Russian Cavalry : Uniforms : Organization : Tactics : Cuirassiers : Dragoons : Hussars Russian flag from Russian flag from
Russian Cavalry
of the Napoleonic Wars


"The [Russian] cavalry was fine and commanding. ...
The heavy cavalry are undoubtedly very fine; the men gigantic, the horses good, the equipment superior and in perfect condition.
The light cavalry are less striking ... but some of the hussars and lancers are good."
- General Sir Charles Stewart

1. Introduction: Russian Cavalry.
2. Generals.
3. Organization.
- - - - 4. Cuirassiers.
- - - - 5. Dragoons.
- - - - 6. Horse Jagers.
- - - - 7. Uhlans.
- - - - 8. Hussars.
9. Uniforms.
10. Training / Tactics.
11. Horses.
12. Weapons.
13. Hair Styles.
14. Best Regiments.

Reenactment of battle of Borodino
Picture: reenactment of the battle of Borodino.

In Brienne in 1814, General Vasilchikov led 3rd Dragoon Division (Panchulidsev’s),
2nd Hussar Division (Lanskoi’s) and Cossacks against the French infantry division
commanded by General Duhesme. The infantry received them in columns instead
of squares. Unable to withstand the attack they began to fall back and colided with
the infantry division of Young Guard. Vasilchikov’s cavalry also overran two batteries
before they could deploy and fire. One of these batteries was dragged away as a trophy.
Prussian officer Muffling participated in this attack: “We rode into the Young Guard
and our right wing got as far as the Reserve …We captured two batteries and
the enemy fell into the greatest disorder.” Only the gathering darkness saved
the Young Guard and Duhesme’s division from a complete disaster.

"As a horseman, the Russian regular cavalryman had no experience,
except in the schools. he was not born to the use of horses
and he had to learn both how to ride and how to care for them.
Yet the Russian cavalry distinguished itself throughout the
campaign and was often victorious over the French with all its training."
Petre - "Napoleon's Campaign in Poland 1806-7"

Introduction: Russian Cavalry.
The Russian cavalry was formed of two types:
regular and irregular.

French Carabiniers vs Izoum Hussars 
at Borodino, picture by Keith Rocco, USA Picture: French carabiniers versus Russian hussars in the battle of Borodino. Picture by Keith Rocco, USA.

Cavalry is the branch of army, which reaps the fruits of victory or covers a retreat. With strong cavalry the effects of defeat are not always fatal. Every country had its own cavalry troops and they differed, some were better quality than other.

Of all arms, cavalry is probably the most difficult to handle in the field. It couldn’t engage an enemy except where the ground was favourable for the horses. It was easily disperesed and easily got out of hand. Cavalry ought to be at once the eye, the ear and the feeder of an army. With good cavalry an army is in comparative security, and in a condition to march into an enemy’s country. Cavalry had to be opportunistic, picking its moment with care.

The true worth of cavalry was the threat it posed to an enemy disrupted and defeated by infantry and artilery and the reaction it created. Throwing cavalry against a prepared enemy was an extreme and desperate measure or a mistake.

In 1804-05 there were:

  • 3,600 Guard cavalry
  • 46,200 Army cavalry (of whom 3,900 were mounted on pack hores)

    In 1805 Russia had 200,000 infantry and 50,000 cavalry.


  • 5,600 Guard cavalry
  • 70,200 Army cavalry (of whom 7,800 were mounted on pack hores)

    In 1812 there were 350,000 infantry and 75,000 cavalry.

    From Asian steppes to Paris,
    and from Italy to Sweden.

    In January 1807 near Waltersmühl,
    the French and Russian cavalry
    fought and neither side pulled off
    so “it kept running till nightfall.”

  • In the first one or two campaigns against Napoleon, many Russian cavalry reiments had only few veterans in their ranks. According to Löwenstern, in 1806 only few men in his regiment (Soumy Hussars) participated in previous wars and knew how to do a proper reconnesance or set the outposts. It resulted in situation where squadron couldn’t really take a rest in camp. Even a gossip was enough to stir it up and sometimes sleep was interrupted several times. Such situation made their horses and men stressed and tired.
    For example in 1806 the news about French advance arrived when Russian dragoons and hussars were in Nowe Miasto. The single word “French!” shouted in the night drove the Russian officers out of their sleep. Chaos erupted and all run to horses. Löwenstern’s gray horse became overexcited and caused difficulties to mount. Then the horse runs straight into the mass of dragoons despite protests of his master. This chaos would never happen if there was set a chain of pickets and guards and proper reconnaissance was done.

  • In 1805 at Austerlitz, Grand Duke Constantine attempted to stop the French who marched through the vineyards south of Blasovitze. Constantine rode to the front of his uhlan regiment, greeted the troopers and embraced their commander Baron Meller-Zakomelski. Then he turned to the regiment and shouted: “Lads! Remember whose name you carry! I trust you, don’t disappoint me!” Electricied by Constantin words and by their own nervy over-ambition the uhlans quickly moved forward without the slightest support from other troops. Kellermann’s cavalry division consisted of 2nf, 4th, 5th Hussars and 5th Chasseurs (total 1267 men, with many veterans in the ranks).
    Kellermann’s cavalry division stood in front of Cafarelli’s infantry division and watched the Russian uhlans coming. What happened next is described different by both sides. According to Russians the uhlans overturned “three lines of French cavalry.” According to French sources the French cavalry voluntarily retreated behind own infantry and artillery.
    Trumpeter of Grand Duke
Constantine's uhlans Unfortunately the uhlans didn’t stop there and said, OK, come out you bastards and we will cut you to ribbons. The hotheaded uhlans rushed after Kellermann’s cavalry and got under heavy canister and musket fire from infantry. The fire unsaddled many riders but quite amazingly others pushed forward and managed to penetrate the French position. The uhlans got under fire from the second line of infantry (2,000-3,000 muskets). This is said that some of the young uhlans that lost their mounts were so angered that attacked the infantry on foot. Baron Meller-Zakomelski rode in the head of the uhlans and was hit by a bullet. He had trouble breathing and was surrounded by the French 5th Hussars. Meller-Zakomelski was taken prisoner by trumpeter Pincemaille, who himself was wounded. Hundreds of uhlans were hors de combat, and only approx. 200-250 of the toughest and luckiest rode back toward Bagration’s troops where Manteufel rallied them.
    Thanks to French masterful coordination between cavalry, infantry and artillery the Russian uhlans have suffered horrible losses. According to Bogdanovich the uhlans suffered 508 casualties (!) Mihailovski-Danilevski and Gavlovski however give different number: 400 and 680 respectively. This action although very costly gave time for other Allies troops to restore order and regain composure. In the end of the battle General Bagration ordered the remaining uhlans to escort 16 guns, an order they fullfiled to the word.
    Constantine however was proud of his brave uhlans, a single regiment attacked two divisions, 800 men against five thousands infantry and cavalry supported by artillery. Later on he ordered the Russian infantry halt and present their arms when the uhlans were passing by. Few days after the battle he wrote report to the monarch praising them. In second report written in 1806, which was based on Manteufel’s report, he presented to awards for Austerlitz 36 officers, and praised more than 200 privates and NCOs.
    (The uhlans waited two years for another chance to cross their weapons with the French light cavalry. It took place in June 1807. This time for the enemy there was no infantry and artillery to retreat behind and the uhlans got their fair chance. The French hussars and Saxon chevauxlegeres and cuirassiers entered the town of Friedland. But here “the funny” Chalikov with one squadron of uhlans threw them out of the town. French light cavalry formed themselves west of Friedland, but then 4 squadrons of uhlans and 2 squadrons of Military Order Cuirassiers attacked them. The enemy was defeated and didn’t stop its flight until they reached the woods of Heinrichsdorf.)

  • As experience grew, however, the troops did better. The Cossacks and hussars usually crept behind the enemy, or on his flanks, before striking. The enemy also helped by being not too careful. On 27-28 May (8-9 June) 1807 General Guyot’s light cavalry brigade crossed the Pasleka (Passarge) River at Kleinenfeld. The French didn’t do proper reconeissance, and were attacked and routed by S.Petersbourg Dragoons, Lifland Dragoons, Elisavetgrad Hussars and Cossacks. The French lost 120 killed and wounded and 120 prisoners.
    (At Waterloo Guyot commanded the Guard Heavy Cavalry Division made of Horse Grenadiers and Dragoons)

  • This is said that in winter of 1794-1795 the French hussars captured the icebound Dutch ships.
    [For more info read "French Cavalry Defeats Dutch Fleet?" by Peter Davis >> (]
    Aland Islands and Baltic Sea. The Russian cavalrymen had their actions 'on ice' too. On March 6-9 1809 Yakov Kulniev was ordered to capture the Swedish Aland Islands (see map). Kulniev’s force consisted of 200 Cossacks and 172 Grodno Hussars. At 3 am the Russians appeared on the frozen sea. They could see the wheel trails and footsteps of the Swedish troops on the snow that passed through this area before. After long march they spotted on the skyline the rocks of an island. As they advanced further the Swedish pickets fired upon them.
    Kulniev formed his Cossacks in skirmish chain, hussars 200 paces behind them and formed in line. In reserve was one sotnia (“hundred”) of Cossacks. Kulniev placed himself in the very front and with a loud “God with us!” and drawn saber rushed forward. Although the Swedes fled toward the rocks, leaving behind 80 killed, wounded captured they continued firing from behind rocks and trees. Due to difficult terrain the Russians fought on foot. Finally the hussars and Cossacks got upper hand and the Swedish garrison surrendered. Kulniev was awarded with St. Anna Order of 1st Class (the privates were awarded with 2 silver roubles each)

  • In January 1807 the Soumy Hussars discovered through spies that Marshal Bernadotte ( and his troops were resting carelessly at Mohrungen. According to Löwenstern the Soumy Hussars and Courland Dragoons quietly sneaked in under the cover of the night near the position occupied by the enemy. They fell upon Bernadotte’s troops who didn’t have even set outposts. The hussars were busy chasing after the half-naked French stumbling out of the houses. Löwenstern himself captured 14 prisoners on that night, although many of them soon managed to escape in this chaos. The captured booty was impressive. Three Russian squadrons rushed toward other part of the town and toward the French camp but were vigorously counterattacked and lost officer Kreutz. Kreutz was surrounded, and when his horse fell on an ice patch he was taken prisoner. Löwenstern however exagerate the number of prisoners giving it at one thousand. (Löwenstern - “Mit Graf Pahlens Reiterei gegen Napoleon” Berlin 1910, Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn, pages 14-15.)

  • In Eylau in 1807, Marshal Murat’s cavalry broke through the Russian infantry, but then was halted by fresh Russian forces and had to fight their way back. In the tail of the retreating French cavalry were the Guard Horse Grenadiers. The Russians and Cossacks surrounded them and called to surrender. Russian sources; memoirs of General Bennigsen, memoirs of Denis Davydov, memoirs of Yermolov; and the Journal of Actions of Imperial Russian army 1807, describe this episode. Two squadrons of French guard cavalry were locked between the lines of Russian infantry. Mass of Russian cavalry surrounded them but the French refused to surrender. A short fight developed, some guardsmen were killed, many escaped trough intervals between the cannons of Russian right flank battery, while few were taken prisoner. Shikanov mentions only 51 privates and 1 officer of Horse Grenadiers captured prisoner. (Shikanov V.H. - “Pervaia Polskaia Kampania 1806-1807” Moskva “Reytar” 2002, p 173)

    French dragoons.

  • According to Eduard Löwenstern in 1807 in Golymin the Soumy Hussars was attacked with big noise by French 4th and 7th Dragoons and was overthrown. The fleeing Russian hussars run toward the Ingermanland Dragoons but these dragoons didn’t let them pass without jeering. :-)

  • In 1814 in 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.

  • Between September 22nd and 25th 1812 Ivan Dorohov’s group of about 2.000 troopers, mostly irregulars, 2 guns and two squadrons of Lifeguard Dragoons attacked the enemy’s convoys and transports. They captured 1.500 prisoners and 80 ammunition wagons. Against them Napoleon has sent 150-250 French Guard Dragoons and 300 infantry. On September 25th they had come across Dorohov’s group. The French were ambushed and completely crushed by two squadrons of Lifeguard Dragoons. (Bezotosnyi V. M., Vasiliev A. A., Gorshman A. M., Parhayev O. K., Smirnov A. A. - “Russkaia armiia 1812-1814” Vlados, Moskva 2000, page 19)
    According to French General Caulaincourt the annihilation of 150 dragoons caused more consternation in Napoleon’s headquarters than “the loss of 50 generals.” (Curtis Cate - “The War of The Two Emperors” p. 305, 1985 Random House, Inc, NewYork)
    Napoleon promptly has sent against Dorohov the remainder of the Guard Dragoons. They were joined by the Guard Chasseur-a-Cheval with five infantry and eight cavalry regiments. Forty guns supported the pursuing force.

    French Chasseur-a-Cheval.  
Picture by Bellange, France.

  • Certainly not every body of Russian cavalry was successful. Often the excitement of inexperienced officers seemed to overcome whatever tactical judgement they possessed. On June 14th 1812 part of the 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 officers led two squadrons as they ran into a body of French chasseurs-a-cheval (see picture ->) and accepted the fight.
    In the ensuing battle with French light cavalry most of the Russians were killed, wounded, and taken prisoners. (Krestovski - “Istoriya 14-go Ulanskago Yamburskago Eya Imperatorskago Vysochestva Velikoi Knyazhny Marii Aleksandrovny Polka” St. Petersburg 1873, pp 180-182)

  • In July 1812 at Ostrovno the Ingermanland Dragoons were sent against the right flank of French corps. The dragoons however were driven back by the Polish 6th Uhlans and lost 200 prisoners. (Some sources gives two regiments, the 6th and 8th Uhlans, or instead of the 8th, the French 8th Hussars or a Prussian hussar regiment).

  • If cavalry cuaght infantry by surpirse and not formed in squares it often resulted in slaughter. In mid May 1813 column of French infantry was crossing a stream near the town of Bishofsverda. The Harkov Dragoons sprung forward and fling themselves upon the enemy. The column was broken and suffered 100 casualties. (Bogdanovich M. - “Istoriya Voiny 1813 Goda” St. Petersburg 1863, Vol 1, p 228)

  • In 1812 at Polotzk, the Riga Dragoons, Grodno Hussars, one squadron of His Majesty Cuirassiers and one of Her Majesty Cuirassiers attacked the French artillery and cavalry, which was deployed in three lines. (In the first line: Castex’s cavalry brigade, in the second Corbineau’s brigade, in the third line the 4th Cuirassiers.) The Russians overthrew Corbineau’s and Castex’s brigades and captured the guns. They were then counterattacked and routed by the 4th Cuirassiers and lost 13 out of the 15 captured guns.

  • In May 1813 at Reichenbach, the Russian artillery fired on the Red Lancers. This bombardement was immediatelly followed by a spirited cavalry charge conducted by 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)

  • Antoni Rozwadowski of Polish 8th Uhlans described fighting with the Russian cavalry at Borodino: “On that day (Sep 5th) the 6th Uhlans formed the first line, and we the 8th were formed in echelon” when Russian dragoons attacked. According to Rozwadowski the soil was dry and a huge, thick cloud of dust made his 8th invisible to the enemy. The Russians continued their advance against the 6e before the 8th attacked the left flank of the dragoons. The enemy fled in disorder. After this action the 8th and 6th Uhlans moved to a new position behind a wood. There the regiments were formed in column, one after another and only the brigades stood in echelon. Soon the uhlans noticed Russian cavalry again charging against them. At a long distance the enemy looked similar to the dragoons just recently defeated and the Poles rushed forward certain of victory. When both sides were closer the uhlans realized that these “dragoons” were cuirassiers and the 6th fled toward the 8th. The 8th was disorganized and both regiments fled and broke the Prussian hussars who stood in the rear. Only the next cavalry brigade who stood in echelon to the Poles counterattacked and threw the Russian cuirassiers back. (Rozwadowski Antoni - “Memoir” Biblioteka Zakladu Ossolinskich, rekopis 7994)

    French General Lasalle.

  • In 1807 near Golymin, Lasalle’s and Milhaud’s light cavalry brigades (both understrength) crossed their sabers with the Military Order Cuirassiers and Pskov Dragoons. The Russian heavies drove them back, Colonel Demeneot of 13th Chasseurs received a saber cut to his left arm/hand? Lasalle and Milhaud rallied their troopers and with the support of Klein’s dragoon division strucked the enemy from the flank. The Russians were routed and fled under the cover of artillery.

