napoelonic wars


Lord Paget’s Carbine,

In the 18th and early 19th century commonly issued British cavalry carbines were merely shortened versions of the common infantry musket. While the shortened length and lighter weight made the carbine much easier to load from horseback, they didn’t really have any special features which made them cavalry friendly. 

In 1806 the English gunmaker Henry Nock began the development of a new cavalry carbine for British forces fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. Supposedly the famed British cavalry commander Lord Henry Paget contributed to many design elements, however it is doubtful that Lord Paget had that much influence over it’s design. Rather Lord Paget was instrumental in the adoption of the new carbine, using his influence as Britain’s most famous cavalry commander to lobby for the mass production and issuance of the weapon. Thus while the carbine was officially known as the Model 1805 light cavalry carbine, it was popularly known as the Lord Paget Carbine.

The Lord Paget Carbine was adopted in 1808 and instantly became a favorite of British mounted forces. With a 16 inch barrel and weighing around 5 lbs, it was certainly a handy little weapon for cavalrymen. However, the Lord Paget Carbine had other notable features which made it especially popular. One major complaint with cavalry carbines was that it was easy for a cavalryman to lose his ramrod while loading from a horseback, especially during the heat of battle. This problem was solved by attaching the ramrod to the muzzle with a special swivel, thus the ramrod remained attached to the gun but was still available for loading. This feature would become common among cavalry carbines produced by other nations.

Second, the carbine had a hook attached to the left lockplate with a ring. This was so that the carbine could be connected to a shoulder strap, a belt, or even attached to a saddle. The biggest downside of the Paget Carbine was that it was a smoothbore with only a 16 inch barrel, which greatly reduced accuracy and range. However, they were typically loaded with buck and ball cartridges, thus making them into deadly shotguns. Unlike British infantry muskets which were .75 caliber and fired a .69 caliber ball, the Paget carbine was .66 caliber and typically fired a .62 caliber ball.

The Paget carbine was used extensively during the Peninsula Campaign in Spain during the Napoelonic Wars, and continued in use well afterwards. In the 1830′s and 40′s the Paget Carbine was phased out in favor of new percussion lock designs. However the history of the Paget carbine would continue an ocean away. Mexico had recently become independent of Spain and needed cheap weapons to equip it’s new army. Thus Mexico purchased large amounts of British military surplus, including 15,000 Paget carbines. They were typically used to arm cavalry and light infantry, and were common during the Texas War of Independence and the Mexican American War.


Royal Navy, Captain’s Full Dress, 1795-1812. As century progressed, the coat lapels became shorter and were cut straight, rather than curved, and the skirts more sharply angled from the waist.


1. A Full Dress Coat of a Senior Captain, belonging to Alexander Hood.

2. The Back of the Coat, showing the old-fashioned three-pointed pocket flaps.

3. Detail of Epaulettes. Captains of three years seniority wore two plain gold epaulettes, junior captains wore one on the right shoulder, and commanders wore one on the left.

4. Sir Charles Hamilton by William Beechey, c. 1800

5. Peter Parker by John Hopner, c. 1809-1810

6. James Newman-Newman by Archer James Oliver, c. 1801, wearing a non-regulation double-breasted waistcoat.

7. Peter Rainer by Thomas Hickey, 1806, this painting, and following one of Blackwood, show the sitter wearing the coat lapels buttoned over, leaving the top and bottoms open to expose the shirt frill and the waistcoat.

8. Henry Blackwood by John Hoppner, 1806


Phillip Haythornthwaite, Nelson’s Navy (Oxford: Osprey, 1993)

Dudley Jarret, British Naval Dress (London: J.M. Dent and Sons, 1960)


A Plan so Simple it’s Genius!

During the Napoleonic Wars in 1805, two weeks after the Battle of Austerlitz, the Austrian Army had been destroyed by Napoleon Bonaparte and the Russians were in full retreat.  The Emperor of Austria sued for peace, thus occupying Napoleon’s time.  He left the French forces in command of his two most trusted Marshals, Joachim Murat (pictured left) and Jean Lannes (pictured right).

Napoleon’s orders were for Murat and Lannes to advance against the Russians, preventing the Russian Army from meeting up with reinforcements.  The only problem was that lying between the French Army and the Russian Army was the Danube River and a single bridge.  There was no other intact bridge across the Danube, nor was there a suitable crossing place.  Worse yet, the bridge was heavily guarded with Austrian infantry, cannon, and was rigged with explosives.  Both Murat and Lannes knew that there was no way they could take the bridge intact by force.  Instead the two Marshals of France (actually Murat was a Grand Admiral) resorted to guile and trickery instead.

To the amazement of the Austrians, Murat and Lannes confidently walked across the bridge alone holding a banner of truce.  Then to the Austrian general’s surprise, they claimed that an armistice had been reached between Napoleon and the Austrian Emperor, and that the bridge was to be momentarily occupied by France.  When a disbelieving engineer tried to blow the bridge, Lannes grabbed the torch from his hand, angrily scolding him that he was in violation of the armistice and could be held for court martial.  The Austrian general was so taken by their act that he concluded their claims of armistice was legit.  He ordered his men to grab their gear and vacate the bridge.  

Incredibly Murat and Lannes had successfully taken a heavily fortified bridge without firing a shot or shedding blood.  The success of the bold tactic Incredibly, the Russians would use the same tactic to escape, with the Russian General Bagration suggesting that they should negotiate terms. During the negotiations, Gen. Bagration quietly evacuated his army from harms way.  Needless to say, Napoleon was furious at Murat and Lannes could so stupidly be fooled by their own tactic.