Colonel Général Cavalerie
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Origin and History
This regiment was probably raised in 1631 by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar when Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden intervened in the affairs of Germany. The regiment was among the contingent who entered into French service in 1633. It was incorporated into the French Army on 26 October 1635 as “Régiment de Trefski” but still recruited in Germany.
On 17 October 1641, the regiment became “Flechstein Cavalerie”. By 1647, its recruits were all French. In 1649, it became “Nimitz Cavalerie”.
On 3 June 1651, the House of Turenne acquired the regiment. On 24 April 1657, when the Maréchal de Turenne became colonel-general of the so-called “light cavalry”, his regiment was renamed Colonel-Général Cavalerie and took precedence over all other line cavalry regiments, ranking first. This regiment took part in all campaigns of Louis XIV.
By the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted 3 squadrons.
By 1730, the colonel company was mounted on grey horses.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive colonels of the regiment were:
- since 24 September 1675: Frédéric-Maurice de la Tour d'Auvergne, Comte d'Evreux
- from 10 February 1705 till 7 April 1747: Henri-Louis de la Tour d'Auvergne
...and its successive mestres de camp were:
- from 17??: Lebrun d'Inteville
- from 1711 till 1717: Comte d'Elèvemont
Service during the War
In 1701, the regiment was sent to Northern Italy.
On 15 August 1702, the regiment took part in the inconclusive Battle of Luzzara.
In 1703, the regiment took part in the expedition in Trentino.
In 1704, the regiment took part in the sieges of Vercelli. Ivrea and Verona.
In 1705. the regiment still served in the Army of Piedmont under the command of La Feuillade. By May, it was posted in the area of Biella. When Prince Eugène de Savoie, victor in Germany, came back to Italy to relieve the Duchy of Savoy, the Duc de Vendôme who occupied the Milanese with the Army of Lombardy confronted him. Immediately, the Duc de La Feuillade sent a cavalry corps (including the present regiment) as reinforcement to Vendôme. On 11 May, this corps under the command of M. d'Albergotti left for Candia and Pavia and, on 17 May, arrived at Lodi. On 16 August, the regiment fought in the Battle of Cassano where Prince Eugène was totally defeated and forced to retire. The Franco-Spanish Army of Lombardy took its winter-quarters on the Mincio. By November, the regiment was at Palosio; by the end of December, in Mantua.
In 1706, the Army of Lombardy, now under the joint commands of the Duc d'Orléans and of M. de La Feuillade, laid siege to Turin while the Duc de Vendôme covered the siege. Vendôme assembled his army (58 bns, 65 sqns, 18 guns) at Castiglione and Carpenedolo and then marched towards Montechiari where an Imperial army had taken position with its right at Montechiari and its left at Calcinato. On 19 April, the regiment (3 sqns) took part in the Battle of Calcinato where it was deployed in the first line. Vendôme sent a detachment to occupy a hill where the Imperialists were taking position. The Colonel-Général Brigade (comprising Colonel-Général Cavalerie, Saint-Germain Cavalerie, Beaupré Cavalerie and Cappy Cavalerie) under the command of M. de Cappy took the hill. Vendôme's victory at Calcinato pushed back the Imperialists behind the Adige along which Vendôme deployed his army. By May, the regiment was cantoned in Pontoncello and Santa-Maria. In June, Prince Eugène advanced again in Italy at the head of a new army to relieve Turin. The news of the defeat of Ramillies induced the French to retire on Turin, allowing Prince Eugène and Victor Amadeus II of Savoie to effect a junction between Carmagnola and Moncalieri.
On 7 September, the French army was attacked under the walls of Turin by three columns: the right column under the Prince of Sachsen-Gotha, the centre column under Prince Eugène de Savoie, and the left column under the Prince of Anhalt while the garrison sallied from the city. During the ensuing Battle of Turin, the Chateaumorant Brigade (comprising Colonel-Général Cavalerie, Bissy Cavalerie, Saint-Germain Cavalerie and Beaupré Cavalerie) was deployed on the right wing where it was opposed mainly by Saxon troops. The powerful offensive of the Allies forced the French to retreat towards the frontier in the greatest disorder. This defeat decided the fate of Italy.
