First up is six figures representing the first squadron of 2nd Cuirassiers c.1812.
2e Regiment de Cuirassiers
Created in 1635 from an Ordnance company of Cardinal Richelieu and named Cardinal-Duc, in 1643 they were renamed the Royale-Cavalerie and in 1791 the 2eme Regiment de Cavalerie. Their name changed once again in 1802 when the Regiment became the 2eme Regiment de Cavalerie-Cuirassiers and finally in 1803 they were renamed the 2eme Regiment de Cuirassiers.
In 1812 their colours carried battle honours for Austerlitz, Jéna, Eylau, Friedland, Eckmühl, and Wagram, and for the invasion of Russia they served under GdB Bessières as part of Saint. Germain's 1st Heavy Cavalry Division.
Sergeant-Major Thirion described the cuirassiers participating in the Invasion of Russia, ‘Never had more beautiful cavalry been seen! Never had the regiments [of cuirassiers] reached such high effectives’. In 1812, the mounts of the Cuirassiers and Carabiniers were set at between 155 and 160cms to the withers. Although originally mounted solely on black horses, many of the mounts purchased in Germany were Bay. So my cuirassiers ride a spread of black, bay, and copper bays with cornets on their traditional grey mounts.
The moustached French cuirassiers of the Napoleonic wars wore dark blue coat, faced in regimental colours, had a flaming grenade on their coat tails and saddlecloth, wore red epaulettes, and had a red plume attached to their headwear. The cuirassiers wore heavy cloth surculottes over their white breeches for field service. The over-breeches were buttoned down the sides and tucked into boots. These were made of wool or linen and were off-white, brown, brown-grey, light grey or dark grey. The tall black boots were considered necessary to protect the legs when the files of cavalry were pressed together. Before a campaign every cuirassier also received a white sheepskin to the regulation shabraque.
The Cuirassier helmet was made of steel with brass comb, a black horse mane (for trumpeters a red or, in this case, white mane), a black cow-hide turban, black visor edged with brass, a tall red plume on the left side, and brass chin scales, but the plume was often left off whilst on campaign.. The cuirass had front and back plates made of steel. It had leather straps with brass scales, and the red lining was edged with white in all regiments.