Origin and History
The regiment was raised on September 24, 1673 by the Marquis de Sauveboeuf. After his death at the combat of Consaarbruck, in August 1675, King Louis XIV gave the regiment to Monseigneur Louis, Dauphin de France.
During the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served in Italy in 1733.
During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment initially took part in the failed invasion of Bohemia in 1741. By 1743, it was back at Épinal. In 1745 and 1746, it served in the Alps. In 1747, it was at Valence in Provence.
In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Le Puy; in 1751, at Strasbourg; in 1752, at Bergerac; in 1753, at Libourne; and in 1755, at Valence.
In 1756, the regiment counted 4 squadrons and ranked 6th.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the nominal command of the Dauphin de France.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the effective command of its successive mestres de camp lieutenant:
- from January 1, 1748: Charles François, Comte de Canisy d'Hervilly
- from March 27, 1761 to January 3, 1770: Alexandre de Cadrieu, Comte de Lostange de Sainte-Aleuvre
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment was assigned to the guard of the coasts of Guyenne.
By August 1, 1757, the regiment was garrisoning Blanquefort in the Bordeaux Country.
In 1761, the regiment joined the French army operating in Germany. At the beginning of June, it was attached to the Army of the Lower Rhine. In mid-July, at the time of the Battle of Vellinghausen, it formed part of the corps of the Prince de Condé.
In March 1762, the regiment was attached to the Army of the Upper Rhine. On June 24, it was present at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal, where it formed part of the right vanguard under the command of M. de Castries. By July 12, it was at the camp of Helsa in Guerchy’s Corps and took part in the engagement of Hohenkirchen. On August 19, it formed part of Poyanne’s column. 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 until the final evacuation, the regiment was among those chosen to remain in Germany.
|Headgear||blue fatigue cap with a blue turn-up edged with a white braid speckled with blue|
or 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 white button
|Neck stock||black cravate|
|Coat||blue lined blue with white buttons and white laced buttonholes arranged 2 by 2 down to the pocket and a white button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||blue with white buttons on one side and white laced buttonholes on both sides grouped 2 by 2|
N.B.: the fatigue cap was supposed to be worn only for the king's review, for foraging or when the regiment's chief ordered to wear it. In fact, dragoons often wore their fatigue cap during campaigns.
Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet, a pistol and a sabre. Carabiniers were armed with a rifle instead of a musket.
Evolution of the uniform during the war
Throughout the war the French dragoon uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary sources for the uniform at the start of the conflict are the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753, the Liste Générale des Troupes de France of 1754 and the Etrennes Militaires of 1758. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.
Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:
- a white cockade at the tricorne
- no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
- only 3 buttons on the cuffs
- black cavalry boots
In December 1762, a regulation introduced a brand new green uniform with violet as the distinctive colour.
The uniforms of the officers were similar to those of the troopers with the following differences:
- the coat was made of Elbeuf woollen cloth (or of a woollen cloth of identical quality)
- linings were made of woollen cloth as well
- no braids on the coat or waistcoat but only silver buttonholes with silver plated wooden buttons
- Raspe publication illustrates a plain blue waistcoat without edging or laced buttonholes
- saddle cloth and housings bordered with a silver braid (5.41 cm wide for captains and 4.06 cm wide for lieutenants)
- standard cavalry officer sword (gilt copper hilt, 83.92 cm long)
Officers were also armed with a musket and a bayonet and carried a cartridge pouch containing 6 cartridges. This musket was shorter than the muskets carried by troopers.
The maréchaux-des-logis and sergeants had similar uniforms made of Romorantin woolen cloth. Their coats and waistcoats had no silver buttonholes. They carried sabres like the maréchaux-des-logis of the cavalry regiments. Their saddle-clothes and housings were bordered with a 2.7 cm wide silver braid.
Drummers wore a coat similar to the one worn by the musicians of the cavalry. Musicians were always shaved and had no moustache. They were usually mounted on grey horses.
Since this unit belonged to the Dauphin de France, drummers wore a blue coat heavily laced with an aurure (light orange) braid.
Regimental guidons (4 gros de Tour linen swallow-tailed guidons) blue field sown with alternating golden fleurs de lys and golden dolphins and fringed in silver and gold; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll edged bearing the motto “In Periculo ludunt”
This article is mostly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “Dauphin Dragons” published on his website Nec Pluribus Impar. The article also 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. 428-429
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: 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: Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757
N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.