Commissaire général Cavalerie

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Origin and History

Commissaire général Cavalerie after the reorganisation of 1761 - Source: Raspe 1762 from User:Zahn's collection

The regiment was raised on May 15 1635 from old compagnies d'ordonnance. It always ranked 3rd among the French line cavalry regiments. On May 15 1654, the regiment became "Commissaire-Général Cavalerie".

During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served on the Rhine in 1733 and 1734.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment initially served in Westphalia in 1741. In 1742, it was in Bavaria and returned to France in 1743. In 1744, the regiment was sent to Italy. In 1745, it was back on the Rhine. In 1746, it was transferred to Flanders. In 1747, it was stationed at Valence.

In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Verdun; in 1752, at Mézières; in 1755, at Lille.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 3rd among the line cavalry and was under the command of its successive mestre-de-camp-généraux:

  • since June 9 1748: Marquis de Castries
  • from April 16 1759 to 1778: Marquis de Beuvron

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 2 additional squadrons came from Beauvilliers Cavalerie which was incorporated into Commissaire Général Cavalerie.

Service during the War

In 1757, the regiment was initially stationed at Bitche. It then joined the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées for the planned invasion of Hanover. At the end of June, it was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées's main corps. 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, it 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, it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed on the right wing of the second line. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in the second line of the French army at Göttingen.

By July 1758, the regiment had joined Soubise's Army assembling near Friedberg in Hesse. On October 10, it was present at the Battle of Lutterberg where it was placed on the left wing of the second line. It was not involved into any serious fighting during this battle.

On April 13 1759, the regiment took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the first line of the cavalry centre deployed behind the Wartberg under the command of the Comte de Beaupréau. In June, at the beginning of the French offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the “Right Reserve” under the command of the Duc de Broglie who had taken position at Friedberg in Hesse. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the second line of Broglie's Corps.

By the end of January 1760, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in the fourth line of the French army between the Rhine and the Main on the left bank of the Rhine. By mid March, the regiment was billeted in Uffenheim, in the fourth line of the French army. By May 23, the regiment was part of the right wing of the first line of Broglie's Army. On July 10, the regiment might have been attached to Prince Camille's Cavalry Corps who arrived too late to take part in the Combat of Corbach. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Geisa.

To do: campaigns from 1761 to 1762

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform before 1759 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform after 1759 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753 and Etat Militaire of 1761
completed when necessary as per Rousselot
Headgear black tricorne (reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat) laced gold, with a black cockade on the left side fastened with a black silk strap and a small copper button
Neck stock probably a black cravate
Coat grey white lined grey white
Collar none
Shoulder straps
  • before 1759: on left shoulder, regimental lace and, on right shoulder, yellow aiguillette with black points
  • after 1759: on left shoulder, yellow with black points and, on right shoulder, yellow aiguillette with black points.
Lapels black, each with 8 copper buttons grouped 2 by 2
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 copper buttons
Cuffs black cuffs, each with 4 copper buttons
Turnbacks grey white
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin with copper buttons
Breeches kid (goat leather)
Greatcoat grey white lined grey white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear black soft boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth
Saddlecloth lace before 1759 - Source: PMPdeL
before 1759: red bordered with a yellow braid decorated with 2 outer thin black stripes and an inner thin black zigzag. After 1759: red bordered with a double braid (2 rows of red and yellow squares).
Housings before 1759: red bordered with a yellow braid decorated with 2 outer thin black stripes and an inner thin black zigzag. After 1759: red bordered with a double braid (2 rows of red and yellow squares).
Blanket roll n/a


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

Evolution of the uniform during the war

Lienhart and Humbert show the following differences:

  • a red saddle cloth bordered with a red and white lace

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

  • white cockade at the tricorne
  • 7 copper buttons on each lapel
  • only 2 copper buttons on each cuff
  • turnbacks attached with a small copper button
  • grey white waistcoat and breeches (maybe the “dressed uniform”)

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

  • white cockade at the tricorne
  • 8 copper buttons on each lapel
  • white coat
  • only 3 copper buttons on each cuff
  • red waistcoat for officers

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

No information available yet.

Colours

Colonel standard (1 silken standard): blue field sown with golden fleurs de lys

Regimental standards (3 silken standards): red field bordered, embroidered and fringed in gold

  • one side: a golden royal sun with the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in gold
  • other side: a crayfish with the motto “Retrocedere nescit”.

N.B.: the regimental standard is repeatedly described in various French États militaires (1740, 1741, 1753) as carrying une Ecrevisse sur terre on one side. This quite unusual device has conducted us to investigate this particular colour. PMPdeL found that the arms of the marquis de Bissy, who commanded this unit from March 1736 to April 1748, were three crayfishes on a gold field. For some reason, the centre device of the regimental colours seem to have retained these arms even after the marquis de Béthune and the marquis de Castries had succeeded Bissy. We have reconstructed the standard as per shown in Lienhart & Humbert.

Colonel Standard - Source: Frédéric Aubert from an original 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. 322-323

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

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