Du Roy Cavalerie

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Du Roy Cavalerie

Origin and History

Portrait of the Comte de Châtillon in the uniform of Mestre de Camp of Du Roy Cavalerie - Source: Tischbein

The regiment was raised on May 27, 1635 by the Maréchal de Vivonne when the carabins companies were grouped together to create dragoon regiments. It first chef was the Cardinal de Richelieu and it was originally known as the "Dragons du Cardinal". On February 16, 1646, the regiment took the title of du Roy and was incorporated into the French cavalry.

In 1635, during the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), the newly raised regiment was immediately sent to the Army of the Rhine and took part in the relief of Mainz, in the combat of Vaudrevange and in the retreat on Metz.. On July 30, 1636, the regiment was broken down into single companies as all other regiments of the French cavalry. On January 20, 1638, it was re-established as the "Fusiliers à Cheval de Son Éminence". In 1638, the regiment took part in the siege of Saint-Omer and in the Combat of Polinkove; in 1639, in the siege of Hesdin; in 1640, in the siege of Arras; and in 1641, in the siege of Aire, La Bassée and Bapaume.

On December 4, 1642, at the death of the Cardinal de Richelieu, the regiment was given to the king in Richelieu's testament. On August 1, 1643, the regiment took the title of "Fusiliers à Cheval du Roi".

In 1643, the regiment took part in the Battle of Rocroi and in the capture of Thionville; in 1644, in the siege of Gravelines; in 1645, in the sieges of Cassel, Mardyck, Lencke, Bourbourg, Menin, Béthune and Saint-Venant.

On 16 February 1646, the regiment was transformed into a cavalry regiment known as the "Régiment du Roi". In 1646, it took part in the sieges of Courtrai, Berghes and Dunkerque; in 1647, in the sieges of La Bassée and Dixmude; and in 1648, in the sieges of Ypres and Furnes, and in the Battle of Lens.

In 1649, during the Troubles of the Fronde (1648-53), the regiment took part in the sieges of Cambrai and Condé; in 1650, in the reduction of a rebellion in Bordeaux; and in 1651, in the occupation of the provinces of Nivernais and Berry; and in 1653, in the siege of Saint-Ménehould.

In 1654, the regiment took part in the capture of Arras and Le Quesnoy; in 1655, in the capture of Landrecies, Condé and Saint-Ghislain; in 1656, in the relief of Valenciennes. In 1658, it was at the siege of Dunkerque and at the Battle of the Dunes. In 1660, the regiment was sent to Picardie where it remained until 1665. In 1666 and 1667, it was stationed in Holland. In 1667, it took part in the siege of Lille. In 1668, it campaigned in Franche-Comté.

In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment took part in the conquest of Holland; and in 1673, in the siege of Maastricht. In 1674, it was transferred on the Rhine and fought in the combats of Sinsheim, Entzheim and Mulhouse; in 1675, in the combats of Turckheim, Altenheim; in 1676, in the combats of Haguenau, Saverne and Kochersberg; in 1677, in the siege of Freiburg; and in 1678, in the capture of Ghent and Ypres, and in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 168i, the regiment was at the camp of Lower Alsace; in 1682, at the camp of Artois,. In 1684, it covered the operations at the siege of Luxembourg. In 1685, 1686 and 1687, the regiment was at the camp of the Saône.

In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment joined the Army of Germany and took part in the siege of Philippsburg, Mannheim, and Frankenthal in Palatinate. In 1691, it was transferred to Flanders and took part in the Combat of Leuze; in 1692, in the siege of Namur and in the Battle of Steenkerque; in 1693, in the Battle of Landen; in 1695 in the capture of Tongres and in the bombardment of Bruxelles; and in 1697, in the siege of Ath.

In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment joined the Army of Flanders. In 1702, it took part in an engagement near Nijmegen; in 1703, in the siege of Tongres and in the Battle of Ekeren; and in 1704, in the disastrous Battle of Blenheim. From 1705 to 1709, the regiment defended the Province of Alsace. In 1709, it took part in the Battle of Malplaquet; in 1712, in the Battle of Denain; and in 1713, in the sieges of Landau and Freiburg.

In 1719, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-20), the regiment campaigned in Spain and took part in the capture of Fuenterrabía, San Sebastián, Urgell and Roses.

During the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment was involved in various campaigns on the Rhine.

In 1738, the regiment garrisoned Phalsbourg and Sarrebourg.

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 and took part in the Battle of Dettingen. From 1744, it served in Flanders. The same year, it took part in the sieges of Menin, Ypres and Furnes; in 1745 in the Battle of Fontenoy and in the capture of Tournai, Termonde and Ath; in 1746, in the capture of Bruxelles and of the Citadel of Antwerp, and inn the Battle of Rocoux; in 1747, in the Battle of Lauffeld; and in 1748, in the siege of Maastricht.

In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Pontivy; in 1750, at Béthune; in 1751, at Laon; in 1752, at Landrecies; in 1753, at Mézières, then Nogent-le-Rotrou, Mortagne and Laigle; in 1754, at Maubeuge; and in 1755, at Charlesville and Mézières.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 5th among the line cavalry. The king was the Mestre de Camp of the regiment but the successive Mestres de Camp Lieutenants commanding the regiment were:

  • from June 15, 1748: Marie François Auguste de Matignon, Comte de Gacé (sells his regiment in April 1762 and dies on February 8, 1763 at the age of 32)
  • from April 17, 1762 to November 14, 1762: Louis Gauchez, Duc de Châtillon (formerly colonel of Royal Roussillon Infanterie, dies of smallpox on November 14, 1762 at the age of 25)
  • from December 1, 1762: Armand Joseph de Béthune, Duc de Charost

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 Archiac Cavalerie which was incorporated into Du Roy Cavalerie.

Service during the War

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

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War in 1756, the regiment was stationed at Saint-Dizier.

In 1757, the regiment left Saint-Dizier to join the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the 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 left wing. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in Burich in Ostfriese, in the fourth line of the French army.

In April 1758, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine during the Allied winter offensive in Western Germany, 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 Allied 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. 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 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 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 second line. On September 29, it took part in the failed surprise attack on Bork.

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. It was deployed in the second line of the cavalry right 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 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 September 29, the regiment was part of the reinforcements sent by Broglie to Prince Xavier's Richt Reserve.

By February 1761, the regiment was quartered in the area of Siegen. By mid-April, it was at Hersfeld. By May 7, it was part of the corps of Prince Xavier, assembled at Fulda. On June 1, it formed part of the Army of the Lower Rhine. On July 16, the regiment was attached to the Army of the Lower Rhine, where it was deployed on the extreme left wing of the first line. On July 25, at the Battle of Vellinghausen, it was attached to de Muy's Corps, which had been sent as reinforcements to the Duc de Broglie.

In 1762, the regiment returned to France and was placed in garrison in Moulins.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1756 - 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 8 pewter buttons on the chest and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps with regimental lace
Lapels red
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin with pewter buttons
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 a braid at the king's livery
Housings blue bordered with a braid at the king's livery
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

Maréchal des logis of Du Roy Cavalerie carrying a standard circa 1758 - Courtesy of The New York Public Library

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:

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 2, J. Hetzel et Cie, Paris, 1874, pp. 46-58
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 325-326

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.

Acknowledgements

Jean-Louis Vial for information on the commanders of the regiment