Cavalry Tactics and Combat
during the Napoleonic Wars.

~ Part 2 ~
"With few exceptions, the Hollywood version of battle
evokes images of the every man, fighting to death
without asking any questions.
The "good guy" always win over the "bad guy".
The movies obscure the reality of battle
that would put the "heroes" label in doubt."

Pistol of French cavalry officer in 1812. 
Musée de l'Armée, France. 1. 1805: Cavalry Combat at Austerlitz
Napoleon's Guard Cavalry vs Tsar's Guard Cavalry.

2. 1807: Cavalry Combat at Friedland.
“Là une mêlée longue et sanglante a eu lieu…”

3. 1809: Cavalry Combat at Alt-Eglofsheim
French Heavy Cavalry vs Austrian Heavy Cavalry

4. 1812: Cavalry Combat at Drouia
The First French General Captured by the Russians in 1812

5. 1813: Cavalry Combat at Liebertwolkwitz
Murat's Dragoons vs Prussian Cuirassiers and Russian Hussars.

The Guard horse grenadiers mounted on their black horses
advanced from behind infantry clutching their long sabers
and shouting, "Let the ladies in St. Petersburg to cry!"
The Russian Guard cavalry was thrown back
and pursued until Krenowitz.

1805 Cavalry Combat at Austerlitz
Napoleon's Guard Cavalry vs Tsar's Guard Cavalry.

Map of Battle of Austerlitz 1805 In the midst of the battle while General Vandamme (of Soult's Corps) was ascending the Heights of Pratzen, Marshal Lannes struggled with the skilled General Petr Bagration, a conflict took place in the presence of Napoleon which gave a finishing blow to the battle.
In one last bold but fruitless attempt at relief, the Russian Guard cavalry charged up the plateau. The ensuing combat was bitter and long before Napoleon's Guard Cavalry led by Bessieres became the masters of the field. (Other maps of Battle of Austerlitz: 1 , 2 )

Marshal Bessieres. The French Guard Cavalry at Austerlitz was comamnded by Marshal Jean Baptiste Bessières, duke of Istria. As a commander of cavalry, Bessières enjoyed a reputation excelled only by very few of marshals. Promoted general of division in 1802 and marshal of France in 1804. Bessieres had courage and cool judgment and was capable of independent command. He was personally beloved to an extraordinary extent amongst his guardsmen. At Austerlitz the Guard cavalry was made of battle-hardened veterans.
- Horse Artillery (Artillerie a Cheval de la Garde Imperiale)
- - - - - - Company: Capitaine Chauveau
- - - - - - Company: Capitaine Dubuard
- - - - - - Each company had 4 8pdr cannons, 2 4pdr cannons and 2 howitzers.
- Mamelukes (Les Mamelukes)
- - - - - - Company: Capitaine Delaitre
- Regiment of Horse Grenadiers (Grenadiers-a-Cheval de la Garde Imperiale)
Commander: General de Brigade Michel Ordener. Major: Louis Lepic
Adjutants: Lahuberdière, Sabatier, Ordener Jr. and Jerzmanowski (Pole)
Chef de Escadrons: Prince Borghèse, Jolivet, Duclaux, Rossignol, Blancard, Treulle, Chamorin, and Clement
- - - I Squadron
- - - - - - 1st Company: Capitaine Maufroy
- - - - - - 5th Company: Capitaine Auzony
- - - II Squadron
- - - - - - 2nd Company: Capitaine Laroche
- - - - - - 6th Company: Capitaine Séganville
- - - III Squadron
- - - - - - 3rdCompany: Capitaine Messier
- - - - - - 7th Company: Capitaine Grandjean
- - - IV Squadron
- - - - - - 4th Company: Capitaine Holdrinet
- - - - - - 8th Company: Capitaine Diettmann
- - - V Squadron (Velites): Chef de Escadron Clement
- - - - - - 5th Company: Capitaine Durival
- - - - - - 9th Company: Capitaine Dujon
- Regiment of Horse Chasseurs (Chasseurs-a-Cheval de la Garde Imperiale)
Commander: Francois Luois Morland. Major: Nikolai Dahlmann
Adjutants: Thervay, Domengé, and Mexner
Chef de Escadron: Bourbier, Beurmann, Guyot, Bohn, Charpentier, Thiry, and Clerc
- - - I Squadron
- - - - - - 1st Company: Capitaine Thumelaire
- - - - - - 5th Company: Capitaine Geist
- - - II Squadron
- - - - - - 2nd Company: Capitaine Romieux
- - - - - - 6th Company: Capitaine Francq
- - - III Squadron
- - - - - - 3rd Company: Lieutenant Vallory
- - - - - - 7th Company: Capitaine Cavrois
- - - IV Squadron
- - - - - - 4th Company: Capitaine Daumesnil
- - - - - - 8th Company: Capitaine Martin
- - - V Squadron (Velites): Chef de Escadron Clerc
- - - - - - 5th Company (on that day formed Napoleon's escort)
- - - - - - 9th Company (on that day formed Napoleon's escort)
Bessieres took 9,5 squadron of Guard cavalry and moved against the enemy. On his flank were three infantry regiments; 27th Light, 94th and 95th Line. Each infantry regiment had 3 battalions. The infantry was supported by foot artillery. Marshal Jean Baptiste Bessières deployed his cavalry in three lines:

  • - Morland and Rapp with I and II Squadron of Chasseurs, on the right flank stood Mamelukes
  • - Dahlmann with III and IV Squadron of Chasseurs, and V Squadron (Velites) of Grenadiers led by Clement
  • - General de Brigade Ordener with I, II, III, IV Squadron of Grenadiers. Three squadrons (II, III, IV) were formed in line, side by side. One squadron (I) under Prince Borghese stood behind the right fank. Here was Bessieres.
    Bessiers was supported by single horse battery of the Guard Artillery under Dogereau. (Other sources give two batteries or 16 guns) and with 8 guns of Bernadotte's corps.

