, lost their shine. There was a shabbiness, a lack of uniformity ... Most wore blue, single-breasted undress coats; some had their grubby, off-white cloaks on, some had them rolled across their shoulder, others on the front of the saddle. While most had their bearskins, few were ornamented. The remainder wore an assortment of hats or forage caps." Henri Lachoque described their fur caps looking "rather mangy."

    by Rousellot by Rousellot Left: parade uniform in 1800-1807. It was also called the First Full Dress and consisted of dark blue jacket, white lapels and red cuffs.

    Right: during campaign they wore surtout. It was fastened with 6-10 buttons and was without white lapels and red cuffs. It was worn during battles in 1806-1809.
    (In 1809 the surtout of rank and file was replaced by so-called Second Full Dress. However majority of the officers and NCOs continued with the old surtout until 1814.)

    Left: in 1809 the surtout was replaced by so-called Second Full Dress (or "undress habit"). It was made of cheaper clothes than the First Full Dress. The Second Uniform had the plain round cuffs of the surtout and white lapels of the First Uniform. This outfit was very popular and was worn at Borodino, Leipzig, etc. The First Full Dress was for parade only and the Second Full Dress for campaign.

    Right: after Napoleon's abdication in 1814 the grenadiers had been given the new, short tailed habit-veste in anticipation of their receiving armor, like cuirassiers and horse carabiniers. The new dark blue jackets were piped in red along the front opening. This coat was worn only at Ligny and Waterloo.

    Elite Gendarmes
    [Gendarmerie d'Élite]

    They were highly disciplined, ruthless-men.
    They maintained order and security in the area
    of the headquarters, and protected
    Napoleon's baggage, correspondence etc.

    Gendarmes Elites in Paris.
Picture by Job. In 1801 Bonaparte organized an elite legion of gendarmes. It consisted of a large staff, 2 squadrons of horse gendarmes and 2 companies of foot gendarmes. In 1807 there were 2 squadrons of Elite Gendarmes. (There was also one battalion of foot gendarmes in the Guard).

    The Elite Gendarmes were recruited from the departamental gendarmes and also drew men from regiments of heavy cavalry. The candidates were expected to be literate, between 25 and 40 years old, veterans of 4 campaigns and at least 5'9" tall.
    In 1813 the elite gendarmes were filled up with 200 national gendarmes. A third of the newly recruited gendarmes were required to speak German.

    Most often they acted in samll detachments. They were highly disciplined, ruthless - men to be feared by draft-dodgers or villians. The army nicknamed them "The Immortals" because in the early period they didn't participate in any combat.

    The Elite Gendarmes rode on big black horses, and were armed with straight sabers, pistols and carbines/muskets. They wore dark blue coats with red lapels, tall boots and bearskins. Their bearskins were slightly lower than Horse Grenadiers'.

    The duties of Elite Gendarmes were:

  • protecting Napoleon's baggage
  • maintaining order and security in the area of the headquarters
  • guarding and escorting VIPs like Pope
  • escorting and interrogating prisoners
  • guarding trophies to be handed over to the Emperor
  • guarding money, seals, correspondence, etc.
  • In 1809 at Aspern-Essling they guarded the bridge built across Danube River
    and during battle they forbade passage for any but the wounded.

    - - - - 1801-1810 Anne Jean Marie Rene Savary (Minister of Police)
    - - - - 1810-1815 Antoine Jean Auguste Henri Durosnel

  • ~

    "The Dragoons distinguished themselvess with a performance
    comparable to those romances of the Age of Chivalry
    in which a single knight in armor with a well-schooled
    horse would take on 300 or 400 adversaries at once.
    The enemy seemed struck by a singular terror ..."
    - Napoleon to Savary, 12-13 February 1814

    Regiment of Guard Dragoons
    [1806-1807 Regiment de Dragons de la Garde Impériale]
    [1807-1815 Regiment de Dragons de l’Imperatice]

    In 1814 the Guard Dragoons called the returning King "fat pig".
    The Bourbons hated them.

    Dragoon de la Garde, 
picture by Rousellot The Regiment of Guard Dragoons was established in April 1806. In each of the 30 dragoon regiments was made a list of 6 NCOs and privates as candidates to the Guard.

    - - - - - 10 years of service
    - - - - - citations for bravery
    - - - - - at least 2 campaigns
    - - - - - at least 173 cm tall
    - - - - - 176 cm for Horse Grenadiers
    - - - - - but only 170 cm for Chasseurs

    “Art. XVII - A regiment of Guard dragoons is formed. It will be organized like the Guard horse grenadiers and the Guard horse chasseurs.”
    “Art XVIII - Each regiment of dragoons of the line will provide, this year, for the formation of the Guard dragoons, 12 men having at least 10 years of service. The Emperor will name the officers: the regiments of horse grenadiers and chasseurs will provide theNCos and sergeants. 2/3 of the officers will be provided by the horse grenadiers and chasseurs; the 1/3, by the thirty dragoon regiments. ...
    “Art. XIX - Two squadrons of dragoons will not be organized,
    this year; next year a new call will be made for 10 men
    to form the two other squadrons."

    Officers of Guard Dragoons in the early period, in 1806:
    - - - - Colonel Arrighi - earlier served as colonel of 1st Dragoons
    - - - - Col.-Mjr. Fiteau earlier served as colonel in 3rd Dragoons
    - - - - Major Louis Letort earlier served as major in 14th Dragoons
    - - - - Chef d'Escadron Jolivet came from Guard Horse Grenadiers
    - - - - Chef d'Escadron Rossignol came from Guard Horse Grenadiers
    - - - - Cpt. Desirat came from 18th Dragoons
    - - - - Cpt. Lerivint came from 25th Dragoons
    - - - - Cpt. Duvernoy (adjudant-major) came from the 1st Chasseurs
    - - - - Cpt. Jolly (adjudant-major) came also from the 1st Chasseurs

    General Ornano described the Guard Dragoons: "The men are very handsome, the horses fine, strong, and well cared for. The officers, NCOs, and soldiers are animated by an excellent spirit, perfect discipline, and have a splendid appearance."
    In 1809 the Guard Dragoons had made the 2800-km march from Spain in 63 days without losing a man or a horse. On May 22 they heard in the distance a dull, continuous roar - the guns of Essling.

    The Guard Dragoons (or Empress Dragoons) were present in numerous battles: Friedland, Wagram, Borodino, Leipzig, Hanau, La Rothiere, to name just few.

