Dragoon
Overview
 
The word dragoon originally meant mounted infantry
Mounted infantry
Mounted infantry were soldiers who rode horses instead of marching, but actually fought on foot . The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry...

, who were trained in horse riding as well as infantry fighting skills
Combat
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

. However, usage altered over time and during the 18th century, dragoons evolved into conventional light cavalry
Light cavalry
Light cavalry refers to lightly armed and lightly armored troops mounted on horses, as opposed to heavy cavalry, where the riders are heavily armored...

 units and personnel. Dragoon regiments were established in most European armies during the late 17th century and early 18th century.

The name is possibly derived from a type of firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

 (called a dragon) carried by dragoons of the French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

.
Encyclopedia
The word dragoon originally meant mounted infantry
Mounted infantry
Mounted infantry were soldiers who rode horses instead of marching, but actually fought on foot . The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry...

, who were trained in horse riding as well as infantry fighting skills
Combat
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

. However, usage altered over time and during the 18th century, dragoons evolved into conventional light cavalry
Light cavalry
Light cavalry refers to lightly armed and lightly armored troops mounted on horses, as opposed to heavy cavalry, where the riders are heavily armored...

 units and personnel. Dragoon regiments were established in most European armies during the late 17th century and early 18th century.

The name is possibly derived from a type of firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

 (called a dragon) carried by dragoons of the French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

. There is no distinction between the words dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

 and dragoon in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 (both are called dragon).

The title has been retained in modern times by a number of armoured
Armoured warfare
Armoured warfare or tank warfare is the use of armoured fighting vehicles in modern warfare. It is a major component of modern methods of war....

 or ceremonial mounted regiment
Regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

s.

The word also means to subjugate or persecute by the imposition of troops; and by extension to compel by any violent measures or threats.The verb dates from 1689, at a time when dragoons were being used by the French monarchy to persecute Protestants.

Origins and name

The establishment of dragoons evolved from the practice of sometimes transporting infantry by horse when speed of movement was needed. An early instance was ordered by Louis of Nassau
Louis of Nassau
Louis of Nassau was the third son of William, Count of Nassau and Juliana of Stolberg, and the younger brother of Prince William of Orange Nassau....

 during operations near Mons
Mons
Mons is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut, of which it is the capital. The Mons municipality includes the old communes of Cuesmes, Flénu, Ghlin, Hyon, Nimy, Obourg, Baudour , Jemappes, Ciply, Harmignies, Harveng, Havré, Maisières, Mesvin, Nouvelles,...

 in Hainaut
County of Hainaut
The County of Hainaut was a historical region in the Low Countries with its capital at Mons . In English sources it is often given the archaic spelling Hainault....

, when 500 infantry were transported this way. In 1552 Prince Alexander of Parma
Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma
Alessandro Farnese was an Italian military leader, who was Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands from 1678 until 1682....

 mounted several companies of infantry on pack horses to achieve surprise. It is also suggested the first dragoons were raised by the Marshal de Brissac
Duke of Brissac
Duke of Brissac is the title of a distinguished noble family of France. The fief of Brissac in Anjou was acquired at the end of the 15th century by a noble French family named Cossé belonging to the same province. René de Cossé married into the Gouffier family, who were at that time very powerful...

 in 1600. According to old German literature, dragoons were invented by Count Ernst von Mansfeld
Ernst von Mansfeld
Ernst, Graf von Mansfeld , was a German military commander during the early years of the Thirty Years' War.-Biography:...

, one of the greatest German military commanders, in the early 1620s. There are other instances of mounted infantry predating this. However Mansfeld, who had learned his profession in Hungary and the Netherlands, often used horses to make his foot troops more mobile, creating what was called an "armée volante" (French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 for flying army).

The name possibly derives from an early weapon, a short wheellock
Wheellock
A wheellock, wheel-lock or wheel lock, is a friction-wheel mechanism to cause a spark for firing a firearm. It was the next major development in firearms technology after the matchlock and the first self-igniting firearm. The mechanism is so-called because it uses a rotating steel wheel to provide...

 called a dragon because the first dragoons raised in France had their carbine's muzzle decorated with a dragon's head. The practice comes from a time when all gunpowder weapons had distinctive names, including the culverin
Culverin
A culverin was a relatively simple ancestor of the musket, and later a medieval cannon, adapted for use by the French in the 15th century, and later adapted for naval use by the English in the late 16th century. The culverin was used to bombard targets from a distance. The weapon had a...