    Grand Duke Constantine. The Russian Guard was led by Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich (1779-1831). 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. After the peace of Tilsit (1807) he became an ardent admirer of Napoleon and an upholder of the Russo-French alliance.
    The Russian Guard cavalry regarded themselves as being the cream of the Russian army. They distinguished themselves with excellent horses, uniforms, weapons and social status. But they had no battle experience, Austerlitz was their first large scale battle.
    - Guard Cavalry Regiment. Other names: Chevaliers Garde (French), or Kavalergarde (German)
    On Oct 20 [Nov 1] 1805: 29 officers, 87 NCOs, 17 musicians, 633 privates, and 61 non-combatants
    Commander: General-Major Nikolai Depreradovich-II.
    - - - I Squadron: Colonel Avdulin-I
    - - - II Squadron: Colonel Titov
    - - - III Squadron: Colonel Ushakov-II
    - - - IV Squadron: Colonel Prince Repnin
    - - - V Squadron: Colonel Davydov
    - Lifeguard Horse Regiment. Other names: Garde a Cheval (French), or Garde zu Pferde (German)
    On Oct 20 [Nov 1] 1805: 38 officers, 94 NCOs, 18 musicians, 634 privates, and 113 non-combatants
    Commander: General-Major Ivan Fedorovich Yankovich.
    - - - I Squadron: Colonel Graf Adam Ozharovski-I
    - - - II Squadron: Colonel Olenin-I
    - - - III Squadron: Colonel Davydov-I
    - - - IV Squadron: Colonel Graf Ozharovski-II
    - - - V Squadron: Colonel Chicherin-II
    - Lifeguard Hussar Regiment. Other names: Garde-Hussaren (German)
    On Oct 20 [Nov 1] 1805: 27 officers, 67 NCOs, 16 musicians, 580 privates, and 69 non-combatants
    Commander: Colonel Ilia Mihailovich Duka.
    - - - I Squadron: Colonel Davydov-II
    - - - II Squadron: Rotmistr Troshchinski
    - - - III Squadron: Colonel Tutolmin
    - - - IV Squadron: Rotmistr Nasakin
    - - - V Squadron: Colonel Zagriazhski
    - Lifeguard Cossack Regiment
    Commander: Colonel Petr Chernouzubov-V.
    - - - I Squadron: Colonel Egorov-I
    - - - II Squadron: Rotmistr Birukov-I
    - Horse artillery
    In the beginning of the engagement Constantine deployed his troops as follow: in the first line stood two regiments of Guard infantry separated by 10 guns, in the second line were one regiment and one battalion of infantry. On the flanks of the second line stood Lifeguard Horse and Lifeguard Hussars.
    Constantine had only part of his cavalry on hand, under General-Lieutenant (GL) Andrei Semenovich Kologrivov. It consisted of the Lifeguard Horse and Lifeguard Hussars. The remaining troops were on their way to the battlefield.
    The Russian Guard infantry (Preobrazhenski Lifeguard Infantry, Semenovski Lifeguard Infantry, Izmailovski Lifeguard Infantry, and one battalion of Lifeguard Jagers) attacked but without much success. Several battalions of French infantry moved against the Russian Guard infantry. The French artillery directed their fire on the Guard, and their skirmishers came in force and also caused problems to Duke's infantry. Grand Duke sent the Lifeguard Hussars to engage the skirmishers (of Rivaud's and Drouet's infantry divisions) long enough to allow the infantry and artillery to retreat.

    Russian Lifeguard Horse
    Broke Two French Battalions and
    Captured One Color.

    Lifeguard Horse captured French Eagle
at Austerlitz. Picture by Mazurovski. Grand Duke unleashed his cavalry against the hard-pressing French infantry. The Lifeguard Horse attacked one battalion of the 4th Line Infantry (approx. 800 men) and broke it. Major Bigarre received 25 saber cuts. One battalion of 24th Light Infantry (600 men) decided to rescue their comrades and was also mauled by the Russians.

    Robert Goetz writes: "The routing of the 4th Line and 24th Light occurred a short distance to the east of the French headquarters, and the routed French battalions almost passed through the imperial headquarters in their flight. 'The unfortunate fellows were quite distracted with fear and could listen to nothing; in reply to our reproaches for thus deserting the field of battle and their Emperor they shouted mechanically ‘Vive l'Empereur!' while they fled faster than ever,' recalled Segur. Napoleon dismissed them with a scornful gesture, saying 'Let them go,… and then sent one of his aides-de-camp, General Rapp, to bring up the Imperial Guard Cavalry."

    On the French side then arrives Bessieres with the Guard Cavalry. Rapp mentions that the first thing he saw was the French infantry being sabered by the Russian Lifeguard Horse. Seeing French cavalry coming, GL Kologrivov ordered his cavalry to rally and meet the enemy with a carbine volley. He formed each regiment in column by squadron. By this time the French brought up horse battery and opened fire on Russian flank, killing and wounding men and horses. Russian sources mention 16 horse guns of Guard firing from left flank and 8 foot guns of Bernadotte's Corps firing from the right. At the same time Russian horse guns under Kostanetzki got stuck in vineyards and could not support their cavalry. Morland and Rapp charged, and despite (chaotic) carbine volley closed with the Russians and threw their front squadron back on the squadrons standing behind.

    French Guard Chasseurs and Mamelukes
    Broke One Russian Battalion and
    Captured Several Guns.

    General Rapp leading Mamelukes
at Austerlitz 1805. With the hussars being in full flight, Morland and Rapp came down upon the two regiments of Guard infantry. One regiment (2 battalions) was deployed in vineyards whereas the other regiment was in open plain with its 2 battalions formed in squares. Six Russian guns attached to the infantry, opened canister fire. The brave Morland was killed. Dahlmann's chasseurs joined Morland's and Rapp's men. It was saber against bayonet fight, infantryman versus man on horse.

    Robert Goetz writes: "As the French Imperial Guard cavalry advanced, Drouet's [infantry] division was also reacting to the sounds of battle on the northeastern corner of the heights. The division had already passed between Pratze and the Stare Vinohrady and was approaching the Pratzeberg when Drouet redirected his division to the northeast to meet this new threat. 'My division was ordered to join [Soult's Corps]. But during my march, the Emperor learned that the Russian reserve, composed of the Guard infantry and cavalry, had made an attack on our center, and had overthrown a brigade of infantry from Vandamme's division and strongly shaken the Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard, whose colonel was later killed. This circumstance changed the plans made by the Emperor. He directed my division to support the center. To arrive earlier at the threatened point, I crossed a marsh [probably an area on the heights where the ground had been churned into mud by the earlier fighting] and I formed my division in column by half battalions (keeping advancing all the while)."

    Skirmishers of Drouet's infantry division came and opened musket fire on the Russian guard. French artillery fired canister. The Russians suffered heavy casualties before they managed to extricate themselves.
    Rapp assumed command of Morland's chasseurs, rallied them and led against the Lifeguard Hussars. The hussars were in the process of rallying after the previous defeat and now were struck again. Three squadrons were routed immediately while two last squadrons fought for a while before falling back. Kologrivov lost control of the regiment.
    The Mameluks attacked 6 guns of Kostanetzki's Lifeguard Horse Battery that were leaving the vineyards. Prince Abamelek arrived with half squadron of Lifeguard Hussars but Kostanetzki sent them away saying that it was too small force to halt the French cavalry. (Four squadrons of Horse Grenadiers were on their way.)

    Russian Lifeguard Horse Battery
in the Battle of Austerlitz 1805. Kostanetzki, "The Russian Hercules" used his ramrod with expertise :-) The Mamelukes however managed to capture 4 of the 6 guns. Abamelek's men and two other squadrons of hussars counterattacked. The French cavalry threw them back. Meanwhile on the other flank, the Lifeguard Horse with 4 horse guns, slowly fell back. With the Russian cavalry and artillery gone, the French brought up Dogereau's Guard horse battery and opened fire on the retreating Guard infantry. Dahlmann's (?) and Rapp (?) squadrons then charged but the infantry formed squares and repulsed them. Only the Mammelukes managed to hack their way into one of the squares and broke it. Other squares renewed their retreat and crossed the Rausnitz Stream under fire from the skirmishers and horse battery.

    "Rescue the infantry !"
    - Grand Duke Constantine

    Constantine sent urgent message to the remaining Guard cavalry for assistance. Two miles before Austerlitz, five squadrons of Guard Cavalry Regiment (the popular Chevaliers) halted, cleaned their uniforms, powdered their hair and put on the newly received shabraques from St. Petersburg. They left their standards in regimental train. On their flank were 2 squadrons of Lifeguard Cossacks. When the Chevaliers were 300 paces away from Raussnitz Stream, Grand Duke met them with the cry "Rescue the infantry !"
    Three squadrons of Chevaliers immediately crossed the stream and moved up the slope, threading their way through the retreating men of the Preobrazhensk Lifeguard Infantry Regiment. Two more squadrons led by Prince Repnin followed them.

