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21 December 1808 - Battle of Sahagun


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After what seemed like weeks of marching and counter-marching both Baird's and Moore's forces concentrated at Mayorga on December 20th and the following morning the first of Paget's two fine cavalry actions was fought. An enemy force of light cavalry, acting as a screen for the main French army, lay at Sahagun, just a tempting nine miles beyond the British piquets. The prospect of a daring surprise attack on the French cavalry was enough to warm the blood of many a freezing British trooper and long before dawn on the morning of December 21st Paget was in the saddle along with the 10th and 15th Hussars bound for Sahagun.


The French cavalry commander, Debelle, had neglected to post any vedettes other than a guard on the main road. The guard was quickly surrounded and taken before it realised what was happening although one French trooper did manage to escape and rode hell for leather back to Sahagun to raise the alarm. Within minutes the place was a hive of activity as trumpets stirred the shivering French troopers into life. Paget immediately ordered General Slade to charge into the town with the 10th Hussars while he himself took the 15th Hussars and dashed round to the rear of the place in order to sever the French cavalry's escape route. Without waiting for the 10th Hussars, who had yet to appear, Paget formed his own troopers and with a cheer charged straight into the town. The two French regiments, the 8th Dragoons and 1st Provisional Chasseurs, were still in the act of forming and the sudden appearance of Paget's sabre-wielding troopers had an unsettling effect on them. Debelle had twice as many men as Paget but this counted for nothing as the 15th Hussars crashed into the chasseurs, hurling them backwards and causing the dragoons to turn and run. The British hussars quickly warmed to their task and hacked and hewed their way through the enemy ranks to leave thirteen officers - including two lieutenant colonels - and 157 men killed, wounded or taken prisoners at a cost to themselves of just fourteen casualties.




This action was immortalised as the Regimental Day of 15th Hussars and continued as such after the 1922 amalgamation through the lifespan of 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars and the 1992 amalgamation of 15/19H and 13/18H to become the Light Dragoons.


There'll be a few sore heads in the LD today.



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Yes, we all do. The main reason the charge was successful is that as the 15th were dressed very flamboyant they were took to be Spanish Horse, and at the time the Spanish were renowned not to ride home the charge which the 15th very successfully did.





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A point of interest the Spanish riding School at Vienna is known as such because originally the horses were Spanish Andalusian. The French cavalry School at Saumur, yes the tank place also, has the Cadre Noir, who are on par, I'd say from a practical point of view, superior to the Spanish school. All the Airs Above the Ground Levade, Capriolle and Corbet were originally cavalry movements used to break out of encirclement by getting the horse to kick the opposition in the teeth. Most of the showjumping and cross country riding techniques used today were developed at Saumur for the French Cavalry. Our equivalent was at Melton Mowbary, now the Defence Animal Establishment.

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I occasionally frequent a football chat room when there is a game on (less and less as Sky gives such good coverage). On one particular day I was chatting with an old mate from ACF and 15/19H who married a lass from Medicine Hat and now lives there, recently returned from the Sandpit with the RCAC, and a crab serving at RAF Gutersloh.


Come half time I took a comfort break and returned to be greeted by the crab with "You ate your horse?"


Tommy S had been explaining how we'd been donkey wallopers and when push came to shove, donkey wallopers ate their horses.


Confused? I was.

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