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Saturday, July 14, 2012

17th Light Dragoons Officer’s Bell Top Shako

17th Light Dragoons Officer’s Bell Top Shako
Pictured here is a Regency era (1811-1820) officer’s shako with a large silver skull over crossed bones badge of the 17th Light Dragoons.  The origin of the 17th Light Dragoons can be traced back to the British victory over French forces at Quebec, Canada, on September 13, 1759.  During the battle the British General Wolfe was mortally wounded but before dying he directed Colonel Hale to return to England with news of the British victory at Quebec.  For bringing good news to England, the King rewarded Hale with land in Canada and the authority to raise a regiment of light dragoons from his home county of Hertfordshire.  This regiment became the 17th Light Dragoons.  During the American War for Independence the 17th participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Long Island campaign before being detached to Tarleton’s Legion that was fighting in the southern

colonies.  The 17th suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Cowpens.  The Battle of Cowpens inspired the climatic battle to Mel Gibson’s movie The Patriot and the villain, Colonel William Tavington, played by Jason Isaacs was “based” on Banastre Tarleton.  The British lost the American War for Independence and it was Captain Stapleton of the 17th who delivered the finial British notice of the end to hostilities to General Washington.  Beginning in 1789 the 17th participated in 8 years of operations against the French in the West Indies and later suffered a humiliating defeat in an expedition to South America. Next came 8 years of service in India where the 17th provided protection to East India Company interests.  In 1822 the 17th Light Dragoons were re-designated Lancers.  As the 17th Lancers the regiment continued to make military history, but that is a story for another day.

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