    In 1813 there was a friction between the famous Saxon cuirassiers and the Guard Dragoons. "At about midday the Saxon cuirassiers brigade .... was transferred from east of Wachau to the west, from where they witnessed (with no small pleasure) the defeat of Letort's Dragoons of the Imperial Guard. This friction between the allies had been generated by the sustained brutality and licentiousness of the French regiment towards the unfortunate local Saxon population, and there had been several fights between the regiments in bivouac." (Digby-Smith - "1813: Leipzig" p 91)

    - - - - 1806-1809 Jean-Toussaint Arrighi
    - - - - 1809-1813 Raymond-Gaspard-Bonardy de Saint Sulpice
    - - - - 1813 Philippe Antoine Ornano
    Colonels-en-second and Majors
    - - - - 1806 Edme-Nicolas Fiteau
    - - - - 1806 Louis-Michel Letort
    - - - - 1809 Louis-Ignace Marhtod
    - - - - 1813 Pierre-Alexis de Pinteville
    - - - - 1813 Louis-Claude Chouard
    - - - - 1815 Laurent Hoffmayer

    Louis-Michel Letort Letort was one of the commanders of Guard Dragoons. He was a daredevil of Lasalle's ilk. In 1814 at Rheims he "led his Guard Dragoons as though they were the winged knights." (Henri Lachoque - "The Anatomy of Glory")
    Letort was born in 1773 at Saint Germain-en-Laye. He participated in numerous campaigns, in the beginning as infantry soldier and then joined the 9th Dragoons. Letort distinguished himself in 1812 in Maloyaroslavetz, in 1813 in Leipzig, and in 1814 in Montmirail. He was a brave commander with a tactical awareness. In 1810 Letort was made Baron de l'Empire. In 1815 in Gilly Letort was shot by the Prussian infantry. He took a musket ball in the lower abdomen, and lingered in great pain before dying in the night.

    Weapons, Uniforms and Horses.
    Napoleon intended to mount the dragoons on black horses
    but Bessieres, commander of Guard cavalry, pointed out
    that blacks were designated only for the Horse Grenadiers
    and Elite Gendarmes.

    Alert, vigilant, and mounted on good horseflesh, the Guard dragoon reinforced his self-reliance with firepower. The dragoons were armed with slightly curved sabers a la Montmorency, pistols, and dragoon-type muskets.

    The Guard dragoons wore dark green coats with white lapels, aiguilettes, and fine helmets with long black horsehair. The fur band around the helmet's base was of simulated panther skin. The helmets were slightly modified in 1810 by shifting towards the rear of the crest the point at which the horsehair emerged. The dragoons were never issued the stiff boots worn in parade by the Grenadiers. Consequently, their officers wore the semi-rigid type with stiff knee section only.
    The men in squadrons of Young Guard wore grey breeches and no aiguilettes.

    light chestnut dark chestnut Napoleon intended to mount the dragoons on black horses but Bessieres, commander of Guard cavalry, pointed out that blacks were designated only for the Horse Grenadiers and for the Elite Gendarmes. He instructed the commander of dragoons to procure chestnuts. Originally the first two squadrons rode on catured Prussian Gendarmes' horses, the other two squadrons were still on foot. Later on all dragoons were mounted on French, Prussian and Austrian chestnuts (there were also some bays).


    The dashing and swaggering Guard Chasseurs were Napoleon's escort
    and for this reason they became the most known troop in the French army.
    Napoleon wore uniform of colonel of this regiment.

    1st Regiment of Horse Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard
    [1ere Regiment de Chasseurs-à-Cheval de la Garde Impériale]

    "I never saw a finer regiment, nor smarter or better turned-out troops..." - Duke of Orleans
    In this regiment served quite many foreigners, especially Germans from Rhineland.
    But there were also Italians, and Belgians and few Swiss.
    In 1814 after Napoleon's first abdication 240 foreigners were retired.
    One of the chasseurs, black Domingo, nicknamed Hercules,
    distinguished himself with extraordinary strength and bravery.

    Chasseurs in parade uniforms,
 by Rousellot As commander of the army in Italy, Bonaparte took over the guides he found at Albenga in 1796. Though they fought with distinction at Mondovi and Lodi, they guarded Bonaparte poorly. In 1796 at Borghetto, Bonaparte was lunching with general Massena and Murat when the Austrian light cavalry (Hungarian hussars ?) surprised them. Bonaparte fled by climbing over a wall and lost his boot in the process. Murat and Massena followed him.

    This episode resulted in Bonaparte forming his escort. Lannes was put in charge of guarding the headquarters with 2 battalions of Guard Grenadiers and 100 horse and foot guides. A week later Captain Bessiers, a friend of Murat, was given command of the Company of Guides of the Commander-in-Chief. Bonaparte described his Guides as "200 daredevils, well-mounted and brave." The Guides captured 2 Austrian guns at Roveredo, and at Arcole, one of their officers, black Domingo, nicknamed Hercules, distinguished himself with extraordinary bravery.
    In 1798 approx. 400 Guides (horse and foot) joined Bonaparte in Egypt. The were at the battles of Pyramids and at Heliopolis (where Deriot had sustained 17 wounds !) and participated in the siege of Acre. Their enthusiasm was somewhat dampened during the occupation of the remote land, some were killed in the Cairo riots, and some were assassinated. Approx. 200 Guides left Egypt in August 1799, the rest returned in 1802. Napoleon reviewed the Guides and concluded that certain men were too old and unfit for active duty because of wounds.

    The Guides were the ancestors of the Guard Chasseurs. These dashing and swaggering men were Napoleon's escort and for this reason they became the most known troop in the entire French army. Napoleon wore the green undress uniform of colonel of this regiment (green was Napoleon's favorite color).
    Duke of Orleans saw the Chasseurs: "I never saw a finer regiment, nor smarter or better turned-out troops ... " The Guard Chasseurs were less precise in movement than the Horse Grenadiers but they were more resorceful and dashing. The Chasseurs were also more flamboyant and less disciplined (in the beginning) than the Grenadiers. Marshal Bessieres had to request them to refrain from smoking their pipes while on escort duty and to salute generals. The Guard Chasseurs-a-Cheval had several nicknames: The Comrades, The Invincibles, The Cherished Children (or rather The Spoiled Brats :-)

    - - - - 10 years' service (In 1814 the most experienced chasseur had 28 years' service !)
    - - - - minimum 3 campaigns
    - - - - citation for bravery
    - - - - in 1796 they were expected to be at least 176 cm tall,
    - - - - then it was lowered to 173 cm, and in 1805 down to 170 cm.
    - - - - The legionaires were exempted from the height requirement.

