Dragoni di Piemonte
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Origin and History
The regiment was raised on 4 July 1690 by Count Bonifacio Antonio Solaro di Macello (hence the initial Coat of Arms on the guidons, i.e. two towers, from the Town of Susa, fief of Count of Macello). It initially consisted of 8 companies of 50 men each, organised in four squadrons. The first rendez-vous (as written in the original first capitulation) of this regiment was in Asti.
|Did you know that...|
|Felice Emanuele Maillard di San Damiano, the owner of the regiment was born in Turin in 1666.
In 1683, he joined the Dragoni di Sua Altezza Reale as cornet. In 1690, he fought at the Battle of Staffarda. In 1691, he became commander of the Dragoni di Piemonte (the object of this article).
In 1705, he was appointed Generale di Battaglia di Cavalleria; and in 1709, captain of the Guardie del Corpo. In 1714, he went to Sicily with Victor Amedeus. In 1719, he was promoted to lieutenant-general. He died 1728.
In 1691, the regiment was completed and changed its name to “Dragons Jaunes” because of their yellow uniforms (with black linings). It might also be argued that Macello (meaning butchery in Italian) sounded as a bad name for a regiment of dragoons. The same year, Felice Emanuele Maillard di San Damiano, Marquis d’Alby et de Tournon became the new owner of the regiment which changed uniforms to a red coat with grey linings, and red trousers.
By 1699, the regiment – due to financial problems – was without horses.
The successive commanders of the regiment were:
- from 1691-1728: Marquis (later Count) Felice Emanuele Maillard di San Damiano d’Alby et de Tournon
Service during the War
In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment received horses. At that time, it was stationed in the towns of Biella and Vercelli and didn’t participate in any campaign during that year. In fact, it was originally destined to join a second Savoyard contingent, which would join the Franco-Spanish army in Lombardy, but then nothing happened and it remained on the border of Piedmont in the towns of Asti, Biella and Vercelli.
In 1702, the regiment remained in Piedmont and did not take part in any campaign.
In 1703, the entire regiment joined the Franco-Spanish army in Lombardy. On 29 September, the regiment was captured along with the other Savoyard units then serving with the Franco-Spanish army in Lombardy at the camp of San Benedetto on the Po, because the French suspected that the Duke of Savoy was considering to abandon the Franco-Spanish alliance. Initially, the dragoons wanted to fight back the French even without arms, but their officers stopped them to avoid a slaughter. As the rest of the Savoyard contingent, these dragoons were imprisoned in the Spanish fortresses of Lombardy. Some men were forced to enroll in the French Army and were sent to fight in Germany where, in 1704, they would surrender to the Imperialist at the Battle of Blenheim and be re-transferred to the Savoyard Army. Meanwhile, officers and soldiers imprisoned in Italy managed to escape, it is said that the Spaniards still considered the Savoyards as friends because they had fought alongside during the Nine Years’ War. In the autumn, only a few months after its capture, the regiment was back to 4 squadrons with 42 officers 500 men. The regiment then received orders to march to the camp of Crescentino where the Savoyard Army was gathering to be reviewed. The orders specified “arrivera au camp quand on voudra” (will arrive to camp when it will).
From May to July 1704, one or two companies of the regiment took part in the defence of Vercelli as part of a detachment of 500 dragoons belonging to the Dragoni di Sua Altezza Reale, to the [[Dragoni di Genevois and to the present regiment. The same year, a company of French Huguenot refugees was incorporated in the regiment, together with one company formed with Savoyard fugitives. With these two additional companies, the regiment now consisted of ten companies of 70 men as usual.
In 1705 and 1706, the ten companies of the regiment were known as:
- Luogotenenza Colonnella
- San Damiano d’Alby
In 1705, the regiment was at the camp of Crescentino. In June and July, it took part in the defence of Chivasso where it was deployed near the village of Brandizzo together with other Allied cavalry units, and along the rivers Malone and Orco to observe the movements of the right wing of the Franc0-Spanish army and thus prevent the encirclement of the Savoyard Army. Thanks to this task, the regiment benefited of some tactical liberty that was used to harass the French rearguard. In such an action, the Dragoni di Piemonte fought in a cavalry encounter with the French cavalry around “Le Berre” where the French cavalry under the command of the Prince d’Elbeuf were totally defeated. On 7 July, some companies of the regiment, along with some Imperialist cavalry, were in their turn surprised by some French cavalry in the wood around the town of Ciriè (north of Turin) and they were trying to hinder the movements of the Duc de La Feuillade. In this action, the Allies lost 200 men. On 27 or 28 July, the Allied cavalry, including the present regiment, was totally defeated by the French cavalry that followed them from Crescentino up to the walls of Turin. This defeat opened the flanks and the rear of the Allied force defending Chivasso and forced the Duke of Savoy to withdraw. During this retreat, the Allies lost around 400 men and 400 others were captured, including Lieutenant-Colonel Pastoris. The present regiment lost 10 men and maybe around 30 men were wounded.
