6th Regiment of Dragoons (the Inniskillings), 1814
So, why does a website titled "Maryland Light Dragoons" about American militia cavalry have a section on the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, a British heavy cavalry regiment originally raised in Ireland? Three reasons. One, it is helpful in understanding the cavalry arm as a whole to illuminate the distinctions between light cavalry (oriented to scouting and attack on a broken or dispersed enemy) and heavy cavalry (oriented to attack on strong and unbroken enemy unit) though the functions did overlap considerably in practice due to the dearth of cavalry. Two, the only heavy cavalry in the North American theater during the War of 1812 that we know about was a small detachment (likely under a dozen mounted men, a sergeant"s detachment) of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons in the later episodes of the Chesapeake Campaign. And finally, due to that minor and obscure heavy cavalry presence in the Chesapeake Campaign, MdLD (1814, recreated) is researching the tactics, history and kit of the 6th Dragoons (circa 1814) with the idea that perhaps a single conversion kit of MdLD uniform and equipment to 6th Dragoon uniform and equipment could be assembled, if an interested sponsor were to be found to underwrite the expense. This would enable a better portrayal of the "Death of General Ross", a pivotal episode in Sept 1814 in the Chesapeake Campaign, and also provide a more visual means of interpreting the heavy and light cavalry differences.
Heavy Cavalry and Light Cavalry differences
Heavy Cavalry. These were larger men on larger horses, used as a type of shock troops in battle. They were designed to be a highly mobile and powerful reserve available to an overall combined arms commander (ie Wellington or Napoleon at Waterloo), to be used to smash through an enemy formation to rout them, or used to bolster a weakening infantry line by either threatening or actually conducting a counter attack. There were three different types of heavy cavalry regimental names in British service in 1814 (others in the heavy cavalry of other nations) but really only two types of heavy cavalry in the British heavy cavalry force and they were very similar in tactical practice .
Household Cavalry: in theory the personal bodyguard of the head of state. These heavy cavalry were distinctively heavy with body armor (cuirass) either commencing in 1814 or soon thereafter. The cuirass shown in picture (a reproduction) was issued to the Life Guards for the coronation of King George IV in 1821, and this pattern of cuirass has remained unchanged for over 180 years and is worn by the Life Guards today (purely for ceremony today, for personal protection from primarily swords in the early 19th century). While 1821 was the date for the official introduction of the cuirass to the Life Guards there was a brief use of British cuirasses during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1814, the 2nd Life Guards wore cuirasses when they were reviewed by the Prince Regent, with the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Russia in attendance. It has been suggested this was the same pattern; it would certainly have been quite similar. Probably no cuirasses were worn at Waterloo by British Household Cavalry, but French heavy cavalry known as cuirassiers certainly did use them, and had for years prior, even in the strenuous campaign in the Pennisula. The Household Cavalry was the most prestigious cavalry, originally composed completely of gentlemen and scions of nobility.
a. exactly when did British cuirasses appear, were they used in any battle?
b. Did the Household cavalry have carbines?
c. What were other differences, if any, between Household and DG/Dragoons?
1st Regiment of Life Guards: a sort of Praetorian guard, mounted, based near the Crown.
2nd Regiment Life Guards: Reproduction of 1821 pattern cuirass. While each of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards were in fact regimental in size and leadership, sometimes they are referred to as Troops.
Royal Regiment of Horse Guards ("The Blues"): The Headquarters staff of the British Army of circa 1814, but also a functional heavy cavalry regiment. Whereas all the other heavy cavalry regiments are in red coats, the Horse Guards are in blue.
Dragoon Guards, and Dragoons .pretty much the same in practice. No cuirass in British practice; heavy sword and carbine are significant parts of the equipment.
