Home Forums Horse and Musket Napoleonic Reality, or Not? Dismounted Dragoons.

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    My Gawd, the drivel just continues… [yes this will be a long series :-)]. Decades of drivel…

    Somewhere, someone wrote another error/ repeat myth of poor historical research about events;-

    There were multiple regiments of dismounted French dragoons at Austerlitz. The Russians had some dismounted dragoon regiments who fought the Persians.

    Nope, sorry pal, you are dead wrong! In so many ways-

    -there were zero / never dismounted dragoons at the battle*

    There was a company (106 men) of the 6eme Dragons dismounted/ dropped at Wischau -‘sacrificial lambs’ , (facing Olmutz) as the very front echelon of the French army  vedettes. When on 27Nov the very large impetuous Russian and Austrian reconnaisance on the French front line overwhelmed them, they were captured, and released 4 days later after the battle.

    *Except those who fell off their horses!

    Goetz in his excellent book 1805 details the forces that make for a readily realistic and wargamer ‘friendly’ scenario using much more cavalry than appeared in the major battles in one plain.

    As to the myth of the ‘dismounted dragoons’, they are badly handled by many hence the error in repitition.

    Cavalry drilling on foot was nothing new to the French. In fact cavaliers did their first work on foot, learning drill. Thus even at the camps some dismounted horsemen continued their work.

    In a cognitive effort forseeing the use of the under utilised cavalry corps, and mounting use of captured horses, he (N.)  had organised the ‘Division’ under very experienced infantry commander Baraguey d’Hilliers.

    Whilst the men may not have liked it, they were serving a purpose and eventually, after Ulm a portion of the division was mounted and periodically more men were mounted. Once mounted, the dragoons were sent off to join their own regiments.

    Remember that while regulated strengths were 4 squadrons per regiment at the Army of the Ocean Coast ( previously known as l’armee d’Angleterre) when marching started 1805, most regiments only mustered 3 mounted ones. By the end of the 4 months campaign, all were very weak as well.

    The ‘corps’ of dismounted dragoons in 1805 was used to secure their LOC and sporadic enemy raids in the rear of the active Army Corps, also detailled by Goetz.

    As has been notably recorded (properly for a change), the very first combat of the 1805 campaign, multiple companies of dragoons were dismounted from Kleins 3rd Division to take a village not too far from Wertingen held by companies of Autrian Grenadier outposts. The only infantry available were still too far away so the dragoons did the job.

    On the second point I have no knowledge.

    Further Discussion

    Like the ‘Reserve Grenadier Division’, the Dismounted Dragoons were different in each campaign. Thus when 1806 came around, and N. clearly hadn’t been intuitive enough to know Prussia was at breaking point, again the cavalry were lacking horses.

    This time in 1806, N. ordered another Division formed, this time under a General of the Imperial Guard, to whom they were to be ‘attached’. Hoping that such an association would improve their elan.


    Blinking paint by numbers... bahhumbug!


    In Spain, there was at least one affair of vedettes where the  maybe a troop or two of dragoons dismounted to take possession of a bridgehead to fight off British cavalry.



    In Spain, there was at least one affair of vedettes where the maybe a troop or two of dragoons dismounted to take possession of a bridgehead to fight off British cavalry.

    No disputing it Mick- it happened all the time. That was, after all, their ‘time honoured’ profession. As did many other cavalry when equipped (remember French ‘Empire’ Cuirassiers were NOT equipped with firepower other than defensive pistols until 1811).

    I’ve pointed out elsewhere, that while Kienmayer HAD plenty of grenzers, he undertook at 3am on 2nd December a walking reconnaissance of Tellnitz, with men from the regiment of O’Reilly Chevau-leger, who scared the small garrison (caught Napping?) and captured a few, possibly from the Tirailleurs du Po company that had been included there.

    This question/ statement was ALL ABOUT the mass ‘Division’ of unhorsed, FOOT DRAGOONS that had, prior to this battle existed, but elsewhere, and the various other defects in aggregated knowledge.

    But thanks for you input- whilst I no longer research outside my areas of interest, I have in the past covered the most and wil play anything where others organise something.

    No longer research means to the point of selling all my old British references to people who still seem interested in them. I’ll never paint another Brit, unless he’s wounded/ captured etc.

    Ironically I have a 25mm Minifgs set of Brit ‘sappers’ that I cant sell (we have zero British armies in 25mm any more) so they will be ‘decaptitated’ to become French style sappers, a road I’ve already been down!

    Regards dave

    Blinking paint by numbers... bahhumbug!


    As an addendum, I didn’t have time before but here’s the most brilliant analysis of the first full combat battle of the 1805 Campaign (Third Coalition- for those who count that way):~


    I just posted link to the main index of site under ‘Crucial Resources’ thread.

    In the creators (Jeff Berry) own words:

    Wertingen is not only notable as the first contest between the two reorganized armies of France and Austria in the 1805 campaign, it is also a textbook case of a few principles of battle tactics of this era…

    Many facets of the combat are interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least that an ADC of Murat, a mere recently promoted Chef d’ Escadron, took command of a Dragoon Division no less! How bizarre! In ‘typical’ stories it is often said and glossed over ‘of HIS Division’ which of course is nothing like the truth.

    Go read it NOW! you shall not be disappointed!

    As a side note, I d/l a commercial ‘booklet’ pdf type thingy on Wertingen to go with some rules from the US. The ‘scenario’ is such a mangled mess, they couldn’t even get the substantive terrain correct, which is one reason I’m rather ‘anti’ these kinds of formulaic ‘games for dummies’ type publications.

    Unfortunately the populace seems prepared to pay for them, which rather makes dummies of us all. I spent a good part of 30 years promoting ‘better’ wargaming in honest display games and encouraging youngsters (a term I can get away with now) and adults alike to seek, research and play at no expense to themselves before being asked to join our club. So yes I have put my own effort in!

    cheers d

    Blinking paint by numbers... bahhumbug!

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