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"British Household Cavalry Command" Topic

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Tumbleweed Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2011 8:17 p.m. PST

I'm sure someone has already asked this question, but here goes:

The Household cavalry were mounted on black horses in 1815, but what about the officers, standard-bearers and buglers?

4th Cuirassier21 Feb 2011 2:42 a.m. PST

Great question.

I thought officers chose their own horse and buglers always had greys, presumably so the former could quickly find the latter after a ruck to sound new orders.

But that's a mere assumption. Here's hoping others will be along with better info.

deephorse21 Feb 2011 6:03 a.m. PST

The Osprey book on Wellington's Heavy Cavalry, when discussing which regiment had what colour horses, simply says that "it was usual to mount trumpeters on greys".

By John 5421 Feb 2011 11:07 a.m. PST

And they didn't carry standards into action, but the junior officer, the Cornet, who would have, if they had, would have purchased his own horse(s) I know the Houshold troops had many rank differences from the line, so it may not have been a Cornet!


Tumbleweed Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2011 3:13 p.m. PST

Thanks everyone. Your help is appreciated.

Greystreak22 Feb 2011 5:39 p.m. PST

From General Charles P. Ainslie's The Royal Regiment of Dragoons The Historical Record of the First or The Royal Regiment of Dragoons; Chapman & Hall: London, 1887. pp. 106-107, quotes the 10th August 1799 Order from Horse Guards:


The heavy cavalry, with the exception of the two regiments of Life Guards and Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, are to be mounted on nag-tailed horses.

The First, or King's Regiment of Dragoon Guards; the First, or Royal Regiment of Dragoons; the Third, or King's Own Regiment of Dragoons, are to be mounted on black nag-tailed horses.

The Second, or Queen's Regiment of Dragoon Guards, are to be mounted on nag-tailed horses of the colours of bay and brown.

The Second, or Royal North British Regiment of Dragoons, are to be mounted on nag-tailed grey horses.

All other regiments of heavy cavalry on the British establishment are to be mounted on nag-tailed horses of the colours of bay, brown, and chestnut.

The custom of mounting trumpeters on grey horses is to be discontinued, and they are in future to be mounted on horses of the colour or colours prescribed for the regiments to which they belong.

Harvey Calvert,

Horse Guards

10th August, 1799."

In other words, non-conformance was NOT an 'option', it seems.

ScottS24 Feb 2012 10:38 a.m. PST

Bumping an old thread…

Would this "no grey horses" order apply to other Dragoon units? The 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, for example?

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2015 12:49 p.m. PST

Bumping this up again, in answer to Scott's question:-

It would seem that the order applied to ALL hevy caavalry regiments. However……

In 1814, and 1818, paintings of the 4th (Queen's Own) Dragoons showed grey horses for the trumpeters – the trumpeters themselves all being black. The latter was a regimental tradition going back to c.1715, so possibly the grey horses were kept for the same reason. That said, the regiment would have just returned from the Peninsula in 1814, and may possibly have obtained a large number of remounts, including greys, and determined to use them (I don't know if they had them in the Peninsula or not).

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

I'm just reading 'The Cavalry that Broke Napoleon', history of the King's Dragoon Guards by Richard Goldsbrough. Apparently in 1805 the King approved an order to the commanding officer of the KDG to "purchase as many grey horses as are necessary to mount the Trumpeters of your regiment at present mounted on horses of different colour". Together with the other examples of trumpeters on greys given above, I wonder if the general order of 1799 was widely ignored in this respect? Are there eye witnesses that specifically say British trumpeters in 1815 rode blacks, bays or browns?

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2017 10:29 a.m. PST

I have only just posted elsewhere on this book and its title….literally five minutes ago.

The title alone makes me reject the content, to be honest.

I read it in Foyle's in London, in 30 mins, and put it back on the shelf.

Trumpeters on greys makes perfect sense…only snag is that we have seen so much evidence this did not apply to British Cavalry by 1815.

Nor did "docked" tails apply to guard horses…actually they were "nagged" even for non guard cavalry. The difference? Ask the horse. Like Circumcision vs emasculation……work that out for yourselves and which you would favour. If you are a male reading this, I must stress…..

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2017 12:12 p.m. PST

Thanks deadhead. The book isn't well written but there's enough new information in it (for me) to make it interesting.

You say "Trumpeters on greys makes perfect sense…only snag is that we have seen so much evidence this did not apply to British Cavalry by 1815". What evidence, apart from the general order of 1799? That is my question.

If I'm going over old ground and there are previous threads on this then apologies, but I can't find them.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2017 3:22 a.m. PST

To be honest….only that general order which was very specific…..and does acknowledge that there had been "The custom of mounting trumpeters on grey horses"….something I once thought was largely French practice, even if later artists have suggested international.

My objection to the book was almost solely based on the title. After that my mindset was against it, without proper analysis I freely admit.

By John 5424 Jan 2017 7:53 p.m. PST

To be fair, deadhead, my friend was touting about a book to publishers a coupla years back, about WW1 British Cavalry, and was told, unless it has Hitler, or Napoleon, in the title, the Americans just won't buy it. So, a book about the Dambusters raid, originally called, 'Breaching the Dams' was retitled, 'Breaching Hitlers Dams' I suspect this title suffered the same fate!


Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2017 5:36 a.m. PST

I heard the same thing in the obituary of the poor chap who wrote "I Sank the Bismarck" (Swordfish pilot).

Not his idea…the publishers insisted. Led to much bad feeling.

What I saw of The cavalry That etc……looked well enough written. Not sure if any novelty as I abandoned it after a very superficial skim through. "The Lie at the Heart of Waterloo" book proved far better than the daft title

Marc at work25 Jan 2017 6:51 a.m. PST

And grey horses? Any more evidence of their inclusion or not? I like greys as they stand out on the table, but don't like to go "pure fantasy" all the time…

pbishop1202 Feb 2017 7:22 p.m. PST

So I'm not a purist and go for the aesthetics. ALL my French, British, Portugese, spanish cavalry have trumpeters on greys. And ALL my cavalry leave the barracks with their colours.

dibble03 Feb 2017 2:32 a.m. PST

Supercilius Maximus

In 1814, and 1818, paintings of the 4th (Queen's Own) Dragoons showed grey horses for the trumpeters the trumpeters themselves all being black.

Those grey horses and black musicians belonged to the regimental band and were not trooper trumpeters.

Paul :)

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2017 11:29 a.m. PST

So…has anyone seen any contemporary paintings showing trooper trumpeters?

dibble03 Feb 2017 2:33 p.m. PST

All I've seen is a tantalising glimpse of a Scots Greys trumpeter in that famouse Night Before Waterloo painting. I have found absolutely diddly-squat of a mounted trumpeter of other regiments. Even Simkin shows only mounted kettle drummers and they are 'mostly' on white horses and post Napoleonic.

This type of lack of Information is a typical problem when it comes to the British army of the period, which is bloody annoying.

Paul :(

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP04 Feb 2017 1:50 p.m. PST

Yes, it's annoying not knowing, but it does at least mean that my trumpeters on grey horses may be historically accurate for all anyone knows.

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