Languedoc Dragons

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

Origin and History

The regiment was raised on 4 October 4, 1676 at the expense of the States of Languedoc for the protection of the coasts of the region. It was known as “Ganges Dragons”, the name of his first mestre de camp, and “Languedoc Dragons”, its official name.

On August 8, 1679, the regiment was disbanded and only the mestre de camp company, which was incorporated in Royal Dragons. However, it was re-established on January 5, 1684 to be disbanded again in September of the same year. It was definitively re-established on August 20, 1688.

Note: On this occasion, a second dragoon regiment was raised at the expense of the States of Languedoc under the name of “Languedoc 2e Dragons”. This second regiment would be disbanded at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the first regiment campaigned in Catalonia, where it was present at the combat and capture of Comprodon. In 1690, it was sent to Italy and fought in the Battle of Staffarda. In then served in the Alps until 1694. In 1695, it formed part of the Army of the Meuse and then campaigned in Flanders until the end of the war.

In 1701, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the first regiment (three squadrons) was initially employed on the Rhine. In July, it was sent to Italy, where it fought in the Battle of Chiari. In 1702, it took part in the Battle of Luzzara; in 1703, in the Combat of Castelnuovo Bormida and in the expedition in Trentino; in 1704, in the sieges of Vercelli, Ivrea and Verrua; in 1705, in the Siege of Chivasso and in the Battle of Cassano; and in 1706, in the disastrous Battle of Turin. In 1707, the regiment served in the Alps. From 1708, there seems to be confusion between the services of the first and second regiment of “Languedoc Dragons”: three squadrons remained in Dauphiné, while three others were sent to Catalonia. In 1709, the three squadrons serving in Dauphiné fought the Camisard insurgents in the Province of Languedoc. In 1710, the three squadrons serving in Languedoc were sent to join the Army of the Rhine, while the three squadrons serving in Catalonia recrossed the Pyrenees and took part in the combat against the British near Sète; they then served in Roussillon until 1711. In the spring of 1712, three squadrons designated as “Petit-Languedoc” are reported on the Rhine. In 1713, the two regiments were reunited on the Rhine and took part in the siege of Freiburg. On 10 November, the first regiment incorporated the squadrons of the disbanded “Languedoc 2e Dragons”.

In 1714, the regiment was at the camp of the Saône.

In 1719, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-20), the regiment campaigned in Spain.

In 1727, the regiment was at the camp of the Saône.

During the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served on the Rhine. At the end of the war, it garrisoned Besançon.

In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was sent to Bavaria and then to the frontier of Bohemia, where it took part in the relief of Braunau and Egra. In 1743, after its return to France, it was attached to the army defending Alsace and Lorraine. In 1744, the regiment was transferred to Provence and contributed to the conquest of the County of Nice, in the sieges of Demonte and Coni, in the Battle of Madonna dell'Olmo and in the Combat of Villafranca. In 1745, it campaigned in Piedmont and fought in the Combat of the Refudo. In 1746, it took part in the battles of Piacenza and Rottofreddo, and in the defence of Provence. In 1747, it was transferred to Strasbourg. In 1748, it was at Huningue in Alsace.

In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Montbrison; in 1750, at Auch; in 1751, at Belfort; in 1752, at Cahors and Milhau; in 1753, at Montauban; in 1754, at Phalsbourg; and in 1755, at the camp of Valence.

By 1756, the regiment counted 4 squadrons and ranked 16th.

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

  • from November 29, 1748: Achille-Marc Comte de Barrin de La Galissonnière
  • from December 1, 1762 until 29 December 1777: Armand-Hilaire de Machault, Comte d'Arnouville

In 1787, the regiment was transformed into the “Chasseurs du Languedoc”, taking the 6th rank of this arm.

Service during the War

In 1756, at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, the regiment was stationed at Agen and La Réole.

In 1757, the regiment was stationed at Avranches for the protection of the Coasts of Normandy. By August 1, it was stationed at Saint-Lô in Lower Normandy.

In 1759, the regiment was stationed at Rennes for the protection of the Coasts of Bretagne.

In 1760, the regiment was sent to Germany where it served for the two last campaigns of the war.

By June 1761, the regiment formed part of the Army of the Lower-Rhine, which was commanded by the Prince de Soubise. On July 16, it was at the Battle of Vellinghausen, where it formed part of the corps of the Prince de Condé. By July 25, it was attached to De Muy's Corps, which was sent to reinforce the Army of the Upper-Rhine. On October 9, the regiment fought in an engagement between Halle and Hameln.

In March 1762, the regiment was allocated to the Army of the Upper-Rhine. By June 21, it was attached to Prince Xavier's Corps. By July 12, the regiment was stationed in Deiderode. On November 20, when Louis XV issued his instructions regarding the French armies serving in Germany, the regiment was among the units chosen to remain in Germany until the final evacuation.

Uniform

Troopers

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

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

right shoulder: fringed blue and white epaulet

Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pocket flaps, each with 4 white buttons and 4 white laced buttonholes
Cuffs red, each with 4 white buttons and 4 white laced buttonholes
Turnbacks blue
Gloves buff
Waistcoat blue with white buttons on one side and white laced buttonholes on both sides (red lapels from 1757)
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat blue
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 made of alternating blue and white squares
Housings red bordered with a braid made of alternating blue and white 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.

Other interpretations

The Etrennes Militaires of 1758 mention a blue saddle cloth bordered with a white braid.

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 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 red bag and a red tassel for troopers
  • no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
  • black cavalry boots

Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1761 shows a uniform very similar to the one depicted by the various états militaires, the only noticeable differences being:

  • a white cockade at the tricrone
  • no buttons nor lace on the cuffs
  • black cavalry boots

In December 1762, a regulation introduced a brand new green uniform with white as the distinctive colour.

Officers

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, at the end of 1760, a plain blue waistcoat with red lapels without edging or laced buttonholes
    • Raspe publication illustrates, at the end of 1761, a coat similar to our description
  • both Raspe publications show 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.

Musicians

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.

King's Livery - Source: PMPdeL

Exceptionally the drummers of this unit, even though it was not a royal regiment, wore a blue coat heavily laced with braids at the king's livery alternating with silver braids.

Guidons

Regimental guidons (4 gros de Tour linen swallow-tailed guidons) fringed in gold and silver:

  • obverse: blue field sown with golden fleurs de lys; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a red scroll lined blue bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar”
  • reverse: yellow field; centre device consisting of the arms of Languedoc (gules (red), gold cross pommee, surrounded by silver laurels, gold crowned)
Languedoc Dragons Regimental Guidon – Copyright Kronoskaf

References

This article is mostly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “Languedoc 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. 3, J. Hetzel et Cie, Paris, 1874, pp. 89-95
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 436-437

Other sources

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

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website which 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

Service Historique de l'armée de terre: Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757

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