    In this regiment served quite many foreigners, especially Germans from Rhineland. But there were also Italians and few Swiss. (In 1814 after Napoleon's first abdication 240 foreigners were retired. Senior officer Van Merlen had returned to his native Holland. In 1815 he was killed leading a brigade of Dutch-Belgian cavalry against the French at Waterloo.)

    When in 1815 Napoleon returned from Elba, the Chasseurs met him and cheered. They "swore on their naked sabers to defend him."

    One or two English authors call them "The Invincibles after their battle-winning charge at Austerlitz". (Summerville - "March of Death" p 51) This is an error, their charge at Austerlitz was not battle-winning. At Austerlitz they have fought against Tsar's Guard cavalry with mixed results. They suffered heavy losses against the Lifeguard Horse and the infantry. But they also routed the Chevaliers Garde and the Lifeguard Hussars.
    In 1807 at Eylau the Guard Chasseurs suffered heavy losses against the Russians. Lachoque writes: "The Chasseurs lost 21 officers and 224 men in killed and wounded, and more than 200 horses. Captain Guyot of the II Squadron and the standard-bearer, a veteran of Egypt, were among the killed; Thiry, Desmichels, and Rabusson were wounded."
    In December 1808 in Benavente the regiment was ambushed and defeated by stronger force of British and German cavalry. The Guard Chasseurs met again with the British and German cavalry at Waterloo. Repeatedly some of the chasseur squadrons rode up to within 300-400 paces of the British and German (KGL) cavalry. A British officer writes: "[their] officers wearing tall, broad bearskin hats, and on several occassions some of them rode up to us, challenging the officers of our [British] regiment to single combat. As they were much stronger, the regiment could not accept the honor ..."

    - - - - 1802-1808 Eugene Beauharnais
    - - - - 1808-1815 Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes
    Colonels-en-Second and Majors
    - - - - 1804 Francois-Louis de Morland
    - - - - 1805 Nicolas Dahlman
    - - - - 1805 Claude-Etienne Guyot
    - - - - 1807 Nicolas-Marin Thiry
    - - - - 1809 Pierre Daumensil
    - - - - 1809 Marie-Louis-Hercule-Hubert Corbineau
    - - - - 1809 Jean-Dieudonne Lion
    - - - - 1811 Francois-Charles-Jean-Pierre-Marie d'Avranges d'Haugeranville
    - - - - 1813 Remy-Joseph-Isidore Exelmans
    - - - - 1813 Charles-Claude Meuziau
    - - - - 1815 Francois-Antoine Lallemand

    Horses, Weapons and Uniforms.
    The Guard Chasseurs wore expensive hussar-style outfits.
    Their gaudy red and green regalia made them
    one of the most colorful regiments in Europe.

    chestnut light bay dark bay The Guard Chasseurs rode on 15 hands tall (149-153 cm) pictoresque bays. They were mostly dark bays. Some sources, for example L. Rousselot, mention bays and chestnuts. One author gives chestnuts for the squadrons of Young Guard.

    The chasseurs were armed with slightly curved sabers, pistols and carbines. The chasseurs' saber had a curved blade 84 cm long (Horse Grenadiers' 97,5 cm !) with a single-branch brass hilt and a similar grip and scabbard.

    The chasseurs wore expensive hussar-style outfits. Their gaudy red and green regalia made them one of the most colorful regiments in Europe. The pelisse was trimmed with curled black lamb's wool and lined with white flannel. The dolmans were dark green and were worn under the pelisses. Their short Hungarian boots were fitted by the master bootmaker. These boots were pleated at the instep for comfort and trimmed with orange braids and tassels.
    The squadrons of Old Guard wore black fur caps called busbies or colbacks. A scarlet flamme fell over the right side of the fur cap. The squadrons of Young Guard wore no fur caps, instead they wore tall red shakos.
    Lachoque writes: "The lining of the officer's pelisse of short grey fur cost 50 francs, and the collar and edging of throat of Canadian fox cost from 100 to 120 francs. Their shabracks of panther skin, lined with striped drill and bound with gold braid, cost from 300 to 350 francs." After the campaign against Austria in 1809 the Guard Chasseurs needed new uniforms. Wagner furnished them with 1,295 pairs of boots, 918 undress coats and waistcoats, 950 Hungarian breeches, but only 469 of the expensive pelisses and dolmans.

    However the parade uniform was worn rarely, mostly on special occassions. During campaign the chasseurs wore dark green overalls. In 1808 the overalls were modified by eliminating the buttons on the outside of each leg, the seams being covered by two stripes of aurore braid.
    In 1811 the overalls had been redesigned again, their leather reinforcements being replaced by an extra layer of green cloth, and their side seams closed and covered by double aurore stripes.

    Picture by L.Rousselot In 1812-14 the overalls were grey with aurore stripes and with leather reinforcing between the legs and around the bottom. (See picture -->)

    During long marches the scarlet flammes on their fur caps have disappeared beneath black waxed and varnished covers atop the caps, and their sabretaches were covered with a black, waxed case without ornament. The trumpeters' white fur caps were left in regimental depot, black fur caps "always being worn on campaign." (- L. Rousselot)

    In 1815 the Chasseurs' uniforms, once so brilliant, were varied. A few left for Belgium in dark green undress coats like the Emperor's with scarlet collars and orange shoulder knots and aiguillettes, red waistcoats - either braided in orange or plain - green breeches with Hungarian boots or overalls, and colpacks with red and green cords and plumes. About 500 wore dolmans and pelisses with riding trousers and boots.

    In 1804-15 in good weather the Guard Chasseurs of the picket were dressed in their habits of their service uniforms, the long ornamented tails of which fall down on each side of their saddles. Their fur caps would display their corded and tasselled flammes and red-green plumes.


    2nd Regiment of Horse Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard
    [2e Regiment de Chasseurs-à-Cheval de la Garde Impériale]

    In May 1815 Napoleon formed the 2nd Regiment of Horse Chasseurs of the Guard (2e Regiment de Chasseurs-à-Cheval de la Garde) from the Regiment of Eclaireurs. They were ranked as Young Guard and nicknamed "The Hussars of the Guard." They were commanded by Antoine Francois Eugene Merlin de Douai.

    Many elements of their uniforms were identical to those of the Old Guard but they were made of poorer quality materials. There were also differences, instead of the fur cap was the red shako trimmed with orange braid.

