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"British Cavalry Shabraques for 1809 to 1812" Topic

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Trockledockle25 Sep 2021 7:38 a.m. PST

I understand that a grey blanket was used on campaign but my figures have the dress shabraques. I have looked at various Ospreys, Franklin, Mollo, Vinkhuizen etc and am unclear about what colours these were.

For 1812 onwards they seem to be as follows:
For Hussars, they were pointed and in blue with various edgings (facings or lace)
For Light Dragoons, they were rounded and in blue with the edging in the lace colour (white or yellow)
For Heavy Dragoons, they were in the facing colour with the edging in the lace colour (white or yellow)

Prior to 1812, there is less information but my summary is the following:
For Hussars – as above
For Light Dragoons, they were pointed and in blue with the edging in the lace colour. Earlier, they seem to have been in the facing colour with lace edging but this changed about 1800(?)
For Heavy Dragoons, they were in red with lace or facing edging.

Any help or further information will be much appreciated.

dibble25 Sep 2021 4:39 p.m. PST

Hmm! I can honestly say that I have seen no actual evidence that the shabraque for other ranks was used on campaign (or I have but have lost all recollection). As for officers, they would have used a cheaper, less adorned shabraque. I have a contemporary picture showing a 1st Hussar KGL using the grey blanket. and a couple of others where just the saddle and sheepskin is used, I may have more information on this and that pertaining the shabraque patterns, but I'll have to delve into my ever-deepening archive when I have the time.

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Trockledockle27 Sep 2021 2:59 p.m. PST

Thanks Dibble. Based on your comments, I've done a bit more research (references 1 and 2) and found the following:

1: From 1768, the cavalry had housings and holster caps that seem generally to have been in the facing colour with edging in the lace colour. There were exceptions in the heavy cavalry regiments some of which had red housings (1st Dragoon Guards, 1st Dragoons and 4th Dragoons). Housings were not usually taken on campaign. White goatskin (troopers) and black bearskin (officers?) saddlecloths were also used

2: A warrant was issued on 27th July 1796 abolishing horse housings and holster caps for troopers for all the cavalry. Officers could continue to use them for a while longer and there is a paintings from 1808 of an officer of the 4th Dragoons with them. This warrant would explain Dibble's comment about not seeing pictures of them. It's unlikely that the officer's housings were used on campaign. Either a plain saddle or a grey blanket was used in the field.

3: The first Hussars appeared in 1805 and they adopted shabraques. There are paintings of officers with them in sometimes in the old style with a field in the facing colour and edging in the lace colour. Later pictures show troopers on campaign with blue edged in white or red (15th).

4: Shabraques seem to have been adopted by the rest of the cavalry (along with sheepskins) with the 1812 dress uniforms. Light Dragoons had blue with edging in the colour of their regiment's lace, Hussars were as above and Heavy cavalry had the facing colour with lace colour edging. The 4th Dragoons seem to have stuck with a red field. These were not taken on campaign- again agrey blanket to protect the horse was used.

There is a later note from the 1820's saying that housings had not been issued to the heavy cavalry.

In summary, other than for Hussars, it seems that shabraques were not used from 1799 to 1812 and certainly not on campaign. They were only used in full dress with the 1812 uniform.


1: Barthorp, British Cavalry Uniforms since 1660, pages 48 to 77
2: Journal of the Society of Army Historical Research Articles by the Reverend P. Sumner in particular No 55, page 138

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2021 1:49 a.m. PST

Hussars are an absolute minefield in that they repeatedly changed facings etc.

My best guess at one time was blue shabraque edged in the facing colour. Unfortunately there seem to be many exceptions, which could be old vs new kit, but hard to be sure.

Trockledockle01 Oct 2021 11:31 a.m. PST

I've looked at The British Military Library published in 1799-1801. There are colour plates of most of the heavy cavalry regiments and some of the light dragoons. The Dragoons and Dragoon Guards usually have a plain saddle except for the Scots Greys where it is a plain white goatskin. The Royal Horse Guards have a blue shabraque lined in yellow and the Life Guards also have the white goatskin.

The Light Dragoons pictured sometimes (about half) had a blue shabraque with a pointed end and white edging. I think that all the pictures are of officers.

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