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Sunday, March 29, 2015

On Cuirassiers

Written in 1991
by Bruno Just (added to a little by Thoran 2015)
(Wherein I resuscitate an old argument of mine, in regards to WRG Rules).
French Cuirassiers
CUIRASSIERS. Their presence on the battlefield inspired awe. Napoleon always expected his cuirassiers to make a tremendous impact on the battlefield. In the opinion of von Bismarck, a Prussian expert on cavalry, had they been provided with lances, they would have been the deadliest horsemen on any battlefield.
According to The Napoleonic Sourcebook, "...the cuirass was of greatest use in close-quarter melee, proof against sabre and bayonet blows". Also: "In combat the cuirass was proof against long-range musketry but was of most value in melee. The breastplate would turn a sabre or lance..." Weapons & Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars.

At Quatre Bras, the famous 42nd Highlanders, the Black Watch, mistook General Baron Guiton's two
The 42nd Charged by Cuirassiers at Quatre Bras
regiments of cuirassiers, wearing their blue-gray capes, for dragoons and fired at them as they swerved past their square, at long range (over 100 paces). They noticed that those who were hit merely swayed in the saddle and realized then that they were cuirassiers. To make any impression, the officers had to order them to fire at the horses. (Johnson, Napoleon's Cavalry). Had Guiton had more presence of mind, his horsemen would have caved in the square.
It seems that it was in the fact that large horsemen and horses in sufficient quantities were difficult to procure, (conscription was first started in France), wherein lies the reason for the absence of proper cuirassiers in other European Napoleonic armies. Certainly the Russians gave their cuirassiers the cuirass again, in 1812, and the Prussians theirs in 1815. The British Life-Guards obtained the cuirass in 1815, also the Austrians Cuirassiers had the cuirass (the back plate used when on campaign against the Turks), the Bavarians in 1815, Wurttemberg Garde Squadron of Horse Grenadiers and a Spanish regiment.

Russian Garde Kuirassiers
Why then should we labour under rules (WRG) which disadvantage them in the melee?

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