Corps Royal de l'Artillerie

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War >> Armies >> French Army >> Corps Royal de l'Artillerie


Origin and History

Royal Artillerie in 1757. - Source: Molzheim from the collection of Jean-Louis Vial published in Nec Pluribus Impar

In 1671, Louis XIV created the Fusiliers du Roi regiment. The king was the colonel of the new regiment while the artillery grand master, the Duc de Lude, ranked as its lieutenant-colonel. On April 15 1693, a royal decree renamed the unit Régiment royal d'artillerie.

From 1716, a greater attention was paid to the standardization of calibres.

The decree of February 7 1720 regrouped the Royal regiment of bombardiers, miners and companies of pioneers into a single regiment with the Royal Artillerie regiment. The regiment counted 5 battalions.

On December 8 1755, the artillery was placed under the command of the War Minister. Artillery officers and engineers were grouped into a single Corps Royal d'Artillerie et d'Ingénieurs. This corps consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters of 31 officers
  • 5 artillery battalions, each consisting of 10 companies of 72 men
  • 5 companies of pioneers, each of 40 men
  • 5 companies of miners, each of 50 men
  • Ingénieurs du Roi (300 men)

On January 1 1757, a sixth battalion was added to Royal Artillerie.

Throughout the war, the arm was repeatedly reorganised. See our article on the organisation of Royal Artillerie for the details of these successive reorganisations.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 47th and was under the nominal command of King Louis XV.

During the Seven Years' War, each battalion was under the effective command of the following lieutenants-colonels (later known as chiefs of brigade):

  • 1st battalion
    • since January 28 1753: Lieutenant-Colonel de Chabrié
    • from January 1 1759: Chief of brigade de Loyauté
    • from March 7 1761 until October 15 1765: Chief of brigade de Saint-Auban
  • 2nd battalion
    • since December 15 1751: Lieutenant-Colonel de la Motte
    • from January 1 1759: Chief of brigade d'Invilliers
    • from March 7 1761 until October 15 1765 : Chief of brigade de Loyauté
  • 3rd battalion
    • since March 30 1748: Lieutenant-Colonel de la Soucy
    • from January 1 1759: Chief of brigade de la Pelleterie
    • from April 5 1762 until January 1 1763: Chief of brigade de Combes
  • 4th battalion
    • since December 12 1754: Lieutenant-Colonel de Menouville
    • from January 1 1759 until October 15 1769: Chief of brigade de Beausire
  • 5th battalion
    • since December 8 1755: Lieutenant-Colonel comte d'Aumale
    • from June 1 1758: Lieutenant-Colonel de Loyauté
    • from January 1 1759: Vhief of brigade de Chabrié (killed in action at the battle of Bergen on April 13 1759)
    • from May 8 1759 until October 15 1765: Chief of brigade de Villepatour
    • 6th battalion
    • from its creation on January 1 1757: Lieutenant-Colonel de Cosme
    • from January 1 1759: Chief of brigade de Mouy
    • from February 20 1761: Chief of brigade de Loyauté
    • from March 7 1761 until March 24 1769: Chief of brigade d'Invilliers

Service during the War

1st battalion

At the beginning of 1756, Chabrié Battalion was garrisoning Besançon. In April, it was part of the amphibious expedition against Minorca. It took part in the siege of Fort St. Philip. The fort surrendered on June 28.

In 1757, part of the battalion along with 30 guns, 1 miner company and 1 worker company was transferred to Germany to reinforce the Army of the Lower Rhine while the remaining part continued to assume garrison duty at Mahon on the Island of Minorca. In August, the reinforcements made their junction with the army in Hessen. At the end of the year, the detachment of the battalion took its winter-quarters in the second line in the town of Hannover.

In April 1758, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, Chabrié Battalion was stationed in Wesel. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the army of Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the battalion retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. The battalion remained in this camp, where it formed part of the Reserve, until June 12.

On April 13 1759, the battalion took part in the Battle of Bergen where it was deployed in front of the cavalry centre along the sunken road to the east of the Wartberg under the Chevalier de Pelletier.

To do: campaigns from 1760 to 1762

2nd battalion

At the beginning of 1756, La Motte Battalion was garrisoning La Fère.

In 1757, La Motte battalion joined the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées for the projected invasion of Hanover. On May 17, the battalion arrived at Wesel. At the end of June, the battalion was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées' main corps. On July 26, the battalion took part in the Battle of Hastenbeck. On September 8, after the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, the battalion followed the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine, now led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory from September 28 to November 5. At the end of the year, the battalion took its winter-quarters in the first line in Wolfenbüttel.