    The Lifeguard Cossacks charged and Rapp's and Dahlmann's chasseurs fell back. The Cossacks also drove off the French skirmishers. The French cavalry took refuge behind Drouet's Infantry Division (5,500 bayonets and several guns). Drouet's blue-clad infantry was ready to greet the enemy as best as they could. Depreradovich-II decided to go after the chasseurs anyway.

    The French musketry "toppled a good many
    [Chevaliers] from the saddles."

    - Christopher Duffy

    Depreradovich-II decided to go after the chasseurs. His 2 squadrons passed through the intervals between Drouet's battalions, but the musketry "toppled a good many from the saddles." (Duffy - "Austerlitz 1805" p 138)
    General Rapp Rapp (see picture) counterattacked, throwing Depreradovich's men into confusion. The Russians fled receiving again point-blank fire from infantry. Rapp and Dahlmann then went after Chernzozubov's Lifeguard Cossacks.

    Meanwhile Repnin's 2 squadrons arrived on the scene and charged Rapp's 2 squadrons of Guard chasseurs who were pursuing the Cossacks. (Repnin was joined by one platoon of I Squadron led by 17-year old Albrecht. Albrecht's troop was earlier charged with escorting the regimental train into safety and was unable to catch up with his parent squadron.)

    "... we were afraid that our comrades [Guard Chasseurs]
    were going to be cut up"

    Jean-Roch Coignet

    Horse Chasseurs of the Guard
in 1805 in the Battle of Austerlitz.
Picture by Keith Rocco, USA. Rapp's Guard chasseurs were sabared and pushed back. They were in dire straits, and as Jean-Roch Coignet put it "... we were afraid that our comrades were going to be cut up" (Jean-Roch Coignet - "Les Cohiers du Capitaine Coignet *1799-1813 Paris 1883, p 473)

    Dahlmann's 3 squadrons came to the rescue. Rapp rallied his men and joined Dahlmann. Now Repnin's 2 squadrons faced 5 French squadrons (4 chasseurs and 1 Grenadiers-Velites). For 15 minutes there was a frenzy of cuting and thrusting. One squadron of Chevaliers was surrounded by three squadrons (II and IV of Guard Chasseurs, and V Grenadiers-Velites). Olenin's 3 squadrons rushed to the rescue of Repnin's men.

    "Let the ladies in St. Petersburg to cry!"
    Charge of the Grenadiers.

    Horse Grenadiers of the Guard.
Grenadiers-a-Cheval de la Garde.
Picture by L. Rousellot, France. Ordener's 4 squadrons of Guard grenadiers advanced from behind infantry clutching their long sabers and shouting, "Let the ladies in St. Petersburg to cry!" It was Bessieres third line and reserve. The fight was sharp but short. The Russians were thrown back and pursued until Krenowitz.
    Duke's splendid young cavalry was defeated and only Repnin's squadron continued its desperate fight. Rapp received a wound and jumped off his horse, his saber was broken. Several Russians attacked him but Pierre Daumesnil with a group of guardsmen rescued him. Daumesnil was wounded. The surrounded Russians suffered heavy casualties.

    In the end of this drama 17-years old Albrecht with one NCO were one of the last who still resisted. Their horses were killed and the two stood back to back parrying the blows before the NCO was wounded and fell down. Albrecht received a saber blow from behind and a pistol shot was fired at his face but it misfired. This very young man also received a stab to his right hand at the sinews, as it forced him to let go his heavy sword. Albrecht fell on his right hand, which prevented bleeding and saved his life.
    After the battle a French marauder turned his body to take off his uniform. He thrusted with bayonet at Albrecht's thigh and the pain of a new wound brought him to senses. The marauder called for his comrades and took Albrecht to the camp where his wounds were dressed.

    Another hero was 19-years old Lieutenant Evdokin Davidov-III. The Grenadiers were enraged by his resistance and cut him seven times. After the battle he was found and taken by the French into the city of Brunn.
    When on the next day Napoleon visited the wounded at hospital he asked Davidov: "how many wounds?" "Seven, Sir" - replied the boy. "As many as signs of honor" - responded the Emperor.

    Pursuit and Casualties.

    Around 2 pm the French skirmishers again went forward, crossed the Rausnitz Stream and exchanged fire with Russian skirmishers. Several cannons on both sides opened a long-range fire. The Chevaliers, Lifeguard Cossacks, and three weak Austrian cuirassier regiments covered the retreat of the Russian Guard infantry.

    In the evening the Chevaliers set up a chain of picquets and observed the enemy. They have lost part of their regimental train, including 7.800 silver roubles. From their posts they could see in a far distance the French Emperor and his entourage. They kept eye on the enemy until Bagration's troops replaced them.
    French casualties (incl. officers):

  • Guard Chasseurs - 84
  • Guard Chasseurs - 24
  • Mameluks - 3
    Russian casualties.
    (K = killed, W = wounded, M = missing)
    Regimental histories.
    State archives.
    See: Bezvozvratnyie poteri
    nizhnih chinov rossiskoi gvardii
    v srazhenii pri Austerlitze
    154 K,M
    (incl. 13 captured non-combatants)
    84 K,W,M (excl. officers)
    Lifeguard Horse
    38 K,M
    28 K,W,M (excl. officers)
    Lifeguard Hussars
    57 K,M
    18 K,W,M (excl. officers)
    Lifeguard Cossacks
    22 K,M
    6 K,W,M (excl. officers)


    The French sources mention the capture of several standards of Russian cavalry. The given numbers vary from "all atandards", through "some standards" to one standard. For example General Laville wrote: "Rapp brought back the commander of the Chevaliers Garde and their standard for the Emperor." The problem with this claim is twofold, after the battle the Chevaliers still had all their standards and their commander. It was Repnin who was captured, one of five squadron commanders.
    Mr Bowden wrote on p 376 of his excellent book, that the Chevaliers lost one standard. In 1800 the first three squadrons of the recently formed Chevaliers had 3 standards issued to them. They were of different design than for other regiments as their flags were suspended from a crossbar and were swallow-tailed. These three old standards were taken on the 1805 campaign but before the battle at Austerlitz, Grand Duke have ordered to put them into regimental train. General Panchulitzev described this episode in detail in the regimental history of this regiment. It was not something unusual to remove the standards into safety before combat. It took place also before the battle of Friedland. (The three old standards of Chevaliers were still in 1912 in the chappel in St. Petersburg.)

