One of the most famous regiments of the Imperial Guard was the 2d (Dutch) Lancer Regiment (properly the 2d Regiment de Chevau-legers Lanciers), the famous Red Lancers, so named because of the color of their uniforms. Originally a Dutch light cavalry regiment, it entered French service in 1810 when the Kingdom of Holland was annexed by Napoleon, and was converted into a lancer outfit. Remaining Dutch in character as well as in personnel, it was turned into a first rate unit by training and experience. Suffering crippling losses in Russia in 1812, the essential Dutch character was lost, most of the replacements being French, some coming from the mounted component of the Garde de Paris (which had remained loyal during the Malet conspiracy) and members of Joseph’s former Guard. The regiment served excellently and well during the remainder of the Empire, some of its original surviving personnel remaining loyal into 1815 and after. One of its most famous officers, van Merlen, was killed at Waterloo serving as a Dutch-Belgian cavalry commander under Wellington.
This book is an outstanding regimental history of a famous, hard-riding regiment that did more than its assigned duty, much of it under its famous commander, General Colbert. The text is excellent, and the references impressive. This volume is highly recommended, and if you are an admirer of the Grande Armee, it is a must for you collection.
Ronald Pawly’s THE RED LANCERS
Based on archive research, this is a detailed study of the history and personnel of a single unit of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, 1810-1815 – the 2nd Light Horse or “Red Lancers”. Their part in the Napoleonic Wars is covered, from the 1812 Russian Campaign, through the defensive campaigns in Germany and France in 1813-14, to the fateful 100 days of 1815 and to the final sunset at Waterloo. Illustrated with many period paintings some previously unpublished and of international importance and detailed appendices on known members of the regiment – this is an impressive work of scholarship and was destined to become the standard reference for the collector and student of Napoleonic history.
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