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"Austrian Dragoons vs Chevaux Legers - questions" Topic

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Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2021 3:05 a.m. PST

What's the collective wisdom on these?

I picked up some of the rather nice Eagle 28mm sculpts of these at Salute on the weekend. The same figure is I believe paintable as either, although perhaps the musketoon should be shorter for the CL. I can live with that if so.

My sources (Rawkins and the Acerbi stuff off the Napoleon series) seem to say, if I have read properly, that dragoons initially wore white and CLs green. After about 1802 this supposedly changed to white for CLs too, except it didn't, and some stayed in green.

If I have understood this correctly, therefore, an 1805 Austrian force could comprise dragoons in white and CLs in green. Does that sound about right?

The impression I have is that Austrian dragoons were constructive light dragoons, whether so named or not. Is this impression accurate?

Also, I am trying to get to grips with the issue of regiment size. Actual quoted strengths seem to be around or in excess of 1,100 men per regiment. This is, frankly, too large a footprint to manoeuvre in the likely amount of table space. Were the smaller components into which these regiments were divided, eg 2-squadron divisions, tactical components or administrative? I.e. could one have one or two 250-man double squadrons or something?

Unless I've missed it there does not seem to be any book focusing specifically on the Austrian cavalry.

pfmodel15 Nov 2021 3:20 a.m. PST

This may assist you;

The period you are dealing with does affect size, as at Marango some dragoon regiments(sic) consists of only 272 men (The 1st Austrian Dragons). At other battles the formations were larger.

Also, the Austrians did a bit of name changing, i can't remember exactly but i think the CL may have been called dragoons, or perhaps vice versa, at some points in time.

I am not sure i would call Austrian Dragoons "Light dragoons", as the men and horses were standard dragoon size, but again it depends on the period.

Perhaps this video may also assist you.

Finally, the armies of the napoleonic era by Otto von Pivka has some good info.

Decebalus15 Nov 2021 3:46 a.m. PST

From a wargamer point of view:

Yes, Dragoons in white, CL in green makes sense especially for 1805.

Dragoons had standards, CL didnt.

Ruleswise, tha Dragoons were heavy cavalry, CL light cavalry, that is also visible in the bridle. But the change seems to show, that these roles could easily be reversed.

The paper in the Perry Austrian heavy Cavalry box has some good pictures and information.

Cavcmdr15 Nov 2021 4:15 a.m. PST

@ pfmodel

Thank you very much for the link.
Great stuff. Especially the examples of cavalry combats.

Vive L'Emperor of the Battlefield

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2021 4:40 a.m. PST

Thanks. The Napoleonistyka page is verbatim from either Rawkins or Acerbi, I forget which.

One of the challenges of this army at this era is finding information pertinent to 1805. I have been seeing the same breakdown of the 1809 army for the last 44 years. The same information for 1805 is vanishingly elusive. One of the problems is that units started as chevaux-legers then became light dragoons then dragoons then chevaux-legers again. This makes me wonder how heavy dragoons were generally as they seem to have both derived from and reverted to light horse units.

The Austrian and British armies resembled each remarkably and this light dragoons / dragoons thing is one of the ways.

Stoppage15 Nov 2021 4:58 a.m. PST

The Austrian Grand-divisions of two squadrons affords some flexibility – you don't have to field whole regiments – you can have a mix of different ones.

If your rules model cavalry as a regiment in line then an Austrian Grand-division will match up with a weak French regiment.

If your rules model cavalry as squadrons then you can sport your Austrians as a line two squadrons wide or one up and one back in support.

Against infantry the difference between chevauleger/light-dragoon/dragoon is probably immaterial. Being able to counter-attack with a small force of one grand-division might give Austrians some "special sauce". (Versus committing a whole regiment.)

Against French heavy cavalry (cuirassiers) then being a (British) Dragoon-guard versus (Austrian) Dragoon probably will matter. (Of course, later on with Cavalry reserves this will matter morely.)

There is another TMP thread which highlighted the similarities between the Austrian and British armies. (Someone at Horse Guards was cribbing from the Hofskriegrat )

von Winterfeldt15 Nov 2021 6:32 a.m. PST

just check the Militärschematismus which will provide year for year the uniform coat colour and other details.

shadoe0115 Nov 2021 11:10 a.m. PST

A link to the copy in the Hungarian library is here…


SHaT198415 Nov 2021 1:08 p.m. PST

>>Unless I've missed it there does not seem to be any book focusing specifically on the Austrian cavalry.

The Acerbi book from Hellion (cheaper elsewhere now) is a revelation. Though I found the translation problematic and academic geek-speak a bit annoying. BUY IT!
Cheat Sheet: link

On others, I say "Not necessarily so old chap…"

1- The 'change' of designation didn't alter dress for everyone. So one schema does not fit all.

2- The 'reversal' of same, ditto. I venture that despite wargamers wishes, swapping designation/ hierarchy made little to no difference in tactics or use in the near term. Putting a duck in chicken feathers wont make it a chicken.