1st Dragoon Guards ("The King"s")
2nd Dragoon Guards ("The Queen"s")
3rd Dragoon Guards ("The Prince of Wales"")
4th Dragoon Guards ("The Royal Irish")
5th Dragoon Guards
6th Dragoon Guards
7th Dragoon Guards ("The Princess Royal"s")
1st Regiment of Dragoons ("The Royals")
2nd Regiment of Dragoons ("Royal North British")
3rd Regiment of Dragoons ("The King"s Own")
4th Regiment of Dragoons ("The Queen"s Own")
(the 5th Regiment of Dragoons was disbanded in 1799)
6th Regiment of Dragoons ("The Inniskillings")
The colors of uniform, facings and lace for each regiment can be seen in a matrix presented at http://www.napoleonguide.com/cavalry_brhcav.htm
REFERENCES 7 and 8
Light Cavalry. Smaller men on smaller, more nimble horses, a unit designed to be used for scouting and to attack scattered or routed enemy. There were two types, quite similar to one another in British service .light dragoons and hussars. Other nations had other light cavalry types, like French/Polish Lancers.
Polish Uhlan Lancer inquiring of the locals
The British had the 7th through 21st Regiments of Light Dragoons (four of which were converted to similar Hussars (different hat and shoulder-coat (pelisse)) after 1806) in 1814.
So, almost thirty regiments of British regular cavalry (there were other "yoemanry" or militia cavalry). Usually a regiment mustered two to four active squadrons of two troops of approximately 70 mounted men apiece, plus a depot squadron, or some 300 to 700 mounted men total per regiment. Of these, about half the regular regiments were heavy cavalry, and about half were light cavalry.
6th Regiment of Dragoons (the Inniskillings)
The 6th Inniskilling Dragoons heavy cavalry were raised 20th June 1689, when they were known as Sir Albert Cunningham's Regiment of Dragoons, after the first Regimental Colonel. (Regiments were known by the Regimental Colonel's name until 1751 when a Warrant to standardize the British Army in names, uniforms etc. was put into effect). The 6th Dragoons operated initially out of Enniskillen Castle, but after 1756 they spent several generations out of Ireland (until 1819), and the name evolved to Inniskilling.
1690 ranked as 7th Dragoons.
1691 ranked as 6th Dragoons (in 1715 also known as Black Dragoons).
1751 6th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Dragoons.
The Inniskilling Dragoons took no part in the Peninsular War in Spain and Portugal .they were dispersed throughout Britain in several barracks each perhaps about 50 miles outside of London Ipswich (to NE), Northhampton (to NW) and Portsmouth (to SW) are current early guesses to be investigated.
Inniskillings in the War of 1812 Chesapeake Campaign
A small couriers detachment of Enniskillen (or Inskilling) Dragoons, under Sergeant William Sannford, was sent to America during the latter part of the War of 1812 to serve General Ross, British Army commander of the Chesapeake Campaign. When General Ross rode forward in the Battle of North Point before Baltimore in September 1814 to determine why his column advancing up the North Point peninsula road towards Baltimore had halted, he had four of his staff with him .Colonel McNamara, Lieutenant Hamilton, Sergeant Sannford and another Enniskillen courier private. General Ross was shot by two or three American marksmen, possibly including Privates Wells and McComas of the 5th Maryland Militia Infantry, from about 400 yards with some buckshot. Sannford wrote his story in "The Experiences of a Sergeant in the King"s Service in America" (London 1817) but we have been unable to locate a copy despite a considerable search (if anyone has a copy, MdLD would truly love to obtain a photocopy of the applicable portions of reference 5). REFERENCE 4
A not-very-accurate rendition of the Death of General Ross .Ross should be on a white mount, with no infantry and two heavy dragoons near him at the time of shooting.
These Inniskilling Dragoons serving as couriers to General Ross in the larger scale incursions against (probably) Washington DC and (certainly) Baltimore may have appeared much as portrayed in the "Night Before Waterloo" painting.
Night Before Waterloo by Skeoch Cumming, showing a group of Inniskilling Dragoons in June 1815 around a small fire and also preparing feed for their horses. Reproduced by permission of the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards (which trace lineage in part from the 6th Inniskillings). From http://www.battle-of-waterloo.com/night_before.htm, where a print can be purchased.
A visual portrayal derived from a period painting by the artist Charles Hamilton Smith of a very similarly uniformed unit is also illustrative of the likely appearance of Inskillings in the Chesapeake Campaign in 1814.
