143 Cuirassiers, 1st Empire
The cuirassiers head-dress consisted of an iron helmet surrounded by a fur turban and from the crest a horsehair mane. He wears an iron cuirass/breastplate. His dark blue saddle cloth is edged in white lace and is covered with a white sheepskin edged with ‘wolves’ teeth’ material in the regimental colour.
In 1803 Napoleon reorganised his heavy cavalry into twelve regiments of cuirassiers, and wanting these horsemen to have an advantage over their Austrian counterparts, had iron helmets and cuirass issued to them.
The heavy cavalry of cuirassiers and carabiniers were used by Napoleon as a ‘battering ram’, being held in reserve until a weak point appeared in the enemy line, which they were thrown against to create a rupture.
Their battlefield debut was at Austerlitz where their success scaled their reputation for the next ten years. At Waterloo some regiments charged the British squares as many as ten times but were still unable to help decide the outcome of the battle.