    Although the number of squadrons increased from 3 to 5, the two new squadrons were still without standards. Thus at Austerlitz the regiment had 5 squadrons and 3 standards. The French concluded that the two "missing" standards must be "captured" at Austerlitz. (In 1814 the Chevaliers had 7 squadrons and received 7 new standards as award for their exploits at Fère Champenoise. These were the St. George standards similar to those received by other distinguished units.)
    According to Mr Bowden (p 372) after Fantin des Odoards on pp 72-73 in "Journal" (publ. Paris 1895) the French captured 2 standards of the Garde du Corps (Lifeguard Horse). There are however no traces of such loss in the very detailed regimental history and no official confirmation of this loss is found in Russian sources. In 1799 the 10 squadrons of Garde du Corps (Lifeguard Horse) received one white and nine raspberry standards of conventional rectangular design to replace the old ones. In 1802 this regiment was reduced to 5 squadrons and lodged five standards for which it had no use. They took the remaining five standards on campaign and shortly before the battle at Austerlitz, Grand Duke ordered to pack them into the regimental train. Thus at Austerlitz they had 5 squadrons and 5 standards. In the end of XIX century were missing 3 standards but this doesn't mean that they were lost specifically at Austerlitz or in any other battle. What happened to them before the year of 1900 is unkown to me and to all the folks I have asked. Russia went through the turmoil of Bolshevik Revolution and two world wars, ANYTHING could happen. To my knowledge they are not in France.

    The Russians have no problems to admit to the heavy casualties in this battle, and even to the loss of standards by their regiments, however they deny any loss by the the Guard cavalry. Any as such loss couldn't pass unnoticed by everyone for all the time. When in 1828 the Lifeguard Jägers lost just one standard the fact was quickly known by the entire army and it brought raging sanctions against the troop. If you find more information on this subject in libraries or on the internet please let us know.

  • ~

    The French cuirassiers and dragoons
    attacked in slow pace, in heavy and deep columns.

    1807 Cavalry Combat at Friedland
    “Là une mêlée longue et sanglante a eu lieu…”
    - General Grouchy

    Several cavalry combats took place during the battle of Friedland in June 1807. The French cavalry was represented by several divisions: Nansouty's 1st Heavy Cavalry, St.Sulpice's 2nd Heavy Cavalry, Espagne's 3rd Heavy Cavalry, Latour-Maubourg's 1st Dragoons, Grouchy's 2nd Dragoons, Milhaud's 3rd Dragoons, and Lasalle's Light Cavalry Division. The Russians had 60 squadrons near Heinrichsdorf ready for the battle. Rhey were mostly dragoons and hussars, but there were also cuirassiers (no armor) and uhlans. This strong cavalry force was supported by several horse guns.
    The first combat involved Nansouty's 1st Heavy Cavalry Division:
    French Horse Carabiniers. General Nansouty. 1st Horse Carabiniers Regiment [577 men in 4 squadrons, in April 1807]
    2nd Horse Carabiniers Regiment [559 men in 4 squadrons, in April 1807]
    2nd Cuirassiers Regiment [668 men in 4 squadrons, in April 1807]
    3rd Cuirassiers Regiment [680 men in 4 squadrons, in April 1807]
    9th Cuirassiers Regiment [739 men in 4 squadrons, in April 1807]
    12th Cuirassiers Regiment [570 men in 4 squadrons, in April 1807]
    Horse Battery [180 men in April]

    Two squadrons of French 2nd Horse Carabiniers led by Colonel Amable-Guy Blanchard advanced against Russian cavalry that were preparing for their own charge. The carabiniers struck the enemy and after 5 minutes of fight pushed the Russians back.
    Several Russian squadrons advanced against Blanchard's flank. The 2nd Cuirassiers and 3rd Dragoons however joined the carabiniers and together routed the enemy. The Russians were pursued to Allenburg and the pursuit was only halted by horse artillery. The artillery was then attacked and captured by 9th Cuirassiers led by Colonel Lamotte. The cuirassiers however had to withdraw as more Russian squadrons were coming.

    General de Division Etienne-Marie-Antoine Champion de Nansouty brought in one of the best heavy cavalry outfits of the French army, the 1st Horse Carabiniers (1er Carabiniers-a-Cheval). Approx. 2.000 Cossacks then came against Nansouty's flank. Nansouty was reinforced with 2.500 light cavalrymen (two hussar and four chasseur regiments) who swept the Cossacks from the field, chasing them as far as Lyna (Alle) River.
    More to the south, the Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde) advanced against Dutch 2nd Cuirassiers and some lovely fighting along the line developed. Both troops wore no armor and for a while the fight was stationary. The Russians lost Colonel Ozharovski-II and 52 men, while the Dutch suffered somehow heavier casualties, incl. Ltn-Col. van Langen. The Dutch couldn't take any more and fled. (In 1810 the 2nd Dutch Cuirassiers was renamed the 14e Régiment de Cuirassiers and taken into French service.)

    Dragoons vs Uhlans.
    Column of French dragoons halted
    and stood motionless like a stonewall
    waiting for the enemy.

    Captain of 4th Dragoons, 
Musee l'Armee. Not only the heavy cavalry was involved, the dragoons also had their share of fighting. The green-clad dragoons were under the command of Latour-Maubourg, Grouchy and Milhaud. Grouchy wrote that he himself led his dragoons in 15 charges (!) In short breaks between the charges the French and Russian horse artillery cannonaded the cavalry.
    General Grouchy. General Emmanuel marquis Grouchy's 2nd Dragoon Division:
    3rd Dragoon Regiment [463 men in 3 squadrons, in April 1807]
    6th Dragoon Regiment [549 men in 3 squadrons, in April 1807]
    10th Dragoon Regiment [435 men in 3 squadrons, in April 1807]
    11th Dragoon Regiment [438 men in 3 squadrons, in April 1807]
    Horse Battery [87 men, in April 1807]

    Kornet F. V. Bulgarin of Grand Duke Constantine Uhlans described what he saw on the northern flank. One squadron of uhlans under Shcheglov stood by 2 light guns that fired at French foot skirmishers. This little cannonade went for a while before a column of enemy cavalry went out of the wood. The front of this column was not too wide but its depth was unknown to the uhlans. According to Bulgarin two squadrons of uhlans and one squadron of Lifeguard Cossacks advanced against the enemy.
    They moved in column by platoons (each squadron had 4 platoons) with intervals on the distance of platoon, passed through a village, formed by squadrons and then rushed forward with loud battle cry. Shcheglov rode in the front with outstretched saber.

    The column of French dragoons halted and stood motionless like a stonewall [kak kamennaia stiena] waiting for the enemy. The dragoons from the second rank grabbed their muskets and began firing while these in the first rank drew sabers and waited. The charging uhlans first slowed down and then halted.
    The French sounded massive “En avant ! Vive l’Empereur!” and advanced forward en masse. The uhlans and Cossacks gave way before the sheer weight of the column. Their retreat was covered by flankers who opened fire on the pursuing dragoons. The column made a half turn to the right and tried to cut off the way of retreat for the uhlans and Cossacks.

    The Russians dashed rightward but here unforseen misfortune blocked their path, it was a robust wattling. The Cossacks jumped off their mounts and tried to remove this obstacle, while the rear ranks of the uhlans frantically fought with the head of the French column. The French officers fired their pistols at point blank, while some dragoons used their muskets and long swords. Bulgarin's horse was hit by two bullets to the head and fell down like an oak. Bulgarin barely escaped on foot.

    Heavy Cavalry vs Light Cavalry.
    The French cuirassiers and dragoons
    attacked in slow pace, formed in deep columns.

