Steppes Hill Farm Antiques Newsletter #19 - February 2013

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Victorian silver Cigar Case enamelled with a mounted Trooper of the 3rd The KING'S OWN HUSSARS.

This months "Featured Item" is a wonderful piece of Victorian enamelling on silver and it depicts a proud Trooper from one of our most famous British cavalry regiments; the 3rd The Kings Own Hussars. I will relate the history of the 3rd below, but the Gentleman depicted in enamel on the Cigar Case got me thinking about the phenomenon that is "The Hussar" in general.

It would take some time for the "Hussar craze" to establish in the United Kingdom after sweeping over the Continent. The dash of attire and behaviour displayed on the Napoleonic battlefields in the early 19th century by the French Hussars certainly made an impression, and in due course the British Army started changing her Light Dragoon Regiments into Hussars, in dress and in title. A proud tradition was established, and British Hussars displayed their elegant uniforms both in society and on the battlefields of the world.

Hussars originated in Hungary and the colourful uniforms were inspired by the prevailing Hungarian fashions of the day. Usually this uniform consisted of a short jacket known as a dolman, or later a medium-length "attila" jacket, both with heavy horizontal gold braid on the breast and yellow braided or gold Austrian knots (sújtás) on the sleeves; a matching pelisse (a short-waisted overjacket often worn slung over one shoulder); coloured trousers, sometimes with yellow braided or gold Austrian knots at the front; a busby (kucsma) (a high fur hat with a cloth bag hanging from one side; although some regiments wore the shako (csákó) of various styles); and high riding boots. A sabretache, an ornate pouch hung from the belt, often completed the accoutrements.

European hussars traditionally wore long moustaches (but no beards) and long hair, with two plaits hanging in front of the ears as well as a larger queue at the back. They often retained the queue, which used to be common to all soldiers, after other regiments had dispensed with it and adopted short hair.

Hussars had a reputation for being the dashing, if unruly, adventurers of the army. The traditional image of the hussar is of a reckless, hard-drinking, hard-swearing, womanising, moustachioed, swashbuckler. General Lasalle, an archetypal showoff hussar officer, epitomized this attitude by his remarks, among which the most famous is: "Any hussar who is not dead by the age of thirty is a blackguard." He died at the Battle of Wagram at the age of 34.

Arthur Conan Doyle's character Brigadier Gerard of the French Hussards de Conflans has come to epitomise the hussar of popular fiction - brave, conceited, amorous, a skilled horseman and (according to Napolean) not very intelligent. Brigadier Gerard's boast that the Hussards de Conflans (an actual regiment) could set a whole population running, the men away from them and the women towards them, may be taken as a fair representation of the esprit de corps of this class of cavalry.

"Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry !"
Portrait of a Young Man as a Hussar

History of the 3rd The King's Own Hussars. Extract from "The British Army and Auxiliary Forces" Colonel C. Cooper King, R.M.A. , 1894.

Like many other of the Light regiments, the 3rd Hussars began life, in 1685, as one of ordinary Dragoons, five troops being formed in Berkshire, Middlesex, Herts and Essex, and attached to Lord Churchill's Royal Dragoons. Shortly after this, another and independent regiment of Dragoons was formed by Colonel Berkley (afterwards the 4th Light Dragoons and Hussars). One troop of this regiment, and four of the additional troops of the Royal Dragoons, were formed into a regiment, which took precedence of Berkeley's, and received the name of the "Queen Consort's Regiment of Dragoons".

They took no active part in the brief Civil War of 1688; and though they did not lose their honorary title on the accession of William and Mary, were usually called "Leveson's Dragoons". With their colonel they served in Ireland in 1690, seeing much severe fighting at the Boyne, Limerick, Aughrim - where they fought gallantly by the side of the Royal Irish Dragoons - Galway etc., acquiring a good practical training in field work, which bore good fruit when they were ordered to Flanders in 1694, with Thomas Lord Fairfax as their colonel; and landing at Williamstadt in North Brabant, were brigaded with the Royals and Royal Scots Dragoons. But they saw little service of value, and, surrounded in Dixmuyde, capitulated to the enemy through the pusillanimity of General Ellemberg. For this he was tried and beheaded.

In 1698 they returned to England, where they remained until 1702, when they formed part of the expedition against Cadiz; but the place was too strong, and the army re-embarking, made its way to Vigo in Galicia, which, with a rich fleet in the harbour, unaccountably fell into the hands of the British. It is rarely that a cavalry trooper would get naval prize money to the amount of £187 3s 4d per man, as he did on this occasion.

In 1706-7 they were serving in Portugal and Spain, and were present at the battle of Almanza, in which they bravely cut their way through the Franco-Spanish troops, though abandoned by their Portuguese allies, and escaped the disaster that befell the remainder of the army.

