Well, after some weeks developing these figures (alongside the 4th Dutch LD), It’s nice to see them finally see the light of day. I do like these uniforms with their unfussy green double-breasted jacket. These early HaT figures are a little stiffly posed, as I’ve said before, but with the application of paint, they are reasonably impressive. This set came with the option of adding a rolled greatcoat tied over their shoulder. Initially, I was keen to add them to this regiment but I found that one of the poses restricted its addition and so I left them out as I wasn’t sure it would ultimately work all that well.
Enough said. It’s the 17th regiment in my Nappy Cavalry Project, so you know the drill by now; bring on with the photos and biography!
Biography: 5th Belgian Light Dragoons [Netherlands]
At first glance, the 5th Belgian Light Dragoons, in their green uniforms, look a little like French chasseurs a cheval and indeed this would cause some real problems for the regiment during the Waterloo campaign. In the Anglo-allied army, the 5th were brigaded with the Dutch 6th Hussars in van Merlen’s 2nd Light Brigade.
At Quatre Bras, the regiment charged at a vital moment to cover the withdrawal of Dutch-Belgian infantry and in so doing took very heavy casualties, losing 170. This was its first encounter with what were, prior to Napoleon’s abdication, their former allies. Indeed, Merlen their brigade commander had been an adversary of the British in Spain, fighting for the French. Furthermore, a Lieutenant Dubois of the 5th had a father who was a French general.
It was whilst engaged in a prolonged melee with the 6th Chassuers a Cheval at Quatre Bras that the French and Belgian cavalry called out to each other. The French cavalry indicated by their downturned sabres their peaceful intentions, encouraging the Belgians to rejoin the French colours. Merlen’s bellicose response was to launch a charge at them! Unfortunately, the regiment then suffered further by being shot at by British troops whilst retiring (their green uniforms looking much like the enemy’s). Similar confusion occured later, Highlanders stood to arms when a returning Belgian dragoon vedette answered a challenge in French!
Although mauled, the regiment still fought at Waterloo, now down to only 271 sabres. In particular, it counterattacked the French cavalry penetrating between the Allied squares. Van Merlen was unfortunately killed and the 5th Dragoons lost 157, but the regiment had performed magnificently.