Private, 1st or King"s Dragoon Guards, 1814 identical to 6th Inniskilling Dragoon kit, except for cuffs/collar (1st King"s is blue collar, yellow lace, whereas 6th Inniskilling Dragoons is yellow collar, white lace)
The only other British "cavalry" capability in the 1814 Chesapeake Campaign was through the use of some artillerymen mounted on captured or looted horses, sometimes without saddles, to serve as scouts for the main force.
The One Hundred Days
When Napoleon left his first exile on Elba and regathered and recreated his army in the famous landing and march from southern France to Paris, the British post-war demobilization had to be rapidly reversed. In the frantic British remobilization, the Inniskilling Dragoons were ordered to assemble at Northhampton in preparation for departing for Belgium for an Allied (British, Prussian, Dutch, Belgium, etc) campaign against the resurgent Imperial French. At that time (spring 1815) the Inniskilling Dragoons had only three squadrons available for service (each consisting of two troops, with each troop intended to have a Captain in command, two other subaltern officers, seven non-commissioned officers (sergeants and corporals), a trumpeter and 63 privates) all under the command of Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Miller. A depot squadron remained in Ipswich to recruit and build the regiment"s manpower. On 23 April 1815, six troops of Inniskilling Dragoons numbering 450 mounted heavy dragoons embarked for Belgium and arrived the following day. Colonel Mutter took command at the end of April, and in mid-May 1815, the Inniskilling Dragoons were brigaded with the Royals and Scots Greys to form the 2nd Brigade of Heavy Cavalry (the Union Brigade) under Sir William Ponsonby, which in turn was part of the overall British cavalry under Lord Uxbridge. In mid June the Union Brigade played a critical role in the Battle of Waterloo, which put a final end to Napoleon Bonaparte"s efforts to alter the state of politics and power in Europe.
When the battle started, the Union Brigade was posted to the rear of Picton's infantry division; the Scots Greys (2nd North British Dragoon Guards) at the left rear of the Inniskillings (6th Dragoons), who were in line with the Royals (1st Royal Dragoon Guards) on their right. Pack's Brigade of Picton's division, consisting of the 55th , 92nd (Gordons), 42nd (Black Watch) and 1st Foot (Royal Scots), were in front of the Inniskilling Dragoons and Greys. The Royal Dragoons were further to the right, behind Kempt's Brigade ( 28th Foot, 79th (Camerons) and 32nd Foot). Order left to right on the map on the following page for Union Brigade is thus Greys (2ndDG), Inniskillings(6thD), Royals (1stDG), with the other (Household) Heavy Cavalry Brigade in deeper reverse behind them and to the right.
The French advance was made by d'Erlon's Corps, which consisted of four divisions; those of Marcognet, Donzelot and Bourgois being front of Picton's division with Marcognet heading for Pack's brigade. French divisions were composed of 4 regiments, each regiment having 2 battalions; 2 regiments or 4 battalions forming a brigade.
The French attack was made in divisional columns, the leading battalion of the leading Brigade being only about 15 files wide. Marcognet's Division was led by the 1st battalion, 45th Infantry of the Line commanded by Colonel Chapuset. Intervals of half a dozen yards separated the battalion columns. The column method has been much criticized; although it presented a very small front, and a theoretically well protected continuous flank with high fire potential, the whole mass of troops was difficult to control if the "wedge" method of attack was disrupted. As each battalion closely followed the one in front of it, as a continuous formation, deployment from the front could cause confusion. The French used the massed column attack for reasons of both overawing their enemies, and to have the many men in the rear pressing/forcing the exposed soldiers in the front of the column to continue the advance despite casualties. However, Lord Wellington in the Pennisular Campaign and in southwestern France (1808-1814) had proven time and time again against Napoleon"s subordinate marshals (Napoleon himself being engaged in the eastern campaigns) that the British "thin red line", if resolute in continuing to fire efficiently despite the pageantry of the French columns" approach, could often, even usually, beat the column.
The 1st Battalion of the French 45th Infantry Regiment at the head of Marcognet's Division appeared in front of the 92nd British Infantry Regiment (the Gordons) and at a distance of only about 30 yards, began to deploy. At this point they received a volley from the Gordons who were very hard pressed and likely to be overrun. Donzelot's French Infantry Division, although not so close, menaced Kemp's British Infantry Brigade.
