Friday, 15 May 2015

Westphalian Light Horse Regiment (Westphalian Lancers)

The Westphalian Light Horse Regiment or Lancers were part of the Westphalian contingent supplied to meet Napoleon's demand for allied troops for his invasion of Spain with the infantry crossing into the country from Perpignan on the 5th of May 1809.

The cavalry operated separately from the infantry entering Spain with three squadrons under the command of Colonel Karl Cristoph Wilhelm Hildesheim, in November 1808 as part of Maupetit's brigade in IV Corps commanded by Marshal Lefebvre;

French 4th Corps in the Tagus Valley, Mid-December 1808
General Maupetit
5th Dragoon Regiment (30/430)
Westphalian Chevauxleger Regiment (28/400)
Dutch Chasseur a Cheval Regiment (l6/320)
Source:Balagny, Campagne de l'Empereur napoleon en Espagne (l808-l809)

In January 1809 the regiment stayed near Madrid and the Tagus valley as part of Beumont's brigade attached to I Corps under Marshal Victor;

I Corps: Maréchal Victor, 1 February 1809
Cavalry Brigade: Général de brigade Beaumont (1,386)
2nd Hussar Regiment
26th Chasseur à Cheval Regiment
Westphalian Chevauléger Regiment
Source: Oman

In June 1809 the regiment goes back to IV Corps now under General de Division Sebastiani, joining General Ormancey's brigade in Merlin's division.

IV Corps: Général de division Sebastiani - 28th July 1809 at Talavera, source Oman
Cavalry Division: Général de brigade Merlin (1,188)
Brigade: Général de brigade Strolz
10th Chasseur à Cheval Regiment
26th Chasseur à Cheval Regiment
Brigade: Général de brigade Ormancey
Polish Lancer Regiment
Westphalian Chevauleger Regiment

In the time period from its entering Spain up to Talavera, it is little engaged  taking part in a small action on the 11th March 1809 at Hynojola when Victor and I Corps are starting to move up the Tagus valley to support Soult's operation in Portugal. They are recorded as having just five wounded..

Their next action is Talavera where they are primarily in reserve with the rest of the cavalry just suffering two wounded during the day.

Westphalian Chevau-legers of the line, illustrated on the left, figures 1a-h from Histofig

General de Brigade Ormancey with his two lancer regiments
My Westphalians are composed of French line lancers from AB, not a perfect alternative but pretty good. As you will see the late surtout (tunic) of the lancers is not quite right and I had to file off the turban carried on the lancers helmet to capture the look of the Westphalian model. The trumpeter is a lancer trumpeter with a suitable head transplant.

I have given my regiment four squadrons to cater for those occasions when I may want the extra figures, but for Talavera they will field just the three. The "Lancer Brigade" under Colonel (General de Brigade) Ormancey will make an imposing sight sat behind the serried ranks of French infantry and should help keep the British commander honest by not wanting to see these chaps wading in among any disordered redcoats.

Other sources consulted for this post;
Charging Against Wellington - The French Cavalry in the Peninsular War 1807-14, Robert Burnham
Sir Charles Oman's orders of battle.

Next up, the British Heavies, starting with the 4th Queen's Own Regiment of Dragoons, followed by the 3rd Prince of Wales Regiment of Dragoon Guards, plus the final play test of the "Night Attack" scenario


  1. Figures are superb and very good painting. The Brigade was great. Greetings from the far Argentine Republic, Carlos

    1. Hi Carlos, thank you and welcome to the blog.

  2. Hi Jonathan,
    plenty of inspiration as always I have almost completed my first battalion of British infantry for the peninsular and maybe America they are AB 15mm . Although only just joining the blog I have been dipping in for a while . So I will blame you as my finances drain away .
    Many thanks for posting .
    Furphy .

    1. Thanks Furphy, brilliant news, another convert to the AB collectors club. I can't think of a better investment for your finances.

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Dave. Thank you, much appreciated

  4. Not being funny and as you know I know little about napoleonics, but didn't Westphalian lancers have a tall plume on the left side of their helmets ? (I only remember it because it looked so weird in the Osprey book). Or has subsequent research consigned that plate to the same place as the original Nassau tunic colour ?


    1. Hi Vince. Yes they did and the Histofig illustration above shows an elite company trooper, 1b with a red plume affixed to the helmet and the centre company trooper 1a without. It is thought that delicate expensive items like plumes and hackles were probably detached and kept safe on campaign, only being fixed for parades and reviews. Frankly either on or off would be ok.

  5. I never realized this regiment was armed with lances. Learned something new. You did a good job on them, now you have to break them in with a battle.

    1. Hi VlE,
      Thank you, yes you are never quite sure how new to the table units will perform first time out, no matter what stats you give them.