Du Roy Dragons
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Origin and History
The regiment was created by the decree of July 20 1743 from 6 companies taken from existing dragoon regiments (1 company per regiment).
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment initially served on the Rhine in 1745. In 1746, it campaigned in Flanders. In 1747, it was transferred to Valence on the Provence theatre of operation. In 1748, it was back on the Rhine at Sélestat in Alsace.
In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Sens; in 1750, at Metz; in 1751, at Salins; in 1753, at Verdun; and in 1754, at Plobsheim.
By 1756, the regiment counted 4 squadrons and ranked 4rd.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the nominal command of King Louis XV.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the effective command of its successive mestres de camp lieutenant:
- since August 9 1748: Alexandre Antoine de Montbélliard, Comte de Scey
- from February 20 1761 to 1779: Charles Marie de Sault, Marquis de Créquy
Service during the War
In 1756, at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, the regiment was stationed at Le Vigan.
In 1757, the regiment took part in the operations of the Army of the Lower Rhine. It was at the sieges of Gueldern and Jülich. It then took part in the conquest of East Frisia and in the occupation of Meppen, Venne, Leer and Emden. In December, it joined the French army operating in Hanover at Zell and then retreated. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in the first line of the French army in the area of Göttingen.
From March 30 to April 4, 1758, after the retreat of the French army towards the Rhine, the regiment was with the army of the Comte de Clermont in the camp of Wesel on the Lower Rhine, on the right wing. In April, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was placed in the third line at Heinsberg. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by an Allied army under 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 placed on the flank 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. On August 5, it was part of Chevert's forces when he was defeated at the Combat of Mehr while attempting to capture Ferdinand's sole bridge on the Rhine. Chevert used the regiment to cover the retreat of his infantry. 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 Allies. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it formed part of the Reserve. In November, the regiment was part of the reinforcements sent to the army of the Prince de Soubise. The regiment, unaided, seized the town of Schwartzhausen and the Castle of Kalze.
On April 13, 1759, the regiment took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the cavalry reserve deployed in the third line behind the Wartberg. In June, during the French offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the Reserve of dragoons. At the beginning of August, at the time of the Battle of Minden, the regiment had been detached to Lippstadt.
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 Gelnhausen and Wächtersbach, still in the first line. By May 23, it was part of the right vanguard of Broglie's Army. Early on June 24, the Légion Royale, supported by Du Roy Dragons and La Ferronnaye Dragons, attacked the Allied rearguard near Homberg and forced it to retire. The regiment then took part in the siege of Ziegenhein. On September 13, it distinguished itself once more in a combat along the Werra where the Count von Bülow was defeated. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Gotha.
On January 26, 1761, the regiment was at the Combat of Kindelbruck. On 15 February, it was present at the Combat of Langensalza, where it was deployed along the left bank of the Gera between Tottleben to Gebesee. On February 21, it marched on Kreimberg, attacked an artillery convoy and took 7 guns. On February 27, the Maréchal de Broglie established his headquarters at Friedberg and constituted a corps of 12 bns, 2 cavalry brigades and Du Roy Dragons to occupy the gap between Gelnhausen and Büdingen and to support the cordon of light troops established at Hungen, Nidda, Ortenberg, Wenings, Birstein and Salmünster. The regiment was then quartered in Einbeck. On March 21, it took part in the Engagement of Grünberg. By mid-April, the regiment was stationed in Aschaffenburg and Hanau. At the beginning of May, it was allocated to Prince Xavier’s Corps, which assembled at Fulda. On August 15, Lückner attacked M. de Belsunce on the heights of Alsar, capturing French infantry colours. An officer and 2 troopers of the regiment pursued Lückner's force, caught up with it and recaptured the colours. On November 13, the regiment, along with La Ferronnaye Dragons engaged Luckner Hussars. The French dragoons were forced to retire under the supporting fire of their infantry.
In March 1762, the regiment formed part of the Army of the Upper Rhine under Soubise. By mid-July, it was posted on the Schwalm under M. de Rochambeau. In mid-December, when the French army evacuated Germany, the regiment was directed to Landau.
|Headgear||blue fatigue cap with a blue turn-up edged white|
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||blue with blue lining; white buttons and white laced buttonholes arranged 3 by 3 down to the pocket and a white button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||red with white buttons on one side and white laced buttonholes on both sides grouped 3 by 3 (white lapels from 1757)|
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 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 white bag and a white tassel for troopers
- no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
- only 3 buttons on the cuffs
- black cavalry boots
In December 1762, a regulation introduced a brand new green uniform with rose red as the distinctive colour.
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 a plain red waistcoat without edging or laced buttonholes
- 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.
Since this unit was a royal regiment, drummers wore a blue coat heavily laced with braids at the king's livery alternating with silver braids.
Regimental guidons (4 gros de Tour linen swallow-tailed guidons) blue field spangled with golden fleurs de lys and fringed in gold;
- obverse: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a red scroll edged blue bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar”
- reverse: corner device (lower corner close to the pole) consisting of a golden rising sun with a white scroll parallel to the pole bearing the motto “Multorum Virtus In Uno”
This article is mostly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “Du Roy Dragons” published on his website Nec Pluribus Impar. The article also 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. 426-427
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
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.