La Reine Dragons
Origin and History
The regiment was created on September 14 1673 by the Chevalier d'Hocquincourt. His death at the combat of Gamhurst on July 23 1675, allowed the king to acquire the regiment which was given to Queen Marie-Thérèse d'Autriche a few days later, on July 31. The regiment was then completed with companies taken from Colonel Général Dragons and Royal Dragons.
During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served in Italy in 1733.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment initially served in Westphalia in 1741. In 1742, it took part in the failed invasion of Bohemia and was back in France in 1743. From 1744 to 1746, it served in Italy. In 1747, it was transferred to the coasts of Normandie.
In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Mézières; in 1750, at Maubeuge; in 1751, at Dinan; in 1753, at Saint-Omer; and in 1754, at Hesdin.
In 1756, the regiment counted 4 squadrons and ranked 5th.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the nominal command of Queen Marie Leszczyńska.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the effective command of its successive mestres de camp lieutenant:
- since January 1 1748: Thomas Charles, Comte de Morand
- from December 1 1762 to 1780: Emmanuel François de Grossoles, Comte de Flammarens
Service during the War
In 1756, at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, the regiment was stationed at Vaussieux.
By August 1 1757, the regiment was garrisoning Dunkerque in Flanders. Throughout the war, it was used to guard the coasts of Guyenne and Flanders.
|Headgear||red fatigue cap with a blue turn-up edged with a blue braid at the Queen's Livery|
or 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 white button
|Neck stock||black cravate|
|Coat||red lined blue with white buttons and white laced buttonholes arranged 3 by 3 down to the pockets and a white button on each side in the small of the back
|Waistcoat||blue with white buttons on one side and white laced buttonholes on both sides grouped 3 by 3 (with small red lapels from 1757)|
N.B.: the fatigue cap was supposed to be worn only for the king's review, for foraging or when the regiment's chief ordered to wear it. In fact, dragoons often wore their fatigue cap during campaigns.
Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet, a pistol and a sabre. Carabiniers were armed with a rifle instead of a musket.
Evolution of the uniform during the war
Throughout the war the French dragoon uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary sources for the uniform at the start of the conflict are the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753, the Liste Générale des Troupes de France of 1754 and the Etrennes Militaires of 1758. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.
Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:
- a black bearskin with a blue bag and a blue tassel for troopers
- no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
- no buttons on the cuffs
- black cavalry boots
In December 1762, a regulation introduced a brand new green uniform with violet as the distinctive colour.
The uniforms of the officers were similar to those of the troopers with the following differences:
- the coat was made of Elbeuf woollen cloth (or of a woollen cloth of identical quality)
- linings were made of woollen cloth as well
- no braids on the coat or waistcoat but only silver buttonholes with silver plated wooden buttons
- Raspe publication illustrates a plain blue waistcoat without edging or laced buttonholes
- saddle cloth and housings bordered with a silver braid (5.41 cm wide for captains and 4.06 cm wide for lieutenants)
- standard cavalry officer sword (gilt copper hilt, 83.92 cm long)
Officers were also armed with a musket and a bayonet and carried a cartridge pouch containing 6 cartridges. This musket was shorter than the muskets carried by troopers.
The maréchaux-des-logis and sergeants had similar uniforms made of Romorantin woolen cloth. Their coats and waistcoats had no silver buttonholes. They carried sabres like the maréchaux-des-logis of the cavalry regiments. Their saddle-clothes and housings were bordered with a 2.7 cm wide silver braid.
Drummers wore the queen's livery: red coat heavily laced with the braid of this livery.
Regimental guidons (4 gros de Tour linen swallow-tailed guidons) red field sown with golden fleurs de lys and fringed in gold and silver; centre device consisting of the crowned escutcheons of France (blue field with three gold fleur-de-lis) and of Queen Marie Leczinska of Poland joined together and framed with golden palm leaves.
This article is mostly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “La Reine Dragons” published on his website Nec Pluribus Impar. The article also 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. 427-428
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
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
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