Mousquetaires de la Garde

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Mousquetaires de la Garde

Origin and History

Mousquetaires de la Garde in 1745. - Source: Alfred de Marbot Tableaux synoptiques de l'infanterie et de la cavalerie...

This prestigious unit consisted of two companies:

  • Mousquetaires gris (Grey musketeers)
  • Mousquetaires noirs (Black musketeers)

In 1734, each company counted 250 troopers. Thus 100 troopers of each company could remain with the king while the other 150 troopers would participate to campaigns.

The unit was disbanded on December 15, 1775. It was re-established in 1789 and soon disbanded again by the Republic.

1ère Compagnie – Mousquetaires gris

In 1622, Louis XIII replaced the carbines of his Compagnie de Carabins with muskets, renaming them Compagnie de Mousquetaires. Until 1629, this company was subordinated to the Chevau-légers de la Garde. In 1634, Louis XIII became captain of the company. However, contrarily to what has been said elsewhere, the unit was disbanded in 1646 and is not at the origin of the present company.

On June 14, 1656, the Comte César Degli Oddi brought back a dragoon regiment from Germany. This regiment arrived at La Fère in September where the king sojourned. Louis XIV was so satisfied by this new regiment that he renamed it "Dragons Étrangers" and incorporated it into his army. It then became necessary to add a similar company to the "Maison du Roi" which had units of all arms present in the army. For this reason, the 1st Companie of "Mousquetaires Gris" was created on January 10, 1657 and added to the Garde to fight mounted or dismounted just like the dragoons. The company consisted of 1 captain-lieutenant, 1 sous-lieutenant, 1 cornet and 2 maréchaux des logis. It initially had drummers and fifers for foot service and trumpeters for mounted service. Louis XIV then added an ensign and fixed the number of Mousquetaires to 150.

The company was quartered at number 2 rue du Bac in Paris.

In 1663, Louis XIV removed the trumpeters and fifers and replaced the latter by oboists. The company then consisted of:

  • 1 captain-lieutenant
  • 2 sous-lieutenants
  • 2 ensigns
  • 2 cornets
  • 10 maréchaux des logis (quartermasters) including 2 aide-majors in chief
  • 4 brigadiers
  • 18 sous-brigadiers
  • 1 standard beared
  • 1 fourrier
  • 6 drummers
  • 4 oboists
  • 164 mousquetaires

The whole company was mounted on grey horses and formed in a single squadron of four brigades for battle. For mounted service, each brigade carried a standard; for foot service the four standards were stored and replaced by a single colour.

This company took part to all the actions of the Garde during the reign of Louis XIV and Louis XV.

During the Seven Years' War, the company was under the nominal command of king Louis XV but under the direct command of a captain-lieutenant:

  • from May 21, 1738 to 1767: Pierre-Joseph de Chapelle, Marquis de Jumilhac

2e Compagnie – Mousquetaires noirs

This foot company was created in August 1660. It was the guard of the Cardinal de Mazarin, who gave it to the king in 1661. In 1663, it was transformed into a mounted unit. On January 9, 1665, King Louis XIV became captain of the company and integrated it into the Maison du Roi as the company of "Mousquetaires Noirs".

The company was quartered in its own hotel, rue de Charenton in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine in Paris.

The company had similar organisation as that of the "Mousquetaires Gris".

During the Seven Years' War, the company was under the nominal command of king Louis XV but under the direct command of a lieutenant-captain:

  • from April 1, 1754 to 1766: Charles-Yves-Thibaut, Marquis de la Rivière

Service during the War

By August 1 1757, the 2 companies were stationed in Paris. The unit did not take part in the early campaigns of the Seven Years' War.

In 1761, the unit took the field with the army of the Prince de Soubise. On July 16, it was present at the Battle of Vellinghausen but was not engaged.

In 1762, the unit formed part of Condé's Lower Rhine army. On August 30, it was present at the Combat of Nauheim (aka Johannisberg) but was not engaged.