    Private of Grand Duke Constantine Uhlans
in 1803-1806.  Picture by Viskovatov, Russia. Russian General Lambert was ordered to scout the extreme left of the French battleline. He had three regiments: Grand Duke Constantine's Uhlans, Lifeguard Hussars (3 squadrons) and the black clad Alexandria Hussars. They passed through a wood and saw the French. The French trumpets sounded and the dragoons and cuirassiers immediately mounted their horses.
    The uhlans and hussars charged and caught the French not formed yet. The dragoons and cuirassiers turned around and fled behind a village. The pursuit however was not a long one, several fresh French squadrons counterattacked and the pursuers retreated to their own lines.

    Then took place a massive cavalry battle. According to Bulgarin, the French had 50 squadrons of cuirassiers and dragoons. Thirty five squadrons of light cavalry represented the Russian side. The French were commanded by Generals Grouchy and Espagne, the Russians were led by General Fedor Uvarov. The ground was level and good for cavalry actions.
    On the Russian side there stood in the first line the Grodno Hussars, in the second were Alexandria Hussars and Grand Duke Uhlans, in the third line were Lifeguard Cossacks and 3 squadrons of Lifeguard Hussars. The French struck the Grodno Hussars with fury, forcing Uvarov to use his reserves.

    French dragoons. Bulgarin wrote that the French tactics was different from the Russian. The cuirassiers and dragoons attacked in slow pace, formed in three deep columns. One column attacked from the front and two from the flanks. With the daylight glitting from their helmets these dark phalanxes of heavy cavalry moved against Uvarov's hussars and guardsmen.
    The Russians attacked flanks and rear of the columns. After several charges, countercharges, and mêlées Uvarov brought in horse artillery and some cavalry. The guns were deployed on the left flank and opened fire, forcing the French heavies to retreat until the outskirts of the wood.

    End of Battle. Casualties.
    Grouchy let Uvarov's cavalry leave the battlefield unmolested.
    He learned respect for the Russian cavalry.

    Grouchy was defeated by Uvarov and reported that “one cuirassier and one dragoon regiment were destroyed.” Grouchy in his “Raport de la bataille de Friedland 14 juin 1807” mentions that his forces were threatened by Cossacks from the rear and pressed from the front by regular cavalry. That his cavalry conducted many charges and the mêlées were long and bloody “Là une mêlée longue et sanglante a eu lieu…”

    The Russian cavalry suffered heavy casualties: Colonel Zagriazhski, commander of the I Squadron of Lifeguard Hussars received several saber wounds, fell down from his horse and was taken prisoner. Kornet Korostovtzev of the Grodno Hussars received 5 saber wounds and died in hospital.
    The French heavies came back, this time with more artillery and some infantry. This time Uvarov fell back without making a serious stand.
    The battle of Friedland was a great victory for the French and was decided by infantry, artillery and above all by superior tactics. However, when the Russian infantry was shreded to pieces by the French infantry and fleeing across the river, Grouchy let Uvarov's cavalry leave the battlefield unmolested. He learned respect for the Russian cavalry.


    "The scene which was about to be enacted
    under the pale light of the rising moon,
    ... was perhaps one of the most dramatic
    and awe-inspiring in modern war."
    Loraine Petre

    1809 Cavalry Combat at Alt-Eglofsheim
    There were 12,000 to 14,000 cavalry engaged.

    The Austrian troops invaded Bavaria on April 8, 1809 proclaiming a War of German Liberation. "Austria wants to get slapped; she shall have it," Napoleon said. Two weeks later, the French troops battered the Austrians, forcing them to retreat back across the border. Napoleon moved his army from the Isar and instructed Marshal Davout to occupy the Austrians but not to attack them until his own army attack the Austrian flank. When Napoleon arrived the Austrians were chased out of Buchhausen. Davout pressed toward Ober- and Unter Laichling and Sanding. The Austrian troops broke and fled north, while their cavalry attempted to slow the French pursuit.

    A massive cavalry battle took place after sunset at Alt-Eglofsheim. There were 12,000 to 14,000 cavalry engaged. This is often said that 5 French regiments faced only 2 Austrian regiments, giving ratio of 2.5 to 1. There are however several problems with this count. The 5 regiments had total of 20 squadrons, while the 2 Austrian units had total of 12 squadrons (ratio of only 1.66 to 1). Additionally both sides had troops on the flanks and in reserve. The French also enjoyed 2 to 1 advantage in artillery.

    Nansouty's division according to 
Petre's description.
Other sources give not 5 but 6 regiments
and slightly different deployment. Loraine Petre described the cavalry battle at Alt-Eglofsheim in detail. Austrian cavalry line stood in front of Alt-Eglofsheim and stretched north-eastwards beyond it. Their cuirassiers in two lines in the centre, but with a front of only one regiment, opposed to the three of Nansouty. The light cavalry were on the flanks of the cuirassiers.
    Three French regiments were deployed on a line running north-eastwards. At the distance behind them of a squadron's front, stood two more regiments of cuirassiers, the two lines together forming the French first line.
    Behind these are two columns of St. Sulpice's cuirassiers, two regiments in each of them, forming the second line. [Other sources give not 5 but 6 regiments and slightly different deployment.]
    To the right of this central mass, the Wurtemberg light cavalry is deploying, whilst, closer at hand, the Bavarian horsemen are continuing the line across the road close up to the spectator's feet.

    "Close! Cuirassiers close up!"
    At the trot still, the French line meets
    the Austrian galloping horsemen
    in a fearful crash which drives
    each front line back on its supports.

    On the left 24 French horse guns replied to the Austrian artillery [12 guns]. The Austrian cuirassiers sounded charge and drew sabers. The scene which was about to be enacted under the light of the rising moon, about 7 P.M. on this 22nd April, was one of the most dramatic and awe-inspiring in modern war.
    The two opposing lines advance. Were it not for the din of the guns, it would be possible to hear the frequent order, "Close! Cuirassiers close up!" as the heavy Norman and Flemish horses move forward at a walk. The Austrians, less fatigued than the French, are already trotting, and about to break into a charge.

    Now only 100 yards separate the opposing fronts, when the carabiniers in Nansouty's centre halt. At the same moment the cuirassiers receive the order, "Trot! March!" The halt is only for a moment whilst the carabiniers can fire a volley in the faces of the Austrians, and then, drawing their sabres, join in the line which is now trotting forward in a semicircle, with the outer regiments threatening the Austrian cuirassiers' flanks.

    French cuirassier. Officer of Austrian cuirassiers 
in parade uniform. At the trot still, the French line meets the Austrian galloping horsemen in a fearful crash which drives each front line back on its supports. Each penetrates the other, whilst the light cavalry meet on either flank.
    The shock is followed by an indescribable melée of individual combats, the Austrians generally employing the edge, the French the point of the sword; the French protected in front and back by their double cuirass, the Austrians open to attack in rear, since they have no back-piece.
    The fight could last only a few moments, for there were five French regiments of heavy cavalry against only two Austrian.
    (Petre - "Napoleon and the Archduke Charles")

    "the horrible working of l'arme blanche".
    - James Arnold

    James Arnold (quoting Pelet) gave description of the melee: "the horrible working of l'arme blanche, its sabres echoing on the helmets and the cuirasses like a hammer on an anvil, the shrill of the trumpets, the frightful cries of the combatants …. Iron clashed against iron, causing numerous sparks, which shone in the midst of the darkness. Soon the moon rose, lighting this terrible and imposing scene. The Austrian cuirassiers, protected only in front, received great losses yet all displayed the highest bravery."
    (James Arnold - "Crisis on the Danube")

    The superb Kaiser Cuirassiers [6 squadrons] entered the fray. They were supported by Stipsicz Hussars [8 squadrons] on the left. These troops halted the French. Nansouty's second line [8 squadrons] came forward. The Vincent Chevauxlégeres [8 squadrons] attempted to hit Nansouty in the flank, but two Wirtembergian regiments [6 ? squadrons] challenged them. In general melée the French take upper hand and the Austrians flee. The Austrian retreat is protected by a charge of the Ferdinand Hussars [2 sq.].

