Cuirassiers (ETW unit)
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Cuirassiers are heavy cavalry who still wear armour, who rely on the shock of impact to defeat enemies.
These are big men, mounted on big horses, and their primary task is to crash into enemy forces and engage in hand-to-hand combat. To this end, they wear back- and breastplates over leather padding – the cuirass – and usually wear reinforced metal helmets too. Heavy straight swords are the weapons of choice. A wise commander with a cuirassier force under his hand keeps it as a battering ram to hit the enemy at the critical point.
Historically, armoured cavalry were the direct functional descendants of armoured knights and the three-quarter-armoured “lobsters” of 16th Century armies.
Despite the military mania for neatness and order, nearly all cuirasses had a small dent in them. This was the proofing mark, where a pistol ball had been fired into the cuirass to “prove” that it worked as armour. A cuirass with a hole in it after this test would be thrown back into the furnace!
Cuirassiers still exist in modern armies, although their armour is now purely ceremonial. The French army still has two regiments of cuirassiers, the Italians have a Presidential Honour Guard, and technically the Household Cavalry in the British army are also cuirassiers.