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"Best proper Carabiners a cheval" Topic

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Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 10:51 a.m. PST

In 28mm. By proper I mean before they pussied up with armor.
I know front rank makes them But not a fan of the older FR sculpts.
So far the foundry ones look the best.

Brechtel19807 Sep 2017 11:13 a.m. PST

…before they pussied up with armor.


It wasn't the carabiniers choice to become armored. Napoleon ordered it because of their heavy losses in 1809.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 12:27 p.m. PST

They could have thrown them away like the real menn they were supposed to be. The Dutch did it in the Spanish succession. British cavalry in the SYW did it too.

Brechtel19807 Sep 2017 1:41 p.m. PST

I don't think so.

Quite an incredible idea, and incorrect, on the character of the two regiments.

And the British Life and Horse Guards adopted body armor after the wars…

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 1:46 p.m. PST

Have you met my friend? He's called a sense of humour.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 1:58 p.m. PST

I would just kill for decent Armoured Carabiniers!

The Front Rank figures are so well cast, but in dreadful poses. All are leaning back, at an angle suggesting too much ale or hit by canister. My purchases have lived in the garage for two years unloved.

The Perrys plastics just do not work. The heads are too narrow in the coronal plane and the faces are strangely not as well done as the cuirassiers. ….and they do not do metals! We can get Danish Engineers Mounted Rifles Volunteers….but not one of the best known units…in metal.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 2:19 p.m. PST

As I said the foundry ones look the best. link but I would have preferred perry or new Front rank. But sadly FR doesn't seem to want to make reinforcement packs for cavalry.

Edwulf07 Sep 2017 9:13 p.m. PST

Could you not use grenadier heads on dragoon bodies?

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 11:43 p.m. PST

Would these not do with minor conversion of bearskins lace and rounded portmanteau?


Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 1:13 a.m. PST

I have thought about it. But even minor conversions is above my pay grade

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 2:09 a.m. PST

OK paint job only. I missed the dog's tooth edging and the horse should be black, but, if you are not bothered by the lace on the bearskin and there is much suggestion that square portmanteau is right………..

Funny thing. Foundry show them with white fringed epaulettes!


Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 2:24 a.m. PST

What exactly is portmanteau?

Edwulf08 Sep 2017 2:43 a.m. PST

It's the cavalry bag on the back of saddle. Usually has the unit numbers/insignia on the edge

Three Armies08 Sep 2017 2:45 a.m. PST

lol @ pussied up. What like American footballers? lol

Yeah a sad lack of Carabiniers on the market. Of course I will have to do some for my 1805-8 French stuff but now sure when. And some late Carabiniers wearing the long coats would look nice too. So many ideas so few days :(

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 2:55 a.m. PST

It's the cavalry bag on the back of saddle. Usually has the unit numbers/insignia on the edge

Ah thank you. What a strange gap in my knowledge. I've painted dozens and dozens of them. Never thought about if they actually had a specific name.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 2:57 a.m. PST

lol @ pussied up. What like American footballers? lol

Yes, original carabiniers are rugby after 1810 they became little league American football

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 3:28 a.m. PST

Valise would do as an alternative. The name portmanteau suggests carrying a cloak, which it surely did in French service anyway.

Le Breton08 Sep 2017 7:52 a.m. PST

"Napoleon ordered it because of their heavy losses in 1809."

Odd thing is, that the carabiniers à cheval had exactly the same average officer casualties per regiment as the 4 regiments of cuirassiers in the same division : 23 (each of all 6 regiments fielded 4 squadrons with the same establishment).

Also, the décret of 24 décembre 1809 ordering them to be armored did not mention about losses, only that they would have the same "advantage" as cuirassiers.

Actually, I could find no mention of Napoléon's concern about their losses until 1865. The concern has been repeatedly noted since then almost wheever the topic is mentioed. But I could not find it before then.

Edwulf08 Sep 2017 8:36 a.m. PST

For several years I had no idea what it was and assumed it was just decoration or something to wrap a blanket around.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 9:30 a.m. PST

"Napoleon ordered it because of their heavy losses in 1809."

Odd thing is, that the carabiniers à cheval had exactly the same average officer casualties per regiment as the 4 regiments of cuirassiers in the same division : 23 (each of all 6 regiments fielded 4 squadrons with the same establishment).

Also, the décret of 24 décembre 1809 ordering them to be armored did not mention about losses, only that they would have the same "advantage" as cuirassiers.

Actually, I could find no mention of Napoléon's concern about their losses until 1865. The concern has been repeatedly noted since then almost wheever the topic is mentioed. But I could not find it before then.

