This is the last part of my series on my 15mm Army of the Duchy of Warsaw. In Part 1 I covered the infantry, in Part 2 I looked at Prince Poniatowski and some of his generals and in Part 3 I covered the artillery. This time I’m looking at Poland’s powerful and spectacular cavalry arm.
As with the infantry in Part 1, I’m not going to go into great detail covering all the cavalry regiments of the army, but will simply look at the regiments I’ve painted, namely the 1st Chasseurs à Cheval, the 3rd Uhlans, 6th Uhlans, 7th Uhlans and 14th Cuirassiers. If you want to go into great detail and/or look at the other regiments, get the superb ebook on the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw 1807-1814 by W J Rawkins from the author himself at The History Book Man.
[Edited 24 Feb 21: Sadly I’ve just heard on the grapevine that Mr Rawkins passed away in December 2020 and the website is no more, so I’ve removed the link. 🙁 ]
All the models here are 15mm AB Figures, painted by me. The flags are by Fighting 15s (except for that of the 6th Uhlans, which I painted myself, back in the mists of time before printed flags were widely available).
As previously discussed, my Napoleonic armies are organised for Napoleon’s Battles rules, where the smallest tactical unit is a brigade and the figure ratio is roughly 1:100. Each ‘regiment’ here will therefore represent a brigade of two or three regiments on the table. So with a small army such as that of the Duchy of Warsaw, I don’t actually need any more. however, I may well paint some Duchy of Warsaw Hussars if Tony B ever does the figures…
Speaking of which… The sainted Mr Barton for some reason has never got around to producing elite company figures for the Polish cavalry, nor indeed Eaglebearers. I’ve done some Eaglebearer conversions which are shown below, but I’ve still not done any head-swaps for the elite troopers (I live in eternal hope that Tony might one day finish this range off).
As previously mentioned, I’m mainly building this army for the Battle of Leipzig in 1813, so need three cavalry brigades for Kellermann’s IV Reserve Cavalry Corps, one brigade for Dabrowski’s detached 27th Division and a weak cavalry brigade for Uminski’s Brigade of Poniatowski’s VIII Corps. This equates to roughly the number of Polish cavalry at the Battle of Borodino in 1812. There were other Polish cavalry units knocking around, but this is as many as were ever assembled for a single battle, so is really as much as I could possibly need… Yeah, like that’s ever stopped me…
A word on nomenclature: The Duchy of Warsaw didn’t group its cavalry regiments by type like the French and instead used a single numerical sequence for all regiments, much like the line cavalry numbering sequence of the British Army. The 1st, 4th and 5th Regiments were Chasseurs à Cheval, the 10th & 13th Regiments were Hussars, the 14th Regiment was Cuirassiers and the 2nd, 3rd, 6th to 9th, 11th, 12th and 15th to 21st Regiments were Uhlans.
All cavalry regiments were initially organised along French lines with three squadrons (plus a depot squadron), each of two companies. The 1st company of the 1st squadron in each regiment was designated as the elite company. An additional squadron was added to each regiment in 1810. The exception to this was the 14th Cuirassiers, which had only two squadrons throughout.
1st Chasseurs à Cheval (Strzelcy Konni)
When first raised in 1807 the three regiments of Chasseurs wore a dark green ‘Spencer’ style coat with square lapels, fully coloured with the regimental facing colour (which in the case of the 1st Chasseurs was scarlet). However, in 1808 the style of coat was changed to a dark green single-breasted habit-kinski with collar, pointed cuffs, front-seam piping and lace edging to the tail-turnbacks and pockets coloured in the regimental facing colour.
Fringed epaulettes replaced the shoulder-straps worn on the old-style coat. According to the source I used when I painted these, the epaulettes were plain white, though Rawkins states that they had facing-coloured crescents, while the top of the epaulette was covered in brass scales and was edged in the facing colour. The elite company (i.e. 1st company of the 1st squadron) had scarlet epaulette-fringes. Buttons were brass and and officers’ epaulettes and buttons were gold.
Breeches were dark green with a wide facing-coloured stripe at the side and worn with hussar-style boots, edged in facing-coloured lace and tassels. On campaign green overalls were worn, again with a stripe or double-stripe in the facing colour. Grey overalls were also used.