At the beginning of the campaign of 1706, the regiment had 691 horses. From June to September, during the siege of Turin, the regiment was mainly used in the bastions of the city and near the hill of Cavoretto (now part of Turin), dominating the southeast part of the city, which was occupied by the French. A small detachment (probably some 30 men) was part of a force of 350 men (dragoons and cavalry) which serve on foot in the bastions, while another detachment (including 1 lieutenant-colonel, 4 captains, 6 lieutenants, and 8 cornets) under the command of its owner, the Count Felice Emanuele Maillard di San Damiano d’Alby et de Tournon, was attached, along with Imperialist cavalry, to a force of 500 horse. So it seems that three squadrons were serving in Turin while two squadrons of the regiment had followed the Duke of Savoy in his campaign in Southern Piedmont.
On 29 June 1706, 200 dragoons of the regiment, along with 100 Guardie del Corpo, were sent to Mondovi to draw the attention of French while the Duke of Savoy went to Cuneo, avoiding the French). The small detachment was intercepted by 4,000 horse of La Feuillade’s Corps. The 200 dragoons of the regiment (no mention is of made of the Guardie del Corpo who had probably already rejoined the Duke) charged vigorously the avant-garde of the French, under the command of the Marquis de Sartirana and opened themselves a passage towards Mondovì, pursued by the French. This town could not be held, considering the disproportion of forces so the 200 dragoons (under the command of Carlo Francesco delle Lanze di Sales, Seigneur di Vinovo and natural half-brother of the Duke and commander of the Guardie del Corpo, so actually belonging to the House of Savoy) retired to Ceva, skirmishing along the way. Near Murazzano, they turn and fought the French but could not break through them and continued their retreat. At that moment, a reinforcement of 500 men (some volunteers and other squadrons of the regiment) with 300 horses, under the Count of Santena, arrived near Ceva. At the sight of these reinforcements, the 200 dragoons, in a last brilliant manoeuvre, suddenly attacked the enemy near Monte Baglione, reaching its camp and destroying its tents. This engagement allowed the reinforcement to enter into Ceva. Afterwards, the dragoons of the regiment went back towards Carmagnola.
On 30 June 1706, some dragoons of the regiment participated in in a sortie with pioneers and grenadiers. In this action, they lost Lieutenant Antonio Giacinto de Govean who was mortally wounded (he would die on 9 July). On 7 July, a company of the regiment under Captain Vittorio Amedeo San Damiano de Tournon captured 25 French Dragoons near Villafranca d’Asti.
On 22 July, during the siege of Turin, 400 dragoons of the regiment supported a sortie from the citadel led by the Conte della Rocca, who was killed in action. These dragoons with a wide manoeuvre attacked in the area of Crocetta (now part of Turin) on the right of the French trenches against the farmstead of Maciolo destroying gabions and trenches. On the night of 30 to 31 July, the regiment made another sortie towards San Mauro e Castiglione to draw the attention of the besiegers to the north of Turin, while some reinforcement were approaching the city from the south.
On 7 September, during the Battle of Turin, the regiment under the Count of Santena kept Albergotti’s Corps busy to prevent it from participating in the battle. During the final stage of the battle, the regiment along with Imperial troops, which were posted in the fields of Vanchiglia (their post during the siege) received orders to attack from the Borgo del Pallone. They first marched towards Madonna di Campagna, and then turned toward the Castle of Lucento when they saw that the battle was still raging there. A little group of dragoons of the regiment captured the Maréchal de Camp de Seneterre, 1 colonel, 1 lieutenant-colonel and 3 standards and wounded to death the Maréchal de Marsin.
On 8 September (the day after the battle), the regiment, which had not directly taken part in the battle, was ordered to pursue the French forces precipitously retreating towards None behind Albergotti’s Corps. The regiment were commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Saint-Amour. It eventually made a junction with Waldensians (a protestant sect) troops in Val Chisone, where they attacked the demoralized French during their retreat. In these actions, 2,000 French were captured and 3,770 killed. After the Battle of Turin, the regiment had only 205 horses left. Late in the autumn, the Duke of Savoy ordered 486 new horses to replace those lost during the campaign.
From June to September, during the siege of Turin, the regiment lost 39 men killed (36 troopers, 2 drummers and 1 lieutenant), and probably some 85 men wounded during sorties of cavalry or serving at the guns.
NB: the fact that this regiment was constantly at the siege of Turin (used in part on the bastions and in part to harass French troops around the town) makes it almost certain that it did not participate in the campaign of the Duke of Savoy between June and September.
In 1707, the regiment took part in the invasion of Provence and in the unsuccessful siege of Toulon.
In the following campaigns, the regiment just saw a few minor actions
|Headgear||black tricorne laced silver with a Savoy blue cockade (???a red fatigue cap was also used in barracks and on duty service but rarely in battle???)|
|Neck stock||white cravate|
|Coat||red with silver buttons on the right side
|Waistcoat||none (light grey waistcoats were introduced in 1708)|
Troopers were armed with a sword, two pistols and a carbine with a bayonet.
NCOs wore uniforms very similar to those of common troopers with laced buttonholes at the cuffs and on the breast. For an example of such uniforms, please refer to our article on the Dragoni di Sua Altezza Reale.
Uniforms of officers differed from those of the privates and NCOs by the finer material used. Cuffs and pockets were usually edged with a wide gold or silver braid. For an example of such uniforms, please refer to our article on the Dragoni di Sua Altezza Reale.
Officers wore a blue silk sash across the chest or around the waist.
Officer often had a blue plumetis to their tricorne.
no information available yet
Only one type of guidon was carried in this regiment (Colonela guidon were introduced only in 1740)
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