Dragoni di Sua Altezza Reale

From Project WSS
Jump to navigationJump to search

Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Savoyard Army >> Dragoni di Sua Altezza Reale

Origin and History

The regiment was originally raised in Turin on 24 January 1683, but its quarters changed at least three times during its existence.

At its creation, in 1683, the regiment was organised in:

  • a General Staff of
    • 1 colonel (also captain of the 1st company)
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel (also captain of the 2nd company)
    • 1 major (also captain of the 3rd company)
    • 1 adjutant major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 major surgeon
    • 1 provost (officer dedicated to the discipline)
    • 1 quartermaster (for financial administration)
  • 3 squadrons, each of
    • 2 companies, each consisting of:
      • 3 officers
        • 1 captain
        • 1 lieutenant
        • 1 cornet of standard bearer
      • 1 Maresciallo d’Alloggio (quartermaster)
      • 2 or 3 brigadiers (NCOs)
      • 1 drummer
      • 1 oboist
      • 50 dragoons

The companies were designated as follows:

  • 1st Company “Colonnella”
  • 2nd Company “Luogotenenza Colonnella”
  • 3rd Company “Maggiora”

All other companies were designated by the name of their captain.

Usually the “Colonnella” company was managed and directly commanded by a substitute the senior lieutenant, known as a “Capitano-Tenente.”

In 1699, the regiment counted four squadrons. Each of its eight companies of the regiment was reduced to only 30 men for a total of 240 men.

On 19 April 1701, the Duke of Savoy decided to add 160 men to the regiment. For the campaign of 1701, the regiment had 4 squadrons (each of 2 companies of 80 men) for a total of 480 men and 33 officers. On 8 December 1701, the regiment was reduced to only 4 companies of 60 men each for a total of 240 men. Therefore, the regiment counted only 2 squadrons.

For the campaign of 1702, the regiment had 6 companies organised in 3 squadrons of 205 men each.

By 1703, the regiment had been once more increased to 8 companies. On 21 December 1703, the Duke added 2 companies to the regiment, bringing its total strength to 10 squadrons and 700 men.

The successive commanders of the regiment were:

  • from 26 January 1683: Colonel Giuseppe Maria Scaglia Conte di Verrua
  • from 10 February 1691: Colonel Antonio Solaro Conte di Macello
  • from 4 December 1699: Colonel Francesco Conte d'Alinges
  • from 23 April 1702: Colonel Carlo Pallavicino Conte di S.Stefano
  • from 27 May 1707: Colonel Giuseppe Piccon Conte di Perosa

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment was among the contingent that the Duke of Savoy sent to campaign with the Franco-Spanish army in Italy. On 15 June, the regiment set off from Savoy. On 3 July, it arrived in the Duchy of Milan where they were cantoned on the Oglio waiting for the duke's arrival. By 18 July, it had joined Catinat's Army and was posted near Monte Borghetto on the right bank of the Mincio. On 25 July, the Duke of Savoy assumed command of the army, replacing Catinat. On 26 July, he reviewed his army. On 31 August, as part of Monastérol's Cavalry Brigade, the regiment fought in an engagement near the Oglio. On 1 September, the regiment was present at the Battle of Chiari where it was kept in reserve and got involved only at the end of the battle. During the campaign, only five men of the regiment died. On 8 December, it took up its winter-quarters in Piedmont in the towns of Asti and Albba. By that time, it counted only 240 dragoons in four companies (i.e. 2 squadrons) of 60 men each.

In the spring of 1702, the regiment was increased to three squadrons of 205 men each, for a total of 615 men in eight companies. The regiment was once more part of the Savoyard Contingent sent to assist the Franco-Spanish army in Northern Italy. On 15 August, it was present at the Battle of Luzzara but was part of the reserve and saw little action. On 12 December, it took up its winter-quarters in Pinerolo in Piedmont.