, serpentine, falcon, falconet
Falconet (cannon)
The falconet or falcon was a light cannon developed in the late 15th century. During the Middle Ages guns were decorated with engravings of reptiles, birds or beasts depending on their size. For example, a culverin would often feature snakes, as the handles on the early cannons were often decorated...

, etc. It is also sometimes claimed a galloping infantryman with his loose coat and the burning match resembled a dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

.

History and role

Early dragoons were not organized in squadrons
Squadron (cavalry)
A squadron was historically a cavalry sub unit. It is still used to refer to modern cavalry units but can also be used as a designation for other arms and services.-United States:...

 or troop
Troop
A troop is a military unit, originally a small force of cavalry, subordinate to a squadron and headed by the troop leader. In many armies a troop is the equivalent unit to the infantry section or platoon...

s as were cavalry, but in companies
Company (military unit)
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–225 soldiers and usually commanded by a Captain, Major or Commandant. Most companies are formed of three to five platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure...

 like the infantry: their officers and non-commissioned officer
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

s bore infantry ranks. Dragoon regiments used drummers, not buglers, to communicate orders on the battlefield. The flexibility of mounted infantry made dragoons a useful arm, especially when employed for what would now be termed "internal security
Internal security
Internal security, or IS, is the act of keeping peace within the borders of a sovereign state or other self-governing territories. generally by upholding the national law and defending against internal security threats...

" against smugglers or civil unrest, and on line of communication
Line of communication
A line of communication is the route that connects an operating military unit with its supply base. Supplies and reinforcements are transported along the line of communication. Therefore, a secure and open line of communication is vital for any military force to continue to operate effectively...

 security duties. During the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 dragoons were used for a variety of tasks: providing outposts, holding defiles or bridges in the front or rear of the main army, lining hedges or holding enclosures, and providing dismounted musketeers to support regular cavalry. Supplied with inferior horses and more basic equipment, the dragoon regiments were cheaper to recruit and maintain than the expensive regiments of cavalry. When in the 17th century Gustav II Adolf introduced dragoons into the Swedish Army, he provided them with a sabre, an axe and a matchlock
Matchlock
The matchlock was the first mechanism, or "lock" invented to facilitate the firing of a hand-held firearm. This design removed the need to lower by hand a lit match into the weapon's flash pan and made it possible to have both hands free to keep a firm grip on the weapon at the moment of firing,...

 musket: many of the European armies henceforth imitated this all-purpose set of weaponry.

However, dragoons were at a disadvantage when engaged against true cavalry, and constantly sought to improve their horsemanship, armament and social status. By the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 the primary role of dragoons in most European armies had progressed from that of mounted infantry to that of medium cavalry. Earlier dragoon responsibilities for scouting and picket
Picket (military)
In military terminology, a picket refers to soldiers or troops placed on a line forward of a position to warn against an enemy advance. It can also refer to any unit performing a similar function...

 duty had passed to hussars and similar light cavalry corps in the French, Austrian, Prussian, and other armies. In the Imperial Russian Army
Imperial Russian Army
The Imperial Russian Army was the land armed force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1850s, the Russian army consisted of around 938,731 regular soldiers and 245,850 irregulars . Until the time of military reform of Dmitry Milyutin in...

, due to the availability of the cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

 troops, the dragoons were retained in their original role for much longer.

An exception to the rule was the British Army. To reduce military budget, all horse (cavalry) regiments were gradually demoted to dragoons from 1746 onward — which paid them on a lower pay scale. When this was completed in 1788, the heavy cavalry regiments had become either Dragoon Guards
Dragoon guards
Dragoon Guards was the designation used to refer to certain heavy cavalry regiments in the British Army from the 18th century onwards. While the Prussian and Russian armies of the same period included dragoon regiments amongst their respective Imperial Guards, different titles were applied to these...

 or Heavy Dragoons (depending on their precedence). The designation of Dragoon Guards did not mean that these regiments (the former 2nd to 8th Horse) had become Household Troops, but simply that they had been given a more dignified designation to compensate for the loss of pay and prestige. Starting in 1756, seven regiments of Light Dragoons were raised. These Light Dragoons were trained in reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

, skirmishing and other work requiring endurance
Endurance riding
Endurance riding is an equestrian sport based on controlled long-distance races. It is one of the international competitions recognized by the FEI. There are endurance rides worldwide....

 in accordance with contemporary standards of light cavalry performance. The success of this new class of cavalry was such that that 8 regular Dragoon regiments were converted to Light Dragoons between 1768 and 1783.
During the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, dragoons generally assumed a cavalry role, though lighter than armored cuirassier
Cuirassier
Cuirassiers were mounted cavalry soldiers equipped with armour and firearms, first appearing in late 15th-century Europe. They were the successors of the medieval armoured knights...

