The Huszars.

The Huszars

In the time of the Ottoman Empire, an elite cavalry known as the Huszars waged war against the Turks. The Huszars were great strategists, both on horseback and on foot, and for that reason were often enlisted as mercenaries by European countries. Riding small, hardy horses, they fought on most of Europe’s battlefields, swiftly scouting the countryside, assessing tactics and clearing a path for the infantry.

The gentleman standing next to me in the photograph is dressed in the flamboyant uniform of a traditional Huszar. This was taken at the Hungarian Consulate during a wine tasting banquet, where he gave a brief account of the Hungarian Huszars. The costume was designed to avert flesh wounds from sabers and swords.

The Huszars served the Hapsburg army during its long reign and played a vital role on the battlefields of Russia, Poland and France. Napoleon is said to have boasted that, if he had recruited more Huszars, he would have won the war.

But the fearless Huszars were not without blemish. They were brazen. They plundered. They drank to excess. They bragged and womanized. But if any foreign military needed the best, they were the best.

When the Civil War broke out in America, Karoly Zagonyi became the chief cavalry instructor for Major General John C. Fremont. Not only did Zagonyi train the general’s cavalry, he also had the cavalry equipped with sabers, revolvers and proper uniforms. Zagonyi’s men helped win many battles fought on horseback, and Zagonyi was eventually named Fremont’s personal bodyguard.

Many other countries used the Huszars’ expertise—Argentina, Canada, Chile, United Kingdom, Peru, Spain and Denmark. After World War II and the advent of modern military machinery, the use of the Huszars diminished.

If you have the time, take a look at these two videos. The first one is longer, the second shorter. Be sure to notice how skillfully the Huszars use their horses.

About Sheila Bali

Sheila Bali, historical fiction writer, is soon to complete her novel, Swans and Cranes, based on a family’s escape from the iron grip of post–WW II Russia during the turbulent 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The book focuses on a young girl’s experiences as her family’s world is uprooted, forcing them to flee their home and country to save their lives. Sheila holds a Fine Arts Degree from Concordia University, plus two graduate degrees from McGill University in art education and special education. She now lives in San Francisco Bay Area of California and paints with colorful words. Sheila is a member of CWC Tri-Valley Branch.
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6 Responses to The Huszars.

  1. Christopher Liccardi says:

    Well done Sheila 🙂

  2. Francene Stanley says:

    The days of old. Mem were men and some of them not fit for female company. I enjoyed your facts about the Huzsars. I wonder what the people in the future will say about our modern day soldiers?

    • SheilaBali says:

      That’s an excellent point Francene. I suppose it depends on which country’s soldiers we’re talking about. Or does that make a difference? I don’t know. But war is war, and ugly- WW1, WW2, Vietnam etc. When our modern soldiers’ minds snap in battle fatigue, it’s hard to predict what they’ll do.

  3. Stuart Yates says:

    Wonderful! For many years I have been a wargamer, and have often used detachments of such troops, from the so-called Croats of the Thirty Years War, to the Grenzers in the Austrian army of the Seven Years War. In this latter conflict their uniforms were quite magnificent. Thanks so much for this.

  4. Liz Stauffer says:

    Great article. Love the Ottoman Empire – Turkish history. Barbara Nadel is one of my favorite writer’s. Her Inspector Cetin Ikmen books are set in Istanbul – a grand, grand city.

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