Fitz-James Cavalerie

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

Origin and History

The regiment was initially raised in 1691 as "Roi d'Angleterre" by James II with English exiles in France and placed under the command of Dominique Sheldon. The regiment was first stationed on the coast of Normandy. In 1693, it was transferred to Flanders where it fought in the Battle of Landen on July 29.

In 1698, the regiment was incorporated into the French army.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment initially served in Germany in 1701 before being transferred to Italy where it took part in the Battle of Luzzara on August 15 1702. In 1703, it was back on the Rhine where it took part in the sieges of Brisach and Landau. In 1704, the regiment was transferred to Flanders where it fought in the battles of Ramillies (May 23 1706), Ourdenarde (July 11 1708), Malplaquet (September 11 1709), Denain (July 24 1712) and took part in the siege of Douai in 1712. In 1713, the regiment returned to the theatre of operation of the Rhine where it took part in the sieges of Landau and Freiburg. In 1714, it remained in camp on the Lower Meuse.

During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served on the Rhine.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment initially took part in the relief of the Army of Bohemia in 1742. In 1743, it was back in Alsace. In 1745, it served in the campaigns of Flanders, taking part in the sieges of Tournai, Ourdenarde and Termonde. The same year, the regiment was sent to Scotland to help the Pretender. However, it was intercepted at sea and 3 of its 4 squadrons captured. The remaining squadron reached Scotland and, on April 16 1746, took part in the Battle of Culloden. After the defeat, it retreated to Inverness where it surrendered as prisoners of war. Upon its return to France, the regiment was reconstituted and sent to Flanders, taking part in the Battle of Rocoux on October 11 1746. On July 2 1747, it fought in the Battle of Lauffeld then, from July to September, it covered the siege of Berg-op-Zoom. From April to May 1748, it was at the siege of Maastricht.

In 1756, the regiment ranked 56th and counted two squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • since March 16 1733: Charles, Duc de Fitz-James
  • from February 10 1759 to December 21 1762: James-Charles Marquis of Fitz-James

The regiment was disbanded on December 21 1762 with the mention "has served gloriously on all occasions".

Service during the War

Somewhere between August 23 and September 6 1757, the regiment joined the Army of Saxony, led by the Prince de Soubise, in the area of Erfurt and Eisenach. It was considered of poor quality. On September 27, it was brigaded with Lastic de Saint-Jal Cavalerie under M. de Saint-Jal in the second line of the left wing of the Franco-Imperial Army. On November 5, the regiment took part in the disastrous Battle of Rossbach where it was brigaded with Bourbon-Busset Cavalerie and La Reine Cavalerie. This brigade was placed in the first line of the left wing. During the battle, the regiment lost some of its standards and a pair of kettle-drums. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in Bornheim in Hessen.

At the beginning of June 1758, the regiment left its winter-quarters in Hanau County to reinforce the army of the Comte de Clermont on the Lower Rhine. By June 12, it was still on its way. Later the same year, the regiment was used for coast guard.

By May 23 1760, 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 Langenschwalbach.

To do: campaigns from 1761 to 1762

The regiment was disbanded on December 21 1762.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 - Source: Ibrahim90
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

N.B.: Black bearskin cap with white tassel were probably introduced in 1755 but are not mentioned nor illustrated in the contemporary sources we had access to

Neck stock black cravate
Coat red lined blue (red in 1761) 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 red fastened with a small pewter button
Lapels blue (red in 1761), each with 7 pewter buttons (1-2-2-2)
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs blue (red in 1761), each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks blue (red in 1761) fastened with a pewter button
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin with pewter buttons
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat red lined blue (red in 1761)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box red leather with an oval brass badge on its flap
Scabbard black leather trimmed with brass
Footgear soft black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue bordered with the regimental lace (2 rows of alternating green and white woolen squares)
Housings blue bordered with the regimental lace
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:

  • white rosette on the tricorne
  • red coat, lapels, cuffs and turnbacks edged with the regimental lace (2 rows of alternating green and white woollen squares)
  • red waistcoat edged with the regimental lace
  • only 3 buttons on each pocket
  • only 2 buttons on each cuff

Lienhart and Humbert, a secondary source, show the following differences for the uniform of 1757 (more probably around 1748):

  • a tricorne with a white rosette
  • red saddle cloth and housings bordered with a red braid

Officers

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

  • no shoulder strap
  • no turnbacks
  • silver buttons in the shape of a chauve-souris (bat)
  • 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

Pengel & Hurt in "French Cavalry and Dragoon, 1740-1762" give yellow coat and possible green facings. No references are given.

Colours (in 1753)

Regimental standards (4 silken standards): yellow field embroidered and fringed in silver; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar”.

References

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)

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

Tessin, Georg: Die Regimenter der Europaischen Staaten im Ancien Regime des XVI. bis XVIII. Jahrhunderts; Vol. 1, pg. 509

Taylor, Rab: FitzJames Régiment of Horse, in ScotWars

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