s. Dragoons rode larger horses than the light cavalry and wielded straight, rather than curved swords. Emperor Napoleon often formed complete divisions out of his 20 to 30 dragoon regiments and used them as battle cavalry owing to shortage of cavalry mounts, to break the enemy's main resistance. In 1809, French dragoons scored notable successes against Spanish armies at the Battle of Ocana
Battle of Ocana
The Battle of Ocana or Battle of Ocaña was fought on 19 November 1809 between French forces under Marshal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult and King Joseph Bonaparte and the Spanish army under Juan Carlos de Aréizaga, which suffered its greatest single defeat in the Peninsular War...

 and the Battle of Alba de Tormes
Battle of Alba de Tormes
In the Battle of Alba de Tormes, fought on November 26, 1809, a French army commanded by Major General Jean Marchand routed Lieutenant-General Duke del Parque's retreating Spanish army during the Peninsular War.-Strategic situation:...

. British heavy dragoons made devastating charges against French infantry at the Battle of Salamanca
Battle of Salamanca
The Battle of Salamanca saw Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish armies under the Duke of Wellington defeat Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces among the hills around Arapiles south of Salamanca, Spain on July 22, 1812 during the Peninsular War....

 in 1812 and at the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 in 1815.

In the Spanish army, in 1635, Pedro de la Puente organized in Innsbruck (Austria) a body of dragoons, and in 1640 one was created in Spain as a tercio
Tercio
The tercio was a Renaissance era military formation made up of a mixed infantry formation of about 3,000 pikemen, swordsmen and arquebusiers or musketeers in a mutually supportive formation. It was also sometimes referred to as the Spanish Square...

 of a thousand dragoons armed with the arqabus. In 1704 like the rest of the tercios, the Spanish dragoons were reorganised into regiments by Felipe V. During the 18th century several additional regiments of dragoons were created in the Spanish Americas, some of them to function as a police force. In 1803 the regiments of dragoons began to be called light cavalry and shortly after 1815 this class of cavalry disappeared from the Spanish Army. However three regiments of Spanish dragoons had been reestablished by the 1880s and these continued in existence until the overthrow of the Monarch in 1931.

In several stages between 1816 and 1861, the 21 existing Light Dragoon regiments in the British Army were disbanded or converted to lancer
Lancer
A lancer was a type of cavalryman who fought with a lance. Lances were used in mounted warfare by the Assyrians as early as and subsequently by Greek, Persian, Gallic, Han-Chinese, nomadic and Roman horsemen...

s or hussar
Hussar
Hussar refers to a number of types of light cavalry which originated in Hungary in the 14th century, tracing its roots from Serbian medieval cavalry tradition, brought to Hungary in the course of the Serb migrations, which began in the late 14th century....

s.

Between 1881 and 1910 all Russian cavalry (other than Cossacks and Imperial Guard regiments) were designated as dragoons; reflecting an emphasis on dismounted action in their training and a growing acceptance of the impracticality of employing historical cavalry tactics
Cavalry tactics
For much of history , humans have used some form of cavalry for war. Cavalry tactics have evolved over time...

 against modern firepower.
In Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, in the late 19th century/early 20th century, dragoons were deployed in the same way as in other armies, but were dressed as hussars.

In 1914 there were still dragoon regiments in the British, French, German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, Peruvian, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Spanish armies. Their uniforms varied greatly, lacking the characteristic features of hussar or lancer regiments. There were occasional reminders of the mounted infantry origins of this class of soldier. Thus the dragoon regiments of the Imperial German Army
German Army (German Empire)
The German Army was the name given the combined land forces of the German Empire, also known as the National Army , Imperial Army or Imperial German Army. The term "Deutsches Heer" is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the German Bundeswehr...

 wore the pickelhaube
Pickelhaube
The Pickelhaube , also "Pickelhelm," was a spiked helmet worn in the 19th and 20th centuries by German military, firefighters, and police...

 (spiked helmet) of the same design as those of the infantry and the British dragoons wore scarlet tunics, In other respects however dragoons had adopted the same tactics, roles and equipment as other branches of the cavalry and the distinction had become simply one of traditional titles.

The Australian Light Horse were similar to dragoon regiments in many regards, being mounted infantry which normally fought on foot, their horses' purpose being transportation. They served during the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 and World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade became famous for the Battle of Beersheba in 1917, where it made the most successful cavalry charge in the Great War, considered by many military historians to be the last great cavalry charge ever made.. They made the charge using their rifle bayonets, since neither sabres or lances were part of their equipment.

