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"How long did Tarleton helmets last as “generic Dragoons”?" Topic

19 Posts

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1,340 hits since 22 Jun 2018
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Winston Smith22 Jun 2018 9:48 p.m. PST

I really like the Tarleton helmet. In fact the Americans seem to gave outfitted a few units with it.
I'm thinking about doing Mad Anthony Wayne's Legion. But since I have a lot of AWI Dragoons, I think I'll pass in getting figures for Legion Dragoons.

Which brings up a few questions about the "Tarleton" helmet.
Did he invent it?
If so, why would some American units adopt it. Or did they?

Did it last into Napoleonic Times? I read a story, which may or may not be true, that Wellington was sorely peeved when British Dragoons switched to French style shakos, resulting in friendly fire incidents at dusk.

What other nations used a more or less similar design?

Any more fascinating trivia about this helmet would be appreciated.

Wolfshanza22 Jun 2018 11:17 p.m. PST

The Mexican 1st cavalry regt. wore it for the MAW.

attilathepun4722 Jun 2018 11:47 p.m. PST

British light dragoons kept wearing Tarleton helmets through most of the Napoleonic War era. The official switch to shakos only came in 1812. As usual, there are doubts about how quickly the new issue reached units in the field. The U.S. regular light dragoons wore a different style of helmet during the War of 1812, but versions of the Tarleton were the most common form of head wear for American militia cavalry throughout the War of 1812 and some continued in use well beyond 1815, if I'm remembering correctly. Keep in mind that the militia cavalry were "volunteer" companies who outfitted themselves at their own expense, and therefore did pretty much as they pleased in matters of uniform.

Also, some French infantry wore Tarletons (or something very similar) early in the Wars of the French Revolution. And it was also in use by Spanish light infantry to some degree.

Glengarry522 Jun 2018 11:50 p.m. PST

It's a sweet hat. The French wore them before and during the French Revolution. During the War of 1812 the New York Militia Dragoons wore red uniforms and Tarletons and caused a panic amongest their own side when they appeared on the battlefield! The British also put "roach" plumes on top hats. The Bavarian Raupenhelm comes pretty close, doesn't quite reach the front of the helmet.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2018 2:13 a.m. PST

There is a letter in Wellington's correspondence, when he was consulted about new uniforms, saying how much more important shape rather than color was from a distance, and how helpful the Tarletons of his light dragoons and the stovepipe shakos of his infantry were in that regard. I have not seen a letter critiquing the new light dragoon shako. I doubt there is one, since he knew the Prince Regent had a hand in the new uniforms. But I can't imagine him not being thoroughly annoyed.

Ironsides23 Jun 2018 3:31 a.m. PST

From 1794 the Light Dragoons of The Danish-Norwegian army began to use Tarleton type helmet, in 1798 the Danish Horse Guards wore issued one and from 1801 to 1806 the Volunteer unit Kongens Livjæger wore one too.
From the Wiki page he didn't invent it; link
and from this link it was introduced in 1771 to the British army by Lt. General William Keppel, and were a variant of those used by European countries; link

RudyNelson23 Jun 2018 6:52 a.m. PST

There is artwork showing Georgia State troops wearing it during the early stages of the War of 1813-14 against the Upper Creek tribes. It is part of the display at the Horseshoe Bend museum.
According to the Ranger there, they were discarded after only a few months by field expedite toons.

willthepiper23 Jun 2018 8:07 a.m. PST

The Royal Horse Artillery were still wearing tarletons at Waterloo, Airfix taught me that decades ago!


KSmyth23 Jun 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

American Dragoons weirdly adopted green uniforms in 1799, but kept their Tarleton helmets. They were disbanded entirely in Jefferson's Republican reforms, after 1801, due to the expense of maintaining men and horses. But they were raised again--without horses--in 1808, the Tarletons were gone. These foot dragoons had a helmet that resembled those of the War of 1812 light dragoons. According to Osprey 352 The United States Army 1783-1811.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2018 9:49 a.m. PST

The design 'prepared under the direction' of General Keppel was not the so-called 'Tarleton' but the leather Light Infantry cap with a turn-up frontal flap and concentric chains on the crown (hence the alternative name of 'chain cap). It may be that the 16th Queen's Light dragoons were the earliest recorded regiment to wear the Tarleton-style cap, reputedly arriving in America with new caps. Leather caps or 'helmet caps' probably originated in Germany. Colonel Bouquet refers to 'bonnets Allemands' of leather for the 60th in the 1750s, and German miners wore leather caps similar to the 'Keppel' style of cap.

4th Cuirassier23 Jun 2018 11:24 a.m. PST

@ willthepiper

Although accurate in this instance one had to be careful with Airfix uniform accuracy. The RHA box art is a repaint of the ACW set:


willthepiper23 Jun 2018 7:25 p.m. PST

4th C,

Thanks for this. I should have added a smiley or a winkey face, as I'm well aware that for many Airfix sets, historical accuracy was only a matter of coincidence. I many cases they were just toys 'inspired' by history. But in relation to the OP, it was fun to use the box art
to show RHA used the Tarleton helmet through the end of the Napoleonic wars.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2018 1:23 a.m. PST

To give credit to the Airfix RHA, they were amongst the best plastic figures they ever released (what a contract to the awful French). Unlike on the box tops, they even gave the drivers the tailed jacket and correct bastion style lace.

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2018 2:43 a.m. PST

Am I alone in thinking the Tarleton is an ugly design of headgear? I much prefer the shako, Raupenhelm, or pretty much anything else. Perhaps it's just me.

Major Bloodnok24 Jun 2018 3:27 a.m. PST

The Batavian light dragoons wore Tarelton helmets, before they were turned into cuirassier. In fact some were still wearing their light dragoon uniforms in Hamburg 1806-07

Winston Smith24 Jun 2018 7:56 a.m. PST

Yes you are, Lambert.
I think they're lovely.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2018 12:32 p.m. PST

I dunno.

Lambert is right.

Read Mercer on the original and then the smartened version of the helmet, He had an eye for fashion. I think it may have depended on occifer vs dragoon look…

Vincent the Librarian24 Jun 2018 3:34 p.m. PST

I really like the USA Light dragoon headwear (also the French Dragoon helmets) than Tarleton, although it is good at distinguishing USA regulars and militia dragoons.

Mike Petro24 Jun 2018 5:13 p.m. PST

Idk Lambert, i really like the tarleton. I mean after painting a thousand shakos, a different look is very welcome for this period.

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