A doubt about the English Dragons

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A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Belg » Thu Jul 02, 2015 8:51 am

In the texts that I could see, I read that the British Cavalry of the Napoleonic era (not considering the Guard) was formed by Dragoons, Hussars and Light Dragoons. The Dragons are classified as Heavy Cavalry, while Hussars and Light Dragoons are referred to as Light Cavalry.
The question is:
the Dragons were also operating as dismounted infantry, that is in that role typical of their specialty? Or their name was derived from the habit, but they were operating exclusively as Heavy Cavalry?
The same goes for the Light Dragoons: do they also worked as dismounted infantry, if necessary, or only as Light Cavalry, in the same way of the Hussars?
Some of you would know give me some clarification?
Thank you very much
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Sergio
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Friedrich August I. » Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:05 pm

Hi Sergio,

My five cents... :wink:

Heavy Dragoons or Light Dragoons are defined by the type of equipment they use, i.e., the Saber/Broadsword or the use of Carbine/Muskets and even by the type of Boots they wear.
But it tells almost nothing about their ability to fight on foot.

Most types of Light Cavalry was able to fight on foot doing recon or skirmisher duties or as forward observer.

I know only of the French deploying "medium" Cavalry - Dragoons - on Foot in Brigades and even Divisions...out of the lack of suitable Horses.

Hope that helps,

Günter
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Belg » Thu Jul 02, 2015 2:47 pm

Friedrich August I. wrote:Hi Sergio,

My five cents... :wink:

Heavy Dragoons or Light Dragoons are defined by the type of equipment they use, i.e., the Saber/Broadsword or the use of Carbine/Muskets and even by the type of Boots they wear.
But it tells almost nothing about their ability to fight on foot.

Most types of Light Cavalry was able to fight on foot doing recon or skirmisher duties or as forward observer.

I know only of the French deploying "medium" Cavalry - Dragoons - on Foot in Brigades and even Divisions...out of the lack of suitable Horses.

Hope that helps,

Günter
Hi Günter,
thank you, you are always very nice and helpful.
From what I read in the book by Ugo Pericoli (1815 The Armies at Waterloo) and in the Osprey book "Wellinghton's Peninsular Army", I think to understand that the Dragons were used exclusively as Heavy Cavalry, similar to the Guards.
Instead Light Dragoons could also - perhaps - fight on foot. And it seemed to understand that there were no difference between them and the Hussars, except for the uniform.
So for the English we could not put the category of "Medium Cavalry" (Dragons), but put only the Heavy and Light Cavalry, entering in both their typical Dragons, giving to the Light Dragoons the special rule that they can also fight on foot.
What do you think about it?
Best regards

Sergio
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragoons

Post by Dilly » Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:16 pm

Hi
As far as I'm aware the British government down graded their Horse to Dragoons in name only as a way of paying the men less.
I could enter into a political tirade here but will bite my tongue
Last edited by Dilly on Fri Jul 03, 2015 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragoons

Post by Belg » Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:32 am

Dilly wrote:Hi
As far as I'm aware the British government down graded there Horse to Dragoons in name only as a way of paying the men less.
I could enter into a political tirade here but will bite my tongue
Hi, Dilly,
which seems to me that it is what I have found written in the two books mentioned: they were Dragons in name only, but in fact they worked as Heavy Cavalry.

Doubt still persists for those Light (and Hussars that were derived from them, but I think just different for the uniform), that is, if the occurrence they were operating on foot.
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Cameronian » Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:53 am

The Dragoon Guards should not be forgotten, though I am led to believe that only one regiment was involved in the Hundred Days. These were regiments of horse (seven I believe) converted to dragoons for reasons of economy around 1751 but given the fancy name to lessen the blow to their pride. All would have fought as heavy cavalry.
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Belg » Fri Jul 03, 2015 1:09 pm

Cameronian wrote:The Dragoon Guards should not be forgotten, though I am led to believe that only one regiment was involved in the Hundred Days. These were regiments of horse (seven I believe) converted to dragoons for reasons of economy around 1751 but given the fancy name to lessen the blow to their pride. All would have fought as heavy cavalry.
Yes, like the other (Heavy) Dragoons.

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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Ronan the Librarian » Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:40 pm

Heavy Cavalry -
1) Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards, often collectively known as Household Cavalry. Historically, they were descended from true "horse" regiments - ie units that wore helmets and body armour in previous centuries.
2) Dragoon Guards were the former line "horse" regiments, downgraded for economy reasons, but given the title "guards" as a compensation.
3) Dragoons. From the WSS period onwards and for the whole of the "Napoleonic" period, ie 1790-1815, British cavalry with the title "Dragoon" served as heavy cavalry only. I cannot think of any instances where they served dismounted, either partially or as an entire unit, and they invariably formed part of the army reserve.

Light Cavalry -
1) Light Dragoons were the original "light cavalry" of the British Army; formed in the mid-18th Century, they were initially the equivalent of a "light company" in an infantry battalion - not least because the dragoons themselves had given up their infantry roles. By the 1760s, these troops were so often extracted from the Dragoon regiments and brigaded together (much like grenadier and light companies of the infantry) that they were later reconstructed as individual regiments.
2) Hussars - by the early 1800s, contact with the various German and Austrian forces during the French Revolutionary Wars, led a few Light Dragoon regiments to adopt Hussar style dress and other characteristics (eg moustaches).

