Chasseurs de Fischer

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Origin and History

This light unit was created on November 1 1743 by Fischer, a German officer who had distinguished himself in 1742 during the siege of Prague. It then counted 400 men. In 1747, it was increased to 600 men. It rapidly became one of the most renowned and efficient irregular unit. The Légion Royale and the Chasseurs de Fischer were the two largest light units of the French army of this era.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, in 1744, the unit served in Flanders, in Alsace and at the siege of Fribourg. During the winter of 1744-45, it put all of Swabia to contribution. In 1745 it served on the Lower Rhine and in Flanders where Fischer, its commander, was wounded on several occasions. After the siege of Berg-op-Zoom, Louis XV promoted Fischer to the rank of lieutenant-colonel

In 1748, the unit was reduced to 60 men (1 coy of 40 chasseurs à pied and 1 coy of 20 chasseurs à cheval).

On January 1 1756, the unit was brought up to 220 men divided up among 5 foot companies of 40 men each and 1 mounted company of 20 men.

On October 26 1756, a new levy brought the unit to 500 men divided up among 4 foot companies of 50 men each and 4 mounted companies of 75 men each.

At the beginning of 1757, the corps consisted of 5 chasseurs à pied companies (each of 2 officers and 40 chasseurs), 4 chasseurs à cheval companies (each of 6 officers and 75 mounted chasseurs) and a staff of 3 officers for a total of 537 men. On July 8 of the same year, the regiment was brought up to 8 chasseurs à pied companies and 8 chasseurs à cheval companies for a total of 1,280 men. Its organisation was now:

  • staff
    • 1 colonel
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 major
    • 2 aides-majors
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
    • 1 provost
  • 8 chasseurs à pied companies, each consisting of:
    • 1 captains
    • 1 first lieutenant
    • 1 second lieutenant
    • 4 sergeants
    • 6 corporals
    • 6 grenadiers
    • 53 chasseurs
  • 8 chasseurs à cheval companies
    • 1 captain
    • 1 captain in second
    • 1 first lieutenant
    • 1 second lieutenant
    • 2 maréchaux-des-logis (quartermasters)
    • 6 brigadiers
    • 69 chasseurs

The 8 chasseurs à pied companies formed a single battalion from which a grenadier company was drawn. The 8 chasseurs à cheval companies formed 4 squadrons.

On August 15 1757, the regiment was authorised to add 800 supernumaries (50 per company), bringing its total strength to 2,080 men. Its organisation was now:

  • staff
    • 1 colonel
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 major
    • 2 aides-majors
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
    • 1 provost
  • 8 chasseurs à pied companies, each consisting of:
    • 3 officers
    • 4 sergeants
    • 6 corporals
    • 6 ansepessades (lance-corporals)
    • 1 drummer
    • 6 grenadiers
    • 102 chasseurs
  • 8 chasseurs à cheval companies
    • 5 officers
    • 2 maréchaux-des-logis (quartermasters)
    • 6 brigadiers
    • 1 trumpeter
    • 118 chasseurs

On November 22 1759, a lieutenant was added to each of the 8 chasseurs à pied companies. Its organisation was now: 8 chasseurs à pied companies (each of 4 officers, and 125 chasseurs), 8 chasseurs à cheval companies (each of 6 officers and 125 mounted chasseurs) and a staff of 5 officers and 3 men for a total of 2,088 men.

On April 27 1761, the regiment was given to Louis Gabriel d'Armentière, Marquis de Conflans. The unit became known as the Dragons-chasseurs de Conflans. Fischer kept the rank of second in command but died on July 1 1762. The supernumeraries were disbanded bringing back the organisation of the regiment to 8 chasseurs à pied companies (each of 4 officers, and 75 chasseurs), 8 chasseurs à cheval companies (each of 6 officers and 75 mounted chasseurs) and a staff of 5 officers and 3 men for a total of 1,288 men.

During the Seven Years' War, the unit was under the command of:

  • since November 1 1743: Johann Christian Fischer
  • from April 27 1761: Louis Gabriel d'Armentière, Marquis de Conflans

On March 1 1763, the unit changed its name again, becoming the Légion de Conflans. It was disbanded in 1776.

Service during the War

In 1757, as part of the Army of the Lower Rhine under the Maréchal d'Estrées, the regiment took part in the invasion of Hanover. On April 5, together with the Volontaires Royaux under M. de Chabot, they were sent forward from Büderich to seize the ammunition that the Prussians had left in Wesel and to prevent the population along the Lippe to pay taxes to the King of Prussia. On June 8, the unit occupied the Marienfeldt Abbey close to the enemy lines and was attacked by Hanoverian troops who were repulsed. Since June 17, together with the Volontaires Royaux and Turpin Hussards, they formed an observation corps in front of Cumberland's position near Herford and Minden. On December 5, during the Allied counter-offensive in Hanover, a detachment of this unit was attacked and routed near Ebstorf by General Schulenberg's Corps. At the end of the year, the unit took its winter-quarters in the first line of the French army at Giforn.

