Orléans Cavalerie

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

Origin and History

Carabinier Standard Bearer of Orléans Cavalerie – Copyright: Franco Saudelli and Dr Marco Pagan

The regiment was raised in Piedmont in 1630 by the Commander de Souvré. On May 16, 1635, the regiment transferred into the French service. However, it continued to serve in Italy, distinguishing itself in the “Combat de la Route” in 1639.

On March 20, 1647, Anne d'Autriche purchased the regiment for her second son, Philippe d'Anjou. The regiment remained under the command of Souvré

In 1649, the regiment was transferred from Italy to Catalonia. In 1650, it was sent to Champagne, where it took part in the Battle of Rethel. In 1652, it fought under Turenne in the combats of Bléneau, Étampes and Saint-Antoine. In 1653, it was sent to Roussillon. In 1654, it joined the Army of Catalonia. The same year, it incorporated a foreign cavalry regiment belonging to the Duc d’Anjou. The regiment continued to serve in Catalonia until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.

On April 12, 1660, at the death of Gaston d'Orléans, Philippe became Duc d’Orléans and his regiment was renamed accordingly. The regiment was disbanded on April 18, 1661 with the exception of the company belonging to the Duc d'Orléans.

On December 7, 1665, the regiment was re-established for the Duc d'Orléans. In 1666, it was at the training camp of Compiègne.

In 1667, at the outbreak of the War of Devolution (1667-68), the regiment (9 companies) was present at the capture of Tournai, Douai and Lille.

In 1668, the regiment was reduced to two companies.

In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment was increased to six companies. It then campaigned in Holland. In 1673, it took part in the siege of Maastricht; in 1674, in the Battle of Seneffe and in the relief of Oudenarde; in 1675, in the capture of Dinant, Huy and Limbourg; in 1676, in the capture of Condé, Bouchain and Aire; in 1677, in the sieges of Valenciennes and Cambrai; in 1678, in the sieges of Ghent and Ypres; and in 1679, in the Battle of Minden.

In 1681, the regiment was at the camp of Upper Alsace; in 1682, at the camp of Artois; in 1683, at the sieges of Courtrai and Dixmude; and in 1684, at the siege of Luxembourg.

In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment took part in the siege of Philippsburg and in the conquest of Palatinate; and in 1689, in the Combat of Walcourt. In 1690 and 1691, it served in Germany. In 1692, it was at the siege of Namur and fought in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, it took part in the Battle of Landen and in the capture of Charleroi; and in 1694, in the engagements near Tongres and Bruxelles. The regiment was then assigned to corps posted on the Meuse.

In 1698, the regiment was at the camp of Compiègne.

In 1701, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment served in Flanders. In 1702, it took part in the Combat of Nijmegen; in 1703, in the siege and capture of Alt-Breisach, in the siege of Landau, and in the Combat of Speyerbach; and in 1704, in the disastrous Battle of Blenheim. In 1705, the regiment was brought back to full strength in Alsace. In 1706,it took part in the operations on the Rhine. In 1707, it was transferred to Flanders. In 1708, it took part in the Battle of Oudenarde; in 1709, in the Battle of Malplaquet; in 1711, in Combat of Arleux; and in 1712, in the Battle of Denain, and in the sieges and capture of Douai, Le Quesnoy and Bouchain. In 1713, the regiment was transferred to the Rhine, where it contributed to the capture of Landau and Freiburg. In 1714, the regiment was at the camp on the Lower Meuse.

In 1719, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-20), the regiment took part in the sieges of Fuenterrabia, San Sebastian and Roses.

During the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served in Italy and distinguished itself at Gera d’Adda, Pizzighetone, Milan, Novara, Tortona, Colorno, Parma, Guastalla, La Mirandola, Revere, Reggio and Gonzague.

In 1736, the regiment returned to France and took its quarters in Guise.

In 1741, at the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia; and in 1742, in the siege and capture of Prague, in the Battle of Sahay and in the unsuccessfull defence of Prague. In 1743, it retreated to France, where it was cantoned in Alsace. In 1746, it was sent to Flanders. In 1747, it took part in the Battle of Lauffeld; and in 1748, in the siege of Maastricht.

After the war, the regiment was stationed at Lille in 1749, Provins in 1750, Metz in 1751, Gisors in 1752, Metz in 1754, and Aimeries in 1755.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the Duc d'Orléans was the Mestre de Camp of the regiment but the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:

  • from April 10, 1752: Louis Gabriel d'Armentières, Comte de Conflans
  • from April 27, 1761 to May 21, 1766: Jacques Marquis de Noë

When the French Cavalry was reorganised on December 1, 1761, the regiment was increased to four squadrons, each of them consisting of four companies of 40 troopers, for a total of 640 troopers. The two additional squadrons came from Crussol Cavalerie which was incorporated into Orléans Cavalerie.

As per a decree dated January 1, 1791, the regiment became the “13e Régiment de Cavalerie”.

Service during the War

In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was stationed at Mirecourt. It was then transferred to cantons between the Meuse and Alsace.

