08: 3rd Hussars 1808-16

As explained on page 5, I’m taking the close of 1807 as a probable date for the adoption of hussar clothing and  the title of “Hussars” by the three Light Dragoon regiments.

As compared with the 1st and 2nd Hussars (see pages 6 and 7), a significant amount of good evidence survives for the uniform of the 3rd. As the discussion below of the dress of officers is rather lengthy and complex, I’ll add a final summary of the main points, for easy reference. Most sources mentioned below are detailed on page 1. Click to enlarge images.

 

Officers

Primary sources

Hamilton Smith chart

The Beamish plate and Centrepiece and the Hamilton Smith chart provide the obvious starting points. I’ll outline their main features here and refer back to them in the later text. The Beamish plate and the chart show yellow jacket facings and silver lace, though in the plate the cuff lace seems to be tinted gold, an apparent mistake. Both plate and Centrepiece show three rows of buttons on the jacket; the plate suggests half loops between the principal loops, but the Centrepiece does not. (As noted on page 7, it’s not clear if the Centrepiece figure is meant for the 2nd or 3rd regiments, nor, judging by the looping, if it’s an officer or, judging by cuffs and collar, a private.)

Both plate and chart show the sash as scarlet with gold barrels. The plate shows the pelisse lined in a crimson shade of red and edged with black fur.  (But see below for corrections to this.) Overalls are shown as light grey with, apparently, a gold stripe, which contradicts the silver jacket and pelisse lace and seems unlikely, though, as for the 2nd regiment, cords on the peaked fur cap are likewise shown as gold.

Beamish plate, Beamish Centrepiece, von Röder

A further piece of contemporary visual evidence is the von Röder painting in the Anne S K Brown collection, showing what appears to be an officer of the Third with Wallmoden’s army of 1813. There are several points of interest – the silver trimmed light dragoon cap with chin scales, the naïve but convincing depiction of the elaborate jacket loops and cuff ornaments, the pale shade – almost buff – of the yellow facings, the absence of a pelisse, the plain sash without barrels and the light grey light dragoon undress overalls with a double yellow stripe, without leather strapping but with tan leather cuffs.

The Stothard notebook and Meyer ledger (thanks to Meyer and Mortimer and Ben Townsend for images of the latter) provide a good deal of additional information on officers’ dress. Again, it will help to look at this one item at a time.

Fur caps

The Beamish plate and Centrepiece show a brown fur cap with peak, scarlet bag and gold cords, while the von Röder image shows a light dragoon cap in wear. Interestingly, Meyer repaired a fur cap for Colonel Reden in 1810, the details indicating that this was a dress cap. The “top”, meaning the bag, is of scarlet superfine cloth which matches the Beamish plate, but the fur used is “black Cremer skins”, meaning black Crimean fox, as also found on the pelisses of the 1st Hussars. The source for the fur is noted as Poland. This black fur contradicts the brown fur shown by Beamish.

Jackets

The Stothard drawing of a jacket labelled as a common pattern for the three hussar regiments is shown again here. It has been discussed in some detail on pages 6 and 7 in the contexts of the 1st and 2nd Hussars, and that discussion is relevant here, but with the lace understood as in silver. Though the looping is only partly pencilled in, the drawing implies three rows of buttons.

Common pattern for all three regiments (Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library)

It’s possible that this represents a slightly earlier style than another drawing in Stothard of “A jackit for 3d Hussars 1813”. Stothard clearly states that this second jacket has five rows of buttons. It has some similarities to the first jacket in the pockets, side seams and back hips, but the collar, looping and cuff ornament are different. (The sleeve knot on this second jacket matches exactly that in another drawing of a coat for a surgeon of the Third, discussed below. As it’s possible that the surgeon’s coat was made in 1810, this jacket may in fact date from earlier than 1813.)

Later pattern for 3rd Hussars (Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library)

The second jacket is described as of superfine (dark) blue cloth, with “breast braid” around the edges (not visible in the drawing) and with the same braid for the loops, which are “traced” with waistcoat braid; I take “tracing” to mean the half loops and eyes that alternate with the main loops. The second and fourth rows of buttons would be at the inside ends of these half loops, though they are not shown in the drawing. (The Beamish plate seems to show the “traced” half loops, but both that plate and the Centrepiece show only three rows of buttons as for the earlier jacket.) Though this drawing shows 16 loops and buttons, details in the Meyer ledger (below) indicate rather more than this, and the drawing should not be taken literally in that respect.

