Bellefonds Cavalerie

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

Origin and History

The regiment was raised on 3 March 1672 by the Marquis de Seyssac.

In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment was at the capture of Wesel, Emmerich and Bommel. In 1673, it campaigned in Brandenburg and occupied Unna, Kamen, Altena, Soest, Coester and Bielefeld. In 1674, it took part in the battles of Sinsheim, Entzheim and Mulhouse; in 1675, in the battles of Turckheim and Altenheim; in 1677, in the sieges of Valenciennes and Cambrai; and in 1678, in the siege of Ypres and in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

On 8 August 1679, the regiment was disbanded, with the exception of its mestre de camp company.

On 20 August 1688, the regiment was re-established.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment campaigned in Germany. In 1690, it campaigned on the Moselle and in Flanders, taking part in the Battle of Fleurus. In 1691, it was at the siege of Mons, before returning to the Moselle. In 1692, it took part in the capture of Namur, in the Battle of Steenkerque, and in the bombardment of Charleroi; in 1693, in the Battle of Landen and in the siege of Charleroi. It then served on the Meuse from 1694 to 1697.

In 1701, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment served in Germany. In 1702, it was transferred to Northern Italy, where it fought in the Battle of Luzzara. In 1703, it took part in an engagement near Castelnuovo, and in the capture of Asti and Villanova d’Asti; in 1704, in the sieges of Vercelli, Ivrea and Verrua; in 1705, in the Battle of Cassano; and in 1706, in the battles of Calcinato and Castiglione. In 1707, the regiment returned to France and was assigned to the defence of Dauphiné. In 1708, it campaigned in Dauphiné. In 1709, it was transferred to the Rhine. In 1710, it went to Alsace and occupied the Lines of Wissembourg. In 1711, it was in the Lines of Ettlingen. In 1712, it took part in the Battle of Denain and in the Siege of Le Quesnoy; and in 1713, in the sieges of Landau and Freiburg.

In 1714, the regiment was at the camp of the Saône. In 1724, it was at the camp of the Sambre.

In 1733, at the outbreak of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment was sent to Italy. During the war, it took part in actions at Gere d'Adda, Pizzighetone, Milan, Novara, Tortona, Colorno, Parma and Guastalla.

In August 1736, the regiment returned to France.

At the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment initially served in Bavaria in 1741 and 1742. In 1743, it was stationed in Alsace; in 1745 at Maubeuge. In 1746, it was transferred to Flanders, where it was present at the sieges of Mons and Charleroi and fought in the Battle of Rocoux. In 1747, it took part in the Battle of Lauffeld; and in 1748, in the Siege of Maastricht.

In 1750, the regiment was stationed at Schlestadt; in 1751 at Joinville; in 1752 at Cambrai; in 1753 at Aimeries-sur-Sambre and then Ploermel and Pontivy; in 1754 at Avesnes; and in 1755 at Étain.

In 1756, the regiment counted two squadrons.

The title of Duc de Chartres
From 1674, the title of Duc de Chartres is given to the eldest child of the House of Maison d'Orléans.

In 1758 Louis Philippe d'Orléans (1725-1785), is Duc d'Orléans since 1752, he is prince of the blood, his son Louis Philippe Joseph d’Orléans (1747-1793), is Duc de Chartres since 1752 and would become Duc d'Orléans in 1785 on the death of his father.

En 1758 the Marquis de Bellefonds was promoted maréchal de camp, this promotion forced him to get rid of his cavalry regiment (only foreign general officers: Swiss, German, were allowed to keep their regiment when promoted). On May 7 1758, the king gave this regiment to his parent the Duc de Chartres, and by this same ordonnance the king departed from the usual seniority rule by promoting Bellefonds Cavalerie from the 48th rank to the 21st rank, just after Orléans Cavalerie, by doing so he also shifted the rank of all regiments following the new Chartres Cavalerie.

