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Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

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Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

Postby Timrath » December 18th, 2015, 2:19 am

About the French light cavalry: From what I know, the chasseurs a cheval received the same weapons, equipment and mounts as the hussards - the only obvious difference being the more expensive uniform of the latter. Were there any more subtle differences perhaps? Different training, tactical doctrines, roles on the battlefield, height requirements, pay?
I often hear that the hussards saw themselves as an elite. Was that view shared by the rest of the army? Does their actual performance on the field corroborate that view, or were they just full of hot air?
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Re: Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

Postby Jerry » December 18th, 2015, 10:28 am

Antoine-Charles-Louis, Comte de Lasalle is the archetypal hussar. Well worth reading about his career, its pretty spectacular.

The stereotype would seem to be that the hussars were wild devil-may-care risk takers, and the chasseur more disciplined and steadier types. Don't know if this was always true or not, but the film 'The Duellists' gives a good impression - my recollection is of the two main characters one was a hussar and the other a chasseur?
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Re: Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

Postby Josh&Historyland » December 18th, 2015, 11:05 am

I think both are hussars in the Duellists. As far as I know Chasseurs and Hussars were trained in the same manner, armed with roughly similar swords and guns and as you pointed out, unformed differently, however make no mistake the uniform of a Chasseur is essentially that of a Hussar. They are but for name the same type of soldier in my opinion, in terms of these things.
It would be hard to say who did more of what, as light cavalry they were both expected to be expert in outposts and advanced work, as well as being fast, fearless and terrifying (in a glamorous sort of way) in the charge. Hussars get more press in battle but Chasseurs guarded the emperor, and correct me if I'm wrong but there were no Hussars of the Garde Impériale. So it could be said that at the top level the Hussars sort of became a Chasseur. A French incarnation of the Hungarian model.
The differences are to be found in these things, in the name and traditions associated with it. At a base level there was very little difference as both could do what the other could do.

That's my take.
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Last edited by Josh&Historyland on December 18th, 2015, 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

Postby Andrew » December 18th, 2015, 11:49 am

Josh is pretty much bang on the money; both types generally had the same weapons, training and roles. Hussars were really a throw back to earlier times; chasseurs perhaps reflecting the need to raise more, cheaper light cavalry. Hussars were more fashionable, so may have had higher morale, and a higher opinion of themselves. I doubt the chasseurs saw them that way! As the hussars uniform was more expensive they were much fewer regiments of them; the earlier chasseur uniforms were quite hussar-like, but became simpler and more practical as the wars went on. It is sure that after 1812 there was little to choose between them, as both would have been filled with raw, poorly trained conscripts. Officers flipped back and forth between them on promotion.
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Re: Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

Postby 1812 » April 29th, 2016, 3:52 pm

I am just reading through old posts and found this one.

According to Alain Pigeard in Tradition Hors Serie No 21:
Light cavalry consisted of some thirty regiments of chasseurs a cheval and thirteen of hussars. There was little difference in the roles except that chasseurs were trained to fire their carbines from the saddle and act as skirmishers while, although armed with carbines, hussars were not trained in this way.

Napoleon had clear views on the role of light cavalry and chasseurs seemed more amenable when it came to following them. Is it significant that he converted three regiments of hussars to dragoons?

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Re: Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

Postby Senarmont198 » April 29th, 2016, 5:47 pm

There is a painting on the 1805 campaign that has the 5th Chasseurs a Cheval skirmishing mounted against Cossacks.

In Charles Parquin's memoirs his regiment, the 20th Chasseurs a Cheval, which was on the French left flank, met a charge of the Russian cavalry first with mounted carbine fire as the Russians were advancing at the walk and then charged them.

So, it appears that the Chasseurs a Cheval could fire their carbines mounted when they deemed it necessary.
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Re: Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

Postby Senarmont198 » April 29th, 2016, 5:49 pm

Andrew wrote:Josh is pretty much bang on the money; both types generally had the same weapons, training and roles. Hussars were really a throw back to earlier times; chasseurs perhaps reflecting the need to raise more, cheaper light cavalry. Hussars were more fashionable, so may have had higher morale, and a higher opinion of themselves. I doubt the chasseurs saw them that way! As the hussars uniform was more expensive they were much fewer regiments of them; the earlier chasseur uniforms were quite hussar-like, but became simpler and more practical as the wars went on. It is sure that after 1812 there was little to choose between them, as both would have been filled with raw, poorly trained conscripts. Officers flipped back and forth between them on promotion.


That probably didn't apply to the hussar and chasseur regiments that were still in Spain, along with the dragoon regiments and the 13th Cuirassiers.
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Re: Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

Postby Andrew » April 29th, 2016, 9:55 pm

Senarmont198 wrote:
Andrew wrote:Josh is pretty much bang on the money; both types generally had the same weapons, training and roles. Hussars were really a throw back to earlier times; chasseurs perhaps reflecting the need to raise more, cheaper light cavalry. Hussars were more fashionable, so may have had higher morale, and a higher opinion of themselves. I doubt the chasseurs saw them that way! As the hussars uniform was more expensive they were much fewer regiments of them; the earlier chasseur uniforms were quite hussar-like, but became simpler and more practical as the wars went on. It is sure that after 1812 there was little to choose between them, as both would have been filled with raw, poorly trained conscripts. Officers flipped back and forth between them on promotion.


That probably didn't apply to the hussar and chasseur regiments that were still in Spain, along with the dragoon regiments and the 13th Cuirassiers.


I think that's probably fair, but I don't think there was much, if anything, to choose between them in their battlefield performance; whilst they may have suffered less attrition than the regiments that served in Russia, they were never very convincing against the British cavalry. The dragoon regiments that were recalled to northern Europe performed well against the Prussians and Russians during 1813 and '14, but had not out-performed the British cavalry in Spain. The 13th Cuirassiers earned a good reputation, but never fought against the British.

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Re: Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

Postby Senarmont198 » April 29th, 2016, 11:21 pm

The British cavalry in the Peninsula wasn't that impressive either. If it wasn't for the KGL mounted units, the British reputation would have been worse.

I would, however, disagree with your assessment of the French cavalry regiments in Spain, no matter who they fought. The dragoon regiments learned their trade in Spain and those that went north in 1813 and 1814 were battle-hardened units and were the best French cavalry in 1813-1814.

Reading Parquin leaves an excellent impression of the French cavalry arm in Spain. British cavalry commanders on the whole were not that impressive and, generally speaking, the troopers were not well-trained. Wellington was generally of the same opinion of his cavalry overall. The French learned to both trap and countercharge them, which usually worked, as it did with the Union Brigade at Waterloo.

The British did not have the caliber of cavalry commanders that the French did-such as Montbrun, Latour-Maugourg, and Kellermann.
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Re: Hussards vs chasseurs a cheval

Postby janner » April 30th, 2016, 6:30 am

Senarmont198 wrote:The British cavalry in the Peninsula wasn't that impressive either. If it wasn't for the KGL mounted units, the British reputation would have been worse.


Thorough analysis demonstrates that British cavalry were, at the very least, a match for their adversaries in Iberia. However, it is hard to escape the odd catty comment from Wellington and Oman's obvious bias ;)
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