Sunday, October 6, 2013

Danish Army of the Napoleonic Warts, Part 7: Heavy Cavalry

Organization of the Danish Heavy Cavalry

There were four regiments of of Danish heavy Cavalry (Rytterre), plus the King's Livguard of Horse (Den Kongelige Livgarde til Hest). Each of the heavy Cavalry Regiments had 4 squadrons, each with a book strength of 160 men. The small Livguard of Horse had 2 squadrons of only 80 men each. It acted primarily as a bodyguard for the King, and saw action only during the assaults on Copenhagen in 1801 and 1807.

Uniforms of the Heavy Cavalry

The Heavy cavalry wore short red jackets in the now familiar Danish pattern, with small frontal turnbacks in light yellow. The collars, cuffs, lapels, and shoulder straps were in the facing color of the particular regiment.The buttons were white metal, and the belts were white. Pants were dark blue with a double red stripe down the outside seams, light yellow for full dress. Buff leather gloves were worn. Officers, as usual had the long jackets with full turnbacks, crimson and yellow striped sashes, and possibly gold stripes on the outside of their pants. Silver epaulets. Trumpeters had the usual wings in the facing color, with lace and tassels in white. 

Facing Color
Liv Regiment *
Light Yellow
Dark Blue
Lt Yellow
Light Green
Lt Yellow
Light Blue

* The plate on the front of the shako for the Liv regiment (1808 - 1815) was white metal, while it was brass for the other three regiments.

Shabraques were red with white border and ornamentation as for the Light Dragoons. The officer's Shabraques were crimson with the edging, etc in silver, which was then bordered on both sides by a thin stripe in the facing color.

Saddle Blanket (Shabraque) pattern for most Danish Cavalry

    From 1801 - 1807, head wear consisted of a black bicorne hat with a white plume. There were ? gold vs. red/yellow tassels at the corners of the hat, a black cockade beneath the plume, and white/silver lace on the front of the hat holding the cockade in place. There are several pictures of heavy cavalry wearing the bicorne in the NYPL collection, including this one.

    From 1808 -1815, the Heavy Cavalry changed to a modern black shako. This had a diamond shaped rectangular plate on the front bearing the letters "RR" (for Rytterre Regiment). A white plume was worn on the front of the shako. The cords were mixed red and yellow. The chin straps were black.

This illustration of the later uniform of the Ryterre Regiments is by Chr. Wuergler Hansen is one of many excellent black and white drawings  from the article in Tradition #53 on "the Assault on Stralsund, 1809, part  2, by T. Snorasson and Mr. Hansen. 

Uniforms of the King's Livguard of Horse

This rather striking uniform is extensively documented. It consisted of a light yellow short jacket of the usual Danish style, with small turnbacks on the front of the jacket as usual. The collar, cuffs, turnbacks, and shoulder straps were all red, bordered in heavy silver lace. There were 2 bands of this lace running down the middle of the front of the jacket. Long tailed coats for the officers as usual. The crossbelts were black. The pants were light yellow for full dress and palace guard duties, otherwise dark blue with a red stripe and silver buttons down the seams.  A sabretache was worn, evidently initially red with a silver monogram and border. In later years (? post 1803) the sabretache changed to black with a silver royal monogram.

The head dress was a black "Tarleton" style helmet. Evidently, early in the period the "sausage roll" down the middle may have extended lower, below the bottom edge of the helmet, but during most of the period a long black horsetail was affixed to the hack of the helmet. The cloth turban on the helmet was red with white diagonal slashes. A white plume was worn on the left side of the helmet; the tip was red for the first (liveskadronen), light blue for the second squadron.

Trumpeters and the Kettle drummer had red wings with silver lace and tassels. The trumpets were silver. The kettle drum banner was red with silver borders, and bore the national arms flanked by two club wielding savages. The cords and tassels of the kettledrums were red mixed with yellow mixed with light blue. The standards were of a special pattern covered subsequently, and the standard bearers had red bandoleers, heavily embroidered in silver. Officers initially wore silver epaulets, changed later to the button and lace patterns on the sleeves as for the Line infantry.

The saddle blankets were red with a double white border, and royal monogram (C7 for Christian the 7th until 1808, FR VI for Frederick the 6th thereafter). Silver in place of white for officers. Black horse were obtained as mounts wherever possible.

Once again, on to some pictures now!

Holstein Heavy Dragoon Regiment (Holstenske Regiment Ryttere); the helmet as shown above is incorrect. At the time when I painted these, I had no information about the head wear of the Heavy Cavalry regiments, and as the only figures available for them were those of the King's Livguard of horse, I used those with the appropriate colors. 

Medium green facings piped yellow, white metal buttons

The dark blue pants could have a double red stripe down the outside seams.

The King's Livgard of Horse (Den Kongelige Livgarde til Hest)

The color of the tips of the plumes differentiated the two squadrons. 

Dark Blue pants, with or without the red stripes down the outside seams, were worn when not in the full dress uniform.

Next up:  The Danish Artillery.



  1. Great info and great looking figures!

  2. Replies
    1. I presume you refer to the Livgarde; I agree, it is a pretty striking uniform. Presumably that is part of why it is so well documented, despite its small size!

  3. More great information and figures Peter. The shabraque is well drawn (I presume that it is one of yours), but even more impressive on the figures—a bit of a cross-over with the motif being a little bit Egyptian-looking perhaps? Top stuff!

    1. Hi James,

      Yes, the shabraque drawing is my work of some 30 years ago! :-)

      Glad you enjoyed the cavalry!

  4. These have been a wonderful group of posts. I routinely use this blog as a painting guide, (Google "Napoleonic Austrian Insurrection Uniforms" and see what is listed.)
    And although the chances are slim and none that I will paint a Danish army, it's still fun to learn.

    1. Thanks, Mike! Establishing a broad, wargamer's level uniform guide to the Napoleonic Wars without the (ab)use of copyrighted materials was one of my more ambitious goals on starting this blog, so I';m pleased you're using it that way! The Dames are indeed a bit esoteric to be sure, but kind of fun for that reason as even most Napoleonic fanatics have little knowledge of them. We have at least three more posts tro go in this series, plus probably a brief one on the Norwegians courtesy of another reader.