Turpin Hussards

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Origin and History

In December 1734, Ladislas-Ignace Comte Esterházy was authorised to raise a regiment of hussars which was formed at Strasbourg on January 25 1735. By April 25 1736, each company of this regiment counted 40 men. On January 8 1737, each company was reduced to 25 men. The squadron now comprised 4 companies for a total of 100 men.

In 1739, the regiment, now under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel David, embarked for Corsica where Louis XV was sending it to support the Genoese.

At the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession, in 1741, the regiment was recalled to France where it was initially stationed in the eastern part of the kingdom before advancing to the Rhine. On August 5 of the same year, the companies were brought back to 50 men each. In 1742, the regiment followed the French army which invaded Bohemia. Several officers of the unit were wounded during the siege of Prague. Esterházy distinguished himself while covering the siege. On October 31, the regiment was increased to 6 squadrons. On August 1 1743, Esterházy sold the regiment to David who became its mestre de camp. In 1744, the regiment joined the Maréchal de Saxe in Flanders. Between May 22 and July 21, it took part in the siege and capture of Mons, Tournai, Ghent and Bruges. In 1747, the regiment took part in the campaign of Flanders. On July 2, it fought in the Battle of Lauffeld. In 1748, Turpin became the chef of the regiment.

From August 26 to September 25 1755, the regiment detached a squadron to take part in an instruction camp at Richemont-sur-Moselle.

In 1756, the regiment received part of the troops of the disbanded regiments of Aspremont-Linden, Beausobre and Ferrary. It then counted 4 squadrons.

On May 5 1758, “Polleresky Hussards” were disbanded because of the plundering and robberies perpetrated against the German Allies of France; 2 of its squadrons were incorporated into “Turpin Hussards” bringing the total force of this regiment to 6 squadrons.

From January 4 1760 to April 4 1761, a small unit of volunteers was attached to the regiment. This unit was initially known as the Chasseurs-à-pied d'Origny, then Chasseurs de Grandpré.

In 1761, the regiment was renamed Chamborant.

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

  • since 1748: Comte Turpin de Crissé
  • from 1761: Chamborant

N.B.: this regiment must not be confused with “Esterhazy Hussards”, a new regiment raised only in 1764.

Service during the War

In 1757, as part of the Army of the Lower Rhine, the regiment was among d'Estrées' light troops. On June 14, the regiment was near Holss. At the end of June, together with the Chasseurs de Fischer and the Volontaires Royaux, they formed an observation corps in front of the Duke of Cumberland's position near Herford and Minden. At the end of August, the regiment was operating in Saxony around Leipzig and Halle. It retreated in front of the approaching Prussian cavalry. On September 19, it was part of a force of 8,000 horse and foot sent ahead to retake Gotha, where they found open gates. However, Lieutenant-General Seydlitz had mounted a surprise counter-attack with some 1,500 men. The Franco-Imperial detachment quickly abandoned the town. At the end of the year, the regiment took its winter-quarters in the first line of the French army at Viehenburg.

On February 2 1758, during the Allied winter offensive in Western Germany, a Prussian detachment (cavalry and hussars) from Halberstadt attacked the town of Steinfeld where it surprised and captured 600 men of the regiment. On May 5, “Polleresky Hussards” were disbanded because of the plundering and robberies perpetrated against the German Allies of France; 2 of its squadrons were incorporated into “Turpin Hussards” bringing the total force of this regiment to 6 squadrons. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by an Allied army led by Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the two squadrons inherited from the disbanded Polleresky regiment retired towards Rheinberg where they joined Clermont's Army on June 2. They remained in this camp until June 12. Meanwhile, the four original squadrons had left their winter-quarters in the County of Hanau at the beginning of June to reinforce Clermont's Army on the Lower Rhine. By June 12, they were still on their way. By June 23, the entire regiment had joined Clermont's Army and took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it formed part of the reserve, under M. de Turpin. During this battle, officers Freytag and Klebert and cornet Lessel were wounded. 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 for an offensive in Westphalia. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it formed part of the Reserve.

