Conti Cavalerie

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years' War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Conti Cavalerie

Origin and History

The regiment was raised on September 24, 1651 during the Fronde, and its first chief has been Louis de Crévant, Marquis d’Humières. Until 1733, when it was renamed “Conti Cavalerie”, the unit was a gentlemen regiment designated by the name of its current owner.

The regiment served in Flanders, in Picardie and in Champagne until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1660. On April 18, 1661, it was disbanded with the exception of its mestre de camp company, which became a free company.

On December 7, 1665, the regiment was re-established.

In 1667, during the War of Devolution (1667-68), the regiment (four companies) took part in the conquest of several places in Flanders and then garrisoned Leuze. In 1668, it was sent to Franche-Comté. On 24 May 1668, the regiment was disbanded for a second time with the exception of two companies.

On August 9,1671, the regiment was once more re-established.

In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the new regiment (six companies) took part in the conquest of Holland. In 1673, it campaigned in Brandenburg, taking part in the battles of Sinsheim, Entzheim and Mulhouse. In 1675, it became the property of the House of Villeroy and was designated as “Seyssac Cavalerie”. The same year, it took part in the battles of Turckheim and Altenheim, and in the affairs of Haguenau and Saverne; in 1676, in the siege of Valenciennes and Cambrai; and in 1678, in the siege of Ghent and Ypres and in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1681, the regiment was at the camp in Upper Alsace; in 1682, at the camp of Artois; in 1683, at the camp of the Sarre and at the siege of Courtrai; in 1684 at the siege of Luxembourg; and in 1685, at the camp of the Saône. By 1687, it was cantoned in the vicinity of Fort-Louis on the Rhine.

In 1688, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment joined the Army of the Rhine and took part in the capture of Philippsburg, Mannheim and Frankenthal, and the submission of Palatinate. It continued to serve on the Rhine until 1692, when it was transferred to the Army of Flanders and took part in the siege of Namur and the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, it was at the siege of Huy and at the Battle of Landen; in 1694, at the affairs of Wignamont and Espierres; in 1695, at the siege of Dixmude and at the bombardment of Bruxelles. In 1695, the regiment took the name of “Villeroy Cavalerie”. It then served in Flanders till the end of the war.

In 1698, the regiment was at the camp of Compiègne.

In 1701, the regiment campaigned in Germany. In 1702, it was transferred to Northern Italy, where it took part in the Combat of Santa Vittoria and in the Battle of Luzzara. In 1703, it participated in the expedition in Trentino and was present at San Benedetto when the French disarmed their former Savoyard allies and took them prisoners. In 1704, it took part in the Siege of Vercelli; and in 1708, in the Battle of Oudenarde. From 1709 to 1712, the regiment campaigned in Flanders. In 1713, it campaigned on the Rhine and was present at the siege and capture of Landau.

In 1718, the regiment took the name of “Alincourt Cavalerie”. In 1719, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-20), it joined the Army of Spain and assisted to the sieges of San Sebastian, Fuenterrabía and Urgell.

In 1727, the regiment was at the camp of the Saône.

On January 20, 1733, the regiment became the property of Louis François de Bourbon, Prince de Conti.

In 1733, at the beginning of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment occupied the Province of Lorraine and its capital, Nancy. In 1734, the regiment took part in the Siege of Philippsburg and in the Combat of Ettlingen; and in 1735, in the Battle of Clausen. At the end of the war, it took its quarters in Haguenau and later in Sedan.

In 1741, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment marched from Sedan to Westphalia. In 1742, it was sent to the frontier of Bohemia and took part in the affair of Brasnanhoff, in the relief of Braunau, in the resupply of Egra and in the defence of Deckendorf. In 1743, it returned to France and wintered in Alsace. In 1744, it was sent to Italy, where it took part in the attacks on Château-Dauphin, Montalban and Villefranche, and in the capture of Demonte, in the siege of Coni and in the Battle of Madonna dell'Olmo. In 1745, it was transferred to the Rhine. In 1746, it campaigned in Flanders, where it took part in the sieges of Mons and Charleroi and in the Battle of Rocoux. In 1747, it fought in the Battle of Lauffeld. In 1748, it took part in the Siege of Maastricht.

After the war, the regiment was stationed at Arras in 1749, Lille in 1751, Argentan, Falaise and Séez in 1752, and Arras once more in 1755.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the Mestre de Camp was the Prince de Conti while the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:

  • from February 6, 1756 to January 3, 1770: Philibert Allyre, Marquis de Langhac

Service during the War

At the beginning of 1757, the regiment was posted at Sedan. By August 1, it joined the French army in Germany. It is first mentioned in service duty after the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, when 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 third line of the French army in Minden.

In March 1758, during the Allied winter offensive led by Ferdinand of Brunswick, the regiment was part of the French garrison of Minden which was attacked by an Allied corps under General Kilmansegg. On March 15, the garrison of Minden surrendered without opposing any serious resistance, only 80 men of the regiment managed to escape. They were assembled at Metz. The regiment was later exchanged.

In 1759, the regiment was re-established in Gray.

By May 23, 1760, the regiment was part of the right reserve of the first line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of Prince Xavier. On October 13, the unit arrived at Neuss with Castries. At the end of October, the regiment was sent back to France.

On April 2, 1763, the regiment was reorganised at Laon.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753 and Etat Militaire of 1761

completed when necessary as per Raspe
Headgear 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 pewter button
Neck stock black cravate
Coat steel grey lined steel grey with 4 pewter buttons under the right lapel and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps aurore (light orange) epaulets fastened with a small pewter button
Lapels steel grey, each with 7 pewter buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs steel grey, each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks steel grey fastened with a pewter button
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin fastened with hooks and eyes
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat white lined white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff leather
Waistbelt buff leather
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear soft black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue carrying the arms of the Prince de Conti in the lower rear corner, bordered with a braid consisting of a central row of white, red and blue chain stitches itself bordered by 2 rows of white chain stitches
Housings blue carrying the arms of the Prince de Conti, bordered with a braid consisting of a central row of white, red and blue chain stitches itself bordered by 2 rows of white chain stitches
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

Throughout the war the French cavalry uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary source for the uniform at the start of the conflict is the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.

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

  • a white cockade on the tricorne
  • coat, lapels, cuffs and turnbacks edged with the regimental braid described in the previous table
  • steel grey waistcoat edged with the regimental braid described in the previous table and steel grey breeches (maybe the dressed uniform)
  • only 3 buttons on each cuff

Lienhart and Humbert, a secondary source, show the following differences for the uniform of 1757:

  • gold laced tricorne with a white cockade
  • an aurore (light orange) aiguillette
  • only 3 buttons on each cuff
  • steel grey saddle cloth and housing bordered with a braid consisting of a red, a white and a blue stripes

Officers

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

  • no turnbacks
  • no lace on the coat and waistcoat
  • Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
  • brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs

Musicians

n/a

Standards

Regimental standards (4 silken standards): jonquille (light yellow) field, embroidered and fringed in silver

  • obverse: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in gold
  • reverse: centre device consisting of an eagle flying through lightning bolts surmounted by a scroll bearing the motto “Nec terrent, nec morantur”
Tentative Reconstruction
Regimental Standard - Copyright: Kronoskaf

References

This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 3, J. Hetzel et Cie, Paris, 1874, pp. 49-58
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 358-359

Other sources

Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Lienhart, Docteur and René Humbert: Les uniformes des armées françaises”, Leipzig,

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website which 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.