In 1714 the title was altered to the "King's Own Regiment of Dragoons", and the following year they were engaged at Sheriffmuir, capturing a rebel standard; the Royal standard, "The Restoration", and six guns being taken elsewhere. The first battle, however, on their roll is that of Dettingen, where their gallant charge against the French cavalry was made with desperate pertinacity, seven officers and one hundred and forty one men being killed and wounded, while the standards "were totally destroyed by shot and sabre cuts", and one was only preserved by Thomas Brown, trooper of the King's, who recaptured it from the gendarme who was taking it to the rear. For this he was made "a private gentleman of the Life Guards". The regiment was also engaged at Fontenoy, and in the second campaign of the Pretender in 1745 at Clifton Moor and Culloden. A light troop was added in 1756, and ten years later the drummers were replaced by trumpeters, a silver collar, "engraved with military devices", to be worn by the kettle drummers, being presented to the regiment by the wife of Colonel Fitzroy in 1772. The kettle drums themselves were captured either at the battle of Aughrim or at Dettingen - it is uncertain which.

About this time the coat was red, with light blue facings, waistcoat, and breeches. The standard, of crimson, and the guidon, of light blue, were similar to those of other cavalry regiments, with, in the centre, the white horse within the Garter, and the motto "Nec aspera terrent".

Embarking for the Peninsula in 1811, the campaign there entitled the regiment to bear the names of "Salamanca","Vittoria", "Toulouse", and "Peninsula" on their appointments; but they were also present at Ciudad Rodrigo, Almarez, St Christobal, Castrillos, Badajoz, Llerena, Burgos, Estepar, Pampeluna, and La Mosquiere, and marched across France to embark at Boulogne, after the cessation of hostilities, in forty two days. Up to 1811 the horses were always black.

They were constituted Light Dragoons in 1818, and as such next saw service in India, whither they went in 1837, and in 1842 formed part of the army under General Pollock, despatched to relieve Sir Robert Sale. They were engaged at Jugdulluck - where they found unburied the ghastly remains of Elphinstone's destoyed army - and Tezeen - at Cabul, capturing two guns - and Italif, and in the Khytul expedition. The campaign of "the army of Sutlej" gave them the honour of adding to their official battle list the name of Moodkee, where they suffered severely, losing 6 officers and 134 men; Ferozeshah, capturing the whole of the Sikh batteries, though for forty hours they were without food or water, and lost 9 officers and 139 men out of a total of 400 strong; and Sobraon, where they rode in single file through the openings made in the entrenchments by the Sappers, and forming beyond the obstacle, again charged and took the guns. In less than four months they had marched 600 miles.

The uniform at that time was blue with gold lace, and epaulets. The head-dress was a black gold rimmed shako, with a white horsehair plume in front, and a Maltese cross. In 1848 they operated with the army of the Punjaub, and fought at Ramnuggur, Sadoolapore, Goojerat, and Chillianwallah, bearing the two latter names and Punjaub on their colours for their "harvest of laurels gaines by their valorous conduct in India". Between December, 1845, and February, 1849, some 11,000 officers and men of our army had fallen in the Sikh War.

The regiment became Hussars in 1861. The blue uniform has scarlet facings; the busby bag is garter blue, and the plume white. The only regimental nickname was "Lord Adam Gordon's Life Guards", from their being detained so long by him in Scotland at one period.

Rare John Rose Coalport Teapot, Cover & Stand Derby Landscape Plate - View near Edinburgh Lowestoft Miniature Sparrow Beak Jug Duesbury Derby Naturalistic Birds Dessert Plate
Victorian Novelty Silver Magnet Pen Wipe / Desk Tidy Rare George III Scottish Provincial Silver Boudoir Label 'Acid' Victorian Silver 'Castle-Top' Card Case York Minster Set 6 George V Silver Military Soldier Menu Holders

I am pleased to be able to offer some interesting new items of stock this month and recent finds include:-a rare John Rose Coalport Teapot, Cover & Stand, a Victorian Novelty Silver Magnet Pen Wipe / Desk Tidy, a Derby Landscape Plate depicting a view near Edinburgh, a rare George III Scottish Provincial Silver Boudoir Label 'Acid', a Lowestoft Miniature Sparrow Beak Jug, a Victorian Silver 'Castle-Top' Card Case York Minster, a Duesbury Derby Naturalistic Birds Dessert Plate and a fine set of 6 George V Silver Military Soldier Menu Holders.

I do hope that you will find this Newsletter informative and helpful and will allow us send it to you on a regular basis. I would welcome any feedback you may have, both positive and negative.

David W.A. Buck.
Steppes Hill Farm Antiques