    The Austrians "had respectively 13 and 8 times more
    dead and wounded than the French."

    General Schneller was wounded as the victors pursued the Austrians towards the Ratisbon road. One author described that the Austrians "had respectively 13 and 8 times more dead and wounded than the French." The Austrian casualties were heavier not only because of their half-armor vs full French armor. There were also troops on both sides without any armor (hussars, chevaulegeres, jagers zu pferde, light dragoons, Wirtembergians, Bavarians etc.) The Austrians however, and not the French, were the ones fleeing. This is known that in cavalry combat the heaviest casualties are inflicted during pursuit.

    Miscellaneous .

    Austrians at Alt-Eglofsheim.
    to v.Bismarck
    Brigade - Schneller
    6. Gottesheim Cuirassiers
    1. Kaiser (Emperor) Cuirassiers
    These troops did the fighting.
    Brigade - Lederer
    4. Fedinand Cuirassiers
    8. Hohenzollern Cuirassiers
    They only spectated the battle
    and joined the rout.
    Brigade - Clary
    Levenehr Dragoons
    Wuertemberg Dragoons
    Some sources (v. Bismarck) give these troops
    instead of Lederer's Cuirassier Brigade
    other troops
    Ferdinand Hussars
    Stipsich Hussars
    Vincent Chevauxlegeres
    horse artillery
    12 guns
    1 battalion
    - hussars and chevauxlegers were on the flanks
    - artillery supported the first line
    - grenadiers were in the village
    [The hussars and chevauxlegeres were tired
    from the day's fight near Bettelberg with
    the Bavarian cavalry and Saint-Sulpice's

    French at Alt-Eglofsheim.
    Division - GdD Nansouty
    1st Horse Carabiniers
    2nd Horse Carabiniers
    2nd Cuirassiers
    3rd Cuirassiers
    9th Cuirassiers
    12th Cuirassiers
    horse battery
    6 guns
    In front were 12 squadrons
    having 8 squadrons behind
    [the heavy cavalrymen were wearied
    by the long approach march - they had
    marched and fought for approx. 30 miles]
    Division - GdD St.Sulpice
    1st Cuirassiers
    5th Cuirassiers
    10th Cuirassiers
    11th Cuirassiers
    horse battery
    6 guns
    This division was formed in two columns
    of two regiments each. They didn't take
    part in the action with Austian
    Other Troops
    14th Chasseurs a Cheval
    [Bavarian] 2nd Dragoons
    [Bavarian] 1st Chevauxlegeres
    [Bavarian] 4th Chevauxlegeres
    [Wirtembergian] Jager zu Pferde Konig
    [Wirtembergian] Herzog Louis
    [Baden] Light Dragoons
    horse artillery
    12 guns
    and in the rear
    VII [Bavarian] Army Corps

    Gudin's Infantry Division

    Morand's Infantry Division

    The Bavarians arrived at 9 PM
    Gudin arrived at 8:30 PM
    Morand arrived at 10 PM
    (to Rochusberg, south of Alt Eglofsheim)
    The cavalry battle began before 7 PM


    Kornet Glebov of the Grodno hussars
    got General St. Geniez off his horse
    and delivered to Kulniev.

    Cavalry Combat at Drouia 1812
    St. Geniez was the first French general
    captured by the Russians in 1812.

    The combat at Drouia took place in the beginning of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. Russian light troops under Kulniev surprised and defeated French and Poles led by General de Brigade St. Geniez (Saint-Genies). Jozef Zaluski described in detail the situation before the battle: "...there was an island in the Dvina which could facilitate any attack from that quarter. It was a spot which called for great vigilance. I was afraid the French cavalry's advance guard, made up of two chasseur regiments under General St-Geniez - who also commanded the Uminski [Hussar] Regiment - might be attacked on this side.
    General Sebastiani Next day I left, feeling dissatisfied - a feeling which grew considerably when, arriving at Sebastiani's headquarters, I found him clad only in his shirt, resting on a camp-bed in the middle of a room in an inn, under a tent of green cloth, rubbing his shins ! Stupefied at his sight, I began to fear seriously for his advance guards, and for him personally."

    When Sebastiani asked Zaluski what he's seen, he mentions Wittgenstein's troops. "At this name he [Sebastiani] exclaimed: 'Wittgenstein's bungler who doesn't know his job !' More and more I began to fear such vain self-assurance would be punished."

    Britten-Austin described what happened next: "At lunch Zaluski is no less impressed by his host's table silver than by his knowledge of Polish affairs. Sent back to Murat with an account of the state of affairs at Drouia, he's received by the King of Naples, who in a long tete-a-tete, extols the Polish ladies' charms, saying he's bored with the throne of Naples and would much prefer to command 100,000 Polish cavalrymen. Finally Zaluski, 'enchanted to have discovered a candidate for the Polish crown, but absolutely sceptical about the pretender's political worth,' withdraws.
    Kulniev and Grodno Hussars in 1812. And next day, sure enough, comes "the nastiest news - viz. that the Russian general Kulniev had crossed the Dwina with 5,000 cavalry and infantry, and having thrown a bridge over the island without being seen, had fallen on Uminski's advance guard, crushed it, rounded on St.Geniez's brigade and taken it prisoner - a defeat the more painful for its being our first, and for a French general being captured in it." (Britten-Austin - "1812 The March on Moscow" pp 105-106)

    Baron de Marbot described the combat from the French point of view: "... the corps commanded by Ney, as well as the immense body of cavalry commanded by Murat, were proceeding up the left bank of the Dvina towards Polotsk, while Wittgenstein's Russian army followed the same route on the right bank.
    Being separated from the enemy by the river, our troops grew careless, and pitched their bivouacs in the French manner, much too close to its bank. Wittgenstein had noticed this and he allowed the bulk of the French force to draw ahead. The last unit in the line of march was Sebastiani's division, which had as its rear-guard the brigade commanded by General St. Geniez (St.Genies), who had served as an officer in the army of Egypt, and who, although courageous, was not very bright.
    Drouia in 2005 When he had reached a some way beyond the little town of Drouia, General St.Geniez, on the orders of Sebastiani, put his troops into bivouac some 200 paces from the river, which was believed to be uncrossable without boats. Wittgenstein, however, knew of a ford, and during the night he made use of it to send across the river a division of cavalry, which fell on the French troops and captured almost the entire brigade, including General St.Geniez. This forced Sebastiani to hurry upstream with the rest of his division to make contact with the Corps commanded by Montbrun. After this swift raid, Wittgenstein recalled his troops and continued his march up the Dvina. The affair did Sebastiani's reputation a great deal of harm and drew down on his head the reproaches of the Emperor."