    - - - - 1815 Antione Francois Eugene Merlin



    In 1814 near St.Dizier the Mamelukes
    "took a crack at some Cossacks whom
    'they sabered in their sccustomed style."
    (- Lefebvre-Desnouettes)

    Squadron of Guard Mamelukes
    [Escadron de Mamelukes de la Garde Imperiale]

    The sons of the desert or "authentic head-hunters"
    received a hot welcome in Paris.

    Mamelukes In 1802, after reading general Rapp's report, Bonaparte decided to form a squadron of Mameluks organized like hussars. Napoleon decided that the valiant cavaliers with dark skins would help to reinforce his own prestige. The sons of the desert or "authentic head-hunters" received a hot welcome in Paris. The officers were Frenchmen, the commander was Jean Rapp, a daredevil with 22 wounds.
    In charge of administration was Edouard Colbert (later he led the Red Lancers at Waterloo). Quartermaster was Delaitre (later he served in the Polish Guard Lancers).
    The privates were Greeks, Egyptians, Georgians and Turks. Every Mameluk was armed with two brace of pistols, a very curved saber, dagger, mace and eventually a battle-ax.

    "The Mamelukes did present special problems. The burial of one of their retired officers caused a local disturbance, his Christian neighbours objecting to having the grave of an 'infidel' near their sainted ancestors. There also is the sad tale of a homesick Arab rug dealer who was overjoyed to spot a Mameluke in a German town and tried to engage him in conversation. Unfortunately, he was only a Second Mameluk whose command of Arabic began and ended with 'Allah'. After countless repetitions of that holy name, the merchant concluded that he had met a man too pious to discuss worldly matters." (Elting - 'SWords Around a Throne" p 189)

    The Mamelukes were hated by the Spaniards. During the revolt in Madrid the "popular fury was loosed upon the Mameluks. These 'pagan sons of dogs' were assailed by women who jumped onto the cruppers of their horses ... Before a house in the Carrera de San Jeronimo two Mameluks fell to the pavement, shot from the window above. Furious their comrades entered the house, killed all the occupants - both men and women - and threw their heads into the street. ... Towards two in the afternoon the canaille was finally subdued; but then the reprisals began. Tied in pairs to the strirrups of the Mameluks and Guard Chasseurs, the condemned were dragged to the Pardo, the Retiro, and the Convent del Jesus were firing-parties awaited them." (Lachoque - "The Anatomy of Glory" pp 121-122)

    General Rapp leading Mamelukes
in Austerlitz in 1805. In Austerlitz (1805) the Allies had gained a healthy respect for the colorfully clad Mamelukes, and their proud reputation within the army was assured.
    In 1807 the costumes of the Mamelukes "occasioned much surprise, not unmixed with terror, to the Russian troops, who imagined them to be Turks." (Parquin - "Napoleon's Victories" p 63)
    In 1814 near St.Dizier the Mamelukes "took a crack at some Cossacks whom 'they sabered in their sccustomed style." (- Lefebvre-Desnouettes)

    In 1804 the company of Mamelukes had: 9 officers (6 of whom are Arabs), 10 NCO (6 of whom are Arabs), 10 brigadiers (8 of whom are Arabs), 2 trumpeters and 92 privates. (source:

    In 1813 the Mameluks were reinforced with Frenchmen who were designated as '2nd Mameluks'. There were 2 companies of Mameluks, the 1st was ranked as Old Guard and the 2nd as Young Guard. The Squadron of Mameluks was attached to the Regiment of Guard Chasseurs.

    In 1815 (Waterloo Campaign) Duke of Orleans asked them if there were any Egyptians among them, but was told that they were all French. They still wore crescents on their turbans. An Imperial Decree of 24 April announced: "The Regiment of Chasseurs-a-Cheval of our Guard will be augmented by a Mameluk squadron of 2 companies." But since its personnel was listed indiscriminately on the rolls of the Chasseurs, and even the Red Lancers, it is not known whether the squadron marched as a full unit.

    Chefs d'Escadron:
    - - - - 1801 - Aime Sulpice Victor Pelletier Montmarie
    - - - - 1801-1803 Jean Rapp
    - - - - 1803-1805 Pierre Louis Dupas
    - - - - 1805-1810 Antoine Charles Bernard Delaitre
    - - - - 1810 Francois Antoine Kirmann


    The Polish Guard lancers knew how to fight
    and they intended to do just that.
    It was Napoleon who said: "These men
    only know how to fight !" after they charged
    in their usual impetous, stormy fashion at Somosierra.

    1st Regiment of Lighthorse-Lancers (Polish) of the Imperial Guard
    [1ere Regiment de Chevau-Légers Lanciers de la Garde Impériale (Polonais)]

    In 1814 "Major Skarzynski performed prodigies of valor.
    Snatching a lance from a Cossack, he created a void around him
    by knocking over the fugitives in his path and running the rest
    through with his lance." - Henri Lachoque

    Polish Guard Lancers in parade uniforms, 
picture by Rousellot. "The Guard's first foreign regiment was the chevau-legers Polonais, activated in March 1807 from picked volunteers, mostly small landowners or their sons, who had some education and were expert riders. They paid for their own clothing and equipment and provided their own horses. Nevertheless, the regiment was recruited up to strength in 10 days. Their two majors, captain-instructor, two adjutant-majors, quartermaster-treasurer, surgeon, and all their trumpeters were French.
    Their farriers seem to have been Germans. ...
    Beyond their zeal, courage, and horsemanship, however, these proud and individualistic gentlemen-at-arms had everything to learn. Their first drills and reviews were cases of every Pole for himself, and it took 2 years to get their regimental accounts set up properly. The regiment was gradually assembled in Spain in 1808, where Lasalle gave it practical outpost training." (Elting - "Swords Around a Throne" pp 193-4)

    In 1807 Napoleon authorized the raising of a guard regiment of Polish Light Horse. Napoleon gave French instructors to train the young Poles but during following reviews conducted before Napoleon, its squadrons became so entagled with one another that the Emperor made a comment "These people only know how to fight !" Two French instructors were dismissed on the spot. Soon the regiment became as good as any other unit of the Guard. In Reichenbach in 1813 they charged, got under artillery fire, made half-turn and crushed enemy's cavalry without losing its alignment. Only very few regiments in Europe attained the perfection of changing the formation under fire and at gallop without losing its order.

