AHC: Heavy jezail-armed dragoons in Napoleonic warfare

Continuing with the theme of introducing odd weapons to European Napoleonic warfare, this thread's challenge is to introduce one or more units of mounted infantry armed with oversized muskets comparable to the Persian heavy jazayer / jezail.

Such a weapon would have precedents in a gunpowder army. Similar to the European amusette, which the Hessians used in the Revolutionary War, the jazayer -- 18ish kilograms, approximately 24mm -- was a major feature of Nader Shah's Persian army in the early/middle 18th century. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_the_Afsharid_dynasty_of_Persia). It had longer range and more penetrating power than a European musket, but was considerably heavier. Presumably, this added weight explains why jazayer troops were primarily mounted infantry; it would be hard to lug a weapon like that around on foot. Jazayerchi were used on the battlefield against targets ranging from regular infantry to charging armored elephants. (They punched right through the latter.)

The challenge is to have mounted jazayerchi-style units in one or more European armies during the Napoleonic Wars. Bonus points if they are actually effective in some role or other, rather than being an experimental curiosity.
 
Last edited:
  1. The French gain the upper hand in India during the 18th c., enough to have a cadre of officers familiars with « eastern arsenal »
  2. Maurice de Saxe ´s Reveries (publ. 1757) find an audience at Court and the King makes them an official guidebook for the military
  3. Military leaders quietly find alternatives for Saxe ´s weirdest ideas. His « fusil à secret », notoriously unreliable, is supplemented by Indian-style « big guns » inspired by the jazayer
  4. for prestige reason, a commander chose to equip his entire unit with big guns, emphasizing size, strength and drill. Maybe the Grenadiers de France ?
  5. Even when other Saxe ´s « practical » ideas are phased out, the concept of a full-grenadier regiment equipped with powerful weapons sticks
  6. The butterflies prevent me from introducing Revolutionnary Wars and Napoleon himself.



 
Continuing with the theme of introducing odd weapons to European Napoleonic warfare, this thread's challenge is to introduce one or more units of mounted infantry armed with oversized muskets comparable to the Persian heavy jazayer / jezail.

Such a weapon would have precedents in a gunpowder army. Similar to the European amusette, which the Hessians used in the Revolutionary War, the jazayer -- 18ish kilograms, approximately 24mm -- was a major feature of Nader Shah's Persian army in the early/middle 18th century. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_the_Afsharid_dynasty_of_Persia). It had longer range and more penetrating power than a European musket, but was considerably heavier. Presumably, this added weight explains why jazayer troops were primarily mounted infantry; it would be hard to lug a weapon like that around on foot. Jazayerchi were used on the battlefield against targets ranging from regular infantry to charging armored elephants. (They punched right through the latter.)

The challenge is to have mounted jazayerchi-style units in one or more European armies during the Napoleonic Wars. Bonus points if they are actually effective in some role or other, rather than being an experimental curiosity.
According to the link you provided, the jazāyerchi were mostly acting as an infantry which usually campaigned on mounts and occasionally fought as mounted troops also. A pre-requisite for their efficiency was a rigorous training for few hours daily. It seems that Jazāyer had an obsolete loading system but this can easily be fixed within framework of your OP.

So basically you are talking about creation of the European elite troops armed with the heavier muskets having a longer range and greater accuracy than the conventional European muskets. Here goes “ideological problem” (😜): in the European armies the stronger soldiers usually had been the grenadiers who were presumably shock rather than shooting troops and the predominantly shooting units, the jagers (or whatever the name in a specific army) tended to have shorter soldiers. want to combine the best of two worlds, to have big and strong soldiers who are well-trained in shooting while not losing their shock capacity. Why not? I’d say that finding the officers ready to spend few hours per day on a meaningful training (instead of the parade ground crap) would be much more challenging. 😜

Now, how the information can be passed? Not too difficult. The Russians had been in a reasonably close contact with Persia and could find out about these troops and weapons without a problem. The problem was in the attitudes: when you are “Western-centric”, looking toward the “East” as a source of the useful ideas is almost a taboo. But “taboo” is not an impossibility so getting an information (directly or through Georgia or Armenia) , digesting it and finding it being useful is within a realm of reality. It is interesting to figure out what would be a tactical role of these units and a broader impact of these weapons if it is getting a broader recognition and adopted in the big numbers. Just having few small units would not make a noticeable difference.
 
The problem was in the attitudes: when you are “Western-centric”, looking toward the “East” as a source of the useful ideas is almost a taboo.
I'm not sure about that; the British don't seem to have had any qualms about copying rockets from Mysore, and the 18th/19th-century revival of the cavalry lance was due to Eastern European influence.
 
I'm not sure about that; the British don't seem to have had any qualms about copying rockets from Mysore, and the 18th/19th-century revival of the cavalry lance was due to Eastern European influence.
I was talking about the Russian Empire, not Britain. Unlike Britain, even in the early XVIII Russia had border with Persia and from its perspective “East” was “Asia” (culturally, if not necessarily geographically) and “West” Western Europe and they were looking to the “West” in the military matters (all the way to the loss of the common sense). Of course, some of the Cossack tactics were considered “Asiatic” even if these methods had been adopted from the people who lived in Europe (Tatars).

