18th (King’s Irish) Light Dragoons (Hussars) [Regt #36]

In my previous post, I revealed the 36th regiment in my Napoleonic Cavalry Project to be the 18th Hussars. It’s a return to Italeri for the first time since their Mamelukes in 2017. The detailing is terrific if subtle.

The horses are elegant but are something of a problem. Firstly, they connect to their bases with pegs – and I don’t like pegs. Thankfully, these ones fit perfectly together but are never as strong as if they were moulded together and a couple of horses parted company from their bases during painting.

Secondly, the horses don’t have the sheepskin saddle covers, an essential item for any self-respecting hussars of the period, but with these nicely sculpted horses, I can live with that.

Finally, the horses come with two disfiguring marks, discs, on their right flanks, presumably a feature imprinted from the moulding process. It looks a bit ugly and I’m not sure whether the scars which are left by attempting to delicately carve them away is better than just leaving them in place. It’s a shame as the horses are beautifully sculpted.

No overt command figures included in this set except the trumpeter.

I keep picking up boxes of these Italeri Hussars / Light Dragoons so I’ve still got enough for more regiments if I return to them to do more in the future.


Biography: 18th (King’s Irish) Light Dragoons (Hussars) [Great Britain]

Formed in 1759, the regiment was first known as the 19th Dragoons and Drogheda’s Light Horse. It was renumbered a few time before settling on the 18th in 1769. Wellington himself spent some time in the regiment as a junior officer.

In 1805, it adopted the “King’s Irish” title and was converted to hussars two years later. It was sent to the Peninsular theatre in 1808 for a year’s service where it faught in the successful cavalry actions of Sahagún and Benavente and also at the Battle of Corunna where the commander Sir John Moore was killed.

It was back in the Peninsular under their old comrade Arthur Wellesley in 1813 and fought in many of the battles leading to the French defeat (including Vitoria, Nive and Toulouse).

For the 100 Days campaign, The 18th Hussars were a part of Sir Hussey Vivian’s 6th British Cavalry Brigade alongside the 10th Hussars and the 1st Hussars of the King’s German Legion. Numbering 447 sabres in three squadrons, they were commanded by Lt-Col the Honourable Murray.

During the Battle of Waterloo, the 18th Hussars found themselves on the extreme left of Wellington’s line, behind the buildings of La Haie farm. Being over 2km away from the centre of the Allied line, the regiment had an almost uniquely quiet time for most of the battle. Having plenty of space to do so, they were formed up in line rather than in columns.

Waterloo by Denis Dighton [Public domain] showing the red shako-wearing 10th Hussars of Vivian’s Brigade.

Only late in the day was the regiment moved to the seat of the action in the centre as the French cavalry began to retreat with the rest of their army. Their spirited attacks on the enemy nonetheless cost them over 100 casualties.

The 18th Hussars remained in France after Napoleon’s defeat as part of the Army of Occupation. It was disbanded in 1821 as part of the post-Napoleonic Wars reduction in the British Army’s strength, that numbered regiment not to be reformed again until 1858.

Notable Battles: Bergen, Corunna, Vitoria, Nive, Toulouse, Waterloo.

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“.