On March 13 1759, upon Broglie's request, d'Armentières sent a corps (1,400 foot and 1,200 horse, including Turpin Hussars) under the command of d'Auvet. This corps took post at Hachenburg with detachments at Siegen. By May 10, the regiment was part of the corps under the command of d'Armentières who had taken position at Düsseldorf. The regiment was deployed on the frontier of the Duchy of Bergh. From June, it took part in the French offensive in Western Germany. On June 4, the regiment occupied Frankenberg. On June 13, as part of d'Auvet's Corps, the regiment encamped in front of the defiles near the village of Essentho on the left bank of the Diemel. During the night of June 13 to 14, Turpin Hussards, along with 1 regiment of light troops, approached the camp of Büren to observe the Allies, some skirmishes took place. On June 14, Turpin Hussards and some light troops reached Wünnenberg. On June 15, indecisive skirmishes took place between Leiberg and Wünnenberg between the light troops of both armies. Hanoverian hussars and jägers attacked the Volontaires of Chateau Thierry, Turpin Hussars and the Volontaires du Dauphiné. On June 19, when the Allied army evacuated its camp at Büren, elements of the regiment immediately occupied it. On June 30, French light troops harassed the Allied rear retreating from Rietberg to Marienfeld. A skirmish took place between Turpin Hussards and Bercheny Hussards and the Prussian Ruesch Hussars (3 sqns) and Malachowski Hussars (2 sqns) under Colonel Narzinsky. On July 5, Turpin Hussards and Bercheny Hussards reached Steinhagen. On July 6, the regiment skirmished with the Prussian Ruesch (Black) Hussars and some Hessian troops, losing more than 100 men taken prisoners. On July 7, the regiment advanced on Warendorf which the Allies evacuated. On July 15, the regiment occupied the village of Lübbecke near Minden. On July 28, Bercheny Hussards were attacked and driven out of Lübbecke by an Allied corps of 6,000 men under the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick. During their retreat, Bercheny Hussards were joined at the defile by Turpin Hussards, the Volontaire de Prague and the Volontaires de Muret. These French forces pushed back the Allied detachment pursuing the Volontaires du Hainaut. The regiment then joined Brissac's Corps at Gohfled. On August 1, the Allied corps of the Hereditary Prince attacked and defeated Brissac in the engagement of Gohfeld. By August 31, the regiment was attached to Chabot's Light Corps. On September 20, during the Allied counter-offensive in Western Germany, the regiment formed part of a force who took position on the heights of Wetzlar to prevent the Allies from passing the Lahn. On Friday November 30, an Allied force under the Hereditary Prince launched a surprise attack on Fulda, a detachment of the regiment was in the neighbourhood as part of Nornmann's Brigade but this French force did not intervene in the affair.

By the end of January 1760, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in the third line of the French army along the Rhine and the Main from its mouth. By May 23, the regiment was part of the left vanguard of Broglie's Army. On July 10, the regiment took part in the Combat of Corbach where it was attached to Broglie's vanguard under the Baron de Clausen, deployed in the wood to the left of Corbach at the beginning of the action. At the end of the combat, when the Allies retired, Prince Camille de Lorraine, galloping ahead of his cavalry corps took command of Beaufremont Dragons and Turpin Hussards and charged on retiring troops near the watchtower hill. So hard were Allied units pressed that the Hereditary Prince only extricated them by putting himself at the head of two squadrons of the 1st Dragoon Guards and 3rd Dragoon Guards and leading them to a desperate charge against the French hussars and the Beaufremont Dragons. On August 2, the regiment was part of the corps sent by Broglie, under the command of the Prince de Condé, to dislodge the Légion Britannique from the woods to the left of his army. The Légion Britannique abandoned the woods without opposing resistance. On August 6, the regiment replaced the Chasseurs de Fischer at Westheim. On the night of August 21 to 22, the regiment took post at Udenhausen with Saint-Victor's vanguard. On August 30, the Prince de Condé at the head of a strong corps (Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince, Volontaires du Dauphiné, grenadiers and chasseurs of the army) took dispositions to attack Zierenberg. However, the attack was cancelled when the Allies retired from Zierenberg to the camp of the Hereditary Prince at Breuna. The Prince de Condé immediately threw the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince and the Volontaires du Dauphiné into Zierenberg and posted Turpin Hussards at Bodenhausen. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Siegen and surroundings.

