“King George Commands And We Obey”: My SYW British Army (Part 3: Cavalry)

In my last post I discussed the controversy surrounding the actions (or rather, the lack of) of the British-Hanoverian cavalry at the Battle of Minden in 1759, the subsequent sacking of Lord Sackville and his replacement with the Marquess of Granby, who restored the reputation of the British cavalry with his astonishing charge at the Battle of Warburg in 1760.  This time I’m looking at the cavalry regiments themselves.

As previously discussed, I’m using the order of battle for the Battle of Minden as a ‘to do’ list for my collecting and painting.  At Minden the cavalry regiments of the Allied Right Wing were commanded by Lieutenant General Lord George Sackville, who also took personal command of the First Line.  This formation consisted of Colonel Carl von Breydenbach’s Hanoverian Brigade, comprising the Garde du Corps (1 Sqn), Grenadiers à Cheval (1 Sqn) & Breydenbach Dragoons (4 Sqns) and Colonel John Mostyn’s British Brigade, which contained the Royal Horse Guards (3 Sqns), 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards (3 Sqns) and 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons (2 Sqns).

Lieutenant General John Manners, Marquess of Granby commanded the Second Line, which consisted of Colonel Granville Elliot’s British Brigade, comprising the 3rd (Howard’s) Dragoon Guards (2 Sqns), 10th (Mordaunt’s) Dragoons (2 Sqns), 2nd (Royal North British) Dragoons (2 Sqns) and Colonel von Bock’s Hanoverian Brigade, with the Bremer Horse (2 Sqns) and Veltheim Horse (2 Sqns).

After Minden the British contingent was expanded to more than double its initial strength, with the 3rd Horse (Carabiniers), 4th (‘Black’) Horse, 2nd (Queen’s) Dragoon Guards, 1st (Royal) Dragoons, 7th (Queen’s Own) Dragoons, 11th (Ancram’s) Dragoons and 15th (Elliot’s) Light Dragoons all being added to the order of battle.  These regiments each had just two squadrons excepting the 15th Light Dragoons, who had three squadrons.

As with the French cavalry, such tiny regiments aren’t really strong enough to be a ‘unit’ in Tricorn.  In my French army, a cavalry unit therefore usually represents a brigade of three two-squadron regiments (three four-figure bases, each representing a regiment), as the strength of a two-squadron French regiment on campaign was typically only around 240 men.  British two-squadron regiments were significantly stronger on campaign and averaged around 350-400 men, as did the Hanoverian and Hessian regiments of Reitere (Horse).   British Dragoon and Dragoon Guards regiments were also supplemented from December 1755 with a Light Dragoon Troop (also often described as a ‘Company’), the strength of which ranged from 71 to 120 men.  However, these could sometimes be deployed to different theatres of war from their parent regiment.

Consequently, I model these two-squadron regiments as a six-figure base and combine two such regiments together to make a unit.  The three-squadron regiments such as the Royal Horse Guards, 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards and 15th Light Dragoons had enough men to warrant being a ‘unit’ in their own right, so I do those as a single group of twelve figures.

Others may well have their own ideas, but that’s how I do it. 🙂

Above:  The 2nd (Royal North British) Dragoons, popularly known as the ‘Scots Greys’ were one of the most distinctive cavalry regiments in the British Army.  To start with, they were famously mounted on grey horses, which in other regiments were the sole preserve of trumpeters and drummers.  Secondly, they were the only regiment among the cavalry of the line (i.e. the Regiments of Horse, Dragoon Guards, Dragoons and Light Horse) to wear grenadier-style mitre-caps.  The two troops of Horse Grenadier Guards also wore mitres, but they were never deployed outside the UK during the Seven Years War.

The Scots Greys were also the first British regiment to whiten their leather equipment (belts and cartridge pouch).  It has been suggested that other regiments may have done so during the Seven Years War, but none have been positively identified.  By contrast, David Morier painted a dragoon of the Scots Greys wearing his white equipment in this painting from the late 1740s.

