Italeri’s French Dragoons set is quite probably the finest cavalry set they’ve ever produced. It’s quite a contrast to the severely problematic Prussian dragoon set that I tackled previously. Plastic Soldier Review gives the set a 10/10 for sculpting, losing a point only on historical accuracy due to the notable lack of muskets to some figures. Having a musket is particular important because traditionally dragoons were supposed to be a kind of ‘mounted infantry’ undertaking infantry as much as cavalry duties.
I chose to depict the 17th regiment as I couldn’t resist the temptation of using some pink paint for a change. How many armies go into battle in pink? Not many. I don’t have any complaints with this set, it was easy to paint and looks great. So without further ado, here’s some photos and the regimental biography.
Biography: 17e Regiment De Dragons [France]
This line of cavalry unit was involved in almost all the campaigns of Napoleon. Created in 1743 from a joint unit of German, Polish and Saxony volunteers. During the 18th century, the 17th Dragoons were involved in the War of the Austrian Succession as well as the Seven Years War. After the French revolution in 1791, it became formally known as the 17th Regiment of Dragoons. They were involved in the iconic Battle of Valmy and campaigns throughout the revolutionary wars.
In 1800, they took part in the battle of Hohenlinden against the Austrian and Bavarian armies, ending the second coalition against Napoleon. Following campaigns against the Prussians and Russians in 1806/07 saw the 17th Dragoons fight at both Eylau and Friedland.
The regiment was then sent to Spain in June 1808, helping to capture the capital Madrid. The following year, they distinguished themselves with a notable charge led by Major Haubbensart at Coruña. Involved in the brutal battle of Albuhera during 1811, the regiment ended its Spanish campaign in 1813 after the disastrous defeat at Vitoria. They were withdrawn to join the Grand Army in Germany, assisting in the fighting retreat back to France, fighting in the battles in Troyes, Arcis sur Aube, and then Paris itself.
After Napoleon’s abdication in 1814, only fifteen dragoon regiments were retained by France. The 17th briefly was renumbered the 12th until the Hundred Days campaign where each regiment resumed its old number. Over 300 strong and under their Colonel Louis Labiffe, the 17th took part in the victory over the Prussians at Ligny. As part of Exelmans 2nd Cavalry Corps, so far as I can tell, it appears they were with Grouchy’s forces pursuing the Prussian to Wavre. With Emperor Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo taking place just a few miles away, the regiment was to be finally disbanded some time later.
Notable battles: Valmy, Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau, Moscow, Leipzig, Ligny.