On February 23 1758, during the Allied winter offensive in Western Germany, the unit was attacked by surprise by the Meinicke Dragoons of Prince Henri's Corps. By July, the unit had joined Soubise's Army assembling near Friedberg for an offensive in Hesse. On July 16, Soubise sent Fischer's Corps along with Royal-Nassau Hussards in a raid into Hessen-Kassel. On July 17, they surprised Marburg. On July 23, the unit took part in the Combat of Sandershausen where it was placed on the left wing. After this French victory, on July 24, Fischer's Corps (800 men) took position at Northeim. On July 29, the unit entered into Göttingen and on July 30 into Einbeck. In mid September, Fischer's Corps made incursions in the Electorate of Hanover, advancing up to the gates of the City of Hanover. On October 10, the 8 foot companies were at the Battle of Lutterberg where they were part of Chevert's Corps which won the day by turning the Allied left flank.

In January 1759, the unit was sent towards Marburg. On April 11, when Broglie was informed of the approach of the Allies, he sent Fischer to Friedberg with his corps to guard the magazine. In May, Broglie sent the unit towards Wertheim and Mittelberg to hinder the Allied manoeuvres in Franconia. By May 17, the unit occupied Marburg and one of its detachment had established itself at Kirchain. From June, the unit (estimated at 2,072 men) took part in the French offensive in Western Germany. On June 18, the unit took post on the Allied right flank to threaten their communications with Lippstadt. On June 24, it reached Detmold. On July 8, it marched to the Weser River, Corvey and Detmold. In the evening, it accompanied Broglie in his raid on Minden. On the morning of July 9, elements of the unit passed the Weser on a float of timber. When the Allied troops defending the hornwork precipitously retired into the town, leaving the drawbridge open, the grenadiers of Fischer's Corps followed them on and entered into Minden. They opened the gates of the left bank. After the capture of Minden, the unit raided the country up to the City of Hannover. On August 11, during the retreat of the French army after the defeat of Minden, the unit had taken position on the Upper Werra. On August 23, it took position at Wetter. On August 28 in the morning, Wangenheim's troops managed to climb a steep height on the left flank and to launch a surprise attack on Fischer's Corps (about 2,000 men) at Oberwetter. Most of Fischer's Corps escaped but 50 men were killed and 350 were taken prisoners. Fischer's Corps then withdrew towards Marburg. The Hereditary Prince of Brunswick then took position at Wetter, opposite Broglie's Corps. By August 31, the unit was attached to Chabot's Corps of light troops. By September 25, the unit was deployed at Altbruck near Annerod. On October 19, the unit was part of the force sent by Contades to reinforce d'Armentières on the Lower Rhine.

By January 2 1760, the unit was in the area of Dillenburg. On January 3, it was part of a corps under the Marquis de Vogüé who captured the town of Dillenburg. By May 21, now attached to Saint-Germain's Army, the unit took position on its flank at Erbefeld (probably Elberfeld). By May 23, the unit was part of a detachment under the command of MM. d'Amezags, Duc de Fronsac and Thianges. By May 25, the unit was part of Saint-Germain's left reserve. On June 14, Colonel Bülow at the head of the Hesse-Kassel Hussars and part of the Légion Britannique attacked the Chasseurs de Fischer between Emscher and the Ruhr, driving them out of their positions and capturing 50 men. Bülow also detached M. de Botlar over the Ruhr, the latter captured another 20 prisoners. In this affair, the Légion Britannique lost only 2 men and Fischer a total of 100 men. By June 21, the unit had taken position at Brackel to protect Saint-Germain's lines of communication. In the night of June 21 to 22, the unit was sent to Castrop to observe Scheiter. On July 4, as part of d'Auvet's Division, the unit reconnoitred the area of Arnsberg. On July 30, it occupied the town of Warburg. On July 31, the unit took part in the Battle of Warburg where it was initially deployed on the extreme right wing in front of Warburg. It was then thrown into Warburg but driven out of the town by the Légion Britannique. On August 6, fearing for his communication with Marburg, Broglie sent 600 men of the Chasseurs de Fischer to Bredlar and Matfeld (unidentified location). In the night of August 21 to 22, the unit took post at Dörnberg. On August 22, the Hereditary Prince crossed the Diemel with 12,000 men and advanced on Broglie's left flank, his vanguard reaching Zierenberg. His light troops engaged a French detachment (Royal Dragons, Thianges Dragons and part of the Chasseurs de Fischer) under M. de Travers, which had been left at Oberelsungen to observe the movements of the Allies. The Allied light troops were soon supported by the Hereditary Prince at the head of the 2nd North British Dragoons (Scot Greys) and the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons and the British grenadiers. The French were finally driven back with considerable loss and took refuge into Zierenberg. On September 26, the unit was sent to the Lower Rhine as part of Castries' Division. By October 1, the unit was at Düsseldorf. By October 1, part of the unit was attached to d'Auvet's Division which was instructed to march towards Hachenburg. On October 11, the unit took position between Neuss and Meerbusch. On October 14, part of the unit was captured by Allied light troops at Rheinberg. On October 16, the unit took part in the Battle of Clostercamp where it was detached on the far left. After his victory at Clostercamp, Castries sent the Chasseurs de Fischer and the Chasseurs de Cambefort to follow the Allies. On October 21, Castries sent the unit on the Rur (more probably on the Ruhr). By October 26, the unit was covering the Duchy of Berg between the Ruhr and Lippe. On November 28, the unit, along with the Chasseurs de Cambefort took position on the right bank in front of Wesel.