Above:  These figures, as with all my British, Hanoverian and French cavalry thus far, are by Eureka Miniatures.  However, Eureka don’t do specific Scots Greys figures and these figures are therefore the closest match, namely Horse Grenadiers.  As such, they have the double cross-belts of the Heavy Horse, rather than the single buckled cross-belt of the Dragoons.  They also lack the dragoon-style aiguillette on the right shoulder.

This seems a curious choice on Eureka’s part.  As I’ve already mentioned above, the Horse Grenadier Guards didn’t fight during the Seven Years War, though they did fight during the War of Austrian Succession.  There was a single squadron of Hanoverian Horse Grenadiers and each Hanoverian Dragoon Regiment included a Horse Grenadier Company, but those units had the same uniform features as the Scots Greys (dragoon-style belts and aiguillettes).  Ah well, they’re nicely modelled; I can happily ignore the extra belt and I can paint on the aiguillette!

Above:  The Scots Greys had blue facings, small-clothes and horse-furniture, with white ‘metal’ (i.e. buttons and lace) and yellow lace edging to the horse furniture, with a central blue stripe.  Drummers wore a shorter version of the mitre-cap with a loose ‘bag’ and wore Royal Livery.  The Light Dragoon Troop wore the same uniform with a shorter version of the mitre cap, though I haven’t modelled these, as they were detached on coastal raiding duties around the French coast.

For the flag, I’ve gone with a blue Regimental Guidon by Maverick Models.  All Dragoon and Light Dragoon Regiments had swallow-tailed guidons; the 1st Squadron would carry the King’s Guidon which was coloured crimson for all regiments.  The other squadrons would each carry a Regimental Guidon which matched the regimental facing colour.

Above:  The 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons were another two-squadron regiment.  They had yellow facings and small-clothes (the small-clothes of British cavalry regiments always matched the facing colour) with white ‘metal’ (i.e. the colour of buttons, buttonhole-lace, aiguillette and hat-lace; silver or gold for officers and white or yellow for other ranks).  Horse-furniture was also yellow and was edged with white lace with a blue central stripe. The shabraque was decorated with a wreathed blue patch, embroidered with the Inniskilling ‘ancient badge’ of a white, three-turreted castle.  Most other regiments had a red patch with the regimental title in white Roman numerals (e.g. ‘X D’ for the 10th Dragoons).  Note however, that this regiment had pointed shabraques, but there’s no way to modify the models, as the shabraques are moulded to the horses.

Leather equipment was buff.  Cloaks were always rolled behind the saddle with the facing-coloured lining outermost, though the red showed at the ends, like the jam in a Swiss Roll, as can clearly be seen in the Morier painting on the right.

I’ve got no information on where the Inniskilling Dragoons’ Light Dragoon Troop served during the war and they may well have been deployed with the regiment.  However, I haven’t modelled any regimental Light Dragoon Troops, as the Eureka Light Dragoon figures are all modelled charging ‘balls-out’ and would look rather strange when based next to these fellas in their standing/walking poses.  I will do some Light Dragoons when I get around to painting the 15th (Elliott’s) Regiment of Light Horse.  Light Dragoon Troops usually wore a black leather cap, with a semi-circular, red flap turned up at the front, decorated rather like a grenadier cap.  The bowl of the cap then usually had a brass crest and was often decorated with a coloured cloth turban, a red horsehair mane and sometimes a short feather plume.

Above:  Regiments of Dragoons and Dragoon Guards during this period always had drummers, not trumpeters, though Dragoon Guards also had oboists and kettle-drummers.  Regiments of Light Horse had drummers and hunting-hornists, while Regiments of Horse had trumpeters and kettle-drummers.  Musicians usually rode grey horses and wore very heavily-laced ‘livery coats’ that were normally in the facing colour (as here), though Royal Regiments wore Royal Livery.  Drummers wore a short mitre-cap much like those of the infantry drummers, but with a tasseled bag hanging at the rear.

