Following on quickly from the first completed regiment in my Napoleonic cavalry project, I’d like to introduce the second offering. It’s another French regiment – the 4eme Regiment de Chasseurs a Cheval!
The set is coyly named “French Light Cavalry” by Italeri but in fact specifically depicts the Chasseurs a Cheval. These regiments were the mainstay of Napoleon’s cavalry, being cheap and easy to equip, unlike those equestrian ‘dandies’ – the hussars. With their all-green uniform, Chasseurs wore the standard black shako, whilst the officers sported a more exotic fur Colpak (similar to the hussar’s busby).
This is another impressive set by Italeri, albeit not quite hitting the same quality as their French hussars. Perhaps the main problem with the set is that Italeri have got confused about the horses. Consequently, there are an awful lot of officer horses (those wearing shabraques) and only a few trooper horses (ones with sheepskin saddle covers). To solve this problem, I decided instead to use some of the handy spare horses that came with those hussars that I’ve just painted. The problems didn’t end there: even getting the figures to sit on any horses was a real challenge requiring plenty of glue.
It took a little research to find detailed information on regimental uniforms. Eventually, I found a very wonderful French website which enabled me to specifically depict the 4th Regiment of Chassuers a Cheval. These wore an attractive yellow trim with their green uniform.
They may not have been the most glamourous of cavalry regiments, but the popularity of the Chasseurs a Cheval in the French army suggests something of their inherent quality and usefulness. The Imperial Guard had it’s own version of this cavalry in which both officers and other ranks wore large colpaks as well as ostentatious hussar-style scarlet pelisses. They provided the personal escort for the emperor himself. In fact, Napoleon often wore the uniform of an officer of the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Imperial Guard – perhaps the ultimate accolade! Revell have produced an adequate set depicting this more prestigious regiment – maybe some day, I’ll attempt those too. For now, though, I’m much happier with this very fine ‘line’ version.
Biography: 4th Regiment of Chasseurs a Cheval (France)
Formed in 1675 as a dragoon regiment Comte de Dreux-Nancre, they were renamed as the 4th Chasseurs in 1788. Featuring in campaigns throughout the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods, they formed a part of the Grande Armee in Russia. Here they took part in many actions including the great battle of Borodino, and the desperate encounter on the Berezina river. Later, they featured in the ‘Battle of the Nations’ at Leipzig and in the subsequent campaign in France in 1814. That year saw them acquire the title “Regiment de Chassuers de Monsieur”.
By coincidence, Francois Clary, the regimental colonel of the first painted regiment the1st Hussars, was also the colonel of this chasseur regiment as well! Attached to Napoleon’s Armee du Nord, the 4th regiment witnessed Blucher’s Prussians defeated at Ligny during the 100 days campaign. But their next action was their final Napoleonic engagement: Waterloo. The regiment was then soon disbanded on the 16th July 1815.
Napoleonic regimental battle honour – La Moskowa.