Cornet Richardson

Harry Payne's illustration of Cornet Henry Richardson, aged 18, fighting off a red-coated Maison du Roi on the right of the picture, and a Gendarme, with the distinctive yellow pouchbelt, on the left. Much of the French cavalry wore cuirasses while the British cavalry did not, even the Horse Guards were unprotected at this time. It was the job of a cornet to carry the regimental standard into battle so that one hand held the reins and the other held the staff. The artist has come to grips with the problem of the young officer juggling reins, Standard and sword in the thick of battle. The Standard-bearer was always accompanied by two sergeants or Warrant Officers but they are nowhere to be seen here. Richardson survived the ordeal but had many wounds and his uniform was in tatters. The Standard was presented to him later and it was kept in his family where it still belongs, although on loan to the regimental museum in York at the time of writing (2011).

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by Stephen Luscombe