In 1757, the regiment left Sedan to join the army of Maréchal d'Estrées at Neuss for the planned invasion of Hanover. In July, it was at the Battle of Hastenbeck, then it took part in the conquest of Hanover. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters 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 placed in the second line at Kevelaer, Weeze and Uedem. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the Allied Army of Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. It then remained in this camp, where it was placed on the right wing of the second line, until June 12. 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.

At the end of May 1759, when the French army of the Rhine launched its offensive in West Germany, the regiment remained on the Rhine as part of the corps of the Marquis d'Armentières. On June 6, the regiment was present at an engagement near Elberfeld. It was then detached to Münster. Afterwards, the regiment was probably transferred to Contades' Army since, on October 19, it was part of the force sent by Contades to reinforce d'Armentières on the Lower Rhine.

By May 23, 1760, the regiment was part of the second line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of the Prince de Croy. On July 10, the regiment was attached to Prince Camille's Cavalry Corps who arrived too late to take part in the Combat of Corbach. By June, it had been transferred to the Army of the Lower Rhine. By September 19, the regiment was attached to Prince Xavier's Corps, forming part of the second line of his right column. It was then transferred to Castrie's Corps cantoned around Düsseldorf. The regiment was charged to patrol along the Rhine between Berg and Mark counties. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Montabaur and surroundings.

By February 9, 1761, the regiment was attached to Broglie's Army and deployed in the area of Siegen. On July 16, it took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen where it was deployed in the second line of the cavalry right wing under the Prince de Croy. It took its winter-quarters at Baden-Durlach.

By the end of March 1762, the regiment was attached to the Prince de Condé's Army of the Lower Rhine. In mid-April 1762, the regiment marched to Gervesheim in the Duchy of Bergh. By May 29, it was posted at at Dülken, Campbruck (unidentified location) and Capellen (unidentified location) as part of Lévis's Reserve. From December 19, all French armies still operating in Germany abandoned their cantonments and marched to Butzbach, converging on Frankfurt. Germany had to be evacuated by December 31. The regiment was directed on Valenciennes.

In 1763, when peace was signed, the regiment, then at Valenciennes, finally incorporated Crussol Cavalerie which had been attached to the regiment during the reorganisation of the French cavalry at the end of December 1761.

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, Rigo, Rousselot, Funcken and Mouillard
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

somewhere after 1758, the regiment adopted a black bearskin with a red bag (piped white for carabiniers and silver for cornets)

Neckstock black cravate
Coat grey white lined red with 4 pewter buttons under the lapel and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps a white epaulette on the left shoulder and a blue/red/white aiguillette on the right shoulder
Lapels red with 7 pewter buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets with 3 pewter buttons (as per Rousselot)
Cuffs red with 3 pewter buttons (edged silver for the carabiniers)
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin with pewter buttons
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat grey white lined red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather edged in red
Waistbelt natural leather edged in red
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather with brass trimming
Footgear soft black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red bordered with braid at the livery of Orléans (2 rows of red and white checkerboard with 2 central stripes: one white, one blue)
Housings red bordered with braid at the livery of Orléans (2 rows of red and white checkerboard with 2 central stripes: one white, one blue)
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.

In summertime, the coat was often removed and folded on the porte-manteau. In such an outfit, French cavalrymen looked quite the same as Prussian cuirassiers.

Evolution of the uniform during the war

Throughout the war the French cavalry uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only source for the uniform at the start of the conflict is the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753. The first pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.

Lienhart and Humbert show the following differences for the uniform of 1757:

  • white cockade at the tricorne
  • grey white shoulder strap with a pewter button
  • 4 buttons on each pocket

Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:

  • a white cockade on the tricorne
  • coat and cuffs edged with the regimental lace
  • turnbacks edged with the regimental lace and attached with a small pewter button
  • grey white waistcoat edged with the regimental lace and grey white breeches (maybe the “dressed uniform”)

N.B.: the regimental lace is represented by a simple blue braid (maybe an oversimplification of the quite complex livery of Orléans)

Officers

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

  • Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
  • brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs
  • cornet: silver epaulette and aiguillette; leather jerkin edged silver

Musicians

As per Beneton, in 1739 the uniform was red lined blue and laced with a braid at the livery of Orléans (2 rows of red and white checkerboard with 2 central stripes: one white, one blue)

Standards

The first four companies of the regiment carried standards.

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” in gold; in each corner a golden fleurs de lys
  • reverse: centre device consisting of the arms of Orléans surrounded by the necklace of the Toison d'Or and Saint Esprit and surmounted by a gold crown; the entire centre device was surrounded by 10 small gold fleurs de lys hanged to silver bars; in each corner a golden fleurs de lys
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. 215-226
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 352-353

Other sources

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

Rigo: Cavalerie – Régiment d'Orléans Étendards – 1761, in Le Plumet AR 27

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website which, unfortunately, does not exist anymore)

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

Service historique de l'armée de terre - Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23

Vial J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar

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