Headgear was a black shako, which in full dress had white cords and a green-over-red plume, over a green pompom… The observant will notice that I’ve painted black pompoms… That’s because I painted these before getting a copy of W J Rawkins’ excellent book and was instead referring to an internet source… sigh… The shako initially had an eagle-plate very much like the Uhlans, though this soon changed to a white rosette held in place with a white strap and brass button, as shown here. A white cockade was fixed above the eagle/rosette. The elite company had a black fur colpack with red cords, bag and plume (recorded as a hanging horsehair plume for the 1st Chasseurs). Officers had gold cords and plumes or pompoms in either company colours or white. By 1811 all officers wore fur colpacks and not just those of the elite company. As mentioned above, AB still haven’t produced any elite company troopers, so I’ll add a fourth base to the unit when they do.
Horse furniture was a dark green shabraque and round valise, edged in scarlet lace. Officers’ shabraques were edged with a double row of gold lace. Saddle-covers were white sheepskins, edged in scarlet dog-toothed cloth and as with the French, the sheepskin saddle-cover was often used on its own, with the shabraque saved for parade order. Some sources show black sheepskins for officers, or none at all, just the shabraque.
Equipment consisted of a white cross-belt, supporting a black leather cartouche decorated with the regimental number in brass or a brass grenade badge for the elite company. The sabre was carried in a steel scabbard and suspended from a white waist-belt. Officers had black belts edged with gold and usually had black leather scabbards with gilded fittings. Sword knots were white, with the elite company having scarlet and officers gold.
Trumpeters of the 1st Chasseurs wore a white habit-kinski with brass buttons and scarlet facings as for the rest of the regiment. Epaulettes were the same as the rest of the regiment, with the addition of a mixed green & yellow aiguillette in full dress. White colpacks were worn by the trumpeters of all companies. These were decorated with a scarlet bag and cords, with scarlet-over-green plume or a scarlet pompom. Breeches were initially green with scarlet stripes, though may have later changed to scarlet breeches with gold stripes and Hungarian knots. Overalls were dark green with a double scarlet stripe. Had I waited for the Rawkins book to arrive, I would have discovered that the trumpeters of the 1st Chasseurs typically had the same shabraques as the rest of the regiment, with black sheepskins (possibly having white shabraques edged red at some point). However, I followed an internet source which suggested reversed colours of scarlet with a green edge… sigh…
As with their French figures, AB Figures don’t produce any Polish light cavalry standard-bearers, due to a general order from Napoleon, banning light cavalry regiments from carrying their standards on campaign. However, Polish standards do look pretty spiffing and emphasise their ‘Polishness’, without which these chaps could easily be mistaken for French, Italian or even flippin’ Neapolitan Chasseurs! So I made my own Chasseur Eaglebearer from a spare trumpeter figure, utilising a Polish Eagle taken from an old Battle Honours figure (also sculpted by Tony Barton back in the day).
The photo above shows an unmodified trumpeter on the left and the donor Eaglebearer sans Eagle on the right, with the finished Eaglebearer in the centre. I carefully cut away the trumpet and filed down the trumpet cord over the shoulder (I did some more filing after this photo, as it was still obvious) and then opened his hand to take the brass rod pole. I then (badly) drilled the eagle and stuck the pole up its arse. You can see the painted, finished Eaglebearer in the photos above.
3rd Uhlans (Ulani)
The standard dress of all Polish Uhlan regiments was a dark blue kurtka coat with dark blue, tight-fitting trousers, with facings and other details varying by regiment. In the case of the 3rd Uhlans, the collar, lapels, tail-turnbacks and pointed cuffs were crimson, piped white. the pockets and seams at the rear of the kurtka were also piped white, as were the rear sleeve-seams. Buttons were brass. Trousers normally had a double stripe in the piping colour, though the 3rd are recorded as having yellow trouser-stripes.
Shoulder-straps were dark blue, piped crimson, though the elite company wore scarlet fringed epaulettes. Other regiments had brass scales on their epaulettes, though the 3rd are recorded as having plain red. The other companies in the regiment at some point replaced their shoulder-straps with white fringed epaulettes. Chelminski shows these as having brass scales and crimson crescents, but given that the elite company’s epaulettes are recorded as not having scales, I’ve stuck with plain white. Officers had gold epaulettes.