The side seams are said to be lined with half inch braid, and “traced” or outlined with a narrower braid, presumably waistcoat or figuring braid. This forms crow’s feet each side at the top and bottom of the seams, Austrian knots at the bottom and a small crow’s foot at the centre of the back. The description also specifies yellow leather “at the bottom”; does this mean a reinforcement along the bottom jacket edge?

Collar and cuffs are given as yellow. The collar is edged with a broader “lace”, perhaps half inch again, with inside that a line of finer braid or cord with an eye at each front corner. The cuffs do not extend around the sleeve; the sleeve knot is perhaps formed with half inch braid, and ornamented with rows of eyes and “sprigs” at top and bottom, presumably in figuring braid. (The terms used for different laces or braids can be confusing, and it’s not entirely clear to me how the “breast braid”, “waistcoat braid” and “half inch braid” specified here by Stothard relate, for example, to the “royal cord”, “French braid” and “figuring braid” mentioned elsewhere.)

Among the accounts in the Meyer ledger for 17 officers of the Third between 1809 and 1814 are 13 entries for jackets for 11 officers. All are of superfine (dark) blue cloth, some confirmed as laced with silver. In five cases the numbers of loops are given as 20, 23, 24, 27 and 32. (As noted for the other two regiments on pages 6 and 7, these differences do not seem to relate to rank or to date, but perhaps to the wearer’s size or personal taste, or to the whim of the tailor; Captain Poten of the Third bought two jackets in March and May 1811, one with 24 and the other with 27 loops.)

Pelisses

The Stothard book also contains an incomplete drawing for a pelisse of the Third. The buttons are not shown, but the “traced” half loops, as on the later jacket discussed above, suggest five rows of buttons, as shown on the pelisse on the Beamish Centrepiece, and also as confirmed in the Meyer ledger (see below). The side and sleeve ornament here is not the same as that shown by Stothard for the pelisses of the 1st and 2nd regiments (see pages 6 and 7). The details of the trim appear consistent with those given by Meyer below: French braid edging inside the fur, looping in royal cord, side seams and additional ornamentation in figuring braid.

3rd Hussars pelisse (Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library)

The Meyer ledger notes 18 pelisses (or repairs or alterations to them) for 15 officers, all but one between 1809 and 1811, the last in 1814. None are noted as trimmed in blue like the undress pelisses recorded for the 2nd and 3rd Hussars (see pages 6 and 7), and all appear to be dress pelisses with silver trim. All are of superfine (dark) blue cloth.

In just one case, in 1811, the number of loops is noted as 29. In two other cases in 1811 the numbers of buttons supplied suggest only 19 and 21 loops, with the proportion of small to large ball buttons at four to one, indicating five rows of buttons as noted above, the row of large size to fasten in the loops, the four rows of small merely decorative.

As mentioned above, Meyer sometimes provides details of the silver trim used. Quantities appear to vary: in 1809 17½ yards of silver royal cord are required for the looping, from 8 to 10 yards of French braid for the edges and side seams and 12 or 16 yards of figuring braid for the finer ornaments. In 1811 the royal cord looping has increased to 30 yards, with 20 yards of figuring braid. These changes may be the result of additional complexity in the ornamentation, perhaps related to the change in the pattern of jacket. In one case, involving alterations to an existing pelisse in 1809, French braid is removed and 10 yards of “jacket braid” substituted; the wearer is a regimental quartermaster.

During the period covered by the ledger the colour of the plush lining to the pelisse is altered. In four cases in 1809 this is described as buff in colour, and in one case the same year as yellow. (At this period these two terms were not necessarily in contradiction, but it’s interesting that both the von Röder painting discussed above and the NCO’s jacket at Celle – see below – suggest that the regimental facing colour may have been a shade of yellow verging on buff.)

