The chasseurs à cheval, or "mounted hunters", were the most numerous of Napoleon's light cavalry. They were the eyes and ears of the army as it moved, ready to scout ahead or to counter the enemy's irregular forces. In a pinch they could dismount and fight with their carbines, though their main role was not to act as hard-hitting attackers.
In Sharp Practice 2, they are as cheap and disposable as cavalry comes - unable to break through a prepared opponent, but able to threaten weaker targets that are left unguarded, or to pounce on an unvary opponent who leaves an exposed flank or a unit without loaded muskets.
While the hussar regiments might have more panache and fame at the start of the Napoleonic Wars, the simpler gear of the identically armed chasseurs meant that the latter rapidly increased in numbers as the Empire grew. This means that you're never wrong adding a few units of these to your French force.
The chasseurs did not have as much variation in their uniform as the hussar regiments, and instead relied on a system of facing colours on the cuffs, collars and turnbacks. You can find a guide to the facings here:
Warlord Games Plastic Chasseurs
So, I found myself with a lot of plastic chasseurs from Warlord. First, I picked up a bunch of sprues on last year's sprue sale. After that, I bought a lot that included another box of chasseurs. And after that, just as I had glued together and spray painted primer on my first two units, Perry Miniatures posted a pre-view of a box of plastic chasseurs! In uniforms more suitable for the Russian campaign! With enthusiasm more or less sapped, these sorry troopers sat in my cupboard for about a year, while I went on to paint other units.
But with our first campaign closing in, I needed more light cavalry. Necessity being the mother of all painting inspiration, I set my mind towards quickly painting them ut to a tabletop standard, ready to offer at least some protection from all those pesky Cossacks. It also helped that I had recently seen a local player paint up a unit, and he managed to make them look very nice indeed.
So what were my initial problems with these sculpts? They might be nitpicks, but:
1) Warlord made these with sabretaches (the flat bag hanging on the left side of each rider), and they are molded together with the scabbards so that it's not easy to just remove them. Now, the chasseurs in the imperial guard kept their sabretaches, and I've seen a few drawings of regular chasseur officers using them as well, but then some of the officers were pretty much dressed like hussars altogether, including pelisses. But it's really hard to find evidence of regular chasseurs using theirs, especially not after 1808.
2) The carbines are made to stick out in a way that makes it hard to put these on a 20mm/cavalryman frontage, which is what I've been using for the other units.
3) After a couple of units, I'm getting a tad bored of Warlords same two horse sculpts that are used for all of their French Napoleonic cavalry.
On the other hand, chasseurs are a great option for quickly painting cavalry, as the uniforms are super simple compared to almost all other cavalry uniforms of the time.
8e Régiment de Chasseurs à Cheval
Originally raised in 1792 as the 8ème régiment de chasseurs à cheval ci-devant Guyenne, by 1812 this regiment was sent into Russia as part of Grouchy's III Cavalry Corps, in GdD Chastel's 3rd Light Cavalry Division. They fought with 4 squadrons at Borodino, forming a light cavalry brigade together with the 6th Hussars, which I also plan to paint up.
The reasons for choosing the 8th regiment were simple: they fought in the same Corps as the 7th Dragoons I've already painted, and their pink facing colour looked like it'd make an interesting look!
I painted them very similarly to my lancers, and the uniforms are very similar, yet simpler. I chose to do them as the first squadron, meaning that one unit of eight were the elite first company (with colpack hats and red plumes), and the other unit got shakos. Since I could not find any references for the imaginary sabretaches, I went the simple route of just painting the regimental number on them, similar to the campaign sabretaches often used by hussars.
I used the metal officers that come with the Warlord box. The trumpeter got an inverted scheme, so that his coat is pink. The flag bearer got a flag from GMB designs.
Overall they ended up pretty decent. Not nearly my favourite sculpts, but I'm happy to add them to my growing cavalry support now that I'm done with them. If I started an army now I'd probably hold off on these and see if the Perry box comes out soonish, and paint up some lancers or hussars in the meantime. However, if you are dead set on gettin your chasseurs now, and prefer plastic over metal, you can get these to look pretty fine.
And yes, I'll probably end up painting the 2-3 Warlord chasseur units I have left, but as mentioned above - my Perry cuirassiers and hussars (as well as my Warlord hussars! And Murawski lancers) are definitely more tempting at the moment.
"Glory is fleeting,