Brazil

The Brazilian president
President of Brazil
The president of Brazil is both the head of state and head of government of the Federative Republic of Brazil. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the Brazilian Armed Forces...

's honor guard
Honor guard
An honor guard, or ceremonial guard, is a ceremonial unit, usually military in nature and composed of volunteers who are carefully screened for their physical ability and dexterity...

 is provided (amongst other units) by a regiment of dragoons: the 1st Guards Cavalry Regiment.

This regiment is known as the "Dragões da Independência" (Dragoons of Independence). The name was given in 1927 and refers to the fact that a detachment of dragoons escorted the Prince Royal of Portugal
Prince Royal of Portugal
Prince Royal of Portugal is the official title attributed to the heirs presumptive of the Crown of Portugal...

, Pedro I, at the time when he declared Brazilian independence
Brazilian Declaration of Independence
The Brazilian Independence comprised a series of political events occurred in 1821–1823, most of which involved disputes between Brazil and Portugal regarding the call for independence presented by the Brazilian Kingdom...

 from Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, on September 7, 1822.

The Independence Dragoons wear 19th century uniforms similar to those of the earlier Imperial Honor Guard. The uniform was designed by Debret
Jean-Baptiste Debret
Jean-Baptiste Debret was a French painter, who produced many valuable lithographs depicting the people of Brazil.-Biography:...

, in white and red, with plumed bronze helmets. The colors and pattern were influenced by the Austrian dragoons of the period, as the Brazilian Empress Consort
Maria Leopoldina of Austria
Maria Leopoldina of Austria was an archduchess of Austria, Empress consort of Brazil and queen consort of Portugal....

 was also an Austrian Archduchess
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

. The color of the plumes varies according to rank. The Independence Dragoons are armed with lance
Lance
A Lance is a pole weapon or spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior. The lance is longer, stout and heavier than an infantry spear, and unsuited for throwing, or for rapid thrusting. Lances did not have tips designed to intentionally break off or bend, unlike many throwing weapons of the...

s.

The regiment was established in 1808 by the Prince Regent and future king of Portugal, John VI, with the duty of protecting the Portuguese royal family, which had sought refuge in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 during the Napoleonic wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

. However dragoons had existed in Portugal since at least the early 18th century and, in 1719, units of this type of cavalry were sent to Brazil, initially to escort shipments of gold and diamonds and to guard the Viceroy
Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

 who resided in Rio de Janeiro (1st Cavalry Regiment – Vice-Roy Guard Squadron
Squadron (cavalry)
A squadron was historically a cavalry sub unit. It is still used to refer to modern cavalry units but can also be used as a designation for other arms and services.-United States:...

). Later, they were also sent to the south to serve against the Spanish during frontier clashes. After the proclamation of Brazilian independence, the title of the regiment was changed to that of the Imperial Honor Guard, with the role of protecting the Imperial Family. The Guard was later disbanded by Emperor Peter II
Pedro II of Brazil
Dom Pedro II , nicknamed "the Magnanimous", was the second and last ruler of the Empire of Brazil, reigning for over 58 years. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he was the seventh child of Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil and Empress Dona Maria Leopoldina and thus a member of the Brazilian branch of...

 and would be recreated only later in the republican era.

At the time of the Republic proclamation in 1889, horse #6 of the Imperial Honor Guard was ridden by the officer making the declaration. This is commemorated by the custom under which the horse having this number is used only by the commander of the modern regiment.

Canada

There are three dragoon regiments in the Canadian Forces
Canadian Forces
The Canadian Forces , officially the Canadian Armed Forces , are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."...

: the Royal Canadian Dragoons and two reserve
Military reserve
A military reserve, tactical reserve, or strategic reserve is a group of military personnel or units which are initially not committed to a battle by their commander so that they are available to address unforeseen situations or exploit suddenly developing...

 regiments, the British Columbia Dragoons and the Saskatchewan Dragoons
Saskatchewan Dragoons
The Saskatchewan Dragoons is a Primary Reserve armoured regiment of the Canadian Forces. The unit is based in Moose Jaw. Their primary job is to assist the Regular Force in meeting Canada's military commitments. Their training and equipment closely follow that of the Regular Force, which the...

.
The Royal Canadian Dragoons is the senior Armoured
Armoured warfare
Armoured warfare or tank warfare is the use of armoured fighting vehicles in modern warfare. It is a major component of modern methods of war....

 regiment in the Canadian Forces
Canadian Forces
The Canadian Forces , officially the Canadian Armed Forces , are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."...

