Cuirassiers du Roy
Origin and History
The regiment was originally raised on January 24 1638 and re-established on December 2 1665 as “Cuirassiers du Roy”. It was the sole French cavalry regiment to wear the full cuirass over the coat.
During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment initially served in Italy in 1733 before returning to France in 1735. In 1736, it was at Cambrai.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment fought at Dettingen (June 27, 1743). In 1744, it was stationed at Menin. It then took part in several battles: Fontenoy (May 11, 1745), Rocoux (October 11, 1746) and Lauffeld (July 2, 1747). In 1748, it was present at the capture of Maastricht.
In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Montereau and Valenciennes; in 1750 at Saint-Dizier; in 1752 at Condé; in 1753 at Sens; and in 1755 at Metz.
The regiment counted 2 squadrons since 1745.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 7th among the line cavalry. The king was the Mestre de Camp of the regiment but the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:
- since January 1 1748: marquis de Lostanges
- from May 30 1760 to 1764: chevalier de Ray
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 Ray Cavalerie (formerly Bussy-Lameth Cavalerie) which was incorporated into the Cuirassiers du Roy.
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment was stationed at Haguenau.
In 1757, the regiment joined the Lower Rhine Army commanded by maréchal d'Estrées for the planned invasion of Hanover. 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 right wing. After the Convention of Klosterzeven, 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 first line of the right wing. At the end of the year, it took its winter quarters in Soest in Westphalia, 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 at Xanten. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by Ferdinand of Brunswick's army 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 first 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 first line, under d'Armentières. 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 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 right wing of the first line. At the beginning of October, the regiment was attached to Chevert's corps which was sent to reinforce Soubise's army in Hesse. By October 8, the effective strength of the regiment amounted to only 210 horse, out of a theoretical strength of 320 horse. On October 10, it was at the battle of Lutterberg where it formed part of Chevert's corps which won the day by turning the Allied left flank. During this battle, the Cuirassiers du Roy, under the command of the marquis of Lostanges and the marquis of Voyer guided by the maréchal des logis Caulincourt, saw heavy fighting. The first squadron (companies of M. d'Artaguiette, M. de France, M. de Courtemer and M. de Laur) charged the Allied infantry column and suffered casualties from bayonets. Lostanges had a leg pierced and later received a sabre cut to the head; Courtemer, Laur, Panniseau (adjutant-major)and lieutenant de Fontaine were killed; the standard-bearer de Fillot died later (October 18) of his wounds. All the officers and NCOs were wounded under their killed horses. The second squadron, (companies: M. de Champoléon, M. de Saint-Didier, M. de Voughy and of M. de Tauriac) under lieutenant-colonel d’Artaguiette, fought against the Allied cavalry. Almost all the officers were wounded by sabre-cuts, like major de Pétremand-Valey. Chevalier of Lostanges, cornette of the Saint-Didier company, was killed. The total of losses were 20 killed and 29 wounded for the first squadron; and 13 killed and 31 wounded for the second squadron. The regiment also had 109 horses killed and 35 wounded. Chevert said "Les cuirassiers du Roy ont le plus souffert", reporting about the regiment. The captains de France and de Saint-Didier were commended with the Saint-Louis cross. Total losses forced the regiment to a halt and the unit was sent back to France for rest and refit.
At the beginning of 1759, the regiment was stationed at Pont-Audemer, in Normandy.
On July 10 1760, the regiment fought at the battle of Corbach.
On July 16 1761, the regiment fought at the battle of Vellinghausen.
To do: campaigns from 1759 to 1762
|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|
N.B.: several authors suggest that this unit wore black bearskin caps since 1748. This is not reflected in the États militaires. However, a text from an inspection in 1749 as well as a request from the mestre de camp the marquis de Lostanges and the answer of the minister d'Argenson all states that the Cuirassiers du Roy wore a bearskin similar to the one worn in the German cavalry regiments (for more details, see the related article of the Sabretache on Gallica.bnf.fr).
|Neckstock||probably a black cravate|
|Coat||blue lined red with pewter buttons on the chest and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||blue (sole cavalry regiment wearing a waistcoat instead of a buff leather jerkin)|
|Breeches||kid (goat leather)|
|Greatcoat||blue lined red|
Troopers were armed with a carbine, two pistols and a sabre. They were the sole French cavalrymen to wear the full cuirass (front and back plates) over the coat, fixed with buff and brass belts and buckles.
The regiment was considered as an elite unit and its troopers sported moustaches.
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
Trumpets and kettle-drummers wore a blue coat heavily laced with braids at the king's livery alternating with silver braids.
Regimental standards (4 silken standards): blue field embroidered and fringed in gold; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar”; one golden fleur de lys in each
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. 328-329
Carnet de la Sabretache, nouvelle serie n 146, Décembre 2000
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
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
Services Historiques de l'Armée de Terre; A1-3484 f° 154 f° 157 f° 165, A1-3489 f° 135
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.
Dr. Marco Pagan for additional information provided on the role of the regiment during the battle of Lutterberg.