Recently Painted No 20 - Russian Guard Hussars 1812
Once again, another of Posties units for his Napoleonic collection, I only painted this unit 2 weeks ago, so the paint's still wet.
In 1775 a single squadron of guard hussars were formed by taking the best troopers from the existing twelve hussar regiments. This squadron accompanied the empress during solemn occasions and served as her escort. Tsar Paul ordered to increase its strength from one to four squadrons and in 1796 entire regiment was formed.
Their uniform was copied from that of the Prussian hussars of Frederick the Great and their squadrons were given silver trumpets. The Lifeguard Hussars were the ultimate in flamboyance, for parade their officers wore leopard pelts. Dancing, drinking and romancing were the highlights of their life in the capital. The sight of the guard hussar in his parade dress could reverse the flow of the blood in woman's veins!!!. Company commander, Denis Davidov, with 2 crosses for bravery around his neck and 2 other decorations on his chest, mentions how his head "was kept in a spin" after being on leave and enjoying Moscow's pleasures. (Davydov - "In the Service of the Tsar against Napoleon: the memoirs of Denis Davidov, 1806-1814" 1999, p 69)
Austerlitz was their very first appearance on the battlefield and the French Guard Cavalry routed them. In 1806-1807 the Lifeguard Hussars fought in Heilsberg and Friedland. For the entire campaign they were awarded with 112 crosses. (Benkendorf - "Kratkaya Istoriya Leib-Gvardii Gusarskogo Ego Velichestva Polka" 1879)
Before the Battle of Ostrovno in 1812, two squadrons of Lifeguard Hussars acted as the rear guard of the retreating Russian corps. They routed French 8th Hussars but during the pursuit the 16th Chasseurs strucked them in the flank, the Russians were routed and as a result a Russian horse battery and 150 prisoners were captured. Meshetich, who participated in this fight, gave other version of these events in “Istoricheskie zapiski.” He wrote that the 2 squadrons noticed French advance posts in a wood and rushed forward but were met by fire from dismounted chasseurs deployed on both sides of the road. Behind the wood stood mass of French cavalry, which soon advanced and threw the Lifeguard Hussars back. The horse battery led by Kardyba was away from the hussars but lost half of its 12 guns.
In 1812 the regiment were commanded by Chef: General of Cavalry Petr H. Wittgenstein, at Borodino the Lifeguard Hussars attacked the square of 84th Line Infantry but without horse artillery and or much success. They fought very well in Vinkowo against French cuirassiers, and at Tarutino and Krasne where they captured enemy's battery. In 1813 they fought with distinction in Lutzen, Bautzen and Leipzig. In Leipzig they were crushed by French Cuirassiers despite a ferocious resistance and sacrifice of their officers. In April they were awarded with St. George standards for the entire campaign.
In 1812 the Lifeguard Hussar's first encounter with
the French invaders was a specific one. Roman Soltyk writes:
"… a strong troop of Muscovite hussars halted at about a 100
paces from our weak advance guard. … Coming toward us,
the officer shut out in French: Qui vive ?
"France!" - our men reply quietly.
"What are you doing here ?