In April 1758, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, La Motte Battalion, along with the Cosme and Menouville battalions, garrisoned the fortified bridge head at Büderich opposite Wesel. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the army of Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the battalion retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. The battalion remained in this camp, where it formed part of the Reserve, until June 12. On June 23, the battalion took part in the Battle of Krefeld, serving under M. de la Vallière. In Mid August, after Ferdinand's retreat to the east bank of the Rhine, the battalion accompanied the Army of the Lower Rhine now led by the Marquis de Contades when it recrossed the Rhine for an offensive in Westphalia. On August 20, the battalion was encamped near Wesel. During this campaign, the battalion also took part in the siege of Münster.

At the end of May 1759, when the French Army of the Rhine launched its offensive in Western Germany, the battalion remained on the Rhine as part of the corps of the Marquis d'Armentières. On October 19, the battalion was part of the force sent by Contades to reinforce d'Armentières on the Lower Rhine.

To do: campaigns from 1760 to 1762

3rd battalion

At the beginning of 1756, Soucy Battalion was garrisoning Metz.

By August 1 1757, Soucy Battalion was stationed at Le Havre to defend the coasts of Normandy against British incursions. It continued to assume this role until 1760 when it was transferred to Germany.

To do: campaigns from 1760 to 1762

4th battalion

At the beginning of 1756, Menouville Battalion was garrisoning Strasbourg.

In 1757, Menouville Battalion joined the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées for the projected invasion of Hanover. At the end of June, the battalion was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées' main corps. On July 26, the battalion took part in the Battle of Hastenbeck. On September 8, after the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, the battalion followed the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory from September 28 to November 5. At the end of the year, the battalion took its winter-quarters in the third line at Rintheln and Oberkirchen.

In April 1758, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, Menouville Battalion, along with Cosme and La Motte battalions, garrisoned the fortified bridge head at Büderich opposite Wesel. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the army of Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the battalion retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. The battalion remained in this camp, where it formed part of the Reserve, until June 12. On June 23, the battalion took part in the Battle of Krefeld, serving under M. de la Vallière. In Mid August, after Ferdinand's retreat to the east bank of the Rhine, the battalion accompanied the Army of the Lower Rhine now led by the Marquis Contades when it recrossed the Rhine for an offensive in Westphalia. On August 20, the battalion was encamped near Wesel.

In 1762, the battalion contributed a detachment to the French expeditionary force sent to support Spain in its invasion of Portugal.

To do: campaigns from 1760 to 1762

5th battalion

At the beginning of 1756, Aumale Battalion was garrisoning Grenoble.

Somewhere between August 23 and September 6 1757, part of Aumale Battalion with 20 guns joined the army led by the Prince de Soubise, in the area of Erfurt and Eisenach for the ongoing invasion of Saxony. On November 5, the battalion took part in the disastrous Battle of Rossbach. At the end of the year, the battalion took its winter-quarters in Hanau in Hessen.

By July 1758, part of Loyauté Battalion (former Aumale) had joined Soubise's Army assembling near Friedberg for an offensive in Hesse. Another detachment served on the coasts of Bretagne where it took part in the victorious Combat of Saint-Cast. On October 10, part of the battalion took part in the Battle of Lutterberg.

From June 1759, the brigade took part in the French offensive in Western Germany.

By the end of January 1760, the brigade had taken its winter-quarters in the third line of the French army along the Rhine and the Main from its mouth. By mid March, the regiment was billeted in Offenbach, still in the third line. By May 23, the brigade was part of Broglie's Army. By December 30, the brigade had taken its winter-quarters in Offenbach.

To do: campaigns from 1761 to 1762

6th battalion

The Cosme Battalion was created by a decree dated January 1 1757. Each of the 5 existing battalions contributed 120 men for its formation. Later during the year, it joined the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées for the projected invasion of Hanover. On September 8, after the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, the battalion followed the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine, now led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory from September 28 to November 5. At the end of the year, the battalion took its winter-quarters in the first line in Braunschweig.

In April 1758, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, Cosme battalion, along with La Motte and Menouville battalions, garrisoned the fortified bridge head at Büderich opposite Wesel. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the army of Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the battalion retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. The battalion remained in this camp, where it formed part of the Reserve, until June 12. On June 23, the battalion took part in the Battle of Krefeld, serving under M. de la Vallière. In Mid August, after Ferdinand's retreat to the east bank of the Rhine, the battalion accompanied the Army of the Lower Rhine now led by the Marquis de Contades when it recrossed the Rhine for an offensive in Westphalia. On August 20, the battalion was encamped near Wesel.

