Maréchal général des logis de l'armée

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Maréchal général des logis de l'armée

Origin and History

The complete title of the Maréchal général des logis de l'armée was Maréchal général des logis des camps et armées du Roi. This rank corresponded to the rank of chief of staff. He is responsible with his aides to make troops execute all the operations decided by the general. His functions were very large and required proportionate talents. As for most military charges of this era, this charge was venal and had to be bought. However, to exercice this charge during a campaign one had to possess a letter of service.

Under the command of the Maréchal général des logis de l'armée were, in order of seniority:

  • 1 Maréchal général des logis de la Gendarmerie
  • 1 Maréchal général des logis de la cavalerie
  • 1 major-general of the quarters of the infantry
  • 1 major of the artillery
  • 1 major-general of the dragoons

The Maréchal général des logis de l'armée was also allowed to appoint aides maréchaux généraux des logis or adjutants generals according to needs.

During peace time, there was no staff corps in this era. Similarly, there were no regulations fixing the precise organisation of the staff during campaigns. Obviously, the attributions of each rank were fixed but the organisation of work was left to the appreciation of the general.

The Maréchal général des logis de l'armée prepared the excution of marches; chose the best roads to follow and was also responsible to make these roads practicable to the artillery, cavalry and train by cutting hedges, filling in ditches or building bridges; prepared and organised army camps. Engineers geographers were attached to his services.

The Maréchal général des logis de l'armée was also responsible for providing subsistence, fixing allowances of meat, bread, wine, fodder, etc. For this purpose, he had to collaborate with the supplu corps.

To illustrate how a Maréchal général des logis de l'armée organised his work within the staff during the Seven Years' War, we have taken the example of the Armée du Bas Rhin in 1757 which was placed under the command of the prince de Soubise whose Maréchal général des logis de l'armée was the comte de Maillebois. To assist him, Maillebois retained the services of a certain number of officers, in particular the marquis de Vogüé.

Here are extracts of a report on the organisation of the service of the Maréchal général des logis de l'armée submitted by the marquis de Vogüé to the maréchal de Soubise and then to king Louis XV for their approval. This repart was approved and the marquis de Vogüé even received a bonus of 4,800 livres from the king.

“The aides maréchaux généraux des logis must be chosen among colonels and brigadiers; they will quit their regiments; their number will be limited to six or eight huit per army, but they will be provided with aides in sufficient number, with engineers geographers, with draughtsmen knowing how to draw plans and build bridges, with sergeants knowing how to manage works. We must abandon requisitioned fatigue duties and form companies of pioneers taken from infantry regiments, at the rate of three men per battalion... these men will have a very simple equipment, a musket and its bayonet for arm, a waistcoat, a coat and a fatigue cap for clothing; they will be equipped with the necessary tools.
Furthermore, a special corps will be formed consisting of 1,200 infantrymen and 300 cavalrymen who will be charged of conducting reconnaissances, escorting the engineers, protect the pioneers. This corps will always be at one or two marches ahead of the army: it will be under the command of the 1st aide maréchal des logis.
The staff of the army will be subdivided into five departments:
The first will will provide the services of reconnaissances, the intelligence on the country, its resources, its topography, the marking and opening of the marches, the preparation of the itineraries and the orders of march, the instructions to the chiefs of detachments and the organisation of winter-quarters. It will be supervised by the 1st aide who will centralise all particular reports and will prepare a general report to the chief of staff.
The second department will be in charge of the execution of the marches, will supply columns with directions and guides, will regulate fodder.
The third will regulate the order of the corps in each column, as well as billets and cantonments.
The fourth will take charge of provisions, will fix the days and hours of the distributions.
The fifth finally will make the correspondence.”

This staff corps was then created for the Armée du Bas Rhin. It consisted of the Volontaires du Hainaut and Volontaires de Flandre as well as the regiment of the Grenadiers Royaux de Solar, and 1 company of pioneers and interprets.

Service during the War

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Jean-Louis Vial of Nec Pluribus Impar for the initial version of this article.