The Lilywhite Seventh



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    A dashing 7th Hussar in the new uniform from 1814 displaying the new blue facings.
    Dragoon - A name given to mounted soldiers, said to have originated from the French 'Dragon' or short musket used by them and so called because of the shape of the cocking piece.
    Hussar - A word from 15th century Hungary meaning 'one in twenty'. This relates to the conscripting of one man in twenty from every village.
    Officer, 13th Light Dragoons - showing simalarity of uniform to their light counterparts in the Hussars.
    In 1806 the British army changed four of their Light Dragoon Cavalry Units into Hussar Regiments. The 7th Hussars had been the 7th Dragoons. You can find out a bit more about how the British Army structure. The alteration in name had little to do with their duties which remained relatively unchanged. A light cavalry regiment provides a communication and reconnaissance role for the army. All four Hussar regiments saw duty during the war and Waterloo.

    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:

      We had no sooner beaten back the enemy than a loud cheering to the right attracted our attention, and we perceived our 1st Heavy Dragoons charge a French cavalry regiment. As this was the first charge of cavalry most of us had ever seen, we were all naturally much interested on the occasion. The French skirmishers who were extended against us seemed to participate in the same feeling, as both parties suspended firing while the affair of dragoons was going on. The English and French cavalry met in the most gallant manner, and with the greatest show of resolution. The first shock, when they came in collision, seemed terrific, and many men and horses fell on both sides. They had ridden through and past each other, and now they wheeled round again. This was followed by a second charge, accompanied by some very pretty sabre-practice, by which many saddles were emptied, and English and French chargers were soon seen galloping about the field without riders. These immedtately occupied the attention of the French skirmishers and ourselves, and we were soon engaged in pursuing them, the men of each nation endeavouring to secure the chargers ofthe opposite one as legal spoil. While engaged in this chase we frequently became intermixed, when much laughter was indulged in by both parties at the different accidents that occurred in our pursuit.
      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 a brief history of the Queen's own Hussar's today at the Army web site

      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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      References

      The 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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