I’ve given the Inniskillings a yellow Regimental Guidon, again by Maverick Models.  The fringed edge was of mixed silver and blue cords (the blue matching the central stripe of the shabraque lace).

Above:  The 10th Dragoons (Mordaunt’s) were another two-squadron regiment.  They had a uniform very similar to that of the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons above, with yellow facings, yellow horse-furniture and white ‘metal’.  However, they had a slightly different arrangement and grouping of lace on the breast, sleeves and tails and the central stripe of the lace edging was green.  This time the shabraque was decorated with the more usual red patch with ‘X’ over ‘D’ in white, indicating the 10th Regiment of Dragoons.

Again, I’ve no information as to what the regiment’s Light Dragoon Troop did during the war, but they are known to have worn brass helmets.

Above:  For the 10th Dragoons I’ve again gone for a yellow Regimental Guidon (by Maverick Models), rather than the crimson King’s Guidon.  Note that the fringed edge was of mixed silver and green cords, again reflecting the central stripe colour of the lace edging.

Above:  The 3rd Dragoon Guards (Howard’s) again had only two squadrons totaling 387 men, so only six figures.  The three regiments of Dragoon Guards had been formed in 1747 from the former 2nd, 3rd & 4th Regiments of Horse.  This was done an economy measure, as Troopers of Horse were paid far more than Dragoons, yet as the Dragoons got heavier and heavier, their battlefield role had merged to the point where they were almost completely interchangeable.  Although they were now paid as Dragoons, the title ‘Dragoon Guards’ was introduced in order to maintain the order of seniority and to preserve a little esprit de corps in the re-titled regiments.  However, a fly was thrown into the ointment by the Irish Establishment, who refused to allow the conversion of the Irish 5th to 8th Regiments of Horse.  The 5th to 8th Regiments of Horse were therefore re-numbered 1st to 4th, but remained junior to the Dragoon Guards.  The former 1st (Royal) Regiment of Horse (‘The Blues’) became the Royal Horse Guards at this time.

One curious thing worth mentioning, is that while their role remained essentially unchanged, there is no mention of the Dragoon Guards receiving cuirasses and iron skull-caps for the campaign in Germany.  By contrast, the Royal Horse Guards and the 3rd & 4th Regiments of Horse all received these pieces of armour when they deployed to Germany.

The 3rd Dragoon Guards’ Light Dragoon Troop when formed, consisted of 71 men, bringing the total strength of the regiment to 458 men.  However, while the regiment was deploying to Germany in 1758, the Light Dragoon Troop spent the year with the Light Dragoon Troops of several other regiments, supporting raiding operations around the French coast.  Sadly, I’ve no idea if it ever rejoined the regiment in Germany.

Above:  The 3rd Dragoon Guards had white facings and horse-furniture, with yellow ‘metal’ and yellow shabraque-edging with a red central stripe.  The Dragoon Guards had Dragoon-style coats with an aiguillette at the right shoulder, though with infantry-style ‘half-lapels’ that came down as far as the waist and were squared-off at the bottom.  By contrast, the Regiments of Horse had full lapels that went all the way to the bottom hem of the coat.

As it happens, Eureka don’t do Dragoon Guards’ figures, so I had to choose between Dragoons or Horse.  Due to the lapels, I foolishly opted for Horse, completely forgetting that Horse had two broad cross-belts, instead of the single Dragoon-style buckled cross-belt worn by Dragoon Guards.  I SHOULD have gone for Dragoon figures and then just painted in the lapels… Ah, well…  As with the Scots Greys, I just painted in the aiguillettes.

