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Origin and History
The regiment was raised at Tournai on December 8 1674 by M. de Saint-Sandoux.
During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served in Italy from 1733 to 1735. In 1736, it returned to France and was stationed at Saintes.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment initially served on the Rhine in 1741. In 1742, it took part in the invasion of Bohemia. In 1743 and 1744, it was stationed at Fribourg. From 1745 to 1748, it campaigned in Flanders.
In 1751, the regiment was stationed at Maubeuge; in 1752, at Caen; in 1754, at Béthune; and in 1755, at Dunkerque.
In 1756, the regiment counted 4 squadrons and ranked 10th.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- since December 1 1745: Marquis de Caraman
- from February 21 1761 till January 3 1770: Marquis d'Autichamp
Service during the War
In 1757, the regiment was sent to reinforce the Army of the Lower Rhine. It joined the main body in Hessen in August. On December 5, during the Allied counter-offensive in Hanover, the regiment was attacked and routed near Ebstorf by General Schulenberg's Corps. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in the third line of the French army at Holzminden and Beverungen.
In February 1758, when Ferdinand of Brunswick launched his winter offensive in Western Germany, the regiment retired on the Rhine with the rest of the French army. From March 30 to April 4, it was on the left wing of Clermont's Army in the camp of Wesel on the Lower Rhine. In April, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was placed in the third line at Sittard in Belgium and at Tudder (present-day Selfkant). After the successful crossing of the Rhine by an Allied army on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where, on June 2, it joined Clermont's Army. It remained in this camp, where it was placed on the flanks behind the left wing, until June 12. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it formed part of the reserve, under the Duc de Chevreuse. 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 Allies. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it formed part of the Reserve.
On April 11 1759, the regiment was part of a corps of 14 bns and 4 sqns detached from the army of the Marquis d'Armentières under the command of the Comte de Saint-Germain to reinforce the Duc de Broglie who was threatened by the advance of an Allied army. Saint-Germain marched towards the Lahn River and arrived at Königstein on the evening of April 13, too late to take part in the Battle of Bergen. On April 14, he made a junction with Broglie's Army. In June, during the French offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the Reserve of dragoons. On September 20, during the Allied counter-offensive in Western Germany, the regiment formed part of a force who took position on the Heights of Wetzlar to prevent the Allies from passing the Lahn.
By the end of January 1760, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in the first line of the French army. By mid March, the regiment was billeted in Westheim (unidentified location) and Rhodeim, still in the first line. By May 23, it was assigned to Broglie's headquarters. On May 24, 100 men of the regiment were part of a French detachment under Waldner occupying Butzbach. Luckner was preparing an attack on Butzbach when a party of 13 French hussars appeared near Lich. Most of them were captured but 2 managed to escape and to give alarm at Butzbach. Waldner sent another party of 17 hussars to confirm the presence of the Allied force. They were pursued by Allied hussars who entered into Butzbach on their trail. Waldner retired through another gate with the garrison and entered into the woods in the direction of Friedberg. The Allied hussars engaged a picquet of Caraman Dragons and captured 1 officer and 20 troopers. They then engaged a picquet of infantry and captured 25 men. Luckner then divided his force into 2 parties: the mounted jägers entered into the woods while the Brunswick Hussars pursued the retreating French units up to Friedberg, bringing back prisoners and 30 carriages. In this action Luckner lost 2 hussars killed and 5 wounded. He also destroyed a French magazine. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Nastatten.
At the beginning of February 1761, the regiment formed part of a force of 10 bns and 9 sqns deployed en cordon between Frankfurt and Hanau. On March 21, 2 sqns of the regiment took part in the Engagement of Grünberg, where they formed part of Closen’s Corps, which attacked the left flank of the retiring Allies, forcing their cavalry to take refuge in the wood and then turning against the infantry column, throwing it into disorder and taking several prisoners.
In March 1762, the regiment was attached to the Army of the Upper Rhine under the Prince de Soubise. By June 21, it had been allocated to Prince Xavier's Corps. By mid-July, the regiment was posted at Deiderode under Lieutenant-General Chevert. On July 23, it was present at the Combat of Lutterberg. On November 20, when Louis XV issued his instructions regarding the French armies serving in Germany, specifying which units should return to France right away and which should stay in Germany till the final evacuation, the regiment was among the units chosen to remain in Germany.
|Headgear||red fatigue cap with a red turn-up edged with a green braid|
or 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 white button
|Neck stock||black cravate|
|Coat||red lined red with white buttons and white laced buttonholes down to the pockets and a white button on each side in the small of the back
|Waistcoat||red (with small green lapels from 1757) with white buttons on the right side and white laced buttonholes on both sidesN.B.: the Liste générale des troupes de France of 1754 mentions a blue waistcoat while all other descriptions give a red waistcoat|
N.B.: the fatigue cap was supposed to be worn only for the king's review, for foraging or when the regiment's chief ordered to wear it. In fact, dragoons often wore their fatigue cap during campaigns.
Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet, a pistol and a sabre. Carabiniers were armed with a rifle instead of a musket.
Evolution of the uniform during the war
Throughout the war the French dragoon uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary sources for the uniform at the start of the conflict are the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753, the Liste Générale des Troupes de France of 1754 and the Etrennes Militaires of 1758. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1660 and 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.
Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:
- a black bearskin with a green bag and tassel instead of a tricorne
- no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
- no buttons on the cuffs
- black cavalry boots
Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1761 shows a uniform corresponding to our description from 1757 but with a white cockade at the tricorne and without lapels on the waistcoat.
The uniforms of the officers were similar to those of the troopers with the following differences:
- the coat was made of Elbeuf woollen cloth (or of a woollen cloth of identical quality)
- linings were made of woollen cloth as well
- no braids on the coat or waistcoat but only silver buttonholes with silver plated wooden buttons
- Raspe publication illustrates plain red coat and waistcoat without edging or laced buttonholes at the end of 1760
- Raspe publication illustrates a uniform corresponding to our description
- red breeches
- saddle cloth and housings bordered with a silver braid (5.41 cm wide for captains and 4.06 cm wide for lieutenants)
- standard cavalry officer sword (gilt copper hilt, 83.92 cm long)
Officers were also armed with a musket and a bayonet and carried a cartridge pouch containing 6 cartridges. This musket was shorter than the muskets carried by troopers.
The maréchaux-des-logis and sergeants had similar uniforms made of Romorantin woolen cloth. Their coats and waistcoats had no silver buttonholes. They carried sabres like the maréchaux-des-logis of the cavalry regiments. Their saddle-clothes and housings were bordered with a 2.7 cm wide silver braid.
Drummers wore a coat similar to the one worn by the musicians of the cavalry. Musicians were always shaved and had no moustache. They were usually mounted on grey horses.
Musicians probably wore the livery of the House of Caraman which is unfortunately unknown. From 1761, musicians probably wore the livery of the House of Autichamp which is also unknown.
Regimental guidons (4 silken swallow-tailed guidons): red field embroidered and fringed in gold;
- obverse: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the motto “NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR”.
- reverse: centre device consisting of 2 laurel wreaths on a blue field with a vertical scroll bearing the motto “IN GEMINO CERTAMINE”
This article incorporates texts from the following book which is now in the public domain::
- Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 431-432
Funcken: Liliane and Fred, Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
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
Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: 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
N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.