In the autumn of 1703, when the Maréchal de Vendôme invaded Piedmont at the head of a Franco-Spanish army, the regiment took an active part in the defence of the country. On 11 November, Vendôme was informed that 400 Savoyard dragoon regiment (the present regiment) under General Parella were posted at Riva di Chieri near Turin. In the evening, Vendôme set off from Villanova d'Asti with 3,000 foot and 900 horse. On 12 November before daybreak, Vendôme arrived near Riva di Chieri and stormed the village which was defended by 100 dragoons, while the rest of the regiment was encamped nearby between two streams. The combat lasted all night. The Savoyard dragoons, closely followed by Vendôme's forces, managed to take refuge in Chieri which was a fortified town guarded by 4 battalions and 1 cavalry regiment. Vendôme decided to retire to Villanova d'Asti. In this action, the present regiment lost 2 men killed and 6 wounded. On 21 December in Chieri, the regiment received two additional companies bringing its total force to ten companies of 70 men each, for a total of 700 men.

In January 1704, the regiment escorted the Duke of Savoy from Chieri as he headed for Monferrato to join Starhemberg’s Imperialist army. During this period, the regiment took part in several minor engagements (probably around Vercelli, Casale, Chivasso and Verrua) where it lost 6 men killed. From May to July, one squadron of the regiment formed part of a detachment of 500 dragoons (including troops from the Dragoni di Genevois and the Dragoni di Piemonte) which took part in the defence of Vercelli. It surrendered as prisoners of war when the place capitulated.

From May to August 1705, the regiment took part in several actions in the region of Vercelli (at Abbazie di Lucedio, Trino Vercellese and Crescentino) in an attempt to put a stop to the advance of the French. On 15 May, a detachment of 150 men of the regiment along with 150 men of the Piemonte Reale Cavalry were sent to Monferrato. On 19 May, they arrive at Alessandria, spreading panic among the defenders. From there, the detachment advanced towards Castel Alfero where it took part in a skirmish. On 21 May, the detachment was back at Chivasso after successfully completing its mission. On 29 May, a few squadrons of the regiment took part in another skirmish near Vercelli (the French governor of the Vercelli was killed in action). On 19 June, part of the regiment fought in another skirmish near the naviglio of Chivasso. The regiment took up its winter-quarters in Chieri.

During the winter of 1705-1706, the regiment was transferred from Chieri to the camp of Alpignano, east of Pianezza, to control the Dora Riparia River and to stop the advance of the French.

At the opening of the campaign of 1706, the regiment counted 691 horses. On 19 May, it escorted two groups of artillery pieces (first of 12 guns, second of 4 guns) to be placed close to the banks of the Dora Riparia to contain the approaching French. At that time, the French were trying to throw two bridges across this river (one at Lucento, next to Turin and the other at Pianezza). The regiment took part in a skirmish near Pianezza. On 21 May, the Duke gave orders to the regiment to make a reconnaissance to get more information about the bridgehead that the French had recently established. During the siege of Turin, detachments of several units (including 20 or 30 men of the present regiment) were placed in Turin to serve the guns defending the city. In mid-June, the Duke of Savoy set off from Turin at the head of his cavalry (including the present regiment) to make an incursion in Southern Piedmont (Moncalieri, Carmagnola, Cherasco, Cuneo, Saluzzo, Cavour, Valle Pellice). Several skirmishes took place during this incursion. On 7 July, a more important engagement took place in front of the town of Saluzzo where the present regiment distinguished itself. In September, the Duke marched towards Turin, Carignano, Beinasco and Venaria Reale with his cavalry. On 5 September, the regiment, along with two Imperialists regiments attacked a French convoy of 1,450 mules escorted by two French dragoon regiments. On 7 September, the regiment distinguished itself in the decisive Battle of Turin. After the battle, the regiment had only 334 horses left and had to request 357 new horses to replenish its ranks.

In 1707, the regiment saw no action.

In 1708, a few squadrons of the regiment launched an attack into the Vallée de l’Arc. On 21 July, they took part in a skirmish against French troops near Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. In August, the Savoyards were forced back to Piedmont. On August 2, the regiment took part in a skirmish against the French near Cesana. It later took part in the Siege of the Fort of Fenestrelle (fighting mounted and dismounted). On 31 August, the regiment escorted to Turin the prisoners taken at the capture of the Fort of Fenestrelle.

On 19 July 1709, the regiment took part in a skirmish near Mouthiers where it lost one man killed.