    "The Polish lighthorse ... had become lancers to satisfy the demand of their chief Count Krasinski. Their training in the new weapon began in earnest when Major Fredro returned from leave in Poland bringing back manuals and exhibiting amazing skill in handling the lance. ... Dautancourt proposed permitting only the front rank of a squadron to carry lances for fear that in charging those in the 2nd rank might injure the horses and men in front. Furthermore, a lighthorseman armed with a lance, carbine, bayonet, saber, and 2 pistols would hardly continue to be a lighthorseman ! But Dautancourt was voted down. All troopers of the regiment were armed with lances ... Experience proved Dautancourt correct." ( - Henri Lachoque)

    Trumpeter in parade uniform.
Picture by Andre Joineau, France In 1812 when during the pursuit of Cossacks one of the lancers lost his headwear, officer Jerzmanowski ordered him to go back and retrieve it to prevent the enemy from claiming any trophy taken from this regiment. It was quite unusual since many troops panicked before Cossacks and abandoned not only their baggage and weapons but also even their wounded comrades. The Cossacks were evrywhere. At Katyn the Poles had great difficulty getting rid of several hundred scouting in front of a mass of Russian cavalry. Lahy ! Lahy ! (Poles in old Russian) the Russians cried, firing off their carbines at some distance from the leading squadron to provoke the Guard Lancers. 'Never get into a skirmish with Cossacks' was the Poles' advice. However a formal charge sent them flying.
    Lachoque: "Ardent in temperament, the Poles cut capers in the field and drove their attacks home; but in camp they led the life of great lords. Their cooks roasted whole pigs and sides of beef on spits in the open, and their cantinieres made coffee at all hours of day and night, serving it with sugar to all ranks. ... they smoked their long pipes and sat up half the night damning the Muscovites."

    In 1814 "Major Skarzynski performed prodigies of valor. Snatching a lance from a Cossack, he created a void around him by knocking over the fugitives in his path and running the rest through with his lance. The other officers followed suit, sweeping Dautancourt's lancers along with them in their dash to Corbeny. Kalmukcks, Bashkirs, and Cossacks fled across the plain, crisscrossed with ditches, leaving behind 2 guns, 200 men and their baggage. That night at Corbeny the Poles drank to victory and the Emperor." (- Henri Lachoque)

    On April 7th Napoleon called for volunteers from his Old Guard to serve in his guard on Elba Island. The Allies allowed for 500 infantrymen, 120 cavalrymen and 120 artillerymen. Generals Petit and Pelet were soon swamped with requests. Many officers asked to serve as simple privates.
    Colonel Krasinki, wearing his parade uniform announced to his lancers that "God has visited misfortune upon the Emperor" and all began to weep. They regreted they had not all been killed before hearing that anyone had dared demand Napoleon's abdication. Loud cries for vengeance were heard along with "Vive l"Empereur!" Lances were raised and the cavalry spontaneously moved toward Fontainebleau. They passed through Nainville before Sebastiani's ADC halted them. Krasinski galloped off to headquarters to protest that his duty and honor called him to Napoleon's side, since it was not to France but to Napoleon that his lancers had pledged their lives.

    Only a single squadron of the Lancers was at Waterloo.
    Lachoque writes: "The English at Waterloo reported that the Polish trumpeters, and even the offices, wore their white full dress uniforms faced with crimson in battle, and that only the front ranks carried lances." This squadron, which had few new recruits, was well dressed. The Poles' silver trumpets may have sounded the last charge of the Guard [at Waterloo]." (Lachoque - "The Anatomy of Glory" p 471)

    The famous French General Lasalle wrote a poem for this regiment about French-Polish comradeship. The Polish Guard Lancers and the French Horse Grenadiers were the only cavalry units of the Guard which were never defeated by Allies cavalry.

    - - - - 1807 Vincent-Corvin Krasinski
    Colonels-en-second and Majors
    - - - - 1807 Antoine-Charles-Bernard Delaitre
    - - - - 1807 Pierre Dautancourt
    - - - - 1812 Jan Konopka
    - - - - 1812 Dominik-Hieronim Radziwill
    - - - - 1812 Jan-Leon-Hippolyte Kozietulski
    - - - - 1813 Jan-Pawel Jerzmanowski

    Battles - weapons - uniforms - horses
    of the Polish Guard Lancers.


    Colonel of the Red Lancers, Pierre Baron Colbert
    earned the nickname "Iron Man" on many battlefields.
    Bullet wound to arm (Egypt), bullet wound to thigh (Austerlitz)
    three lance wounds (Eastern Prussia 1807), bullet wound to head
    (Wagram), bullet wound to arm (Quatre-Bras). - Ronald Pawly

    2nd Regiment of Lighthorse-Lancers (Dutch) of the Imperial Guard
    [2e Regiment de Chevau-Légers Lanciers de la Garde Impériale]

    The Regiment of Red Lancers covered themselves with glory at St.Dizier.
    General Sebastiani reported that in 20 years he had never seen a more brilliant charge.

    Red Lancers The Regiment of Red Lancers was formed in 1810 from three Dutch troops:

  • Garde du Corps (former Guard Cuirassiers)
  • Guard Hussar Regiment
  • 3th Hussar Regiment
    The German members of the Guard Hussars were given the choice of joining the Berg Lancers or the four Dutch regiments. "No officer may remain in the corps who is not Dutch by birth." (- Decree of 13 September 1810)
    However, in October the Emperor realized that the unit was 143 short of establishment. In order to fill the ranks, Napoleon signed a new decree and accepted many Germans.
    Article 1: All officers, NCOs and soldiers of the former Dutch Guard who were born in the territory of the Hanseatic cities, in Oldenburg, Osnabruck (Duchy of Berg) and in Westphalia will be considered as Dutch."
    Article 2: All Germans who have served without interruption since at least 1800 in the former Dutch Guard, either on foot or mounted, who have never deserted and who enlisted of their own will in the Dutch forces, will be considered as Dutch."
    Part of Article 4: "Our Minister of War will make a special register of those who are Prussian."

    On 23 September 1810 the French Imperial Guard and the Dutch Guard were present at the Sunday parade at the Tuileries. Napoleon approached the Red Lancers and asked about the recent disorders, which had taken place in their garrison. The colonel apologised and attributed the episode to the effects of hospitality lavished on them by their new brothers in arms. Napoleon replied: "Well, if your men can't withstand the effects of wine they will have to be satisfied with drinking beer in the future." In late 1811, two squadrons of Red Lancers escorted Napoleon through the new Belgian and Dutch departments.