From June 1759, the brigade took part in the French offensive in Western Germany. By December 30, the brigade had taken its winter-quarters in Offenbach.

By the end of January 1760, the brigade had taken its winter-quarters in the third line of the French army along the Rhine and the Main from its mouth. By mid March, the regiment was billeted in Offenbach, still in the third line. By May 23, the brigade was part of Broglie's Army.

To do: campaigns from 1759 to 1762

Detachment sent to India

An ordonnance, dated November 10 1756, stipulated that a detachment of the regiment along with engineers (for a total of 150 men) would be sent to India. Upon arrival in India, this detachment would be augmented to 300 men under the command of a lieutenant-colonel and of a captain-aide-major, and organised in three companies of 100 men each (excluding officers). A company would consist of:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 second captain
  • 1 first lieutenant
  • 1 second lieutenant
  • 3 sergeants
  • 4 corporals
  • 4 anspessades (lance-corporals)
  • 88 gunners or bombardiers
  • 1 drummer

Uniform

In 1722, the entire artillery adopted the blue uniform with red as its distinctive colour.

Artillerymen

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Etrennes militaires, La Chesnaye, and Etat militaire 1758,
and Etat militaire 1761
Headgear black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade
Neck stock black
Coat blue lined red with copper buttons down to the pockets on the right side and 1 copper button on each side at the small of the back
Collar red with a copper button on the right side and a buttonhole on the left
Shoulder Straps yellow epaulets fringed yellow on each side
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 6 copper buttons
Cuffs red, each with 3 copper buttons (4 copper buttons from 1761)
Turnbacks none officially (red from 1760, fastened with aurore fleurs de lys)
Waistcoat red lined white with 2 rows of copper buttons grouped 2 by 2 with 3 copper buttons on each pocket
Breeches red
Gaiters red socks and white gaiters
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard n/a


Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt).

Miners

Miners wore uniform similar to those of the artillerymen with the following exceptions:

  • iron grey waistcoat lined white
  • iron grey breeches

Workers

Workers wore uniform similar to those of the artillerymen with the following exceptions:

  • iron grey coat

The decree of February 17 1760 brought the following modifications to their uniforms:

  • red lapels with 5 small copper buttons
  • yellow buttonholes and small red cuffs on the waistcoat

Sappers

Sappers wore uniform similar to those of the artillerymen until March 1759. From then till February 1760, while they belonged to the Corps des ingénieurs, they supposedly wore uniform similar to those of the artillerymen with the following exceptions:

  • royal blue coat
  • black cuffs (made of velvet for officers) with 5 copper buttons
  • 5 copper buttons on each pocket

Officers

According to the decree of January 19 1747, artillery officers wore uniforms similar to those of the artillerymen with the following exceptions:

  • ansepessades: cuffs edged yellow
  • corporals: cuffs edged yellow and ornamented with 3 yellow frogs
  • sergeants: cuffs edged gold and ornamented with 3 golden frogs

Theorically, golden braids and buttonholes were forbidden but the regulation was not always followed, especially for the waistcoat which were often ornamented with golden buttonholes.

Sergeants were carried halberds (2,10 m.) till the decree of October 31 1758 when they were replaced by muskets. Nevertheless the tradition of carrying halbergs probably persisted throughout the war.

Musicians

The drummers of the regiment wore the Royal Livery: blue coat lined red; red cuffs, waistcoat and breeches; laced with the braid of the small Royal Livery.

Drummer wearing the Royal Livery - Source: Jocelyne Chevanelle

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

French Royal Livery - Source: reconstruction based on a sample from Jean-Louis Vial's collection


Colours

Since 1753, each battalion or brigade carried 1 colonel colour and 1 ordonnance colour.

Colonel colour: white field with a white cross sown with golden fleurs de lys.

Ordonnance colours: aurore (pale orange) and green opposed cantons; white cross sown with golden fleurs de lys.

Colonel Colour - Source: Kronoskaf
Ordonnance Colour - Source: Kronoskaf

References

Evrard, P.: Praetiriti Fides

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Louis XV: Ordonnance du roi concernant le Corps de Troupes que Sa Majesté destine à faire passer aux Indes Orientales - Du 10 novembre 1756

Menguy, Patrice; Les Sujets du Bien Aimé

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

Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 38, 156-164

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

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

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.