2e régiment de chevau-légers lanciers de la Garde Impériale
|2nd Chevau-Légers Lanciers|
Red Lancers officer, trumpeter and troopers
|Allegiance||First French Empire|
|Nickname(s)||Red Lancers ("Lanciers rouges") |
Dutch Lancers ("Lanciers hollandais")
|Pierre David de Colbert-Chabanais|
The 2e régiment de chevau-légers lanciers de la Garde Impériale (English: 2nd Regiment of Light Cavalry Lancers of the Imperial Guard) was a light cavalry regiment in Napoleon I's Imperial Guard. They were formed in 1810, after the Kingdom of Holland was annexed by France, but their original purpose was to serve as hussars of the Dutch Royal Guard. The units, who were of an elite order, were known for their loyalty and military might, as well as their professionalism in and out of battle.
When Napoleon annexed the Kingdom of Holland, ruled until then by his brother Louis Bonaparte, the Dutch Royal Guard merged with the Imperial Guard. The Hussars of the Dutch Royal Guard were converted into the new unit of horse-mounted Lancers, they were given a new scarlet-coloured uniform (copied, except the colour, from Polish lancers uniform) from that was responsible for their name, as well as a new set of weapons. They also received a new leader - Col. Baron Pierre David de Colbert-Chabanais - under whom they were known properly as the 2nd Light Horse Lancers of Napoleon's Imperial Guard (2e régiment de chevaux-légers des Lanciers de la Garde Impériale).
However, despite their previous posts in the Netherlands as the Royal Guards, they suffered enormous losses in the first invasion they participated in, which was that of Russia in 1812. While the devastation for the regiment at that particular conflict almost caused the entire dissolution of the newly formed unit, they would continue to serve in the military, but without many of the original Dutchmen, who were thought of as the pride of the regiment and who would be replaced by French soldiers.
The next year after that, in 1815, Napoleon returned from his exile. The same year, the Red Lancers fought at Waterloo. Even though Dutch-Belgian cavalry commander Jean Baptiste van Merlen, one of the most highly ranked and celebrated army officers of the regiment, lost his life at Waterloo, some of the original Dutchmen still existed in the ranks, and would serve as Red Lancers long after the French defeat there.
The Chevau-Léger Lanciers wore a red coat with blue lapels, cuffs and turnbacks. They wore a red piped yellow Polish shako. They had yellow aiguillettes and epaulettes. The trumpeters wore a white coat with red lapels, cuffs and turnbacks. They wore a white Polish shako and rode grey horses.
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