There is clearly some ambiguity here over nomenclature. Not uncommon and in some armies names changed over the period even where roles did not. The confusion in the Austrian army at the turn of the century arose as Dragoons were merged with Cheveaulegers to form light Dragoons, a reform which was then reversed. Hybridity of uniform was probably matched by that of role in many regiments that never completed the transition.
But nomenclature aside the following ought to be good indicators.
1. Weapons – point or edged sabre and type of firearm. The latter would indicate whether it was for force protection or not or more aggressive skirmishing.
2. The mount – size in “hands” in the regs - in the field over time likely to be smaller of course unless a better source was found eg the Saxon heavy cavalry mounts after 1806 were expropriated by the French as they were so good. Breed however is also an indicator.
3. What it says in tactical regs and drill manuals about their role.
If there is this kind of evidence that suggests that a regiment has been incorrectly designated by troop type or new information that suggests that then by all means treat them differently.
New sources are also very welcome – eg Nafzigers’s 1814 is a treasure trove. I revised some lists and designed new ones in anticipation of a 2nd ed from that.
But I cannot now, some 8 years on, retrace my steps for all such decisions. I am on my third laptop since then and one went into a coma on being upgraded to W10 losing some files despite back ups
. And even then I did not always copy an on- line file but kept it as a link only to go back to eg the Napoleon series. Often all I wanted was to be found in just a para or two maybe just confirming another source. I do not recall there having been a flag on the play for these units.
And one was mostly looking at ORBATS for size and shape of Corps and Divisions less for individual unit roles.
If wargames lists and rules were published to allow for references that would be so much better.
I did not rely exclusively on George Nafziger’s on line resource, excellent though that is. Wherever possible I used more than one eg Digby Smith.
But having said all that what distinctions do we actually draw in the rules for cavalry?
1. Movement - we make heavies slower especially in difficult terrain although I doubt in wet or boggy ground such as Waterloo lights would have gone a whole lot faster either.
2. In combat shock cavalry get +1/-1 dice versus infantry and light cavalry and cavalry v lighter cavalry get a + POA - er that’s it.
3. In the 1.5 Update we drew a distinction between regular and irregular light cavalry and gave the former a capability denied to other regular cavalry.
There is case for reviewing the distinction in role and capability of light cavalry in the era and other cavalry. The term medium cavalry which wargamers and others liked to use some years ago does not seem to have had any historical currency.
During the 18th century the main battle cavalry were Cuirassiers – the first line with Dragoons as they lost their dismounted role, becoming the second line ( but often regarded as inferior) and as they emerged ( from the Austrian irregular hussars ) light cavalry the third line. But it was the off battlefield role and value of the hussars that led to their wider adoption. By the 1780’s lighter cavalry were in wider use in many armies. But on the battlefield was their role actually any different to that of the Dragoons?
So perhaps the real distinction is off the battlefield and in games and rules with a strong operational content and perhaps with a lower level of operations eg Brigade rather than Corps .
The development of Divisions of reserve cavalry found from the cuirassiers or equivalent justifies the continued distinction of “ shock” we employ. In the British Army the Dragoons as named were by now the equivalent and one might say that in that army there were shock heavies and other cavalry.
So in combat were non shock regular cavalry really any different to light cavalry and is the latter’s different role not recognised nor material? We could just say of cavalry in the context of FOG(N) and Corps level battles
“ Some are Shock and some are specialist light cavalry with particular capabilities as specified but for most purposes most are just cavalry”
And dispense with the term “ heavy”?