Royal-Carabiniers

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Royal-Carabiniers

Origin and History

Several years before the creation of this regiment, there were two carabiniers in each cavalry company, chosen among the best marksmen. During combat, these carabiniers were placed at the head of each squadron. Towards the end of the campaign of 1690, the king ordered the formation of one company of carabiniers in each cavalry regiment. By the beginning of the campaign of 1691, these new carabiniers companies had been established. Once assembled, they encamped together. In 1692, all carabiniers companies were grouped once more. Finally, on November 1 1693, the regiment was established as an elite unit. Its name of “Royal-Carabiniers” came from the main weapon carried by its troopers: the rifled carbine (carabine in French).

On March 19 1698, the regiment was organised in 5 brigades each consisting of 4 companies.

At the beginning the War of the Polish Succession, in 1733, the regiment served in Italy (4 brigades) and on the Rhine (1 brigade). In 1734, all brigades served in Italy where they distinguished themselves at the Battle of Guastalla (September 19, 1734), receiving for their bravery the privilege of carrying the bayonet.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia in 1741. In 1743, it was stationed at Spires and in 1744 on the Rhine. From 1745 to 1748, it took part in the campaigns in Flanders where it distinguished itself at the battles of Fontenoy (May 11 1745) and Lauffeld (July 2 1747).

In 1750, the regiment was stationed at Mouzon; in 1751, at Provins; in 1753, at Douai; and in 1754, at the camp of Aimeries.

The regiment counted 5 brigades of 2 squadrons each, for a total of 1,400 men.

On May 13 1758, the regiment was renamed “Corps des carabiniers de Monsieur le Comte de Provence”.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 12th since 1736. At the beginning of the war, the king was the Mestre de Camp of the regiment. On May 1758, the Comte de Provence became Mestre de Camp of the regiment but the successive Mestres de Camp Lieutenants commanding the regiment were:

When the French Cavalry was reorganised on December 1 1761, the regiment took the name of “Comte de Provence” and ranked 22nd.

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was initially stationed at Metz.

By June 1757, the regiment had joined the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées for the planned invasion of Hanover. At the end of June, the regiment was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées' main corps. On July 1, under Chevert, a corps consisting of Picardie (4 bns), Vaubécourt (2 bns), Condé (2 bns), one regiment of Grenadiers Royaux (2 bns), the Carabiniers and 20 guns left Bielefeld. On July 26, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hastenbeck where it was among the cavalry of the left wing. It was ordered to support the Grenadiers de France who had advanced into the village of Hastenbeck. On September 8, after the Convention of Klosterzeven, 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 part of the Reserve. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in the area of Kassel in Hessen.

N.B. : Pajol mentions that only 4 brigades were with d'Estrées while the last one (de Lestang's Brigade) was with Soubise at the Battle of Rossbach.

In April 1758, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was placed in the second line at Mönchengladbach, Wegberg and Viersen in the area of Dülken. After the successful 1758 - Allied campaign on the west bank of the Rhine|crossing of the Rhine]] by the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. It remained in this camp, where it was part of the Reserve, until June 12. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it formed the reserve of cavalry under the Marquis de Poyanne. The Comte de Gisors, at the head of his regiment, charged the Hanoverian lines and managed to break through the first two lines and was fighting the third when retreat was beaten. While trying to disentangle his unit from the Hanoverian lines, Gisors was shot through his left side. At this battle, from a total of 1,329 men, the regiment lost 700 troopers killed or wounded and 69 officers. Gisors died on June 26 at Neuss which was now occupied by the Allied army. In Mid August, after Ferdinand's retreat to the east bank of the Rhine, the regiment, as part of the Army of the Lower Rhine now under Contades, recrossed the Rhine to follow the Allied army. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it formed part of the Reserve. On September 29, under Saint-Pern, it took part in the failed surprise attack on the camp of the Prince of Holstein at Bork.