In 1711, the regiment campaigned in Savoy where it took part in a skirmish near Conflans while following French troops retiring towards Montmélian. On 11 September, it took part in its last combat of the war at Demonte.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform - Copyright: Michele Savasta Fiore
Uniform Details in 1706 as per Michele Savasta Fiore
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
Collar none
Shoulder straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 silver buttons
Cuffs Savoy blue, each with 3 silver buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat none (blue waistcoats were introduced in 1708)
Breeches Savoy blue
Leather Equipment
Bandolier natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather, worn above the coat (changed to Savoy blue laced silver in 1709)
Cartridge Box black leather box without any decoration
Scabbard natural leather with a yellow metal tip
Footgear gambali also called bottines (leggings of black leather, with 12 copper buckles, fitted very tight at the calf and then widening) are worn over the shoes with spurs
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth Savoy blue edged with a red braid with a central Savoy blue stripe, the golden cipher of the Duke of Savoy in the rear corner
Housings Savoy blue edged with a red braid with a central Savoy blue stripe, decorated with the crowned golden cipher of the Duke of Savoy
Blanket roll red and Savoy blue


Troopers were armed with a sword, two pistols and a carbine with a bayonet.

NCOs

Brigadier - Copyright: Michele Savasta Fiore
Cornet - Copyright: Michele Savasta Fiore

Officers

Colonel Commander of the Dragoni di Sua Altezza Reale in 1706, Count Carlo Pallavicino di Santo Stefano- Copyright: Michele Savasta Fiore

Musicians

Drummer - Copyright: Michele Savasta Fiore
Oboeist - Copyright: Michele Savasta Fiore

Guidons

Only one type of guidon was carried in this regiment (Colonela guidon were introduced only in 1740)

Guidon - Copyright: Michele Savasta Fiore using a template contributed by Gilbert Noury

References

Amoretti, Guido: Il Ducato di Savoia dal 1559 al 1713, Tomo II

Boeri, Giancarlo, Roberto Vela and Robert Hall: The Army of the Duke of Savoy - 1688-1713, 2012

Boeri, Giancarlo and Roberto Vela: Le prime uniformni dei dragoni dell'esercito del Duca di Savoia 1683-1706 in Annales Sabaudiae no. 2, Edizioni Gioventura Piemonteisa, 2005

Bosso, Davide: Cronache di un Assedio - La presa e l'occupazione Francese di Chivasso 1705-1706 - Pro Loco Chivasso, L'agricola, 2005

Brancaccio, Nicola: L'esercito del Vecchio Piemonte 1560-1859, Rome: Stabilimento Poligrafico del l'Amministrazione della Guerra, 1922

Brignoli, Marziano: Savoye Bonnes Nouvelles – La Storia del Reggimento Savoia Cavalleria 1692-1975, Edizioni Mursia

Cavalieri, Giorgio: Uniformi Piemontesi 1671- 1798, L'Arciere - 2004 - Riva di Chieri (Torino)

Cerino Badone, G.: Le aquile ed i Gigli, Torino: Omega Edizioni, 2007

Fiorenti, Fabio: A me i miei dragoni, Gaspari Editore, Udine, 2006

Galvano, Fabio: L'Assedio - Torino 1706, Torino: Utet, 2005

Puletti, Rodolfo and Franco dell'Uomo: Piemonte Cavalleria, Reggimento "Piemonte Cavalleria" - 1992

Puletti, Rodolfo: Caricat! Tre secoli di storia dell'Arma di Cavalleria, Bologna: Edizioni Capitol, 1973

Puletti, Rodolfo: Genova Cavalleria 1683–1983, Padova: Editoe Giuseppe de Stefano, 1983

Reviglio, Mario: Campagne Militari di torino, Val susa, Val chisone e Savoia (1706 – 1713), Susa Libri, 2011

Ricchiardi, Enrico: Bandiere e Stendardi dell'Esercito Sardo 1713 - 1802, Regione Piemonte 2006

Il Reggimento di Cavalleria Nizza (1690–1890), Milano: Editore Hoepli, 1890

Torino 1706 - L'alba di un Regno, VV.AA., Editrice il Punto, 2006

Assedio di Torino e Liberazione del medesimo, Torino: Editrice il Punto (copy of an ancient journal of the siege)

Acknowledgements

Michele Savasta Fiore for the initial version of this article