Volontaires du Dauphiné

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

Origin and History

The unit was created on March 1 1749 by the amalgamation of the Volontaires de Gantez (created on January 30 1746), the Volontaires de Lancise (created on March 1 1747), the Chasseurs de Sabattier (created on February 1 1747) and the Chasseurs de Colonne (created on February 1 1747).

In 1757, the unit counted 133 men and consisted of:

  • 5 infantry companies (each of 2 officers and 20 men)
  • 1 dragoon company (3 officers and 20 dragoons)

On February 1 1758, the unit was significantly increased. It now counted 456 men and consisted of:

  • 6 mixed companies (each of 6 officers, 40 fusiliers and 30 dragoons)

On April 7 1758, an additional company was added bringing the total force of the unit to 608 men. It now consisted of:

  • staff
    • 1 colonel
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 major
    • 1 adjutant-major
    • 1 alfiere (???)
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
  • 8 mixed companies, each consisting of:
    • 1 captain
    • infantry
      • 1 captain in second
      • 1 lieutenant
      • 2 sergeants
      • 3 corporals
      • 3 sub corporals
      • 31 fusiliers
      • 1 drummer
    • dragoons
      • 1 captain in second
      • 1 lieutenant
      • 1 maréchal des logis
      • 2 brigadiers
      • 27 dragoons
      • 1 drummer

By November 22 1759, the unit counted 1,006 men (including staff) and consisted of

  • a staff of 5 officers and 2 men
  • 1 grenadier company (3 officers and 60 grenadiers)
  • 8 fusilier companies (each of 3 officers and 70 fusiliers)
  • 8 dragoon companies (each of 4 officers and 40 fusiliers)

During the Seven Years' War, the unit was commanded by:

  • since 1749 until 1762: Baron de Viomesnil

In 1762, the unit was incorporated into the Volontaires de Flandre who were renamed Légion de Flandre.

Service during the War

By August 1, 1757, the unit was garrisoning Grenoble in Dauphiné.

By May 10, 1759, the unit was part of Beaupréau's Corps, which had taken position in Wetterau Country near Limburg. From June, the unit (estimated at 608 men) took part in the French offensive in Western Germany. 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 Hussards and Volontaires de Dauphiné. After the capture of Minden, on July 9, the unit raided the country towards Nienburg. On August 1, the unit took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the Duc d'Havré's Corps in an advanced post at Eichhorst to the left, opposing Hille while the cavalry of the regiment was charged to maintain communication between d'Havré's at Eichhorst and Brissac's Corps at Gohfeld through the vale of Bergkirchen. By August 31, the unit was attached to Chabot's Light Corps. By September 25, the unit was deployed at Oppenrod near Annerod.

By the end of January 1760, the unit had taken up its winter-quarters in the third line of the French army along the Rhine and the Main from its mouth. By May 23, the unit was part of the left vanguard of Broglie's Army. On July 10, the unit 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. In this affair, mounted elements of the unit along with Beaufremont Dragons received the counter-charge of two squadrons of the British 1st (The King's) Regiment of Dragoon Guards and 3rd Regiment of Dragoon Guards. The British charge was broken, one squadron and one standard being captured. On August 2, the unit was part of the corps sent by Broglie, under the command of the Prince de Condé, to dislodge the Légion Britannique from the woods on the left of his army. The Légion Britannique abandoned the woods without opposing resistance. 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 of Brunswick 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. On September 5, Ferdinand of Brunswick resolved to attack the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince (max. 600 horse and 600 foot) and Volontaires du Dauphiné (max. 600 horse and 600 foot) totalling 1,900 men stationed at Zierenberg. He ordered 5 bns and 150 Highlanders under the command of Captain McLeod, and 8 dragoon sqns to be ready to march at 8:00 p.m.. During the night of September 5 to 6, the Allies launched a surprise attack on Zierenberg. They stormed the Warburg Gate defended by a detachment of the unit. In this action 231 privates belonging to the unit were taken prisoners. The remnants of the unit (400 foot and 200 horse) re-established order in the town after the departure of the Allies. By September 17, the regiment acted as a detachment to protect forage activities. By December 30, the unit had taken up its winter-quarters in Nordhausen. Meanwhile, the mounted elements of the unit had taken their winter-quarters in Alzey and Kreuznach.

