After the better part of 10 months, after 15 regiments representing four nations, the Napoleonic Cavalry Project is now virtually complete. The 14th regiment is the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Imperial Guard, Napoleon Bonaparte’s personal escort. These dandies look like hussars, though wear colpacks on their heads. I’ve painted Napoleon in his familiar guise wearing the green uniform of a colonel of the Chasseurs a Cheval.
His horse is painted as being his famous grey which bore him throughout many a campaign; the Arabian stallion Marengo (a brief biography of the two is below).
Now it just leaves me to photograph a final parade of the regiments some time before Christmas!
Bring on those photos!
Biography: The Chasseurs a Cheval of the Imperial Guard (France)
The Chasseurs a Cheval of the Imperial Guard originally began life as a part of a regiment of Guides raised by Napoleon when just a general in the Revolutionary Wars in 1796. They would go on to become one of the most prestigious regiments in the army, providing the personal guard to the emperor and nicknamed by some ‘The Pet Children’!
In 1800, a single company was raised of Chasseurs, commanded by the emperor’s stepson, which formed a part of the prestigious Consular Guide. This company took part in the narrow victory at the battle of Marengo. By 1802, they finally became a full regiment consisting of around 1000 men with a single company of Egyptian Mamelukes joining them as a part of the regiment later.
They performed a distinguished role at the battle of Austerlitz, badly mauling the Russian Imperial Guard. Missing the battle of Jena in 1806, the 1st Hussars (a regiment painted earlier in this project) had the privilege of escorting Napoleon on that occasion. They would return to personal escort duties in time for the triumphal entry into Berlin. They later took part in the great charge of Murat’s cavalry at the battle of Eylau in 1807.
During the Spanish campaign, this regiment performed well but was surprised, outflanked and badly cut up by British cavalry, their commander, Général de Brigade Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes, being wounded and captured.
In the war of 1812, once more under the command of the returned General Lefebvre-Desnouettes, the regiment (as with the rest of the army) lost heavily over the course of the campaign, though distinguished themselves protecting their emperor from a particularly threatening attack by Cossacks.
During the final Waterloo campaign, they formed part of the Light Cavalry Division of the Imperial Guard, numbering some 1200 sabres. Though leading the initial advance on Quatre Bras, they were not seriously engaged and suffered light losses. At Waterloo, they were deployed as part of the cavalry reserve. The Guard Chasseurs were sent in leading the 2nd wave of fruitless attacks against the Allied squares in the afternoon and thus their proud history as Napoleon’s favoured cavalry regiment would finally come to an end.
Napoleon and Marengo: The emperor Napoleon and his horse Marengo formed a partnership at the early years of his rise to power. Imported from Egypt in 1799, the small stallion was a reliable mount and was present (and occasionally wounded) in many of his campaigns during the wars between 1799 to 1815. Together they experienced the battles of Austerlitz, Jena, Wagram, amongst others, and campaigns across the continent from Spain to Russia. They faught their last battle together at Waterloo in 1815. Parted, Napoleon was sent to St Helena in the South Atlantic whilst Marengo was brought over to Ely in England and, no worse for those years campagining, he finally died at the ripe equine age of 38.
Notable Battles: Austerlitz, Wagram, Eylau, Somosierra, La Moskowa, Quatre Bras, Waterloo