  • In 1807 after the Battle of Friedland, Napoleon sent the French Guard Dragoons and the Saxon cavalry in pursuit of the defeated Russian infantry. (Elting J.R., Esposito V. - “A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars”, New York 1964, description to Map 82)
    The dragoons had strength of 2 squadrons or less than 300 men. But these troops met with a strong force of Russian light cavalry, were defeated and pursued all the way to the main French army, creating confusion in the ranks of infantry and artillery.

  • In 1814 at Brienne, General Vasilchikov led 3rd Dragoon Division (Panchulidsev’s), 2nd Hussar Division (Lanskoi’s) and Cossacks against the French infantry division commanded by General Duhesme. The infantry received them in columns instead of squares. Unable to withstand the attack they began to fall back and colided with the infantry division of Young Guard. Vasilchikov’s cavalry also overran two batteries before they could deploy and fire. One of these batteries was dragged away as a trophy. (Petre F. L. - “Napoleon at Bay, 1814” on p 23 Petre gives 8 guns as being lost to Russian cavalry)
    Prussian officer Muffling participated in this attack and wrote: “We rode into the Young Guard and our right wing got as far as the Reserve … We captured two batteries and the enemy fell into the greatest disorder.” Only the gathering darkness saved the Young Guard and Duhesme’s division from a complete disaster.

  • On March 13th (25th) 1814 General Pahlen with 2 cuirassier and 2 hussar regiments passed through Lenharrée and furiously attacked the left flank of French cuirassier division. The French heavies were pushed back. General Belliard sent in as support a dragoon division commanded by Roussel (?) but the French dragoons panicked and hooved away. The fleeing toward Conantray French cuirassiers and dragoons were saved from destruction by the 8th Chasseurs-a-Cheval and the young infantry who held fast. General Gerard lost his personal baggage and was able to flee only due to his fast horse. Not far from Laubrisell (?) the Ekaterinoslav Cuirassiers captured 1 gun and the Soumy Hussars chased after French infantrymen.

  • In La Rothiere in 1814, the Russian infantry marched forward “headed by the regimental singers” while Lanskoi's 2nd Hussar Division charged and broke the French cavalry. Meanwhile the infantry found themselves under heavy cannonade of French artillery.
    French general Nansouty General Nansouty (see picture ->) ordered Generals Colbert, Guyot, and Pire to charge with the cavalry of the Imperial Guard. Horse batteries of Old Guard supported them. The French guardsmen broke the hussars and pursued in their turn. Vasilchikov sent in the 3rd Dragoon Division. The dragoons formed “in two lines” attacked Nansouty’s Guard Cavalry frontallly and from the flank. The enemy was broken and pursued beyond La Rothiere itself leaving behind 24 guns of Old Guard which soon became the trophy of the dragoons. (Petre gives 24 guns as being lost. Petre - “Napoleon at Bay, 1814” p 33) The fleeing guardsmen were saved by part of the V Cavalry Corps, which regiments advanced in column of squadrons, wheeled to the left and struck the pursuing Russians. The Russian dragoons were pushed back but not without a fight and they still managed to bring back the captured guns of Old Guard. The Russian dragoon division must have made impression on the French because in the “Journal Historique de Cavalry Legere du 5e Corps de Cavalerie pendant la Campagne de France en 1814” participant of this fight, officer Petiet, gives the strength of the dragoons at six thousands. In fact their strength was only between 1.200 and 1.600 men.

  • Generally the Turkish cavalry outclassed the Russian cavalry in horsemanship and swordsmanship (but not in training and discipline). Often the Russian horsemen needed support from infantry and artillery to beat the enemy. The most useful against the Turks were the Cossacks. In 1811 at Kalafati the Turkish cavalry came out fired up by their leaders. From the huge cloud of dust the angry screaming “Allah ! Allah !” was heard. They defeated the Russian dragoons who sought refuge behind their own infantry. Only the volleys fired by infantry halted the Turks. In 1810 at Shumen the Turkish cavalry plagued the marching Russians, who had to form wagon circles. When the Russians arrived at Shumen they came under attack from a large force of Turkish cavalry. In the corners of the squares formed by infantry were positioned light guns, while wagons and some cavalrymen were placed in the middle of each square.

  • ~

    Cavalry Generals.
    Generals of Cavalry
    General Lieutenants
    General Majors.

    Grand Duke Constantine. Inspector of Cavalry Grand Duke Constantine (1779-1831).
    Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich was Tsar's brother, commander of Imperial Guard, and the Inspector of Cavalry. He was prepared by his grandmother, Catherine the Great, to become an emperor of Russia, but he never tried to secure the throne. After his father's death he led a wild and disorderly bachelor life. Constantine's first campaign took place in Italy under the leadership of the legendary Suvorov. He distinguished himself by personal bravery and nothing else. Constantine led the Guards in Austerlitz and was defeated by the French. After Austerlitz neither his skill nor his fortune in war showed any improvement. After the peace of Tilsit (1807) he became an ardent admirer of Napoleon and an upholder of the Russo-French alliance. During Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, the commander in chief of Russian army, Barclay de Tolly, was twice obliged to send him away from the army due to his disorderly conduct. In Paris in 1814 Constantine excited public ridicule by the manifestation of his petty military fads. His first visit was to the stables, and it was said that he had been marching and drilling even in his private rooms.
    Constantine was obsessed with drill and uniforms.

    GoK Ferdinand Wintzingerode General of Cavalry Ferdinand Wintzingerode (1761-1818).
    He came from Hessian nobles and served in French, Austrian and Hessian armies.
    1797 - major in Russian army, adiutant of Grand Duke Constantine. 1798 - colonel. 1802 - general major. In 1805 Wintzingerode distinguished himself in the battle of Krems. 1807-1811 in Austrian army. May 1812 - back in the Russian army. During Napoleon's Invasion of Russia Wintzingerode commanded the first partisan group (partisanskii otriad) around Smolensk and a Reserve Corps. The French captured him in Moscow and sent to France as prisoner. But the Russians captured the convoy of prisoners and set him free. September 1812 - general lieutenant. 1813 - Wintingerode commanded a strong Russian army corps (four divisions) and distinguished himself in Leipzig.. The tzar promoted him to the rank of general of cavalry. During the campaign in France in 1814 Wintzingerode commanded a powerful force of Allied cavalry (approx. 10,000 men !)

    GoK Fedor Uvarov General of Cavalry Fedor Uvarov (1773-1824).
    NCO in Lifeguard Horse Regiment. 1788 - captain in infantry. 1798 - colonel and within few months a general major. 1799 - chef of Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde, Kavallergarde). 1800 - general lieutenant. Uvarov distinguished himself in Austerlitz in 1805. In 1806-07 Uvarov distinguished himself in Guttstadt, Heilsberg (routed Murat's cavalry), and Friedland. In Russo-Turkish war in 1810 - commander of advance guard. In 1812 - commander of I Cavalry Corps. In 1813 (after the battle of Leipzig) - general of cavalry. In Borodino Uvarov and Platov made the famous raid against Napoleon's flank. Uvarov's most notable features were his curly hair and red fat babyish cheeks. He was famous for organizing the grand ballroom dances. Cavalry officers admired this dashing general.

    GoK Dmitrii Golitzin General of Cavalry Prince Dmitrii Golitzin (1771-1844).
    1782-1786 - studied in university in Strassburg, and then in a military school in Paris.
    1794 - served as volunteer in war against Poland. 1797 - colonel. 1798 - general major and chef of Military Order Cuirassier Regiment. 1804 - general lieutenant. 1805 - captured in Austerlitz. 1806 - commander of 4th Division. At Golymin Golitzin withstood attacks from twice stronger French force, impressing even Napoleon himself. During Napoleon's Invasion of Russia in 1812, Prince Golitzin commanded the Russian heavy cavalry (Borozdin's 1st and Duka's 2nd Cuirassier Division). Golitzin's cuirassiers distinguished themselves in Borodino. Golitzin's well-timed counterattacks played a great role in repulsing Murat's cavalry. 1813 - commander of the most powerful cavalry unit of Allied Army, the reserve cavalry corps. It consisted of Russian 1st, 2nd and 3rd Cuirassier Division, Guard Light Cavalry Division, and Prussian Guard Cavalry. In 1814 Golitzin distinguished himself in Fere-Champenoise, and was promoted to the rank of general of cavalry. Golitzin entered Paris in 1814 in the head of his cuirassiers. (He died also in Paris, many years later, in 1844).

    GL Fedor Korf General-Lieutenant Fedor Korf (1774-1823).
    1787 - NCO in Lifeguard Horse Regiment. 1798 - colonel. 1800 - general major. 1806 - commander of Dragoon Brigade. Korf distinguished himself in Eylau in 1807. In Heilsberg Korf's Dragoon Brigade comprised of Moscow Dragoons, Kiev Dragoons, and horse battery. In spring 1812 - commander of II Cavalry Corps (Moscow Dragoons, Pskov Dragoons, Izoum Hussars, Polish Uhlans, horse battery). Korf distinguished himself in Borodino and was promoted to the rank of general-lieutenant. 1813 - commander of a cavalry corps (one dragoon division, two horse jager divisions, and one Cossack division). In 1814 Korf distinguished himself in the battle of Fere Champenoise. Man with a dry sense of humor.

    GL Illarion Vasilchikov General-Lieutenant Illarion Vasilchikov (1775-1847).
    1792 - in Lifeguard Horse Regiment. In 1793 - kornet. 1799 - colonel. 1801 - general major. 1803 - chef of Akhtirka Hussar Regiment. 1812 - commander of cavalry brigade. In Borodino commander of 12th Infantry Division. General-Lieutenant and commander of IV Cavalry Corps. In 1813 Vasilchikov distinguished himself in Katzbach and Leipzig. In Leipzig Vasilchikov's cavalry routed Arrighi's French III Cavalry Corps (Defrance's dragoons, Lorge's chasseurs, and Fournier's hussars) Captain von Nostitz, Blucher's ADC, writes: "... the attack was executed by four [Russian] hussar regiments with great determination, and to Blucher's intense delight - he watched it - the guns were captured together with 500 prisoners." Graf Henkel von Donnersmark described this furious charge in more detail: "The cavalry of our corps, under the active and brave General Vasilchikov who distinguished himself at every occassion, made na excellent attack on General Arrighi's cavalry. ..."
    In 1814 Vasilchikov commanded a cavalry corps [four dragoon, four hussar and several Cossack regiments] He distinguished himself in Brienne and La Rothiere. In La Rothiere Vasilchikov's dragoons and hussars routed Nansouty's Guard Cavalry and then captured two horse batteries of Old Guard. In Waterloo Campaign in 1815, Vasilchikov commanded the elite Guard Light Cavalry Division. In our opinion Illarion Vasilchiokov was one of the best divisional commanders in Europe. He was very skilled and combative leader of cavalry (dragoons, hussars and Cossacks). In 1814 Vasilchikov was selected out of many generals, and was sent on a prestigious mission with message to Moscow that Paris was captured.

    GM Karl Lambert General-Lieutenant Karl Lambert (1772-1843.
    French emigree. 1793 - major in Kinbourn Dragoon Regiment. 1798 - colonel. 1799 - general major. 1803 - chef Alexandria Hussar Regiment. In 1806 Lambert distinguished himself in Blonie and Czarnowo. 1811 - commander of 5th Cavalry Division. 1812 - commander of Cavalry Corps. Lambert distinguished himself in Gorodechno, Charukovo and Minsk. Minsk was an important supply base for the Grand Army with 2,000,000 ratios. At Novyi Swierzyn Lambert surprised Polish troops (400 killed and wounded, 800 prisoners). At Koidanov he again attacked the Poles (1.000 killed and wounded and 3.000 prisoners). At Borisov Lambert defeated Polish and Allied troops commanded by General Dabrowski. In this battle Lambert was seriously wounded. October 1812 - general lieutenant. Lambert distinguished himself in the battle of Berezina. 1813-1814 - participated in numerous battles (incl. Paris) as commander of cavalry corps.

    GL Efim Chaplitz General-Lieutenant Efim Chaplitz (1768-1825).
    A Pole who served in Russian army. 1783 - second major. 1794 - captured by the Poles. 1795 - he was back in the Russian army. 1796 - colonel. 1801 - general major. 1806 - chef of Pavlograd Hussar Regiment. 1809-10 commander of 7th Cavalry Division. 1812 - commander of Reserve Cavalry Corps in Third Western Army. Chaplitz distinguished himself in Kobrin, Slonim and Berezina. At Slonim Chaplitz's force destroyed the 3rd Guard Lancer Regiment (Young Guard) commanded by Jan Konopka, the Hero of Albuera. In October - general lieutenant. 1814 - participated in the siege of Hamburg (defended by Marshal Davout).

    GM Ivan Dorohov General-Major Ivan Dorohov (1762-1815).
    1783-87 in Artillery and Engineers Cadet Corps. 1794 - received several wounds during the war against the Poles. 1798 - colonel. 1803 - general major and chef of Izoum Hussar Regiment. During the campaign in Eastern Prussia and Poland in 1806-07 Dorohov distinguished himself in numerous rear guard actions. In 1812 Dorohov again distinguished himself in rear guard actions. In Borodino he commanded 3rd Cavalry Brigade (Marioupol Hussars, and Soumy Hussars). October 1812 - general lieutenant. Dorohov was wounded in the battle of Maloyaroslavetz and left the army. He was almost deaf. Dorohov and Kulniev were the typical Russian hussars.

    GM Yakov Kulnev General-Major Yakov Kulnev (1763-1812).
    1785 - in St.Petersburg Dragoon Regiment. 1807 - colonel. Kulnev won fame in the Russo-Swedish war in 1808-09. His sudden appearance near Stockholm, created panic in this city. 1808 - general major.1811 - chef of Grodno Hussar Regiment. 1812 - killed in the battle of Kliastitzy. Dorohov and Kulniev were the typical Russian hussars, brave and hard drinking. However Kulniev kept his hussars on a short leash, not allowing any looting or mistreating the populace. Kulniev was known for his rages. A cannonball at the battle of Kliastitzy killed him. Kulniev is of the most popular cavalry commanders in Russia.


    Organization: regiments and squadrons.
    The Russians tried to avoid having large squadrons
    as celerity and precision of movement couldn’t be
    attained with unwieldly troops.

    The basic tactical unit was squadron. The Russians tried to avoid having large squadrons as celerity and precision of movement couldn’t be attained with unwieldly troops.

    Every squadron had 16 flankers (skirmishers), which were posted, in the end files of every platoon. In hussar regiment all troopers were trained to function as skirmishers and sometimes they were used in big numbers like for example in 1806 at Pultusk and Golymin, or in 1812 at Kobrin.
    During the 1806-1807 campaign Löwenstern was sent with flankers of Soumy Hussars against French dragoons positioned in a wood near Makow. Löwenstern fired few pistol shots at a gray-hair dragoon. The French veteran responded with his own fire. Both however were unharmed and none was rushing to cross his saber with the opponent. Soon the trumpets sounded and recalled the flankers.
    Also the dragoons and cuirassiers had their own flankers. In 1814 Grand Duke Constantine brought several cavalry regiments in the vicinity of Fère Champenoise where the French were retreating under the cover of their foot and horse skirmishers. Constantine sent forward flankers of Lifeguard Dragoons and Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde, Kavallergarde) and they pushed back the French skirmishers.

    Several squadrons formed regiment.

    In 1805, there were:

  • Guard cavalry: 2 cuirassier, 1 hussar, and 1 Cossack regiment
  • Army cavalry: 6 cuirassier, 20 dragoon, 3 horse, 1 uhlan, and 9 hussar regiments.

