Saturday, February 25, 2012

Austrian Napoleonic Dragoons and Chevaulegers


The Austrian Cavalry was reorganized in 1798. After the reorganization, there were 12 regiments of Cuirassiers, 15 units of Light Dragoons (merging the Dragoons and Chevau-Legers temporarily), 12 regiments of Hussars, 2 regiments of Uhlans, and a (short lived) Mounted Jager corps (Jaeger zu Pferd) formed formed from former Freikorps units. Further reorganization took place in 1802, resulting in the splitting of the Light Dragoons back into separate regiments of six Chevaulegers (also spelled "Chevauxleger") and  six Dragoons (the 7th Chevauleger regiment was not formed until 1814, and was raised from territories regained in Italy). In 1805, theoretical organization of the cavalry units was eight squadrons in all regiments, with about 130 men per squadron in the heavy regiments (inlcuding the Dragoons), and 150 men per squadron in the light regiments (including the Chevaulegers). After the reforms of Archduke Charles that followed the 1805 Austerlitz campaign, roughly the same squadron strengths were retained, but the heavy regiments were reduced to six squadrons each. Each individual regiment was named for its Inhaber. As with the infantry, these names thus changed as the unit’s “proprietor” shifted over the years. 


These are the three Chevauleger regiments in my Austrian army; it's hard to tell, but each regkiment's facing color is actually a different shade of red!



Here are the three Dragoon regiments in my Austrian Army; once again each regiment has a different facing color, all dark shades so they don't "pop" out at you.


The pre-1798 coats were white for the Dragoons and dark green for the Chevauxlegers, while the Light Dragoon coats were to all be dark green. Needless to say, old uniforms were often allowed to wear out before they were replaced, so these changes were never fully implemented. Then in 1802, the renewed split should have resulted in a return to white coats for the Dragoons and dark green for the Dragoons. However, by 1805 an official order directed that some of the Chevauleger regiments wear dark green coats and others white, as listed below. That should at least have left the button color to distinguish the two arms, yellow for the Chevaulegers, and white for the Dragoons. However, as can be seen below, even that distinction was not consistent. In all honesty, one must wonder what on earth the Austrian authorities were thinking when they determined these things... certainly not us wargamers. How inconsiderate of them! :-)



Austrian Dragoons, 1802-1815
Number
Name
Facings
Coat
Buttons
1
Erzherzog Johan
Black
White
White
2
Furst Hohenlohe
Dark Blue
White
White
3
Baron Knesvich
Dark Red
White
White
4
Baron Levenehr
Bright Red
White
White
5
Ferdinand
Dark Green
White
White
6
Graf Riesch
Light Blue
White
White


In this close up, the dark blue facings of  Dragoon Regiment (DR) #2 are much more readily visible; it is labeled with the name of its later Inhaber, the Kronprinz von Bayern.


Here is DR #5, with its green facings. The standard is the white Leibfahne.


Finally, this is DR #1, again here bearing the name of it's later Inhaber, Rosenburg. Note the black (facing colored) lace decoration on the bandolier of the standard bearer. According to the Osprey, this should have a casing decorated with 2 lines of wavy lace in the facing color, and metallic thread in the button color, which in this case would be silver. The Cuirasier regiments definitely seemed to use these accessories, and the Dragoons probably did.  as well.


A rear view of the three Dragoon regiments; all are of course old Minifigs, painted 30 years ago. No shading, just block painting. A little detailing to bring out the (white) belting is probably in order... some day!


A final, side view of the Dragoons. The red saddle cloths with yellow/black edging were common to all Austrian Cavalry of this era. Grey trousers were often worn in place of the full dress white ones.


Austrian Chevau-Legers, 1802 - 1815
Number
Name
Facings
Coat
Buttons
1
Kaiser Franz
Dark Red
Dk Green
Yellow
2
Hohenzollern
Bright Red
Dk Green
White
3
Graf O’Reilly
Bright Red
White
Yellow
4
Baron Vincent
Dark Blue
Dk Green
Yellow
5
Klenau
Light Blue
White
Yellow
6
Furst Rosenburg
Dark Red
White
Yellow
7
Graf Nostitz*
Crimson
Dk Green
White
earlier it seems that CR #2 had dark green facings, and CR #6 black facings, while CR #4 later became dark red... just to make everything clear as mud!  
* CR #7 wasn't raised until very late in the era, as noted in the introduction above.



A somewhat blurry picture of Chevauleger Regiment (CR) #1, Kaiser Franz. Note the red crest on the helmet of the Trumpeter, common to all of the Austrian "German" cavalry (the trumpeters in the Hussars and Uhlans had red plumes). 


This is CR #4, Vincent. I have given the standard bearer, here carrying the yellow Ordinarfahne, lace decoration on his bandolier (which should perhaps be mixed with gold thread - see the discussion under the Dragoons above).  In actual fact, it is likely that, like the light cavalry of most other nations, flags were not carried in the field by the Chevaulegers. 


The final regiment is CR #7, Nostitz. I readily confess that I chose this unit for its crimson facings and green coats. To me, the idea of Austrian Chevaulegers in *white* coats is just, well... unnatural! Of course, Joe has a unit of Sash and Saber Austrian Chevaulegers (#5) in white coats with light blue facings, and I must say they look very dapper indeed!


Rear view of my three Chevauleger units, once again vintage Minifigs, no shading or finesse to the painting except the hand painted flags!. 


A final lateral view of the the regiments; you can almost see that one is faced in a bright, scarlet red, one in medium red, and one in dark crimson... maybe!  At least the horse colors make it easy to differentiate the three units!

Here is a final shot of all six units, 48 figures in all, waiting to thunder out across the Bavarian countryside at the start of the 1809 campaign on the Danube.

I hope this article has made the rather confusing subject of these two rather similar looking members of the Austrian mounted arm a bit clearer. Despite the similarities, they were generally used differently. The Chevaulegers were almost always found in the Advanced Guard Divisions of the various Army Corps, while the dragoons were often found concentrated with the Cuirassiers in the Reserve Corps. Of course, aside from the Cuirass, these didn't look all that different from the Dragoons, either... but that is a subject for another post!

The Austrian cavalry was generally highly regarded on a regimental basis, but was often employed in penny packets that prevented them from achieving their full potential on the battlefield. It was good to get back to some material on die Österreicher after all those Ruskis... although we aren't done with them yet, either. Still... go Kaiserlicks!


Peter

6 comments:

  1. Thanks very much for that post, ill be starting my Austrian cavalry soon, and your right, it is all a bit confusing, so cheers. Oh and nice troops by the way!

    Steve

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  2. Great painting and excellent info!

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Okay, okay. It was the only sure way to do a Cheveauleger unit and not mimic one of yours!

    Seriously, nice article. It took me six re readings of the information I had to make a decision on which unit had/might have had white coats. This is much more straightforward. ;-)

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  5. But they do look great - you should post a link to them, Joe!

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