war effort against France was always hampered by a shortage
of cavalry. Pound for pound it was the equal of any, but
its lack of numbers was compounded by poor leadership and
indiscipline that wasted not only good opportunities, but
Heavy Cavalry Facings
were two distinct branches of British heavy cavalry
- the Household regiments and the heavy dragoons.
The Household troopers, which included the Life Guards
and Royal Horse Guards, were little used during the
early years of the Napoleonic Wars but some units
arrived in the Peninsular
War in 1812 and certainly made up for tardiness
with their heroics at Waterloo.
The heavy dragoons included seven regiments of Dragoon
Guards and six of Dragoons. Despite the addition of
the word guards there was little difference between
the two formations.
large men on large horses, the British heavies were
used as shock troops in battle. They would throw themselves
into the fray to bolster a weakening line, as at Waterloo,
or smash through the enemy formations and rout them.
1806, Britain had no real light cavalry and so the
duties expected of European hussars fell to the Light
Untrained in this role at home, the skills required
of light cavalry - patrolling, reconnaissance and
screening - had to be picked up while on active duty.
The best of the British units was the King's German
Legion, which performed excellent service in the Peninsula
and created history by breaking French infantry squares
at Garcia Hernandez.
became part of the British army after 1806, when
four Light Dragoon regiments - the 7th, 10th, 15th
and 18th - were styled hussars.