    French chasseur GdB St. Gèniez's Light Cavalry Brigade:
    - 11th Chasseurs-a-Cheval (4 squadrons)
    The 11th Chasseurs was a solid regiment, it won three battle honours before 1812; Jemmapes, Austerlitz, and Wagram.
    - 12th Chasseurs-a-Cheval (4 squadrons)
    According to Francois Lo Presti of the 12th Chasseurs-a-Cheval had two very strong squadrons in Russia: "The I (under De Livremont) and the III (under Montaglas) Squadron of the 12th Regiment (596 men) were present in Russia in 1812 led by Colonel Ghigny. They were part of the 7th Brigade, commanded by General Saint-Geniès." In 1815 at Waterloo Ghigny commanded Dutch-Belgian cavalry brigade.]
    - There was also Polish 10th Hussar Regiment commanded by Colonel Uminski. They were nicknamed 'Golden Hussars' and were also a solid unit. Colonel Uminski distinguished himself in 1813 in the Saxon Campaign.

    General Yakov Petrovich Kulniev's force:
    - Grodno Hussar Regiment (8 squadrons)
    - Cossack regiment (5 sotnia)

    Cossacks in 1812 The combat at Drouia began with the Cossacks chasing the French outposts toward the village of Onikshty where stood Polish 10th Hussars and French 11th Chasseurs.
    Four squadrons (of the eight) of the Grodno Hussars charged and broke the chasseurs. The French fled toward the village of Litichki. There in a ravine the French rallied, while their officers formed the four squadrons into four columns. The hussars charged and again broke them. The French fled in “great disorder” to the village of Yaga (Jaga). There they rallied again, some dismounted, grabbed their carbines and formed a skirmish line.
    The Cossacks began harrasing them until the remaining four squadrons of the Grodno hussars arrived. [Russian squadrons were smaller than French ones.]

    Kulniev formed the hussars in two lines, four squadrons of the I Battalion in the first line, and four squadrons of the II Battalion were in the second. The Cossacks were placed on the flanks. The entire force was screened with horse skirmishers. (See map -->)
    Note: I am not really sure about the French deployment. Was it as on the map ? Or rather each regiment formed in column by squadrons ?

    Kulniev charged and the French and Poles withdrew to the safety of the wood. During the hasty withdrawal, which after a short melee turned into flight, the French and Poles lost 150 as prisoners, including St. Gèniez.
    Kornet Glebov of the Grodno Hussars got St. Geniez off his horse and delivered to Kulniev. The French and Poles fled, being pursued for 15 verst. This time the pursuit continued as far as the village of Chernievo.
    Ltn. Tascher of 12th Chasseurs wrote that the 10th Hussars and 11th Chasseurs lost 200 men. (Tascher - "Journal de Campagne d'un cousin de l'imperatrice" Paris 1933, pp 299-300)
    Kulniev reported having captured GdB St. Geniez, officers Matte (Motte?), Los, Tolle and 139 other ranks, of which 82 were wounded. The POWs were sent to General Wittgenstein's headquarters. On the battlefield were left more than 100 wounded enemies. The Grodno hussars suffered only 54 killed and wounded. The Grodno Hussars and the Cossacks lost 12 killed and 63 wounded in the three attacks. Kulniev with hussars crossed the river back on the right bank, while the Cossacks were left to keep eye on Sebastiani's force.

    Napoleon learned about this defeat when he left Vilno (Vilnius) for Glubokoie.

    The capture of St. Geniez made Kulniev name known in Russia. St. Geniez was the first French general captured in 1812 and was sent to Moscow where the populace watched him as a sensation. The governor of Moscow, Rostopchin, wrote to Balashov that St. Geniez was threatened with beating by the civilians. As a result St.Geniez asked for a small house with a garden in a safe location.

    Charge of Russian hussars in 1812, by Parhaiev PS.
    It was not the last deafeat for Sebastiani "... on 8 August some unexpected news comes in. In pouring rain - the weather has suddenly broken - 10.000 Russian cavalry and Cossacks, supported by 12 guns, have flung themselves on Sebastiani's advance guard at Inkovo, and - for the second time in the campaign - routed it." (Britten-Austin - "1812 The March on Moscow")
    Chandler writes: "Inkovo, battle of 8 August 1812. As the French Grande Armee advanced on Smolensk, General Sebastiani at the head of 3,000 horsemen of the II Cavalry Corps, engaged in a sharp action with Count Platov's Cossacks, perhaps 7,000 strong. The French came off rather the worse in the fighting, losing several hundred casualties." (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars" p 211)


    "The fight was so intense that often the exhausted men and horses
    rested close to one another before starting to fight again."
    Digby-Smith after Seyfert, - p 49

    Cavalry Battle at Liebertwolkwitz, 1813
    "The mass of riders, with the sun glancing from their weapons and helmets,
    formed one, huge, endless column which crushed all before it ... "
    - Russian ADC Molostof

    On October 14th 1813 at Libertwolkwitz was fought a great cavalry battle. Digby-Smith writes: "On the evening of 13 Oct, Murat aimed to withdraw northwards over the Parthe and to stand between Leipzig and Taucha. ... Napoleon sent an aide, Mjr Baron Gourgaud, to stop him. ... Murat then turned back and took post on the slight but dominant heights between Mark-kleeberg and Liebertwolkwitz. ... "
    During the mighty cavalry battle, the French and Austrian infantry fought for Liebertwolkwitz.

    Prussian Cuirassiers.
    "The sight of the enemy cavalry had brought
    the regiment to boiling point." - von Gaffron

    Prussian cuirassiers in 1813.
Picture by Knotel. Ernst Maximilian Hermann von Gaffron of the Prussian Silesian Cuirassiers describes the first movements and charges: "In order to gain the gentle heights of Wachau and Liebertwolkwitz, we had to pass through the defile of the pretty village of Crobern, which lay in a shallow valley. This we did at a fast trot, with our carbines at the ready. ...
    Once through the village, we at once went into a gallop, first in troops, then on a regimental frontage. ...
    A dark mass stood against us ... soon I saw the flashing of helmets and swords as they closed with us. The signal 'Gallop' sounded, and now I could see the enemy squadron clearly.
    The regiment was going at such a pace that even before the commanded 'March, march' came, a thunderous cheer broke from our ranks. ... The French dragoons, whose moustachioed faces I could now clearly see, stopped, suddenly turned, and withdrew in good formation. We soon caught up with them as they were only about 20 paces before us. The sight of the enemy cavalry had brought the regiment to boiling point. ..."

    "Finally, we managed to break into their ranks ..."
    "The [Russian] Grodno Hussars were, as usual,
    brilliant in this combat." - von Gaffron

    Russian Grodno Hussars in 1812. Von Gaffron continues: "The enemy dragoons were from Milhaud's first line. As far as I remember, the Grodno Hussars were first through the Crobern defile, then our regiment ... The Grodno Hussars were, as usual, brilliant in this combat. The other regiments followed us as quickly as they could clear the defile. ... There was no order in the ranks anymore, everyone rode like a wind. ...
    The French dragoons retired before us, initially at a trot, then at a gallop, in good formation. We often heard the officers calling: 'close ranks !' and in fact, they rode so closely together that at first we could not break their ranks, but stayed close on their heels and hacked at them as best we could.
    The horse-tail manes of their helmets ... and the rolled greatcoats, which they wore over their shoulders, protected them so well that they were pretty impervious to cuts, and our Silesians were not trained to thrust nor were our broad-bladed swords long enough to reach them.
    ... Finally, we managed to break into their ranks and they burst apart. As our regiment was now out of order, the combat developed into a series of small, fighting groups ... We chased them, and fought with, the enemy for a long while; we threw his first line back onto the second, and his second onto his third. Suddenly, the enemy's ranks broke apart in front of us; a horse battery had become jammed in the mess of the dragoons and was soon surrounded by our men. We cut down the gunners and the drivers, or forced the latter to turn the guns around."

