Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Russian Napoleonic Hussars

Hussars had all but vanished from the Russian army by 1784, however Czar Paul resurrected the arm, creating 8 regiments of line Hussars (Akhytrsk, Alexandria, Elizabethgrad, Isum, Mariupol, Olviopol, Pavlograd and Soum). In 1803 two more regiments were added, the White Russia and Odessa, but the Odessa was soon converted to Uhlans in 1805. The Grodno regiment was raised in late 1805, followed by the Loubny in 1807.

In 1804, the strength of the Hussar regiments were increased to 10 squadrons each, plus 2 depot squadrons. As of late 1812, theoretically a Russian Hussar regiment (NOT including the Depot troops, stats from Nafziger) consisted of : 1 Colonel, 1 Lt. Colonel, 2 Majors, 8 Rittmeisters, 2 Staff Rittmeisters, 20 2nd Lieutenants,  5 Wachtmeisters, 10 Cadets, 10 Junkers, 90 NCO'S, 1,320 Privates, 1 Trumpet Major, 20 Trumpeters, 1 Quartermaster Lieutenant,  1 Treasurer Lieutenant, 2 Military Judges, 1 Greek Orthodox Priest, 2 Altar Boys, 1 Regimental Surgeon, 2 Battalion Surgeons, 2 Battalion Field Surgeons, 1 Regimental Bonesetter, 10 Barbers, 1 Hospital Supervisor, 10 Hospital Attendants, 1 Riding Master, 1 Wagon Master, 1 Regimental Scribe, 2 Battalion Scribes, 2 Scribes, 5 Gunstock Makers, 1 Armorer, 4 Apprentice Armorer, 1 Saddlemaker, 6 Apprentice Saddlemakers, 1 Veterinarian, 10 Apprentice Veterinarians, 12 Blacksmiths, 10 Carpenters, 2 Provost, and 27 Train Drivers. Total 1,900 - obviously not all combatants! Because of their large size, Russian Hussar regiments often operated in "Battalions" of five squadrons each.

In all honesty, the Russian Napoleonic army can be a bit drab compared with some of the others, especially after 1809. The Hussars, however are a riot of color, and probably my favorite troops in the army. This is well illustrated in the following tables, which give the uniform distinctions of the individual regiments.

Russian Hussars 1805
SoumLt YellowTurqu-oiseWhiteTurqu-oiseTurquoiseWhiteWhiteWhite piped Turquoise
PavlogradDk GreenTurqu-oiseYellowTurqu-oiseDk GreenYellowTurquoiseYellow piped
Dk Green
Elizabeth-gradLt YellowLt YellowWhiteWhiteRedYellowRedYellow
MarioupolWhiteDark BlueYellowYellowWhiteYellowDark BlueYellow
BlackBlackWhiteRedBlackWhiteBlackWhite piped White
OlivopolDk GreenDk GreenWhiteDk GreenDk GreenWhiteDk GreenWhite piped White
IsoumRedDk BlueWhiteDk BlueYellowYellowDk BlueYellow piped Yellow
AkhtyrskBrownBrownYellowYellowBrownYellowBrownYellow piped Yellow
White RussiaDk BlueDk Bluemixed Red & WhiteRedDk BlueWhiteDk BlueLt Blue piped White
Odessa*Dk BlueDk BlueYellowRedDk BlueYellowDk BlueLt Blue piped Yellow
Grodno**Dk BlueDk Bluemixed Red & WhiteSky BlueDk BlueWhite?Dk BlueSky Blue piped White
For all regiments, pants were white for full dress, and grey otherwise.

# Prior to 1805 all items in black were raspberry instead
* Converted to Uhlans 1805
** Raised 1806

Russian Hussars, 1809
PavlogradDark GreenTurqu-oiseYellowTurqu-oiseDark GreenDark GreenRedDark GreenRed
ElizabethgradGreyGreyYellowGreyDark GreenDark BlueYellowDark BlueYellow
OlviopolDark GreenDark GreenYellowRedDark GreenDark GreenRedDark GreenRed
IsoumRedDark BlueWhiteDark BlueDark BlueRedWhiteDark BlueWhite
AkhtyrskBrownBrownYellowYellowDark BlueBrownYellowDark BlueYellow
White RussiaDark BlueRedWhiteLight BlueDark BlueRedWhiteDark BlueWhite
LoubnyDark BlueDark BlueWhiteYellowDark BlueDark BlueWhiteDark BlueWhite
GrodnoDark BlueDark BlueWhiteLight BlueDark BlueDark BlueWhiteDark BlueWhite
MarioupolDark BlueDark BlueYellowYellowDark BlueDark BlueYellowDark BlueYellow

* Raised 1812 from remnants of Irkhutsk Dragoons and augmented by the Duke of Saltikoff’s Hussars (volunteers), whose uniforms they retained.

According to the uniform regulations, the barrel sashes were to be in the colors of the pelisse and the braid; thus the Pavlograd regiment would have turquoise and yellow barrels. Exceptions were known, however.

First up is one of the newest units in my collection, just completed yesterday! This is the Alexandria Hussars, in their black dolman, pelisse, and pants. These highly animated figures are Old Glory (28mm). 

As usual in the Russian cavalry, the trumpeter has a red plume, as well as "wings" on the pelisse in the lace color, and is mounted on a grey (or white) horse. Contrary to regulation, I've painted their barrel sashes red and white (instead of black and white). 