    In the beginning of 1812:

  • Guard cavalry: 2 cuirassier, 1 dragoon, 1 uhlan, 1 hussar and 1 Cossack regiment
  • Army cavalry: 8 cuirassier, 36 dragoon, 5 uhlan, and 11 hussar regiments

    In 1813:

  • Guard cavalry: 3 cuirassier, 1 dragoon, 1 uhlan, 1 hussar and 1 Cossack regiment
  • Army cavalry: 9 cuirassier, 18 dragoon, 12 uhlan, 12 hussar and 8 horse jäger regiments

    Two or three regiments formed brigade, two brigades formed division.
    Organization of Russian cavalry in December 1812:
    Guard Light Cavalry Division (Lifeguard Dragoons, Lifeguard Uhlans, Lifeguard Hussars, Lifeguard Cossacks)
    1st Cuirassier Division (regiments: Guard Cavalry, Lifeguard Horse, His Majesty, Her Majesty)
    2nd Cuirassier Division (regiments: Yekaterinoslav, Pskov, Glukhov, Astrakhan)
    3rd Cuirassier Division (regiments: Military Order, Little Russia, Novgorod, Starodub)
    1st Dragoon Division (regiments: Riga, Kargopol, Finland, Mitava)
    2nd Dragoon Division (regiments: Courland, Moscow, New Russia, Kazan)
    3rd Dragoon Division (regiments: Harkov, Ingermanland, Tver, Kiev)
    4th Dragoon Division (regiments: St.Petersbourg, Kinbourn, Smolensk, Narva)
    1st Uhlan Division (regiments: Lithuania, Yambourg, Orenbourg, Siberian)
    2nd Uhlan Division (regiments: Polish, Zhitomir, Tatar, Vladimir)
    3rd Uhlan Division (regiments: Volin, Chuguyev, Taganrog, Serpukhov)
    1st Horse Jager Division (regiments: Nizhinsk, Chernikhov, Arzamass, Sieversk)
    2nd Horse Jager Division (regiments: Livland, Pereyeslav, Tiraspol, Dorpat)
    1st Hussar Division (regiments: Grodno, Elisavetgrad, Izoum, Soumy)
    2nd Hussar Division (regiments: Marioumpol, Akhtirka, Alexandria, Irkoutzk)
    3rd Hussar Division (regiments: Pavlograd, White Russia, Olviopol, Loubny)
    Nizhnigorod Dragoons and Borisoglebsk Dragoons formed an independent cavalry brigade and were stationed in Georgia. In April 1813 His Majesty's Cuirassiers became Lifeguard Cuirassiers.

of dragoon regiment The cuirassier and dragoon regiments carried standards.
    The light cavalry regiments carried none until later on when some were awarded with such for their exploits. Not all standards carried by a regiment enjoyed the same prestige. Only the first one (called “white standard”) was considered as the regimental standard, while the others (“colored”) were considered as merely squadron standards.

    The cuirassier and dragoon regiments had 4-5 squadrons each. The I Squadron in every regiment was Chef’s Squadron, also called Leib Squadron. The Leib Squadron commonly consisted of the tallest men in the regiment. The V Squadron was called Commander’s Squadron. The II, III and IV Squadron were the center squadrons.


    . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . Staff

    . . . I Chef's (Leib) Squadron

    . . . . . . . . II Squadron

    . . . . . . . . III Squadron

    . . . . . . . . IV Squadron

    . V Commander's Squadron

    . . . . . . . .
    . . . Reserve Half-Squadron

    The hussar and uhlan regiments had 8-10 squadrons each.
    The I Squadron in every regiment was Chef’s Squadron, also called Leib Squadron.
    For tactical reasons the regiment was divided into 2 battalions, each with 4-5 squadrons.


    . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . Staff

    . . . I Chef's (Leib) Squadron

    . . . . . . . . II Squadron

    . . . . . . . . III Squadron

    . . . . . . . . IV Squadron

    . . . . . . . . V Squadron

    . . . . . . . . VI Squadron

    . . . . . . . . VII Squadron

    . . . . . . . . VIII Squadron

    . . . . . . . . IX Squadron

    . X Commander's Squadron

    . . . . . Reserve Squadron

    In 1810 was ordered that the reserve half-squadrons and squadrons were abolished and in their place during war every cuirassier and dragoon regiment left one of its center squadrons (II, III or IV) in quarters. This squadron was also called Reserve Squadron (Zapasnyi Eskadron).

    Every light cavalry regiment had to leave one of its center squadrons of I Battalion and one of center squadrons of II Battalion in its quarters. The reserve squadrons had to sent men and horses to the squadrons in the field.

    During 1812 war the reserve squadrons were also taken into field service. In June there were entire regiments organized of such squadrons and they were called svodno, or svodnyi. These cavalry regiments (svodnyie polki) were formed into brigades. The reserve squadrons performed quite well. For example in 1812 they defeated in Berezina the Baden and Hessian cavalry, and at the Battle of Polotzk the Svodno Guard Cavalry Regiment captured 15 enemy’s guns. (Bezotosnyi, Vasiliev, Gorshman, Parhayev, Smirnov - “Russkaia armiia 1812-1814” Vlados, Moskva 2000, p 150)

    There were also regiments formed on temporary basis. For example in 1812 in the city of Riga was so called Combined Light Cavalry Regiment commanded by Pplk. Kunitski. It consisted of the IV and IX Squadron of the Grodno Hussar Regiment and the IV and IX Squadron of Polish Uhlan Regiment.

    In December 1812 was issued an order that every cavalry regiment will have 6 field and 1 reserve squadron. But the army had no peace time to fully implement this order and some regiments would have between 2 and 8 squadrons.
    According to the new organization the 6 squadrons in every regiment were formed into 3 divisions.
    Every squadron consisted of 2 half-squadrons each of 2 platoons, called vzvody.
    (Squadron = 4 platoons)

    The flankers in every regiment were formed of the privates who occupied
    the flanks of each of the 24 platoons, with 4 flankers per platoon.

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CAVALRY REGIMENT (Dec 1812 - 1815)

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Staff
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Chef (Shef) - often served as commander of brigade or division and was not present
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Regimental Commander (Polkovyi Komandir) - in the rank of colonel
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ? Divisional Commander
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ? Majors (Majory)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Kaznachei
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Quartermaster (Kvartirmeister) - in the rank of lieutenant
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ? ADCs (Adjutanty Shefa)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ? Captains (Kapitan)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Regimental Trumpeter
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ? Divisional Trumpeters
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Non-combatants: surgeons and their aids, crafstmen, blacksmith, musicians ? etc.

    . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . Squadron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Chef's (Leib) Squadron

    . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . Squadron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Squadron

    . . .
    . VI Commander's Squadron . . . . . . . . . . . . . Squadron

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Depot Squadron

  • ~

    Russian Cuirassiers.
    "Large and stout ..."

    Picture: Battle of Fere Champenoise, France 1814. Russian cuirassiers routed French infantry formed in squares. Picture by Oleg Parkhaiev, Russia.

    The Russian cuirassiers were heavy cavalry. One witness described them as “Large and stout: the discipline and well-dressed state of these men are very imposing.” The minimum height for the Russian cuirassier was 170 cm. For comparison the minimum height for the French dragoon was 162 cm, and for cuirassier 172 cm.
    The Russian cuirassier rode on a strong horse, between 151 cm and 160 cm in height. It was a bigger animal than French dragoon's horse (153 - 155 cm in 1812) but slightly smaller than French cuirassier's mount (155-160 cm in 1812).
    The Russian cuirassier was armed with a straight saber, type of broadsword. Although it was heavier weapon than the sabre of French dragoon and cuirassier, it was shorter (Russian blade 90 cm, French blade 97.5 cm). The new saber issued to Russian cuirassiers, pattern 1809, was lighter and longer (97 cm).

    The Russian cuirassier was armed with 2 pistols, heavy pallash that later was replaced by a straight saber, and cavalry carbine or rifle. In 1812 the carbines were taken away and each cavalryman had only 2 pistols and saber. The flankers however kept their rifles. Until 1812 there was no body armor. For more information see chapter below, "The Armor."

    The Russian cuirassiers were elite troops as their ranks were filled up with the best soldiers selected from dragoon, uhlan, jager and hussar regiments.

    The Russian cuirassiers distinguished themselves in Heileberg (1807), Borodino (1812), Leipzig (1813), and Fere Champenoise (1814). On 8th February 1807, His Majesty Cuirassiers routed French II Battalion of 24th Line Infantry, inflicted very heavy casualties and captured its Eagle.
    The fight between the Hessian and Baden light cavalry and the Russian cuirassiers (reserve squadrons) in 1812 at Berezina needs some explanation. On November 28th the Russian infantry came out of forest and formed a single square. The square was attacked by Hessian Garde-Chevaulegers but without success. Then the Hessians and the Baden hussars, total of 350 men, charged again and this time the square was broken. (“Bericht des Obersten von Dalwigk an Se. Hoheit den Herrn General-Lieutenant Prinzen Emil von Hessen, über die Gefechte, welchen das Grossherzoglich-Hessische Garde-Chevaulegers-Regiment während des Feldzugs von 1812 in Russland beigewohnt hat” in “Zeitschrift für Kriegswissenschaft” pub. in Stuttgart and Tübingen in 1823 pp 58-61)
    Part of the Hessians escorted the prisoners, while the Badens continued their advance. They rushed against Russian guns before two reserve squadrons of cuirassiers (total 160-180 men) strucked them. Commander of the Baden hussars, Colonel von Laroche, was wounded among many others, while only 50 Hessians and 50 Badens survived and were able to rally. According to regimental history of the Baden hussars lost Colonel Laroche, Captain Bishoff, Lieutenant von Preen, von Ammerongen, von Ritz, and 150 men killed, wounded and missing.

    Cuirassier Regiments:

  • His Majesty (formed in 1702) - in 1813 became Lifeguard
  • Her Majesty (formed in 1704)
  • Yekaterinoslav (formed in 1708)
  • Military Order (formed in 1709)
  • Glukhov (formed in 1783)
  • Little Russia (formed in 1786)
  • Astrakhan (formed in 1811)
  • Novgorod (formed in 1811)
  • Pskov (formed in 1701 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into cuirassiers)
  • Starodoub (formed in 1783 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into cuirassiers)

  • ~

    Russian Dragoons
    The universal cavalry.

    Picture: Battle of Katzbach 1813. Russian dragoons defeated and pursued French cavalry. Picture by Oleg Parkhaiev.

    Until the end of 1812 the dragoons were the most numerous branch of cavalry and numbered up to 36 regiments. Then several regiments were converted into cuirassiers, horse jagers and uhlans. In 1813-15 there were only 18 dragoon regiments.

    Dragoons' uniforms were cheaper than hussars' outfits. Dragoons' horses were smaller than cuirassiers' mounts, but were well shaped and more agile.

    The Russian dragoons were armed as follow:
    Officers, NCOs and trumpeters - straight saber, 2 pistols.
    Troopers - straight saber, 2 pistols, musket with bayonet (the flankers were armed with rifles)
    Few regiments carried either the curved sabers or the heavy pallash.
    In Nov 1812 all muskets and bayonets were given away to the militia
    (called opolchenie) and only the flankers kept their rifles.

    The dragoons were often assigned the lion’s share of fighting in battles, were also used as occupation force, formed patrols, were in anti-partisan sweeps (Caucasus), guarded the convoys and transports (Germany 1813), fought dismounted in capturing or holding a village (Brienne 1814 and Mohrungen 1807) or bridge (Saltanovka, 1812).
    The dragoons helped to pull the cannons with ropes on the muddy roads of France (1814), escorted the wounded and important persons, and served as military police (Ingermanland Dragoon Regiment in 1812 and 1813).
    The dragoons were also used during sieges, in 1813 two regiments supported the infantry and artillery in the siege of Modlin, in 1810 Tver Dragoons (dismounted) served in the siege of Ruschuk.
    At times the dragoons served as escort of army headquarters (Borodino) or as gendarmes.
    In 1814, near Meaux in France, the Kiev Dragoons assisted in putting up a bridge
    by two companies of pioneers and one company of pontooners.

    The dragoons however had several weaknesses. They were vulnerable when facing lance-armed cavalry, and Napoleon had a lot of lancers and uhlans. The dragoons were also trained in some infantry duties, and for this reason their horsemanship and their swordsmanship put them in a slight disadvantage when facing other cavalry. (This is to say that all cavalry could fight dismounted, but the dragoons could do this job better.) If the dragoons struck the enemy cavalry in the flank, they were victorious. They were also quite successful against infantry.

    The best dragoon regiment was probably the St Petersburg Dragoons. This unit was one of the best cavalry regiment in the army. St Peterburg Dragoon Regiment captured 4 French Colors: two of infantry, one of dragoons and one of cuirassiers. There was no other dragoon regiment in Europe with so many French trophies.
    The Pskov Dragoons led by Zass, were one of the best trained troops. They were able to charge, overthrow the enemy, pursue, and then rally. No chaotic, long pursuit ending with the enemy's reserve countercharing and throwing them back.
    In 1812 at Janowo, Löwenstern saw probably the worst dragoon outfit, the Siberian Dragoons. He claimed that the squadron commanders knew little about their service and manouvering. (Löwenstern - “Mit Graf Pahlens Reiterei gegen Napoleon” p 80)
    At Davidogrudok he saw the Irkoutzk Dragoons, an unit with many troopers coming from Siberia and the area close to the border with China. These men rode on small horses suitable for light cavalry or irregulars rather than for dragoons. Their officers were of low quality by every standard. He rated them however above the Siberians.

    Below is a description of St.Petersbourg Dragoons's capture of French color in 1807 near Eylau. The French 46th Line Infantry marched in snow while being fired upon by the Russian artillery and skirmishers. It didn’t stop them from crossing their bayonets with the Russian infantry and the famous 18th Line (nicknamed "The Brave") hurried to support their comrades. Meanwhile the S.Petersburg Dragoons moved around own infantry and began deploying into charge. The 18th Line suddenly saw a dark mass of cavalry coming at them and leaving no time for forming the square. The French infantry wavered and fired. The dragoons attacked from the front and from the rear and the infantry lost any order. A desperate struggle was around the French standard.
    Trooper Podvorotny drove the French standard-bearer to the ground and seized the Eagle. Trooper Deriagin and others cut down the escort of the standard, Adjutant Fomine, dragoon Erofeiev and trumpeter Logvinov were also involved in this bloody struggle.
    Marshal Soult’s Journal of the IV Corps: “The 18th Regiment was near to arriving at the summit, when a large body of enemy cavalry surrounded it, charged it, repulsed it.” Colonel Langlois wrote that General Lavasseur, all the senior officers, as well as large number of officers and soldiers of this regiment were seriously wounded and, the worst of all, the Eagle was lost. The damage was indeed enormous: 44 officers killed, wounded and captured as prisoners - including Lavasseur, Ravier and Pelleport. The 18e also lost more than 500 other ranks, including several hundred prisoners. The situation could develop into a slaughter if not the charge by the 13e Chasseurs who saved the 18e Ligne. This regiment was so shaken that it was kept in reserve when the Battle of Eylau was fought. The losses of the dragoons were only 20 men killed and 18 wounded. The French army Bulletin dated 9 Feb. 1807 tried to downplay the loss of the regiment’s Eagle and the Emperor ordered that the 18th Ligne be given replacement eagle.
    To read more about the St.Petersbourg Dragoon Regiment click here.

    Dragoon Regiments:

  • Chernihov (formed in 1668, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Kiev (formed in 1668)
  • Sieversk (formed in 1668, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Moscov (formed in 1700)
  • Nizhnigorod (formed in 1701)
  • Kazan (formed in 1701)
  • Pskov (formed in 1701, in Dec 1812 converted into cuirassiers)
  • Vladimir (formed in 1701, in Dec 1812 converted into uhlans)
  • Taganrog (formed in 1701, in Dec 1812 converted into uhlans)
  • Ingermanland (formed in 1704)
  • Narva (formed in 1705)
  • St.Petersburg (formed in 1707)
  • Kargopol (formed in 1707)
  • Riga (formed in 1709)
  • Smolensk (formed in 1765)
  • Siberia (formed in 1775 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into uhlans)
  • Starodub (formed in 1783 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into cuirassiers)
  • Orenbourg (formed in 1784 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into uhlans)
  • Irkutzk (formed in 1787 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into hussars)
  • Kinbourn (formed in 1798)
  • Harkov (formed in 1798)
  • Tver (formed in 1798)
  • Kourland (formed in 1803)
  • New Russia (formed in 1803)
  • Borisoglebsk (formed in 1803, after the Napoleonic Wars, in 1815, they became Gendarmes)
  • Pereyaslav (formed in 1803, in Dec 1812 they were converted into horse jagers)
  • Livland (formed in 1805, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Zhitomir (formed in 1805, in Dec 1812 converted into uhlans)
  • Finland (formed in 1806)
  • Mitava (formed in 1806)
  • Arzamass (formed in 1806 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Dorpat (formed in 1806 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Nezhinsk (formed in 1806 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Serpukhov (formed in 1806 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into uhlans)
  • Tiraspol (formed in 1806 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Yambourg (formed in 1806, in Dec 1812 converted into uhlans)

  • ~

    Russian Horse Jägers.
    The jagers were equivalent
    of French chasseurs-a-cheval.

