Volontaires de Saint-Victor
Origin and History
The unit originated from semi-permanent units designated as Volontaires de l'armée. In 1760, one such unit operated under the command of Stanislas Louis de La Noue-Vieuxpont, Comte de Vair, captain at Enghien Infanterie. In February, the Maréchal de Broglie adjoined him M. de Saint-Victor as second in command. On July 23, the Comte de Vair was killed at the head of his unit of Volontaires de l'armée at the affair of Sachsenhausen near Volkmarsen in Hesse. At the death of the Comte de Vair, Broglie entrusted this unit to M. de Saint-Victor.
This particular unit of the Volontaires de l'armée escaped to the short-lived status of such units. Indeed, in February 1761, before the beginning of the campaign, the Martéchal de Broglie decided to constitute a new unit of Volontaires de l'armée, giving it a permanent status.
A memoir addressed by M. de Saint-Victor to the son of the Duc de Broglie clarifies the composition of this unit.
- "This corps was composed of one man per company of all French and foreign regiments of M. le maréchal your father. In 1760, after the affair of Corbach, and when M. the Comte de Saint Germain had reunited the troops of the Lower-Rhine to the army, the troops of M. de Vair reached 1,600 infantrymen, who he subdivided into twelve centuries of fusiliers, 3 of chasseurs, 60 fouilleurs (?) and 40 gunmen to serve the 4 pieces à la Rostaing. One also joined him piquets of hussars and dragoons..."
This memoir also explains that M. de Saint-Victor, succeeding to M. de Vair, had not enough mounted troops because the piquets of hussars and dragoons had been returned to their respective regiments. M. de Saint-Victor created a corps of 200 hussars to whom he joined 200 chasseurs à pieds.
The presence of Swiss soldiers in this corps provoked sharp protestations by M. de Castella, seemingly to no avail.
The organisation by "centuries" followed the ideas proposed by the Maréchal de Saxe in his "Rêveries". This was a period of history where much was published on the tactics of the Greek and Roman armies.
Since the unit had now been transformed into a permanent unit, it received new uniforms. The unit was organised into 1 grenadier company, 8 fusilier companies and 8 hussars companies, totalling 948 men. However, the unit was not an independent light troop regiment like for instance the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince, the Volontaires du Hainaut or the Volontaires de Flandre. In fact, its soldiers were still being paid by their parent regiment.
During the Seven Years' War, the unit was commanded by the following colonel-commandants:
- since February 1761 until 1763: M. de Saint-Victor
In 1763, the Volontaires de Saint-Victor were disbanded and part of their troops was incorporated into the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince.
Service during the War
On July 23 1760, the unit was with Broglie's forces for the attack on Spörcken's position near Volkmarsen in Hesse. La Noue, the commander of the unit, was killed during this action. Thereafter M. de St. Victor took over command the unit. By August 6, the unit was scouting the banks of the Weser between the Diemel and the Fulda. On August 10, Colonel Donop attacked and dislodged the Volontaires de Saint-Victor (2,000 men), who had been detached into the woods of Sababurg to protect Broglie's line of communication with Prince Xavier. The French lost 500 men killed, wounded or taken prisoners; and 3 guns. The routed Volontaires de Saint-Victor took refuge into Münden. By December 30, the unit had taken its winter-quarters in Krumbach.
To do: the campaigns of 1761 and 1762
To our knowledge, Mouillard is the only source depicting this unit.
|Neck stock||probably black|
|Coat||blue lined red; 2 pewter buttons under the right lapel; 1 pewter button on each side in the small of the back
|Waistcoat||white with pewter buttons|
Armaments of light troops usually consisted of a musket, a bayonet and a sabre.
|Headgear||red felt mirliton with a yellow flame edged white|
|Pelisse||ventre de biche (chamois)
|Dolman||red with white braids and 1 row of large pewter buttons between two rows of small pewter buttons
French hussars were usually armed with a short, curved sabre, two pistols and a musket.
no information found yet
no information found yet
The drummers of the regiment wore the Royal Livery: blue coat lined red; red cuffs, waistcoat and breeches; laced with the braid of the small Royal Livery.
The regiment most probably did not carry any colour or guidon.
Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV; Paris 1882
Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006