Colonel Général Cavalerie

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Origin and History

Colonel Général Cavalerie after the reorganisation of 1761 - Source: Raspe 1762 from Zahn's collection

This regiment was probably raised in 1631 by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar when Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden intervened in the affairs of Germany. The regiment was among the contingent who joined the French service in 1633. It was incorporated into the French Army on October 26 1635.

In 1651, the House of Turenne acquired the regiment. On April 24 1657, when Turenne became colonel-general, his regiment was renamed Colonel-Général Cavalerie and took precedence over all other line cavalry regiments and ranked first.

During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served on the Rhine in 1733, taking part in the siege of Kehl. In 1734, it was at Ettlengen and Philippsburg; in 1735, at Klausen.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia in 1741. In February 1743, it returned to France. In 1744, the regiment served at Saint-Quentin, then in Flanders. On May 11 1745, it took part in the Battle of Fontenoy. In 1746, it was at Bruxelles and fought at Rocoux on October 11. On July 2 1747, it took part in the Battle of Lauffeld. In 1748, it was at the siege of Maastricht.

Exceptionally, this regiment counted 3 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 1st among the line cavalry and was under the command of:

  • since July 7 1740: Godefroi Charles Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Prince de Turenne
  • from April 16 1759: Armand, Marquis de Béthune

When the French cavalry was reorganised on December 1 1761, the regiment was increased to 4 squadrons, each of them consisting of 4 companies of 40 troopers, for a total of 640 troopers. The additional squadron came from I./Montcalm Cavalerie.

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was stationed at Strasbourg.

In June 1757, the regiment was with the Army of the Lower Rhine under the Maréchal d'Estrées encamped at Bielefeld. On July 26, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hastenbeck where it was among the cavalry of the right wing. After the victory, the regiment encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine from July 31 to August 2. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven (September 8), it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed on the first line of the right wing. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in Weener in Ostfriese, in the fourth line of the French army.

In April 1758, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed in the villages of Till, Moyland, Huisberden, Warbeyen, Grieth, Kaltenberg, Hasselt and Bedburg in the area of Kleve. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by Ferdinand's Army on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. It remained in this camp until June 12. It was placed on the right wing of the first line. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the right wing of the first line, under d'Armentières. In Mid August, after Ferdinand's retreat to the east bank of the Rhine, the regiment, as part of the Army of the Lower Rhine now under Contades, recrossed the Rhine to follow the Allied army. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the right wing of the first line.

In June 1759, during the offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the main army under the command of the Marquis de Contades and was deployed in the first line of the cavalry right wing. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the cavalry centre under the command of the Duc de FitzJames. On August 15, during the French retreat, the regiment, who had suffered heavily at Minden and was now too weak to serve adequately, was sent to the rear at Marburg where it arrived on August 19.

To do: more details on the campaigns from 1761 to 1762

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753 and Etat Militaire of 1761
completed when necessary as per Mouillard
Headgear black tricorne (reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat) laced gold, with a black and white cockade on the left side fasted with a black silk strap and a small copper button
Neck stock black cravate
Coat red lined red
Collar none
Shoulder straps black and white epaulets
Lapels black bavaroises (long lapels extending all along coat edges)
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 copper buttons
Cuffs black cuffs, each with 4 copper buttons (carabiniers wore a 2,2 cm silver lace on their cuffs)
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jacket with copper buttons
Breeches kid (goat leather)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white bandoleer
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear black soft boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth
Saddlecloth lace - Source: PMPdeL
red laced with a black and white braid (checker pattern) decorated with an embroidered stack of 5 standards (1 white, flanked by 2 red, flanked by 2 blue)
Housings red laced with a black and white braid (checker pattern) decorated with an embroidered stack of 5 standards (1 white, flanked by 2 red, flanked by 2 blue)
Blanket roll n/a


Troopers were armed with a carbine, two pistols and a sabre. They were also supposed to wear a breastplate during battle but this regulation was not always followed.

The horses of the troopers were of various colours to the exception of the colonel company who rode grey horses.

Evolution of the uniform during the war

Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:

  • shorter black lapels extending to the waist
  • red waistcoat and breeches (maybe the “dressed uniform”)

Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform after the reorganisation of December 1761 shows the following evolutions:

  • black collar
  • black lining for the coat and, consequently, black turnbacks
  • only 3 buttons on each cuff
  • red waistcoat

Officers

Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:

  • Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
  • brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs

Musicians

House of Turenne

Trumpeters and kettle drummers wore a white uniform heavily laced with a black and white braid (checker pattern) and with yellow buttons. The kettle drummers wore a white turban with red and yellow plumes.

The black banners of the kettle drums and trumpets were embroidered and fringed in silver and carried the arms of the house of Turenne in an oval escutcheon.

House of Béthune

Trumpeters and kettle drummers probably wore a green uniform heavily laced with a braid consisting of 4 stripes (red, black, blue and light orange) and with yellow buttons. The kettle drummers wore a white turban with red and yellow plumes.

The black banners of the kettle drums and trumpets were embroidered and fringed in silver and carried the arms of the house of Turenne in an oval escutcheon.

Colours

Colonel standard (aka Cornette Blanche): white field fringed silver; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun. This standard was the first standard of France.

Regimental standards (5) until 1770 or 1773 : black field fringed in silver

  • obverse: sown with gold and silver fleurs de lys and towers (Tours d'Auvergne); central device consisting of a golden royal sun with the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in gold
  • reverse: embroidered in silver, central device consisting of a column of fire marching in front of the Israelites with the motto “Certum monstrat iter”

Regimental standards (5) after 1770 or 1773 : fringed in gold and silver

  • obverse: red field; central device consisting of a golden royal sun with the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in gold
  • reverse: white field; centre device consisting the mace of Hercules surmounted by a lion skin embroidered in gold and surrounded by two green laurel branches; the whole surmounted by a scroll carrying the motto “Infractus Frangit”
Colonel Standard - Source: Frédéric Aubert from a plate by Gilbert Noury
Regimental Standard - Source: Frédéric Aubert from an original plate by Gilbert Noury

References

This article 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. 319-321

Other sources

Funcken, L. and F.: 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

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolaus: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg, 1762

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

Vial, J.-L.: Nec Pluribus Impar

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