One other surprise was that I received a kettle-drummer instead of the ordered Dragoon drummer.  I had originally intended to avoid these buggers, as they wore an especially elaborate version of the livery-coat. plus the added complication of the fancy drapery around the drums.  I couldn’t find any pictures or detailed descriptions of the regiment’s kettle-drummers, so for reference I used this Morier painting of a kettle-drummer belonging to the 1st Regiment of Horse (note the ‘I H’ on the drums), replacing the facing and lace colours of the 1st Horse (light blue facings and white lace with a red stripe) with those of the 3rd Dragoon Guards (white facings and yellow lace with a red stripe).

Above:  I’ve used a white Regimental Guidon for the 3rd Dragoon Guards, again by Maverick Models.  The fringe this time was mixed gold and silver.  While they used Dragoon-style swallow-tailed Regimental Guidons, the Dragoon Guards had square King’s Standards, reflecting their origins as Regiments of Horse.  In the British Army, a Guidon was always swallow-tailed, while a Standard was always square; the Horse and Royal Horse Guards had only Standards, the Dragoons and Light Horse had only Guidons and the Dragoon Guards and Household Cavalry had both styles.

Note that kettle-drummers typically rode horses with full, undocked tails, whereas other British Army horses had docked tails.  Eureka has got that little detail spot-on!

Above:  The 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards was organised as three squadrons and therefore has sufficient strength to warrant being a ‘unit’ in its own right.  I’ve therefore used twelve figures.  The regiment had originally been titled as the 2nd (King’s) Regiment of Horse, but were re-titled to 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards in December 1746.

In 1752 the regiment also formed an experimental Light Dragoon Company of 71 men and they are known to have worn brass helmets.  I don’t know anything about their war service though.

Once again, I made the mistake of using Horse figures for this regiment and should really have used Dragoon figures and painted on the lapels.  Ah, well…

Above:  The 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards had blue facings, though had red horse-furniture.  The ‘metal’ was yellow and the horse-furniture was edged with yellow lace with a blue stripe.  Drummers wore Royal Livery.

Above:  The 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards are known to have ridden black horses.  For black horses I mix a small amount of red-brown with the black to produce a very dark brown highlight colour.  The manes and tails then get a light dry-brush of dark grey.  I tend to find that just using plain black makes them look too ‘flat’.

Above:  As they’re a full ‘unit’, I decided to give the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards both the King’s Standard (the square crimson flag) and a Regimental Guidon (swallow-tailed blue flag).  Again, these are by Maverick Models.

Above:  The Royal Horse Guards (‘The Blues’) were originally the 1st (Royal) Regiment of Horse, but following the conversion of the 2nd, 3rd & 4th Horse to Dragoon Guards in late 1746/early 1747, the regiment was brought in to the Household Cavalry Brigade, being known for a short time simply as ‘The Royal Horse’ before finally becoming ‘The Royal Horse Guards’ in 1750.

In common with the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards, the regiment consisted of three squadrons, but being Heavy Horse, lacked a Light Dragoon Troop.  Nevertheless, the regiment was strong enough to warrant being fielded as a full ‘unit’ of twelve figures.

Above:  Uniquely among the British cavalry of the era, the Royal Horse Guards wore blue coats.  The facings, small-clothes and horse-furniture were red, including the full-length lapels that were a distinctive feature of the uniforms of Regiments of Horse (not that they’re really visible at this scale).  ‘Metal’ was yellow, though the other ranks’ coats were very plain, being devoid of lace or aiguillettes.  Officers’ coats by contrast, were heavily laced with gold, as can be seen in this portrait of General Ligonier, Colonel of the regiment, circa 1754 (note the full-length lapels).

The horse-furniture edging was yellow with a central stripe described by Kronoskaf as blue, but shown in the Morier painting above as crimson or purple.  I’ve gone with Morier’s crimson.

