Harcourt Dragons

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Harcourt Dragons

Origin and History

The regiment was raised on February 5, 1675 from some Compagnies Franches and Compagnies Liégeoises for the Marquis de La Bretesche.

From 1675 to 1678, during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment was employed in the petite guerre on the banks of the Sarre and Meuse.

From 1679 to 1682, the regiment was at the camp of the Sarre. In 1683, it was at the camp of the Saône. In 1684, it covered the siege of Luxembourg. From 1685 to 1687, it was at the camp of the Saône.

In 1688, at the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment served in front of Luxembourg. In 1689, as part of the Army of Flanders, it fought in the Battle of Walcourt. In 1690 and 1691, it served in Germany. In 1692, it returned to Flanders where it contributed to the capture of Namur and fought in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1695, it took part in the defence of Namur.

In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was initially posted in Germany. In July, it transferred to Italy, where, on September 1, it was present at the Battle of Chiari. In 1702, it took part in the Combat of Santa Vittoria and in the Battle of Luzzara; in 1704, in the engagement of Balzola; in 1705, in the Battle of Cassano; in 1706, in the Battle of Turin or in the Battle of Castiglione; in 1707, in the attack of the Lines of Stollhofen; in 1709, in the Combat of Rumersheim; in 1712, in the occupation of Sarrelouis and Sierck; and in 1713, in the sieges of Landau and Freiburg.

In 1719, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1719-20), the regiment was present at the capture of Fuenterrabia, San Sebastian, Urgell and Roses.

In 1728, the regiment became the property of the powerful House of Harcourt.

In 1732, the regiment was at the camp of the Sambre.

In 1733, at the beginning of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment initially occupied places in Lorraine. In 1734, it joined the Army of the Rhine, and took part in the capture of Trier and Trarbach, in the siege of Philippsburg. In 1735, it was at the Battle of Clausen.

In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment initially served in Bavaria. In 1743, it returned to France. In 1744, it took part in the combats of Saverne and Suffelsheim, and in the siege of Freiburg. In 1745, two of its squadrons were sent to Flanders, while the two others remained in Alsace to defend this province. In 1747, the entire regiment campaigned in Flanders, where it was present at the capture of Mons, Saint-Ghislain, Charleroi, Namur and Huy, at the Battle of Lauffeld and at the siege of Berg-op-Zoom. In 1748, it was at the siege of Maastricht.

In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Rouen; in 1750 at Sarreguemines; in 1752 at Metz; in 1753 at Sarrelouis; in 1754 at Agen; and in 1755 at Metz.

In 1756, the regiment counted 4 squadrons and ranked 12th.

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

  • from May 1748: Anne François d'Harcourt de Lillebonne, Marquis de Beuvron
  • from May 4, 1758: Emmanuel François de Grossoles, Chevalier de Flammarens
  • from December 1, 1762 to November 27, 1765: Gabriel-Augustin de Franquetot, Comte de Coigny

In 1774, the regiment was renamed "Dragons d'Artois" and, in 1791, it took the N° 12 among dragoon regiments.

Service during the War

In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was stationed at Rouen and at the camp near Le Havre.

In 1757, the regiment was stationed at Lille. It left this city for Stockheim to join the French army operating in Germany. On his arrival, it was brigaded with Du Roy Dragons. It distinguished itself at the Battle of Hastenbeck, and at Münden, Hanover and Klosterseven. It finally took up its winter-quarters in the first line in the area of Bremen.

At the beginning of 1758, the regiment distinguished itself at Celle (Zell). In February, when Ferdinand of Brunswick launched his winter offensive in Western Germany, the regiment retired on the Rhine with the rest of the French army. From March 30 to April 4, it was on the left wing of the army of the Comte de Clermont in the camp of Wesel on the Lower Rhine. In April, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was placed in the third line at Wassenberg, south of Brüggen. 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, where it was placed on the flanks behind the left wing, until June 12.

In 1759, the regiment returned to France where it was stationed on the coasts of Normandy.