The czapka was made of black leather with a blue cloth-covered ‘box’ and brass fittings. The black lower part was separated from the blue upper box by a band of white lace. The box was originally edged with white piping, plus a white ‘X’ across the square top, but this had changed by 1809 to black piping. I actually painted the czapka top in a very slightly lighter shade of blue to make the black piping stand out. The front of the czapka was decorated with a white metal eagle, standing on a brass crescent, on which was enameled the number ‘3’ in black. A white cockade was worn on the front-left face of the box and was fixed in place with a brass button and white or brass cross. Above the cockade was a black pompom or full-dress plume. Full-dress cords were white.
Officers had gold lace and piping on the ‘box’, silver cords and a gold cross on the cockade. Plumes and pompoms were black for junior officer ranks and white for senior ranks. After 1811 all officers’ pompoms were gold.
Uhlan elite company headgear varied quite widely from regiment to regiment, though that for the 3rd Uhlans is well-recorded, being a bell-topped shako, covered with black fur and fitted with a red ‘bag’ to make it resemble a colpack. The front was decorated with the same eagle-and-crescent badge as the other companies, with a white cockade and scarlet pompom above. In full dress the cap would be decorated with scarlet cords and a scarlet hanging horsehair plume. However, as discussed above, AB Figures haven’t yet done any elite company troopers, so I live in eternal hope… 🙁
Horse furniture consisted of a blue full-dress shabraque and round valise, edged crimson (gold for officers) and a white sheepskin saddle-cover, edged with crimson dog-toothed cloth. As with the Chasseurs, it was often only the sheepskin that was worn on campaign.
Equipment consisted of white leather belts, including a waist-belt for the sabre that was worn over the kurtka and secured with a large brass buckle. Scabbards were steel. Pistols were often carried instead of carbines, attached to the carbine-belt by the trigger-guard, as carbines tended to get in the way when fighting with the lance.
Lances were officially natural wood, though the 3rd are recorded on one occasion as carrying lances painted with white and crimson spirals, barber-pole style! I can only imagine that this was a special paint-job for a parade or honour guard for a special occasion and in any case, that would be a terminal ballache to paint, so I’ve painted mine dark brown! Lances were wound around at the mid-point with a whitened leather thong, which formed a hand-grip and wrist-strap. Two patterns of lance-pennants are recorded for the 3rd Uhlans: scarlet-over-white and dark blue-over-scarlet with a white ‘wedge’. I’ve opted for the latter option, as I’d already used scarlet-over-white for the 6th Uhlans.
The elite company trumpeters are recorded as having white kurtkas with crimson facings and piping, with white fringed epaulettes. Trousers are recorded as either dark blue with crimson stripes or the reverse, crimson with dark blue stripes (I opted for the latter). Headgear for the elite company was a ‘proper’ colpack of white fur with crimson bag and white cords and plume. Headgear for the other companies isn’t recorded, so I’ve opted for the most common pattern for trumpeters, which was a white-topped czapka, with scarlet lace and piping and a scarlet pompom.
Again, I converted some Uhlan Eaglebearers (and a Cuirassier Eaglebearer) from other figures and some donated Polish Eagles. Fighting 15s don’t produce a 3rd Uhlans standard, but they do include some generic Polish standards without regimental numbers, so I used one of those and added a yellow Roman numeral III in the bottom corner of the fly, as that was a common way of indicating the regimental number. I did the same for the 7th (VII) Uhlans and the 14th (XIV) Cuirassiers.
I painted these waaaay back in the mists of time in the early 90s, when AB Figures had only just begun and they were still years off producing a range of Duchy of Warsaw figures! They did however do these fellas – Vistula Legion Lancers. They had originally been modelled as part of the Battle Honours range, but when Battle Honours went catastrophically tits-up, Tony B managed to hang on to these master figures as part of the new company’s range.
The uniform is basically the same as the 3rd Uhlans mentioned above, except that these are in campaign dress, so they’ve covered their czapkas with linen covers (black waxed covers were also common), have removed their pompoms and epaulettes and have reversed their lapels to reveal the dark blue reverse side (the lapels were completely detachable and could be reversed like this to protect the coloured facings).
