Harcourt Cavalerie

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Origin and History

The regiment was raised on January 1 1689.

During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served on the Rhine from 1731 to 1735.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia in 1741 and in the disastrous retreat of 1742. From 1744 to 1748, it took part in the campaigns of Flanders.

In 1756, the regiment counted 2 squadrons and was also known as “Beuvron”.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • since 1757: Comte d'Harcourt
  • from August 16 1759 until December 1 1761: Comte de Preysac de Cadillac

When the French Cavalry was reorganised on December 1 1761, the regiment was amalgamated with Rochefoucauld-Langeac Cavalerie to form the new Royal-Champagne regiment.

Service during the War

In 1757, the regiment took part in the invasion of Hanover. On July 26, it fought in the Battle of Hastenbeck where it was among the Royal-Pologne brigade in the second line of cavalry of the left wing. It was ordered to support the Grenadiers de France who had advanced into the village of Hastenbeck. After the victory, it encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine from July 31 to August 2. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory 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 March 1758, during the Allied spring offensive lead by Ferdinand of Brunswick, the regiment was part of the French garrison of Minden (N.B.: there might be a confusion with the Volontaires Liégeois) which was attacked by an Allied corps led by General Kielmansegg. On March 15, the garrison of Minden surrendered without opposing any serious resistance. The regiment was later exchanged. In April when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed in Alpen. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by Ferdinand's Army 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 and 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 the Marquis de Contades, recrossed the Rhine to follow the Allies. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the right wing of the second line.

By May 23 1760, the regiment was part of the second line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of the Prince de Croy. On October 4, M. de Maupéou's Corps (including this regiment) left for the Lower Rhine. On October 13, the unit arrived at Neuss with Castries. On October 17, after having been left behind during Castries' advance from Neuss to Clostercamp, the regiment finally made a junction with Castrie's main corps.

To do: campaigns from 1761 to 1762

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 - Source: Ibrahim90
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753 and Etat Militaire of 1761

completed when necessary as per Raspe
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 black cravate
Coat red lined blue (lined red in 1761) with 4 pewter buttons under the right lapel and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps red fastened with a small pewter button
Lapels blue (red in 1761), each with 7 pewter buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs blue (red in 1761), each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks blue (red in 1761) fastened with a pewter button
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin with pewter buttons
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat red lined blue (lined red in 1761)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff leather
Waistbelt buff leather
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear soft black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue bordered with the regimental lace (2 rows of alternating green and yellow woolen squares)
Housings blue bordered with the regimental lace
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.

Evolution of the uniform during the war

Throughout the war the French cavalry uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary source for the uniform at the start of the conflict is the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.

Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:

  • white rosette on the tricorne
  • coat, lapels, cuffs and turnbacks edged with the regimental lace (2 rows of alternating green and yellow woollen squares)
  • red lining, cuffs and lapels
  • red waistcoat edged with the regimental lace
  • only 3 buttons on each pocket
  • only 2 buttons on each cuff

Lienhart and Humbert, a secondary source, show the following differences for the uniform of 1757 (more probably around 1748):

  • a white rosette on the tricorne
  • red lapels
  • only 3 buttons on each cuff
  • red saddle cloth and housings bordered with a red braid

Officers

Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:

  • no shoulder strap
  • no turnbacks
  • no lace on the coat and waistcoat
  • Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
  • brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs

Musicians

no information available yet

Standards (in 1753)

Regimental standards (4 silken standards): isabelle (coffee) 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”.

References

The 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, p. 338

Other sources

Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Lienhart, Docteur and René Humbert: Les uniformes des armées françaises”, Leipzig

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

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.