Volontaires de Saint-Victor

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> 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

Uniform

To our knowledge, Mouillard is the only source depicting this unit.

Fusiliers

Uniform Details as per Mouillard
Headgear
Fusilier black tricorne laced silver with a white cockade
Grenadier probably a tricorne
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
Collar blue
Shoulder Straps blue fastened with a small pewter button
Lapels red with 8 pewter buttons grouped 2 by 2
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs red with 2 pewter buttons disposed vertically
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat white with pewter buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt probably white (no information available)
Waistbelt probably white (no information available)
Cartridge Box no information available
Bayonet Scabbard black with brass fittings
Scabbard black with brass fittings


Armaments of light troops usually consisted of a musket, a bayonet and a sabre.

Hussars

Uniform Details as per a contemporary illustration
Headgear red felt mirliton with a yellow flame edged white
Pelisse ventre de biche (chamois)
Fur trim sheepskin along coat edges and cuffs
Lace approx. 20 white braids
Buttons 1 row of approx. 20 large pewter buttons between two rows of 20 small pewter buttons
Dolman red with white braids and 1 row of large pewter buttons between two rows of small pewter buttons
Collar none
Cuffs ventre de biche (chamois) bordered with a white lace
Pockets n/a
Trousers red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt n/a
Waist-sash red and ventre de biche (chamois)
Cartridge box n/a
Scabbard black with brass fittings
Boots black leather Hungarian boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red decorated with a white fleurs de lys in the corners and bordered white
Sabretache ventre de biche (chamois) decorated with a yellow fleur de lys


French hussars were usually armed with a short, curved sabre, two pistols and a musket.

Officers

no information found yet

NCOs

no information found yet

Musicians

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.

Drummer wearing the Royal Livery - Source: Jocelyne Chevanelle

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

French Royal Livery - Source: reconstruction based on a sample from Jean-Louis Vial's collection


Colours

The regiment most probably did not carry any colour or guidon.

References

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

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006