Des Salles Cavalerie
Origin and History
This gentleman's regiment was raised on July 1, 1671 after the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, according to Turenne's instructions to raise several cavalry regiments.
In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment (3 companies) joined Condé's Army. In 1673, it was transferred to the Army of Germany under Turenne. In 1674, it took part in the battles of Sinsheim, Entzheim and Mulhouse; in 1675, in the battles of Türkheim and Altenheim, and in the relief of Haguenau and Saverne. In 1676, the regiment joined the Army of Flanders and participated in the capture of Condé, Bouchain and Valenciennes. In 1677, it took part in the siege of Valenciennes, in the Battle of Cassel and in the capture of Saint-Omer; and in 1678, in the siege of Ghent and in the Battle of Saint-Denis.
In 1680 and 1681, the regiment was at the camp of Artois; and in 1682, at the camp of the Lauter. In 1684, it formed part of the corps which covered the operations in Luxembourg. From 1685 to 1687, the regiment was at the camp of the Saône.
In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment took part in the siege of Philippsburg. It probably operated on the German frontier until the Treaty of Ryswick.
In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was sent to the Low Countries. In 1702, it took part in the engagement of Nijmegen; in 1703, in the battles of Ekeren and Höchstädt]]; in 1706, in the unsuccessful siege of Barcelona; in 1701, in the siege and capture of Lleida; in 1711, it campaigned in Spain.
In 1719, the regiment (then known as Luynes Cavalerie) was at the camp of the Pyrenees.
In 1734, during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment took part in the siege of Philipsburg. In 1735, it was at the Battle of Clausen.
In 1738, the regiment (then known as Ancenis Cavalerie) was posted at Pont-à-Mousson. In 1739, it was renamed Brancas Cavalerie.
In 1741, at the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment formed part of the Army of Flanders. In 1743, it was transferred to the Army of the Rhine and was present at the Battle of Dettingen. In 1744, it returned to Flanders. In 1745, it took part in the Battle of Fontenoy and in the capture of Tournai, Termonde and Ath; in 1746, in the sieges of Mons, Charleroi and Namur and in the Battle of Rocoux; in 1747, in the Battle of Lauffeld; and in 1748, in the siege of Maastricht.
In 1750, the regiment was stationed at Vassy; and in 1752, at Valenciennes. In 1753, the regiment became the property of the Comte des Salles and was stationed at Mézières. In 1755, it was at Verdun.
In 1756, the regiment counted two squadrons.
During the Seven Years' War, the successive colonels of the regiment were:
- from February 1, 1749: Louis-Antoine-Gustave, Comte des Salles (taken prisoner at Holtzhausen in April 1759)
- from December 1, 1762 to January 1, 1770: Remi-Charles de Viray, Marquis de Toustain
When the French cavalry was reorganised on December 1 1761, the regiment became a royal regiment under the name of Royal-Lorraine Cavalerie. It was increased to 4 squadrons by the incorporation of the 2 squadrons of Toustain Cavalerie. Effective incorporation only took place on April 14, 1763 at Montreuil-sur-Mer when the regiments returned to France at the end of the Seven Years' War.
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment was initially stationed at Montauban. At the end of the year, it was sent to the coasts of Normandie.
By August 1, 1757, the regiment was garrisoning Sainte-Foy in the Bordeaux country. At the end of the year, it was sent to Germany and joined the Army of the Prince de Soubise after the disastrous Battle of Rossbach.
By July 1758, the regiment formed part of the Army of the Prince de Soubise assembling near Friedberg in Hesse. It took part in the capture of Cassel.
On April 13, 1759, the regiment took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the second line of the cavalry centre deployed behind the Wartberg under the command of the Comte de Beaupréau. In April, the regiment was surprised near Holtzhausen and his mestre de camp, the Comte des Salles, was taken prisoner. 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 Fränkisch-Crumbach, in the fourth line. By May 23, it was part of the first line of the cavalry left wing of Broglie's Army. On July 10, the regiment was attached to Prince Camille's Cavalry Corps which arrived too late to take part in the Combat of Corbach. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Weissenhorn.
By February 1761, the regiment was posted in the area of Siegen. By June, it had been allocated to the Army of the Lower Rhine. On July 3, it took part in the action of Westhofen. On July 16, it fought in the Battle of Vellinghausen. By July 25, it formed part of de Muy's Corps.
|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||grey white lined red (lined scarlet in 1761) with 4 pewter buttons under the right lapel and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||buff leather (yellow leather in 1761) jerkin with pewter buttons|
|Breeches||buff leather (yellow leather in 1761)|
|Greatcoat||grey white lined red|
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:
- source not yet available
Lienhart and Humbert, a secondary source, show the following differences for the uniform of 1757:
- a white cockade and yellow lace on the tricorne
- grey white lapels, cuffs and turnbacks
- only 3 buttons on each cuff
- red saddle cloth and housings bordered with a red braid
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
Regimental standards (4 silken standards): crimson field embroidered and fringed in gold; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar”
N.B.: this was the only French cavalry regiment whose standards carried white streamers.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 2, J. Hetzel et Cie, Paris, 1874, pp. 115-122
- Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 335-336
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 who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)
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.