Uniform Guide: 10th Hussars (Prince of Wales Own) 1806-1815

Top left are trooper and officer of the 10th from their 1815 issue.
I have a number of sources for this unit but frustratingly none of them are what you might call comprehensive. Painting them has been a matter of holding my brushes in one hand and juggling books and magazines in the other. I also note the absence of information on-line. What is also quite breath-taking is the absence of comprehensive treatments of cavalry horse furniture - plenty on the uniforms of the riders but little on their mounts. Illustrations are invariably officer-centric which is unhelpful.

I've copied what I have found and assembled them in this post in the hope that what I have found and the decisions I have made in 'my' representation of this famous light horse unit may help others.
Richerd Simpkin's illustration identifies this corporal dated to 1812 in Osprey Men-at-Arms 126. Note the sheepskin suggests white vandykes.

Jackets (Dolman) & Pelise
Officer 1808 

Perhaps the most straight forward and unchanging item of uniform as far as the colour of cloth cut were the dolman and pelise; both were dark blue throughout the Napoleonic wars. What changes is the colour of braid and the cuffs. From 1806 they are equipped as hussars (from light dragoons) with yellow facings (collar and cuffs) with white lace and braid. In 1811, they changed to red facings, retaining the white lace and braid. After 1814 they were re-equipped with dark blue facings and changed their lace and braid to yellow (gold for officers). 

Trooper 1815
Buttons are often just referred to by their colour which can be unhelpful if you want to know if they are metal or otherwise. Living on the other side of the world it is difficult for me to attend any regimental museum to confirm (to say the least) and ascertain for absolute certainty. No museum original or replica I have seen; however, has anything other than metal buttons for pelise or dolman so I'm standing firm they were metal until proven wrong. The exact metal and its colour was the equivalent for the colour braid - gold/brass for gold/yellow braid or silver/pewter for silver/white braid.

The pelise was woolen trimmed white for other ranks up to 1815 when they changed to black. Fur trimmed pelise for officers was grey up to 1814 (matching their fur cap) and white for the blue facings issue in 1815. I remain unsure as to the pelise lining - I have seen it red and others suggest white whereas I opted for unlined or lined dark blue.

Breeches & Overalls
Officer 1815 issue.
Breeches were white and undistinguished. Several regiments shifted to overalls from 1812 and by 1815, the 10th were in standard grey with brown leather inside linings and cuffs. Officers wore light blue as distinct from the other ranks' grey - often referred to as blue-grey. The shift to overalls saw the introduction of an outer stripe - definitely yellow in 1815 (matching the lace and braid) with gold for officers. I have no evidence but surmise that white/silver was in existence for their return to the Spanish Peninsular in 1813. I can find no reference or pictorial evidence for the stripe for this period and have gone for a single stripe.

Officer 1805 from Dighton
From 1806 the 10th Light Dragoons were were re-designated Hussars, adopting the brown fur cap worn for other ranks and the tall, flamboyant and certainly peculiar 'mirliton' cap in black for officers. Dighton has the mirliton 'wing' lined red with red in the cap beneath it. I do not know how universally the mirliton was adopted. Otherwise I presume officers also worse the fur cap - the bag for which (as with the other ranks) was of the facing colour - yellow then red after 1811. Yellow/gold chords were worn on all headdress of the 10th Hussars throughout their uniform changes in our period regardless of uniform lace/trim. Similarly, the plume was always some derivation of white over red.

In 1809, the 10th adopted the peakless shako (see Simpkin B&W below) which is likely to have been standard black. It was replaced with the universal peaked variety in 1812 which was red from the beginning. The top reinforcement is most often depicted white but sometimes yellow - there appears to be debate over the issue. The white lace on a red shako would be consistent with the red facing uniform issue with white lace from 1811 and for me, seems most likely. The cockade (top) and 'target' (central) with button and lace are all in yellow/gold with additional lace loops or rings beneath the top lace for officers. The button lace running from the cockade to the target is sometimes shown white which would be in keeping with other ranks lace for the 1811 issue.

Sabretasche, Cartridge Box, Canteen & Belting
Sabretasches were plain black leather for other ranks and depicted gold for officers in all references - probably being the gold cover. Dress or uncovered officers' sabretasches are shown similar to the first image above, with crown and gold cypher on a red field, heavily bordered in gold embroidery. The crown includes the three feathers of the Prince of Wales. All buckles and fixtures are brass/gilt.