3- As cited, irrelevant what you call them. They were utilised virtually the same way. Perhaps, if one can find a doctrinal document, CL were used in more outpost/ scouting roles rather than Dragoons. But equally both did it.

4- Quoting strengths of units is both naive and ridiculous. Divisions were tactical units, as we like to use squadron. Only upon reading a designated OB can you determine the strength vs composition.
The 'presence' of a regimental name, doesn't mean ALL OF IT. Ever!

The 1805 campaign for Austria, is a bit like the 1815 for the French, an 'abstract' one where different factors impacted~ like Macks 'reforms'.

In some combats divisions had the operational strength of an under strength French squadron. So the 'comparison' is void.

It is glaringly obvious that Austria though hadn't dropped the Revolutionary (and before?) habit of dividing regiments significantly into smaller 'divisions' and attaching to infantry formations. Only a small body of multiple horse regiments was usually held. Often as not a couple of Kurassier, but then they too were parcelled out singly.

An example in impotence of such forces:
The Austrian 4th (March) Column at Austerlitz was nearly entirely infantry. Except for a division of the Archduke Johns Dragoons, which was allocated to the small 'avant-garde' of Russians but under Kollowrath. Upon the Russian contact with the French at Pratze they had to retire because neither the ground nor their strength were of any use against the massed lines of French infantry.

Without looking it up- *I believe they did advance as if to succour some of the Russians and threaten the French, but received such [volley] fire by doing so they retired to the plateau proper and took little to no further active part.*

5- Virtually no rules allow for a physical displacement 'in echelon' anyway. So while the sight of such a sweeping formation is attractive, the 'delivery' of prototype attacks is usually not well modelled or reproduced.

regards fellas

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2021 1:14 p.m. PST

After reading as much as I could find, I came to the conclusion, "Pick one and go with it", as far as colors, light versus heavy dragoons, etc. It seems to have changed with the wind.

SHaT198415 Nov 2021 1:42 p.m. PST

>>light versus heavy dragoons,

There is no 'heavy'.
They didn't, we shouldn't. Simple. Any rules that tell you otherwise, are wrong.
By its' very nomenclature, C-L means light. That is sufficient derivation, doesn't mean they didn' do everything anyone else did.

pfmodel15 Nov 2021 5:00 p.m. PST

One of the challenges of this army at this era is finding information pertinent to 1805.

This is very true. Otto Von Pivka book "ARMIES OF THE NAPOLEONIC ERA" is a good source of the early Austrian army going back to 1789, which is when the Dragoons and Chevau-légers were combined, at least by name. Prior to this there was a mixing of both troop types into a single regiment, so there is clearly a deeper story around this reorganisation which would require doing some research prior to 1789.

Some of the Dragoon regiments were called Light Dragoons, such as the 1st Light Dragoons "Kaiser" but this was renamed as Chevau-légers in 1807, so may have always consisted of standard horses or perhaps standard height men. You even had the Kürassier Regiment "Melas" converted into the 6th Dragoons in 1802, so this renaming was rather rampant and also seems to indicate the "actual" Dragoons may have had larger horses.

For those interested this is my Austrian army painting guide.
PDF link



Erzherzog Johann15 Nov 2021 5:43 p.m. PST

Dragoons all in white.

Chevaulegeres, three (later 4) in green, three in white.

As far as I know, the only difference between a white uniformed chevauleger and a dragoon is the bridle and the specific combination of facing colours and button colours. No two regiments across the two regiments had the same combination, although facing shades may be so similar as to make that a purely academic claim.

Re the use, with C/L being officially light cavalry and dragoons heavy, there is a tendency (in 1809 at least, I don't know about 1805) to put C/L in infantry Korps Avant Garde divisions and the dragoons with the Kurassiers in the Reserve Korps, although there are some Dragoons in infantry Korps. There are C/L with the Grenz in Dalmatia too, which 'may' suggest they were better in a lighter role. On the other hand, C/L (but also hussars . . . ) often feature in serious cavalry charges, hence some rules not making any distinction between light and heavy cavalry at all.

This page link helpfully brings together the facings, button colours and identifies the C/L regiments that were in white or green.

I personally based my dragoons closer (squeezed an extra figure on the base) to represent their being "heavy", which conveniently gives me a more useful aid to know which is which . . . :-)


Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2021 3:28 a.m. PST

@ shadoe1

fab link, many many thanks!

@ John

Yes, I base heavy cavalry more densely than light so troops in an identical uniform would still be distinguishable.

It sounds like green for CLs and white for dragoons works.

von Winterfeldt16 Nov 2021 5:10 a.m. PST

just download the 1805 Militärschematismus and you will find out about the designated regiments.


even in colour


Just see it provides only the facing colours starting on page 271

pfmodel16 Nov 2021 12:41 p.m. PST

von Winterfeldt – Great source material.

SHaT198416 Nov 2021 5:24 p.m. PST

vW explain to us please the uniform reference at end of each entry, for example IR 23 Salzurg (a recent themed enquiry):

"Ponceau mit Nro.8 | w.Kn."