Note that this time, my purchase of Eureka’s Horse figures was the right choice!  Hooray!  The Royal Horse Guards had the lapels and double cross-belts of a Regiment of Horse, so that’s all good.  However… The Royal Horse Guards were unique in that they didn’t wear  the typical large cartridge pouch. Instead, they had a powder-flask hanging on their right hip, where the pouch would normally be (see the Morier painting of a Royal Horse Guards trooper above).  The flask was suspended from a crimson cord, which was attached by eyelets to the centre-line of the cross-belt.  That crimson cord is still a feature of the ceremonial uniform of the Blues & Royals today.  There’s nothing you can do about the pouch, except paint it buff and crack on…

Although they hardly ever appear in artwork (except in officers’ portraits, where they were commonly added anyway as a ‘knightly’ affectation), the regiment was issued with iron cuirasses and skull-caps when deployed to Germany.  These were probably worn under the coat and are also known to have been issued to the 3rd & 4th Regiments of Horse when they deployed to Germany after Minden, with the second wave of British troops.

The Royal Horse Guards were mounted on black horses.

Above:  The King’s and Regimental Standards of the Royal Horse Guards were all square, crimson in colour and fringed in gold.  All three were very similar, having a prominent crown, flanked by the letters G & R.  Each standard then had a different heraldic device in the centre.  Again, I’ve gone with Maverick Models’ offerings.

As a Regiment of Horse, the Royal Horse Guards had trumpeters and these were dressed in an extremely rich livery coat, as shown being worn in this Morier painting of a black trumpeter of the Royal Horse Guards.  The coat was a deep crimson, richly encrusted in gold lace.  Somewhat unbelievably, some of these actual coats are still being worn by the Royal Household today!  Note that the small-clothes and horse-furniture are the typical orangey-red uniform colour.  Trumpets were silver.

Above:  I do like the Eureka figures, as the quality of sculpting and casting is exceptional.  However, in the interests of journalistic balance, I do have a couple of issues with them:

First, the metal is rather soft; this does enable crisp casting-detail, but means that those finely-sculpted sword-blades, bayonets, flagpoles and artillery-rammers are hopelessly weak.  I’ve already had to replace every infantry flagpole with brass wire and as shown in last year’s ‘Frogruary’ article, I’ve even had to replace the shafts of artillery-rammers, which is something new!  You’ll note that in the last three regiments, the officer is pointing… They were originally waving swords, but all three swords had broken off in the post, so I’ve carved the hand to make it look like they’re pointing.  When I was helping out at AB Figures here in Wales, we used a much tougher pewter, which enabled that sort of fine sculpting to survive handling.  However, the downside was that the texture was slightly grainy.  Nevertheless, I FAR prefer my old Welsh ABs to the new Eureka-manufactured ABs due to the metal used (sorry Nic!) and the same goes for their otherwise-superb SYW range.

Secondly, their cavalry are modelled as one-piece castings and as a consequence, they’re slightly ‘flat’ and don’t look that good when seen head-on and it also limits the horse-poses (my Eureka French hussars all have essentially the same horse and there’s no way to vary it).  I’m also finding them to be rather weak at the ankles, especially the galloping poses standing on two legs.

These criticisms notwithstanding, they are excellent figures!  Just take a tip from me and invest in a drill and some brass rod…

Anyway, that’s it from me for now.  I’m now off on my hols for a week, but when I get back I’ll start writing the after-action report for last week’s epic Leuthen refight.  Here’s a taster…

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Eighteenth Century, Painted Units, Seven Years War & War of Austrian Succession, Seven Years War British & Hanoverian Armies, Tricorn (18th Century Shako Rules). Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “King George Commands And We Obey”: My SYW British Army (Part 3: Cavalry)

  1. Nick says:

    Very informative Will have to work on my SYW British although my painting is nowhere near as good as yours

  2. Paul smith says:

    Hi Mark

    Thanks as usual and do enjoy your hols!

    Cheers Paul

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks Paul! Yeah, we’re soaking up the sun in the tropical paradise of the West Midlands. BBC Gardeners’ World Live later in the week. Rock’n’roll!

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