Cécile Cavalry

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Spanish Army (Bourbon) >> Cécile Cavalry

Origin and History

The tercio was raised on 19 February 1656 by Jean François de Nestien in the Spanish Netherlands. It initially counted eight companies. In 1675, the tercio became “Nicolas Richard Du Puys”; in 1692, “Philippe Gourdin”; and in 1697, “Alexandre Cécile”.

In 1656, during the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), the tercio observed the manoeuvres of the French army of General La Ferté. It then took part in the relief of Valenciennes and in the siege and capture of Condé. In 1657, it participated in the capture of Saint-Guillain and Calais; in 1658, in the sanguinary Battle of the Dunes.

In 1667, at the outbreak of the War of Devolution (1667–68), the tercio took part in the unsuccessful attempt to relieve Lille.

In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the tercio was part of the Spanish auxiliary force sent to the help of the Dutch Republic. In 1673, the tercio took part in the siege and capture of Naarden; in 1674, in the Battle of Seneffe and in the unsuccessful siege of Oudenarde; in 1676, in the defence of Valenciennes; in 1677, in the relief of Saint-Omer, in the unsuccessful siege of Charleroi; and in 1678, in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the tercio joined the Allied army who penetrated in France. In 1690, it took part in the Battle of Fleurus; in 1691, in the relief of Liège and in the Battle of Leuze; in 1692, in the Battle of Steenkerque; and in 1693, in the Battle of Landen. In 1695, the tercio covered the siege of Namur. In 1696, it was transferred from the Spanish Netherlands to Catalonia where it suffered heavy losses. In 1697, it took part in the defence of Barcelona who surrendered on 10 August.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive colonels of the regiment were:

  • since 27 April 1697: Alexandre Cécile (father) (promoted to brigadier in 1703, appointed brigadier général de logis by Philip V for the army who launched the invasion of Portugal)
  • from 25 April 1704 until 1725: Alexandre Cécile (son) (promoted to brigadier in 1715)

In 1718, the regiment was renamed “Alcantara”.

Service during the War

Clonard's work places this regiment in Italy during the first years of the war. This seems to be a mistake. The regiment is repeatedly referenced in orders of battles in the Spanish Netherlands but is totally absent from all orders of battles in Italy.

There has probably been a confusion between the present regiment and Brabante Cavalry who served in Italy from 1701 to 1706 and was later incorporated in the present regiment.

In the Spring of 1701, the 2 squadrons of the regiment were stationed in the Spanish Netherlands.

By 18 April 1702, the regiment was part of the army of the Marquis de Bedmar. It was encamped between Antwerp and Lierre. On 11 May, when Bedmar set off from Antwerp, the regiment was left behind at Antwerp under the command of M. de Ximenès. By mid-May, it was attached to Bedmar's field army. By 28 September, it had been transferred to the army of the Maréchal de Boufflers where it was placed in the second line of cavalry.

By 4 May 1703, the regiment was attached to the field army of Maréchal de Villeroy and Maréchal de Boufflers, in De Bar' Brigade in the second line of the cavalry left wing.

In July 1707, under the command of La Motte and Grimaldi, the regiment took part in the recapture of Bruges and in the surprise attack on Ghent.

On 11 July 1708, the regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde and, on 28 September, in the engagement of Wijnendale.

In 1709, the regiment took part in the siege of Tournai.

In 1710, the regiment was transferred from the Spanish Netherlands to Spain. On May 10, it landed in Catalonia. It later received new mounts in Andalusia. On 20 August, it fought in the Battle of Saragossa.

In 1714, the regiment joined the army besieging Barcelona.

Uniform

Very little is known about the uniform of this regiment to the exception that the uniform was white with green as its distinctive colour. We don't know the metal colour of the regiment.

Officers

Uniforms of officers differed from those of privates and NCOs by the finer material used. Their waistcoat, saddle cloth and housings were edged with a wide golden braid. They always wore a tricorne notwithstanding the headgear worn by soldiers.

The regulation of 30 December 1704 specified the distinctive of each military rank:

  • colonel: a baton with a gold knob
  • lieutenant-colonel: a baton with a silver knob
  • sargento mayor: a baton with a silver topped knob
  • captain: silver or golden epaulettes (according to the metal colour of the regiment) on both shoulders
  • lieutenant: silver or golden epaulette (according to the metal colour of the regiment) on the right shoulder
  • cornet: silver or golden epaulette (according to the metal colour of the regiment) on the left shoulder

NCOs

The regulation of 30 December 1704 specified the distinctive of each military rank:

  • sergeant : baton without knob and halberd
  • mariscal de logis (quartermaster): small woolen epaulette (red or of the distinctive colour of the regiment)
  • brigadier: swagger stick
  • corporal of squadron: swagger stick
  • second corporal of squadron (rank suppressed in 1706): swagger stick

Standards

There is a description of the standards of the regiment in Clonard's work but we don't know at what time these standards were introduced.

The colonel standard, carried by the first squadron, was made of white damask with silver embroideries and borders.

  • obverse: centre device consisting of the Royal Arms
  • reverse: mantle of the Order of Alcantara surmounted by a crown; the motto “Hoec nubila tollunt obstantia sicut sol”
Tentative reconstruction: Cécile Cavalry Colonel Standard – Copyright: Kronoskaf

The regimental standards were made of crimson damask with silver embroideries and borders.

  • obverse: centre device consisting of the Royal Arms
  • reverse: mantle of the Order of Alcantara surmounted by a crown; the motto “Hoec nubila tollunt obstantia sicut sol”
Tentative reconstruction: Cécile Cavalry Regimental Standard – Copyright: Kronoskaf

References

This article is mostly made of abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Clonard, Conde de, Historia Orgánica de las Armas de Infantería y Caballería, vol. XIV, Madrid, 1851-62, pp. 324-348

Other sources

Dragonas Magazine

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

Acknowledgement

Jean-Pierre Loriot for the initial version of this article.