Inspired by the excellent “Sons of Mars” painting by American artist and military painter Keith Rocco, I decided on the 5th Hussars as the perfect starting point for adding a unit of these colourful and dashing cavalrymen to my French Napoleonic collection.
"The Sons of Mars" by Keith Rocco.
The 5th had strong historic roots back to the American Revolution where they fought the British and to the Revolutionary Wars participating at the important battle of Valmy. During the Napoleonic period and the War of The Third Coalition they famously charged alongside the 2nd hussars at Austerlitz, clashing with the Grand Duke Constantine’s Uhlans. The trumpeter of the 5th, Joseph Pincemaille, actually managed to capture the Uhlan’s regimental commander.
Joseph Pincemaille perhaps?
Later during the War of The Fourth Coalition the 5th got brigaded with the 7th Hussars, and came under command of the legendary light cavalry commander, Lasalle. The nickname “Infernal Brigade” was given to Lasalle’s units after Jena, when they hung like wild hawks over the fleeing Prussian infantry, cutting down all that stopped for a pause.
French Hussars in all their splendor.
Plate by L. & F. Funcken.
Legend also has it, that Lasalle with 500 men from his Infernal Brigade managed to have the fortified city of Stetting, with its garrison of 5.000(!) men, surrender to him, simply by pointing to his men and claiming them to be the avant-garde of an approaching army. The Prussians didn’t want any of that, and laid down their arms in spite of their current 10:1 advantage. Such was the reputation of this fearsome brigade.
Great details on the small cavalry flag offer by GMB.
Originally formed in 1780, the 5th became part of the later modernization of the cavalry. Before the Napoleonic wars the French army had 13 hussar regiments. However these had been reduced and refitted into 10 regiments by 1803. As part of the modernization the shako was introduced in 1804, whilst the elite companies would stand out by wearing a colback.
Napoleon inspecting the ranks - 5th is to the right.
The standard uniform consisted of the very characteristic dolman worn with the pelisse hanging over the shoulder. Wintertime would see them also wearing the pelisse, to add extra warmth with its fur edgings. Down to the left hang their sabre-tache. This exotic note to their Hungarian DNA was individually decorated for each regiment.
Rear shoot offering a good view of the white pelisses.
Weaponry would include the characteristic curved sabre for the light cavalry, a standard issue 1786 short musket and a not insignificant amount of chevalier’s pride and dash.
Thank you very much for reading!