By the end of January 1761, the regiment screened the city of Marburg. By February 9, it was attached to Maupéou’s Corps in the region of Siegen. On February 18, it took part to a reconnaissance towards Korbach. Oheimb ambushed this detachment, between Sachsenberg and Neukirchen, and put it to flight, taking M. de Maupéou prisoner. On March 18, along with the Royal-Nassau Hussards, it harassed Wangenheim’s Corps, which was recrossing the Lahn to join the main army of the Allies. On June 18, Soubise's entire army deployed in order of battle at Dortmund with a vanguard of 6 dragoon rgts, 2 cavalry brigades, 3 infantry brigades, the present regiment, the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince, Volontaires du Dauphiné, Dragons Chasseurs de Conflans and Volontaires de l'armée encamped on the left bank of the Emscher. On June 19, the regiment engaged a party of Allied hussars while Soubise's army rested for a few days. On July 16, the regiment was present at the Battle of Vellinghausen. On July 21 at 7:30 PM, a force under Prince Henry of Brunswick (a dragoon detachment, Scheiter's corps, Freytag Jägers, a few sqns of Ruesch Hussars, some infantry and a few guns) attacked by surprise the positions of the Duc de Coigny (including the present regiment) on the heights of Ruhne. The latter retired to Oberense where he held his positions. The Chamborant Hussards launched vigourous charges and the Duc de Coigny finally drove back the Allies. Prince Albert Henry of Brunswick, third son of the reigning duke, was dangerously wounded in the neck during this engagement. On July 25, the regiment was sent as reinforcement to Broglie. On July 29, it was part of Stainville’s Corps, which marched from Neuenherse to Kleinenberg with his vanguard at Buke. On August 15, the regiment took part in an engagement between Kleinenberg and Hardehausen. Along with the Nicolaï Dragons and the Volontaires de Flandre, the regiment countercharged the Allies, taking 2 officers and 60 men prisoners. On September 2, Stainville advanced to Grebenstein, sending the regiment to Westuffeln. In the night of September 18 to 19, M. de Thianges, at the head of 2 dragoon rgts and Chamborant Hussards, was sent to Gudensberg to guard the passage of the Eder and the gorge of Breitenbach. On October 8, Rochambeau's Corps crossed the Eder. Rochambeau established his corps in the plain on the right of this river to keep an eye on Fritzlar and sent the Chamborant Hussards forward to Frankenberg.

For the campaign of 1762, the regiment was attached to Soubise’s Army of the Upper Rhine. On May 17, the regiment was charged to reconnoitre the country between the Diemel and Kassel, passing the river and advancing up to Höxter where it made a few prisoners. On June 24, at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal, the regiment formed part of the left vanguard under the command of M. de Stainville. On July 1, informed that a French Corps under M. de Rochambeau had taken position near Homberg/Efze to cover communications with Frankfurt, Ferdinand resolved to dislodge it. He ordered Lord Frederick Cavendish to advance from Lohne to Felsberg with the Chasseurs of the army along with Freytag Jager Corps, Frei Hussars von Bauer and Riedesel Hussars. Ferdinand also instructed Granby to march from Hoof to Fritzlar with the British Grenadier Brigade, 15th Eliot's Light Horse, the Blues and 4 Hanoverian sqns. Eliot's Light Horse attacked the French outposts on the heights 4 km in front of Homberg. Meanwhile, Cavendish's hussars engaged the French who immediately struck their tents and got under arms. The French infantry deployed at the foot of the heights and in the hedges near the town while the French cavalry formed on the plain. To signal the beginning of the attack, Cavendish then discharged 3 guns. The French infantry marched by the left, covered by its cavalry. Granby tried to block their retreat. He sent forward Eliot's Light Horse who caught up with the rearguard. La Ferronnaye Dragons and Chamborant Hussards turned and charged Eliot's Light Horse and captured several prisoners. Colonel Hervey at the head of the Blues timely came to their support and managed to disentangle Eliot's Light Horse. However, Bourbonnais Infanterie contained the Allied cavalry and forced it to retire making some British prisoners. The situation of the two British cavalry regiments was critical until the Allied infantry came to their support. The French then resumed their retreat closely followed by the British Grenadiers and the Highlanders. In this action, Colonel Hervey, Colonel Erskine, Major Forbes, and Major Ainsley distinguished themselves. The Allies lost about 80 men killed, wounded or taken prisoners while the French lost a considerable number of men killed or wounded in addition to more than 250 men taken prisoners. On July 8, the Chamborant Hussards along with some dragoons left Treysa to manoeuvre on the rear of the Allies. On July 10 at daybreak, after a march of more than 120 km, the Chamborant Hussards and the accompanying dragoons arrived at Warburg and attacked the bakery of the British contingent, capturing a convoy of ammunition, 1 commissary, 80 men and 200 horses. By July 12, the regiment was deployed on the Schwalm under M. de Rochambeau. On September 10, it was part of Stainville’s Corps, which was detached to march up the Lahn up to Wetter. On November 20, when Louis XV issued his instructions regarding the French armies serving in Germany, specifying which units should return to France right away and which should stay in Germany till the final evacuation, the regiment was among the troops which remained in Germany until the final evacuation.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758
Source: Richard Couture from a Not By Appointment template
Uniform Details as per
the Etrennes Militaires of 1756 and 1758, Abrégé du Dictionnaire Militaire of 1759 and Etat Militaire of 1760 and 1761