. The current role of The Royal Canadian Dragoons is to provide Armour Reconnaissance support to 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) operations.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police , literally ‘Royal Gendarmerie of Canada’; colloquially known as The Mounties, and internally as ‘The Force’) is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal,...

 were accorded the formal status of a regiment of dragoons in 1921. The modern RCMP does not retain any military status however.

Chile

Founded as the Dragones de la Reina (Queen's Dragoons) in 1758 and later renamed the Dragoons of Chile in 1812, and then becoming the Carabineros de Chile
Carabineros de Chile
thumb|250px|Carabineros de Chile, patrolling a street in [[Santiago, Chile|Santiago]]The Carabiniers of Chile, are the uniformed Chilean national police force and gendarmerie, created on April 27, 1927. Their mission is to maintain order and create public respect for the laws of the country...

 in 1903. The Carabineros are the national police
Police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

 of Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

. The military counterpart, that of the 15th Reinforced Regiment "Dragoons" is now as of 2010 the 4th Armored Brigade "Chorrilos" based in Punta Arenas as the 6th Armored Cavalry Squadron "Dragoons", and form part of the 5th Army Division

Denmark

The Royal Danish Army includes amongst its historic regiments the Jutish Dragoon Regiment
Jydske Dragonregiment
Jydske Dragonregiment is the sole pure armoured regiment of the Danish Army.It was formed in 1657. In 1932 it became JDR with the amalgamation of 3. Dragonregiment in Århus and 5. Dragonregiment from Randers. Originally located in Randers, it moved to a new barrack in Holstebro in 1953, where it...

, which was raised in 1670.

Finland

The Finnish Dragoon squadron exists in conjunction with the Army Academy in Lappeenranta
Lappeenranta
Lappeenranta is a city and municipality that resides on the shore of the lake Saimaa in South-Eastern Finland, about from the Russian border. It belongs to the region of South Karelia. With approximately inhabitants Lappeenranta is the largest city in Finland...

 and continues the tradition of the former 1. Squadron of the Uusimaa
Uusimaa
Uusimaa, or Nyland in Swedish, is a region in Finland. It borders the regions Finland Proper, Tavastia Proper, Päijänne Tavastia and Kymenlaakso...

 Dragoon battalion.

France

The modern French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 retains three Dragoons regiments from the 32 it possessed at the beginning of World War I: the 2nd, which is a nuclear, bacteriologic and chemical protection regiment, the 4th, an armour regiment equipped with Leclerc tanks, and the 13th
13th Parachute Dragoon Regiment
The 13th Parachute Dragoon Regiment is an airborne special forces regiment of the French Army. It is one of two regiments in the French Army Special Forces Brigade, which is under the control of the COS...

, which is a special-ops parachute regiment.

Norway

In the Norwegian Army
Norwegian Army
Norway achieved full independence in 1905, and in the first century of its short life has contributed to two major conflicts, the Cold War and the War on Terror. The Norwegian Army currently operates in the north of Norway and in Afghanistan as well as in Eastern Europe. The Army is the oldest of...

 during the early part of the 20th century, dragoons served in part as mounted troops, and in part on skis or bicycles (hjulryttere, meaning "wheel-riders"). Dragoons fought on horses, bicycles and skis against the German invasion in 1940. After World War II the dragoon regiments were reorganized as armour
Armour
Armour or armor is protective covering used to prevent damage from being inflicted to an object, individual or a vehicle through use of direct contact weapons or projectiles, usually during combat, or from damage caused by a potentially dangerous environment or action...

ed reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 units. "Dragon" is the rank of a compulsory service private cavalryman while enlisted (regular) cavalrymen have the same rank as infantrymen: "Grenader".

Perú

The Dragoon Guards
Dragoon guards
Dragoon Guards was the designation used to refer to certain heavy cavalry regiments in the British Army from the 18th century onwards. While the Prussian and Russian armies of the same period included dragoon regiments amongst their respective Imperial Guards, different titles were applied to these...

 of the “Field Marshal Domingo Nieto
Domingo Nieto
Domingo Nieto a Peruvian Grand Marshall, forefather of the nation, and politician who became President of Peru between 1843 and 1844....

” Life-Guard Escort Cavalry Regiment of the President of the Republic of Perú were the traditional Guard of the Government Palace of Perú
Government Palace (Peru)
The Government Palace of Peru, also known as House of Pizarro, renoved in 1937, was the house of the Peruvian government headquarters and was built over a huge Indian burying ground Waka that had a shrine of Indian chief Taulichusco. It has been through many alterations...

 until 1987 and disbandment in that year. This regiment of dragoons was created in 1904 following the suggestion of a French military mission when undertaking the reorganization of the Peruvian Army
Peruvian Army
The Peruvian Army is the branch of the Peruvian Armed Forces tasked with safeguarding the independence, sovereignty and integrity of national territory on land through military force. Additional missions include assistance in safeguarding internal security, conducting disaster relief operations...

 in 1896.