« His Majesty has ordered and orders that the said regiment (de Chartres) will march in the future immediately after the one of Orléans and before the one of Condé, notwithstanding what is carried by the ordonnance of March 1st 1699, which had fixed the rank of this regiment, then Imécourt, after the one of Clermont, nowadays Toustain, and from which His Majesty has departed and departs in this regard only. »

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • since September 10 1744: Marquis de Bellefonds
  • from May 7 1758 to 1785: Louis Philippe Joseph d’Orléans, Duc de Chartres (effective command assumed by the Mestre de camp lieutenant Charles, Chevalier de Durfort-Rosine until November 25 1766)

When the French cavalry was reorganised on December 1, 1761, the regiment was amalgamated with Trasseigny Cavalerie to form a new regiment: Chartres Cavalerie. Effective incorporation seems to have taken place only on April 1 1763 at Saint-Omer.

Service during the War

In 1757, the regiment was initially stationed in Longwy. It then joined the Lower Rhine Army commanded by maréchal d'Estrées for the planned invasion of Hanover. At the end of June, it was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées' main corps. On July 26, the regiment took part to the battle of Hastenbeck where it was among the cavalry of the right wing. After the victory, it encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Lower Rhine Army from July 31 to August 2. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, it followed the main body, led by the maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed on the right wing of the second line. At the end of the year, it took its winter quarters in Sellingen in Ostfriese, in the fourth line of the French Army.

In April 1758, when the comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed at Kleve, Donsbrüggen, Nütterden, Zyfflich and Niel; between Kleve and the German-Dutch border. On May 7, the regiment was renamed "Chartres". After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick during the night of June 1 to 2, a detachment of the regiment was attacked by Allied hussars and volunteers, loosing a pair of kettle-drums and a standard. The regiment then retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's army on June 2. It remained in this camp until June 12 and was placed on the right wing of the first line. On June 23, the regiment took part in the battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the left wing of the first line, under Fitzjames. 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 the marquis de Contades, recrossed the Rhine to follow the Allied army. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the left wing of the first line. At the beginning of October, the regiment was attached to Chevert's corps which was sent to reinforce the army of the prince de Soubise in Hesse. On October 10, it was at the battle of Lutterberg where it was part of Chevert's Corps which won the day by turning the Allied left flank.

In June 1761, the regiment formed part of the Army of the Lower Rhine. In November, the regiment took its winter-quarters in the district of Cologne. By the end of May, the regiment was posted near Kalkar.

In March 1762, the regiment was still allocated to the Army of the Lower Rhine under the Prince de Condé. On August 25, it fought in the Engagement of Grüningen. Where it was deployed in the second line of the cavalry right wing. In December, when the French army evacuated Germany, the regiment was directed on Valenciennes.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 – Copyright Kronoskaf
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
Neckstock black cravate
Coat grey white lined red 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 grey white fastened with a small pewter button
Lapels red with 6 pewter buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs red cuffs, each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red fastened with a pewter button
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin with pewter buttons
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat grey white lined red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff leather
Waistbelt buff leather
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear soft black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue bordered with the regimental lace (violet woollen braid with yellow chain link stitches)
Housings blue bordered with the regimental lace (violet woollen braid with yellow chain link stitches)
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
  • coat, cuffs and turnbacks edged with the regimental braid (violet woollen braid with yellow chain link stitches)
  • grey white waistcoat edged with the regimental braid (violet woollen braid with yellow chain link stitches)
  • only 3 buttons on each cuff and on each pocket
  • grey white breeches

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

  • a white rosette on the tricorne
  • only 3 buttons on each cuff
  • 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
  • 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

no information available yet

Standards (in 1753)

Regimental standards (4 silken standards): red field embroidered and fringed in gold

  • obverse: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar”
  • reverse: motto “Bello felicitas”
Tentative Reconstruction
Regimental Standard - Copyright: Kronoskaf

N.B.: the regiment probably changed colours when it became Chartres Cavalerie in 1758.

References

The article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 1, Paris: Hetzel, 1874, pp. 357-365
  • Menuau, Capitaine: Historique du 14ème régiment de dragons, Paris: Editions Boussod, 1889
  • Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 353-354

Other sources

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 an interesting site, which 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

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

Acknowledgements

Jean-Louis Vial for the additional information on the transfer of the regiment to the Duc de Chartres