    General Colbert Pierre Eduard Colbert was the colonel of the Red Lancers. Marshal Ney described Colbert as "consummate officer of the greatest distinction." Colbert earned the nickname "Iron Man" on many battlefields. Some found him domineering and tactless. In 1814, in a report presented to the Burbons he was described as "skilled and distinguished in all disciplines." Colbert earned the nickname "Iron Man" on many battlefields. Bullet wound to arm (Egypt), bullet wound to thigh (Austerlitz) three lance wounds (Eastern Prussia 1807), bullet wound to head (Wagram), bullet wound to arm (Quatre-Bras). - Ronald Pawly

    "These men must have completed
    between 2 and 4 years of service ..."
    - Decree of 11 March 1812

    The Decree of 11 March 1812 stated:
    "Article 3:
    The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Lighthorse-Lancers; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 10th Hussars;
    5th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 21st, 22nd, 26th, 29th, and 31st Chasseurs;
    and 4th, 5th, 6th, 11th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 25th, 26th, and 27th Dragoons,
    are each to provide 15 men for the recruitment of the above-mentioned 2nd Lighthorse-Lancers of our Guard. These men must have completed between 2 and 4 years of service, and will be selected from among the best remaining at the depots in France." (In comparison the Horse Grenadiers accepted men with 10 years of service, and the Guard Dragoons with 5-10 years.)

    In April 1812 the King of Prussia on learning that
    the Imperial Guard was passing through Potsdam,
    asked about the Red Lancers. The king admired
    their uniform.

    The Red Lancers wore one of the most striking uniforms in Napoleonic cavalry. Initially it had been intended to dress the Red Lancers in uniforms similar to those worn by the Guard Chasseurs-a-Cheval. Some Dutch officers quickly complied. Henri Lachoque writes that Baron Colbert "was concerned about their uniform, believing that the 2nd Lancers should be dressed like the 1st [Poles], although the czapka and kurtka were essentially Polish garments."
    Soon it was decided that since the Dutch Guard were organised as the Polish Guard Lancers, so their uniform should be the same as that of their fellow lancers. The Decree of 10 February 1811 stated: "Article 1: The 2nd Lighthorse-Lancers of the Guard will have the same cut of jacket and the same headdress as the 1st Lighthorse-Lancers of the Guard (Polish). It will keep the color scarlet for the jacket, with yellow buttons and distinctions. The distinctive color for lapels, collars and cuff facings will be sky blue." The collars, lapels, turnbacks and cuffs were in fact produced in dark blue.

    In April 1812 the King of Prussia on learning that the Imperial Guard was passing through Potsdam, asked about the Red Lancers. The king admired their uniform.

    In 1813 the five squadrons of Young Guard wore blue jackets faced with red.

    Weapons and Horses.
    "... it took a thoroughly trained trooper
    to handle the lance in action;
    to a poor horseman it was an impediment,
    even a danger ..." (- Ronald Pawly)

    Their primary weapon was lance and they received instructors from the (Polish) 1st Lighthorse-Lancers. Ronald Pawly writes: "One of the instructors was Ltn. Fallot, who had detached with 8 regimental NCOs to the Polish Guard Lancers at Chantilly in 27 November 1810 to learn the handling of the lance. ... In recent years Napoleon was unpleasantly impressed by the effectivenness of this weapon - then a novelty in Western Europe - in the hands of Austrian and Russian uhlans and Cossacks, and in 1811 would see his final decision to form a new lancer branch within the French cavalry. That May, at Albuera in Spain, the Vistula Uhlans in French service took part in one of the most bloodily successful cavalry charges of the Napoleonic Wars: together with the French 2nd Hussars theyr rode right over a British infantry brigade ..."
    Fallot's party spent 6 weeks at Chantilly learning this demanding new skill. The safe and effective handling of the heavy wooden lance - 2.26 m long with a 21 cm iron head - took a great deal of practice, the rudiments being taught on foot for some time before any attempt was made to master mounted drill. ... it took a thoroughly trained trooper to handle the lance in action; to a poor horseman it was an impediment , even a danger ..." During march the weight of the lance bore down on the stirrup, where its lower end fitted into a small 'bucket'; carried on the march slanting back from a small sling around the rider's arm.

    The Red Lancer also carried carbine (An XIII model flintlock light cavalry musketoon) and light cavalry curved saber.

    chestnut light bay dark bay The Dutch lancers rode on chestnuts and bays, measuring between 14 and 14.75 hands (146-150 cm). Each cost approx. 460 francs. The horses came mostly from Ardennes, Manche, Orne and Calvados regions.

    Red Lancers in Russia, 1812.
    "The Red Lancers were dogged by ill luck with the Cossacks,
    who seemed insultingly eager to come to blows. Sometimes
    when Cossacks saw a patrol of the Regiment they would
    make a rush at them shouting "A red one ! Catch him !"
    - Ronald Pawly
    The Cossacks nicknamed them The Red Boys.

    By March 1812 the regiment in the field numbered 41 officers and 649 other ranks. As they passed through Holland some officers took the opportunity which offered to see their families. On 22 March the Red Lancers entered Hanover. After several weeks on the march many of the horses were in poor shape. The reinforcements were soon ready to start their march eastwards. In April in Potsdam the Red Lancers met the King of Prussia. In May they were ordered to head for Danzig (today Gdansk. On 24 June the Red Lancers crossed the Niemen River over the bridge and entered Russia. Two days later they were used as outposts and scouts.

    Deprived of good wine and food, and comfortable quarters, and constantly harrased by Cossacks the lancers lost their good spirit. General Colbert wrote to Bessieres (commander of the Imperial Guard): "A bad mood reigns among the officers, and it could spread to the soldiers if one should be indulgent."

    On 27 July the Cossacks and the elite Russian Lifeguard Uhlans surprised detachments of Red Lancers at Babinovitz and took approx. 50 prisoners. Only an NCO and 3 lancers escaped. Colbert launched a pursuit but "the enemy had made off." The regiment then marched to Vitebsk where Napoleon was assembling his Imperial Guard. From there they moved to Smolensk and crossed the Dieper River.

    From 14 August onwards the Red Lancers would form with the Polish Guard Lancers a brigade under Colbert. The mood in the regiment improved and on Napoleon's birthday the Dutch decorated trees with inscriptions and lanterns bearing the monograms of Napoleon. These ornaments were made by Sergeant Skalski of Polish Guard Lancers. Then the Dutch, French, Germans and the Poles shared their stores of spirits.