The Peruvian Dragoon Guard wore French style uniforms of black tunic and red breeches in the winter and white coat and red breeches in the summer, with red and white plumed bronze helmets. They were armed with lance
Lance
A Lance is a pole weapon or spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior. The lance is longer, stout and heavier than an infantry spear, and unsuited for throwing, or for rapid thrusting. Lances did not have tips designed to intentionally break off or bend, unlike many throwing weapons of the...

s, sabres and fusils.

At 13:00 hours every day the main esplanade in front of the Government Palace of Perú
Government Palace (Peru)
The Government Palace of Peru, also known as House of Pizarro, renoved in 1937, was the house of the Peruvian government headquarters and was built over a huge Indian burying ground Waka that had a shrine of Indian chief Taulichusco. It has been through many alterations...

 fronting Lima's Main Square served as the stage for the changing of the guard, undertaken by the Dragoons of the Presidential Life Guard Escorts.

Portugal

The Portuguese Army
Portuguese Army
The Portuguese Army is the ground branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces which, in co-operation with other branches of the Portuguese military, is charged with the defence of Portugal...

 still maintains two units which are descended from former regiments of dragoons. These are the 3rd Regiment of Cavalry (the former "Olivença
Olivenza
Olivenza or Olivença is a town in the autonomous community of Extremadura, situated on a disputed section of the border between Portugal and Spain...

 Dragoons") and the 6th Regiment of Cavalry (the former "Chaves
Chaves (Portugal)
Chaves is a municipality and municipal seat of an area 10 km south of the Spanish border and 22 km south of Verín in the north of Portugal. The municipality is the second most populous of the district of Vila Real...

 Dragoons"). Both regiments are, presently, armoured units. The Portuguese Rapid Reaction Brigade
Portuguese Rapid Reaction Brigade
The Brigada de Reacção Rápida , is a unit of the Portuguese Army which was known as BAI - Brigada Aerotransportada Independente until 2006...

' Armoured Reconnaissance Squadron – a unit from the 3rd Regiment of Cavalry – is known as the "Paratroopers Dragoons".

During the Portuguese Colonial War
Portuguese Colonial War
The Portuguese Colonial War , also known in Portugal as the Overseas War or in the former colonies as the War of liberation , was fought between Portugal's military and the emerging nationalist movements in Portugal's African colonies between 1961 and 1974, when the Portuguese regime was...

 in the 1960s and the 1970s, the Portuguese Army created an experimental horse platoon, to combat the guerrillas in eastern Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

. This unit was soon augmented, becoming a group of three squadrons, known as the "Angola Dragoons". The Angola Dragoons operated as mounted infantry – like the original dragoons – each soldier being armed with a pistol
Pistol
When distinguished as a subset of handguns, a pistol is a handgun with a chamber that is integral with the barrel, as opposed to a revolver, wherein the chamber is separate from the barrel as a revolving cylinder. Typically, pistols have an effective range of about 100 feet.-History:The pistol...

 to fire when on horseback and with an automatic rifle
Automatic rifle
Automatic rifle is a term generally used to describe a semi-automatic rifle chambered for a rifle cartridge, capable of delivering both semi- and full automatic fire...

, to use when dismounted. A unit of the same type was being created in Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 when the war ended in 1974.

Sweden

See also Norrlands dragonregemente
Norrlands dragonregemente
Norrlands dragonregemente , also K 4 or K 8, was a Swedish Army cavalry regiment located in the province of Lappland that traces its origins back to the 17th century. It is still in active service.- History :...



In the Swedish Army
Swedish Army
The Swedish Army is one of the oldest standing armies in the world and a branch of the Swedish Armed Forces; it is in charge of land operations. General Sverker Göranson is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Army.- Organization :...

, dragoons comprise the Military Police
Military police
Military police are police organisations connected with, or part of, the military of a state. The word can have different meanings in different countries, and may refer to:...

 and Military Police Rangers. They also form the Dragoons Battalion of the Life Guards
Life Guards (Swedish Army)
The Life Guards is a combined cavalry/infantry regiment of the Swedish Army, with responsibility for training. The infantry battalion trains ordinary infantry soldiers in both the mechanized and rifle roles, as well as training clerical soldiers. The Guards Battalion consists of three companies,...