I've never bought it. If he was so concerned and thought the cuirass helped that much. Why did he not armor his guard heavy cavalry the empress dragoons and particularly the grenadiers a cheval (that was dressed almost exactly like the he cuirassiers)

4th Cuirassier08 Sep 2017 10:08 a.m. PST

I reckon he did it for a bet with Murat.

They each designed the most out-there uniform they could think of, nominated a unit of the other's army and then spoofed for it. The loser had to uniform a unit in the winner's scheme.

The game started when Napoleon made Murat Grand Duke of Berg, whereupon drink was taken. Napoleon dreamed up this pink thing, nominated the lancers of Berg, and won, to general hilarity.

They played again after Wagram and this time Napoleon lost, resulting in the carabiniers. He played Frederick of Prussia in 1812, nominating the Silesian hussars, and won again, with the result that the Silesians wore brown jackets, grey trousers, black condoms over their shakoes, and miserable expressions.

There is some evidence that Murat won a game against the King of Greece.


Stoppage08 Sep 2017 2:13 p.m. PST



Brechtel19808 Sep 2017 2:43 p.m. PST

‘Our two regiments of Carabiniers will be cuirassed. A style of cuirass and helmet are to be proposed which, while maintaining a difference between the Carabiniers and Cuirassiers, will offer protection to the former. To this effect, as soon as the aforementioned regiments receive their cuirasses, their muskets will be withdrawn.'-Napoleon.

‘One of the consequences of the 1809 campaign for the Carabiniers was the decree of 24 December that year [1809] that they should receive a whole new uniform. Witnessing the marvelous charges made by the brigade, the Emperor had noted the number of lost bearskins and consequently, of head wounds. His first order to reduce this type of injury was the introduction of chin scales; the Carabiniers had to wait until they were in Vienna before these could be ordered and fixed to the bearskins. At the same time long white cap lines began to appear, to prevent the bearskin getting lost even if it was knocked off.'-Ron Pawly, Napoleon's Carabiniers, 13.

‘It was 1809 before Napoleon had a close association with [the Carabiniers]. That year they served temporarily as his escort, the Guard cavalry still being on the road from Spain. The Emperor's eye for detail quickly noted that their bearskins gave little protection against a hard sabre cut and were easily dislodged. He also was struck by both their value and the heavy losses they took at Aspern-Essling and Wagram. His first reaction was the common sense move of ordering chin straps; his next was to order both regiments put into cuirass and helmet.'-John Elting, Swords Around A Throne, 235.

Le Breton08 Sep 2017 3:22 p.m. PST

Brechtel, you really should double check your translator – I do not think she knows French too much.

Here is the text:
"Nos deux régiments de carabiniers seront cuirassés. Il nous sera présenté un projet de cuirasse et de casque, qui, en maintenant une différance entre les carabiniers et les cuirassiers, procure cependant aux carabiniers le même avantage."

It says this :
Our two regiments of carabiners will be cuirassed. We will be presented with a proposal for the cuirass and the helmet which, while maintaining a difference between the carabiniers and the cuirassiers, nonetheless procures for the carabiniers the same advantage."

"avantage" does *not* mean "protection" ….
AVANTAGE. Ce qui est utile, profitable, favorable à quelqu' un. Grand avantage. Insigne avantage. Notable avantage. Avantage considérable. C' est votre avantage. Il n' y a nul avantage pour moi dans le voyage que vous me proposez. On lui a fait tous les avantages possibles. Les avantages de la fortune. Les avantages de la naissance. La beauté, la santé, la bonne constitution, sont de grands avantages de la nature. C'est un homme qui est né avec de grands avantages. Parler à l'avantage de quelqu'un. C'est un homme qui tire avantage de tout. La querelle a été terminée à son avantage. Il contoit la chose à son avantage. Tirer avantage de tout.
Il signifie aussi, Supériorité, ce qu'on a par-dessus un autre en quelque genre de bien que ce soit. En tous ses combats, il a toujours eu l'avantage. Nos troupes ont eu l'avantage du combat. Les ennemis avoient l'avantage du lieu. Conserver l'avantage du poste. Conserver ses avantages. Ménager ses avantages. Prendre de l'avantage. Profiter de l'avantage. Attaquer quelqu'un avec avantage. Se battre avec avantage.
Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie française. Cinquième Édition. [ 1798 ]

"Ron Pawly, Napoleon's Carabiniers" = after 1865
"John Elting, Swords Around A Throne" = after 1865
But, at least Mssrs. Pawley and Elting do not raise for your translator that horrible problem of knowing French.

