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"Regiments of Horse- 'Crossbelts'" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

42flanker08 Aug 2017 2:16 p.m. PST


In the British cavalry, before 'the change,' regiments of Horse were distinguished from regiments of Dragoons, by the wearing of swords suspended on 'cross belts' slung from their right shoulder, while dragoons wore theirs from a waistbelt.

A) Have I got that right?
B) If so, what practical intent lay behind the distinction?

Many thanks.

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2017 2:23 p.m. PST

I am no expert, but think the crossbelts lasted until about half way through the War of the Spanish Succession – when I believe British cavalry changed to a single shoulder strap like the French?

I think Dragoons were differentiated by their infantry like belting, and had softer boots than the horse. Horse had the cross belts to support sword and carbine, the dragoons had sword and bayonet hung from the waistbelt (Horse had their waistbelt under the coat)
Dragoons also had a short musket hung on the right side.

I hope other better informed folk will confirm or correct these assertions!

dbf167609 Aug 2017 3:04 p.m. PST

The cross belts for the British horse lasted until after the SYW.

42flanker09 Aug 2017 4:22 p.m. PST

Yes, until mid-century, anywway. That much I know. Cross belts distinguished regiments of Horse until at least 1746 when they became Dragoon Guards, after which I believe they did their best to avoid being classed as Dragoons in everything but name. DId that include retaing their cross-belts?

in 1775, the 8th Dragoons, inter alia, were converted to Light Dragoons, who were all to wear their swords from shoulder belts. This deprived the 8th Dragoons of the unique 'privilege'(among dragoons) of wearing their swords slung in that manner (a distinction supposedly dating from the WOSS, ; tradition shaky). The nickname 'St George's Cross-Belts' was still current at that time. This distinction, in the form of buff cross-belts was restored by order of King George in 1795, in recognition of the regiment's exploits in Flanders under the Duke of York.

The not-entirely-reliable Richard James wrote in his 'New and Enlarged Military Dictionary' (1802):

"BELTS… the horse to have cross-belts; the dragoon-guards and dragoons to have only one shoulder belt, except the 8th regiment, which is permitted to wear cross belts."

It reads as if Jsmes was quoting from an official order, 'the Horse' perhaps referring to the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards (The Blues), otherwise I am not sure how there could be reference to "The Horse" fifty years after the conversion to Dragoon Guards.

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