Chevau-légers d'Orléans

From Project WSS
Jump to navigationJump to search

Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Chevau-légers d'Orléans

Origin and History

This company was created on 14 June 1655 for Louis XIV's brother and was initially known as Chevau-légers d'Anjou. When the Duc d'Anjou received the Duchy of Orléans in 1660, the unit was renamed Chevau-légers d'Orléans. It was incorporated into the Gendarmerie de France on 11 April 1677.

During the reign of Louis XIV, the Gendarmerie de France had fought in first line in all major engagements in Flanders, Germany and Italy.

During the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the Gendarmerie de France served in Flanders.

In 1688, at the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the Gendarmerie de France served in Flanders, where it distinguished itself at the Battle of Leuze (September, 18, 1691), and on the Rhine. In 1693, it served in Italy under Catinat and distinguished itself at Marsaglia (October 4, 1693).

For the organisation of this company, please refer to Gendarmerie de France Organisation. At war, it was the junior company of the eighth squadron of the Gendarmerie de France, paired with the Chevau-légers du Dauphin.

Until 1763 the headquarters of the Gendarmerie de France were at Châlons-sur-Marne while the company was quartered in Nivernais and Limagne.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the company was under the nominal command of the Duc d'Orléans while a captain-lieutenant assumed effective command:

  • from 1688: Louis Ferry Mallet de Graville, Marquis de Valsemé
  • from 3 March 1706 to 15 October 1725: Simon-Antoine de Ténarre, Chevalier de Montmain

The company was disbanded in March 1763 and incorporated into the Gendarmes d'Orléans.

Service during the War

In 1701, at the beginning of the war, the Gendarmerie de France served with the Army of Italy.

On 15 August 1702, the Gendarmerie de France fought in the Battle of Luzzara, where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing.

In 1703, the Gendarmerie de France served with the Army of Germany. On 15 November, it fought in the Battle of Speyerbach, where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing.

On 13 August 1704, the Gendarmerie de France was crushed in the disastrous Battle of Blemheim.

From 1706 to 1713, the Gendarmerie de France served in Flanders and on the Rhine.

On 11 July 1708, the Gendarmerie de France took part in the Battle of Oudenarde.

On 11 September 1709, the Gendarmerie de France took part in the Battle of Malplaquet.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1701- Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details in 1701
as per Rousselot, Mouillard, Funcken, Marbot, Rigo
Headgear black tricorne laced silver, with a black cockade
Neckstock black cravate
Coat scarlet lined scarlet, bordered with a silver braid, with silver buttons and silver buttonholes, and a silver braid on each sleeve
Collar none
Shoulder straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets laced silver, each with 3 silver buttons and 3 silver buttonholes
Cuffs scarlet cuffs en botte laced silver, each with 3 silver buttons
Turnbacks none
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin fastened with hooks and eyes and edged with a silver braid
Breeches scarlet (probably buff leather at war)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff bandoleer laced silver
Waistbelt buff laced silver
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard black leather with a silver tip
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth scarlet laced silver (the saddle was of black leather)
Housings scarlet laced silver, even during this period the cypher on the saddlecloth and housings seems to have varied depending on the owner of each company (king, queen, dauphin, a duke...). Here are a few examples:
Gendarmes Écossais Cypher - Source: PMPdeL
Gendarmes Anglais Cypher - Source: PMPdeL
Gendarmes Bourguignons Cypher - Source: PMPdeL
Gendarmes de Flandres Cypher - Source: PMPdeL
Gendarmes du Dauphin Cypher - Copyright Frédéric Aubert
Gendarmes d'Orléans Cypher - Source: PMPdeL
Blanket roll n/a


Troopers were armed with a sabre (silver handle), a pair of pistols and a rifled carbine. Officially for combat they wore a blackened breastplate over their leather jerkin.

The horses of the troopers were of various colours.

NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers.

They also wore a blackened breastplate over their leather jerkin for combat.

Officers

Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following peculiarities:

  • silver braids on all seams of the coat
  • silver buttons
  • full cuirass worn over the coat

Officers were armed with a strong sword.

Musicians

Orléans Livery - Source: PMPdeL
Chevau-légers d'Orléans trumpet in 1724. - Source: Alfred de Marbot Tableaux synoptiques de l'infanterie et de la cavalerie...

Trumpets wore a blue coat heavily laced with red braids alternating with white braids.

The saddle cloth and housings were red laced silver. The pennants of the trumpets were red decorated and fringed in gold.

As the junior company of its squadron, the unit did not carry a kettle-drum.

The musicians were mounted on grey horses.

Standards

The silken standard (exceptionally called guidons in the Gendarmerie de France) was similar to the standard carried by the Gendarmes d'Orléans. It had a red field heavily decorated with silver and gold embroideries, fringed in gold and silver; centre device consisting of a scene depicting a bomb exploding in the air over a tall tree with the motto “ALTER POST FULMINA TERROR”. As for all company standards of the Gendarmerie de France, the obverse and reverse were identical.

Tentative Reconstruction
Standard - Copyright: Kronoskaf

The standard was carried on a tournament lance by a trooper designated as porte-étendards (even though the standards of the Gendarmerie de France were called guidons).

References

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

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 1, Paris: Hetzel, 1874, pp. 240-243, 271
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 22
  • Guignard, Pierre Claude de: L'école de Mars; Paris: Simart 1725; p. 566

Other sources

Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Lienhart & Humbert: Les uniformes de l'armée française 1690-1894; Leipzig 1897-1906

Marbot, Alfred de: Les uniformes de l'armée française de 1439 à 1815; Paris 1848

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

Rigondeau (Rigo), Albert: Planches Le plumet – Série Ancien Régime; Paris 1980

Rousselot, Lucien: L'Armée française, ses uniformes, son armement, son équipement; Paris 1943-1971

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.