The 13th Light Dragoons

Drive them back, 13th! (Lord Hill at Waterloo)

As promised – a short blog entry on the British 13th Light Dragoons, which are the latest regiment to get my ‘Nappy Cavalry Project’ treatment.

Personally, I suspect that any superstitious recruit must have felt more than a little uneasy at being enlisted into the 13th regiment of light dragoons. Many regiments will experience disasters at certain times in their histories, but it strikes me that any regiment numbered 13th in the army list has the ironic potential of being the unluckiest of them all! But even the most superstitious of recruits could rest easy for I can find no particular evidence of any real pattern of bad luck for this regiment. However:

  • They were once very unfairly chastised by the Duke of Wellington during a battle in the Peninsular campaign. They had apparently performed brilliantly but still suffered a stinging rebuke.
  • And they also found themselves as one of the five regiments taking part in the infamous (though by no means necessarily ‘disastrous’) Charge of the Light Brigade. Arguably all the regiments who took part gained some considerable kudos for their gallant conduct.
Roger Fenton's photograph of the 13th Light Dragoons in the Crimea These men are survivors of the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava.
Roger Fenton’s photograph of the 13th Light Dragoons in the Crimea These men are survivors of the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava.

A couple of years ago, I painted a few examples of this regiment in their Charge of the Light Brigade guise, the figures courtesy of a set by Ukrainian manufacturer Strelets.

13th Light Dragoons at Balaklava, 1854. Figures by Strelets.
13th Light Dragoons at Balaklava, 1854. Figures by Strelets.
13th Light Dragoons at Balaklava, 1854. Figures by Strelets.
13th Light Dragoons at Balaklava, 1854. Figures by Strelets.

At Waterloo, they also acquitted themselves very well. The regiment suffered 111 casualties throughout this bloody battle. It was on this occasion that Lord Hill uttered his bold order at the top of this post. Perhaps such faith in their abilities reflected a rapprochement in high command’s attitude towards this regiment, following the contentious Peninsula incident. It is these Waterloo-era figures that are forming the latest part of my Nappy Cavalry Project.

“Drive them back, 13th!”

Italeri British Light Dragoon 6 Italeri British Light Dragoon 5 Italeri British Light Dragoons Italeri British Light Dragoons 2 Italeri British Light Dragoons 4

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