Brechtel19808 Sep 2017 4:45 p.m. PST

The quoted translation was in Ron Pawley's book. As he is a Belgian, he might be fluent in French. I didn't translate it myself or have someone do it for me.

If you have a large problem with it, perhaps you should take it up with the author?

I submit that the term 'After 1865' is somewhat meaningless. I have great respect for both Ron Pawley and Col Elting as historians of the period. So, I'll take them at their word as historians and researchers until they are proven wrong. That hasn't been done.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2017 6:37 a.m. PST

Brechie me old mate, I wouldn't be arguing with an actual Frenchman about what French words mean. He'll always have the advantage….

Brechtel19809 Sep 2017 6:44 a.m. PST

I'm not arguing about the translation by Ron Pawley. I'm merely posting regarding the author who posted the quotation.

Again, I didn't translate it, the author of the book referred to did. I posted the translation.

So, if there are any questions on the translation, they shouldn't be put to me.

By the way, I know what 'avantage' means.

Le Breton09 Sep 2017 9:33 a.m. PST


You posted what you think was Napoléon's reason for issuing armor to the carabiniers : "Napoleon ordered it because of their heavy losses in 1809."

I say that this was not in the order from Napoléon, and that I could not find it before 1865.

You post a mis-translation of the decree that conveniently aligns with your first post. And you quote some post 1865 authors.

But the issue remains, other than stuff written 1865 and later, I can find no indication that Napoleon was concerned about the carabiniers losses. And I do not know why he should have been – as their officer casualties were exactly the same as the cuirassiers in their division

So, basically, your concept ""Napoleon ordered it because of their heavy losses in 1809." looks very very hard to support with contemprarary evidence.
I am coming to the opinion that you (and your lovely English languaguage sources who, like you, didn't or couldn't read the decree on the carabiniers' armor in French) were wrong. You want to believe in Napoléon's care for his troops, so you impute such motives to him when there is utterly no evidence for it.
And that is not history – that is myth-making and propaganda.

If you know what "avantage" means, why did you post the mis-translation?

In the end, can you show any comtemprary evidence at all to support your good opinion of Napoléon motives?

Brechtel19809 Sep 2017 9:48 a.m. PST

I seriously doubt that Napoleon would state in a decree that he was making a unit do something, such as being armored, because of heavy losses. That would not be constructive or useful in getting the units to adopt the change readily.

The decree was for the Carabiniers to be armored. Why else would Napoleon issue that decree than because of the losses they suffered at Essling and Wagram.

Using Martinien, which is also a secondary source, is a best-guess because the enlisted losses are not used and would probably only be a further best-guess.

I posted what Ron Pawley wrote. Again, if you have a problem with his translation, take it up with him.

And, again, the 'post-1865' standard is both curious and misleading.

I would suggest that you're making a tempest-in-a-teapot issue, and since I sincerely doubt you and I will come to an agreement here, as we haven't elsewhere either, the continuation of this 'discussion' is beyond useless and any further discussion can only degenerate into a situation that I would rather not go to.

I'll stick with Col Elting and Ron Pawley.

Gwydion09 Sep 2017 10:53 a.m. PST

What 'avantage' does wearing a cuirass provide if not protection then? Making them look pretty? Or is it really the protection it affords which is the advantage?

Le Breton09 Sep 2017 11:12 a.m. PST


It could be morale-boosting to the wearers, or imposing looking to their adversaries.

It could also be exactly for style : the old uniforms were very old-fashioned and rather plain looking, and the new ones evoked the "glory" of the Empire much better.

In general, the French heavy cavlary of the late ancien régime and révolution was not armored – giving them armor was a project of Napoleon's dating back to the consulate. And he really liked the "Roman-esque" Empire style for heavy cavalry cuirasses and especially helmets.

Or it could have been for better protection. And Napoléon did not want to have this admitted. So it was not until 1865 that someone figured out about his benevolent gesture.

The problem that I wanted to point out was that we have no evidence whatsoever on this topic except : the (correct) wording of Napoléon's order and the statistics for officer casualties for the various regiments. Everything else is opinion, guesswork, etc.

And that is fine, too .… except when someone posts opinion as facts and tries to support this with other modern English language writers equally unsupported opinions, and a convenient mis-translation. That's just not the cool thing to do.

Le Breton09 Sep 2017 11:19 a.m. PST

"They could have thrown them away like the real menn they were supposed to be"
The were "real men".

But not wearing the cuirasses was a choice made by the Saxon heavies in 1812 – they thought them too burdensome for a long distance campaign in hot weather. The lack of armor did not hinder their amazing performance, such as at Borodino.

