Origin and History
The regiment was raised on September 14 1673 by Charles Paul de Baufremont, Marquis de Listenois, and remained almost continuously in the House of Beaufremont (also spelled Baufremont, Bauffremont, or Beauffremont).
During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served on the Rhine from 1730 to 1733.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment was initially stationed at Linz in 1741. In 1742, it returned to France after the capitulation of Linz (January 24). On June 27 1743, the regiment took part in the Battle of Dettingen. From 1744 to 1748, it then campaigned in Flanders.
In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Jussey; in 1751, at Thionville; in 1752, at Gray; in 1753, at Le Puy; and in 1755, at Besançon.
In 1756, the regiment counted 4 squadrons and ranked 8th.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- since May 5 1747 to March 3 1773: Louis Prince de Beaufremont
Service during the War
In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was stationed at Fécamp.
In 1757 and 1758, the regiment was assigned to the protection of the coasts of France. By August 1 1757, the regiment was still stationed at Fécamp in Upper Normandy.
In 1759, the regiment joined the French army operating in Germany. By October 25, now attached to d'Armentières' Corps, the regiment was posted at Castrop and Dortmund.
On January 7 1760, the regiment, who was occupying an advanced post at Wiselbach, was attacked by the 87th Keith's Highlanders supported by Luckner's Hussars. The French dragoons were completely taken by surprise and the Allies took 80 prisoners along with 200 horses and all their baggage. By May 23, the regiment was part of the left vanguard of Broglie's Army. On July 10, the regiment took part in the Combat of Corbach where it was attached to Broglie's vanguard under the Baron de Clausen, deployed in the woods to the left of Corbach at the beginning of the action. At the end of the combat, when the Allies retired, Prince Camille de Lorraine, galloping ahead of his cavalry corps took command of Beaufremont Dragons and Turpin Hussards and charged the troops retiring near the watchtower hill. So hard were Allied units pressed that the Hereditary Prince only extricated them by putting himself at the head of two squadrons of the 1st Dragoon Guards and 3rd Dragoon Guards and leading them to a desperate charge against the French hussars and the Beaufremont Dragons. The gallant British charge was far less successful than often told, 1 squadron being forced to lay down its arms and losing its standard in the action. By July 23, the regiment was at Wasbeck under the personal command of the Duc the Broglie. By December 30, two squadrons of the regiment had taken their winter-quarters in Hanau.
In February 1761, the regiment was part of a force of 10 battalions and 9 squadrons deployed en cordon from Frankfurt to Hanau. By mid-April, the regiment formed part of the Army of the Upper Rhine and was posted in Aschaffenburg and Hanau. From June, the regiment took part in the campaign of the French army in Western Germany. On October 8, M. de Maupéou passed the Weser near Beverungen with the Volontaires de Verteuil (unidentified unit, probably some Volontaires de l'armée), the Légion Royale, Beaufremont Dragons and some cavalry, advancing towards Hameln. However, he met with a strong resistance and could not reach Brakel and Peckelsheim as planned.
In 1762, the regiment returned to France to guard the coasts.
|Headgear||red fatigue cap with a red turn-up edged with a ventre de biche (reddish white) braid|
or black tricorne (reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat) laced silver, with a black cockade on the left side fastened with a black silk strap and a small white button
|Neck stock||black cravate|
|Coat||red lined red with white buttons and white laced buttonholes down to the pocket and a white button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||red (with small ventre de biche lapels from 1757) with white buttons on the right side and white laced buttonholes on both sides|
N.B.: the fatigue cap was supposed to be worn only for the king's review, for foraging or when the regiment's chief ordered to wear it. In fact, dragoons often wore their fatigue cap during campaigns.
Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet, a pistol and a sabre. Carabiniers were armed with a rifle instead of a musket.
Evolution of the uniform during the war
Throughout the war the French dragoon uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary sources for the uniform at the start of the conflict are the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753, the Liste Générale des Troupes de France of 1754 and the Etrennes Militaires of 1758. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.
Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:
- a black bearskin with a ventre de biche bag and tassel instead of a tricorne
- no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
- no buttons on the cuffs
- black cavalry boots
Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1761 shows a uniform corresponding to our description from 1757 but with a white cockade at the tricorne and without lapels on the waistcoat.
In December 1762, a regulation introduced a brand new green uniform with ventre de biche as the distinctive colour.
The uniforms of the officers were similar to those of the troopers with the following differences:
- the coat was made of Elbeuf woollen cloth (or of a woollen cloth of identical quality)
- linings were made of woollen cloth as well
- no braids on the coat or waistcoat but only silver buttonholes with silver plated wooden buttons
- Raspe publication illustrates a plain red waistcoat without edging or laced buttonholes at the end of 1760
- Raspe publication illustrates a uniform corresponding to our description but with red breeches at the end of 1761
- saddle cloth and housings bordered with a silver braid (5.41 cm wide for captains and 4.06 cm wide for lieutenants)
- standard cavalry officer sword (gilt copper hilt, 83.92 cm long)
Officers were also armed with a musket and a bayonet and carried a cartridge pouch containing 6 cartridges. This musket was shorter than the muskets carried by troopers.
The maréchaux-des-logis and sergeants had similar uniforms made of Romorantin woolen cloth. Their coats and waistcoats had no silver buttonholes. They carried sabres like the maréchaux-des-logis of the cavalry regiments. Their saddle-clothes and housings were bordered with a 2.7 cm wide silver braid.
Drummers wore a coat similar to the one worn by the musicians of the cavalry. Musicians were always shaved and had no moustache. They were usually mounted on grey horses.
Musicians wore the livery of the House of Beaufremont: ventre de biche (reddish white) coat (as per Delaistre ca. 1720) with laced a plain white braid.
Regimental guidons (4 silken swallow-tailed guidons) embroidered and fringed in gold;
- obverse: blue field; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a red scroll bearing the motto “NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR”.
- reverse: gold and red champaine field with a vertical white scroll bearing the motto of the House of Beaufremont “DIEU AIDE AUX PREMIERS CHRETIENS”
N.B.: In 1730, Lémau gives 3 red guidons fringed in gold and sown with gold bells which is another way to designate the heraldic champaine of the arms of the House of Beaufremont.
This article is mostly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “Bauffremont Dragons” published on his website Nec Pluribus Impar. The article also incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain::
- Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 430
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)
Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1761
Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Service Historique de l'armée de terre: Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.