of the French Army, 1804-15
• Line & Light
Images Added March 2014
Line Cavalry Regiments • 1804-12
The cavalry regiments of the French Army received new standards when Napoleon proclaimed himself emperor in 1804. Their basic design was the same as that of the new infantry colors, with the dedication from the Emperor on the obverse. Heavy cavalry regiments received square standards; dragoon and light cavalry regiments received tailed guidons of the pattern that had long been traditional for those branches of the cavalry. The basis of issue was one standard per squadron; all standards within the regiment were identical except for the squadron number on the reverse. Heavy cavalry standards were 60cm square; light cavalry and dragoon standards were 60cm by 80cm. They were made of oiled silk and carried on a staff surmounted by a gilded bronze eagle with spread wings. This was actually the primary standard of the regiment, and it was common for the Eagle to be carried in action with no flag attached to the staff. At this time the line (heavy) cavalry consisted of carabiniers and cuirassiers and the light cavalry consisted of hussars and chasseurs. Though classed as mounted infantry and sometimes employed in that role, the dragoons usually fought mounted as heavy cavalry.
Line Cavalry Regiments • 1812-14
In 1812 standards of a new pattern based on the Tricolor were issued to all cavalry regiments. They were the same size as the 1804 heavy cavalry standards, but a narrow gold fringe was added and a Tricolor cravat was added. All regiments now received a square standard. The inscriptions on the obverse were similar to those on the 1804 colors, but now battle honors appeared on the reverse. Only those victorious battles where the Emperor had commanded in person were permitted to be borne, so that some regiments had none. The inscriptions appeared within a border of Imperial insignia. The basis of issue for the 1812 standards was one per regiment. By 1812 the light cavalry also included regiments of light horse lancers, converted from dragoon regiments.
After Napoleon's abdication in 1814, the restored Bourbons decreed the destruction of the 1812 Eagles and colors. A few, however, survived to reappear during the Hundred Days.
2nd Light Horse Lancers
Line Cavalry Regiments • 1815
The Eagles and standards issued to the line cavalry of the French Army after Napoleon's escape from Elba and return to France were of a much simpler design than previous patterns. The inscriptions were the same as those of the 1812 colors, but now there was only a narrow ornamental border with no insignia. For cavalry regiments, the basic design was the same for all regiments: 60cm square, fringed, with the dedication from the Emperor on the obverse and battle honors. if any, on the reverse. These Eagles and colors of the Hundred Days were destroyed after the second restoration of the Bourbons and the reorganization of the French Army.
2nd Light Horse Lancers