Origin and History
The regiment was raised on October 16 1744 in Strasbourg for Guillaume Henri Prince of Nassau Saarbrück.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment initially served on the Rhine in 1745. It then took its winter-quarters in Saint-Jean de Saarbrück. In 1746, it served in Flanders, taking part in the sieges of Mons, Charleroi and Namur, and, on October 11, in the Battle of Rocoux.
In 1756, the regiment counted two squadrons.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- since October 16 1744: Guillaume Henri Prince de Nassau Saarbrück
- from March 14 1758 to December 21 1762: Jean Adolphe Comte de Nassau-Ussingen (formerly colonel of Nassau-Ussingen Infanterie)
The regiment was disbanded on December 21 1762, its troopers being incorporated into Royal-Allemand Cavalerie.
Service during the War
In 1757, the regiment joined the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées for the planned invasion of Hanover. From April 27 to June 17, it was part of the Reserve under the Prince de Soubise. On September 8, after the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, 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 left wing of the second line. On November 5, the regiment was present at the Battle of Rossbach but was not deployed. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in the first line of the French army in and around Heilbad Heiligenstadt.
At the end of January 1758, the regiment was assigned to the army that Louis XV planned to send to Bohemia for joint operations with the Austrian Army. However, when the Allies launched their surprise winter offensive in Western Germany, the regiment had to retreat towards Düsseldorf and Deutz with the bulk of Broglie's Army. It passed the Rhine on April 3 and 4. In the first days of June, as a French army prepared for an offensive in Hesse, the regiment was part of a detachment under the command of the Duc de Broglie who followed up Ysenburg's Allied corps during his retreat. By July, it had joined the Army of the Prince de Soubise assembling near Friedberg in Hesse. On July 23, the regiment took part in the Combat of Sandershausen where it was initially placed in the second line. It fought in the cavalry fight in the plain adjoining the Ellenbach Woods where the French cavalry was finally broken. It then rallied and reinforced the threatened French left wing. After this battle, the regiment was sent to the southern bank of the River Lippe in Westphalia where it encamped at Gesecke, a small town south of Lippstadt. In the early days of September, Luckner's Hussars (who had been sent to Lippstadt) attacked the camp: Luckner and his men reconnoitred the camp of the regiment while most of its troopers where out to reconnoitre Luckner's positions, leaving only a guard of 30 troopers. Luckner decided to attack and plunder the camp. The guard was taken prisoners. On their way back to Lippstadt, Luckner and his men met the returning regiment which was attacked and driven back. Soubise then decided to recall to Hesse what remained of the regiment. It then left Gesecke and rejoined Soubise's Army. On October 10, the regiment was present at the Battle of Lutterberg where it was part of the Reserve of cavalry.
On April 13 1759, the regiment took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the third line of the left wing under the command of the Baron de Dyherrn. 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 second line of the French Army on the right bank of the Rhine, in Rheingau and on the Nidda. By mid March, the regiment was billeted in Mosbach (unidentified location), in the second line. By May 23, it was part of the right reserve of the first line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of Prince Xavier. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Wiesbaden.
To do: campaigns of 1761 and 1762
|Headgear||in 1753: black tricorne laced gold|
In 1760: black bearskin cap with a blue bag
|Coat||royal blue lined straw with 4 copper buttons under the right lapel, 4 white buttonholes uner the left lapel, and a copper button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||buff leather jerkin edged red with copper buttons|
|Breeches||kid (goat leather) white knee covers|
|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:
- coat, lapels and cuffs edged with the regimental lace (2 rows of alternating red and black woollen squares)
- royal blue waistcoat edged with the regimental lace
- only 3 buttons on each pocket
- only 3 buttons arranged vertically on each cuff
Lienhart and Humbert, a secondary source, show the following differences for the uniform of 1757:
- blue saddlecloth bordered white
The Bouxwiller manuscript (an inventory of the collection of uniforms of Louis IX, Landgraf von Hessen-Darmstadt, in the castle of Bouxwiller-Pirmasen in Alsace, collection destroyed during the Revolution) mentions the following differences:
- 9 buttons on each lapel (1-2-2-2-2)
- cuffs with 4 copper buttons and 4 yellow buttonholes vertically and 4 copper buttons and 4 yellow buttonholes horizontally
- 4 yellow buttonholes at the small of the back on each side
Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:
- no shoulder strap
- no lace on the coat and waistcoat
- no turnbacks
- Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
- brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs
Trumpets and kettle-drummers wore the livery of the House of Nassau:
- black tricorn scalloped silver and bordered with white plumes
- orange yellow coat lined scarlet with yellow shoulder straps laced silver
- scarlet cuffs, turnbacks and lapels
- scarlet waistcoat laced silver
- orange yellow breeches
- scarlet housing bordered white and decorated with 3 fleurs de lys
Colours (in 1753)
Regimental standards (4 silken standards): royal blue field embroidered and fringed in gold
- obverse: centre device consisting of the arms of the House of Nassau: azur au lion et billettes or surmounted by a golden crown and by a white scroll wearing the motto “His Consecro Vires”; 1 golden fleur de lys in each corner
- reverse: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in black letters; 1 golden fleur de lys in each corner
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
Service historique de l'armée de terre - Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23
Vial J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar
Westphalen, Philipp Edler von: Feldzuege Herzog Ferdinands
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.