completed when necessary as per Raspe
Headgear black felt mirliton laced black; with a black flame edged white; decorated with a white fleur de lys
Pelisse sky blue lined with white sheepskin
Fur trim black sheepskin along coat edges and cuffs
Lace 18 white brandebourgs
Buttons 1 row of 18 large pewter buttons between two rows of 18 small pewter buttons
Dolman sky blue with 18 white brandebourgs and 1 row of 18 large pewter buttons between two rows of 18 small pewter buttons
Collar sky blue edged white
Cuffs black pointed Hungarian cuffs edged white
Pockets edged white
Breeches sky blue with white embroideries
Greatcoat royal blue with white braids
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt red leather
Waist-sash black with a red leather belt with 3 iron rings and an iron buckle
Cartridge box red leather
Scabbard black with pewter fittings
Boots black leather Hungarian boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red bordered black with 5 white fleurs de lys
Sabretache red bordered black with a white fleur de lys


N.B.: contrarily to the 1752 ordonnance, Raspe in 1760 illustrates the mirliton, braid and laces in black, the distinctive colour of the regiment.

N.B.: surprisingly, the Etrennes Militaires of 1756 and 1758 clearly states that the dolman, breeches, mirliton and saddlecloth were ventre de biche (light buff). This would be contrary to the 1752 ordonnance and does not correspond to the illustration in Raspe for 1760. All other sources stated simply mention a sky blue uniform with white braid and trims.

Troopers were armed with a short, curved sabre, two pistols and a musket.

Officers

Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the privates with the following differences:

  • silver fleur de lys on the mirliton
  • silver braids and buttons
  • pelisse lined with fox fur and trimmed with peau de gorge de renard (probably white fox belly fur)

Musicians

Uniform of the French Hussards musicians -
Source: Jean-Louis Vial Nec Pluribus Impar

Information in this section is taken from Jean-Louis Vial's excellent website Nec Pluribus Impar with his kind authorisation. The translation is from John Boadle.

The hussars possessed kettle-drummers, attached to the senior company. On campaign they did not follow their regiments but remained in the depot, so were not found on the battlefield (the regulations of 1762 did away with kettle-drummers). The coats of the drummers and the uniforms of the trumpeters were in the colours of the regimental proprietors. Their dress was in the normal 'French' cut of the time rather than the hussar style, which lasted until the latter days of the 'ancien régime', when trumpeters dressed in Hungarian style appeared. The trumpeters and drummers wore normal cavalry breeches and boots. The harness of the drum horses was also in normal 'French' style.

Trumpeters of the Hussar Regiments wore a tightly adjusted hunting coat with very short turnbacks with small facings and a collar. The coat was often adorned with false sleeves. The braid of the livery was used for the brandebourg buttonholes and around the collar, sleeves and pockets. With this coat, trumpeters wore a felt tricorne, a waistcoat, trousers and boots similar to those worn by the musicians of the cavalry. However, this was the regulation... In several regiments, trumpeters wore the dolman, the chashkiry (Hungarian breeches) and hussar boots.

While the rest of the regiment had moustaches, musicians were completely shaved. They were usually mounted on grey horses.

Trumpets had richly laced and fringed banners with cords ended by knots on the upper part.

From 1761, under Chamborant, trumpeters of this regiment wore a yellow coat with a white collar, white facings and white linings. The waistcoat was white, the chashkiry light ochre. They also wore hussar boots.

Guidons

The regiment had swallow-tailed silken guidons fringed in gold and silver. Cords and tassels were made of mixed silver and blue silk threads.

Regimental Guidons: sky blue field, one golden Fleur de Lys in each corner, centre device consisting of a golden Royal Sun surmounted by the motto "Nec Pluribus Impar".

References

The article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Louis XV: Ordonnance du Roi, Concernant l'habillement, l'équipement & l'armement des régimens de Hussards. Du 15 Mai 1752.
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 369-372

Other sources

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 who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)

Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg: Gabriel Nicolas Raspe, 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.