Gendarmerie de France Organisation

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Gendarmerie de France Organisation

Introduction

The origin of the Gendarmerie de France can be traced back to the Compagnies d'ordonnance established by Charles VII. Until 1667, the Gendarmerie de France had precedence over all other French troops.

In 1720, the 33 companies of the Maréchaussée de France were incorporated into the Gendarmerie.

During the reign of Louis XV, the Gendarmerie de France ranked immediately after the Maison du Roi. It then consisted of 16 companies grouped into 8 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the Gendarmerie de France counted 1,240 cavalrymen excluding its officers.

The Chevau-légers were disbanded in March 1763 and integrated into other companies. From this date the Gendarmerie de France counted only 10 companies.

The Gendarmerie de France was disbanded in 1788.

Composition and Organisation

The various companies of the Gendarmerie de France were paired to form 8 squadrons, as follows:

1st squadron

2nd squadron

3rd squadron

4th squadron

5th squadron

6th squadron

7th squadron

8th squadron

The companies forming a squadron had the same distinctive colour.

Regimental Staff

During the Seven Years' War, the staff consisted of:

  • 1 major: the vicomte de Sabran
  • 1 aide-major: the chevalier de Ray
  • 2 sous-aides-majors: MM. de Vaucher and de Grailly
  • 4 royal commissaires
  • 2 chaplains
  • 1 surgeon-major
  • 1 treasurer.

Gendarmes

A company of Gendarmes consisted of:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 lieutenant
  • 1 sous-lieutenant
  • 1 ensign
  • 1 guidon
  • 4 maréchaux des logis
  • 2 brigadiers
  • 2 sous-brigadiers
  • 75 troopers (on December 25 1756, a regulation increased the strength of each company from 45 to 75 troopers)
    • 1 standard-bearer
    • 1 quartermaster
    • 2 trompettes
    • 71 cavalrymen

N.B.: each of the 8 senior companies leading a squadron also had a kettle-drummer.

Each company was further subdivided into two brigades. The first brigade was under the command of the lieutenant-captain, the second of the sous-lieutenant.

Chevau-légers

A company of Chevau-légers consisted of:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 lieutenant
  • 1 sous-lieutenant
  • 2 cornets
  • 4 maréchaux des logis
  • 2 brigadiers
  • 2 sous-brigadiers
  • 75 troopers (on December 25 1756, a regulation increased the strength of each company from 45 to 75 troopers)
    • 1 standard-bearer
    • 1 quartermaster
    • 2 trompettes
    • 71 cavalrymen

N.B.: each of the 8 senior companies leading a squadron also had a kettle-drummer.

Each company was further subdivided into two brigades. The first brigade was under the command of the lieutenant-captain, the second of the sous-lieutenant.

Drill

The Gendarmerie de France was always deployed in the first line at the left of the Maison du Roi.

References

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. 12-15

Other sources

Funcken, Liliane and Fred, Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Vial J. L., Nec Pluribus Impar