Royal-Étranger Cavalerie

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Royal-Étranger Cavalerie

Origin and History

Royal-Étranger Cavalerie after the reorganisation of 1761 - Source: Raspe 1762 from User:Zahn's collection

The regiment was raised on February 26 1659, after the Treaty of the Pyrenees, from the remnants of various foreign regiments raised between 1635 and 1637. The kernel of the regiment consisted of the former “Roye Cavalerie”. After its creation, the regiment always recruited in France contrarily to what its name of “Royal Étranger” suggests.

During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served on the Rhine in 1733 and 1734.

In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Ploërmel; in 1751 at Vannes; in 1752 at Laon; in 1754 at Valenciennes; and in 1755 at Dôle.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 6th among the line cavalry. The king was his Mestre de Camp but the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:

  • since February 2 1756 until June 15 1763: Comte de Chabot

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 Charost Cavalerie who was incorporated into Royal Étranger Cavalerie.

Service during the War

By the end of 1757, the regiment had joined the French forces in Germany where it took its winter-quarters in Krefeld on the Lower Rhine, in the fourth line of the French army.

From March 30 to April 4 1758, after the retreat of the French army towards the Rhine during the Allied winter offensive in West Germany, the regiment was with Clermont's Army in the camp of Wesel on the Lower Rhine, in the second line of the right wing. In April, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed between Neuss and Krefeld. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the Army of Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. It remained in this camp until June 12, being placed on the right wing of the second line. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the left wing of the second line, under de Muy. 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 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 second line. At the end of September, the regiment was part of FitzJames' corps sent as reinforcements to Soubise. On October 10, it was present at the Battle of Lutterberg where it was part of the Reserve of cavalry.

In June 1759, during the offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the main army under the command of the Marquis de Contades and was deployed in the second line of the cavalry left wing. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the second line of the cavalry centre under the command of du Mesnil. By August 15 during the French retreat, the regiment, who had suffered heavily at Minden, could only field a single squadron.

By May 23 1760, the regiment was part of the left reserve of the first line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of Saint-Germain. On July 31, the regiment took part in the Battle of Warburg where it was deployed in the first line of the centre. By October 1, the regiment was part of d'Auvet's Division which was instructed to march towards Hachenburg. On October 10, the regiment reached the Erft and Neuss.

To do: campaigns from 1761 to 1762

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753 and Etat Militaire of 1761
completed when necessary as per Rousselot
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 probably a black cravate
Coat blue lined red with 4 pewter buttons below the lapels and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps regimental lace
Lapels red, each with 8 pewter buttons arranged 2 by 2
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin fastened with hooks and eyes
Breeches kid (goat leather)
Greatcoat blue lined red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear black soft boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue bordered with regimental lace : an aurore (light orange) braid decorated with alternated white and aurore rhombuses bordered in crimson
Housings blue bordered with regimental lace : an aurore (light orange) braid decorated with alternated white and aurore rhombuses bordered in crimson
Blanket roll n/a


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.

Officers

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

Musicians

King's Livery - Source: PMPdeL

Trumpets and kettle-drummers wore a blue coat heavily laced with braids at the king's livery alternating with silver braids.

Colours

Regimental standards (4 silken standards): blue field embroidered and fringed in gold; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar”; the whole surrounded by golden fleurs de lys

Royal-Étranger Cavalerie Regimental Standard – Source: Plate created and contributed by Frédéric Aubert from an original plate by Gilbert Noury.


References

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, pp. 326-327

Other sources

Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)

Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV; Paris 1882

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolaus: 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

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.