Saturday, November 7, 2015

"Fun with Flags" - British Napoleonic Cavalry Flag edition

    One seldom seems wargames units of British Napoleonic cavalry carrying their flags on the tabletop. Indeed, about the only article I can recall reading about British cavalry standards was in the original NEWA Courier back in the early 1970's, and I think that article dealt with the era of the American Revolutionary War. Now, granted that it is uncertain if British cavalry units carried their fl;ages with them into the field prior to 1812, and almost certainly didn't do so thereafter, but when has something like that stopped us? It certainly wouldn't stop me - I like most of my troops in full dress uniform, and just as they would carry their flags at a parade, so they do on my table. Perhaps one can blame it on the toy soldier origins of our hobby, not that I think any blame is indicated anyway.

    In any event, British cavalry units were generally provided with one flag per squadron. For the Household Cavalry regiments these were square (2 feet 5 inches, [plus a 2" fringe) Standard. For the Dragoons, swallow tailed guidons were used (2 feet 3 inches on the staff by 3 feet 5 inches maximum length). They were carried on a 9 foot long lance. The Light Dragoons had guidons that were "somewhat smaller" (2 foot 4 inches by 2 foot 10 inches on the only surviving example). For the Dragoons Guards, the King's flag was a square standard, but the other squadrons carried swallow tailed guidons - at least theoretically! The Hussars were not supposed to have standards, but as they started as Light Dragoons they probably retained their earlier flags, even if they remained at home.

    The design of these flags was much simpler than that of the infantry flags. The flag of the first squadron was the King's standard, and had a crimson ground color with the Union badge in the center(crowned Shamrock - Thistle-Rose, with "DIEU ET MON DROIT"on a scroll below);  On the King's color, the White Horse of Hanover was borne on a red "compartment " encircled by a wreath in the regiments button/lace color in corners 1 and 4, on the other corners it was  the regiment's rank in the same color (silver or gold) within a similar "compartment" of the facing color . The flags of the other squadrons were in he facing color of the regiment, and had the regiment's seniority/Title in the center on red, unless it was entitled to a specific badge . In case the facing color happened to be crimson, the other flags then had a dark blue background color. The corner badges were the the white horse on a red background for corners 1 and 4, and the union badge (Rose/Thistle/Shamrock) on a red background in corners 2 and three. If the Regiment had a distinctive badge in the center of the flag, then the regimental seniority was borne on a red compartment in corners 2 and three in place of the Union badge.

     GMB Designs is one of the few makers of flags for 28mm British Napoleonic cavalry that I know of. In order to take best advantage of breaks on shipping, I wanted to order them all together. That meant that I had to sit down and plan out my British cavalry in more detail. They came out as follows:

Horse Guards
Life Guards
14th Light Dragoons (Orange facings, white lace)
18th Hussars  (White facings and Lace, Blue barrels, sky blue bag w/ yellow cords)

4th (Queen's Own) Dragoons (Green facings, white lace and girdle)
3rd (Prince of Wales) Dragoon Guards (White facings, gold lace, yellow girdle)
2nd (Royal North British) Dragoons/Scott's Greys (Dark Blue facings, gold lace officers, white men)

13th Light Dragoons (Buff facings, yellow lace/buttons)
23rd  Light Dragoons (Crimson facings, yellow lace/buttons, white girdle, 2 blue stripes
21 Pink w/ yellow lace  or 22 pink x/ white lace, or 23/24 with grey facings (yellow and white lace respectively

10th Hussars Yellow facings, silver lace (officers grey fur caps w/ red bag)
15th Hussars  (Scarlet facings, white buttons and lace, white sash w/ crimson barrels. Brown busby, red bag, black fur)

Also, using spare Hussar and Lt Dragoon figures, a combined unit of KGL Cavalry, too. KGL cavalry flags were fairly similar to the British ones. Only the Light Dragoons had them (from their days as Dragoons earlier in the period)
3rd KGL Hussars (Yellow collar and Cuffs, white lace and cords, grey fur - black officers) Black busby, red bag
1st KGL: Light Dragoons Red Facings, white lace

Here are all four of my completed British cavalry units with their flags.

    The crimson King's Colors are fairly interchangeable aside from the seniority number of the regiment, so I'll use the spares of those for my units planned Above that GMB makes no flags for (any that didn't serve in the Peninsula or at Waterloo, basically).. Some pictures (deliberately distorted for IP protection reasons) of the particular GMB flags I ordered. This will help give the reader an idea of the variety of colors and designs used. 

Clockwise from upper left - 15th Light Dragoons, 23rd Light Dragoons, 2nd or Royal North British Dragoons (Scot's Greys), and the 3rd (Prince of Wales") Dragoon Guards.

14th Light Dragoons, 1st Lifeguards, Royal Horse Guards, 4th (Queen's Own) Dragoons.

13th Light Dragoons, 18th Light Dragoons (Hussars).

Close up of the Royal Horse Guards with their brand new GMB flags ("Standards", in this case)

Another view of the Horse Guards with their flags.

And the Life Guards

another picture showing the well known artistry of this great flag maker. 

14th Light Dragoons with their own new GMB flag; having orange facings, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th squadron's flags would look like this. 

I think the flag really makes the unit look special. 

The 18th Light Dragoons (Hussars) - with white facings, the ground of the guidons of the 2nd , 3rd, and 4th squadrons would be white - silver fringe due to white metal button color. 

Once again, the flags add to the "look" of the unit considerably. Just nine more units to paint!


  1. Flags do look terrific on your cavalry and certainly add a useful identifying emblem to help sort them out in the heat of battle.

    Nice job!

    1. Thanks, Jon. I do love flags, if perhaps not quite like the fictitious program by Sheldon Cooper that gave its name to the post title!

    2. Peter, that is an episode I missed. You are a crazy guy!

    3. Well, I did seriously consider majoring in Physics, but settled for Chemistry instead. That would seem to make me ineligible to be cast in the Big Band Theory, LOL!

    4. Well, I considered physics too but settled for math!

    5. I have always loved mathematics, and took an extra couple of semesters of it in college just because I thought it was neat! Majoring an mathematics was never a consideration, however, so my hat's of to you there, Jon! What I liked best about chemistry is its mix of the quantitative (mass, density, gas laws, melting and freezing points, physical and electrochemistry, analytical chemistry) and the qualitative (synthesis, properties of compounds, predicting chemical reactions). BOTH are necessary. Also IMHO a far better preparation for medicine than Biology - Medicine in actual practice bears very little relationship to general biology, odd as that may seem!

  2. GMB flags are looking great, no doubt...and your cavalry is beautiful!

    1. Thanks, Phil. Hard to argue about GMB flags!

  3. The flags really top them off Peter, and I'll be doing the same with my Front Rank British when I get around to them, for the same reason I bought Scots Greys in bearskins as opposed to the rather drab covered headdress. It just looks better...

    1. I agree. I primed my own version of the Greys yesterday - no covered bearskins for me, either!

  4. Replies
    1. Exactly, James; it's the only (vexi-) logical position on the matter! :-)