In 1810 the buff plush lining changes to scarlet, perhaps as a colour less likely to show the dirt. Meyer sent out batches of scarlet plush for this alteration in September 1810 and September 1811, with two pelisses made by him in that month also using scarlet. While the Beamish plate above suggests more of a crimson shade, this should clearly be scarlet.

In 11 cases in 1809-11 fur trim is specified for these pelisses: ten are of “fisher skin”, probably a mottled pale grey in colour, and certainly not the black shown in the Beamish plate and copied by Knötel. In one case “jennet” fur is mentioned, meaning perhaps genet, also a light grey, spotted with black or brown. (Fisher fur was also used on the pelisses of the 2nd Hussars, and “Jennet” also on greatcoats for the First and Second – see pages 6 and 7.)

Sleeve linings are noted as calico, India silk, or scarlet silk serge. Necklines are noted as silver, with silver tassels.

Waistcoats

Meyer’s ledger includes 14 waistcoats for seven officers from 1809-11. Three, throughout the period, are of buff cassimere, with gilt buttons, a fourth of buff Marcella (a cotton fabric with a geometric weave, sometimes called “quilted”). Four, throughout the period, are of yellow cassimere, with three rows of buttons, two of these being described as “regimental”. As the regimental metal colour was silver, the gilt buttons on the buff waistcoats may indicate that these were really civilian wear, but the use of “buff” for pelisse linings also suggests that buff waistcoats may have been worn with uniform.

Seven waistcoats, throughout the period, are of white Marcella. One is “plain”, another has three rows of thread buttons; another two are noted as ornamented with cotton braid (white, presumably) and three rows of buttons, in one case “sugar loaf” buttons. None of these waistcoats are anywhere near as expensive as the gold laced waistcoats worn by officers of the 1st Hussars (see page 6), so we can say with confidence that no silver lace was used on them.

Pantaloons

The Stothard tailor’s book contains a drawing and description of a pair of pantaloons for the 1st Hussars, as shown on page 6. It seems probable that the same pattern, or similar, with outer seam stripe and knots, and with silver lace instead of gold, was worn by the Third. A lace pounce book of 1813 contains a knot pattern marked “Ger Legion” which is an excellent match for that sketched by Stothard, and is also shown on page 6.  This caption does suggest that the same knot was used for the three Hussar regiments.

Nine officers ordered 16 pairs of pantaloons from Meyer from 1809 to 1814. Ten pairs are (dark) blue, five white and one “mix’t”, so presumably grey. The ten blue are mostly of eight thread milled stocking, with a few six thread. Of these, six are laced with silver for dress, and three with blue French braid and figuring braid, or blue royal cord, for undress. The tenth is described as “plain”.

All the white pairs are of patent cotton stocking. Four are noted as ornamented with (white) royal cord, in one case of cotton, the others apparently silk cord. The “mixed” grey pair is ornamented with French braid; the colour of this is not given, though the price indicates that it was not silver.

The trim on all of these would presumably have been an outer seam stripe and knots at the flaps.

Overalls

Meyer has seven orders for overalls, plus one alteration to a pair, for five officers. Six pairs, from 1809 to 1811, are of (dark) blue superfine or second cloth. Most have chains under the foot. Four are strapped in dark blue or without strapping, but have black Japanned leather cuffing or “boots”. Of these, one is noted as having 30 silver plated buttons, presumably 15 per leg, replaced in 1810 by “KGL” buttons. The others may not have had buttons down the leg. Just one pair, for a quartermaster, has black leather strapping.

There is no mention of lace on any overalls until 1814, when two pairs, for the major, are given as “lac’d”, presumably in silver. One pair is of light blue cloth, the other apparently dark blue. These seem closer to the style shown in grey by Beamish, above, but there is no sign in Meyer of any grey overalls, as shown either by Beamish or by von Röder.

Greatcoats

Meyer has details for two greatcoats, both of 1809. Both are in dark blue, the trim therefore being dark blue or black. The more modest of the two, for the colonel, uses 16 silk olives and 20 yards of royal cord, enough for 16 loops on the front and some additional edging or ornamentation. The more costly, for a mere cornet, uses 60 olives, perhaps in three rows of 20, and 34 yards of cord. Its four yards of French braid and five of figuring braid would ornament the side seams, collar and cuffs. As tassels and “gimp” are also involved, it’s likely that the side seams terminate in “Polonaise” hips, three lines of French braid with tassels at the lower ends.