    "The Red Lancers were dogged by ill luck with the Cossacks, who seemed insultingly eager to come to blows (perhaps as a result of their easy victory in the fight at Babinovitz). Sometimes when Cossacks saw a patrol of the Regiment they would make a rush at them shouting "A red one ! Catch him !", and often forced them to flee. It is said that, on occassion, the more experienced Polish Lancers would exchange their sombre blue and crimson uniform for the Dutch scarlet, causing considerable surprise to overconfident Cossacks and encouraging a warier approach in future." (Pawly - "The Red Lancers" p 35)

    Red Lancer pursued by Cossacks Paul Britten-Austin writes that the Dutchmen are "too phlegmatic" for the little warfare. Austin writes: "Approaching stealthily, Cossacks nevertheless (again) carry off the Dutch regiment's outpost picket. And again 'only one man escaped flat out at a gallop and brought the news to our camp. Even an hour and a half's pursuit couldn't catch up with the Cossacks.' Mortified by this second surprise of the campaign, Colbert doubles the 2nd Regiment's outposts; and, to make assurance doubly sure, mingles the Dutchmen with the warier, more experienced Poles." (Britten-Austin - "1812 The March on Moscow" p 333)

    During the battles of Smolensk and Borodino the Red Lancers were held in reserve. On 22 September they passed under the walls of Kremlin, Moscow. "We found Moscow absolutely deserted ... We have been detached from the Guard and are involved daily with the Cossacks." - wrote Captain Calkoen.

    "Nearing Bouikhovo after nearly 3 hours' ride, Calkoen's squadron were advancing a few hundred yards ahead of the Poles when Ltn. Doyen led his point troop up a hillock. They were immediately attacked from all sides by the Cossacks. Ltn. van Omphal's troops were at once sent to help them disengage, but were outflanked in their turn. The Red Lancers fell back towards the Polish squadron, who had halted and taken up battle formation. Under this cover the Dutch Lancers regrouped and charged the Cossacks again ..." (- Ronald Pawly)

    In the end of the campaign the Polish Guard Lancers had their horses rough shod and saved 200 horses. But the Red Lancers didn't follow the Poles' habit and were able to save only few officers' horses.
    The Dutchmen were brave men, no doubt about it, but they were not well suited for this campaign. The Poles, whose homeland habitually suffered bitter winters and cold winds from the east, will have been better prepared for the hardships, mentally and perhaps physically.

    Red Lancers in Saxon Campaign, 1813.
    The Red Lancers fought hard. In two and half months
    half of the regiment were killed and wounded.

    In 1813 this regiment was rebuilt with volunteers and King Joseph's (Napoleon's brother) guard. Many of these men were veterans. Some sources give the first 5 squadrons as Old Guard and majority Dutch. The other 5 squadrons were ranked as Young Guard and were recruited in part from the municipal cavalry of the Guard of Paris. Other sources give 4 squadrons of Old Guard and 6 of Young Guard. Henri Lachoque writes: "Later the Emperor added 5 Young Guard squadrons, ranking the 5 veteran squadrons as Old Guard without increasing their pay and allowances." (Lachoque - "The Anatomy of Glory" p 433)

    "General Colbert's brigade of Guard Lancers performed with distinction on the 20th, and on the 21st when fighting continued at Wurschen. ... [At Reichenbach] Russian artillery was emplaced and protected by other troops. Very soon the Cossacks were being supported by Russian dragoons, and the position of Colbert's brigade became untenable. With hardly 6 squadrons at his disposal the general ordered his Red Lancers to attack the Russian cavalry while the other squadrons of the brigade formed a second line. Counterattacked by much greater numbers, the first squadrons were forced to withdraw; the intervention of the second line bought them time to rally." (Pawly - "The Red Lancers")
    According to M. Bogdanovich of Russia, at Reichenbach the Russian artillery fired on the Red Lancers. This bombardement was immediatelly followed by spirited cavalry charge conducted by General Korf’s cavalry. The lancers were driven off, lost 5 officers and 176 other ranks as prisoners. (Bogdanovich M. - “Istoriya Voiny 1813 Goda” St. Petersburg 1863, Vol 1, page 282)
    According to Captain de Stuers the regiment lost at Reichenbach 201 killed and wounded.

    At Dresden the Red Lancers successfully charged against Giulay's Austrians. Then they have fought at Nollendorf and Toplitz. On 14 October the Red Lancers captured a large convoy escorted by Cossacks. They were present at Leipzig. One squadron was trapped in the city by the destruction of the bridge.

    Red Lancers in France, 1814.
    The Red Lancers covered themselves with glory at St.Dizier.
    Gen. Sebastiani reported that in 20 years he had never seen
    a more brilliant charge !

    In 1814 it was still a very strong regiment and participated in numerous combats. At Hoogstraten a detachment of Red Lancers under de Brack dealt with the Prussian uhlans. Several squadrons retired to Brussels. De Brack's detachment occupied Waterloo and the junction of the roads to Nivelles and Namur.

    The regiment charged at Brienne and at La Rothiere. At La Rothiere the Red Lancers and Polish Guard Lancers attacked Vasilchikov's Russian hussars and dragoons. The Red Lancers made another charge and recaptured the guns lost by Duhesme's infantry.

    At Montmirail the Red Lancers covered a 20-gun battery and suffered heavy losses from Allies' artillery.

    At Antwerp 100 lancers made a well-timed charge against Allies skirmishers.

    At Laon the Red Lancers successfully charged into Russians' right flank. But they failed to break infantry square and suffered heavy casualties. (The square was protected by a wide ditch.)

    At St.Dizier they fought with great bravery, overrun 18 Russian guns and captured 6 guns and 400 Russian dragoons. General Sebastiani reported that in 20 years he had never seen a more brilliant charge !

    After Napoleon's first abdication, many Dutch officers and NCOs asked to go home. Some hoped to be admitted to the new army of the Netherlands.

    Red Lancers in Waterloo, 1815.
    Napoleon: "Colbert, you are arriving quite late !"
    Colbert: "Sire, I could come no sooner."
    Napoleon: "Come on, You're late - what kept you ?"
    Colbert: "Sire, not as late as Your Majesty
    I have been waiting for you a year."

    Red Lancers in Waterloo in 1815. In 1815, just few weeks before Waterloo, Napoleon wrote: "As soon as possible the Red Lancers must be increased to 3 regiments..." This however didn't happen, the time was too short. It was only one regiment as they lacked horse and men, and even accepted cavalrymen from different sources: Royal Corps, retirement, Young Guard and even some horse grenadiers.

    In Quatre Bras the Red Lancers fought with the Nassau infantry and Dutch troops. In Ligny they covered the withdrawal of the cuirassiers after their admirable charge. In Waterloo the Red Lancers charged Allies squares without artillery support and without success. During the retreat after the battle they routed several squadrons of British cavalry and escorted Napoleon to the Sambre River and on to Philippeville..

