I’d like to take time to dedicate an article to each type of troop type that took part in the Napoleonic Wars. As such I’d thought I’d start this little series with the Cuirassiers.
WHAT IS A CUIRASSIER?
Cuirassiers were cavalry equipped with cuirass armour, sword, and firearms, first appearing in late 15th-century Europe. The first cuirassiers were produced as a result of armoured cavalry, such as the men-at-arms and demi-lancers, discarding their lances and adopting the use of pistols as their primary weapon. In the later 17th century, the cuirassier lost his limb armour and subsequently employed only the cuirass (breastplate and backplate), and sometimes a helmet. By this time, the sword or sabre had become their primary weapon, pistols being relegated to a secondary function.
Cuirassiers achieved increased prominence during the Napoleonic Wars and were last fielded in the opening stages of World War I. Cuirassiers continue to be employed as ceremonial troops by a number of countries. The French term means “one with a cuirass” (cuirasse), the breastplate armour which they wore.
During the first few decades of the 19th century most of the major states of Europe, except Austria which had retained its armoured cavalry, readopted the cuirass for some of their heavy cavalry in emulation of the French. The Russians fielded two divisions of armoured cavalry, but most other states armoured a few senior regiments: Prussia three regiments, the Kingdom of Saxony three, the Kingdom of Westphalia two, Spain one (Coraceros Españoles) and the Duchy of Warsaw one. The three Household Cavalry regiments of the British Army (1st and 2nd Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards) adopted cuirasses shortly after the Napoleonic Wars as a part of their full dress uniforms, but never had occasion to wear the armour in battle. However as late as 1887 these regiments were still wearing cuirasses on manoeuvres in “field day order”.
I’m also going to allow Cuirassiers to have a base 6+ save. I say base as some nations Curiassiers were better armoured than others, while some had no armour at all. For example the French were equipped with helmets as well as the Cuirasse, so for these regiments I’m tempted to give a 5+ save.