Cloaks

Meyer has records of five cloaks for three officers in 1809-10 – far more than the one surviving order for a cloak for the 2nd Hussars and none for the First. All are of (dark) blue second cloth, all but one lined with white rattinet, with capes lined with blue shalloon. In two cases capes are added to existing cloaks, suggesting a change in pattern. There is no mention of sleeves. In one case 24 silver plated ball buttons are included, presumably for a single row closing the front.

Undress caps

The pattern of undress caps for officers was entirely unregulated, but one made by Meyer in 1809 for Colonel Töbing is of superfine (dark) blue cloth, wadded and lined with silk. It is ornamented with French braid at a price suggesting a yard of silver, with worsted braid of an unspecified colour but conceivably the facing colour of yellow, and with a rich silver bullion tassel. No peak is mentioned. A reasonable guess might be a blue “muffin” shaped cap with a yellow band, the top edged, and maybe also ornamented, with silver braid and with the silver tassel.

Medical staff

Stothard’s book contains a drawing and description of an unusual and interesting “Doctors Coate, 3d German Legon Hussars”, dated 1813. This is of superfine (dark) blue cloth lined with silk, single breasted, with yellow collar and cuffs, and said to be ornamented with gold braid. Assuming that the coat is indeed for the Third, “gold” could be a mistake on Stothard’s part, and should probably be silver. The buttons are spaced “regular” but “thick,” the drawing showing 30 button holes. Silver plated ball buttons would presumably have been used. The skirt linings, and apparently also the turnbacks, are blue.

Surgeon’s coat (Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library)

The coat edges and turnbacks are edged with narrow silver breast braid “felled on & turned over,” with a braid crow’s foot and two buttons at the rear. The “dimond” turnback ornaments are drawn with a cross, but are likely to be the “KGL” ornaments as on some preserved coats and as illustrated by Chappell and others. The collar is edged with a narrow silver braid with eyes at the front corners. The cuff knots are formed of silver French braid ornamented with sprigs and eyes, and are clearly stated to be “same as the jacket sleeve Rigemental”, with sprigs and eyes, and the second jacket drawing above confirms this.

Meyer’s ledger has an entry of April 1810 for a coat for Surgeon George Ripkin (spelt as “Ripking” in Beamish), which may well be this same coat, given that Stothard’s drawings are sometimes post-dated. (There are other indications that Stothard may have worked at, or have visited, Meyer’s.) This is described as of superfine (dark) blue, laced with silver, without epaulettes and with a pair of skirt ornaments bought in – altogether, a good match for the Stothard drawing.

Summary of officer’s dress

In short, the best contemporary evidence suggests:

  • Headwear: brown fur cap with peak, scarlet bag and gold cords; black fur cap with scarlet bag; black light dragoon cap with silver trim.
  • Jacket with yellow facings of a shade close to buff, and silver trim, earlier pattern with three rows of buttons and and later pattern with five rows, as shown by Stothard.
  • Scarlet sash with gold barrels.
  • Pelisse with silver trim, grey fur and buff/yellow plush lining, or with scarlet lining from 1810.
  • Yellow waistcoat with three rows of buttons.
  • Buff waistcoat with gilt buttons.
  • White waistcoat with three rows of buttons and white braid.
  • Dress pantaloons dark blue with silver trim.
  • Undress pantaloons dark blue with dark blue trim.
  • White pantaloons with white trim.
  • Dark blue overalls, sometimes strapped with the same, black Japanned leather cuffing, with chains, occasionally with plated buttons on the sides.
  • Light grey overalls with double yellow seam stripe and tan leather cuffing.
  • Light or dark blue overalls with silver lace seam stripe by 1814.
  • Greatcoat dark blue with dark blue or black loops, ornamentation and olives.
  • Dark blue cloaks lined white, cape lined in dark blue, occasionally closing with plated ball buttons.
  • Dark blue undress cap with silver and yellow(?) trim and silver tassel.
  • Surgeon’s coat dark blue as shown and described above.