R. Wymer Officer 10th Hussars 1806
Cartridge boxes are again, black leather for other ranks and as depicted in the first image for officers - gold embroidery over red. Belts for other ranks including sword/scabbard hangers, sabretasche straps, waist belt and cartridge box belt are in white for other ranks and gold, often edged red for officers. All buckles appear to be brass or gilt.

The canteen is the standard blue wooden British army issue canteen likely marked with the arrow and BO (British Ordnance) with brown leather strap and brass buckle. The canteen is generally banded or strapped around the circumference in metal (perhaps tin) and is best portrayed a dark metallic or gun metal. The strap is fixed to the outside of the canteen sometimes with similar metallic fixtures (loops) which the strap passes through - sometimes by riveted leather loops. The stopper is wooden (generally) and often shown painted blue like the body of the canteen but of course issue and field replacements may vary from natural wooden plugs, cork or whatever comes to hand.

Other Uniform Details
Include black neckerchief for all ranks, black leather shoes with steel hooks (spurs), steel scabbards and steel knuckle-bow quillon (guard). Some officers may have opted for gilt fittings but all aspects of the sabres are generally depicted in steel. Only the trumpeter is modelled with the sword grip shown amongst my figures and it is black. The sword knots were in the corresponding lace/braid. Carbines are as you might expect.
Perry Miniatures British Hussars cover-art

I have found no reference to continuance in the previous traditions of reversal of colours for trumpeters. The cover art for Perry's British Hussars (above) shows no such distinction. Certainly in later periods British light cavalry trumpeters had the same uniform as the other ranks with only their grey mounts to distinguish them. Their trumpets were brass and the only representations of their trumpet chords are in keeping with regimental lace, spun with alternating red chord.
15th Hussars 1815 (not 10th) but note the red sheepskin vandykes, the solid shabraque vandykes but on a blue shabraque, the single solid leg stripe and the red shako.
Horse Furniture
Officer 10th Hussars 1809 Richard Simpkin
Particularly poorly recorded, the following can be ascertained. The dress shabraque (not normally worn on campaign but often sculpted) was of the facing colour - conforming to general practice. This up to 1811 it would have been yellow (though I have no pictorial reference) and then red from then on. Several artistic portrayals of the regiment in action from that time have them in battle with shabraques (artistic license?) including at Waterloo and retaining the red shabraque. One might conclude (as I have chosen) that they had not replaced their horse furniture from the previous issue. Haythornthwaite (Uniforms of Waterloo) has them as dark blue with a plain yellow (officers gold) trim which is never depicted, the plain trim never sculpted and appears contrary to general practice - but I'm not going to argue with him. Consistently depicted with further adornments to the shabraque are  crowns and cyphers as shown above and below by Simpkin for all ranks.

Simpkin again; 1812 note the valise 'X H'

The vandykes on the shabraque (triangular zig-zag edging) correspond to the facing colour - hence red, but consistently shown white edged corresponding to the braid and lace issue. The sheepskin too has it's integral vandykes which I have elected to colour red (scarlet). Sheepskins are white for other ranks and black for officers.

The blanket and valise are dark blue with the valise ends edged in the requisite regimental lace/braid with regimental identification in the same. If applied consistently in consideration of the transition from white to yellow braiding, it seems likely for the valise to be edged and numerated in white when depicting any shabraque in red as I have done. Often depicted 'X H' (Haythornthwaite cites also X over RH) but also '10 H'. I have coloured my saddle blankets blue (upper) and grey (lower).
Note the questionable inclusion of yellow cap lace
Not strictly horse furniture, when sculpted the cloak is rolled and strapped to the front of the saddle and is dark blue.
The harness and strapping for saddle, stirrup leathers, bridle (the works) are in brown leathers with brass fixtures.

Trooper 1812 by J Cassin-Scott
British light cavalry preferred the brown schemes of horse colours, black being primarily reserved for heavy cavalry and greys for the trumpeters. The horses tails must be cropped and many castings have full tails which require lopping.The cavalrymen themselves will also require lopping - their moustaches that is. Whist commonly depicted and universally cast, there are nevertheless plenty of images and perhaps more importantly portraits of hussars (officers in particular) without their hirsute adornments. So, be prepared to get filing.

