Cavalry soldiers. According to the OED (229) the term is derived from dragon because the soldiers were originally equipped with an early form of musket that "breathed fire like a dragon." Another source (6) says the term arose because the pistol hammers were shaped something like dragons. In any event, when first formed, dragoon guards were infantrymen who did their fighting on foot, but rode horses for quick deployment. Bierce (39) defines a dragoon as "A soldier who combines dash and steadiness in so equal measure that he makes his advances on foot and his retreats on horseback." Like the Duke of Plaza-Toro. The Encyclopædia Britannica (103) explains that the scheme of alternating between horse and foot eventually developed into all-horseback operations, i.e., cavalry. Cavalry units were of three types: heavy, medium, and light, each suited to its own special duties. At one end of the scale large men on large horses formed the heavy cavalry and they were often called heavy dragoons, hence "Dragoon Guards." See also The Sorcerer.