French Hussars Organisation
The origins of the hussars went back to17th century Hungarian mercenaries and deserters who came over to the French service. They were ranked amongst the French cavalry from 1692 when Louis XIV authorised the baron de Kroneberg to raise a regiment of hussars. The latter recruited his troops from deserters of the Kalowmitz hussars in the Imperial service. On November 29 1693, after the desertion and capture of the baron de Kronoberg, the regiment was given to colonel Mortany.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, five regiments of hussars were added to the French army.
During the mid-18th century they were not yet the dashing hussars of Napoleon, whose charges were to be immortalised in the great battles of the Empire; rather they were regular light troops, very efficient in the petite guerre. Their task was to reconnoitre the enemy, to worry him, to fall on his foragers and convoys and scatter or seize them. Frequently they were joined by 'free companies', raised according to wartime requirements. Despite their lack of discipline, the hussars proved indispensable to armies on campaign..
Composition and Organisation
In 1756, each regiment consisted of 4 squadrons of 150 troopers each for a total of 600 men.
The staff of a regiment included:
- 1 mestre de camp
- 1 lieutenant-colonel
- 1 major
- 1 aide-major
- 1 padre
- 1 surgeon
Each squadron counted 2 companies.
Each company consisted of:
- 1 captain (exceptionally, in the mestre de camp company of the 1st squadron, the captain was replaced by a mestre de camp lieutenant)
- 1 lieutenant
- 1 second lieutenant
- 1 cornet
- 2 maréchaux-des-logis
- 1 quartermaster
- 6 brigadiers
- 67 cavalrymen
- 1 trumpeter (exceptionally, in the mestre de camp company of the 1st squadron, the trumpeter was replaced by a kettle-drummer)
On May 5 1758, Polleresky Hussards were disbanded because of the plundering and robberies perpetrated against the German Allies of France. Two of its squadrons were incorporated into Bercheny Hussards, the two other ones into Turpin Hussards. Thus, each of these two regiments now counted six squadrons.
This article includes excerpts of an article by Jean-Louis Vial published on his website Nec Pluribus Impar. The article is entitled “The Hussars of the Seven Years War 1756-1763” and has been translated by John Boadle
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, p. 362-368
Funcken, Liliane and Fred; Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Jean-Louis Vial of Nec Pluribus Impar for his kind authorisation to reproduce his articles and material.