To do: campaigns of 1761

Uniform

Chasseurs à pied

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Richard Couture adapted from a template by Jean-Louis Vial of Nec Pluribus Impar
Uniform Details as per
Etat Militaire of 1758, 1760 and 1761 and Abrégé du Dictionnaire Militaire of 1759

completed where necessary as per Taccoli and Raspe
Headgear
Fusilier green pokalem trimmed with an aurore (light orange) braid
Grenadier bearskin
Neck stock black
Coat green lined green with 12 yellow buttons down to the pocket on the right side
Collar red (none in 1761 as per Raspe but red again in 1762)
Shoulder Straps aurore (light orange) fastened with a small yellow button (both shoulders)
Lapels none (red as per Raspe in 1762)
Pockets vertical pockets (horizontal as per Taccoli), each with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs green, each with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks green
Waistcoat green with yellow buttons on the right side and horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Breeches green
Gaiters black or white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box no information available
Bayonet Scabbard black with brass fittings
Scabbard black with brass fittings


Armaments consisted of a musket a bayonet and a sabre.

Chasseurs à cheval

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Richard Couture adapted from a template by Jean-Louis Vial of Nec Pluribus Impar
Uniform Details as per
Etat Militaire of 1758, 1760 and 1761 and Abrégé du Dictionnaire Militaire of 1759

completed where necessary as per Taccoli and Raspe
Headgear black felt mirliton with a white plume and a white cockade (Raspe illustrates a green plume and a green cockade in 1761 and 1762)
Pelisse green (scarlet in 1753) lined with grey sheepskin
Fur trim grey sheepskin along coat edges and cuffs
Lace approx. 12 green brandebourgs
Buttons 1 row of approx. 12 large yellow buttons between two rows of 12 small yellow buttons
Dolman green with 9 green brandebourgs and 1 row of 9 large yellow buttons between two rows of 9 small yellow buttons
Collar none
Cuffs red bordered with an aurore (light orange) braid
Pockets n/a
Trousers red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt n/a
Waist-sash red
Cartridge box n/a
Scabbard black with brass fittings
Boots black leather Hungarian boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red decorated with 3 yellow fish surmounted by a yellow crown and surrounded by 3 yellow fleurs de lys
Sabretache red decorated with 3 yellow fish surmounted by a yellow crown and surrounded by 3 yellow fleurs de lys and bordered with an aurore braid


Cavalrymen were armed with a carbine, 2 pistols and a sabre.

Officers

no information available

NCOs

no information available

Musicians

no information available

Colours

no information available

References

This article is mostly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “Chasseurs de Fischer 1743-1763” 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, pp. 240-241
  • Taccoli, Alfonso: Teatro Militare dell' Europa, Part 1, vol. 2; Madrid, March 1760, pp. 152-153

Other sources

Anon.: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les Armées Francoise, dessinés et illuminé d'après nature; Nuremberg: Nicolas Gabriel Raspe; 1761

Anon.: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les Armées Francoise, dessinés et illuminé d'après nature; Nuremberg: Nicolas Gabriel Raspe; 1762

Etat Militaire de France, 1758, 1760 and 1761

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)

Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV; Paris 1882

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

Service historique de l'armée de terre - Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23.

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.