On June 18, 1761, during the campaign in Western Germany, the unit was attached to the vanguard of Soubise's army. This vanguard encamped on the left bank of the Emscher, near Dortmund. On July 16, the unit was present at the Battle of Vellinghausen, where it formed part of Fischer’s Light Brigade. By August 10, the unit (948 men) was in Wesel. On September 2, it was part of Vogüé’s Corps which moved closer to Wesel and threatened Dorsten. By November, the unit was posted in the district of Kleve, on the right bank of the Rhine between Rees and the Netherlands and along the Issel.

In March 1762, the unit was attached to the Army of the Lower Rhine, under the Prince de Condé, for the coming campaign in Western Germany. On April 19, M. de Viomesnil with 2,300 men (1,800 Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince and Volontaires du Dauphiné, 400 men of the Grenadiers Royaux de Cambis and 100 men of Chapt Dragons) took position on the left of Wesel. In mid-May, the unit, along with the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince (approx. 900 men) took position on the Issel River. On July 4 in the morning, M. de Melfort and his vanguard bumped into Scheither's Corps at Leer (unidentified location) and took 100 men and 3 officers prisoners, including M. de Scheither. Chapt Dragons and the Volontaires du Dauphiné distinguished themselves in this action. By July 21, the unit formed part of the corps of the Chevalier de Lévis. On August 30, the unit fought in the Combat of Nauheim where it formed part of the vanguard under Lévis. On November 20, 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 unit was among those which remained in Germany.

Uniform

Uniform of the Fusiliers

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Jean-Louis Vial of Nec Pluribus Impar
Uniform Details as per
Etat Militaire of 1758, 1760 and 1761,
and Étrennes Militaires of 1758

completed where necessary as per Taccoli and Raspe
Headgear black tricorne laced silver with a white cockade
Neck stock black
Coat royal blue lined blue with 12 white buttons on the right side and 12 white laced buttonholes on the left side with 4 white laced buttonholes on each side in the rear along the basques
Collar ventre de biche (chamois)
Shoulder Straps ventre de biche (chamois) fastened with a small white button
Lapels none
Pockets double vertical pockets, each with 4 white buttons and 4 white laced buttonholes
Cuffs ventre de biche (chamois), each with 4 white buttons and 4 white laced buttonholes
Turnbacks blue
Waistcoat ventre de biche (chamois) with 12 white buttons on the right side and 12 white laced buttonholes on the left side
Breeches royal blue (chamois as per Taccoli)
Gaiters white or black
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather (white as per Taccoli)
Waistbelt natural leather (white as per Taccoli)
Cartridge Pouch black embroidered with a silver dolphin
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard brown


Armaments consisted of a musket, a bayonet and a sabre (similar to the sabre of the grenadiers of the line infantry).

Officers

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

  • tricorne scalloped in silver
  • silver laced buttonholes
  • no turnbacks

Officers carried a musket with iron fittings.

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


Drums carried the arms of the Dauphin

Uniform of the Dragoons

The coat of the dragoons had one row of white laced buttonholes on each side down to the waist with 1 row of buttons on the right side; white epaulette; bearskin with a blue flame laced white, a white cord and a white tassel, decorated with 2 white dolphins; leather breeches (royal blue as per Raspe); buckled shoes with oiled calf leather soft bottines (sort of leather gaiters); blue housings and schabraque decorated with 2 white dolphins

Draggons were armed with a short musket (brass fittings), a pistol and a grenadier sabre.

Colours

Colonel colour: probably white with a white cross (the standard infantry colonel flag).

Ordonnance colours (as per the États Militaires of 1760): ventre de biche (chamois) field; white cross; each angle decorated with a blue dolphin and a flame

Colonel Colour - Source: Kronoskaf
no illustration available yet for the
Ordonnance Colour

Dragoon guidons: ventre de biche (chamois) field; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surrounded by 4 golden dolphins; finged silver.

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. 232, 235-237
  • Taccoli, Alfonso: Teatro Militare dell' Europa, Part 1, vol. 2; Madrid, March 1760, pp. 148, 150

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

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

Service Historique de l'armée de terre - Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1761

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.