Uniform

Privates of the 1ère Compagnie

Uniform of the 1st Company in 1758 - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etrennes militaires of 1758 and Etat Militaire of 1761
Headgear black tricorne laced gold, with a white cockade and a white plume
Neckstock n/a
Coat scarlet lined scarlet, laced gold with golden buttonholes and gilt buttons

blue soubreveste lined red, bordered with a silver braid, laced with a double silver braid and decorated in front and rear with a white velvet cross with a silver velvet fleurs de lys at the end of each branch decorated with silver and red flames at the angles.

Collar none
Shoulder straps wide silver braid
Lapels none
Pockets vertical double pockets
Cuffs scarlet
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat scarlet laced gold (as per Mouillard)
Breeches scarlet
Leather Equipment
Shoulder belt none
Waistbelt golden
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard n/a
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth scarlet laced gold
Housings scarlet laced gold
Blanket roll n/a


Troopers were armed with a sword, a pistol and a carbine.

Troopers were mounted on grey horses.

Privates of the 2ème Compagnie

Uniform of the 2nd Company in 1758 - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etrennes militaires of 1758 and Etat Militaire of 1761
Headgear black tricorne laced silver, with a white cockade and a white plume
Neckstock n/a
Coat scarlet lined scarlet, laced silver with silver buttonholes and silver buttons

blue soubreveste lined red, bordered with a silver braid, laced with a double silver braid and decorated in front and rear with a white velvet cross with a silver velvet fleurs de lys at the end of each branch decorated with silver and yellow flames at the angles.

Collar none
Shoulder straps wide silver braid
Lapels none
Pockets vertical double pockets
Cuffs scarlet
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat scarlet laced silver (as per Mouillard)
Breeches scarlet
Leather Equipment
Shoulder belt none
Waistbelt silver
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard n/a
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth scarlet laced silver
Housings scarlet laced silver
Blanket roll n/a


Troopers were armed with a sword, a pistol and a carbine.

Troopers were mounted on black horses.

Officers

Like for all units belonging to the Maison du Roi, the horses of the officers had to be grey.

Musicians

Mousquetaires de la Garde musicians in 1724. - Source: Alfred de Marbot Tableaux synoptiques de l'infanterie et de la cavalerie...

Exceptionally for a mounted unit of the Maison du Roi, the Mousquetaires had drummers and oboeists rather than kettle drummers.

Standards and Colours

Since Mousquetaires served mounted and dismounted, each company carried a flag and a standard. The flags were much smaller than the usual infantry flag. The square standards were of the usual size.

Flags and standard had a heavily embroidered white field fringed in gold and silver.

When the unit served mounted, the deployed standard was to the right of the flag which remained rolled, protected by a cover. When the unit served dismounted, the deployed flag was to the right of the standard which remained rolled.

Standards of the 1ère Compagnie de Mousquetaires gris

Obverse: decorated with a central scene depicting a bomb fired from a mortar and falling on a city, the whole surmounted by a scroll carrying the motto “Quo ruit est lethum”

The illustrated standard was in use between 1734 and 1748 but even though he had been redesigned many times, its general appearance had remained quite the same.

1ère Compagnie Standard – Copyright: Kronoskaf

Colours of the 1ère Compagnie de Mousquetaires gris

From 1657 to 1775, the colours of the company remained unchanged.

1ère Compagnie Colour – Copyright: Kronoskaf

Standards of the 2ème Compagnie de Mousquetaires noirs

Obverse: decorated with a central scene depicting a fasces of 12 red arrows pointing downwards fastened with a blue ribbon, the whole surmounted by a scroll carrying the motto “Al terius Jovis altera tela”

Reverse: decorated with a golden royal sun

2ème Compagnie 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. 1, Paris: Hetzel, 1874, pp. 228-235
  • Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 10-11

Other sources

Funcken, L. and F., Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Menguy, Patrice, Les Sujets du Bien Aimé

Mouillard, Lucien; Les Régiments sous Louis XV; Paris 1882

Service Historique de l'armée de terre, Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757

Vial J.-L., Nec Pluribus Impar

Acknowledgements

Gilbert Noury for the information on the colours and standards