There were a few occasions where British light cavalry acted dismounted during expeditions overseas (examples include the Egyptian campaign of 1799-1801, the attacks on Buenos Aires in 1806-07, Maida 1806, and the West Indies). In such cases, this was purely because it was too expensive and difficult to transport horses such long distances, and in sufficient numbers. There was no intention to use these units as infantry for the duration of the campaign; the army was supposed to commandeer/capture horses from the local population or the enemy, and use them.

It is possible that the KGL cavalry, like most German armies, still undertook dismounted drills as part of their training, and all cavalry were supposed to be able to protect their horses and encampment, but it is worth noting that the British Army increasingly adopted a "mixed arms" approach to advance guards, pickets, reconnaissance and the like, and light cavalry invariably operated alongside light infantry (it was not unknown for the latter to ride double behind the troopers in emergencies).

One thing to note is that French dragoons (and those of major allies, such as the Italians) were the only such cavalry to continue carrying musket-type firearms throughout the Napoleonic Wars. All other cavalry types in virtually all other armies adopted the smaller carbines - often with very short barrels - which were suited only to very short-range skirmishing, usually from horseback. In my opinion, this is a big indicator of how other nations saw the role of cavalry.
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Belg » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:32 pm

Hi, Ronan,

many thanks for your intervention, which I think is quite competent.
From what you wrote I think we can draw the conclusion that only the French and their allies would take the Dragons in the traditional role of mounted infantry, while the other armies in the napoleonic era used them as Heavy Cavalry or (those Lights) as Light Cavalry.
It remains to be seen which of the "Allies" Dragons should be considered as French ones. For example: the Prussians, Saxons, Bavarians, etc. ?

Best regords,

Sergio
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Belg » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:38 pm

Hi, Ronan,

for example, with regard to the army of Wellington at Waterloo, the Dutch and Belgian Light Dragoons as were they operating? As Mounted Infantry like the French, or as English ones (such as Light Cavalry only) ?
:?:
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Friedrich August I. » Thu Jul 09, 2015 4:54 am

Hi Sergio,

In case of the Saxons, as French Allies, they built their Army in a French style. The Formations have not been altered only bolstered to have larger units. For the mounted Troops they had already a reputation as a formidable Force recognized in Europe for their Training and Toughness.
The "Light Dragoon" Regiments or Chevaux Legers included in their training performances of Recon and Skirmish Duties but not to attack or fight in close order on foot.

Hope that helps,

Günter
Last edited by Friedrich August I. on Fri Jul 10, 2015 4:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Belg » Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:46 pm

Many thanks Günter, for clarifications about the Saxons Dragoons.
When I refer to "mounted infantry", from what I've read about the Dragoons, it is meant "Light Infantry" in skirmish operating mode, not the Infantry advancing in line formation.
The question I am trying to clarify, with regard to the British, Dutch and Belgians Light Dragoons at Waterloo (and also those of other armies of the Napoleonic era) is this: were also they used - on foot - as skirmishers?

In fact, the question seems redundant when related to the wargame, as in the Front Rank catalog - to which we refer - in the Napoleonic range there are not miniatures of Dragoons on foot, differently from what's in the WSS range instead.
However, other manufacturers of miniatures could have made them.
Have you heard that there are 28 mm miniatures of Dragoons (napoleonic period) on foot?

Sergio
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Friedrich August I. » Thu Jul 09, 2015 4:58 pm

A swift look took me to Perry

https://www.perry-miniatures.com/produc ... r9u01ouvs1

and Wargames Foundry seems to have had once dismounted Dragoons
but they are currently not available. :roll:
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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Ronan the Librarian » Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:05 pm

Sergio,

For the first decade of the 19th Century, heavy/medium cavalry (cuirassiers/horse/dragoons) in the old professional armies were still equipped with long-barrelled firearms, as in the SYW period - eg the Prussians up to 1807, Bavarian dragoons until they were converted to chevaux-legers in 1810-11, Saxon cuirassiers, Spanish horse up to 1808-09. After about 1810, almost all of them adopted much shorter firearms that could be fired from the saddle and which had much shorter ranges (some nations' heavy cavalry even gave up such weapons all together, to save money and weight). Look at any range of cavalry figures for the 1790-1808 period and you'll see what I mean (even the uniforms are quite clearly evolved from the SYW, rather than being classically Napoleonic). When the "horse" regiments of the French Republican army reverted to armoured cuirassiers, they swapped their musketoons for carbines.

It was the evolution of specialist light infantry over the latter half of the 18th Century, that increasingly made dismounted action by such cavalry redundant. As Gunter says, some light cavalry were still trained to skirmish on foot, but this was more for when they were operating alone in very small detachments in advance of the army (eg to search a village or seize a bridge), not for larger actions between several squadrons or regiments. As time progressed, the light cavalry also came to act increasingly alongside light infantry and leave massed dismounted skirmishing to them - eg the BritishKGL hussars with the famous Light Division, the mixed-arms Austrian "avante-garde" brigades, etc etc.

If you are looking at small-scale skirmish games between a half-troop of hussars on each side, then - depending on the terrain - it is possible that some or all of them might have dismounted to get at each other. However, for larger actions at brigade level and above, skirmishing would be on horseback with any dismounted stuff being left to any accompanying infantry.

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Re: A doubt about the English Dragons

Post by Belg » Fri Jul 10, 2015 8:37 am

Friedrich August I. wrote:A swift look took me to Perry

https://www.perry-miniatures.com/produc ... r9u01ouvs1

and Wargames Foundry seems to have had once dismounted Dragoons
but they are currently not available. :roll:

Many thanks for the reporting.
I checked the site of Perry: there are only these and it seems that there is not present the Command group, so it is not possible to create a Unit (Regiment) can be used in the wargame. And no other Army has them.
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