    French Counterattack.
    "large groups of French cavalry appeared
    and came at us." - von Gaffron

    French dragoons. The French however were not finished yet. Gaffron writes: "... when suddenly I heard: En avant, dragons, a bas ces foutous Prussiens ! coming from all sides ! I then realised that I and about 20-50 cuirassiers in the captured battery were surrounded by hostile dragoons. A colonel of the enemy dragoons, a tall, handsome man on a large, English thoroughbred light chestnut, decked out in the finest equipment, called his dragoons tegether and charged us.
    The captured guns were abandoned; our small group of cuirassiers would have to cut their way out. ... Some cuirassiers were behind me; I heard one cry 'Jesus Maria !' as one of them was cut down. ... A closed line of cavalry was approaching me from the right. I took them for Prussians and rode towards them; then I saw that they were wearing bearskins so I turned off to the right. (Men of the elite company in French dragoon regiment wore bearskins.)
    After a short while, I met a troop of cuirassiers who had gathered themselves around Ltn von Poser, commander of the escort to the standard. Here the remnants of the regiment gathered .... We didn't have much of a rest; large groups of French cavalry appeared and came at us. We charged against them, but didn't stand much of a chance against their superior numbers, until suddenly the Neumark Dragoons hit the enemy in the flank. We now joined up with our dragoons and charged the enemy and threw them back into a deep, sunken lane where many men and horses fell and filled the ditch. We now reformed line and stood at the ready. A heavy artillery duel now began."

    Cavalry Battle.
    "The fight was hectic, bitter." - Dr Seyfert

    Dr Seyfert, the vicar of Taucha, recounts the ensuing combats as follows: 'Pahlen had expected to snatch an early victory but was overthrown; the Izum and Grodno Hussars were driven off in confusion. ... In the Allied centre ... was the Soumy Hussars and a Russian horse battery. This battery fired on the French cavalry: two of the enemy regiments charged the battery, which only managed to limber up and escape in time. The Soumy Hussars counter-attacked but were outnumbered and had to flee into Gulden-Gossa. At this point, the Prussian Neumark Dragoons arrived ... and charged forward together with the Russians. The fight was hectic, bitter."
    General Pahlen. Edouard von Lowenstern (of Russian hussars) writes: "Graf Pahlen was always at the head of his regiments, between the cavalry lines of the enemy and his own side. He led the charges himself and directed the reserves.
    He was always in the thick of the fight, where it was most critical, with only a light riding whip in his hand; giving orders calmly. If I had been an enthusiastic admirer of his in the past, I now had to honour and admire him even more. ... Murat had commanded the enemy cavalry and had made much use of Pajol's dragoons, which had only come back from Spain in the summer ... "

    Murat's Offensive.
    "5,000 [French] cavalry advanced
    in an apparently invincible mass. "
    - Dr Seyfert

    French Marshal Murat.
Commander of Napoleon's cavalry. Dr Seyfert continues: "Murat now threw in Milhaud's dragoons with L'Heritier's and Subervie's men in second and third lines. Approx. 5,000 cavalry advanced in an apparently invincible mass. ... At this critical point, General Roder came up with the Brandenbourg and Silesian Cuirassiers, the heavy French phalanx was hit in right flank. Due to their close formation, most of the French troopers could not use their weapons and the whole mass was pushed back to Wachau.
    There, however, the three Prussian cuirassier regiments were confronted by French infantry and surrounded by the enemy's hussars, and chasseurs. There was no plan, the regiments were thrown into the melee as they came up. It was chaos, friend and foe mixed together. The fight was so intense that often the exhausted men and horses rested close to one another before starting to fight again.
    Gradually, after a hard fight, the [Prussian] cuirassiers were beaten back and were taken up by the Neumark Dragoons. Murat was in the thick of it. ... he came very close to being captured." Von Gaffron: "Murat was at the point of being captued in one of the melees. It is not certain if it was Ltn von Lippe of the Neumark Dragoons or Mjr von Bredow of the Brandenburg Cuirassiers who challenged Murat to surrender. ... [He] came up on the left side of Murat and shouted: 'Surrender, king !" At this moment, the king's Master of Horse, who reported the incident, stabbed the brave officer in the side with a stiletto and killed him."

    Murat's Second Offensive.
    "Like a great, shining snake, the massive column
    of [French] horsemen burst out of the smoke
    and bore down on the Allies."

    "At 2 PM Murat concentrated his cavalry for another assault. Milhaud's Spanish veterans were again at the head of the column. L'Heritier's dragoons behind them, then Subervie and then Berkheim. The assault went due south. Like a great, shining snake, the massive column of horsemen burst out of the smoke and bore down on the Allies. As the Russian ADC Molostof said: 'All shrank back from this glistering vision which embodied for us the magic that surrounded Napoleon's brows. The mass of riders, with the sun glancing from their weapons and helmets, formed one, huge, endless column which crushed all before it and hit the Prussians particularly hard.'
    But the fire of the four Russian and Prussian horse batteries ... hit the front and right flank of the column and ripped its head apart. stopping it in its tracks. Seizing the opportunity, the Russian hussars, with the Prussian uhlans and cuirassiers, charged into the disorganized front ranks.
    At the same time, Desfours led the fresh Austrian Emperor Cuirassiers and O'Reilly Chevauxlegeres into the melee. They advanced and ploughed into the left flank of the closely-packed enemy column. This completed the confusion of Milhaud's division and threw them back onto L'Herithier's men. In a few minutes Murat's great column burst apart in all directions in panic and fled the field. They could only be rallied at Probstheida, some 4 km to the north. It was about 4 PM. ... In some ways it was a foretaste of the needless sacrifice of the French cavalry at Waterloo in 1815."

    Sources and Links.
    Recommended Reading.

    Britten-Austin - "1812: The March on Moscow"
    Scotty Bowden - "Napoleon's Grande Armee of 1813"
    George Nafziger - "Napoleon at Leipzig".
    Loraine Petre - "Napoleon and the Archduke Charles"
    James Arnold - "Crisis on the Danube"
    Digby-Smith - "1813: Leipzig"
    Flags from

    Cavalry: Its History and Tactics.
    History of Cavalry.
    US Cavalry Association.
    Saber or sabre.
    Joachim Murat "The First Saber of Europe" - commander of Napoleon's cavalry
    Antoine-Charles-Louis de Lasalle - commander of "Brigade Infernale"
    Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz - one of the greatest cavalry generals
    Casimir Pulaski "Father of the American Cavalry"

    French cavalry ~ Polish cavalry

    Russian cavalry ~ Prussian cavalry ~ Austrian cavalry

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

    Napoleon, His Army and Enemies