Origin and History
The regiment was initially created by an ordinance on May 16 1645 under the name of “Enghien Cavalerie” and disbanded on January 20 1650 for cause of rebellion against its prince. The regiment was re-established on February 26 1651 and disbanded a second time on September 15 1651 when it passed in the Spanish service. It was re-established a third time on November 7 1659 and disbanded on April 18 1661. The regiment was finally raised anew on December 7 1665.
During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served in Germany from 1733 to 1735.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the campaigns in Bohemia in 1741 and 1742 and in the retreat from Prague. On June 27 1743, it fought at the Battle of Dettingen. In 1744, it was on the lines of the Lauter. In 1746, it was at the sieges of Bruxelles, Anvers, Mons and Namur, and at the Battle of Rocoux on October 11. On July 2 1747, it fought in the Battle of Lauffeld. In 1748, it took part in the siege of Maastricht.
After the war, the regiment was stationed at Valenciennes and Saint-Quentin in 1749 and 1750; Rethel. in 1751; Neufchâteau, in 1752 and 1753; and at Condé, in 1754 and 1755.
The regiment counted 2 squadrons.
During the Seven Years' War, Louis-Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, was the Mestre de Camp of the regiment but the successive Mestres de Camp Lieutenants commanding the regiment were:
- since February 18 1749: Chevalier de la Guiche
- from February 20 1761 to 1780: Comte de Toulouse-Lautrec
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 Toulouse-Lautrec Cavalerie who was incorporated into Condé Cavalerie. However, effective incorporation only took place at Lille in 1763.
Service during the War
In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was stationed at Epinal and Sedan.
In 1757, the regiment joined the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées. From April 27 to June 17, it was part of the Reserve under the Prince de Soubise. On July 26, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hastenbeck where it was among the cavalry of the left wing. After the victory, it encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine from July 31 to August 2. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed on the left wing of the first line. It was later transferred to the Army of Saxony led by Soubise. On November 5, the regiment took part in the disastrous Battle of Rossbach where it was brigaded with Bezons Cavalerie and Lastic de Saint-Jal Cavalerie in Saint-Germain's Corps. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in Nees on the Lower Rhine, 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 stationed in the villages of Gooch, Asperden, Nieukloster (present-day Kessel), Ottersum, Hommersum in the Gooch/Gennep/Meuse area. 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, 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 right wing of the second line, under Sourches. 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 second line.
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 first line of the cavalry right wing. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the cavalry centre under the command of the Duc de FitzJames. On August 15, during the French retreat, the regiment, who had suffered heavily at Minden and was now too weak to serve adequately, was sent to the rear at Marburg where it arrived on August 19.
By the end of January 1760, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in the fourth line of the French Army between the Rhine and the Main on the left bank of the Rhine. By mid March, the regiment was billeted in Ingelheim, in the fourth line of the French Army. By May 23, the regiment was part of the right wing of the first line of Broglie's Army. By September 19, the regiment was attached to Prince Xavier's Corps, forming part of the third line of his left column. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Arnstein.
In 1761 to 1762, the regiment was stationed in Paris.
|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||black cravate|
|Coat||grey white (steel grey as per Raspe) lined red with 4 pewter buttons under the left lapel and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||buff leather jerkin with pewter buttons|
|Greatcoat||grey white (steel grey as per Raspe) lined red|
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.
Evolution of the uniform during the war
Throughout the war the French cavalry uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary source for the uniform at the start of the conflict is the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.
Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:
- a white cockade on the tricorne
- coat of a darker (stelle grey) shade of grey
- coat and cuffs edged with a crimson braid
- turnbacks edged with a crimson braid
- steel grey waistcoat edged with a crimson braid (maybe the “dressed uniform”)
Lienhart and Humbert, a secondary source, shows the following differences for the uniform of 1757:
- white cockade at the tricorne
- grey white lapels, cuffs and turnbacks
- 3 buttons on each cuff
- 4 buttons on each pocket
- red saddle cloth and housing bordered with a crimson braid
Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:
- no turnbacks
- no lace on the coat and waistcoat
- Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
- brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs
As per René Chartrand, the uniform was ventre de biche (interpreted as light buff in his illustration) and laced with white and crimson braids. The cuffs and collar were red.
Regimental standards (4 silken standards): embroidered and fringed in silver;
- obverse: blue field; center device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in gold
- reverse: ventre de biche (reddish oranged white) field; centre device consisting of a silver sun kindling a pyre in the open field surmounted by a scroll bearing the motto “Da materiam splendescam”
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, p. 354-355
Chartrand, René: Louis XV's Cavalry
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)
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
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.