As far as the Brits are involved, most of the Europe is to the East from the islands so my statement would not make sense (I doubt that in mid-XVIII Britain was considering the American colonies as a source of the military ideas so the “West” would not work). BTW, by the time the Brits got their lancers (which, as I understand was in the Napoleonic times), the lancers in many European armies had been copied from the Polish uhlans, which is quite easy to figure out by their headgear (below are British lancers in India) and I doubt that Kipling had in mind Poland when he was talking about ‘East”. 😂
1593207660640.jpeg
 
Continuing with the theme of introducing odd weapons to European Napoleonic warfare, this thread's challenge is to introduce one or more units of mounted infantry armed with oversized muskets comparable to the Persian heavy jazayer / jezail.

Such a weapon would have precedents in a gunpowder army. Similar to the European amusette, which the Hessians used in the Revolutionary War, the jazayer -- 18ish kilograms, approximately 24mm -- was a major feature of Nader Shah's Persian army in the early/middle 18th century. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_the_Afsharid_dynasty_of_Persia). It had longer range and more penetrating power than a European musket, but was considerably heavier. Presumably, this added weight explains why jazayer troops were primarily mounted infantry; it would be hard to lug a weapon like that around on foot. Jazayerchi were used on the battlefield against targets ranging from regular infantry to charging armored elephants. (They punched right through the latter.)

The challenge is to have mounted jazayerchi-style units in one or more European armies during the Napoleonic Wars. Bonus points if they are actually effective in some role or other, rather than being an experimental curiosity.
Problem: Rifles exist. Elite troops meant to engage at extended ranges will use those rather than something that's so heavy as to compromise their role as light infantry.
 
Problem: Rifles exist. Elite troops meant to engage at extended ranges will use those rather than something that's so heavy as to compromise their role as light infantry.
From what I could gather in Axworthy's "The Army of Nader Shah" (2007) article and the battle descriptions on Wikipedia, it sounds like Nader Shah used the jazayerchi more like horse-mobile *line* infantry. Jazayerchi relied on their weapons' greater range and hitting power to keep cavalry off (since they lacked bayonets), and were willing to charge on foot with melee weapons against other infantry. Nader Shah appears to have massed these guys to break elephant charges (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Karnal), and to push through enemy centers with swords after destroying enemy cohesion with firepower (for example, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Damghan_(1729), https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Murche-Khort, and, perhaps most notably, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kirkuk_(1733), where the jazayerchi ran over the janissaries.)

Which, I suppose, is pretty consistent with being an elite force of hulking guys who manhandle 40 pound muskets for hours a day.

EDIT: If I had to guess, I think Nader Shah was trying to solve the problem of dragoons ending up being jack-of-all-trades mediocre infantry and mediocre cavalry by recuiting guys suited to the heavy cavalry, and then equipping them with what were arguably small artillery pieces to give them an advantage over other line infantry in a straight-up firefight. Nader could get away with the giant muskets because the jazayerchi didn't have to carry them much, and were big men anyway.

EDIT 2: As others have pointed out, this creates an interesting recruitment problem for European armies, since the jazayerchi would draw from the same pool of large men you'd need for heavy cavalry and grenadiers.
 
Last edited:
Which, I suppose, is pretty consistent with being an elite force of hulking guys who manhandle 40 pound muskets for hours a day.
Speaking of, this seems like a better idea for the Cabinet Wars, as the (comparably) small armies of that time generally had better training regiments than the massive conscript armies of the French Revolutionary Wars.
 
Speaking of, this seems like a better idea for the Cabinet Wars, as the (comparably) small armies of that time generally had better training regiments than the massive conscript armies of the French Revolutionary Wars.
Yes, and if we are talking about borrowing the idea and slightly modifying it (and the weapons), these guys would be just a heavy infantry using horses just for a transportation. As followed from wiki article, they were passing through extremely rigorous daily training which was going to fit the contemporary (1730s-50s) European armies much easier then Napoleon’s. Grenadiers with the extra firepower could be quite interesting idea.
 
Yes, and if we are talking about borrowing the idea and slightly modifying it (and the weapons), these guys would be just a heavy infantry using horses just for a transportation. As followed from wiki article, they were passing through extremely rigorous daily training which was going to fit the contemporary (1730s-50s) European armies much easier then Napoleon’s. Grenadiers with the extra firepower could be quite interesting idea.
Additionally, the smaller size of armies in general meant an elite specialist regiment could have greater impact on the outcome of a battle.
 
Last edited:
Yes, and if we are talking about borrowing the idea and slightly modifying it (and the weapons), these guys would be just a heavy infantry using horses just for a transportation. As followed from wiki article, they were passing through extremely rigorous daily training which was going to fit the contemporary (1730s-50s) European armies much easier then Napoleon’s. Grenadiers with the extra firepower could be quite interesting idea.
I think they'd be more useful less as heavy infantry and more as quasi-horse artillery. They can be used in more difficult terrain, and would take less time to set up than unlimbering a battery of six pounders. Attach a squadron of heavy gunners to a cavalry brigade and have them blast one corner of a a square right before the rest of the riders charge.

