Faithful Hussars

When it comes to a hobby, pleasure should be the guiding principle. My head has been telling me to do something a little different from Napoleonic-era cavalry figures. My heart, however, simply loves to paint them! And there are seldom more pleasing uniforms to paint than hussars.

So far in my Napoleonic Cavalry Project I’ve painted;

So, at the risk of boring everybody, I’m painting some more!

My box of Italeri’s British Light Dragoons.

The set I’m using is an old classic; Italeri’s British Light Dragoons (Hussars). It’s a set of lovely figures, the old Esci sculptor beautifully detailing the flowing pelisses and intricate braiding. It was originally released by Esci in 1985 very specifically labelled as being Lord Cardigan’s 11th Hussars of the Crimean War. It was then reissued with a couple of extra poses the following year as being British Light Dragoons of the Napoleonic Wars/Waterloo! These two sets were both reissued by Italeri when they took over the rights to the moulds on Esci’s sad demise around 1990.

My other box of Italeri’s British Hussars – virtually the same set as their Light Dragoons!

It is appropriate that the first British hussars in my project have come along quite late as the British army was itself slow to adopt hussars into their cavalry arm. Some continental armies had a hussar tradition going back to the late 17th century, but Great Britain only began to convert light dragoons to hussars in the early 19th century. That reluctance can be seen in the official name of the British hussar regiments. At the time of Waterloo, all were formally still known as Light Dragoons with the word “hussars” being almost a grudging adjunct in parentheses.

Officers of the 10th and 18th Hussars, 1819
Coloured lithograph, engraved and after Edward Hull, published by Ackermann’s Lithographic Press, 1819. National Army Museum.

At Waterloo, there were four British hussar regiments (not including the King’s German Legion’s three hussar regiments also present) and these were;

  • The 7th (The Queen’s Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
  • The 10th (Prince of Wales’s Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
  • The 15th (The King’s) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
  • The 18th (King’s Irish) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)

Excepting the 10th Hussars which wore bright red shakos, these Italeri figures could stand for any of the other three (although the 15th I think may have had shakos too). I’ve opted for the 18th Hussars.

A Private of the 18th Light Dragoons (Hussars), 1812
Aquatint by J C Stadler after Charles Hamilton Smith, 1812. National Army Museum.

The 18th Hussars wore blue dolmans with white braiding, faced with white. Their Pelisses were also blue and white braid with white fur trim. Their brown fur busbies had a bright blue bag. It is on the horses that Italeri widely deviate from historical fact. Hussars during this period had fur saddle covers with hounds teeth edging but my regiment must have sent all theirs to be cleaned.

I’m well advanced with this set already so will be sure to share my handiwork shortly.

Ever since picking up this box of figures, I’ve had the name of a song, “The Faithful Hussar”, going around my head but had no idea of the melody or even where I’d heard it. Google put me out of my confusion; it was used as the moving end scene in the classic anti-war film “Paths of Glory”. I’d seen it recently and the final scene is always moving. A captive German lady (herself a German actress who married the film’s director Stanley Kubrick) silences the baying French Poilu and reduces them to tears with her timid and tender song “The Faithful Hussar“.

11 thoughts on “Faithful Hussars

  1. Enjoyed reading this and will be looking forward to seeing the figures when they’re done! I’ve got hussars in my painting queue as well – Prussians for 1866/70 and Austrians for 1859/66, although I still need to work out which regiments they’ll be!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve used Irregular Miniatures Austrian hussars, which are smallish, but I can live with that (I’ve already got their Austrian dragoons). Prussian hussars have been a challenge! B&B Miniatures produce Franco-Prussian War hussars but they are wearing a pelisse and only one Prussian hussar regiment wore it at that time. So I’ve used officer figures from the Britannia Miniatures WW1 German hussars range for troopers, along with a bugler. This avoids figures having slung rifles, which I considered more incorrect than not having any firearms. I’ve added a busby bag from greenstuff and will just paint the busbies to look like fur, since the WW1 figures wear busby covers. The horses have blankets under their addles unfortunately, whereas FPW hussars should use the shabraque, but I’ve shied off trying to make them in milliput/greenstuff and will have to accept them as they are! I’ll get there eventually!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I always admire anyone who is dedicated enough to research and carry out conversions – I dumbly paint what’s before me! My hussars should have sheepskins but, after toying with the idea of doing something about it, I’ve stuck with the original horse.

        Been checking out some of those manufacturers that you mention and there some tempting ranges there…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. well mate I’m now calling you the Napy cavalry expert because as you know I have shied away from them due to the painting difficulty and stayed with the infantry so I’ll put a question to you that I have always had a problem understanding ,that being the difference between Dragoons and Hussars ,my understanding is that dragoons were mounted infantry so what was their role when they became Hussars ?. I’m looking forward as John is to seeing your painting of what I call difficult fellows due their pelisse. A long time ago I had a go at the Airfix boys and I remember thinking bugger this is not easy !
    We are in for a bit of sunshine on the weekend so I will try like buggery to get some photos up of my winters work and it will include a few of those elusive horses that I hope pass muster with your equine expert wife !

    1. So far as I can tell, the difference between a hussar and a dragoon is just fashion! The expensive, ostentatious and luxuriant fashion of a hussar I suppose was a signifier that hussar regiments are a cut above the rest. The other element of a hussar, so far as I’m aware, is that regiments were supposed to cultivate a particularly wild and dashing outlook, being recklessly brave and self confident. The old adage was that a whole population runs when hussars arrive – men away from them and women towards them! Practically, I don’t think there was any real difference between a dragoon and a hussar, both being light cavalry and carrying out the same kind of duties?

      I’m sure those horses of yours will be great – so get those photos up! 🙂 As for my hussars, I’m beginning to think I should have spent longer on their pelisses…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I realise I’m probbly being a bad influence here, and I forgot to add this earlier, but Newline Designs do nice 20mm/1:72 Napoleonics metal figures at very good prices indeed – maybe handy if they have figures you like that you can’t get elsewhwere. I have some of their colonial figures and a quite a few ACW ones converted for my Paraguayan War project.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I did go to the trouble of giving this set sheepskins when I painted them as KGL. But I can see the attraction of leaving them as is – I know your results will be spectacular. Looking forward to seeing them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bill. May I ask how you did the extra sheepskins? I had a few ideas but I couldn’t envisage my actually improving the figure in any way!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s