And of course the French gendarmes and grenadiers à cheval went without armor.

Russians had no armor for their cuirassiers until just as the campaign started.
They had had front-only armor (like the Austrians) under Paul.
British and Italians didn't issue cuirasses in this era. Grand-duchy Poland did (to one half regiment) as did Westphalia.

So, the general opinion about about armoring the heavies was mixed.

Art09 Sep 2017 3:10 p.m. PST

Bonjour Monsieur Le Breton,

I see that once more you are attempting to assist in ending a myth…but as always…

I also see there are two interesting comments:

1…"They could have thrown them away like the real men they were supposed to be"…"They were "real men".

2…The decree was for the Carabiniers to be armored. Why else would Napoleon issue that decree than because of the losses they suffered at Essling and Wagram.

Monsieur Le Breton is right…so if I may assist…

On the 17th of September 1802 Napoleon presented a project to reduce the number of grosse cavalerie to 18 regiments and 2 regiments of carabiniers à cheval, for a total of 20 regiments.

He wanted the first 5 regiments to be given the plastron (cuirasse), and the 8e regiment was to keep their plastons. The rest of the cavalry were to be without the plastron (12 regiments).

If Napoleon had kept with his original project, the carabiniers a cheval would never have been given the plastron or cuirasse (even with heavy loses), but Napoleon's concept for the cavalerie de ligne changed (not the Garde*).

With this new concept of Napoleon's, had he not given the plastron to the carabiniers à cheval, he would have had no alternative but to disband the two regiments of carabiniers à cheval.

But Napoloen was not about to disband the carabiniers à cheval which were now le plus anciens dans les grosse cavalerie par ordre d'ancienneté sur le tableu.

Napoleon's concept for the cavalerie de ligne (not the Garde) now fell into four categories:

1…les cuirassiers (grosse cavalerie avec cuirassés)

2…dragons (demi-legere / cavalerie mixte or auxiliary for les cuirassiers et cavalerie legere reguliere)

3…cavalerie legere reguliere (hussards, lanciers, chasseurs)

4…cavlerie legere ir-reguliere (eclaireurs (scouts), Cossacks…ect…)

To keep the carabiniers à cheval, Napoleon had to make them cuirassiers.


Napoleon understood that if they became exactly like the cuirassiers, they would eventually lose their identity and tradition. So Napoleon in his DECISIONS 4167, 18 avril, 1810 ordered the following:

"Je désirerais d'autres cuirasses que celles du modèle qui m'a été présenté, de sorte qu'on ne pût jamais confondre les carabiniers avec les cuirassiers il faudrait une différence non seulement dans les cuirassés, mais encore dans le casque."


Napoleon also insisted they were never to be referred to as cuirassiers, but as carabiniers…

* the changes which occurred for the grenadiers a cheval and Dragons de la Garde…is that they became "troopers" or what was to be known as "cavalerie francaise", and they were no longer cavalerie mixte (cavalerie with two principle arms) like the 1er régiment de chevau-légers lanciers polonais.

Best Regards

HappyHussar09 Sep 2017 10:27 p.m. PST

My KC Chiefs against any rugby team any time. Will give you guys 3:1 odds on the other side of the "pond." ;) Won't last long as our linemen knock your knicker-wearers over like tenpins ROFL

langobard Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 4:52 a.m. PST

So, to get back to the original question, are we going with Gunfreak's suggestion of Foundry as the best early uniformed Carabiniers currently available?

Marcel180910 Sep 2017 6:47 a.m. PST

I have the Foundry figures in my collection and they look spot on, absolutely great figures and they never let me down in a wargame, so just go for them. This being sai I kindda like the Front Rank figures to , the poses are indeed not their best but they have this "heavy cavalry" feel about them

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 7:56 a.m. PST

Oh, they are heavy are Front Rank Carabiniers. No doubt at all. They are highly detailed and superbly cast.

But they are all leaning back and watching for Stukas at a ridiculous angle. My entire unit is unused and unloved in a box in the attic. I had thought of using the wounded one solo, as at least his pose makes some sense

Brownand10 Sep 2017 8:25 a.m. PST

Deadhead, when I look at the pictures on the FR site they seem normal; sure you didn't do anything wrong?

4th Cuirassier10 Sep 2017 10:35 a.m. PST

The sabres on the FR look straight but should be curved. Not hard to fix though.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 10:38 a.m. PST

Should the Carabiners have curved sabers? I thought all heavy cavalry used straight swords?

Le Breton10 Sep 2017 1:36 p.m. PST

Supposed to be straight ….




