Origin and History
The regiment was raised by the Marquis d'Heudicourt on March 1, 1674. It became the property of Louis Alexandre de Bourbon, Comte de Toulouse, great admiral, on August 23, 1693. At his death, on December 1, 1737, it passed to his son, the Duc de Penthièvre.
During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served in Italy from 1733 to 1736 when it returned to France.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment initially took part in the invasion of Bohemia in 1741 and 1742. Then, from 1745 to 1746, it took part in the campaigns of Flanders.
After the war, the regiment was stationed at Saint-Omer in 1750, Argentan in 1751, Lille in 1752, Aimeries in 1753, and Givet in 1755.
The regiment counted 2 squadrons.
During the Seven Years' War, the Mestre de Camp was Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon, Duc de Penthièvre while the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:
- from July 3, 1753 until January 3, 1770: Comte de Saluces
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 Descars Cavalerie who was incorporated into Penthièvre Cavalerie.
Service during the War
In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was stationed at Brives.
Somewhere between August 23 and September 6, 1757, the regiment joined the Army of Saxony, led by the Prince de Soubise, in the area of Erfurt and Eisenach. It consisted of well set-up men on large, powerful horses. It lived up to the reputation of the French for having a fine-looking cavalry. On September 27, it was brigaded with Bezons Cavalerie under M. de Bezons in the first line of the left wing of the Franco-Imperial Army. On November 5, the regiment took part in the Battle of Rossbach where it was brigaded with Saluces Cavalerie and Bussy-Lameth Cavalerie in the Reserve under the Duc de Broglie. During this battle, the regiment was crushed, loosing a standard and having his Mestre de Camp Lieutenant (the Comte de Saluces), one of his lieutenant (Scepeaux) and 13 of his officers wounded and taken prisoners by the Prussians. At the end of the year, the regiment took its winter-quarters in the area of Babenhausen in Hessen.
By July 1758, the regiment had been transferred to Soubise's Army assembling near Friedberg in Hesse. Its ranks being severely depleted, it was used to protect the lines of communication with the Rhine.
On April 13, 1759, the regiment took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the second line of the cavalry centre deployed behind the Wartberg under the command of the Comte de Beaupréau. In June, at the beginning of the French offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the “Right Reserve” under the command of the Duc de Broglie who had taken position at Friedberg in Hesse. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the second line of Broglie's Corps.
From 1761 to 1762, the regiment was stationed on the coasts of France.
|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||grey white lined red with 4 pewter buttons under the right 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.
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:
- a white cockade on the tricorne
- coat, lapels, cuffs and turnbacks edged with the regimental braid (curiously this braid is illustrated as checkered in blue and yellow)
- grey white waistcoat edged with the regimental braid (curiously this braid is illustrated as checkered in blue and yellow) and grey white breeches (maybe the dressed uniform)
- only 3 buttons on each cuff
only two buttons under the right lapel
Lienhart and Humbert, a secondary source, show the following differences for the uniform of 1757:
- gold laced tricorne with a white cockade
- grey white lapels
- yellow buttons
- only 3 buttons on each cuff
- red saddle cloth and housings bordered with a white braid ornamented with red rectangles
Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:
- 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
Trumpeters and kettle drummers wore a red coat edged and laced with the regimental lace (yellow braid with 2 blue stripes).
Regimental standards (4 silken standards): crimson field, embroidered and fringed in gold
- obverse: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a red scroll lined blue bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in black; a golden fleur de lys in each corner
- reverse: centre device consisting of a knight mounted on a winged horse surmounted by a scroll bearing the motto “Terraque, Marique”; a golden fleur de lys in each corner
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. 359-360
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 which 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
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.