    Lifland Horse Jagers,
by Viskovatov, Russia. Picture: Livland (Livonia) Horse Jagers in 1812-1814, by Viskovatov.

    In December 1812 eight dragoon regiments were converted to horse jägers. The jagers were equivalent of French chasseurs-a-cheval. Actually I don't understand why Russia needed horse jagers, there was enough light cavalry.

    The horse jägers were armed as follow:
    Officers, NCOs and trumpeters - curved saber, 2 pistols
    Troopers - curved saber, 2 pistols, carbine
    The horse jägers however carried their old dragoon weapons until 1817
    when it was introduced a new model of carbine and it had a bayonet.

    Horse Jäger Regiments:

  • Arzamass (formed in 1806 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Livland (formed in 1805 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Pereyeslav (formed in 1803 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Sieversk (formed in 1668 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Tiraspol (formed in 1806 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Chernighov (formed in 1668 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Nezhinsk (formed in 1806 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)
  • Dorpat (formed in 1806 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into horse jagers)

  • ~

    Russian Uhlans
    Poles, Lithuanians, Russians,
    Cossacks and Tartars.

    Picture: private and staff officer of Volhin Uhlan Regiment 1808-1811, by Viskovatov.

    Before Austerlitz there were three horse regiments: Polish, Lithuania and Tartar, and one uhlan regiment, the Grand Duke Constantine Uhlans. In 1807 the horse regiments were renamed to uhlan regiments. In 1808 there were 8 uhlan regiments; Polish, Lithuanian, Tartar, Grand Duke Constantine's, Vohlin, and Chuguyev. In the end of 1812 Russia had 12 uhlan regiments.

    The uhlans were armed as follow:
    Officers, NCOs and trumpeters - curved saber, 2 hussar pistols
    Troopers - curved saber, 2 hussar pistols, lance
    The flankers, called in ulan regiments karabiniery, were armed with rifles.

    The uhlans were recruited mainly from Poles and Lithuanians living in western Russia. The Tatar Uhlan Regiment however was composed of Tartars. The idea for forming a Tatar unit was also proposed to Napoleon and Tatar Squadron was incorporated into Napoleon's Imperial Guard.

    Russian generals had mixed feelings about their Polish and Lithuanian cavalrymen. The problem was not their horsemanship and skills with weapon as these were good, but with their commitment to the Russian cause. For example in summer 1812 the uhlan regiments had several times more deserters and missing men than casualties in combat. For this reason General Bagration, didn’t want the Lithuanian Uhlan Regiment being included in his rear guard. I think Bagration exagerrated a little bit.
    In many cases the uhlans served quite well for the Russians. In 1807 Grand Duke Constantine Uhlans advanced out of Friedland and against the French hussars and Saxon cuirassiers. The Saxons stood behind the French. The Russian uhlans routed the hussars who fled behind the Saxons. The uhlans attacked them too and the Saxons were overthrown as well. The enemy fled for some distance and then attempeted to gather. But the uhlans broke them again and the enemy took refuge in the wood. The Russians captured - according to Bulgarin - 60 POWs, there were also killed and wounded on both sides. Jomini also mentions shortly this combat in “Vie Politique et Militaire de Napoleon” in Vol. II, p 412.

    In uhlan regiments served higher number of nobles than in dragoon and horse jäger units.

    In December 1812 seven dragoon regiments were converted into uhlans. These new units were called by some as the “dragoons with sticks” as they didn’t even receive their new uniforms until the end of 1814.

    Uhlan Regiments:

  • Polish (formed in 1797 as Polish Horse, in 1807 they were renamed to uhlans)
    - Lithuanian-Tartar Horse (formed in 1797, in 1803 was split
    - - into Lithuanian Horse and Tartar Horse. See below:)
    - - - - - - - - Lithuania Horse (in 1807 renamed to uhlans)
    - - - - - - - - Tatar Horse (in 1807 renamed uhlans)
  • Grand Duke Constantine (formed in 1803 as uhlans, in 1809 they became Lifeguard Uhlans)
  • Volhin (formed in 1807 as uhlans)
  • Chuguyev (formed in 1798 as Cossacks, in 1808 they were converted into uhlans)
  • Borisoglebsk (in 1812 they were converted from dragoons into uhlans)
  • Orenbourg (in 1812 they were converted from dragoons into uhlans)
  • Serpuhov (in 1812 they were converted from dragoons into uhlans)
  • Taganrog (in 1812 they were converted from dragoons into uhlans)
  • Vladimir (in 1812 they were converted from dragoons into uhlans)
  • Yambourg (in 1812 they were converted from dragoons into uhlans)
  • Zhitomir (in 1812 they were converted from dragoons into uhlans)

  • ~

    "Three german light-horsemen put at me.
    I quickly succeeded in closing with one of them.
    My sharp saber took him just in the jagular.
    The other two fired at me and fled yelling."
    - hussar officer, Battle of Leipzig 1813

    Russian Hussars
    The flamboyant, hard drinking and dashing hussars
    enjoyed a great popularity in Russia.

    Picture: Battle of Kliastitzy 1812, Russia.
    Brilliant charge of Russian hussars. Picture by Oleg Parhaiev, Russia.

    Drinking Russian hussar. The flamboyant, hard drinking and dashing hussars enjoyed a great popularity in Russia. There were poems, books and stories written about them. In 1815 Alexander Pushkin (, who is considered to be one of the greatest poets, wrote “Novel About the Lifeguard Hussars" and in 1833 another poem titled “". In 1832 Lermontov wrote a poem also titled “Hussar”. The XX century bard, Bulat Okudzhava wrote a song “Piesna o molodom gusare” (Song about young hussar). In 1962 was made film “Gusarskaia Ballada” (Hussar Ballad) directed by Eldar Ryazanov and in 1984 a TV movie titled “Dva gusara” (Two Hussars) directed by V. Krishtofovich.

    The Russian hussars were between 165cm and 169cm tall, and rode on medium and medium-small but agile horses (between 1.42m and 1.51m). The French hussars rode on larger mounts (149-153 cm in 1812) less suited for small warfare and more sensitive to quality and quantity of food.

    The hussars were armed as follow:
    officers, NCOs and trumpeters - curved saber and 2 pistols
    trooper - curved saber, 2 pistols and carbine
    flanker - curved saber, 2 pistols and musketoon
    In 1812 lance was introduced and in November 1812 all carbines were taken away, only pistols were left. The flankers however kept their musketoons. The officers and NCOs wore their bandolier over the left shoulder, while the troopers wore it on the right.

    In no other branch of the army, were so many volunteers and footloose lads. Many came from families with a long military tradition and were excellent swordsmen and horsemen who were familiar with horses since they were kids. Hussars’ gaiety around a bottle of wine, or vodka, and their rolling swagger were well known. Opening the bottle of wine with a saber cut and drinking from woman’s shoe were ones of their many customs. In every hussar regiment existed camaraderie and pride of belonging to a special group within the army. There was saying: “Regiment is your family” and “Honor of your regiment - is honor of your family.”
    They drowned their sorrows for fallen comrades with wine or sang about women, horses and fighting.
    'The Devil Got Hold of Me and I Mounted a Nun' was one of their songs. :-)

    They also caused troubles, at Druia (Druja) group of hussars from Soumy Regiment beat the hell out of the Jews praying in synagogue. It created such uproar that only the intervention from the Rabbi saved the lives of troublemakers. In 1814 at Charmont at France the Soumy Hussars saw all quarters taken by Illovaiski XII’s Cossacks, and they quickly got very cranky. The hussars kicked out all the bearded warriors out of their rooms and took them for themselves. No officer dared to intervene when in the raining night the Soumy hussars arrived into Droupt St. Bâle (according to Löwenstern) and began kicking in the doors and breaking into houses.

      Ahtirka Hussars in combat 1812.
Picture by Chagadayev, 
Russia. The army cheered the hussars on numerous occasions. They were outstanding fighters, equal to the Prussian, British and French hussars and probably also to the famous Austrian hussars (at least between 1806 and 1814).
      @ - In February 1807 at Hoff, the Izoum Hussars met regiment of French hussars (it was either the 1st or the 3rd Hussars). Despite loud orders shouted by French and Russian officers the troopers were immovable. Then, according to S.G. Volkonski, one of the squadron commanders of the Izoum Hussars rode forward and was met by a French officer. They fought and the Russian won by throwing his opponent off horse. This act encouraged the Russians who charged forward while the enemy fled. (The Izoum Hussars were also numerically much stronger than the French hussars).
      @ - In 1805, the Pavlograd Hussars won fame for delaying Napoleon’s advance for a whole day. (Haythorntwaite - “The Russian army during Napoleonic Wars - Cavalry”, p 44)
      @ - In 1807 at Burkersdorf (Burkensdorf, Bohersdorf), the Soumy Hussars and Cossacks defeated six French dragoon regiments. General Milhaud wanted to commit suicide after such humiliation.
      @ - In the battle of Eylau in 1807, a single hussar regiment penetrated the masses of French troops, slashing and cutting, to the proximity of the hill where stood Napoleon and his staff.
      @ - On 24th January 1807 one squadron of Russian hussars demolished two squadrons of French dragoons, and captured two officers.
      @ - In the end of July 1812 Lieutenant Tzytliatzev of Grodno Hussars took one NCO and 12 privates on a raid. First they captured 40 prisoners near the town of Drissa, and then they crossed a river and on the other bank captured a transport of wagons escorted by 160 troopers. The resistance was weak and the escort quickly surrendered. The hussars took 200 prisoners. Tzytliatzev’s casualties were low, 1 man and 2 horses were wounded.
      Charge of Grodno Hussars in 1812 @ - On May 25th 1807 Yakov Kulniev with two squadrons of Grodno Hussars observed the French across Pasleka River before sending Rudiger with one squadron. The French had no time to form a square and fled losing 100 men as prisoners. Near the village of Kommersdorf, Kulniev’s hussars spotted an enemy camp. To their dissapointment it was full of wounded and sick French soldiers. The poor fellows were shocked seeing the Russians in the midst of their camp. The Grodno Hussars continued their raid and captured an artillery convoy with cannons, mortars and 40 wagons full of gunpowder, cannonballs and grenades. The escort of this convoy gave no problems for the hussars, except five dragoons who galloped away. Kulniev send after them NCO Gasenko with three hussars. After a short fight two dragoons were laid on the ground and three were taken as prisoners.
      Meanwhile the French command learned about these events and sent a large body of troops, which encircled the Russians. The hussars filled one of the captured carriages with gunpowder, and put wooden logs under the wagons full of grenades. They began crossing the river when three squadrons of French cavalry arrived. In that moment the hussars set fire to the logs causing a tremendous explosion. When the smoke fell down Kulniev with hussars were on one side of the river and the French pursuers on the other.
      @ - In 1813 at Katzbach a total of 10 regiments under Vasilchikov were thrown at once into action against the French. The fields were awash with colorful uniforms of hussars, though there were also sizeable pockets of the Cossacks. The Alexandria and Marioupol Hussars advanced against the enemy from the front, while General Lanskoi, the beau sabreur, with the Ahtirka and White Russia Hussars moved against enemy’s flank. The Cossacks moved against the rear of the enemy. The French chasseurs and hussars (Sebastiani's II Cavalry Corps) stood near the artillery when the Russians strucked them. The 4th Light Cavalry Division (under Exelmans) suffered the most. General Sébastiani called - in vain - General Brayer’s division for support. The Russian hussars demolished the French in such a way that in recognition for this exploit the tsar awarded all four hussar regiments with special badges affixed to their shakos.
      @ - In the battle of Dresden in 1813, the Grodno Hussars and Loubny Hussars attacked the 5th Voltigeurs of Young Guard already formed in square. The square was broken and 310 Frenchmen were killed, wounded and taken prisoner. The Young Guard felt vulnerable against the aggressive cavalry as many muskets were useless in the rain. The Russian and Prussian hussars were driven off by artillery fire and the Young Guard resumed its advance. The Grodno Hussars again attacked the Young Guard and broke another square.
      Prussian General Blucher @ - In 1813 north of Leipzig, the French infantry was retreating from Eutritzsch when General Blücher (see picture ->) expressed a wish to attack them. General Vasilchikov heard his words and responded “If your Excellency will permit, I will try with my hussars.” Permission was given and Vasilchikov issued orders. The 2nd Hussar Division (Ahtirka, Alexandria, Marioupol, and White Russia Hussars) led by Lanskoi swept proudly past, and then charged the infantry. The hussars then noticed several hussar, chasseur and dragoon regiments, which belonged to the III Cavalry Corps under General Arrighi. Two hussar regiments struck the right flank of Arrighi’s cavalry. As the Prussian witness, Graf Henkel von Donnersmark wrote, they “went on at a cracking pace”. The French chasseurs and hussars fled, some galloped toward Leipzig itself, while others sought refuge on the other bank of the Parthe River. There they continued toward the positions occupied by the infantry and artillery of the VII Corps. The pursuit was long, reaching Leipzig itself. The hussars captured a half thousand prisoners and 5 guns. Von Donnersmark remarked that this attack was “one of the best that I ever saw Russian cavalry made.” The defeat of Arrighi’s cavalry shook morally the infantry on the other side of the river. The hussars suffered very light casualties up to this point but when they were returning from the long pursuit they got under fire from the French infantry.
      Blucher's ADC, von Nostitz writes: "... the attack was executed by four hussar regiments with great determonation, and to Blucher's intense delight - he watched it - the guns were captured together with 500 prisoners."
      Prussian officer Graf Henkel von Donnersmark: "The cavalry of our corps, under the active and brave General Vasilchikov who distinguished himself at every occassion, made na excellent attack on General Arrighi's cavalry. ... Then the trumpets sounded, and the Marioumpol, Alexandria and White Russia Hussars trotted off. I could not resist the temptation to go with them ... Our cavalry went on at a cracking pace and the officers, who had burned with envy when they heard how Yorck's cavalry had distinguished itself the previous day [at Mockern], kept shouting Pashol, pashol ! (Go , go !) to their men. The enemy regiments did not stand the shock, but turned and fled towards Leipzig with us on their heels like a thunderstorm. Now and again there were minor clashes during the chase ... In this attack on Arrighi's cavalry, we came almost up to the suburbs of Leipzig. We took a lot of prisoners, and I captured a French squadron commander and took his sabre. Our losses were not inconsiderable, for on the way back we took fire from a French infantry column."
      @ - In the battle of Brienne in 1814, the 2nd Hussar Division routed infantry division of Young Guard.
      @ - In the battle of Craonne in 1814, the hussar division was so involved in fighting that all their generals were either wounded, injured or killed.
      @ - In 1813 in Saxony several squadrons of Soumy Hussars and one squadron of Alexandria Hussars led by the “bloodthirsty and gruesome Figner” marched at night through enemy’s line. They have captured many stragglers who otherwise would reveal their presence. They halted in a village and Figner ordered complete silence. Several marauders who ventured into the village were killed. Only one managed to escape and informed the French command. The Polish uhlans came and with battle cries pushed into the village. The Russians jumped out of their hiding places and a fighting erupted in the short and narrow streets. Von Löwenstern wrote that many hussars were unsaddled and littered on the ground. The others fled with the Poles hot on their heels. The flight was slowed down by a narrow defilee and the Poles again got their lance into work. According to von Löwenstern (pp 136-137) when they finally escaped they were happy for the next days not to see the uhlans again and were able to catch their breath again.
      Figner’s detachment then moved toward Königswartha (?). They attacked French 10th Hussars. The French hussars wearing their sky blue dolmans didn’t expect the enemy from this side and fled without resistence. The Russians chased them until the line of enemy’s infantry and artillery. Musket volleys and canister halted the pursuers. Near Lauban they were attacked by Saxon hussars attacked them. Löwenstern’s friend was taken prisoner. The Russians retreated through a village toward the positions where stood the rest of Figner’s detachment. Group of Don Cossacks (Karpov’s division) was ordered to attack the pursuing Saxons but showed little zeal. Furious Figner rode to their officer and strucked him with horsewhip. (According to Löwenstern, the commander of detachment, Figner, was killed at Reichenbach by drowning in a river being surrounded by Polish cavalry.)
      @ - On 21st January 1807 near Langheim, the Russian hussars and Cossacks captured the entire squadron of French 3rd Hussards, including Capitaine St. Auban Le Brun.
      @ - On February 14th 1807, the French 5th, 8th, 9th, 12th, 16th and 21st Dragoons (total of 18 squadrons) led by General 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. (At Waterloo Milhaud led eight cuirassier regiments). 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 3 miles to the rear.
      Milhaud was infuriated at their perforance and ashamed at the swift defeat. He attempted to commit suicide by attacking the hussars 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, p 18)
      Shikanov gives 180 prisoners and squadron standard/guidon of the 8e Dragons. (Shikanov V.H. - “Pervaia Polskaia Kampania 1806-1807” p 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. (To read more about General Milhaud "The highly controversial but talented soldier" read Terry Senior's article,
      @ - According to Eduard Löwenstern in 1807 in Golymin the Soumy Hussars was attacked with big noise by French 4th and 7th Dragons and was overthrown. The fleeing Russian hussars run toward the Ingermanland Dragoons but these dragoons didn’t let them pass without jeering. :-)

    Hussar Regiments:
  • Ahtirka (formed in 1651)
  • Izoum (formed in 1651)
  • Soumy (formed in 1651)
  • Alexandria (formed in 1784)
  • Elisavetgrad (formed in 1784)
  • Marioupol (formed in 1784)
  • Olviopol (formed in 1784)
  • Pavlograd (formed in 1784)
  • White Russia (formed in 1803)
  • Grodno (formed in 1806)
  • Loubny (formed in 1807)
  • Irkoutzk Hussars (formed in 1787 as dragoons, in Dec 1812 converted into dragoons)

  • ~

    When in 1804 the drill of cavalry was disrupted by
    an information received by regiments that the war
    against Napoleon would come soon, the newly formed
    Grand Duke Constantine Uhlan Regiment had their
    craftsmen brought from as far as St. Petersburg
    and tailors from Austria so they wouldn’t be
    surprised by war while being in poorly made outfits.

