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The Lilywhite Seventh
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Hussar - A word from 15th century Hungary meaning 'one in twenty'. This relates to the conscripting of one man in twenty from every village.
The Seventh Hussars were called "The Lilywhite Seventh" because of the white facings on their uniform which was a hangover from their Dragoon days. You'll see from the picture on the right they changed the facings to dark blue. This picture is probably what an officer of the Seventh Hussars wore at Waterloo, the uniform had been changed in 1814 - although in the field they wore grey overalls.
All the frogging, braiding, gold and glister, was a psychological gesture. Not only did it make the wearers heart swell within his befrogged breast with pride, but it also provided an impressive sight for an enemy to come up against. Row upon row of impressively attired men on horses all looking bigger and brighter than gods.
The natty jacket flung over the Seventh Hussar's shoulder is a fur trimmed pelisse which was worn that way.
All ranks were issued with a 1796 light cavalry sabre although officers would often purchase a more ornated one for themselves. These sabres were a lethal 33 inches long and made of steel. There was a fancier 'maramluke' sword which was worn for dress occassions.
Hussars were issued with pistols to carry with them as well as their sabres although it seems it was not popular to do so. They were not accurate and perhaps more at risk from misfiring at the gallop.
At Waterloo the Seventh Hussars were commanded by Sir Edward Kerrison and brigaded with the 15th Hussars under Major General Sir Colquhoun Grant's Fifth Cavalry Brigade. They were positioned to the west of Hougoumount behind Byng, Cooke, Maitland and Halkett.
While this isn't a light cavalry charge, this piece is from Edward Costello's autobiography and describes the charge
of the cavalry:
I had secured a very splendid charger, when chancing to turn my head, I perceived that the French were playing a deep game. They had succeeded in removing a regiment of infantry, with some cavalry, through the wood in our rear. The alarm, however, was immediately given, and our company, as foremost, had to run for their lives into a square formed by the 52nd, who were close to the foot guards. (Costello page 67)
Find out more about the 10th and 11th Hussar's (who amalgamated as the King's Hussar's) at the Hants web Site.
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ReferencesThe Thin Red Line - DSV and BK Fosten 1989
An Encyclopaedia of Napoleon's Europe - Alan Palmer. 1984
The Napoleonic Source Book - Philip J. Haythornthwaite, 1990
Adventures of a Soldier - Edward Costello (reprinted 1972)
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