Tuesday, 25 July 2017

British Cavalry Brigade commander.

So I am near to completing my second division, Campbell's 4th,  for the British at Talavera and found myself needing a few brigade commander figures for this as well as my brigade of light dragoons and forthcoming half  brigade of heavy dragoons.  The next problem was the uniform.

During the early years of the Peninsular War brigades were often commanded by colonels and they would have worn their regimental uniforms, easy. Then we come to the generals, Brigadier and Major varieties. Now some generals did their own thing, Picton of course and most images and figures of Cotton and other cavalry generals for Waterloo show them in serious "bling" for want of a better word, but what uniforms did the cavalry brigade commanders wear earlier in the war?

After some research I discovered that generals swapped between infantry and cavalry commands quite often early in the war, one year commanding an infantry brigade and the next one of cavalry, so this lead me to believe that cavalry generals would be in the same uniforms as infantry ones. A few questions on some forums gave answers that seemed to agree. No reference books I have showed anything specifically for cavalry generals until the 1815 grandiose affairs.

With this in mind I set off again looking for a mounted British officer in a suitably cavalry like pose, i.e. sword waving.
I have previously used Warlord's mounted British colonels (not correctly uniformed as colonels), Front Rank and Elite figures so was looking for something different. Remembering that Perry had started expanding their range into the earlier periods of the war I went there and found these.

BH 106 Colonels in bicornes ( Worldwide 1808-13)

The chap in the centre looked exactly like what I was looking for to command my light dragoons (actually to represent Cotton in his pre Hussar styled uniforms). The figure on the left will do for the heavies and the right hand one for the last infantry brigade commander I need.

To make them into general uniforms some minor work would be needed. The button and lace on the cuffs would need to filed off as generals uniforms didn't have these but instead had varying numbers of gold lace chevrons on the lower sleeve and coat tails. The epaulettes were fine as the right shoulder aiguillette illustrated below wasn't introduced until the 1812 changes.

Rank distinctions.
Book containing previous picture.

So after a bit of work I finally have my version of General Stapleton Cotton, brigade commander of the 14th and 16th Light Dragoons at Talavera 1809.

General Stapleton Cotton 1809 or is it?


Typically after feedback, I now find the very image I needed when I started this search and it shows Cotton in a Hussar style uniform in the Peninsular, another image of General Stewart, Adjutant General to Wellesley, of the same period seems to confirm the style of light cavalry Generals uniform, so back to the drawing board it is then. The first attempt may become the Heavy Brigade general.

Another bit of online shopping, Front Rank this time and.....

So try again, General Stapleton Cotton.

Leading his brigade of the 14th and 16th Light Dragoons.



  1. Lovely work on this figure Tony, and great attention to detail. To be fair, he looks more heavy cavalry-ish to me, so I think he should fit in nicely in that role. Fane perhaps?

    1. Cheers Lawrence,
      Yes Fane it is for him now. Have ordered the Front Rank General Cotton figure.
      Spent ages trying to find info on cavalry generals' uniforms for the peninsula period and couldn't find anything concrete then find the above image straight after a comment on my post on another forum. That naps for you. :)

    2. Just out of interest, the image you have posted is from an Osprey on Wellington's Generals, based upon an original by Thomas Heaphy which apparently hangs in the National Portrait Gallery:


      Based on that I think Cotton would have given Murat a run for his money.

    3. Another from the National gallery is this one of Wellesley/Wellington's Adjutant Generals who was also light cavalry.

    4. Great stuff. It makes you wonder what Wellington would have made of it.