At the beginning of June 1759, the regiment was at Cologne with the Corps under the Marquis de Poyanne. By June 9, it had joined Broglie's Reserve and were at Zennern near Kassel. On June 18, it joined the main French army. In June, during the French offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the Cavalry Reserve. On June 24, it took post at Atteln. On July 4, it was part of a corps who took position in front of the village of Schildesche, 3 km north of Bielefeld. On July 15, the regiment was part of the force covering the main army encamped near Minden. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the third line of the cavalry centre under the command of the Marquis de Poyanne. Along with the Gendarmerie de France, it attempted a third attack upon the 9 battalions (mostly British) who had already repulsed 2 cavalry charges. Their charge was more successful and they broke through the first line of Allied infantry. However, the second line received them with a deadly fire and forced them to retire. By August 15 during the French retreat, the regiment, who had suffered heavily at Minden, could field only 5 squadrons. On August 30, when the main French army took position between Bauerbach and Amöneburg, the regiment formed part of the Reserve.

By the end of January 1760, the 5 brigades of the regiment had taken their 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 stationed on the Neckar, in the fourth line of the French army. By May 23, the regiment was part of the Grenadier Reserve of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of M. de Saint-Pern. In the evening of June 23, Broglie, leaving the main body at Grünberg, advanced northwards with all his light troops, the Grenadiers de France, 12 bns, the Royal-Carabiniers and his dragoons towards Schweinsberg on the Ohm in very bad weather conditions. On July 9, Broglie ordered to dislodge Luckner from his position at Corbach and sent an infantry brigade along with the Corps des carabiniers de Monsieur le Comte de Provence to support Clausen's Brigade and to guard the defiles debouching on the plain of Corbach. However, the French could not mount an attack before nightfall. On July 10, the regiment took part in the Combat of Corbach under the command of the Marquis de Poyanne. By July 14, the regiment occupied a position between Berndorf and the main army. On August 2, the regiment was part of the corps sent by Broglie, under the command of the Prince de Condé, to dislodge the Légion Britannique from the woods on the left of his army. The Légion Britannique abandoned the woods without opposing resistance. On September 18, Broglie detached the regiment to support Prince Xavier encamped near Kassel. By September 19, the regiment was attached to Prince Xavier's Corps, forming part of the vanguard of his right column. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Limburg.

On July 16 1761, the regiment was at the battle of Vellinghausen.

To do: more details on the campaigns from 1761 to 1762

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753 and Etat Militaire of 1761
completed when necessary as per Rousselot and Mouillard
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 probably a black cravate
Coat blue lined red with 2 white buttonholes under the lapels and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps white epaulet
Lapels none (Rousselot mentions that red lapels with 7 white buttonholes were introduced when the regiment was given to the comte de Provence)
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, each with 3 pewter buttons and a silver lace
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat blue (in 1758: a buff leather jerkin with a silver braid + a white large stripe)
Breeches kid (goat leather)
Greatcoat blue lined red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear black soft boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue bordered with a silver braid decorated with a white large stripe.

The official regimental lace, an aurore (light orange) braid decorated with a red and white pattern, seems to not have been worn at all.

Housings blue bordered with a silver braid decorated with a white large stripe.
Blanket roll n/a


Troopers were armed with a rifled carbine, two pistols and a sabre. They also wore a breastplate under their coat during battle.

N.B.: unlike the other cavalry regiments, the troopers of this regiment carried their carbine “butt down” like dragoon regiments.

Officers

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

  • Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
  • brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs

Musicians

King's Livery - Source: PMPdeL

Trumpets and kettle-drummers wore a blue coat heavily laced with braids at the king's livery alternating with silver braids.

Colours

Regimental standards (4 silken standards): blue 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”; one golden fleur de lys in each corner

Royal-Carabiniers Cavalerie Regimental Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert from an original plate from Gilbert Noury


References

This article 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. 346-351

Other sources

Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)

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

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

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.