Dragoons were much more than just infantrymen that could ride a horse. They were highly versatile troops that could perform all manner of mundane service duties as well as attack an enemy, and French commanders valued their services greatly. When the War of the Spanish Succession broke out France had 15 regiments of dragoons, but quickly reinstated a further nine that had earlier been disbanded, and added another twelve.
Although at this time they were still primarily mounted infantry, and would dismount to engage the enemy, they would sometimes take offensive actions whilst still mounted, particularly as the dragoons were keen to be seen as a sort of medium cavalry. This set depicts such actions, although there is not a lot of dash about these men. The top row contains the usual sorts of attacking poses and are fine, but all those in the second row seem much more relaxed and not necessarily doing anything. When a charge was begun the unit would move forward slowly, and gradually build up speed so as to arrive at the enemy with the maximum impact without exhausting the horses, so in the initial stages the poses of the men would be fairly neutral. However it is unusual to have a set depict such poses, in this quantity, so many will probably be disappointed that more of the poses are not in classic aggressive positions with swords pointing up or forward. The man discharging his pistol is a reminder that there were commanders that still tried to use mounted men as a mobile firing line, at least initially, and the commander is nice and active, but we thought some of these poses were disappointing. The horses merely add to the rather sedate impression. All are either walking or trotting, which as we have said is not wrong, and in fact these are the same animals as used in the set of ‘on the march’, so not much urgency here. However we would have liked to have seen some moving with more energy, given the ‘in attack’ title of this set.
Both the men and horses are correctly clothed and equipped in a typical style for the period. The men wear infantry coats and breeches, plus a sort of long gaiter which served as both suitable dismounted wear and as a form of boot for when mounted. They wear the bag cap with turnback much associated with these dragoons, and are armed with both a sword and a musket or carbine. The man with the pistol will have got this weapon from the front of his saddle, which all the horses possess, and they also have the various tools with which dragoons were equipped. The saddle and shabraque look correct, and the shape of the guidon is also fairly typical, so no accuracy problems with the appearance of these models.
The sculpting is much like the rest of the range, nicely detailed and slightly chunky but also quite appealing. The faces and caps are particularly nice, but the lace and buttons on the coats is well done too, though we did wonder if the sculptor has not slightly overdone the admittedly large cuffs on some. There is very little flash on either man or horse, but unfortunately some of the men do not fit well on the horses. Also some of the horses lean strangely, which is a bad look.
For a set that says the men are in attack there is not a great deal going on here. Dragoons were not heavy cavalry, but when they did attack whilst mounted they would have shown rather more excitement than many of these poses do, and on horses with more urgency about them. There are no problems with accuracy, and sculpting is good too, so this is technically a proficient set (apart from the fit on the horses), but without really delivering enough of the attack to our mind.