The fur lining of the pelisse is white for the men, brown for NCO's, and grey for officers. This is common to all Russian hussar regiments. The officers would also have braid in the corresponding metal (silver or gold), although by 1812 they were allowed to forgo this very expensive adornment!

The next unit is the Akhtyrsk Hussars; try saying that name when you need to clear your throat! These are classic Minifigs, painted 20+ years ago, but still looking quite nice. The shabraques should really have a yellow wolves' teeth design instead of the straight edge seen here, and the portemanteau  behind the rider should be a drab grey instead of being in the same colors as the shabraque, as I painted them. 

A nice view of the very handsome uniforms of this regiment. The Russian hussars didn't carry flags, but I gave them one of standard Russian Cavalry pattern anyway!

A final view of the Ahktyrsk regiment; the cords of the shako are in the same color as the lace/braid, in this case, yellow. Once again, note the differing colors of the fur trim for troopers, NCO, and officer.

Some more vintage Minifigs; this unit is the Pavlograd Hussars. The same comments apply to the shabraque edging and the portemanteau as for the preceding regiment.

The turquoise pelisses make a striking contrast to the dark green of the rest of the uniform. This unit actually *did* carry a standard of honor, awarded to them in 1805 as a special distinction!

As the regiment has yellow braid, the shako cords should be yellow as well. The Osprey  [The Russian Army of the Napoleonic Wars (2): Cavalry 1799 - 1814. Phillip Haythornwaite and Bryan Fosten (illus)] actually shows a trooper in campaign dress 1813 with *red* cords on the shako, without commenting upon it at all.

The second of the two Hussar regiments I just finished painting, this is the Isoum regiment, once again 28mm Old Glory figures. The camera makes the blue look lighter in color than it actually is.

Another view of the Isoum Hussars; I've left the flag off the standard bearer figure (so far);   in 1812, many of the hussars were equipped with lances as well, so while while awaiting their flag we can just pretend this fellow is one such!

A final view of the Isoum regiment; the tall, narrow plumes on these OG figures are impressive, but probably rather prone to breakage!

Back to the vintage Minifigs again; this regiment is the Soum hussars, wearing perhaps my favorite uniform of the bunch. The grey pelisse and dolman accentuated by red collar and cuffs is very striking, I think.

Another view of the Soum Hussars; note the red breeches. No dull campaign wear for them!

One final view; note the red sabretaches with white decoration/Imperial monogram. Once again, allowing the unit to carry a standard is artistic license!

I hope you enjoyed these five colorful units; with the completion of the Alexandria and Isoum regiments, I have all my painting done for the partial Borodino scenario we're running at Ellis Con this weekend, Saturday November 19, in Danielson, CT. Never fear, I  still have more troops to paint for the full size version we're running at Historicon in July 2012!



  1. Nice job, Peter! Good to know the Mariopol and Soum units I am bringing Saturday will have company!

  2. I think between my Hussars, yours, and Greg's we'll have most of the regiments in the Russian Army at the battle Saturday!

  3. I great painting job!
    Best regards

  4. The Old Glory cavalry look great! Especially considering they're such a good deal.

  5. Thanks, Rafa and Dave. The OG do look espcially good (the Hussars with the various saber arm options are especially animated). Since I usually get them at 40% off, that's a little over $2 per figure - hard to beat that!

  6. Do you have miniatures with the Hessen-Kassel Hussars?

  7. No. I do have some Hessen-Darmstadt Infantry who will make an eventual appearance here. Hessen- Kasel was absorbed into the new Kingdom of Westphalia (Jerome) after the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807.

  8. Hi Peter,

    Was just going to ask you some advice on some obscure details of Russian Hussar uniforms ... when I found this old post !!

    It actually answers all my questions, and then some. Didnt know about the fur trim, so that is a bonus. Im just finishing a bunch of units now, so will make sure that the other rankers get white fur trim on the pelisse.

    With the plumes anyway - Im going white on all, red for the trumpeter, and white with orange tip for NCO's. I think some officers might have a white plume with an orange base - does that make sense ?

    Was looking for some good cav flags as well, and you have that covered in this post. Sweet ! Aiming to get all of the 1812+ Hussar regiments finished off this month.

    1. Yes, the convention for the plume colors of officers, NCO's, and musicians was the same as the infantry, and IIRC it did change a bit over time. Thus the Trumpet major, being an NCO, might have a plume in red with a white tip... or something like that, LOL. If you look at the Akhtyrsk regiment, there is an officer with a plume like that

      One of my my objectives for thee blog is to gradually develop a pretty complete and reasonably accurate uniform data base for the bulk of the Napoleonic Wars to the level most people would need to paint 25/28mm figures, using my figures as illustrations to avoid infringing on anyone's intellectual property.

      I love the Russian Hussar uniforms, BTW - along with the rest of the cavalry. The rather boring post 1810 infantry, not so much!

    2. Good stuff, thanks for that Peter.

      I (think) I have most of the Hussars covered now, or at least very happy with the way they are coming up under the paintbrush.

      Found an excellent video here from the Russian series 'military case' that looks at Russian Hussars from a Russian point of view. Some superb info on uniform details here, for any readers who are after the correct look and feel of the whole Hussar package :


    3. Great video link, Steve! Not the best English subtitles, but the minor errors/non translation of Russian terms (like "Tashka" for "Sabretache") are not a issue if you're at all familiar with the subject matter. Recommended!

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