The Counterattack by the Union Heavy Cavalry Brigade
The Union Brigade (Scot Greys, Inniskilling Dragoons, and Royals) was now ordered forward to support the wavering British infantry line. The Inniskilling Dragoons passed through the ranks of the Royal Scots infantry and the Black Watch, and the Royal Dragoons, further to the right, went through the 28th Foot and passed the right flank of the Royal Scots.
British heavy cavalry charge
The mounted Greys, who had been in a theoretical reserve position, moved straight to their front, which took them through the ranks of the Gordons infantry. The head of the French Division was now only 20 yards away and the Greys simply walked or trotted into the 1st Battalion of the 45th French Infantry of the Line. There was no gallop and no "charge" (as has been romanticized later).
Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler
The French did not expect to see British cavalry materializing through the ranks of the British infantry in the midst of a French attack. When the cavalry hit them, the 45th were in the act of forming line, and their 1st battalion was thrown into confusion in transition, having already been shaken by the fire of the 92nd. The regimental Eagles (French Napoleonic equivalents of the revered and protected regimental colors) were carried by the 1st battalion of all French infantry regiments, and in a few minutes the Greys were in the midst of the 1st/45th battalion, at which stage Sergeant Charles Ewart of Captain Vernor's troop of the Scot"s Greys captured the Eagle of the French 45e Regiment de Ligne.
Romantized charge of Scots Greys
The rest of the French columns believed what they saw could only be an advance guard, and were now under the mistaken impression that they were being attacked by large numbers of cavalry. The Royal Dragoons and Inniskillings charged Donzelot's Division and the Eagle of the 105th Regiment was taken by the Royal Dragoons. These were the only two Eagles captured during the entire Waterloo campaign.
1st Royals capture 105th Regt"s eagle.
At this point the divisions of Marcognet and Donzelot were shaken but not defeated. Having carried out a highly successful defensive action in support of infantry, the Union Brigade should have regrouped for subsequent orders and charge, but all the Union cavalry regiments were engaged and tangled and refused to recognize or hear any orders (a common occurance and a regular fear of their commanders). The Greys and Inniskillings were given the "recall" (bugle call, emphasized by officer direction) several times but were so out of hand that no notice was taken. Instead they engaged in small groups down the interval between the French Divisions, rather than through the troops themselves; many of the heavy cavalry were shot by the surprised and somewhat baffled rear French infantry battalions, who were still advancing, unaware of the confusion and problems of their battered leading brigade. In fact, the French infantry supporting from the rear, expecting what they thought must be the main cavalry attack (by their own massive standards), finally brought themselves to halt, made an effort to form "to receive Cavalry", and finally fell back in considerable confusion.
The Union Brigade is Dispersed and Vulnerable to Counterattack
Meanwhile, the Union Brigade were no longer cohesive regiments of cavalry but a disjointed series of ad hoc detachments, galloping about cutting at whatever targets were available. A few got to d'Erlon's divisional artillery batteries, by which time the inevitable French reaction was under way. Lancers attached to d'Erlon's Corps were set in motion to respond to the British heavy cavalry counterattack, as was Milhaud's Cuirassier Division (heavy cavalry itself). Travers' brigade of Cuirassiers (7th and 12th Regiments) collided with the British Household Brigade (the other British heavy cavalry) which was composed of the Life Guards, Royal Horse Guards, and King's Dragoon Guards. Farine's Cuirassier brigade (6th and 9th Regiments), also from Milhaud's command, went for the scattered Union Brigade, and punished it severely for its rashness. REFERENCE 5
The "charge" (crucial and successful) and lack of recall (fumbled and fatal) cost the British heavy cavalry so dearly that, collectively, they played little part in the remainder of the battle. When Napoleon unexpectedly left the field in the early afternoon, Marshall Ney, commanding the French cavalry, mistook an Allied maneuver to reposition further back from the ridge as a general retreat. He ordered what turned into a massed assault of over 5,000 cavalry struggling up the steep slope. The attacks were repeatedly repelled by the solid Allied infantry squares (four ranks deep with fixed bayonets vulnerable to artillery or infantry but deadly to cavalry), the harrying fire of British artillery as the French cavalry recoiled down the slopes to regroup, and the decisive counter-charges of the British Light Cavalry regiments and the Dutch Heavy Cavalry Brigade.
