Royal-Étranger Cavalerie

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Royal-Étranger Cavalerie

Origin and History

Royal-Étranger Cavalerie after the reorganisation of 1761 - Source: Raspe 1762 from User:Zahn's collection

The regiment was raised on February 16, 1659, after the Treaty of the Pyrenees, from the remnants of various foreign regiments raised between 1635 and 1637. The kernel of the regiment consisted of the former “Roye Cavalerie”. After its creation, the regiment always recruited in France contrarily to what its name of “Royal Étranger” suggests.

In 1659, the new regiment took up its quarters in Picardie. In 1664, it took part in the brief campaign in Germany and was at the siege of Erfurt. In 1665, it formed part of a corps sent to the assistance of the Dutch, who were threatened by the Bishop of Münster. In remained in Holland in 1666 and returned to France in 1667, taking part in the sieges of Tournai, Douai and Lille. In 1668, it contributed to the conquest of Franche-Comté. It was then reduced to a single company.

On February 4, 1672, on the eve of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment was re-established to six companies. In 1673, it took part in the siege of Maastricht and then joined Turenne in Germany and fought in the battles of Sinsheim, Entzheim and Mulhouse. In 1675, it took part in the Battle of Turckheim before being transferred to Flanders and then to the Sarre River and fighting in the Battle of Konzer Brücke. It was also present at the capture of Montbéliard. In 1677, it took part in the Battle of Kochersberg and in the capture of Freiburg; in 1678, in the combats of Rheinfeld, Ortenberg and Gegenbach and in the siege of Kehl; and in 1679, in the two combats of Minden.

In 1680, the regiment was part of the garrison of Caen. From 1681 to 1684, it was at the camp in Artois. In 1684, it was at the siege of Luxembourg. From 1685 to 1688, it was at the camp on the Saône.

In 1689, during of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment joined the Army of Germany and took part in the capture of Betten, Staffurth, Durlach and Ettlingen. In 1690, it fought in the combat of Kockheim and in the Battle of Fleurus. In 1691, it took part in the siege of Mons and in the bombardment of Bruxelles; in 1692, in the capture of Namur and in the Battle of Steenkerque; in 1693, in the combat of Memmingen and in the capture of Heidelberg. In 1694 and 1695, the regiment continued to serve on the Rhine. In 1696, it was sent to Italy and was present at the siege of Valencia. It then returned to Flanders and, in 1697, took part in the siege of Ath.

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

In 1701, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment occupied Bruxelles, and then Roermond and Venlo. In 1702, it took part in an engagement near Nijmegen and in the relief of Kaiserswerth; in 1703, in an engagement at the Tombe de Vaux, and in the Battle of Ekeren. in 1705, in the siege of Huy; in 1706, in the Battle of Ramillies; in 1708, in the Battle of Oudenarde; in 1709, in the Battle of Malplaquet; in 1712, in the Battle of Denain, and in the recapture of Douai, Le Quesnoy and Bouchain. In 1713, the regiment was sent to the Rhine and was at the sieges of Landau and Freiburg.

In 1719, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-20), the regiment campaigned in Spain.

In 1727, the regiment was at the camp of the Moselle; in 1730, at the camp of the Upper Meuse; in 1732, at the camp of Aimeries-sur-Sambre; and in 1733, at a camp near Metz.

In 1733, during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment occupied Nancy, the capital of the Duc de Lorraine, and then marched to the Rhine where it was present at the capture of Philippsburg and at the Combat of Klausen.

In 1735, the regiment formed part of the garrison of Étain.

In 1741, at the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was initially stationed in Westphalia. In 1743, it served in Alsace; in 1744, in Flanders, where it remained until the end of the war.

In 1748, the regiment was stationed at Béthune; in 1749, at Ploërmel; in 1751 at Vannes; in 1752 at Laon; in 1754 at Valenciennes; and in 1755 at Dôle.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 6th among the line cavalry. The king was his Mestre de Camp but the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:

  • from February 2, 1756 until June 15, 1763: Louis-Antoine-Auguste de Rohan, Comte de Chabot

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 Charost Cavalerie who was incorporated into Royal Étranger Cavalerie.

Service during the War

By 1757, the regiment was stationed at Neufchâteau and Sedan. By the end of the year, it had joined the French forces in Germany where it took its winter-quarters in Krefeld on the Lower Rhine, in the fourth line of the French army.

From March 30 to April 4, 1758, after the retreat of the French army towards the Rhine during the Allied winter offensive in West Germany, the regiment was with Clermont's Army in the camp of Wesel on the Lower Rhine, in the second line of the right wing. In April, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed between Neuss and Krefeld. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the Army of 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 until June 12, being placed on the right wing of the second line. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the left wing of the second line, under de Muy. 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 Allied army. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the left wing of the second line. On September 29, the regiment took part in the Assault on Bork. At the end of September, it was part of FitzJames' corps sent as reinforcements to Soubise. On October 10, it was present at the Battle of Lutterberg where it was part of the Reserve of cavalry.

In June 1759, during the offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the main army under the command of the Marquis de Contades and was deployed in the second line of the cavalry left wing. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the second line of the cavalry centre under the command of du Mesnil. By August 15 during the French retreat, the regiment, who had suffered heavily at Minden, could only field a single squadron.

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 10, the regiment was at the Combat of Corbach. On July 31, it took part in the Battle of Warburg where it was deployed in the first line of the centre. By October 1, the regiment was part of d'Auvet's Division which was instructed to march towards Hachenburg. On October 10, the regiment reached the Erft and Neuss. On October 16, it was at the Battle of Clostercamp, where it was deployed in the second line of the centre. As part of the brigade of the Marquis de Cursay, it managed to contain the Allied column until the arrival of La Couronne infantry brigade.

In February 1761, the regiment was attached to the Army of the Lower Rhine and was quartered in the region of Liège. It then took part in the defence of Kassel until the end of March. It was then transferred to the coasts of France, where it served until the end of the war.

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 Rousselot
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
Neck stock probably a black cravate
Coat blue lined red with 4 pewter buttons below the lapels and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps regimental lace
Lapels red, each with 8 pewter buttons arranged 2 by 2
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin fastened with hooks and eyes
Breeches kid (goat leather)
Greatcoat blue lined red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear black soft boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue bordered with regimental lace : an aurore (light orange) braid decorated with alternated white and aurore rhombuses bordered in crimson
Housings blue bordered with regimental lace : an aurore (light orange) braid decorated with alternated white and aurore rhombuses bordered in crimson
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.

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

Musicians

King's Livery - Source: PMPdeL

Trumpets and kettle-drummers wore a blue coat heavily laced with braids at the king's livery alternating with silver braids.

Standards

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, Royal regiments carried two distinct models of standards.

The model illustrated hereafter was carried by the regiments Royal, Royal-Étranger, Royal-Roussillon, Royal-Allemand and Royal-Carabiniers.



Regimental standards (4 silken standards with similar obverse and reverse): blue field with borders embroidered and fringed in gold and silver; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR”; a golden fleur de lys embroidered in each corner.

Tentative Reconstruction
Royal Cavalry 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. 58-65
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 326-327

Other sources

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

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website which has unfortunately disappeared from the web)

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

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolaus: 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

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.