Regimental distinctions for the 6th Uhlans were a white collar piped crimson, crimson lapels and cuffs piped white, dark blue turnbacks piped crimson and crimson piping on the rear of the kurtka. Trouser stripes were crimson, as was the shabraque-edging. Elite company headgear is not certain, though was probably a Chasseur-style fur colpack. A trumpeter of the 6th Uhlans is described as having a white kurtka with light blue facings and no piping (I clearly didn’t know this when I painted mine!). One other mistake I made is that the piping around the reversed lapels should probably be white, not crimson.
Lance-pennants are recorded as either scarlet-over-white or as scarlet-over-blue-over-white. All other details were as for the 3rd Uhlans. The officer is wearing a crimson Morocco-leather cover over his cross-belt in order to save the expensive gold trimmings from the elements. This was a very common item among cavalry officers of the Napoleonic Empire.
Also note that back in those days printed flags were a lot less available than they are now and the internet didn’t exist, so we had to paint our own flags… And then lick road clean wi’t’tongue before father would cut us in two wi’t’breadknife and dance about on our graves singing ‘Hallelujah’…
I must confess here that the 7th Uhlans didn’t take to the field in 1813, as the shattered remnants spent the campaign locked up as part of a fortress garrison. However, they fought in 1812 and I do like the colour scheme, so what the heck…
Once again the 7th Uhlans wore the standard pattern of Uhlan uniform described above, with the following regimental distinctions:
Collar, cuffs, lapels and turnbacks were yellow piped scarlet. The trousers should have been striped in the regimental piping colour (scarlet), but they are recorded as having atypical yellow trouser-stripes, like the 2nd and 3rd Uhlans. Some sources describe the epaulettes as being yellow, though I’ve stuck with the standard white.
Shabraques were edged yellow, as were the sheepskin saddle-covers. Officers are shown as having black sheepskins.
There are no specifics recorded for the uniform of the elite company. Lance-pennants are recorded as being either scarlet-over-blue-over-white, or as yellow-over-blue-over-scarlet. I’ve opted for the latter version, as it fits with the yellow theme.
Trumpeters are described as wearing a white kurtka with yellow collar and cuffs piped scarlet, scarlet lapels and turnbacks without piping and all other piping scarlet. Epaulettes were scarlet with yellow crescents and brass scales. The czapka had a white ‘box’ with scarlet lace, piping and cords and a scarlet plume or pompom. Overalls were dark blue with a double yellow stripe. Saddle-covers were made of black sheepskin with a yellow cloth edge. Trumpet cords were mixed scarlet and white or mixed scarlet and yellow.
14th Cuirassiers (Kirasjersky)
The magnificent Polish 14th Cuirassiers were something of a pet project for Poniatowski, who had long desired such a regiment as part of the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw. However, Cuirassiers were a very expensive class of cavalry and only two squadrons were formed. Napoleon was not impressed, as he would ultimately have to pay for them. He ordered Poniatowski to convert them at once to a light cavalry regiment.
As fortune would have it, it was 1812 and the build-up for Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was rapidly gathering pace. Poniatowski procrastinated long enough for the 14th Cuirassiers to be included in the order of battle of the Grande Armée. They were brigaded with the Saxon Garde du Korps Regiment and Zastrow Cuirassier Regiment, under the command of General Johann Thielmann (part of Lorge’s 7th Cuirassier Division of the IV Cavalry Corps). This superb brigade, possibly the best heavy cavalry brigade in Napoleon’s army, won eternal fame during the Battle of Borodino when it stormed the Great Redoubt on horseback; a feat arguably unmatched in all the wars of the age.
However, the regiment had suffered grievous losses at Borodino and worse was to come during the long retreat back to Poland. Nevertheless, the survivors, amounting to 20 officers and 77 men, finally made it back to Warsaw and joined with their depot squadron and new recruits to rebuild the regiment. However, as Poniatowski rebuilt his army during the first half of 1813 it was clear that the regiment could not reform as Cuirassiers. It kept the title, though lost the iconic steel cuirass and was now classed as a regiment of light horse, being brigaded under General Uminski alongside the newly-raised regiment of Krakusi. Uminski’s Brigade would form the cavalry element of Poniatowski’s VIII Corps for the coming campaign.