After numerous attacks on the Allied ridge, the French cavalry was effectively destroyed. The Prussians were already engaging the Imperial French Army's right flank when La Haye Sainte fell to the French in the early evening. With Wellington's centre exposed, Napoleon committed his last reserve, the undefeated Imperial Guard. After marching through a blizzard of shell and shrapnel, they seemed poised to crush Wellington. But unbeknownst to them, 1,500 British Guards under Maitland were lying down to protect themselves from the French artillery. They rose as one, and devastated the shocked Imperial Guard with volleys of fire at point-blank range, and then charged. The Imperial Guard, for the first time in history, fell back in disarray and chaos. Wellington, judging that the retreat by the Imperial Guard had unnerved all the French soldiers who saw it, stood up in the stirrups on Copenhagen, his favourite horse, and waved his hat in the air which was a signal for a general advance.
After the Guard's unsuccessful attack on the British centre, the French Imperial Guard rallied to their reserves for a last stand against the British. A charge from General Adam's Brigade and part of the 5th Brigade, threw them into a state of confusion; those which were left in semi-coherent units fought and retreated towards La Belle Alliance. It was probably during the destruction of one of the retreating semi-coherent squares from the area around La Haye Sainte towards La Belle Alliance that the famous retort to a request to surrender was made "La Garde meurt, elle ne se rend pas!" "The Guard dies, it does not surrender!".
At about the same time the Prussians, after a battle which had lasted about an hour, finally drove the French out of the village of Plancenoit, on the extreme (British) left of the battle field. The last unit to be driven out was the Old Guard of the Imperial Guard stationed in the Plancenoit church and cemetery.
The whole of the French front started to disintegrate under the general advance of the Anglo-allied army and the Prussians following the capture of Plancenoit. As dusk fell the last coherent French squares retreated away from the battle field towards France in relatively good order, but the French artillery fell into the hands of the Allies. British and Allied cavalry harried the fleeing French until about 23:00 hours. The Prussians pursued them throughout the night, and Napoleon"s fate (2nd more distant exile, to St. Helena in the South Atlantic) was sealed.
Uniform & Equipment of 6th Regiment of Dragoons in the 1810"s
Until 1812, British dragoons were dressed in a black bicorne, scarlet jacket, and either white riding breeches with high boots or grey overalls with cuffs over high half boots.
Pre 1812 British heavy dragoon Post 1812 heavy dragoon
The dragoon uniform was updated in 1812. The jackets were as shown - but they wore the wool crested helmets similar to those worn by the Household cavalry in 1815. In 1813, the dragoon helmets were changed to the horsehair helmet shown below (the Scots Greys were allowed the difference of wearing a bearskin grenadier hat).
Historische Uniformen. By Funchens
Facings were displayed on the collar and cuffs. Facing colours for the various dragoon (heavy cavalry) regiments were as follows:
1st Royals - blue facings, gold lace (other ranks - yellow)
2nd Royal North British - blue facings, gold lace (other ranks - yellow)
3rd King's Own - blue facings, gold lace (other ranks - yellow)
4th Queen's Own - green facings, silver lace (other ranks - white)
6th Inniskilling - yellow facings, silver lace (other ranks - white)
After Waterloo, extensive peacetime and peacekeeping led to some of the most elaborate uniforms of all eras of history until the next national crisis war stripped most uniforms of unnecessary or cumbersome frills.
Pictured is a 1834 Inniskilling Dragoons pattern helmet, fully plated in 18kt gold, of Grecian form with crest bearing the detachable "Leaping Lion". Full Royal Coat of Arms emblazoned shield over "Waterloo" in scroll and gilt, floral spray chin scales covering the leather chin strap that secures with unique lion's paws closure hooks. The regiment continued and eventually amalgamated and then converted in mid-twentieth century from horses to armored vehicles.
1861 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons
1921 The Inniskillings (6th Dragoons)
1922 Amalgamated with 5th Dragoon Guards ( Princess Charlotte of Wales's) to form 5th/6th Dragoons.
1927 Title changed to 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.
1935 following the granting of the title "Royal", name change to 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.
