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"British Cavalry Regiments Horse Colours Mid 18th Century" Topic

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Ligoniers Horse11 Jul 2013 5:05 p.m. PST

I am looking at a project of raising a British Cavalry Brigade for the mid 18th Century with the following regiments: The Blues (Royal Horse Guards), 4th Horse (The Black Horse) and 2nd Dragoons (Royal North British).

Kronoskaf Project SYW states that the Scots Greys of course had grey horses.

Did the Royal Horse Guards or the 4th Horse prefer certain coloured horses? Thinking for 4th Horse of course black!


maciek7212 Jul 2013 1:45 a.m. PST

Not sure about exact units of British army,
but generally heavy cavalry horses shoud be of very dark browns and black.

Mallen12 Jul 2013 4:37 a.m. PST

The 3rd Horse regiment was known as "The Queen's Bays" but other than what you've noted I have never heard of any horse color preferance. Be mindful that musicians tend to ride grey or white horses.

spontoon12 Jul 2013 4:17 p.m. PST

Some regiments has each squadron mounted on it's own colour horses.

seneffe13 Jul 2013 9:11 a.m. PST

For the period c1740-63, all squadrons in all regiments rode black horses- with a few exceptions.
The 2nd Dragoons always had greys (of course).
The 2nd (Queens) Dragoon Guards, were remounted on bay horses during or shortly after their conversion from the 3rd (old numbering system) Horse in 1746- it had been mounted on the usual blacks before then. The 11th Dragoons are noted as being mounted on brown horses in 1755- the inspecting general commenting that the various shades of brown gave the regiment a rather irregular appearance compared to normal. Inspection reports also indicate all the officers of the 4th Dragoons rode bay horses although the rank and file rode the normal blacks. (BTW the 4th Dragoons was noted as a particularly smart regiment.)

In case the preponderance of pure black horses seems a bit improbable, these animals were much more common in the c18th than now. Changes in breeding practise in europe towards the end of the century made them quite a bit rarer.

The main exceptions to the black uniformity was the new Light Regiments. The short lived Duke of Cumberland's (15th) Dragoons rode browns and bays till disbanded in 1749, and the regiments raised in the SYW also had a varied appearance, with at least some of the 15th, 16th and 21st LDs on brown/bay horses.

BTW- the 4th (post 1746 numbering system) 'Black Horse' was so-called because uniquely it had black facings- not for the colour of its mounts. Both they and the Blues wore breastplates under their coats on service in the SYW. They were usually brigaded with the 3rd Horse (Carabiniers) during the SYW, who wore armour too.

Ligoniers Horse13 Jul 2013 3:12 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the info gents

spontoon20 Jul 2013 9:26 a.m. PST

Anyone have firm authoritative evidence on what colour horses were ridden by the drummers of the Scots Greys during the WAS/SYW period? Grey seems unlikely, but possible. I've been putting off painting my Scots Greys unit for just this reason!

Supercilius Maximus20 Jul 2013 11:40 a.m. PST

In case the preponderance of pure black horses seems a bit improbable, these animals were much more common in the c18th than now. Changes in breeding practise in europe towards the end of the century made them quite a bit rarer.

When you look at how many horses were mobilised as recently as WW1, you get some understanding of how horse-dependent the world still was. On that basis, I suspect that all types of horse were very common. I seem to recall that there was a belief in Europe that the darker the horse the stronger it was and that this view continued well into the reign of FtG.

As regards RSG drummers, I would go for pure white horses as a distinction from the rank-and-file greys. Black is tempting, as I'm fairly sure the kettle-drummer's horse in the 19th and 20th Centuries was black, with the rest of the band mounted on white "greys", but whether that can be extrapolated backwards into the 18th Century is moot.

seneffe21 Jul 2013 3:37 p.m. PST

Supermax- I can see why that might seem so. But a number of cavalry regimental histories- I'm looking at Brereton's history of the 4/7th Dragoon Guards at the moment, mention that black was rarer among the breeds becoming more common in Europe in the late c18th.
One example was the British 'hackney'. This dated from the c15th but by the late c18th had been quite finely bred to become a medium weight driving/riding horse popular with the cavalry of all types. Black hackneys were seen but browns and bays were more common.
I think the preamble to the 1796 regulation which restricted black horses to a specific regiments mentions their growing scarcity.

For Scots Greys drummers' mounts in the c18th I'm afraid that I haven't been able to find any info. In equine terms- pure white horses are 'greys' too and would have been found in the ranks of the regiment with dapples, darker greys etc. BTW, some of the c19th Greys kettle drum horses were indeed black- but the most famous- 'Plum Duff' was a dapple grey. Ligonier (great name by the way)- I think the choice is yours…..

PS don't forget the armour on your Horse regiments….

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