Bourbon Cavalerie

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

Origin and History

The regiment was raised as “Enghien Cavalerie” on January 17, 1649 for Henri-Jules de Bourbon, son of the Great Condé.

The regiment was stricken off of the role of the French Army on January 20, 1650 during the Fronde civil war. It was re-established on February 26, 1651 and stricken off of the role a few months later on September 13. It was reintegrated into the French Army on November 7, 1659, after serving for eight years under the banner of the enemies of France.

On April 12, 1661, after the Treaty of the Pyrenees, the regiment was reduced to only one company, as many other cavalry regiments. It garrisoned various places in Picardie.

On December 7, 1665, the regiment was brought back to full strength. In 1666, it was at the camp of Compiègne.

In 1667, at the beginning of the War of Devolution (1667-68), the regiment took part in the campaign in Flanders and in the sieges of Tournai, Douai and Lille. In 1668, it took part in the conquest of Franche-Comté. On 24 May of the same year, it was reduced to a single company and occupied Marsal.

In 1669 and 1670, the regiment occupied Lorraine. On August 9, 1671, it was definitively re-established to full strength.

In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment was present at the capture of Orsoy and Emmerich and at the crossing of the Rhine. In 1673, it remained in the Low Countries. In 1674, it took part in the second conquest of Franche-Comté, in the sieges of Besançon and Dôle, and in the Battle of Seneffe.; in 1675, in the capture of Limbourg; in 1676, in the capture of Condé, Bouchain and Aire; in 1677, in the sieges of Valenciennes and Cambrai and in the Combat of Koschersberg; and in 1678, in the siege of Ghent and in the attack on Orteberg.

In 1684, the regiment covered the operations of the siege of Luxembourg.

On December 11, 1686, the regiment took the name of “Bourbon Cavalerie”.

In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment joined the Army of the Rhine and was present at the siege of Philippsburg, Mannheim and Frankenthal. In 1692, it served in Flanders. In 1693, it took part in the Battle of Landen. It remained on this frontier until the end of the war.

In 1701, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was sent to the Moselle. In 1702, it was transferred to Italy and fought in the Battle of Luzzara. In 1704, it took part in the Siege of Vercelli. In 1707, it campaigned in Dauphiné; in 1708 and 1709, on the Rhine; in 1712, in Flanders; and in 1713, on the Rhine.

In 1727 and 1730, the regiment was at the camp of the Meuse.

In 1733, at the outbreak of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served on the Rhine and was present at the siege of Kehl. In 1734, it was at the siege of Philippsburg.

In 1741, at the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment served in Westphalia. In 1742, it took part in the invasion of Bohemia, and in the affairs of Ellenbogen, Caaden, Braunau, Egra and Schmidmühl. In 1743, it retreated to France where it took part in the defence of Alsace.. In 1745, it was transferred to Flanders and was at the siege of Ath. In 1746, it occupied Bruxelles and then fought in the Battle of Rocoux. In 1747, it took part in the Battle of Lauffeld and in the siege of Berg-op-Zoom; and in 1748, in the siege of Maastricht.

After the war, the regiment was stationed at Vervins in 1751 and Gray and Stenai in 1754.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the successive nominal Mestres de Camp of the regiment were:

  • from March 21, 1710: Charles, Comte de Charolais
  • from 1760: Louis-Joseph-Henri, Duc de Bourbon

During the Seven Years' War, the Mestres de Camp Lieutenants effectively commanding the regiment were:

  • from September 10, 1744: Louis-Joseph-Nicolas Marquis de Cambis
  • from February 20, 1761: Gabriel-Augustin de Franquetot, Comte de Coigny
  • from January 1, 1762 to January 3, 1770: Louis Vicomte de Noë

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 Noë Cavalerie who was incorporated into Bourbon Cavalerie.

Service during the War

In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was still stationed at Gray.

N.B.: the regiment was also known as “Bourbon Prince” to avoid confusion with Bourbon-Busset Cavalerie.

In 1757, the regiment was initially stationed at Longwy. It then joined the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées. At the end of June, it was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées's main corps. It was later transferred to the Army of Saxony led by the Prince de Soubise. On November 5, the regiment took part in the disastrous Battle of Rossbach where it was brigaded with Beauvilliers Cavalerie. This brigade was placed in the first line of the left wing. At the end of the year, the regiment took its winter-quarters in Straelen on the Lower Rhine, in the fourth line of the French army.

In January 1758, the regiment returned to France to replenish its ranks.

In 1759, the regiment returned to Germany, where it took part in an engagement near Sandershausen.

By May 23, 1760, the regiment was part of the left reserve of the first line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of Saint-Germain. On July 31, the regiment took part in the Battle of Warburg where it was deployed in the first line of the centre. Its brigade was the only one to withstand the initial charge of the British cavalry, even breaking the 1st King's Dragoon Guards. However, the French brigade in its turn was driven back by the Royal Horse Guards. On October 16, the regiment fought in the 1760-10-16 - Battle of Clostercamp.

By February 9, 1761, the regiment was stationed in the vicinity of Liège. The same month, 150 men of the regiment were assigned to de Muy’s Corps which marched on Hachenburg and reinforced the Maréchal de Broglie. In June, it was attached to the Army of the Lower Rhine. By the end of July, the entire regiment was attached to de Muy’s Corps. On July 16, it was present at the Battle of Vellinghausen. At the end of the year, the regiment was in Metz where it incorporated the two squadrons from Noë Cavalerie.

By March 1762, the regiment (now four squadrons) formed part of the Army of the Upper Rhine. On June 24, the regiment was present at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal. By mid-July, it garrisoned Melsungen. In December, when the French army evacuated Germany, the regiment was directed on Coblence and Thionville.

N.B.: Houchard the future victor of Hondschoote (1793) served in this regiment during the Seven Years War. In 1759, during an engagement near Sandershausen, he received 3 sabre wounds at the head.

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, each with 7 pewter buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, 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 braid (ventre de biche (reddish white) braid with 2 crimson stripes speckled white)
Housings blue bordered with the regimental braid (ventre de biche (reddish white) braid with 2 crimson stripes speckled white)
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:

  • a white cockade on the tricorne
  • coat, lapels, turnbacks and cuffs edged with the regimental lace depicted above for the saddle cloth
  • grey white waistcoat edged with the regimental lace depicted for the saddle cloth
  • no buttons on the lapels and cuffs

Lienhart and Humbert, a secondary source, show the following differences for the uniform of 1757:

  • white cockade at the tricorne
  • grey white lapels
  • 3 buttons on each cuff
  • red saddle cloth and housing bordered with a ventre de biche braid ornamented with a crimson central stripe

Officers

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

  • 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

The trumpeters and kettle-drummers of the regiment wore the livery of the House of Bourbon: pale ochre with red distinctives

Trumpeter of Bourbon Cavalerie - Source: Pagan Collection


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” in gold; one golden fleur de lys in each corner

Tentative Reconstruction
Regimental Standard - Copyright: Kronoskaf

References

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

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 2, J. Hetzel et Cie, Paris, 1874, pp. 375-382
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 356-357

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 (a website 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.