The Cuirassiers got their name from the cuirass or breastplate they wore and were the shock troops of the French cavalry. Armed with a long straight sword, pistols and later a carbine, the weight of their armour and weapons meant that both trooper and horse had to be big and strong.
Because they could put a lot of force behind their charge they proved a potent adversary on the battlefield often leaving their opponents awestruck.
There were originally 25 cuirassier regiments in the French army but these were later reduced to18.
The British mistakenly believed the cuirassiers were Napoleon's bodyguard, and would later come to adapt their distinctive helmets and breastplates for their own Horse Guards