In 1760, the regiment returned to Germany. At the beginning of August, it is reported in the area of Wibbecke.

At the beginning of June 1761, the regiment was part of the Army of the Lower Rhine under the command of the Prince de Soubise. On July 16, the regiment was present at the Battle of Vellinghausen. On September 2, it was part of Vogüé’s Corps, which moved closer to Wesel, thus threatening Dorsten. By November, the regiment had been allocated to Apchon's detachment, which was posted in the district of Meurs, Ürdingen, Linn, Krefeld and Rheinberg.

For the campaign of 1762 in Western Germany, the regiment formed part of the Army of the Lower Rhine. In mid-April, the regiment was part of d’Apchon’s detachment, which marched on Dortmund. By May 29, the regiment was posted at Orsoy. On August 25, the regiment was present at the Engagement of Grüningen. On August 30, it took part in the Combat of Nauheim, where it formed part of the vanguard under Lieutenant-General de Lévis. 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 till the final evacuation, the present regiment were among those which would remain on the Lower Rhine.



Uniform in 1753 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform in 1757 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753,
the Liste Générale des Troupes de France of 1754,
the Etrennes Militaires of 1758 and Etat Militaire of 1761

completed where necessary as per Raspe
Headgear red fatigue cap with a red turn-up edged with a braid of alternating yellow and black squares
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 red lined red 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
Collar small red collar
Shoulder straps left shoulder: red shoulder strap bordered with a braid of alternating yellow and black squares and fastened with a small white button

right shoulder: fringed yellow and black epaulet

Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pocket flaps, each with 3 white buttons and 3 white laced buttonholes
Cuffs red (black from 1757), each with 4 white buttons and 4 white laced buttonholes
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat red (with small black lapels from 1757) with white buttons on the right side and white laced buttonholes on both sides
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff leather stitched white
Waistbelt buff leather stitched white
Cartridge Pouch red leather
Scabbard black leather with copper fittings
Footgear buckled shoes with oiled calf leather soft bottines (sort of leather gaiters) or, for foot service, white gaiters
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red bordered with a braid of alternating yellow and black squares
Housings red bordered with a braid of alternating yellow and black squares

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 black bearskin with a black bag and tassel instead of a tricorne
  • no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
  • no buttons on the cuffs
  • black cavalry boots

Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1761 shows a uniform corresponding to our description from 1757 but with a white cockade at the tricorne and without lapels on the waistcoat.

In December 1762, a regulation introduced a brand new green uniform with black 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 plain red coat and waistcoat without edging or laced buttonholes at the end of 1760
    • Raspe publication illustrates a uniform corresponding to our description but with buff breeches at the end of 1761
  • red breeches
  • 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.

Until 1758, drummers and oboists wore the livery of the House of Harcourt: red field ornamented with a braid consisting of 2 rows of alternating crimson and yellow squares arranged in a checker pattern.

Harcourt Dragons Musician Lace till 1758 - Source: Nec Pluribus Impar

From 1758, the musicians probably wore the livery of the House of Flammarens which is unfortunately unknown.

This regiment was the only French dragoon regiment with kettle-drums. This privilege dated back to the 17th century, when it had captured two pairs of kettle-drums.


Regimental guidons (4 silken swallow-tailed guidons): embroidered and fringed in gold and silver;

  • obverse: crimson field; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a red scroll bearing the motto “NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR”
  • reverse: yellow damask field; centre device depicting a thunderbolt coming out of a cloud and burning a castle with a vertical scroll bearing the motto “FULGERE CITIUS”
Harcourt Dragons Regimental Guidon – Copyright Kronoskaf

These guidons originating from the House of Harcourt were kept by their successors: the chevalier de Flammarens and the comte de Coigny.


This article is partly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “Harcourt Dragons” published on his website Nec Pluribus Impar. The article also incorporates texts from the following books, which are now in the public domain:

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 1, Paris: Hetzel, 1874, pp. 345-351
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 433-434

Other sources

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

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: 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

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