Dauphin Cavalerie

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Dauphin Cavalerie

Origin and History

The regiment was raised on November 1 1661, at the birth of Louis de France, Louis XIV's son and Dauphin de France (hereditary prince of France). On 24 March 1668, after the conquest of Franche-Comté, the old Compagnies d'ordonnance were incorporated into the regiment. It then fought for the king in the Netherlands and in Germany.

At the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted 3 squadrons.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was under the nominal command of the Dauphin de France.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive mestres de camp of the regiment were:

  • since 18 March 1689: Philippe Valois de Villette, Marquis de Murçay (brigadier from 28 April 1694, maréchal de camp from 29 January 1702, lieutenant-general from 10 February 1704, wounded at the Battle of Turin on 7 September 1706, died of his wounds on 9 November 1706)
  • from 1 May 1702: Marquis de Costentin
  • from 28 April 1706: N. De Clérambault, Marquis de Vandeuil (died at the beginning of 1712)
  • from 9 April 1712: François, Duc d'Harcourt

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment was initially sent to the Army of the Rhine under Villeroy but was soon transferred to Northern Italy to serve under Catinat. In mid-August, the regiment arrived at Vavre on the Adda. It was then assigned to Tessé's Corps and went to the camp of Fontanella. Villeroy then replaced Catinat. On 1 September, the regiment was at the defeat of Chiari. On 7 November, it set off from Chiari to join the garrison of Cremona.

In the night of 31 January to 1 February 1702, Prince Eugène de Savoie proceeded to the unsuccessful storming of Cremona. A large number of troops managed to enter into Cremona and to capture Villeroy. However the garrison reacted promptly and drove the Imperialists out of the city. The regiment supported Royal des Vaisseaux Infanterie and Royal Comtois Infanterie in their effort to repulse the assault. The Duc de Vendôme then replaced Villeroy who had been taken prisoner. The regiment was then attached to Ourches's Brigade and took part in the relief of Mantua. On 1 July, when King Philip V of Spain assumed command of the Franco-Spanish army, it was subdivided in two distinct armies to campaign on both banks of the Po. The regiment was attached to Ruffey's Brigade placed in the Reserve on the right bank. On 15 August, the regiment took part in the inconclusive Battle of Luzzara. On 17 August, the Franco-Spanish captured the Castle of Luzzara. The regiment then took part in the siege of Guastalla who capitulated on 9 September. Soon afterwards, Phlip V quit the army to return to Spain.

In 1703, the Campaign in Northern Italy opened in April. The regiment was part of Vaudémont's Army, posted on the right bank of the Po. On 30 May, it took part in a raid on Finale. On 11 June, two Imperial corps set off from Mirandola and Quatantali to attack Albergotti's troops who held their ground. In this action, the regiment charged and broke through the first ranks of the enemy before being driven back. It rallied and charged once more to protect Albergotti's small army who managed to retire. The regiment suffered terrible losses: 2 captains (MM. de Mérieux and de Razzal), 2 lieutenants and 120 troopers; Captains de Locmarin was severely wounded and taken prisoner. By November, the regiment counted still counted 3 squadrons but only 4 captains, 10 lieutenants and cornets, 7 quartermasters, 120 mounted troopers and 72 dismounted troopers.

In 1704, Vendôme replaced Vaudémont who was ill. His aim was to prevent Starhemberg from effecting a junction with the Savoyard Army of Duke Victor Amadeus II who had recently changed allegiance and sided with Austria. In January, Starhemberg managed to force a passage at Stradella. Vendôme pursued the Imperial army and his cavalry, under M. de Saint-Frémont, caught up with the Starhemberg's rearguard, capturing seven colours. On 20 January, Vendôme's Army took its winter-quarters in Vigevano. In May, the campaign opened with the capture Verrua as prime objective. The regiment covered the siege of Vercelli who fell on 27 September. On 15 October, it was at the siege of Verrua. In November, it was sent to Monferrato under the command of M. d'Estaing.

In March 1705, the regiment returned to the region of Asti. On 9 April, Verrua finally capitulated. The Franco-Spanish army then laid siege to Chivasso. On 7 July, d'Estaing's Corps overwhelmed an Allied cavalry corps near the Cirié Woods. After the capitulation of Chivasso, the regiment was sent as reinforcement to Vendôme's Army operating in Lombardy. On 2 December, the regiment arrived at Casale and spent winter at Volungo.

On 18 April 1706, when Vendôme assembled his army under the walls of Castiglione, the regiment was placed in first line on the left in La Loge d'Imécourt's Brigade. On 19 April, Vendôme attacked General Reventklau entrenched at Calcinato. The cavalry under Albergotti overwhelmed the Allied squadrons and pushed towards Ponte San Marco, forcing the Allied infantry already driven out of Calcinato to precipitously retire. The Allies were totally routed. After this victory, Prince Eugène was blocked in the Adige Valley. But Vendôme was then replaced by the Duc d'Orléans and Marsin. Prince Eugène retook the offensive on the Lower-Adige and managed to effect a junction with the army of the Duke of Savoy. The Duc d'Orléans then assembled his army under the walls of Turin where he awaited the Allies. On 7 September, the Allies attacked the French positions. Repulsed twice, the Allies finally broke through defences at their third assault. The army of the Duc d'Orléans was forced to retire with a loss of 1,000 men killed, 1,800 wounded and 3,000 taken prisoners. This Allied victory forced the French to retreat towards the frontier: on 9 September at Pinerolo; on 13 September at Fenestrelle; on 15 September at Oulx. The French cavalry then marched from Oulx to Embrun and Gap where it cantoned. In November, the regiment received orders to march to the Rhine where it should join Villars's Army.