1815 End Note
What we have appears to be a regiment caught out by Napoleon's return in the midst of a uniform transition. They take to the field with new issue dolmans and pelise but have not taken up their new shabraques or shakos.


The following two images are cropped from W.Y.Carman's "Richard Simkin's Uniforms of the British Army: The Cavalry Regiments" (1982).
Whilst the cap is depicted brown, note the distinctive officer plume and the black sheepskin. Of interest is the studded black leather harness.
The evolved 1811 uniform misidentified in the abovementioned book as an officer. It appears to be a revisited subject from the above earlier depiction by Simkin (second image in this post). The tuft/plume, white sheepskin and chevrons on the dolman and pelise clearly identify the figure as a corporal. 

Regiment Magazine "British Light Cavalry:Light Dragoons and Hussars 1685-1914" - Issue 33 (12NOV1998)
Cavalry Uniforms of Britain and the Commonwealth (Blandford Colour Series) - R & C Wilkinson-Latham 1969
Painting Guide to Napoleonics Pt. 2 British Cavalry - John Rafferty, Active Service Press 1988
Uniforms of the Peninsular War 1807-1814 - P. Haythornthwaite & M. Chappell, Arms & Armour 1978
Wellington's Light Cavalry - B Fosten Osprey Publishing Men-At-Arms Series No:126
British Cavalryman - P. Haythornthwaite & R. Hook Osprey Warrior 1994
Wellington's Military Machine - P. Haythornthwaite, Spellmount Ltd. 1997
Wellington's Regiments - I. Fletcher, Spellmount Ltd. 1994
Uniforms of Waterloo (in Color) - P. Haythornthwaite, Sterling Publishing 1974


  1. This is madness man! Just get them painted how you want them! What's in your minds eye when you picture them? That's what to aim for surely! I am about to post a series on just this as I have ordered various units painted how I want them painted and not a fudged historical compromise. I suspect the harsh truth is that most units wore great coats and oilskin shakos throughout most of our period, but I don't want that at all! Free yourself of the contradictory misery of reference books and paint them how you want them to look, enjoy, JJ

    1. You are right JJ but I suppose for me, this sort of research and scrutiny has become part of why I paint historical figures these days. Can you tell that I game infrequently? So it's this side of the hobby I spend most time - what's happened to me?

  2. Research can be an addiction all its own

  3. Fantastic summary for the 10th but a little too late for my own, recently finished 10th Hussars. I opted for the yellow, facing colored shabraque for my troopers.

  4. Live your comment about juggling books and brushes. Glad it's not just me who has trouble with light dragoons/hussars. Just about to paint the 10th myself. Just finished the 7th (or a version of it anyway!!). At least the customer is happy with them. Here they are on my blog http://mattsgamepage.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/foundry-british-hussars.html

    I've already realised that I've done the caps black and they should probably be
    brown although I have seen them depicted as black.

    Great info and reassuring to know I'm not alone!

  5. Good info. Lucky me I recently found your blog by chance (stumbleupon).
    I've saved as a favorite for later!

  6. Lovely blog to have stumbled upon... Thanks for writing it. I feel your wrestle with details of the uniform of the tenth... I know I made an error or two when I made mine... and I'm always guilty of going for the sportier option when there's any doubt. I got an unsolicited letter from P. Haythornthwaite one bonkers saturday morning, Paper Soldier Aficionado Edward Ryan Had sent him my proofs to look over before printing. He said he had seen proof for both white and red shako top ribbons for the tenth but nothing definitive regarding shabraque... I remember he did mention many of the British Uniforms in the hundred days campaign had not had the die properly fixed and so most white grey trousers were streaked with red and blue after the rain at Waterloo! (ps. I was responsible for a thing called walkerloo - an attempt to re-imagine toy soldiers for kids)

  7. As a member of The Royal Hussars (PWO) and someone who designs and builds scratch built cavalry figures, even I found it difficult being in the know so to speak to get an accurate picture of the 10ths ever changing uniform, unlike the 11th who amalgamated with them in 1969 and the Cherry Trousers and well defined colours since 1715, I found this article of immense help and thanks so much for doing it John Cook

    1. Thanks Cookie - I'm really pleased you found it useful.

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