    Huge sums of money were spent on trivia part
    of uniforms like pompons, plumes, cords and so forth.

    Grand Duke Constantine was the Inspector of Cavalry and he paid great attention to the neatness and accuracy of the uniform. For example fully dressed and shaved model-uhlans were sent to every squadron of his newly formed regiment and all the troopers had to be patterned after the models in great exactness. The sky would fall on earth if they didn’t look as ordered.

    The most expensive uniforms were those of hussars and the cheapest were those of dragoons. The cost of officer uniforms was certainly higher than that of private. In 1803 the cost of uniform with ammunition box and the shabraque was 250 roubles for staff officer and 230 roubles for the subaltern officer.

    In winter of 1812 the situation with uniforms was bad. The guard cuirassiers instead of wearing their splendid uniforms wore dirty rags and civilian clothes. When in mid December Constantine saw their officers, he was so horrified that forbade them to enter his headquarters ! But Kutuzov was more understanding and had no objections to the way they looked. This problem was 'solved' when Tsar Alexandr arrived in the army and ordered to arrest every officer who was not properly dressed. Additionally the tsar ordered from St. Petersburg 54.000 new uniforms and 54.000 new greatcoats for his army. (Bogdanovich M. - “Istoriya Voiny 1813 Goda” St. Petersburg 1863, Vol I, p 140)

    In 1814 the Russian troops “had more the look of Frenchmen than Russians.” They have stripped the uniforms from killed Frenchmen or “exchanged” their own worn out outfits with the French prisoners. Only the Imperial Guard and all the cuirassiers still presented a magnificient sight.

    Greatcoat (Shineli)
    Privates of Kurland and Pereyeslav
Dragoons in 1803-1806 In 1802 was ordered that the cavalry greatcoat should be of infantry design with small alterations, for example instead of having 7 it had to have 6 buttons. The greatcoat was made of gray-brown rough cloth for troopers and silver-gray for the officers. In 1808 was ordered that the greatcoat would have the collar and shoulder straps in regimental color. In some regiments the collars bore patches in regimental color.
    Russian cuirassier 
wear greatcoat underneath
of the armor, by Viskovatov. The cuirassiers wore greatcoat underneath of the armor, which was then visible to the enemy and communicated that they are not merely the armor-deprived dragoons. It was however possible to wear the greatcoat over the armor. In such case it was thrown over the left shoulder like did the hussars with their pelisses (in the right hand was the saber or pistol).
    According to Löwenstern the young soldiers had some difficulties to mount on horse when the voluminous greatcoat was wet and heavy. It made the veterans laugh.
    If the weather was warmer the greatcoat was rolled and attached to the saddle in front of the horseman. In this way it gave some protection to the abdoman against bayonets and lances.

    Coat (kolet).
    Russian dragoon,
picture by Viskovatov. Russian cuirassier 1803-11,
picture by Viskovatov. The coat was called - from Prussian - the kollet, and was white for cuirassiers and green for dragoons. It was short tailed and double-breasted jacket with 2 rows of buttons. On May 20th 1814 (JC) was ordered that the kolet has to be single breasted, of one row of buttons.
    In winter the troopers wore under the coat a warm undercoat called fufaika.
    On March 17 1802 (JC) one shoulder strap in regimental color was introduced for the privates and NCOs. It was worn on the left shoulder and helped to hold the leather belt in place. Two shoulder straps were adopted in 1809. Dragoon's and cuirassier's coats had no lapels (except Lifeguard Dragoons).
    Russian uhlan 1812-1814
picture by Viskovatov. Uhlan's coat however had lapels, see picture -->
    In Russian army the epaulettes were worn only by officers, generals and … uhlans. It was an old Polish tradition which probably had the purpose to emphasize their social make up. Trooper’s epaulettes were made of white cloth, were worn on both shoulders and fringed until 1807, then they were replaced by fringeless ones. The officers wore only one silver epaulet. There were however few exceptions, for example the Polish Uhlan Regiment wore the fringed white epaulettes even in 1814. Grand Duke Constantine Uhlan Regeiment was distinguished from the other uhlans by wearing the striking red/yellow epaulettes instead of the white ones.

    Leather Belts
    Cuirassiers' pouch belt, the waist belt, the carbine and rifle belt, all were white and made of leather. The army cuirassiers wore the carbine/rifle belt and the pouch belt over the left shoulder. The guard cuirassiers wore the belts crossed; one belt over the left and another belt over the right shoulder. It was the most visible difference from a distance between the army and the guard cuirassiers. The pouch for ammunition was made of black leather, and bore a brass plate with the imperial two-headed eagle. Exception was Military Order Cuirassier Regiment, which bore the St. George star on their pouches.
    In 1809 for dragoons was introduced a new musket belt modelled on infantry one.
    Uhlans' waist belt and slings were dark red instead of white, but the carbine/rifle belt was white. Hussars' carbine/musketoon belt was white and was worn over the left shoulder. The pouch belt was made of dark red leather and was worn over the right shoulder.

    Trumpeters' Uniforms
    Trumpeter of His Majesty Cuirassiers
in 1803-1808. Picture by Viskovatov. Trumpeter of Lithuania Uhlans in 1808-1811 The trumpets were brass. The shevrons on cuirassier trumpeters’ sleeves were white with facing color threads - two lines along both edges and a diamond shape in the centre. The trumpeters of Military Order Cuirassier Regiment had their shevrons in orange with 3 black lines. (Cuirassier regiments used kettledrums until December 1811. After that year they were discontinued and only the guard cuirassiers kept them shortly.) All trupmets in cuirassier and dragoon regiments had red (not black) horse hair crest on helmets.
    Trumpeter of dragoons
by Viskovatov The shevrons on dragoon and jager trumpeters’ sleeves were white.
    Uhlan trumpeters had swallows nests and white shevrons on their sleeves. In 1812 the trumpeters’ shevrons in the newly formed ulan regiments were white (V. V. Zvegintsov) although not all sources agree on it and rather suggest they were in the color of buttons. Uhlan's trumpets were brass, while silver trumpets were given as awards for the Tartar and Volin Uhlans. All trumpeters in uhlan, jager and hussar regiments had tall red (not white) plumes.

    Horse Harness
    The horse harness and saddle of dragoons, uhlans and jagers were of black leather and in Hungarian design. The dragoons also had black leather straps to hold the muskets.

    Cheprak and Valtrap.
    Cheprak of cuirassiers. 
Picture by Viskovatov. In cuirassier regiments the shabraque (color cloth put over saddle) was called cheprak and was worn under the saddle. Cuirassiers' shabraques were in regimental colors. For example His Majesty Cuirassier Regiment had light blue shabraques with white “guard” lace and with a sky blue stripe. The Lifeguard Horse Regiment had a dark blue shabraque edged with two gold laces; the Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde, Kavallergarde) had a red shabraque edged with two golden laces. Until 1809 the corners of the shabraque of army cuirassiers were round (according to Zvegintsov, Kosmolinski in “Sovietskiie muzei - Ot Austerlitza do Tilzitza” and others) and then replaced by squared ones for the NCOs and privates. Other sources don’t confirm it and the squared corners are given for the entire period of Napoleonic Wars. In its rear corners and on the holster caps was a crowned imperial cypher “A” over “I” in yellow or white. These cyphers stood for Alexandr and Imperator (Emperor). The exception were His Majesty Cuirassier Regiment and Her Majesty Cuirassier Regiment, which bore St. George star. The shabraques of Guard Cavalry Regiment and Lifeguard Horse Regiment bore St. Andrew 8-corner star with 2-head eagle in the center of it.
    Valtrap of Serpuhov Dragoons
in 1808-1811. Picture by Viskovatov. Shabraque of Marioumpol Hussars
in 1809-1811. Picture by Viskovatov. The shabraque in dragoon, hussar and uhlan regiments were worn over the saddle and were called valtrap. The shabraque was edged with white or yellow lace. In 1808 the old valtrap was replaced by a dark green for all dragoon regiments with edging and cyphers in the rear corners in regimental color. The length and width, in the back, of the valtrap was 111 cm. The shabraque of Lifeguard Dragoon Regiment was edged with 2 yellow laces.
    Hussar's, uhlan, and horse jager's valtrap was worn over the saddle and had pointed rears and rounded front corners. It bore a crowned Imperial cypher “A” over “I” in the rear corners.
    Uhlans' valtrap was dark blue with edging in regimental color. Horse jägers' valtrap was dark green, with edging in regimental color. The Lifeguard Horse Jäger Regiment however had red valtrap edged with white lace and with white cyphers in the rear corners.

    Uniforms of Russian Cuirassiers

    Uniform of Russian cuirassier in 1805, 1806, 1807 Campaigns: helmet, no cuirass, white coat, the collar was cut back to expose a black stock worn around the throat.
    Uniform of Russian cuirassier in 1812, 1813, 1814 Campaigns: helmet, black cuirass, white coat, the collar was closed.

    In 1802 the cuirasses were stored in arsenals. According to Hatov one of the most important things about cavalry was its speed of movement and shock action. For this reason they should not be burdened with anything including the body armor that would slowed them down. Having no armor the cavalrymen were to attack the infantry only when it was broken or at least wavering and the signs of disorder were visible. In such moments infantry’s fire was not well aimed and not intensive. (Hatov A. I. - “Obshchii opyt taktiki” 1807, Part I, page 189)
    In January 1812 however a decree was issued regarding the manufacture of the cuirass. It was bullet proof for above 50 paces. To make it entirely bulletproof was useless as it required a thicker plate and would make it much heavier. Too heavy armor hindered the movement of the horseman and put him in a disadvantage in a hand-to-hand combat.

      In March, Minister of War asked the director of the Sestroretzk Armaments to prepare 6,214 cuirasses. The distribution of the armor had to go according to divisional lists, regiment after regiment. The first who received the armor was the Guard Cavalry Regiment, the next was the Lifeguard Horse Regiment, who needed 10 days to sort out through the plates so the size of the armor would match the size of the men. Then armor was given to His Majesty Cuirassier Regiment, and for the remaining units. The last regiment on the list, the Novgorod Cuirassier Regiment received the transport of armor in mid or late August, not long before the battle at Borodino was fought. Converted from dragoons Starodub Cuirassier Regiment received theirs as late as in August 1813.
      In Sept 1812 Inspector of Cavalry asked director of the Sestroretzk Armaments to supply body armor also for the reserve squadrons, but only for those from the regiments in the 1st Cuirassier Division. On Nov 23 the director reported that he has 653 cuirasses ready and within one month, in Dec, they were sent to the headquarters of the army in the city of Vilnius (Vilno, Vilna). Thus the reserve squadrons in the Battle of Polotzk and other engagements before that period had no body armor and statements to the contrary are false.
      The trumpeters never wore the cuirass. In 1814 the Tsar gave 460 cuirasses to the Prussian Gardes du Corps.
      The Russian cuirass consisted of two iron plates painted with black oil and edged with red fabric. These two plates were held together with two straps, which had brass end pieces. For the privates these straps had iron shoulder scales, and for the officers they were brass. On the inside of the armor there was a lining of white quilted canvas to make carrying of this weighty equipment more comfortable. The cuirass was 3-3.5 mm thick and it weighted between 7kg and 7,5 kg, depending on the size. Some sources give even 8-9 kg. The cuirass was 45 cm high and had max. width of 39 cm.
      This is interesting that several French participants of the battle at Borodino wrote about the Russian cuirassiers wearing not the full armor but only the front plates. They even describe how during pursuits they were able to inflict wounds to cuirassiers’ backs. Louis Lejeune made one of the first pictures representing Borodino “La bataille de la Moskova le 7 Septembre 1812” and in its corner is seen Russian cuirassier wearing the front plate only and attacking the square of 84th Line Infantry.
      The Pskov Cuirassier Regiment was allowed to wear the collected/captured at Dolgomost French armor. Wearing their white coats and the foreign armor made them unusual sight in the Russian army.


    regiment coat breeches facings
    His Majesty white white light blue black
    Her Majesty white white light crimson black
    Yekaterinoslav white white orange black
    Military Order white white black black
    Glukhov white white blue black
    Little Russia white white orange black
    Astrakhan white white yellow black
    Novgorod white white pink black
    Pskov white white light crimson captured French
    Starodoub white white light blue black

    Uniforms of Russian Dragoons

    In 1803 was issued order to the dragoons (and cuirassiers) to wear helmets. The helmets did deflect the cuts although there were also helmets dented or cut through. It was made of black, lacquered and pressed leather and had two leather visors, the one in front had a brass edging. The body of the helmet was 22-26 cm high, and above it was affixed a leather comb reaching up in front for 10 cm. The caterpillar crest was black for the privates, black with white tip for NCOs, red for trumpeters and white with a black tip separated by an orange line for the officers. On the brass front plate of the helmet was a brass stamped device, a two-headed crowned eagle in cuirassier and dragoon regiments. The exception was the Military Order Cuirassier Regiment that instead of the eagle bore St. George star. The front plate in the guard regiments was made of copper.
    In 1808 the caterpillar crest was replaced by a thinner black horsehair crest making the helmet more balanced and elegant. The officers kept their old caterpillar crest until 1811-1812, but only for parade and review. The leather chinstraps were - at least theoretically - replaced in 1808 by brass ones, modeled after the French, which gave more striking and martial sight. Those of the dragoons who served as the escort of army headquarters had attached green branches to their helmets as did the Austrians.

    Uniform of Russian dragoons.
Picture by Viskovatov. Originally the dragoons' coat was light green. On November 7 1807 (JC) was ordered that the coats has to be dark green, with red turnbacks. In fact they were almost blackish, especially in the beginning of campaign before the sun and rain faded the dye.

    The white breeches were worn during parades and reviews. The gray reituzy were worn during campaign and in battle. In 1802 was ordered that they would be made of gray cloth and strengthened with leather. The gray varied in shades from light gray to brown-gray. They had to have 18 buttons covered with gray cloth on the outer seams. In 1813-1815 the reituzy had black leather reinforcement extending around the rear of the leg, although in some cases they are depicted without it.
    In 1814 were introduced the double stripes in regimental color on outer seams and the buttons - finally - disappeared.