  • ~

    3rd Regiment of Lighthorse-Lancers (Polish) of the Imperial Guard
    [3e Regiment de Chevau-Légers Lanciers de la Garde Impériale (Polonais)]

    This regiment was formed in 1812 and was ranked as Young Guard (the 1st was Old Guard, the 2nd 'Red Lancers' was Middle Guard). Napoleon took advantage of the Poles' good will to create this unit.
    The officers were seasoned fighters but the rank and file came mainly from landowning families and students of Polish and Lithuanian universities. They were patriotic and enthusiastic but there was not enough time to train them. Their pay and allowances were the same as the 2nd Regiment (Red Lancers).

    In 1812 at Slonim the 3rd Guard Lancers were attacked by superior number of Cossacks and Pavlograd hussars. After a prolonged and dramatic fight (numerous charges and countercharges) the regiment was destroyed.

    - - - - 1812 - Jan Konopka


    1st, 2nd and 3rd Regiment of Scouts of the Imperial Guard
    [1er, 2e, 3e Regiment d’Eclaireurs de la Garde Imperiale]

    In December 1813 Napoleon formed three new regiments of Guard cavalry. In the beginning these were eclaireurs, scouts. The scouts had neither cloaks nor breeches, they were issued undress coats, pantaloons, gray capes and stable jackets. Kozietulski, the Hero of Somosierra, was organizing the 3rd at Givet without farriers or trumpeters, and without pay. Hoffmnayer was obliged to appeal to the Berg Lancers for their mounts.

    The three eclaireur or scout regiments, were attached to the Horse Grenadiers, Dragoons and Polish Guard Lancers respectively. "Napoleon had in mind a French counterpart to the Cossacks that had harrassed so effectively the French in 1812.

    "Napoleon had repeatedly considered forming units of very light cavalry. Now three regiments - eclaireurs-grenadiers, eclaireurs-dragoons, and eclaireurs-lanciers - were hastily scraped together. Their horses were small, hardy beasts from the Pyrenees, the Ardennes, and the Rhone delta; their eqipment was very light.
    The 1st Regiment got some men (not their best) from the Guards of Honor; the 2nd was supposed to be recruited from the postillions of the Imperial mail service. Actually both regiments were mostly new conscripts, sprinkled with a few Old Guard and line officers and NCOs and a few odd individuals like a sous-lieutenant from the Neapolitan chevau-legers, some of Joseph''s former guard cavalry, and trumpeters from the Pupilles. The Poles had a high percentage of veteran-lancers, apparently including the 40-odd remaining Tartars. All three regiments were put into action hastily, short of weapons and equipment, but were never completely organized." (Elting - "Swords Around a Throne" p 201)

    Each regiment of eclaireurs had 4 squadrons of 250 men each (theoretically). In the 1st and 2nd Eclaireurs the privates of squadrons of Old Guard wore uniform of hussar pattern, green dolman with white laces and braid. Those of Young Guard wore a simple green a la Kinski coat. In the 3rd Eclaireurs they wore Polish style outfit.

    These scouts were armed with lances and sabers (in first rank) and carbine and saber (in second rank).

    In Arcis-sur-Aube in 1814 the eclaireurs advanced and were promptly met by a volley of shot and shell from the crest of the plateau east of the town. Charged simultaneously by yelling Cossacks and Austrian cavalry, the eclaireurs were thrown into panic and turned tail, colliding with Exelmans' cavalry which promptly headed back to Arcis, pursued full tilt by the Russians.
    The 3rd Eclaireurs fought well in the battle of Paris, defending the Montmartre area. They refused to follow Marmont's troops and surrender to the Russians. The 3rd Eclaireurs left Paris hoping to join Napoleon in Fountainbleu.

    The three regiments of eclaireurs were disbanded in June 1814.


    1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Regiment of Honor Guard
    [1er, 2e, 3e, 4e Regiment de Garde d'Honneur]

    Honor Guard: trumpeter and private
in parade outfits.
Picture by Steven Palatka In 1813 there were 15.000 volunteers with 20.000 horses, mounted and equipped at their own expense. These 20-26 years old men came mainly from noble and wealthy families but were hardly enthusiastic for military service and soon many deserted. They formed new regiments named Life Guard but because of the desertions it was changed to Honor Guard.
    The rest of the army called them "the Hostages". :-)

    The privates wore uniform of hussar pattern, green dolman and pelisse with white braid, edging and laces. The collar and cuffs were scarlet collar with white edging. Crimson sash with green sliding loops and cord. Silver buttons. The breeches were scarlet breeches with white lace. Short black hussar boots. The shako was scarlet with silver eagle, white top band, cords and flounders. Green plume with blue top over a pompon in squadron color inserted in a tricolour cockade. The chinstrap were silver. Green portemanteau with white edge and regimental number.

    The privates were armed with light cavalry sabers and carbines.

    - - - - 1st Regiment - Charles Joseph Randon de Pully
    - - - - 2nd Regiment - Louis Lepic / Adelaide Blaise Francois Lagrange
    - - - - 3rd Regiment - Philippe de Segur
    - - - - 4th Regiment - Raymond Gaspard Saint Sulpice

    Sources and Links.
    Recommended Reading

    Elting - "Swords around a Throne: Napoleon's Grande Armée"
    Houssaye - "La Vieille Garde Imperiale" (Ilustrations de Job)
    Lachouque (Anne S. K. Brown) - "The Anatomy of Glory: Napoleon and his Guard"
    Chlapowski - "Memoirs of a Polish Lancer" transl. by Tim Simmons
    Rousselot, text by Edward Ryan - "Napoleon's Elite Cavalry"
    Mansel - "The Eagle in Splendour: Napoleon I and His Court"
    Six - "Dictionaire biographique des generaux et amiraux..."
    Pawly - "The Red Lancers"
    Pictures of Honor Guard - Steven Palatka
    Musée de l'Armée .
    Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessieres.
    General Étienne-Marie-Antoine-Champion de Nansouty.
    Grenadiers a Cheval de la Garde.
    Jean-Baptiste Guindey - Un héros pyrénéen sous l'Empire.
    Chasseurs à cheval de la Garde impériale 1805.
    Album photo estampes chasseurs à cheval.
    Xème Escadron des Chasseurs à Cheval de la Garde.
    Szwolezerowie Gwardii.
    Pictures of Szwolezerowie Gwardii.
    Pictures of Red Lancers.
    La Gendarmerie d'élite de la Garde Impériale.

    French Guard Infantry ~ French Guard Artillery

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