Royal Cavalerie

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

Origin and History

Royal Cavalerie after the reorganisation of 1761 - Source: Raspe 1762 from User:Zahn's collection

The regiment was raised on May 16 1635. It was the first of twelve regiments raised by the Cardinal de Richelieu. On December 4 1642, the regiment took the title of "Royal Cavalerie". On May 14 1643, the regiment was given to the king in Richelieu's testament.

During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served on the Rhine in 1733 and 1734.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment was part of the French army who invaded Bohemia in 1741 and 1742. It retreated to France in February 1743 and replenished its ranks at Colmar. From 1744 to 1748, it served in Flanders.

In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Neufchâteau; in 1750, at Avesnes; in 1751, at Rennes; in 1754, at Sedan.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 4th among the line cavalry. The king was the nominal Mestre de Camp of the regiment but the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:

  • since March 6 1743: Marquis d'Ecquevilly
  • from February 10 1759 to February 15 1771: Marquis de Sevent

When the French Cavalry was reorganised on December 1 1761, the regiment was increased to 4 squadrons, each of them consisting of 4 companies of 40 troopers, for a total of 640 troopers. The 2 additional squadrons came from Vogüe Cavalerie which was incorporated into Royal Cavalerie.

Service during the War

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War in 1756, the regiment was stationed at Soissons.

In 1757, the regiment joined the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées for the planned invasion of Hanover. At the end of June, it was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées's main corps. On September 8, after the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, it followed the main body, now led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussia from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed on the left wing of the second line. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in Moers on the Lower Rhine, in the fourth line of the French army.

In 1758, the regiment did not see active service.

By October 25 1759, now attached to d'Armentières's Corps, the regiment was at the main camp at Bochum.

By May 23 1760, the regiment was part of the first line of the cavalry left wing 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. On July 18, the regiment reinforced the advanced posts on the heights of Niedermarsberg and Obermarsberg. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Montabaur and surroundings.

To do: campaigns from 1761 to 1762

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753 and Etat Militaire of 1761
completed when necessary as per 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 (lined blue from 1761) with a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps red epaulets (as per Mouillard)
Lapels red, each with 8 pewter buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs red cuffs, each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red (blue from 1761)
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin with pewter buttons
Breeches kid (goat leather)
Greatcoat blue lined red (lined blue from 1761)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear black soft boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth
Saddlecloth lace - Source: PMPdeL
blue bordered with a golden braid
Housings blue bordered with a golden braid
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

Lienhart and Humbert show the following differences:

  • gold lace on the tricorne with a white cockade
  • copper instead of pewter buttons
  • blue shoulder strap
  • 3 buttons on each cuff

Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:

  • gold lace on the tricorne with a white cockade
  • each lapel edged with the regimental lace and having 7 pewter buttons
  • cuffs without buttons bordered with the regimental lace
  • coat lined blue, and consequently blue turnbacks, edged with the regimental lace
  • blue shoulder strap
  • turnbacks attached with a small pewter button
  • blue waistcoat and breeches (maybe the “dressed uniform”)

Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform after the reorganisation of December 1761 shows the following evolutions:

  • white cockade at the tricorne
  • 6 pewter buttons on each lapel
  • coat lined blue and consequently blue turnbacks
  • only 3 pewter buttons on each cuff
  • red waistcoat (red breeches for officers)

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.

Standards

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”and surrounded by golden fleur de lys.

Royal Cavalerie Regimental Standard – Source: PMPdeL


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. 324-325

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

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolaus: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg, 1762

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.