Origin and History
The regiment was raised in Piémont in 1630 and transferred into the French service on May 16 1635 under Commander de Souvre. On March 20 1647, Anne d'Autriche purchased the regiment for her second son, Philippe d'Anjou. On April 20 1660, at the death of Gaston d'Orléans, he took the name of Orléans and his regiment was renamed accordingly. The regiment was disbanded on April 18 1661 but raised anew on December 7 1665 for the Duc d'Orléans.
During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served in Italy from 1733 to 1735.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the campaigns in Bohemia from 1741 to 1743. In 1746, it was transferred to Flanders where it campaigned until 1748.
After the war, the regiment was stationed at Lille in 1749, Provins in 1750, Metz in 1751, Gisors in 1752, Metz in 1754, and Aimeries in 1755.
The regiment counted 2 squadrons.
During the Seven Years' War, the Duc d'Orléans was the Mestre de Camp of the regiment but the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:
- since April 10 1752: Louis Gabriel d'Armentières, Comte de Conflans
- from April 27 1761 to May 21 1766: Marquis de Noë
When the French Cavalry was reorganised on December 1 1761, the regiment was increased to 4 squadrons, each of them consisting of 4 companies of 40 troopers, for a total of 640 troopers. The 2 additional squadrons came from Crussol Cavalerie who was incorporated into Orléans Cavalerie.
As per a decree dated January 1 1791, the regiment became the “13e Régiment de Cavalerie”.
Service during the War
In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was stationed at Mirecourt. It was then transferred to cantons between the Meuse and Alsace.
In 1757, the regiment left Sedan to join the army of Maréchal d'Estrées at Neuss for the planned invasion of Hanover. In July, it was at the Battle of Hastenbeck, then it took part in the conquest of Hanover. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in Ostfriese, in the fourth line of the French Army.
In April 1758, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was placed in the second line at Kevelaer, Weeze and Uedem. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the Allied Army of Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. It then remained in this camp, where it was placed on the right wing of the second line, until June 12. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the left wing of the first line, under Fitzjames. 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 Allied army. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the left wing of the first line. At the beginning of October, the regiment was attached to Chevert's Corps which was sent to reinforce the Army of the Prince de Soubise in Hesse. On October 10, it was at the Battle of Lutterberg where it was part of Chevert's Corps which won the day by turning the Allied left flank.
At the end of May 1759, when the French army of the Rhine launched its offensive in West Germany, the regiment remained on the Rhine as part of the corps of the Marquis d'Armentières. On June 6 1759, the regiment was present at an engagement near Elberfeld. It was then detached to Münster. Afterwards, the regiment was probably transferred to Contades' Army since, on October 19, it was part of the force sent by Contades to reinforce d'Armentières on the Lower Rhine.
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 July 10, the regiment was attached to Prince Camille's Cavalry Corps who arrived too late to take part in the Combat of Corbach. By June, it had been transferred to the Army of the Lower Rhine. By September 19, the regiment was attached to Prince Xavier's Corps, forming part of the second line of his right column. It was then transferred to Castrie's Corps cantoned around Düsseldorf. The regiment was charged to patrol along the Rhine between Berg and Mark counties. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Montabaur and surroundings.
By February 9 1761, the regiment was attached to Broglie's Army and deployed in the area of Siegen. On July 16, it took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen where it was deployed in the second line of the cavalry right wing under the Prince de Croy. It took its winter-quarters at Baden-Durlach.
By the end of March 1762, the regiment was attached to the Prince de Condé's Army of the Lower Rhine. In mid-April 1762, the regiment marched to Gervesheim in the Duchy of Bergh. By May 29, it was posted at at Dülken, Campbruck (unidentified location) and Capellen (unidentified location) as part of Lévis's Reserve. From December 19, all French armies still operating in Germany abandoned their cantonments and marched to Butzbach, converging on Frankfurt. Germany had to be evacuated by December 31. The regiment was directed on Valenciennes.
In 1763, when peace was signed, the regiment, then at Valenciennes, finally incorporated Crussol Cavalerie which had been attached to the regiment during the reorganisation of the French cavalry at the end of December 1761.
|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|
somewhere after 1758, the regiment adopted a black bearskin with a red bag (piped white for carabiniers and silver for cornets)
|Coat||grey white lined red with 4 pewter buttons under the lapel and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||buff leather jerkin with pewter buttons|
|Greatcoat||grey white lined red|
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.
In summertime, the coat was often removed and folded on the porte-manteau. In such an outfit, French cavalrymen looked quite the same as Prussian cuirassiers.
Evolution of the uniform during the war
Throughout the war the French cavalry uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only source for the uniform at the start of the conflict is the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753. The first pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.
Lienhart and Humbert show the following differences for the uniform of 1757:
- white cockade at the tricorne
- grey white shoulder strap with a pewter button
- 4 buttons on each pocket
Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:
- a white cockade on the tricorne
- coat and cuffs edged with the regimental lace
- turnbacks edged with the regimental lace and attached with a small pewter button
- grey white waistcoat edged with the regimental lace and grey white breeches (maybe the “dressed uniform”)
N.B.: the regimental lace is represented by a simple blue braid (maybe an oversimplification of the quite complex livery of Orléans)
Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:
- Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
- brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs
- cornet: silver epaulette and aiguillette; leather jerkin edged silver
As per Beneton, in 1739 the uniform was red lined blue and laced with a braid at the livery of Orléans (2 rows of red and white checkerboard with 2 central stripes: one white, one blue)
The first four companies of the regiment carried standards.
Regimental standards (4 silken standards): red field embroidered and fringed in gold;
- obverse: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in gold; in each corner a golden fleurs de lys
- reverse: centre device consisting of the arms of Orléans surrounded by the necklace of the Toison d'Or and Saint Esprit and surmounted by a gold crown; the entire centre device was surrounded by 10 small gold fleurs de lys hanged to silver bars; in each corner a golden fleurs de lys
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, p. 352-353
Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Rigo: Cavalerie – Régiment d'Orléans Étendards – 1761, in Le Plumet AR 27
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website which, unfortunately, does not exist anymore)
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
Service historique de l'armée de terre - Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23
Vial J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.