In 1707, reorganised after the Battle of Turin, the regiment was sent to Flanders. By May, it was at Saint-Ghislain in M. de Mimeurs's Brigade, together with Toulouse Cavalerie and Fontaine Cavalerie. The Army of Flanders confronted Marlborough who retired to Bruxelles when he heard of the French successes in Spain and on the Rhine. The two armies remained face to face, neither of them willing to risk an open battle.
For the campaign of 1708, the regiment was attached to M. de Daulezy's Brigade along with Toulouse Cavalerie and Daulezy Cavalerie. It was sent to Ghent with the rest of the army. Ghent and Bruges were taken and the regiment established itself in the camp of Lovendeyhem near Ghent in preparation for the investment of Oudenarde. On 11 July, the regiment was at the Battle of Oudenarde but could not intervene because of the difficult terrain unsuitable for cavalry. After the defeat, the French army retired to Lovendeyhem. By October, the regiment belonged to Pezeux's Brigade, along with Du Roi Cavalerie and Pezeux Cavalerie, encamped near Bruges. By November, the regiment was at Steinbrugge. It then followed the retreat of the army towards Douai and took position at Avesnes.
In, when Villars assumed command of the Army of Flanders, he assembled his army (including the present regiment) at Douai. In September, the army advanced to relieve Mons. On 11 September, the regiment ook part in the Battle of Malplaquet where the French cavalry initially deployed in order of battle behind the infantry. The Allied cavalry under the Prince of Hesse and the Prince d'Auvergne took position in front of the French cavalry, provoking a cavalry battle. Outnumbered by the Allies the French army was forced to retire but did it in good order.
In 1710, Villars remained in observation in his camp of Douai.
For the campaign of 1711, the regiment was brigaded with Saint-Pouanges Cavalerie and Ligondez Cavalerie under the command of M. de Saint-Pouanges. On 11 and 12 July, a squadron of the regiment took part in a raid against Prince Eugène's camp, killing several men and pludering during an hour before setting fire to the camp. The regiment then took position near Saint-Quentin.
In May 1712, the regiment was attached to M. de Livry's Brigade with Toulouse Cavalerie and de Livry Cavalerie. On 24 July, it took part in the victorious Battle of Denain.
In 1713, the regiment was sent to the Rhine where it took part in the sieges of Landau and Freiburg.
In 1714, the regiment was at the camp on the Upper-Meuse.
|Headgear||black tricorne laced yellow, with a white cockade fastened with a brass button|
|Coat||red with black lining
Troopers were armed with a sword, a pistol and a carbine.
As per Marbot, officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers but of a finer quality with the following differences:
- lapels and cuffs edged with a golden braid
- saddle cloth and housings edged with a golden braid
As per Rousselot, trumpeters wore a very different uniform:
- black tricorne edged gold with white plumetis
- white cravate
- grey coat heavily laced with a black and white (checker pattern) braid
- black velvet cuffs edged gold without button
- two grey hanging sleeves heavily laced with a black and white (checker pattern) braid
- red saddle cloth and housing edged with a golden braid
The trumpet had a black apron embroidered and fringed in silver
As per Marbot, the kettle-drummer was a black people wearing
- a white turban with yellow feathers
- a white cravate
- a black coat heavily laced with a white braid
- black cuffs edged white
The apron of each kettle-drum was black with silver embroideries and silver fringes and was decorated with unidentified arms
Colonel standard (aka Cornette Blanche): white field fringed silver; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun. This standard was the first standard of France.
Regimental standards: black field fringed in silver
- obverse: sown with gold and silver fleurs de lys and towers (Tours d'Auvergne); centre device consisting of a golden royal sun with the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in gold
- reverse: embroidered in silver, central device consisting of a column of fire marching in front of the Israelites with the motto “Certum monstrat iter”
Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Historique du 1er régiment de cuirassiers
Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 319-321
Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, J. Hetzel et Cie, Paris, 1874
Vial, J.-L.: Nec Pluribus Impar
Jean-Pierre Loriot for the initial version of this article.