The Emperor, at this time, was well-known for his love of musical instruments and brass in particular. Naturally, this was represented in his patronage of the arts, with the composer M. Gorn writing a series of brass-heavy concerts for the royal court. But the Emperor was also a military man, and his love of martial music was reflected in one of his personal cavalry units, the Brass Hussars.

Outfitted in a combination of imperial green and musical pink, the Brass Hussars were trained as light cavalry but carried no weapons other than short, ceremonial dirks. Instead, their load was given over entirely to trumpets, bugles, and even the newly invented tuba. They would play martial music on these for the Emperor on maneuvers, from horseback, supported by a small group of percussionists drawn from the artillery corps who played on specially towed cassion wagons.

In the event of war, the Brass Hussars were theoretically supposed to break up and serve as heralds and musicians for the imperial army. In practice, however, the Emperor was loathe to commit his favorite musicians to combat and they tended to remain with him at all times as part of his personal retinue. The major exception was the Battle of Nosilki, where the Emperor himself, in personal command of his army, was trapped by the Duke of Hovoy.

The Brass Hussars distinguished themselves at Nosilki by sounding repeated charges for units that did not exist, charging at and breaking up disorganized formations despite having no weapons of their own, and in general using surprise and cacophony as effective weapons. They were able to open up a gap in Hovoy’s lines which allowed the Emperor to escape, and then escorted him to safety–all while, according to legend, miming loading and firing their trumpets like musketoons.

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