Grenadiers à cheval

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Grenadiers à cheval

Origin and History

This company was raised by Louis XIV in December 1676, at the end of the campaigning season, and was destined to fight mounted or dismounted at the head of the troops of the Maison du Roi. During sieges, the company would serve dismounted and lead the assaults. Before being incorporated into this elite unit, the new grenadiers were presented to the king, who examined them attentively. If a grenadier was rejected the colonel of the regiment, who had supplied this grenadier, had to send another one at his own expense.

In 1677, the company fought gloriously at Valenciennes, Cambrai and Charleroi.

In 1690. the company captured 5 colours during the combat of Leuze. In memory of this feat of arms, the king gave it a white silken standard embroidered and fringed with gold.

The company (formed as a squadron) consisted of:

  • 10 officers
    • 1 captain-lieutenant
    • 3 lieutenants
    • 3 sous-lieutenants
    • 3 maréchaux des logis (quartermasters)
  • 16 NCOs
    • 6 sergeants
    • 3 brigadiers
    • 6 sous-brigadiers
    • 1 standard-bearer
  • 2 fourriers
  • 6 appointés
  • 4 drummers
  • 102 horse grenadiers

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the company was under the nominal command of King Louis XIV however, it was under the effective command of a captain-lieutenant:

  • from 16 November 1691 to 18 September 1730: François, Marquis de Villemeur

The company was disbanded on December 15, 1775.

Service during the War

In July 1701, the company was posted at Colmar. It was transferred to the Moselle at the end of July.

In January 1702, the company was allocated to the Army of Flanders. At the end of April, the company was posted in Upper Guelderland. As of 28 September, the company formed part of the Army of the Maréchal de Boufflers campaigning in the Low Countries. In November, the company took up its winter-quarters in Paris.

In May 1703, the company formed part of the field army operating in the Low Countries.

In mid-May 1704, the unit crossed the Meuse River at Namur and marched to Luxembourg with the rest of the "Maison du Roi".

On 23 May 1706, the company took part in the Battle of Ramillies, where it was deployed behind the first line of the cavalry right wing.

On 11 July 1708, the unit took part in the Battle of Oudenarde, where it was deployed in the first line of the cavalry right wing.

On 11 September 1709, the company fought in the Battle of Malplaquet.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform Details as per Susane
Headgear red cap decorated with black bearskin and laced silver
Neckstock white
Coat blue lined red, laced silver with silver buttons and silver buttonholes, bordered with a silver lace in front and rear
Collar none
Shoulder straps silver (left shoulder)
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets laced silver
Cuffs red laced silver with 3 silver buttons and 3 silver buttonholes (according to Mouillard)
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red laced silver
Breeches red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff laced silver
Waistbelt buff laced silver
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard n/a
Gaiters white
Footgear black shoes
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue laced silver
Housings blue laced silver
Blanket roll n/a


Troopers were armed with a sword, a pistol and a rifle. They also carried a sapper's tool.

Officers

Officers wore the same uniform as the troopers with the following differences:

  • a silver braid on all seams
  • 3 silver braids on the cuffs

NCOs

Sergeants wore the same uniform as the troopers with the following differences:

  • a silver braid on all seams from the shoulder to the pockets

Theoretically, like for all units belonging to the Maison du Roi, the horses of the officers had to be grey. However, old plates showing the first uniform around 1720 and a captain around 1740 illustrate a brown and a pummelled horses. A modern illustration by Dague Mac Carty also depicts a brown horse. Maybe that grenadiers, descending from dragoons, were not mounted like the rest of the Maison du Roi.

Musicians

Grenadiers à cheval drummer in 1724. - Source: Alfred de Marbot Tableaux synoptiques de l'infanterie et de la cavalerie...

The musicians of the Grenadiers à cheval used to wear the Royal Livery as illustrated in the accompanying illustration depicting a drummer in 1724.

Standards

The silken standards had a white field heavily embroidered in silver and gold, bearing in its centre an octagonal frame containing a scene depicting an exploding grenade with the motto “Undique terror, undique lethum”.

When the unit served mounted, the deployed standard was to the right of the flag which remained rolled. When the unit served dismounted, the deployed flag was to the right of the standard which remained rolled.

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. 235-237
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 12

Other sources

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

Vial, J.-L.: Nec Pluribus Impar