Knötel’s officer

Later versions

Knötel’s plate in his Vol III follows Beamish’s officer pretty faithfully, but “corrects” the trouser stripe to silver, logically enough. More modern illustrators appear not to have tackled any officers of the Third.

 

Other ranks

Primary sources

From the Hamilton Smith plate

The Hamilton Smith chart (above) gives the men’s uniform colours as for officers, but with white lace, and with red sashes with yellow barrels. Hamilton Smith’s plate for the KGL includes a figure of a hussar of the Third which confirms this; it shows the jacket with three rows of buttons and the pelisse with five. Cuff and collar lace are simple outlines, the cuffs with an additional line outside forming a crow’s foot. Pelisse necklines are white, and the pelisse lining is correctly red, but the pelisse fur is a mid to dark brown, in contrast to the evidence above of grey fur for officers.

The light dragoon cap of late 1811 is worn in black with white trim, a white over red plume and chin scales. Light dragoon pattern overalls are worn, in light grey with a double yellow stripe and tan leather cuffing; it is not clear whether Hamilton Smith understood these to have also leather strapping. Both cap and overalls are consistent with those shown in the von Röder image of an officer, discussed above.

A sergeant major’s jacket is preserved at Celle. The museum ascribes this to 1812-16, but it’s not easy to pin down the styling to a period within the ten years of the regiment’s existence; the collar is noticeably deep, the front fastens with buttons through the loops rather than through button holes, and the lower front corners have the pointed crossover characteristic of some light cavalry jackets of the era. (In some photos the jacket is shown with the front buttoned over the wrong way.) As this is a senior NCO’s jacket, the lace is silver, but in other respects it appears to match the trooper’s pattern as shown by Hamilton Smith.

Views of the NCO’s jacket at Bomann Museum, Celle

The front has 17 loops and ball buttons, with another button below each side of the collar to hold a lace shoulder strap. The lace edging is close to the collar and cuff edges. Pockets are outlined in the same lace with a crow’s foot at each end. Four yellow chevrons on the right arm are edged in silver with a silver crown above. I have not seen any image of the rear. A colour photo suggests to me that the shade of yellow now appears quite buff in tone; while it may have faded, this could reinforce my interpretation above of the facing colour on officers’ uniforms.

These are the only contemporary sources known to me. A rather fine watercolour in the Royal Collection by Carl Vernet was long identified as a sergeant of the Third, but as Miller and Dawnay point out, there is no resemblance at all in the uniform, and it is more likely an NCO of the Hanoverian Luneberg Hussars.

Later versions

Later images of the men’s uniform, even if partly founded on sound evidence, show a decline in accuracy as they are passed down over the years.

In a plate in his Vol XIII Knötel reconstructs an image of a trooper of 1806, on the basis that hussar styling was worn from the regiment’s creation that year. Essentially, this shows the jacket as known (though with no crow’s foot on the cuff), a peaked fur cap and a pelisse with black fur, modelled on those of Beamish’s officer. To be honest, this feels very much like retrospective guesswork and hardly trustworthy. More recently, Mike Chappell’s first Osprey volume shows his version of a private of 1808, in a fur cap without peak and in a pelisse with grey fur. This may represent a critical revision of Knötel’s 1806 figure, but I am still not sure how secure some aspects may be. The pelisse cuff trim is shown with clarity, but I do not know the basis for this.

Knötel’s KGL hussar plate in his Vol III also includes a man of the Third, dated to 1813 and modelled directly after Hamilton Smith. This version was directly copied around 1912 by Winand Aerts, but with the crow’s foot missed from the cuff. The Aerts figure was directly copied in turn by von Pivka in 1974, with the same cuff (and with the same piece of paper, it seems), and with the cap trim now erroneously in yellow.

page1: some sources

page 2: Line Battalions

page 3: 1st Light Battalion

page 4: 2nd Light Battalion

page 5: Light Dragoons 1803-7

page 6: 1st Hussars 1808-16

page 7: 2nd Hussars 1808-16

page 9: ‘Heavy’ Dragoons 1803-13

page 10: Light Dragoons 1813-16

page 11: Foot Artillery

page 12: Horse Artillery

page 13: Gunner Drivers

page 14: Engineers

page 15: Depot Company, Independent Garrison Company, Veteran Battalion

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