. The Dragoons Battalion have roots that go back as far as 1523, making it one of the world's oldest military units still in service and the only mounted unit still retained by the Swedish Army. Horses are used for ceremonial purposes only, most often when the dragoons take part in the changing of the guards at The Royal Castle in Stockholm. "Livdragon" is the rank of a private cavalryman. The dragon battalions remaining in Sweden are what today train and service the special forces units.

Switzerland

In the Swiss Army, mounted dragoons existed until the early 1970s, when they were converted into Armoured Grenadiers units. The "Dragoner" had to prove he was able to keep a horse at home before entering the army. At the end of basic training they had to buy a horse at a reduced price from the army and to take it home together with equipment, uniform and weapon. In the "yearly repetition course" the dragoons served with their horses, often riding from home to the meeting point.

The abolition of the dragoon units, believed to be the last non-ceremonial horse cavalry in Europe, was a contentious issue in Switzerland. On 5 December 1972 the Swiss Conseil national
National Council of Switzerland
The National Council of Switzerland is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland. With 200 seats, it is the larger of the two houses....

approved the measure by 91 votes, against 71 for retention.

United Kingdom

As many as seventeen regiments were in being at the height of the Napoleonic Wars.

In the present-day British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 regular army, four regiments are designated as dragoons:
  • 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards
    1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards
    1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards is a cavalry regiment of the British Army. Nicknamed The Welsh Cavalry, the regiment recruits from Wales, Herefordshire, and Shropshire, and is the senior cavalry regiment, and therefore senior regiment, of the line of the British Army...

  • Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
    Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
    The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards is a cavalry regiment of the British Army, and the senior Scottish regiment. It was formed on 2 July 1971 at Holyrood, Edinburgh, by the amalgamation of the 3rd Carabiniers The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys) (SCOTS DG) is a cavalry regiment of...

  • Royal Dragoon Guards
    Royal Dragoon Guards
    The Royal Dragoon Guards is a cavalry regiment of the British Army. It was formed in 1992 by the amalgamation of two other regiments: The 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards...

  • The Light Dragoons
    The Light Dragoons
    The Light Dragoons is a cavalry regiment in the British Army.It was formed in 1992 from the amalgamation of two regiments, the 13th/18th Royal Hussars and the 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars becoming the first dragoon regiment in the British Army for over twenty years.-Present day:The Light...



The three regiments named as Dragoon Guards
Dragoon guards
Dragoon Guards was the designation used to refer to certain heavy cavalry regiments in the British Army from the 18th century onwards. While the Prussian and Russian armies of the same period included dragoon regiments amongst their respective Imperial Guards, different titles were applied to these...

 were historically sometimes considered heavy cavalry, although by continental standards they were not heavy cavalry since they carried no armour (unlike cuirassier
Cuirassier
Cuirassiers were mounted cavalry soldiers equipped with armour and firearms, first appearing in late 15th-century Europe. They were the successors of the medieval armoured knights...

s). The designation "Dragoon Guards" does not indicate the status of Household Troops but is a distinction awarded to former "Regiments of Horse" when these were converted to Dragoons in 1746.

The Light Dragoons were formed as light cavalry during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, and were similar to hussar
Hussar
Hussar refers to a number of types of light cavalry which originated in Hungary in the 14th century, tracing its roots from Serbian medieval cavalry tradition, brought to Hungary in the course of the Serb migrations, which began in the late 14th century....

s. In the early 19th century several regiments were simultaneously designated as light dragoons and as hussars.

In the Territorial Army, one of the five squadrons of the Royal Yeomanry
Royal Yeomanry
The Royal Yeomanry is an armoured regiment of the Territorial Army consisting of five squadrons and a military band:*A Squadron *B Squadron...

 is designated as dragoons: The Westminster Dragoons
Westminster Dragoons
The Westminster Dragoons are central London’s only Territorial Army cavalry unit. One of the Royal Yeomanry's five squadrons, their current role is to support the Formation Reconnaissance Regiments and the Joint Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Regiment on operations by providing...

.

United States

Towards the end of 1776 George Washington realized the need for a mounted branch of the military. In January of 1777 four regiments of light dragoons were raised. Short term enlistments were abandoned and the Dragoons joined for three years, or "the war". They participated in most of the major engagements of the war, including the Battles of White Plains
Battle of White Plains
The Battle of White Plains was a battle in the New York and New Jersey campaign of the American Revolutionary War fought on October 28, 1776, near White Plains, New York. Following the retreat of George Washington's Continental Army northward from New York City, British General William Howe landed...

, Trenton
Battle of Trenton
The Battle of Trenton took place on December 26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, after General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River north of Trenton, New Jersey. The hazardous crossing in adverse weather made it possible for Washington to lead the main body of the...