1992 Amalgamation of 4th/7th Dragoon Guards and 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards to create Royal Dragoon Guards which continue to this day as a mechanized armor force built around the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank.
Recreating the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons kit of September 1814
Maryland Light Dragoons proposes to accept fiscal assistance if offered, in form of donation or grant, to procure those unique pieces of 6th Inniskilling Dragoons (1814) outfit that, when added the substantial common elements already available with the MdLD kit, will produce an accurate secondary impression of a 6th Inniskilling heavy dragoon as he would have appeared before Baltimore in September 1814.
|Item||MdLD elements||Unique 6thD elements||est. cost|
|Helmet||n/a||crested with horsehair||$400|
|Coat||n/a||red faced yellow, wh lace||$600|
|Waistcoat||blue||n/a (don't know the color)||$0|
|Shoulder belt||n/a (waist)||white w carbine clip||$100|
|Hvycav sab/scab||n/a||TBD which type||$400|
|Sword loop||n/a||TBD which type||$30|
|Carbine||n/a (pistols only)||TBD which type||$800|
|Sabretasche||n/a||black leather, enlisted||$150|
|Horse||various large dark||n/a||$0|
|Horse transport||trailer & tow||n/a||$0|
|Shabraque||n/a (blue blanket)||TBD with 6thD markings||$150|
|Chest plate||n/a (Havana)||black and lightweight||($100)|
|Valise||n/a (blue MdLD)||blue faced yellow 6thD||($150)|
|Lead line||n/a (Havana)||black leather||($40)|
|Bridle||n/a (Havana reg)||black cross||($150)|
|Reins||n/a (Havana, 2)||black, 2||($100)|
|Pistol buckets||black w bearskin||black w blue cloth?||($350)|
|Stable jacket||white cotton short||blue wool short?||($150)|
|Forage cap||n/a (blue w red)||blue with yellow||$60|
|Forage net||white net||n/a||($0)|
Totaling this up .
MdLD, in its Maryland Militia kit and equipment, already has approximately $4000 worth of the needed pieces (approx value of the "$0" items, excluding tow/trailer).
MdLD, in its Maryland Militia kit and equipment, can "make do" with some loss in accuracy but suitable for foreign campaign, with many tack items (the "($XXX)" optionals, i.e. an additional approx value of $1650, or a total including the above of ~$5650 in already available gear).
Some benefactor (private or corporate donor, or corporate or foundation grant), as yet unidentified, would need to come up with the remainder .which could be good for US federal tax credit. These are all the critical unique items for 6th Inniskilling Dragoons impression (the bold-faced "$XXX" items). They total very close to $2500. There would also be a time delay of approximately 6 months to verify sources and contract and produce the new elements. If the benefactor wishes the higher quality (dress or campaign tack) then the second and third categories are summed to obtain a need for ~$4200.
Important notice: This article is an amalgamation of a number of resources, and uses complete phrases, even paragraphs, from the sources. We have worked to identify the sources, but the work here presented is the sum of many authors, and has not been verified with primary sources yet. signed- Chief Amalgamator, Michael Bosworth, MdLD, Vienna Virginia.
- Irish Soldiers of the British Army, http://www.doyle.com.au/irish_soldiers_of_the_british_ar.htm
- Dragoons in the Enniskillen Free Masons, http://www.enniskillenfreemasons.co.uk/dragoons.htm and http://www.regiments.org/regiments/uk/cav/D06Innis.htm
- Marching With Wellington: With the Inniskillings during the Napoleonic War, by Martin Cassidy.
- The British Invasion of Maryland 1812-1815, by William Marine. 1913.
- Napoleonic Guide website. http://www.napoleonguide.com
- The British Empire, http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armyunits/britishcavalry.htm
- Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Waterloo#Conclusion
10. "Heads Up, By God" - French Cavalry At Eylau, 1807 & Napoleon's CavalryDoctrine, . by Cadet Waitman Beorn http://www.napoleonseries.org/articles/wars/eylau.cfm
11. Cavalry Combat 1800-1815 http://web2.airmail.net/napoleon/cavalry_Napoleon.html