    There were two types of boots; the taller ones, reaching above half-calf, (in Dec 16 1806 [JC] they were heightened up to below the knee) and the short boots called korotkiye sapogi. The short boots were usually worn together with the gray reituzy for campaign and fighting, while the taller boots (+ white breeches) were mainly for parade and a ceremony and rarely worn for combat. The tall and the short boots had spurs.


    regiment coat breeches facings collar buttons
    Riga dark green white red red yellow
    Starodub dark green white red red white
    Tiraspol dark green white red dark green yellow
    Yambourg dark green white red dark green white
    Harkov dark green white orange orange yellow
    Sieversk dark green white orange orange white
    Tver dark green white dark blue dark blue yellow
    Chernihov dark green white dark blue dark blue white
    St.Petersbourg dark green white pink pink yellow
    Moscov dark green white pink pink white
    Smolensk dark green white yellow yellow yellow
    Kinbourn dark green white yellow yellow white
    Serpukhov dark green white yellow dark green yellow
    Dorpat dark green white yellow dark green white
    Pskov dark green white orange orange yellow
    Kargopol dark green white orange orange white
    Vladimir dark green white buff dark green yellow
    Nizhnigorod dark green white buff buff white
    Taganrog dark green white gray dark green yellow
    Narva dark green white gray gray white
    Orenbourg dark green white black black yellow
    Ingermanland dark green white black black white
    Irkutzk dark green white white white yellow
    Siberia dark green white white white white
    Kazan dark green white crimson crimson yellow
    Kiev dark green white crimson crimson white
    Kourland dark green white turquoise turquoise yellow
    New Russia dark green white turquoise turquoise white
    Niejinje dark green white turquoise dark green yellow
    Arzamass dark green white turquoise dark green white
    Borisoglebsk dark green white crimson dark green yellow
    Pereyaslav dark green white crimson crimson white
    Livonia dark green white red red yellow
    Zhitomir dark green white red red white
    Finland dark green white white white yellow
    Mitava dark green white white white white


    Uniforms of Russian Hussars

    The hussars wore shakos. The cords and pompon were white for the squadrons of I Battalion, and red for the squadrons of II Battalion. The shako had a lace upper band and cockade on the front. The lace disappeared later on with the new types of shakos. The cord was wrapped few times around the upper edge of the headgear, with tassels hanging at the right side. In 1809 a new shako was introduced, it was modelled after the French headwear. In 1812 was adopted a lower shako (called in western literature as kiver) although the older shakos were used as late as in 1813 and even in 1814. The kiver was in the form of a cone and had on each side a “V” shaped leather belt as a strenghtening. Another belt was around the bottom of the shako to regulate it according to the size of head.
    Shako cover
of Russian hussars
in 1812-1815. During campaign the white cords were often removed and the shako was protected with cover made from thick black or grey cloth. (See picture ->) Until 1810 the tall plume was bushy, then was replaced by a thin one. The plume was white for the troopers, red for the trumpeter, and red with its top in black and orange for trumpeter-major. In 1814 in recognition for their exploits Tsar Alexander awarded some regiments with special badges affixed to their kiver shakos.

    The hussar wore two coats, dolman and pelisse (mentik). Both coats often had red-brown leather patches sewn on the elbows as reinforcements. The pelisse had 3 rows of buttons, numerous braids and lambskin edging. From April through September, it was worn thrown back over the left shoulder (in the right hand was the saber). Between September and March it was worn with the arms in the sleeves as protection from cold.
    According to regulations the black sheep’s-fleece trim was prescribed only for NCOs, while for officers was gray and for the privates was white. However the privates in White Russia Hussar Regiment and the Elisavetgrad Hussar Regiment wore black fur as early as in 1807. In Oct 1808, the chef of Grodno Hussar Regiment asked the commander of the Russian army in Finland, for “the white trim on pelisses be replaced with black for all ranks, following the example of other regiments.”
    (In 1812 lances were issued to the troopers of the first rank in the hussar regiments. It was also ordered that the hussars who carry lances should either wear no pelisse or wear it with arms in sleeves and never be thrown over the shoulder so they do not interfere with handling of the lances.)

    Hussars' breeches were white until 1807-1809.
    On March 12, 1807 (JC) the Lubno Hussar Regiment replaced their white breeches with dark ones, on November 21 (JC) the Grodno did the same, and on February 4, 1809 (JC) all the other regiments followed them. The trousers worn over or instead of the breeches were made of gray cloth and had buttons on the outer seams covered with gray cloth. The trousers were with or without the black leather reinforcement on the inner seams and bottom. The trousers were replaced by wider overalls that often had the red-brown leather patches in the shape of a heart sewn on the knees. Since 1814 the overalls had facing colored stripes and the buttons disappeared. There were however few irregularities with the overalls, for example in 1814 the Izum Hussars wore dark blue overalls with red stripes, possibly acquired from a French source.
    The waist belt and slings were made of dark red leather.


    regiment breeches dolman pelisse collar
    Ahtyrka dark blue chestnut chestnut yellow yellow
    Alexandria black black black red white
    Elisavetgrad dark green gray gray gray yellow
    Grodno dark blue dark blue dark blue light blue white
    Izoum dark blue red dark blue dark blue yellow
    Loubny dark blue dark blue dark blue yellow white
    Marioupol dark blue dark blue dark blue yellow yellow
    Olviopol red dark green dark green red white
    Pavlograd dark green dark green turquoise turquoise yellow
    Soumy red gray gray red white
    White Russia dark blue dark blue red red white


    Ahtyrka Hussar Marioumpol Hussar Soumy Hussar
    From left to right: Ahtyrka, Marioumpol, and Soumy Hussars.
    Pictures by Andre Jouineau, France.


    In early spring 1804, when the ground
    was not yet dry enough after thawing snows,
    all squadrons of Grand Duke Constantine Uhlans
    gathered around the town of Mahnovka
    for 6 weeks of “horse training.”

    Training and Tactics.
    The emphatic defeats in 1805 initiated
    organizational and tactical changes.

    The emphatic defeats in 1805 initiated organizational and tactical changes. In 1807 A. I. Hatov wrote Obshchii opyt taktiki, a work devoted to the cavalry, its use in combat and its tactics. According to Hatov the cavalry’s crucial role was to cover the retreating army, pursue the defeated enemy, scout for the army and could also decide the outcome of the battle. Cavalry actions were considered in a tight relation to infantry, and not as independent.

    Hatov thought any firing from horse while standing as peculiar. The only accepted exception was when the flankers (horse skirmishers) used their firearms. Although their fire was known as being rather harmless they played important role of protecting the troops during march and on the battlefield from being harassed or disordered by enemy’s skirmishers. According to Hatov the firearms were given to the cavalry mainly to use on occassions when was lack of infantry or was a need to occupy an important position. (Hatov A. I. - “Obshchii opyt taktiki” 1807, Part I, p 186)

    The new preliminary regulations for cavalry service were issued under the name of Predvaritelnoie postanovleniye o stroievoi kavaleriiskoi sluzhbe and consisted of two chapters:
    - in Osnovaniye ucheniya was explained the organization of squadron and regiment, and the order and character of cavalry in general. It was also explained the deployment of regiment on 6 squadrons in line with intervals. (“Predvaritelnoe postanovleniye o stroevoi kavaleriiskoi sluzhbe.” - 1812, pp 3-26)
    - in O eskadronnom uchenii (or Eskadronnoie Uchenie) were explained the types of manuevers and movements for the squadron. It was recommended that the attack should be conducted in the following manner: the first 50 paces should be covered in walk (shagom), next 100 paces in a trot (rysiu), further 80 paces in gallop and after that, the final command “alliur!” was given.

    In general the new regulations differed only lightly from the previous ones in 1796 and 1807-1808 and were somehow less innovative than those for the infantry.

    The Russian cavalryman of XIX century was a universal soldier. He was trained to use his edged weapon and his firearm, and to fight on horse and dismounted.

  • In one of the small engagements of March 1807, the Elisavetgrad Hussars dismounted to give support for the 21st Jagers (light infantry).
  • In August 1810 a dismounted cavalry regiment participated in the Storming of Rushchuk defended by the Turks.
  • On July 11th (23rd) 1812 was fought a small battle at Saltanovka. The terrain was very wooded so General Vasilchikov dismounted part of his cavalry in an effort to capture a bridge.
  • In Shevardino in 1812 the New Russia Dragoons and the Kiev Dragoons were fighting dismounted (v pieshem stroiu) supporting the foot skirmishers.
  • On August 16th 1812 the Orenbourg Dragoons were in the rear guard of the retreating army. When enemy’s flankers attacked them, these dragoons dismounted and made use of their carbines. With the support of 2 horse guns they held off all attacks until evening and then withdrew in good order passing through the burning city of Viazma. (Bezotosnyi V. M., Vasiliev A. A., Gorshman A. M., Parhayev O. K., Smirnov A. A. - “Russkaia armiia 1812-1814” Vlados, Moskva 2000, p 107)
  • In Kulm in 1813 part of the Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde, Kavallergarde) dismounted, grabbed their firearms and fought for few hours supporting the foot skirmishers.
  • In Brienne in 1814, two dragoon regiments from Panchulitzev’s 3rd Dragoon Division dismounted and together with infantry attacked Brienne. The Russians captured half of the town.
  • In 1807, a single squadron from the Ingermanland Dragoons was dismounted and attacked the town of Mohrungen. Shikanov describes the attack as executed by the Courland Dragoons. Firstly, 18 volunteers and 2 officers dismounted and crawled toward the French. They quietly removed the pickets and then entire squadron of dismounted dragoons attacked. Behind the dismounted squadron was another squadron, this one was on horses. They captured 350 prisoners and freed 100 Russian and Prussian POWs. They also captured numerous carts and wagons belonging to MdE Bernadotte and 12.000 dukats. In this action also participated Soumy Hussars although they were not the main assault force on the town.

    In the Russian cavalry manuals printed in 1797, 1805, and 1812 it is stated that cavalry was to be formed in 2 ranks and not in three (as it is given by one popular western author.)
    The distance between the horses’ tails in the first row and heads of horses in the second row had to be about 1 pace (shag). The bigger men and horses were in the first row and the shorter ones in the second. The demi-conversions were executed by 3s and not by 2s as it was in the French and Polish cavalry.

    If the regiment was deployed in line the intervals between squadrons were on the length of platoon and between regiments on the length of entire half-squadron. In the line formation the chef of the regiment had to be 50 paces in front of the center of the regiment. To the left of him, in half of the horse length behind was his adjutant. Polkovnik (colonel) was 10 paces behind the chef, but in case the chef was absent then he would have to take his place. The first major took place in front of the I and II squadron, podpolkovnik (colonel-lieutenant) in front of the III and IV squadron and the second major in front of V and VI squadron. The podpolkovnik and the first and second major had to be placed 15 paces in front of the first row of troopers. The squadron commanders had to be about 8 paces in front of their squadrons.

    There were several types of columns used by the cavalry for march and attack. The most common columns used for marching were the narrow columns by 3s or 6s - depending on the width of the road. On a very narrow road or when they had to pass a defile the regiment marched by a single file.

    A column by platoon could be used for marching and as well on the battlefield. Each platoon had its commander one pace in front of the center of the first rank. The distance between each platoon in regimental column had the width of so many paces as many files were in that troop. The distance between squadrons was doubled.

    There were columns on wider front too: a column by half-squadron and column by squadron and these were quite popular and frequently used in combat. The battlefield at Borodino was full of regiments maneuvering and attacking in columns by squadrons.
    At Shevardino (1812) the 2nd Cuirassier Division commanded by GL Ilia M. Duka, was deployed in regimental columns (v polkovyh kolonnah) by squadrons with intervals. Such formations were easier to control, and due to much shorter frontage were not so vulnerable to being broken up by obstacles (abandoned equipment, or trees and guns) as were the entire regiments formed in lines. Such columns made it difficult for enemy at a distance to estimate the strength of the unit and if needed facilitated a speedy deployment into line.

    The training and drill were the major activities of the cavalry regiments during peacetime. For 25-35 weeks each year the regiments were scattered in the countryside, having their companies and squadrons separated by considerable distances. An average cavalry regiment in 1805 was quartered in three or four villages and never in one place.
    Such dispersal of troops lowered the quality of training and maneuvering in bigger formations. Only for few weeks the officers had their troops together. But still, big part of the time was spend on parades and reviews rather than on exercising the cooperation between regiments and on acting by entire brigades. The consequences of the pernicious practice of scattering their cavalry in small pockets were evident at Austerlitz.
    The parades became a regular feature of army life and in 1820s (few years after Napoleonic Wars ended) almost everything was focused on them. Those who insisted on training for real combat were considered as being Cossacks.
    The training of the troopers also suffered when the colonel would take away dozens of soldiers from the regiment into his service to his estate.

    Cavalry training started with the basics. First was drill and training on foot before they learned how to use their carbines. Mounting, dismounting and controlling the horse in various gaits (speeds of riding) were crucial skills a horseman had to learn. Even the basics could cause troubles for the beginners: as for example putting swiftly the saddle on horse’s back when the animal kept stepping sideways and moving round and round in a circle.

    The more advanced training was to teach the horsemen to fall into platoons, squadrons and battalions. It was important that the troops in a line did everything together and all the maneuvers were done almost by instinct.
    On weekends were studied army regulations concerning the duties of the soldiers. The horseman had to learn how to use weapons on horseback and this included drawing and firing pistols and also drawing and using the saber.

    In early spring 1804, when the ground was not yet dry enough after thawing snows, all squadrons of Grand Duke Constantine Uhlans gathered around the town of Mahnovka for 6 weeks of “horse training” (dlia konnyh uchenii). When in May the training was over, they returned to their allocated quarters. Each half-squadron quartered in different settlement. Three sentries guarded each such settlemet. One sentry consisted of 1 NCO and 7 privates and was stationed in the middle of that settlement, by the main street. The other two sentries consisted of 1 NCO and 3 privates each and were stationed at the both ends of the main street. Smoking was strictly forbidden for the sentries. When the men were resting after maneuvers their horses were kept either in private stables or on the pastures.
    In July all squadrons were again gathered at Mahnovka for 2 more weeks. They executed all maneuvers by squadrons and finally by entire battalions. GL Baur arrived for inspection and the review was staged so the squadrons could present their skills. Due to lack of broken horses the squadrons were understrength, their platoons were formed only on 9 instead of on 15 files (There were 400 new horses, which had to be trained). The inspector however was pleased with what he saw and thanked the squadron commanders and officers in platoons for their good job. The privates were awarded with 1 charka of vodka and 1 pound of beef per head.
    In September arrived Grand Duke Constantine, the Inspector of Cavalry, and all the squadrons went back to Mahnovka. Constantine stayed for seven weeks, inspecting all troops on that area. He watched the uhlans maneuvering by squadrons and battalions and agreed with the opinion previously given by GL Baur that the regiment was well trained and in full readiness for whatever may happen.

    The quality of training varied, there were regiments poorly trained and disciplined and those who were outstanding. For example in Borodino Colonel Zass (he was admired by Prussian officers, incl. von Schubert) took his Pskov Dragoons and attacked the enemy’s infantry and cavalry. The dragoons broke and pursued the enemy becoming disordered. But then the trumpeters sounded and the dragoons rallied by their commander. It all was being done under fire. The order was restored and the regiment conducted another successful charge. Such exploits depended on the quality of training and careful preparations, which in turn depended on the quality of officers and the commander himself.

  • ~

    "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."
    - Graf Henkel von Donnersmark

    A horse produced only for its beauty
    was a rare thing in Russia.

    NCO of Vladimir Dragoons in 1811 The history of cavalry horse in Russia is an interesting story. It was under Tsar Peter the Great that several new state-owned studs were organized to produce mounts for the army. Most of these horses had European and not Tatar origins.

    Graf Orlov began his breeding experiments in the 1760s at Ostrov near Moscow. His mounts were the first saddle breed developed in Russia. During the Russo-Turkish wars, Orlov brought to Russia a large number of Arabians, among them Smetanka and Sultan I, Arabian stallions of truly outstanding distinction. He tried ten crossing types, Anglo-Asian was unsatisfactory but Arabian-Asian yielded Sultan II, a producer of good military mounts. In addition to Arabians, Orlov used the English Thoroughbred, the Karabakh horses, the Turkish, and even the Danish mounts. Traditionally the Don horse has roamed in herds, enduring harsh winters with little food. Its name comes from the Don River in Central Russia, then the heartland of Cossack country.

    The first private stud farms devoted to the breeding of Don horses appeared at the end of the XVIII century and became well established and popular.

    The service life of the horse in light cavalry was determined on 8 years. The imperial “A” brand was on every cavalry horse’s haunch.

