The Continental Light Dragoons, 1775–1783
Conversions in 1:76 Scale
Airfix offers mounted figures in each of its army packs of the American Revolution, Washington’s Army and British Grenadiers. Except for the headgear, these miniatures are dressed in the same fashion as the cavalry of the period. Conversion is simple, requiring only a swap of heads.
The converted figures have been painted to represent the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons, based on an illustration in John Mollo’s “Uniforms of the American Revolution”. At least some members of this regiment are recorded wearing French style brass dragoon helmets, instead of the typical black leather cap with a coloured turban, and yellow tassels. A bill signed by Colonel Blackden of the 2nd Light Dragoons provides further evidence that brass for the helmets was purchased.
Suitable heads with brass helmets may be scrounged from French Napoleonic Cuirassiers made by Airfix. The new heads are attached with pins cut from 0.6 mm piano wire, and secured with superglue or PVA white glue. The Napoleonic cuirassier helmet has a taller crest than the earlier French dragoon helmet, but the difference is hardly noticeable at this scale.
If Airfix figures are unavailable, Revell’s Seven Years’ War Austrian Dragoons may be used instead, although their large cuffs would have to be cut down to resemble the closer fit of American revolutionary uniforms. Heads in 1:72 Scale may be taken from ESCI’s French Cuirassiers.
- Mounted American Officer, Airfix 01739
- Staff Officer of British Fusiliers, 1:76 Airfix 01740
- French Cuirassier Helmets, Airfix 01736
Light Dragoons, Legionary Corps, and State Cavalry
Cavalry played an important role in the war, providing scouts, patrols, escorts, mounted and dismounted skirmishers. Mounted troops were difficult to raise, and very expensive to maintain, and there were rarely more than 1000 Continental Light Dragoons available at any time during the war. The 1st, 3rd, and 4th Light Dragoons were amalgamated in 1780, following heavy losses. The mixed unit had four troops, and it was later designated the 3rd Legionary Corps. Officers and NCOs of the 1st and 4th regiments subsequently reformed their units. All four regiments of Continental Light Dragoons were converted to Legionary Corps in 1781, composed of mounted and dismounted troops.
Continental Light Dragoons 1777–1781
|Col. Bland’s Virginia Horse, 1776.
1st Continental Light Dragoons, 1st Legionary Corps, 1781
|brown, with green facings, brass buttons||green||black cap, green turban, yellow tassel|
|2nd Continental Light Dragoons, Col. Blackden.
2nd Legionary Corps, 1781
|blue, with white facings, white buttons||white||brass helmet, tan turban, white crest|
|3rd Continental Light Dragoons, Col. George Baylor’s Dragoons.
3rd Legionary Corps, 1781
|white, with light blue facings, white buttons||white||black cap, lt. blue turban, white feather|
|4th Continental Light Dragoons.
4th Legionary Corps, 1781
|green, with red facings, white buttons||red||black cap, black turban, white crest|
|Provost Corps, 1778–1783, Major Bartholomew von Heer||blue, with yellow facings, white turnbacks, white buttons||yellow||black cap, black turban, black crest|
Legionary Corps 1781–1783
|Charles Dabney’s Virginia Legion, Major Nelson’s Corps of Cavalry||blue, with blue facings (red for officers), blue turnbacks, white buttons||white||black Tarleton, black crest|
|Pulaski’s Legion*, 1778–1780. Count Pulaski’s Polish troopers carried a lance with white over red pennon. Two uniform styles are known, the second one being using during the southern campaign.||blue with yellow trim, blue facings with yellow trim, white turnbacks, white buttons and hussar lace||white||black cap, silver star,
grey turban, white plume, white crest
|Pulaski’s Legion*, 1778–1780. Count Pulaski’s Polish troopers carried a lance with white over red pennon. Two uniform styles are known, the second one being using during the southern campaign.||blue, with red facings, red or white turnbacks||white||black cap, silver star, grey turban, white plume, white crest|
|Armand’s Legion, Col. Armand, Marquis de la Rouerie. The second uniform style was seen during the southern campaign.||blue, with buff facings, white turnbacks, brass buttons||white||black tarleton, white plume, black crest|
|Armand’s Legion, Col. Armand, Marquis de la Rouerie. The second uniform style was seen during the southern campaign.||blue, with buff facings, brass buttons||buff||black tarleton, white plume, black crest|
|Lee’s Legion, Detachment of 1st Lt. Dragoons, Major Henry Lee||buff, with green facings, brass buttons||green||black cap, green turban, yellow tassel|
|Troop or Regiment||Coat||Waistcoat||Headwear|
|Connecticut 11th Militia Regiment, Light Horse Company||blue, with blue facings, brass buttons||white||tricorne, gold lace|
|Rhode Island Independent Troop of Horse, Captain-General’s Cavaliers||blue, with white facings, brass buttons||white||–|
|NY, Albany County Troop of Horse||blue, white buttons||–||Tricorne, silver lace|
|NY, King’s County Troop of Horse||blue, white buttons||red||Tricorne, silver lace|
|Light Horse of the City of Philadelphia, 1774–1783||brown, with white facings, white buttons||white||black cap, yellow turban, foxtail crest|
|Pennsylvania Light Horse**||brown, with white facings, white buttons||white?||Round hat, silver trim, bucktail|
|Virginia Light Horse***||blue, with red cuffs||–||–|
|South Carolina Regiment of Horse, 1761-75||blue, with red facings, brass buttons||red||Tricorne, gold lace|
|North Carolina Light Horse||blue, with red facings||–||–|
* The Polish troopers of Count Pulaski’s legion may qualify as trained lancers in
On campaign, officers and troopers stowed their personal gear in large leather saddlebags. Two Pistols were standard issue, and they were carried in British pattern pistol holsters with fur covers, attached forward of the saddle. If regimental saddle blankets were available, they would have been in the coat colour, edged in the regimental facing colour. Most regiments had turnbacks in the facing colour, except where noted above.
Continental Light Dragoons are a must have for anyone interested in the American War of Independence. The units are so attractive that the collector and wargamer will want them all. Light dragoon figures are not readily available, but conversion is easy, because of the limited numbers of mounted troops involved in the war. Only 2 figures per regiment are required if a grand-tactical game system like Volley & Bayonet is used.
Anthony De Lyall & Klaus Schultheis
- Katcher, Philip: The American Soldier, pp. 14, 15, 17, 19, 20
- Wise, Terence: Military Flags of the World, 1618–1900, Flags № 221, 222, 225
- Allevi, Piersergio: Zinnsoldaten, p. 205