Really, I think it'd be interesting to see a full spectrum of firearms on the European battlefield, from muskets to cannon, with jazayers and zamburaks bridging the gap. Something like a one ounce ball musket, a four ounce jazayer, a one pound zamburak, and then your conventional 3/4/6+ pounder field artillery. I think the battalion gun would have a longer lifespan if it was something like a zamburak, having a stock and sights you can easily aim with.
 
I was talking about the Russian Empire, not Britain.
Well, then I apologise for misinterpreting you; it sounded like you were saying that Europe was too Western-centric to adopt an innovation from an eastern country like Russia.

As far as the Brits are involved, most of the Europe is to the East from the islands so my statement would not make sense (I doubt that in mid-XVIII Britain was considering the American colonies as a source of the military ideas so the “West” would not work).
"West" and "East" in this sort of context is almost always used in a cultural, rather than a geographical, sense.

BTW, by the time the Brits got their lancers (which, as I understand was in the Napoleonic times), the lancers in many European armies had been copied from the Polish uhlans, which is quite easy to figure out by their headgear (below are British lancers in India) and I doubt that Kipling had in mind Poland when he was talking about ‘East”. 😂
I don't know about Kipling specifically, but most people in Western Europe/North America didn't consider Eastern Europe to be a full part of the West in the 18th and 19th century; indeed, arguably not until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the eastwards expansion of NATO and the US. So, given the cultural views of the time, widespread adoption of Uhlan equipment and tactics did count as an example of Western armies adopting Eastern practices.
 
I don't know about Kipling specifically,
Wow, this was a reference to his “The ballad of East andWest” (I assumed that it would be easily recognizable, sorry):
“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,”

And in that poem he was most definitely not talking about Russia or Poland. 😂
 
Last edited:
Wow, this was a reference to his “The ballad of East andWest”:
“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,”
I understood the reference; what I meant was that I didn't know whether Kipling considered Eastern Europe to be part of the West.

And in that poem he was most definitely not talking about Russia or Poland. 😂
So? It's a poem, not a catalogue of which countries belong to which parts of the world. I don't think Kipling was thinking of China or Japan much when he wrote those lines (the action is set in British India, after all), but it doesn't follow that he considered those countries part of the West.

Interesting theory but rather anachronistic because in the XIX century definition of the “East” and “West” based upon the post-WWII realities would not make a slightest sense for Czechia and the Eastern part of Germany. In the Napoleonic times and even in the late XVIII Poland was not considered “Eastern” country by most of the continental Europe (can’t tell about the Brits and their notions). Never heard about the uhlans being something “Eastern”.
I didn't say that the definition was based on post-WW2 realities, I said that Eastern Europe wasn't considered fully Western until after WW2.
 
I understood the reference; what I meant was that I didn't know whether Kipling considered Eastern Europe to be part of the West.



So? It's a poem, not a catalogue of which countries belong to which parts of the world. I don't think Kipling was thinking of China or Japan much when he wrote those lines (the action is set in British India, after all), but it doesn't follow that he considered those countries part of the West.



I didn't say that the definition was based on post-WW2 realities, I said that Eastern Europe wasn't considered fully Western until after WW2.
Well, OK, because the whole argument is drifting far away from what I wrote, let me clarify: (a) in 1740s out Russia was in a reasonably close contact with Persia and specifically with Nader Shah (Russia returned most of the territories conquered by Peter I and Nader Shah sent a huge embassy to St-Petersburg), (b) as such it was in a good position to find out about the military developments in Persia and pick up what makes sense, (c) however, taking into an account that at that time things “Eastern” (from the Russian perspective) were inferior just be the virtue of not being “European” such a borrowing would be extremely unlikely.
 
As far as the Brits are involved, most of the Europe is to the East from the islands so my statement would not make sense (I doubt that in mid-XVIII Britain was considering the American colonies as a source of the military ideas so the “West” would not work). BTW, by the time the Brits got their lancers (which, as I understand was in the Napoleonic times), the lancers in many European armies had been copied from the Polish uhlans, which is quite easy to figure out by their headgear (below are British lancers in India) and I doubt that Kipling had in mind Poland when he was talking about ‘East”. 😂
View attachment 560636
If we take Benjamin Franklin as any indicator of English sentiment, then continental europeans didn't even qualify as white.
 
If we take Benjamin Franklin as any indicator of English sentiment, then continental europeans didn't even qualify as white.
Well, how could they if they did not speak English? Which of course did not prevent him from begging the French for help. 😂

To be fair, a beautiful East/West clarity of post-WWII period (tell me to which block you belong and I’ll tell you if you are Eastern or Western) did not quite exist for Europe of the XVIII-XIX and opinion of who is and who is not “a true European” strongly depended upon the political affiliations and even individual phobias.
 
Top