Royal-Piémont Cavalerie

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

Origin and History

Trooper of Royal-Piémont Cavalerie in 1735 – Copyright: Michel Pétard
Only small details of the uniform and armament changed before the Seven Years' War

The regiment was originally raised in 1670 in Turin by the Duke of Savoy. On August 9, 1671, it was ceded to Louis XIV while he was arming against the Dutch Republic. At its arrival in France the regiment, which was considered as a foreign unit, was completed with Catholic English officers and soldiers who had taken refuge in France.

In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment took part in the conquest of Holland. In 1673, it took part in the siege of Maastricht; in 1674, in the Battle of Seneffe. It then served on the frontier of the Netherlands until 1678, when it was reduced to a single squadron and incorporated into the French regiments.

In 1684, the regiment was at the siege of Luxembourg.

In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment, now re-established to full strength. On May 6, 1690, the regiment, which had hitherto been the property of the Duke of Savoy now an enemy of France, became “Royal Piémont”. In the same year, it took part in the Battle of Fleurus; in 1691, in the combat of Leuze; and in 1692 in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, the regiment campaigned in Germany, in 1694 and 1695, in Flanders, and in 1696 in Piedmont, where it took part in the siege of Valencia. In 1697, it was on the coasts of Flanders and took part in the siege of Ath.

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

At the end of 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was sent back to Flanders. In 1702, it took part in the engagement near Nijmegen. At the end of June, it was transferred to the Army of the Rhine. In 1703, the regiment took part in the sieges of Kehl and Alt-Breisach, in the Battle of Höchstädt and in the siege of Augsburg; in 1704, in the disastrous Battle of Blenheim; and in 1705 in the siege of Huy. In 1708, the regiment fought in the Battle of Oudenarde. From 1709 to 1712, it campaigned in Flanders. In 1713, it was sent to the Rhine.

In 1727, the regiment was at the camp of the Sambre and, from 1730 to 1732, at the camp of the Saône.

In 1733, at the outbreak of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment was allocated to the Army of Italy and took part in the conquest of the Duchy of Milan. In 1734, it took part in the battles of Colorno, San Pietro and Guastalla; and in 1735, in the engagements of Gonzague, Reggiolo and Revere and in the expedition in Trentino.

In July 1735, the regiment returned to France and took up its quarters in Bayeux.

In 1741, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment served with the Army of the Rhine. In 1742, it took part in the campaign of Bohemia and in the defence of Eggenfeld. In 1743, it retreated to France. In 1744, it campaigned in Provence and contributed to the conquest of the County of Nice. It then fought in the battles of Coni, Piacenza and Tidone. From 1745 to 1748, it took part in the campaigns in Flanders.

In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Maubeuge; in 1750, at Joigny; in 1751, at Mézières and then Charlesville; in 1752, at Bourges; and in 1754, at Belfort. In 1755, it was sent to the camp at Richemont-sur-Moselle, and then went to the camps of Chateaudun and Vendôme.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 10th among the line cavalry. The king was the nominal Mestre de Camp of the regiment but the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:

  • from November 15, 1752: Charles-Joachim Rouault, Marquis de Gamaches
  • from April 8, 1757 to January 3, 1770: Charles-Daniel de Talleyrand-Périgord, Comte de Talleyrand

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 Talleyrand Cavalerie which was incorporated into Royal-Piémont Cavalerie.

Service during the War

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

At the beginning of 1757, the regiment was transferred to Valenciennes and Vervins. The regiment is first mentioned in service duty in September, after the Convention of Klosterzeven, when it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu who encamped at Halberstadt from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed on the right wing of the second line. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in the area of Aurich in Ostfriese, in the fourth line of the French army.

From March 30 to April 4, 1758, the regiment was with Clermont's Army in the camp of Wesel on the Lower Rhine, in the first line of the right wing. In April, when 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 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 until June 12. It was 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 Allies. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the left wing of the second line. At the beginning of October, the regiment was attached to Chevert's Corps which was sent to reinforce Soubise's Army 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.

In 1759, the regiment was stationed at Évreux in Normandy.

For the campaign of 1760, the regiment returned to Germany. By May 23, it was part of the Reserve of the second line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of M. d'Auvet. On July 10, the regiment might have been attached to Prince Camille's Cavalry Corps who arrived too late to take part in the Combat of Corbach. On July 31, the regiment fought in the Battle of Warburg, where it was one of the few cavalry regiments who opposed the British cavalry. On October 3, Ségur's Corps (including this regiment) was dispatched towards Hachenburg and Cologne. On October 13, the unit arrived at Neuss with Castries. On October 16, it fought in the Battle of Clostercamp where it was deployed in the second line of the left wing. At the end of the battle, the regiment along with 1 squadron of Balincourt Cavalerie, led by the Comte de Thiard de Bissy, came forward and handled very roughly the British squadrons who had come forward to cover the retreat of the Allies. However, the fight with the British cavalry gave the infantry time to rally, and to make their retreat in good order.

At the beginning of February 1761, the regiment was quartered in Liège. In February, 150 men of the regiment were allocated to de Muy's Corps, which was destined to march on Hachenburg and reinforce the Maréchal de Broglie. By June, the entire regiment was attached to the Army of the Lower Rhine. On July 3, the regiment took part in an engagement near Dortmund. On July 16, it was present at the Battle of Vellinghausen. By September 20, the regiment was posted at Recklinghausen. In November, it was posted along the Meuse.

By March 1762, the regiment was part of the Army of the Lower Rhine under the Prince de Condé. By the end of May, the regiment was posted in the region of Dülken. 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 formed part of the troops who would remain in Germany and was stationed on the Meuse River.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform in 1761 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753 and Etat Militaire of 1761
completed when necessary as per 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
Neck stock probably a black cravate
Coat blue lined red (lined blue from 1761) with 4 pewter buttons under the lapels and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps blue and white epaulets
Lapels red bavaroise down to the pockets, each with 7 (as per Funcken) pewter buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red (blue from 1761)
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin with copper buttons
Breeches kid (goat leather)
Greatcoat blue lined red (lined blue from 1761)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear black soft boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue bordered with a white braid (an aurore (light orange) braid decorated with blue, red and white squares from 1761 as illustrated)
Housings blue bordered with a white braid (an aurore (light orange) braid decorated with blue, red and white squares from 1761 as illustrated)
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 cavalry regiments carried two distinct models of standards.

The model illustrated hereafter was carried by the regiments du Roy, Cuirassiers du Roy, Royal-Cravate, Royal-Piémont and Royal-Pologne.



carrying a golden royal sun with a gold and silver fringe.

Regimental standards (4 silken standards): blue field embroidered and fringed in gold

  • obverse: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun but without motto, and a golden fleur de lys embroidered in each corner
  • reverse: sown with fleurs de lys sans nombre (i.e. the fleurs de lys located near the edge could be truncated)
Tentative Reconstruction
Royal Cavalry Regimental Standard - Copyright: Kronoskaf

References

This article 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. 331-332

Other sources

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

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who 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.