However, a superior officer might choose something more "à la Montmorency" ….


Gwydion10 Sep 2017 2:45 p.m. PST

Le Breton, many thanks for that. Entirely content that we rely on primary sources and with the rest of what you say. Looking at my comment it could have been taken as sarcasm (which it was not meant to be), apologies and thank you for explaining further.
Best wishes

Le Breton10 Sep 2017 7:54 p.m. PST

No thanks needed. Everybody's questions lead to interesting new info.
And, best of all – if I answer a few, then I feel free to post my own questions!

4th Cuirassier11 Sep 2017 1:25 a.m. PST

I'll have to check my sources but my recollection is that carabiniers carried a sword with a slight curve. Not curved like a light cavalry sword, but not dead straight either. I think this is in Haythornthwaite.

Historex sells 54mm curved carabinier swords and straight heavy cavalry swords…<shrug>

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2017 3:32 a.m. PST

From a short google, the swords were straight, then with the silly armor, they got slightly curved blades.

von Winterfeldt11 Sep 2017 9:15 a.m. PST

Yes, from 1811 onwards, at leasts according to regulations slightly curved blades.

Best Carabiniers à Cheval in old uniform – AB of course in 18 mm, with Surtout worn in the 1806/07 campaign, I love them.

Le Breton11 Sep 2017 10:08 a.m. PST

"according to regulations"

As far as I know, based on the configuration of the grenadiers à cheval sabre of 1810 (dit "type 3"), all the cuirassiers, dragons and carabiniers à cheval were supposed to get (very) slightly curved sabres. In the Bardin regulations' planches, No. 948 showws the carabiniers – their grenade poised with something that looks like a butterfly more than a clam shell – the detail something like the sabre of the maréchaussées before the revolution.

However, other than a few officer models (an example was linked), I would be very interested to see examples of this as issued equipment. I thoguth t did not hapen, but would be very pleased to shown to be in error.

Brechtel19811 Sep 2017 11:01 a.m. PST

According to Rousselot in Planches 44 (Carabiniers 1804-1810), and 2 (Carabiniers 1810-1815) the sabres for 1804-1810 were of the models AN IV and AN IX, both with straight blades for both officers and enlisted men. Both model sabres were used simultaneously and they only differed in the model AN IX by a tip and ferrule were of copper.

The Carabiniers of 1810-1815 used a sabre with a slightly curved blade, probably the same AN XIII model cuirassier sabre. And the enlisted men used the AN XI dragoon model scabbard. The blades were 'a la Montmorency.'

From Rousselot, Planche 2:

'As a result of the heavy losses sustained by the two regiments of Carabiniers during the campaign of 1809, the Emperor resolved to afford better protection to these, the elite of the cavalry regiments, by equipping them with the cuirass and on the 24th December of the same year he signed the following decree:'

First Article

'Our two regiments of Carabiniers will be cuirassed. A style cuirass and helmet will be proposed which, whilst maintaining a difference between the Carabiniers and the Cuirassiers, will offer equal protection to the former. To this effect, as soon as the aforementioned regiments receive their cuirasses, their muskets will be abolished.'

Article Premier

'Nos deux regiments de carabiniers seront cuirasses. Il nous sera presente in projet de cuirasse et de casque qui, en maintenant une difference entre les carabiniers et les cuirassiers, procurement cependent aux carabiniers la meme advantage. A cet efft, aussitot que lesdits regiments seront cuirasses, leurs fusils seront supprimes.'

For information, I have left out the French accents over the appropriate terms.

So, it appears that Rousselot also believed that the carabiniers were armored because of the losses incurred during the campaign of 1809.

That begs the question, why would they be armored if they haven't suffered heavy casualties?

Art11 Sep 2017 11:41 a.m. PST

Monsieur Le Breton et Hans-Karl

I like the Carabiniers à Cheval best when there was a compagnie in each regiment…such as the bataille de fleures with the Marechal de Luxembourg…

later…in 1742, on the 22nd of Aout…300 dismounted carabiniers a pied where at the head of the colonnes d'attaque…that is when they were cavalerie grave…

Does anyone know what their calotte looked like?

Best Regards

4th Cuirassier11 Sep 2017 1:12 p.m. PST

why would they be armored if they haven't suffered heavy casualties?

The only reason I can think of would be to clarify their status. Not line, but not Guard, yet they looked like the Horse Grenadiers. So, make them look like something more than a cuirassier.

The problems with that reasoning though are the timing – i.e. why did Napoleon decide only in 1810 that he needed to clarify their status – and that there's no source for it.

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