    During Napoleonic Wars many regiments rode on the Don horses. Originally the Don horse was a small mount, but during the 1800's large numbers of the Persian Arabs and Karabakh horses were bred to the Don. The Arabian horses were introduced to the Don Cossacks’ herds as war booty. The influx of foreign breeds resulted in larger horse, which combined the stamina of the older breed and the more refined conformation of the foreign stocks. The Don horse had a chiseled head, a little bit elevated forehead, proportioned ears, a muscular chest and strong, fine legs. Their neck was rather lean, their chest was muscular, their mane and tail were thin and their feet were usually sound and hardy.
    The features of Don horse were speed, agility, physical and mental strength, incredible stamina and a legendary economy of needs. It was excellent mount for cavalry and its only minus was not a particular comfort of riding.
    Graf Henkel von Donnersmark writes: "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."

    The Bashkir horse was another surprisingly enduring both under the saddle and when used as a draft horse. Its qualities were appreciated in 1812-1814. Big herds of Bashkirs grazed on the pastures and could survive winter temperatures up to - 40 C ! The Bashkir had a long and massive body, wide and straightish back and breast cage was wide and deep. The limbs were relatively short and head was large, the horse was not a beauty contender. Russia has been a land of hard practical uses of horses in difficult terrain and harsh climate, with the poorest of foods and having to cover vast distances.

    During the Napoleonic Wars the Russian horse although enjoyed an unsurpassed endurance it lacked the weight and bone for a shock effect in battle. This situation was often remedied by purchases of big mounts in Germany and Prussia. For example during the campaigning in 1813 and 1814, Tsar Alexandr purchased large number of big and strong horses from Germany and Prussia for his cuirassiers and from Prussia and Poland for his light cavalry.

    Another source of cavalry horses were southern parts of the Russian Empire, today the western and southern part of Ukraine. This land of vast steppes has a rich history of horse combat. Here was the Wild East of Europe, where mounted troops criss-crossed the country, ambushed the enemy, impaled or skinned the prisoners and burned the villages to the ground before disappearing on the horizon. Here was the battleground where the Poles fought against Russians, Cossacks, Turks and the wild Tatars for couple of centuries.
    In 1813 was ordered that the population of Podolia (Podolsk) and Volhynia (Volhynsk) provinces instead of delivering one recruit from prescribed number of “souls” will send horses. The options were either 3 big horses for the cuirassiers or 4 medium size mounts for dragoons or 5 for the ulans. In this way the cavalry obtained 13.000 valuable mounts. (“Otechestvennaia Voina I Russkoie Obschestvo 1812-1912” (Yubileinoye izdaniye) Vols 7, Moskva 1911 in Vol III , part “Armiya v 1805-1814 gg”)

    There was no uniformity of color of the horses in squadrons and regiments, except the Imperial Guard. Outside of the guard much depended on the commander of regiment and on the availability of mounts. There could be individual squadrons or even regiments enjoying uniformity of color among their horses but it was not common. It was in contrast to the French cavalry which had its squadrons distinguished by different colors.
    In Russia the trumpeters rode on bays, blacks, greys or chestnuts. It was in contrast to the French who mounted their trumpeters on greys.

    On April 30, 1802 (JC) the height requirements and cost of horses were specified. The height of the horses for the cuirassiers was set between 2 arshin> 4 vershok and 2 arshin 2 vershok. The cost was approx. 100 roubles. Horses for dragoons were between 2 arshin and 2 vershok and 2 arshin and 1 vershok and cost 50 roubles.

    Horses for ulans and hussars were between 2 arshin 2 vershok and 2 arshin and cost 40 roubles. The price could be increased by 15 roubles if the mount was of higher quality. The biggest horses were in the Guard Cavalry Regiment and Lifeguard Horse Regiment. At Fère Champenoise (1814) officer A. Y. Mirkovich from the Lifeguard Horse Regiment lost his mount in combat. When he was given another by one of the troopers, Grand Duke Constantine smiled and said: “Well, Mirkovich I see you are already riding on the elephant !”

    Height of Horses.
    The height given in cm is not always consistent
    with the height given in hands as they are usually
    given by two or three different sources.

    army cuirassiers dragoons uhlans
    Russia 151-160 cm
    14.35-14.85 hh
    142-151 cm
    14.1-14.35 hh
    142-151 cm
    14.1-14.35 hh
    ? 142-151 cm
    13.85-14.35 hh
    Austria ? ? ? 14.3-14.4 hh 14.2-14.3 hh
    Britain - 15.25 hh * - - 15 hh *
    France 1812 155-160 cm
    15.3-15.7 hh
    153-155 cm
    15-15.3 hh
    143-146 cm
    14.3-14.7 hh
    149-153 cm
    14.6-15 hh
    149-153 cm
    14.6-15 hh

    * - the 2nd Dragoon Reg. (“Scots Grey”) had 48% of cavalrymen mounted on 15 hands tall mounts, 36% on 15.5 hh horses, 2 % on 16 hh and the rest on 14.5 hh horses. It gives an average of 15.22 hands tall horse for a Scot Grey. Similar count based on 299 horses in 10th Hussar Regiment in 1813 gives an average of approx. 15 hands tall horse.


    From the musketoon could be fired
    a shot for scatter-gun effect.

    Edged Weapons and Firearms

    Russian cavalry was armed with various firearms (pistols, carbines, musketoons, muskets and rifles), lances and edged weapons (pallash, straight and curved saber).

    Russian cavalry firearms.
Picture by Oleg Parkhaive. Picture: 1 - cavalry rifle 1803, 2 - hussar musketoon, 3 - pistols

    The firearms used by Russian cavalry consisted of carbines, rifles, dragoon muskets and pistols. They were produced by Russian factories and purchased in Germany and Britain. There was also certain amount of Austrian and French (captured) weapons.

    Comparison of the range of firearms in Russian army:
    Cavalry rifle (1803) - 1.000 paces
    Cavalry carbine (1809) - 250 paces
    Infantry musket (1808) - 300 paces
    [Note: the effective range of fire was shorter than the ranges given above. Out of 100 cavalrymen armed with rifles only 40-45 hit the target (board of 180 x 120 cm) at 250 paces. For smoothbore carbines the result was even worse - 20-25 bullets in the target. At longer distance, at 400 paces, only the rifles were effective and up to 25 hit the target. These results were achieved on training ground, without the stress and excitement of the battle, without dust and gun powder and with all weapons working and in good shape.]

    Each dragoon carried a 142cm long musket, bayonet and 2 pistols. The musket was carried on the saddle, on the right side. The flankers in dragoon regiments were armed with rifles as it was with the flankers in cuirassier regiments. In November 1812 was ordered that only pistols and 16 rifles per squadron can be left while the muskets were given to the infantry.

    The musketoons appeared in Russian cavalry in 1790s. This smoothbore weapon had a shortened barrel and was easier to use on a horse than the longer musket. Although it was less accurate than the rifle, musket, and carbine it was more effective at close range due to the way it was employed, like a miniature cannon.
    The musketoon’s opened out barrel mouth had the vertical size about 3 cm and the horizontal size 5 cm, from which could be fired a shot for scatter-gun effect. The first musketoons were sent to Her Majesty Cuirassier Regiment and in 1798 the Lifeguard Hussar Regiment received their own pattern. The new musketoon of 1812 Pattern was modeled on the 1798 and weighed 2,65 kg. It was almost two times lighter than infantry firearms and was issued to all flankers in hussar regiments. These flamboyant hussars often used their “mini-cannons” during skirmishes.
    Cavalry musketoon 1775-pattern (used also in 1812-1814):
    - Caliber: 20.32 mm
    - Weight: 2.8 kg
    - Length of barrel: 447 mm
    - Width in the end: 37/25 mm
    - Ammunition: canister of 5-7 balls each 4.25 gr

    The hussars, except their flankers, were equipped with carbines.
    The carbine was carried on the bandolier, was hooked in place with an iron hook and weighted approx. 3 kg. In 1812 the troopers in the first rank gave away their carbines to the depot and reserve squadrons so they could easier handle the freshly issued lances.
    In the same year was ordered that also the second rank in the hussar regiments had to give away their carbines and the white leather crossbelt to the enlarged infantry and militia. The hussars were left only with pistols and the 16 flankers per squadron were allowed to keep their musketoons.
    In September 1814 was ordered that every hussar regiment has to be again armed with carbines. This time each regiment had assigned 1.120 carbines and 112 rifles.
    The ulans in the first rank were armed with lances, those in the second rank with carbines, and additionally every ulan carried saber and 2 pistols. Every squadron had 16 flankers, called carabiniers-ulans, which were armed with rifles.
    The cuirassiers were armed with carbines too, although their flankers carried rifles. In 1812 these weapons were taken away and given to the militia with only the 16 flankers in every squadron retained their rifles. Such partial disarming of the cavalry was not unusual during the Napoleonic Wars. In the French army, during the last campaigns even the Grenadiers of Old Guard had to give away their carbines to the infantry.
    This rifle was of the 1803 Pattern, it weighted 2.65 kg, was of 16.51-mm caliber, and had its barrel was 32.26 cm long. In September 1814 was ordered that every Russian cuirassier regiment has to be armed with 1.120 carbines and 112 rifles.

    Hussar carbine 1809-pattern
    - Caliber: 17.78 mm
    - Total weight: 2.87 kg
    - Length of barrel: 637.5 mm
    - Ammunition: 23.85 gr
    - Weight of charge: 7.46 gr

    Cavalry rifle 1803-pattern
    - Caliber: 16.51 mm
    - Total wight: 2.65 kg
    - Length of barrel: 322 mm
    - Ammunition: 23.85 gr
    - Weight of charge: approx. 7 gr.

    The pistol was light, short and portable and for these reasons was given to the cavalry. The two pistols were in saddle holsters. Hussar pistol weighted approx. 1,5 kg. There were several models of pistols used, some of them of foreign origin. Their length slightly varied from model to model and was between 45 cm and 60 cm. Pistols had three major problems: misfires, poor accuracy and short range of fire, only up to 30 m.
    Cavalry pistol 1809-pattern. - Caliber: 17.78 mm
    - Total weight: 1.5 kg
    - Length of barrel: 263 mm
    - Ammunition: 23.85 gr
    - Weight of charge: 6.3 gr

    Russian cavalry sabers.
Picture by Oleg Parkhaiev. Picture: 1 - dragoon saber 1806, 2 - cuirassier saber 1810, 3 - cuirassier saber 1798, 4 - light cavalry saber 1798, 5 - light cavalry saber 1809

    The basic weapon of cavalry was the saber. During Napoleonic Wars the Russian cavalry used several patterns of curved and straight sabers. The officers’ sabers were of better quality, most often their hilt was gilded. Additionally the cavalry was issued some number of weapons of foreign origin: British, Austrian, Prussian or (captured) French.

    Unlike the use of the pistol or carbine the saber required the physical contact with the opponent. The curved saber was used in its best when swung in an arc to achieve a cutting effect by a motion towards the center of the enemy with the horseman’s arm extended. It also allowed to cut with a slicing action, where the blade's edge was drawn across the opponent with a quite good result. Straight saber may also cut, but this is directly dependent for its effect on the weight of the blade and the position of its center of balance. The cut was a more instinctive blow than a thrust, and in cavalry mêlées the average cavalryman will tend to cut even if his sword is more suited to the thrust.

    The light cavalry saber - Pattern 1798 was used by the hussar and ulan regiments, the dragoon regiments of the Caucasian inspection till 1809, and until 1812 by Lifeguard Uhlan Regiment.
    It had a curved, single-edged blade. Its length was about 87 cm, width of blade was 4,1 cm, the blade curvature averaged 6,5/37 cm. The total length of this saber was approx. 100 cm. Its hilt comprised of a wooden grip, which was covered in leather and protected by a guard. The guard was made of cross-guard with the knuckle bow and a double langet. The weight of the saber with the wooden scabbard was 1,8 kg and 2,1 kg in the steel scabbard.

    The light cavalry saber - Pattern 1809 replaced the old sabers in the Lifeguard Uhlan Regiment, Lifeguard Hussar Regiment, and in the dragoon regiments of the Caucasian Inspection. By 1812 this weapon replaced also the old sabers in all the hussar and ulan regiments.
    The blade of 1809 saber was curved, single-edged, and featured one wide fuller. The total length was 103 cm, the blade's length was about 88 cm, the blade's width was approx. 3 cm (3,6 cm), and the blade's curvature averaged 7/36.5 cm. The iron hilt with 3 hops consisted of a wooden, covered in leather grip, and a guard that was made of three bars and a cross-guard piece. The steel scabbard was common although could be find also ones made of wood and having iron settings. The weight of the saber with the steel scabbard was about 1,9 kg.

    The heavy cavalry saber - Pattern 1798 was carried by the cuirassiers at Austerlitz, Eylau and Friedland until 1809-1810 when it was replaced by a thinner weapon modeled on the popular French patterns.
    This vicious old weapon had a straight blade 90-cm long, 4-cm wide and weighted 2.1-kg. It was not a blade for fencing finesse but it was a rather good cutting machine.

    After war in 1805 the Russians introduced cavalry saber - Pattern 1806 for their dragoons. It had a straight 89-cm long blade, was 3.8-cm wide, and weighted 1.65 kg. This weapon was copied after the sabers of French dragoons and had a point enabling the man to thrust more effectively than with the curved saber or with the old heavy cavalry sabers. However the length of the blade was insufficient to make the dragoons equal to their French counterparts in a line vs line combat. It also didn’t have the curvature needed to match the French hussars’ sabers in individual combat.
    Before 1806 the dragoons carried their saber from a frog instead of slings as did the cuirassiers. But when they received the new sabers of 1806 Pattern the scabbard had rings for suspension on slings.

    The heavy cavalry saber - Pattern 1809 (1810) was one of the most obvious images of the Russian cuirassiers, perhaps second to the black armor. The troopers in the front rank charged with wrist turned inward, their hands at eye level and the point lower than hand. The troopers in the second rank attacked saber high. It was THE weapon for the heavies as it had a straight 97-cm long blade allowing the greatest reach when used its point. This wapon was modeled on French cuirassiers’ saber. The scabbard was made of iron.

    In 1811 part of dragoons received from arsenals in Moscow and Kiev the so-called “Imperial pallash. ” It was Austrian broadsword weapon. (Bezotosnyi, Vasiliev, Gorshman, Parhayev, Smirnov - “Russkaia armiia 1812-1814” Vlados, Moskva 2000, p 15)

    In 1801 was ordered that the privates in horse regiments (Polish and Tartar-Lithuanian) had lances with woodwork painted in red. In May 1806 the privates of Grand Duke Constantine Uhlan Regiment replaced their carbines with lances that had their woodwork painted in black. The adopted in 1806-1807 by all regiments lance shaft was black. According to Polish tradition, only the troopers in the first rank were armed with lances and the Russians followed this pattern. The total length of the lance averaged between 280 and 290 cm.

    The pennant was called horonzhevka from Polish choragiewka.

    In 1812 selected troopers of ulan regiments were sent as instructors to drill hussars with the use of the lance. Between April and May most of the hussar regiments were armed with lances. Three regiments campaigning on Crimean Peninsula and along Danube River were issued lances a little bit later.

    Officially the lances of hussars were without pennants. Unofficially the Pavlograd and the Izum hussars attached pennants (turquoise-white and red-dark blue, respectively) to their lances and probably at least the Ahtyrka did the same. According to Kutuzov’s headquarters’ journal of military operations (8 Oct. 1812): “Mjr. Hrapovitski, in order to confuse the enemy, has ordered his hussars to put pennants on their lances…” (M. I. Kutuzov. - “Sbornik dokumentov” Vol. 4, Part 2. Moscow, 1955, p 130)

    In the following campaigns in 1813-1815 it was left up to hussars if they want to abandon or keep their lances. This is interesting that the Lifeguard Hussar Regiment never carried lances.


    Nesterov served in Grand Duke Constantine Uhlan Regiment
    and his mustaches were so long that they reached down to
    the waistline and his eyebrows were to the middle of his face !

    Mustaches and Hair Styles.
    The new recruits had their heads and beards shaven.

    General Kulniev
of hussars. The new recruits had their heads and beards shaven. Some of them tried in vain to bribe the barbers. The cavalrymen and Cossacks, privates and officers, all wore mustaches. (The only few exceptions were officers of dragoon and cuirassier regiments.)
    The mustaches and whiskers, which were grown in a curve towards the mouth, were important badges of honor worn usually by veterans or the elites to show they mean business. The mustaches could be darkened or combed according to regimental tradition, be straight or twirled down or up. The burly General Yermolov believed that facial hair were useful mean of intimidating other people.