At the commencement of operations in August 1813 the brigade totaled around 1,000 men, of whom only 240 or so belonged to the 14th Cuirassiers, the remainder being Krakusi. The intense scouting, flanking and rearguard actions fought by the corps south of Leipzig rapidly whittled down the strength of the brigade and by the time of the start of the Battle of Leipzig the brigade had lost around a third of its strength. By the end of the battle, the regiment had ‘covered itself in glory’, but had virtually ceased to exist. When disbanded on 29th December 1813 there were only 3 officers and 36 men left with the standard.
In modelling and gaming terms, I could never field a full ‘brigade’ of Polish Cuirassiers, as there were never more than around 300 of them. In 1812 their brigade mostly consisted of Saxon heavy cavalry, so they would definitely be more representative of that brigade (and I’ve already painted the Saxons!). In 1813, their brigade was only one-quarter to one-third Cuirassiers and the rest Krakusi, so the Krakusi would be more representative. However, AB Figures don’t make Krakusi… There are Krakusi available from other manufacturers and Sho Boki‘s Krakusi are rather nice… But they’re not AB… However, AB don’t make a Cuirassier figure without cuirass, which is what you’d need for the 14th Cuirassiers in 1813, so I’ve simply painted them as the 1812 regiment, even though I’ll be using them for 1813… But that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make, as I love Cuirassiers and I have no shame… 🙂
AB’s new(ish) range of Late Cuirassiers are perfect for the 14th Cuirassiers, as they’re wearing the shorter-tailed coat. However, they don’t do a late Cuirassier standard-bearer, so I’ve used an Early Cuirassier figure for that job (again modified with a Polish Eagle).
The uniform was VERY similar to that of the French Cuirassiers; namely a dark blue, single-breasted habit-kinski with scarlet collar (piped blue), scarlet tail-turnbacks and scarlet piping on the tail-pockets. Cuffs were also scarlet (piped white) with a blue cuff-flap piped scarlet, though these last details were normally hidden by white gauntlets.
The back-and-breast cuirass was of French pattern and was polished steel, with brass rivets and brass-scaled straps. This was lined with scarlet cloth, which showed at the neck, waist and arm-holes and was piped white at the edge. The helmet was again of French style, being polished steel with a black leather peak, black bearskin turban, brass crest and chin-scales, black horsehair mane, black houpette crest and in full-dress, a scarlet plume worn at the left side.
Breeches were white buckskin, though grey cloth breeches were worn on campaign. these were worn with tall black leather ‘cuffed’ heavy cavalry boots. Belts were white leather and scabbards were steel. Sheepskin saddle-covers were white, edged with scarlet dog-toothing. Cloaks were white with scarlet lining. In common with French practice, these would be stowed on top of the valise with the scarlet lining showing outward.
Thus far they looked just like French Cuirassiers, though there were some significant differences. To start, the ‘metal’ colour of Polish Cuirassiers was yellow, whereas the French had white metal. Thus the Poles had brass buttons and gold officers’ epaulettes, as well as yellow edging and grenade badges on their blue square shabraques and the number ’14’ in yellow, within a box of yellow lace on the ends of the square valises. They also had brass scaling on the straps of their epaulettes. Most unusually, officers had shabraques and holster-covers of a completely different colour; namely crimson, edged with gold. As discussed above, they lost the cuirasses in 1813, though kept the other uniform details, including the helmets.
Trumpeters initially wore a white habit-kinski with scarlet collar, turnbacks and cuffs, with white cuff-flaps. The breast of the coat was decorated with five double strips of mixed scarlet & yellow lace, while the epaulettes were scarlet with yellow crescents and mixed scarlet & yellow fringes. Trumpets had mixed scarlet and yellow cords. The helmet was of the usual pattern, though with a scarlet mane, houpette and full-dress plume. The shabraque and valise were scarlet with yellow decoration and the sheepskin saddle-cover was black with a scarlet edge.
When the regiment was reformed in 1813 the trumpeters wore a plain scarlet habit-kinski with collar, cuffs and turnbacks in dark blue, with white epaulettes. The helmet now had a white mane, houpette and crest. There is a trumpeter pictured in this new uniform next to Poniatowski in the painting at the top of this article.
Right, that’s it! My next post will be an American Civil War after-action report for a solo game I played recently of ‘Sickles’ Salient’ during the Battle of Gettysburg. I never knew that playing with myself could be so much fun…