Why do regiments have 'another' number associated the them. Is the last item button/lace colour?

Glad the Munich Library permits full download !


Erzherzog Johann16 Nov 2021 6:15 p.m. PST

4th Cuirassier wrote:
"It sounds like green for CLs and white for dragoons works."

Yes. As long as it's the right three CL regiments :^)

In my own case I currently have the O'Reilly Chevaulegers and the Knessevich Dragoons, so all in white uniforms and (different shades of) red facings. So other than picking them up to peer at the button colours, closer basing of the dragoons is a very useful aid.


Augustus16 Nov 2021 9:56 p.m. PST

I see little difference between so-called Heavy or Light cavalry by this period. I do not see the actual effect of one wearing a hat, the other a helmet, one a sabre, one a sword, etc.

Experienced versus Green I can grasp, but these guys look the same to me and their equipment has little overall difference.

pfmodel16 Nov 2021 11:27 p.m. PST

The main difference was the size of the horse and the reach of the man, apart from some equipment differences. But comparing different nationalities is problematic, as the British Light Dragoon used rather large horse and, i imagine due to lack of good horse flesh the French heavies may have been less heavy than normal during 1813-14. There is a good site which shows the horse size by cavalry type in the french army, if i can remember where it is i will post the link.

I remembered the link?

von Winterfeldt17 Nov 2021 12:16 a.m. PST

Ponceau mit Nro.8 | w.Kn

Thanks for using the Militärschematismus.

This information indicates that there was also another regiment with ponceau red facings, that of Nr. 8 Erzherzog Ludwig had also ponceau facings.

Then w. Kn – means white buttons

So Regiment Salzburg had ponceau red facing and white buttons
Erzherzog Ludwig had ponceau red facings and yellow buttons

(white and yellow indicating the colour of the metal of course)

People alpo can check easily how such colours like Paperlgrün did look like.

Those facing colours were painted in by hand.

von Winterfeldt17 Nov 2021 12:33 a.m. PST

While in the Revolutionary Wars the Chevaulegers had a more pointed saddle cloth, compared to the Dragoons, who had German rounded corners saddle cloth along with the Cuirassiers, seemingly in 1805 all was identical.
The white and green question did exist so, here my Levenehr Chevaulegers from Sho Boki with AB horses in white coat.


Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2021 12:50 p.m. PST

That's a sharp looking cavalry unit!

SHaT198417 Nov 2021 1:05 p.m. PST

Brilliant work Sir, many thanks. I had to enlarge your pic to show friends (as they tend to stray from the subject very often, I must keep them engaged so I get to battle every now and then)…

Thanks for using the Militärschematismus.
This information indicates that there was also another regiment with ponceau red facings, that of Nr. 8 Erzherzog Ludwig had also ponceau facings.
Then w. Kn – means white buttons…
People alpo can check easily how such colours like Paperlgrün did look like.
Those facing colours were painted in by hand.

Thanks for providing them vW!
I never refuse another source document! You have increased my library immensely.

The other source doc, a single page Austrian Army Schema der KK- 1803? while barely legible at least one can create a colour pallete to differentiate facings.

Whether right or wrong, I no longer strain to keep such things 'pure' and identical; to my mind it enhances the look of the figures and units to have some colour/shade variation among the figures, a more 'anochronistic' approach you could say as my ability to be the perfect painter diminishes anyway.

I too have the O'Reilly Chevaulegers #3 in white as befits the 1805 campaign under Kienmayer.

davew≠ cup

johannes5518 Nov 2021 12:54 a.m. PST

VW, great looking unit

Stoppage18 Nov 2021 6:55 a.m. PST

For the main part of uniforms – good:

colour/shade variation among the figures

But – perhaps not for armies that dyed their facings regimentally (all at once in the same dye vat).

Or have I imagined this actually happening?

SHaT198418 Nov 2021 11:42 a.m. PST

If you've ever worn any type of uniform, or work clothing, you will know that 'wear and tear' and method of use make an impact on what you can see. The back and chest probably fade first; rolled up sleeves wont, but bums on the ground will always fade faster due to heavier washing etc.

Thus cuffs will show more wear than coloured collars, and more than short turnbacks such I'd suggest as the Austrians use.
And then theres the quality of dye. Will a recruit issued a uniform now look the same as a 4 year older issue uniform coat that has seen daily wear? Nah.
Anyway, not trying to issue a directive, just MHO…
=D cup

von Winterfeldt18 Nov 2021 1:50 p.m. PST

after 4 years there will be only rags, in case you are campaigning

SHaT198419 Nov 2021 12:01 p.m. PST

>>after 4 years there will be only rags, in case you are campaigning

Perhaps so, but as no 'campaign' other than the Spanish enterprise lasted so long, there would surely be a lot of variation in retained clothing I feel. Just look at [modern] reenactors uniforms still serviceable after a decade (assuming they fit).. but then look at whom I'm addressing ;-{\}

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