    In 1806-1807 the pigtails were discarded for the lower ranks. Later on they were abolished for the officers too.

    When the hussars had to abandon their innumerable plaits from the temples, they were quite unhappy. They considered this as a blow to their self-esteem and complained that they will become “no better than dragoons.


    The Best Regiments of Russian Cavalry.
    St Peterburg Dragoon Regiment captured 4 French Colors:
    two of infantry, one of dragoons and one of cuirassiers.
    There was no other dragoon regiment in France, Austria,
    Britain and Prussia with so many trophies.

    We have selected six regiments (1 cuirassier, 1 dragoon, 4 hussars) which distinguished themselves on battlefield, captured enemy's color and guns, or put up a gallant fight to beat off the enemy. The Guard regiments are excluded.

    Abbreviations of ranks:
    Mjr. - major
    Plk. - polkovnik (colonel)
    GM - gieneral-major
    GL - gieneral-leitnant
    GoK - gieneral ot kavalerii (general of cavalry)

    Officers of Grodno Hussars in 1809-1811

  • Grodno Hussar Regiment
    "The Grodno hussars were, as usual,
    brilliant in combat." - Ernst M. H. von Gaffron

    Chefs: 1806 - 1811 GM Dmitrii D. Shepelev,
    1811 - July 1812 GM Yakov P. Kulniev,
    1812 - 1814 Fedor V. Ridiger (in May 1813 GM)
    Commanders: 1811 - Oct. 1812 Plk. Fedor V. Ridiger
    Friedrich Rüdiger (in May 1813 GM)
    This regiment was formed in June 1806 from squadrons taken from the Alexandria, Izum, Olviopol and Soumy hussar regiments. The Grodno Hussars were led by Yakov Kulniev, a fiery fighter and tough disciplinarian. He was a legend in Russia and died in combat in young age. In 1806-1807 the Grodno Hussars fought at Mishinitzy where they defeated French chasseurs and broke an infantry square. On May 25th 1807 two squadrons led by Kulniev fought at Kommersdorf. They captured many prisoners, ammunition wagons, and destroyed enemy's camp, blew up wagons and carriages and got out of the encirclement. The Grodno Hussars fought at Friedland where they participated in the big cavalry battle. Then, when the French cut off one battalion of the Pavlovsk grenadiers, the Grodno Hussars came with rescue and fend off all attacks made by French cuirassiers.
    In 1808-1809 the Grodno hussars participated in the campaign against Sweden: near Viano Farm executed a "powerful charge, driving the Swedes off the field." In March 1809 they participated in the famous march on the frozen Baltic Sea.
    In July 1812 French General Jean Saint Geniez was taken prisoner at Onikszty by Kornet Glebov. St. Geniez was the first French general captured by the Russian army during this war.
    Between 3rd and 17th July the Grodno Hussars were very active in small warfare and captured up to 2.000 prisoners. In July at Filipova, tye Grodno Hussars (8 squadrons) defeated 12 squadrons of the French 7th and 20th Chasseurs, and a Polish uhlan regiment. The enemy was pursued and 170 were taken prisoner.
    On July 18-19th 1812 at Druia the hussars and Cossacks defeated French 11th and 12th Chasseurs and Polish 10th Hussars. In the end of July, within the period of several days Tzytliatzev with 20 hussars captured 200 prisoners. On Oct. 6-7th (18-19th) they fought with distinction at the Second Battle of Polotzk. In April 1813 the Grodno hussars were awarded with silver trumpets for 1812 war.
    In 1813 the Grodno Hussars fought in Luneburg, Lutzen, Bautzen and Dresden where they broke the square formed by 5th Voltigeur Regiment of Young Guard. The enemy lost 10 officers and 300 men killed, wounded and taken prisoner.
    On Oct. 14th 1813, they fought gallantly in Leipzig, held off all attacks conducted by the Saxons, Polish and French cavalry and won the praise of the witnesses of the battle. A Prussian cuirassier Ernst M. H. von Gaffron wrote: "As far as I remember the Grodno hussars were first through the village of Cröbern, then our regiment, as we went straight into the attack... The Grodno hussars were, as usual, brilliant in combat."
    In Leipzig they also attacked artillery deployed between Holzhausen, Zuckelhausen and Stötteritz and seized a couple of guns. On the 3rd day of battle of Leipzig this regiment conducted three consecutive charges. During one of them NCO Gruzenko was the first who got to enemy's battery and killed an officer. The French cavalry counterattacked and Gruzenko had to abandon his trophy. Frustrated he spiked the gun, then drew his pistol and killed the draft horses. Several French dragoons attacked him but being a good swordsman he unsaddled the first attacker with a quick cut. The other dragoons kept respectful distance and let him go. At Probstheida the Grodno and Soumy Hussars "furiously attacked" and overthrew part of French infantry under Marshal Victor. For Leipzig their officers were awarded with Russian and Prussian awards (from Prussian King was the Pour le Mérite order).
    In 1814 the Grodno Hussars fought in Brienne, Bar sur Aube, Arcis and Paris. In 1814 the Grodno Hussar Regiment was awarded with badges on their shakos. When the Napoleonic Wars ended this regiment had 400 men who were awarded with Military order for bravery in combat.

  • Loubny Hussar Regiment
    "The Scum of All Vagabonds
    Who Were Ripe for Gallows".

    Chefs: 1807 - Aug 1813 GM Alexei P. Melissino
    Aug 1813 - Jan 1814 GM Evgenii V. Davydov
    1814 - GM Ivan Troshchinski
    Commanders: 1808-1810 Plk. I. A. Maximovich-Vasilkovski.
    This regiment was raised in 1807 in similar way as were formed the first uhlan regiments, it means from all classes of free Russian and foreign persons who were not subject to the poll tax and not under other service obligations. The length of service was prescribed to be not less than 6 years instead of 25 years. In their ranks served Russians, Tatars, Greeks, Serbs, Hungarians, Poles, Moldavians, Turks, Jews and even Italians. One could find among them men of all walks of life, artists, gentry, vagabonds, foreigners and "those of the worst sort." But in combat "the scum" fought like Verzeifelte against the enemy.
    The Loubny Hussar Regiment was organized and led by a male beauty GM Alexei P. Melissino. Melissino was well educated, spoke fluently in several languages and was so well and proportionately build that served as a model for the monument of the Tzar Peter the Great. Although he was an agreeable person he had a strange thread in his character that caused the "the scum of all vagabonds" quivering from fear. He kept them under iron fist. Alexei Melissino himself was "brave like a lion" and expected not less from his thugs. At Dresden having thrown his horse on bayonets he was killed by 3 musketballs fired by the Young Guard. (Other source described that a cannonball killed him in front of his regiment).

  • Mariupol Hussar Regiement
    Chef: 1807-1810 GM Baron Egor Meller-Zakomelski
    1810 - Jan 1812 Plk. Egor E. Klebeck
    Jan 1812 - 1815 Plk. Prince Ivan M. Vadbolski (in May 1813 GM)
    In their ranks served Russians, Poles and Lithuanians. In 1805 at Durrenstein - together with infantry - they mauled French 4th Dragoon Regiment. In 1812 near Smolensk, the Mariupol and Elisavetgrad Hussars impressed Sir Robert Wilson. He considered their courage and skill in the maneuver as unsurpassable. At Valutina Gora their attack at Lubino caused considerable damage to enemy's infantry (described as "chopped on the spot"). At Vilno they captured Color of the 9th Cuirassier Regiment. The Mariupol Hussars' hour of fame came in fall and winter of 1812 during the pursuit of Napoleon's Grande Armee. They participated in numerous small combats and captured hundreds of prisoners. In February 1813 they were awarded with 22 silver trumpets for the 1812 campaign.
    In 1813 at Katzbach they made a gallant charge which put the French cavalry into flight. For this exploit the monarch awarded them with badges on shakos with inscription "For distinction 14 Aug. 1813". In Leipzig in 1813 they fought between villages of Eutritzsch and Schönefeld and together with the Ahtirka hussars broke French troops and chased across the Parthe River. Then, despite the fire from French artillery they struck the flank of the III Cavalry Corps. The enemy broke and sought refuge behind infantry. In few minutes the French were seen in every direction for miles rearward with hussars on their heels. A half thousand prisoners and 5 guns were captured. This defeat shook the French infantry on the other side of the river. (Description in Nafziger's "Napoleon at Leipzig")
    In 1814 at Brienne they participated in the defeat of infantry of Young Guard but at Craonne the cavalry of Old Guard routed them.

  • Pavlograd Hussar Regiment
    Chef: 1806-1814 GM Efim I. Chaplitz (in 1812 GL)
    Commanders: Dec 1806 - 1810 Plk. Baron Alexandr V. Rosen
    1810 - 1815 Plk. (GM in Sept. 1813) Prince Spiridon E. Zhevahov.
    (Zhevahov, or by Georgian name Dzhavahishvili, came from Georgian
    princeses and served in this regiment since 1797.)
    The Pavlograd Hussars was one of the most popular cavalry regiments in Russia. In this regiment served Russians, Lithuanians, Poles and Ukrainians. Between July 1806 and Sept 1814 their chef was GM (GL since Oct 1812) Efim I. Chaplitz. He was officer with Polish origins and participated in the wars against Turks, Poles, fought in Caucassus, and against the French in 1805, 1806 and 1807. In 1812 he sent "shock waves" through Lithuania by demolishing one of Napoleon's guard cavalry regiments at Slonim, the 3rd Lancers (Young Guard).
    In 1805 the Pavlograd Husars were part of the hard fighting Bagration's Rear Guard and won fame for delaying French advance. At Enns, disregarding the canister fire they burned a bridge. (Duffy - "Austerlitz 1805" 1977, p 56)
    In Hollabrunn they fought until were cut off from the main body of Bagrations' corps. Spiridon Zhevahov led his squadron against the encircling forces and the rest of the regiment followed them. For Hollabrunn/Shöngrabben they were allowed to carry two standards in every squadron as a special honor. (Alla Begunova however (after Strukov's "Istoricheskiy ocherk o regaliah i znakah otlichiya Russkoi Armii" 1902, Vol III, p 19) gives them only 1 St. George standard for the entire regiment.) The Pavlograd Hussars also fought in Durrenstein and Austerlitz, where while trying to cover the withdrawal of defeated infantry, they put on a desperate fight against several cuirassier regiments. According to Kutuzov's "Sbornik dokumentov" they lost 243 men at Austerlitz.
    In 1807 the Pavlograd Hussars were again part of the hard fighting rear guard under Bagration.
    In 1812 after the battle of Kobrin, General Chaplitz sent two squadrons of Pavlograd Hussars on the road from Kobrin to Slutzk. The hussars met two squadrons of Saxon cavalry with two guns. They met and "cut to pieces" one part of the Saxon force and chased the other part toward Kobrin itself, the guns were captured as well. They also fought at Slonim where with the Cossacks defeated Napoleon's 3rd Lighthorse-Lancer Regiment (Young Guard). At Berezina they routed French cavalry and captured Color (squadron guidon ?) of French 3rd Lancers.
    In 1813 between January and April they participated in the blockade of Torun (Thorn), then fought in Lepzig and were part of corps liberating Holland. In Nov-Dec the Pavlograd Hussars together with infantry, artillery, and Cossacks captured Amesterdam, Rotterdam and Breda.
    In 1814 in Craonne they conducted 8 charges (!) and despite the exhaustion of horses and men they formed the rear guard of the retreating Russian forces. They paid the heaviest price for their heroics - this is said that out of 900 men only 400 survived. After the battle at St. Dizier the Pavlograd Hussars again covered the retreat of infantry on the road to Bar-le-Duc. In 1814 they were awarded with badges on their shakos for this campaign.
    In one of the great novels, "War and Peace" ( by L. Tolstoy, the Pavlograd hussars are mentioned on several occassions.

  • St. Petersbourg Dragoon Regiment
    Chefs: 1807 - 1813 GM Graf von Ivan V. Manteufel
    1813 - 1815 Plk. Hristofor S. Borisov
    Commanders: 1810 - 1811 Mjr. Petr N. Kozyrev
    Oct 1812 - Oct 1813 Mjr. Ivan A. Annenkov.
    On November 20th 1805 at Raussnitz, trooper Chumakov captured Color of I Squadron of French 11th Dragoon Regiment. In February 1807 the dragoons crossed a frozen lake near Eylau and fell on the left flank of the 18th Line Infantry. Two privates Vasilii Podvorotni and Savelii Deriagin captured Eagle and drapeau of the II Battalion of 18th Line Regiment (nicknamed "The Brave"). On next day private Sirnikov captured the eagle and drapeau of I Battalion of 44th Line Regiment. The dragoons also fought at Heilsberg and Friedland, at Gutstadt - according to Yermolov (Ermolov) - they stood under cannonade with incredible composure.
    In 1812 at Berezina the dragoons captured Color of the 14th Cuirassier Regiment. They were awarded with badges on helmets with the inscription "For distinction". Their standard was decorated with black/orange ribbons and inscription telling about their glorious exploits. No other Russian regiment, foot or horse, have captured 4 Colors.
    NOTE: in western literature I have found that some authors (after Petre and Sir Wilson) claim that the St. Petersburg Dragoons was either, defeated, annihilated or lost its standards at Hoff. This is not true. This regiment was not present at Hoff and there is nothing about this combat in the regimental history (covering the years between 1707 and 1898) published in 1900. Although the actions and casualties suffered by this regiment on the day before and day after Hoff are described in detail. Wilson wrote about the Battle of Eylau (on p 96) that these dragoons "emulous to retrieve the misfortune of the previous day , charged a column of enemy." This is unclear what misfortunes he had on mind. The retreat of the whole detachment under de Tolly or the defeat of the Russian cavalry (hussars and Cossacks) ? Additionally the only Russian troops who lost standards at Hoff were infantry and not cavalry. Petre on p 158 wrote that the St. Petersburg Dragoons were defeated at Hoff and refers to Sir Wilson p 95 and 96. But Wilson on these pages wrote about a Russian regiment of Horse falling back on own infantry. In my opinion this is a misinterpretation of Wilson's words or simply a mistake. Petre (after Sir Wilson) made several mistakes in his description of the battale of Hoff. For example he wrote that Russian General Bagration contested his ground at Hoff so gallantly that "he never receded one foot." But the problem is that Bagration was not there.

  • Military Order Cuirassier Regiment
    Chef: 1809-1814 GM Andrei I. Gudovich
    Commanders: 1809 - 1810 Plk. Fedor von Raden
    1811 - Pplk. (Plk. in July 1813) E. F. Stakelberg
    Their helmets and leather pouches bore St. George star instead of the eagle, their collars and shoulder straps were black. It was one of the toughest cuirassier outfits in Europe. For their competence and bravery they obtained superior results and set example that inspired others to strive for glorious achievements. At Eylau officer Serguienko and private Illin captured eagle and drapeau of the II Battalion of French 24th Line. (This loss is confirmed by French sources in Andolenko. Capitaine de Castelverd states that the French unit "was completely overcome.") The cuirassiers also captured a French battery but due to the lack of horses these had to be left behind. Such was their involvement in fighting at Eylau that in the end a mere captain led them ! This regiment fought with distinction also in Heilsberg and Friedland. Vasilii Alferov was awarded with #2523 St. George Cross (Military order) For Distinction for capturing 2 guns on 24th Jan (5th Feb) 1807.
    In 1812 at Krasne they destroyed infantry column. ("Russkaia armiia 1812-1814" p 69) In April 1813 this regiment was awarded with 22 St. George trumpets for campaign of 1812.
  • Sources and Links.
    Recommended Reading.

    For bibliography see our article "The Russian Army."

    Russian Army of the Napoleonic Wars

    Russian Infantry - - - - - Russian Cavalry and Cossacks - - - - - Russian Artillery

    Russian Imperial Guard

    Battle of Heilsberg 1807
    Bennigsen vs Napoleon
    Battle of Borodino 1812
    The bloodiest battle of the Napoleonic wars
    Battle of Dresden, 1813
    Russians, Austrians and Prussians
    crushed by Napoleon
    Battle of Leipzig, 1813
    The Battle of the Nations,
    the largest conflict until World War One.
    Battle of La Rothiere 1814
    Russians under Blucher defeated Napoleon.

    Napoleon, His Army and Enemies