In 1707, the regiment campaigned in Swabia and Franconia. In May, the army passed the Rhine, took the Lines of Stolhoffen and Buhl. On 8 June, it reached Stuttgart. In June and July, Schondorf, Heilbronn and Mannheim were captured. Villars prevented the Allies from entering into Alsace.

In 1708, the regiment took part in the campaign in the Low Countries, serving under the Duc de Bourgogne and Vendôme who acted as mentor for the military education of the young duke. By May, the regiment was attached to the Barentin's Brigade. In July, Ghent and Bruges quickly surrendered to the Duc de Bourgogne. On 11 July, Marlborough defeated the Duc de Bourgogne and Vendôme at the Battle of Oudenarde where the French cavalry was unable to take part in combat due to the nature of the terrain. The Duc de Bourgogne retreated on Ghent after losing 3,000 men. By 25 July, the regiment was at the camp of Lowendegen. On 23 October, Lille capitulated to the Allies. On 30 December, Ghent did the same.

In 1709, when Villars assumed command of the Army of Flanders, he assembled his army at Douai. Accordingly, the regiment marched from Valenciennes to Douai where it remained until the capitulation of Tournai. By 9 September, it was at Malplaquet. On 11 September, it took part in the Battle of Malplaquet where it was initially posted behind the infantry. When Villars was wounded, the left wing began to crumble. Boufflers called the cavalry and charged. On six occasions, he repeatedly drove back the Allied cavalry but the Allied infantry firmly held its ground. Finally, the French army was forced to retire after losing some 7,500 men, including 850 officers (240 killed, 593 wounded and 17 taken prisoners). Retreat was made in good order. On 12 September, the French cavalry encamped between Valenciennes and Le Quesnoy. By the end of October, the regiment was encamped at Beaumont under the command of M. de Vivans.

On 22 May 1710, Villars assembled his army near Cambrai. The regiment was attached to the Contades's Brigade. Villars was unable to prevent the capture of Douai, Béthune, Aire and Saint-Venant by the Allies. By 15 October, the regiment was at Baumery.

By April 1711, the regiment was attached to the Périssan's Brigade posted along the Scheldt. By June, it was posted along the Scarpe. An Allied corps under the command of M. von Hompesch had taken position between Goeulzin and Douai. Villars resolved to surprise this corps. Villars then detached M. de Gassion at the head of 23 sqns (including 1 sqn of the regiment) and M. de Coigny with 14 sqns. In the evening of 11 July, Gassion's Corps set off dismounted from the camp of Prieuré, as if it was bringing its horses to pasture. At night fall, the entire corps mounted. On 12 July at 2:30 a.m., it surprised most of Hompesch's Corps asleep. It plundered and burnt the Allied camp, killing or wounding some 950 men and bringing back an important booty, including 1,200 horses. Despite, this coup-de-main, Bouchain surrendered to the Allies on 12 September. By the end of October, the regiment was at Landrecies.

On 9 April 1712, the Marquis d'Harcourt replaced the deceased M. de Vandeuil at the head of the regiment who joined the army at Cambrai. Villars was assembling as large an army as possible to fight a decisive battle. However, the regiment was redirected to the Rhine as part of a detachment of 7 sqns. Villars vainly tried to stop the march of this detachment at Saint-Quentin, hoping to reintegrate it into his army, but the orders were maintained and, by 24 May, the regiment had reached Strasbourg. By 15 June, it was in the Lines of the Lauter where it remained till the end of the year. At the end of November, it was sent to Strasbourg.

In 1713, Villars took command of the Army of the Rhine. His objective was the capture of Landau. Two corps, one coming from Metz, the other from Strasbourg converged on Landau which was invested on 14 June. The regiment took part in the siege of Landau who surrendered on 20 August. Meanwhile, at the end of June, Kaiserlautern and the bridgehead at Mannheim had also fell into the hands of the French. The regiment was then attached to the Aubusson's Brigade encamped at Hatheim. In November Freiburg capitulated thus putting an end to the campaign. The regiment remained in Alsace until the signature of Peace.



Uniform in 1690- Source: Copyright Richard Couture
Uniform Details as per Lemau de la Jaisse and Lienhart and Humbert
Headgear black tricorne laced yellow, with a white cockade fastened with a brass button
Neck stock white
Coat blue with red lining; brass buttons
Collar none
Shoulder straps blue fastened with a brass button
Lapels none
Pockets none
Cuffs red, each with brass buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat buckskin
Breeches buckskin
Leather Equipment
Bandolier natural leather edged white
Waistbelt natural leather worn above the coat
Cartridge Box no information found
Scabbard black leather with a white metal tip
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue edged with a straw braid
Housings blue edged with a straw braid
Blanket roll probably blue

Troopers were armed with a sword, a pistol and a carbine.


no information found


no information found


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As per Delaistre in 1721:

Regimental standards: 417 mm high by 548 mm wide, blue field fringed and embroidered in gold and silver

  • obverse: heavily embroidered in gold and silver; centre device consisting of the crowned arms of the Dauphin surrounded by an undidentified necklace; corner devices consisting of a golden dolphin
  • reverse: alternating rows of 8 golden dolphins and 8 golden fleurs de lys (½ fleur de lys, 7 full fleurs de lys, ½ fleur de lys)
Regimental Standard - Copyright: Gilbert Noury


Lemau de la Jaisse, P.: Abregé de la Carte Générale du Militaire de France, Paris, 1734, p. 138

Lienhart, Constant; Humbert, René: Les Uniformes de l'Armée Française de 1690 à 1894, Vol. III, Leipzig 1899 – 1902

Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 342-343

Place, M. de: Historique du 12e régiment de cavalerie, Paris: Lahure, 1889


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