‘Szyscy bracia to Polacy, Kochajmy sie wzyscy razem…’ – All our brothers are Poles, We all love each other equally
These words were taken from the regimental song and show the affinity and ‘esprit de corps’ held by those in the regiment.
For entry into the newly created regiment recruits had to be landowners or the sons of landowners, between the ages of 18 and 40 willing to uniform and equip themselves in full at their own expense. In theory it was a regiment for the important classes of Polish society.
Rembowski : ‘The 1st Regiment of Polish Guard Lancers came mainly the lower and middle nobility. Their officers came from what was known as the ‘crimson nobility’. Most grew up from childhood with horses.’
Załuski :” Together the 1st and 3rd Guard Lancers counted 4,800 men of all ranks. There were attached 300 French eclerieurs and Frenchmen in the regiment. The rest 3,700 were Poles from the old Polish Republic”
‘Our regiment was a representation of the whole nation. Here you had Poles from the Poznan region, Prussia, Lithuania, White-Russia ,Inflant, Ukraine, the regions of Podole, Wolynia, Polesia and so called Galicja, from Lubelskiej, Sandomierz, Podlasia, Krakow, Sląsk and some regions of Hungary such as Kieszwaradyn and others.’
Niegolewski: ‘ Our squadron was formed for the most part from men educated in the homes of the mighty and wealthy..’
A regiment created from the proud nobility of Poland had its own problems,
Niegolewski says that on the march from the Duchy of Warsaw to Spain his squadron had not developed a military spirit as officers only spoke to troopers reluctantly.
Turno says of the Lithuanian nobility who joined from the 3rd Guard Lancer regiment ‘ they needed handling firmly… but I had not the heart to treat these fellow noblemen from distinguished families as mere recruits’
It was therefore left to their French instructors, men like Dautancourt the regimental Major to create from this proud aristocracy Guard cavalrymen.
Załuski says of him ‘ He had the build of an athlete and was so strong that on one occasion as the men were storing barley sacks, he carried one on each arm…’ at Castrogeriz in Spain when the Poles were strengthening the encampment he carried beams on his shoulders with ease. During one such episode the Mameluks who were with the Poles called on Kłoczewski to perform for them feats of strength… he climbed up high on a beam and let down to them a rope. He called to them to grab the rope and this they did. He continued throwing them ropes until 11 Mameluks were trying to pull him down holding ropes which they were unable to do. In response he lifted all 11 from the ground with ease.
Throughout history, from the advent of early cavalry to the coming of mechanized warfare the role of the trumpeter has been a vital one. He has signalled orders and the movement of large masses of mounted troops from the command down to the humble trooper ,no more so than in the Napoleonic period.
From 1813 with the addition to the regiment of the remnants of the 3rd Lithuanian Guard Lancers, a company of Guard Tartars and recruits from Depleted Duchy of Warsaw Cavalry regiments, the strength of the 1st Regiment expanded to 15 companies. In this new structure the regimental Trumpeters consisted of 3 staff trumpeters and 45 company trumpeters.
From 1810 the regiment also included an orchestra for parades made up of 10 musicians drawn from the pool of trumpeters, 1 kettle-drummer [Pauker] And 1 trombonist. This group was commanded by trumpet-major with the Rank of Marechal-des-Logis Chef.
Nationality of the trumpeters varied, amongst them were Poles, Frenchmen, Piedmontese and one Saxon.
Musician/ trumpeter in ‘Grande tenue de Parade’ 1810-1814
Regimental trumpeter in ‘Grande tenue de Parade’ 1807-1810
In 1811 a school for regimental trumpeters was established at the regimental headquarters at Chantilly.
At first it instructed 16 pupils of which the youngest was 7 and the oldest 15.Pupils were trained to use their instruments
and to play the various trumpet calls ‘Sonniers’ of which there were more than 30.Once qualified and physically fit to join the regiment the pupils would be transferred to allotted companies.
Trumpeters were dressed in uniforms of identical cut to the troopers but of different colours. They had to be notably distinct from others in the field as they played a vital part in transmitting orders for field movement and were under direct orders from their officers and higher command. So in short when orders had to be transmitted quickly in the heat of battle and where seconds counted, the command had to know where its trumpeter was at all times.
The importance of their role and uniform variation also made them a prime target for the enemy, so they were protected by their colleagues as much as possible in an engagement.