, Princeton
Battle of Princeton
The Battle of Princeton was a battle in which General George Washington's revolutionary forces defeated British forces near Princeton, New Jersey....

, Brandywine
Battle of Brandywine
The Battle of Brandywine, also known as the Battle of the Brandywine or the Battle of Brandywine Creek, was fought between the American army of Major General George Washington and the British-Hessian army of General Sir William Howe on September 11, 1777. The British defeated the Americans and...

, Germantown
Battle of Germantown
The Battle of Germantown, a battle in the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War, was fought on October 4, 1777, at Germantown, Pennsylvania between the British army led by Sir William Howe and the American army under George Washington...

 and Monmouth
Battle of Monmouth
The Battle of Monmouth was an American Revolutionary War battle fought on June 28, 1778 in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The Continental Army under General George Washington attacked the rear of the British Army column commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton as they left Monmouth Court...

, as well as the Yorktown campaign.

The 1st United States Dragoons explored Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

 after the Black Hawk Purchase
Black Hawk Purchase
The Black Hawk Purchase, sometimes called the Forty-Mile Strip or Scott's Purchase, was a land acquisition made in what is now Iowa by the United States federal government. The land, originally owned by the Sauk, Meskwaki , and Ho-Chunk Native American people, was acquired by treaty following...

 put the area under U.S. control. In the summer of 1835, the regiment blazed a trail along the Des Moines river
Des Moines River
The Des Moines River is a tributary river of the Mississippi River, approximately long to its farther headwaters, in the upper Midwestern United States...

 and established outposts from present-day Des Moines
Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines is the capital and the most populous city in the US state of Iowa. It is also the county seat of Polk County. A small portion of the city extends into Warren County. It was incorporated on September 22, 1851, as Fort Des Moines which was shortened to "Des Moines" in 1857...

 to Fort Dodge
Fort Dodge, Iowa
Fort Dodge is a city and county seat of Webster County, Iowa, United States, along the Des Moines River. The population was 25,206 in the 2010 census, an increase from 25,136 in the 2000 census. Fort Dodge is a major commercial center for North Central and Northwest Iowa. It is located on U.S...

. In 1933, the State of Iowa opened the Dragoon Trail
Dragoon Trail
In 1933, the State of Iowa opened the Dragoon Trail, a scenic and historic drive along the Des Moines River.The trail follows the path of the 1st U. S. Dragoons, the country's first mounted infantry unit, on their historic march in the summer of 1835, to scout Iowa after the Black Hawk Purchase of...

, a scenic and historic drive that follows the path of the 1st United States Dragoons on their historic march.

In 1861 the two existing U.S. Dragoon regiments were re-designated as the 1st and 2nd Cavalry. This reorganisation did not affect their role or equipment, although the traditional orange uniform braiding of the dragoons was replaced by the standard yellow of the Cavalry branch. This marked the official end of dragoons in the U.S. Army, although certain modern units trace their origins back to the historic dragoon regiments.

The 1st and 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry
48th Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 48th Infantry Regiment is an infantry regiment in the United States Army first formed in 1917.-History:The 1st and 2nd Battalions, 48th Infantry, were mechanized infantry units assigned to the 3rd Armored Division in West Germany during the Cold War...

 were mechanized infantry units assigned to the 3rd Armored Division (3AD) in West Germany during the Cold War. The unit crest of the 48th Infantry designated the unit as Dragoons.

The 1st Dragoons was reformed in the Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 era as the 1st Squadron, 1st U.S. Cavalry. It has served in the Iraqi War and remains as the oldest cavalry unit, as well as the most decorated one, in the U.S. Army. Today's modern 1–1 Cavalry is a scout/attack unit, equipped with MRAP
MRAP
MRAP stands for Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples , and is an anti-racist French NGO, created in 1949...

s, M3A3 Bradley CFVs, and Strykers

Another modern United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 unit informally known as the 2nd Dragoons, is the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. This unit was originally organized as the Second Dragoon Regiment in 1836 and was renamed the Second Cavalry Regiment in 1860, being redesignated as the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in the 1960s. The regiment is currently equipped with the Stryker
Stryker
The IAV Stryker is a family of eight-wheeled, 4-wheel-drive , armored fighting vehicles derived from the Canadian LAV III and produced by General Dynamics Land Systems, in use by the United States Army. The vehicle is named for two American servicemen who posthumously received the Medal of Honor:...

family of wheeled fighting vehicles.

D Company of The Third Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, United States Marine Corps has the callsign of Dragoons.

External links

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