Military Guides and Development of Guides Regiments
In European wars up to the time of the French Revolution, the absence of large-scale detailed maps made local guides almost essential to the direction of military operations. In the 18th century the stricter organization of military resources led in various countries to the special training of guide officers who had the primary duty of finding, and if necessary establishing, routes across country. In the history of the American west, Native Americans and mountain men were important in leading military units and settlers alike.
The genesis of the "Guides" regiments may be found in a short-lived Corps of Guides formed by Napoleon in Italy in 1796, which appears to have been a personal escort or body guard composed of men who knew the country. Following the unification of Italy in 1870-71, the new national army included a regiment designated as Guides - the 19th Cavalleggieri (Light Horse).
In the Belgian Army the two Guides regiments, created respectively in 1833 and 1874, constituted part of the light cavalry and came to correspond to the Guard cavalry of other nations. Until the outbreak of World War I, they wore a distinctive uniform comprising a plumed busby, green dolman braided in yellow, and crimson breeches. Mechanised in October 1937, both regiments form armoured battalions in the modern Belgian Army.
In the Swiss army prior to 1914 the squadrons of "Guides" acted as divisional cavalry. In this role these light cavalry units were called upon, on occasion, to lead columns.
The "Queen’s own Corps of Guides" of the British Indian Army consisted of a unique combination of infantry companies and cavalry squadrons. After World War I the infantry element was incorporated in the 12th Frontier Force Regiment and the Guides Cavalry formed a separate regiment - the 10th Queen Victoria's Own Corps of Guides Cavalry (Frontier Force).
In drill, a "guide" is an officer or non-commissioned officer who regulates the direction and pace of movements.
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