Mousquetaires de la Garde

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Mousquetaires de la Garde

Origin and History

This prestigious unit consisted of two companies:

  • Mousquetaires gris (Grey musketeers)
  • Mousquetaires noirs (Black musketeers)

The unit was disbanded on December 15, 1775. It was re-established in 1789 and soon disbanded again by the Republic.

1ère Compagnie – Mousquetaires gris

In 1622, Louis XIII replaced the carbines of his Compagnie de Carabins with muskets, renaming them Compagnie de Mousquetaires. Until 1629, this company was subordinated to the Chevau-légers de la Garde. In 1634, Louis XIII became captain of the company. However, contrarily to what has been said elsewhere, the unit was disbanded in 1646 and is not at the origin of the present company.

On 14 June 1656, the Comte César Degli Oddi brought back a dragoon regiment from Germany. This regiment arrived at La Fère in September where the king sojourned. Louis XIV was so satisfied by this new regiment that he renamed it "Dragons Étrangers" and incorporated it into his army. It then became necessary to add a similar company to the "Maison du Roi" which had units of all arms present in the army. For this reason, the 1st Compagnie of "Mousquetaires Gris" was created on 10 January 1657 and added to the Garde to fight mounted or dismounted just like the dragoons. The company consisted of 1 captain-lieutenant, 1 sous-lieutenant, 1 cornet and 2 maréchaux des logis. It initially had drummers and fifers for foot service and trumpeters for mounted service. Louis XIV then added an ensign and fixed the number of Mousquetaires to 150.

The company was quartered at number 2 rue du Bac in Paris.

In 1663, Louis XIV removed the trumpeters and fifers and replaced the latter by oboists. The company then consisted of:

  • 1 captain-lieutenant
  • 2 sous-lieutenants
  • 2 ensigns
  • 2 cornets
  • 10 maréchaux des logis (quartermasters) including 2 aide-majors in chief
  • 4 brigadiers
  • 18 sous-brigadiers
  • 1 standard bearer
  • 1 fourrier
  • 6 drummers
  • 4 oboists
  • 164 mousquetaires

The whole company was mounted on grey horses and formed in a single squadron of four brigades for battle. For mounted service, each brigade carried a standard; for foot service the four standards were stored and replaced by a single colour.

This company took part in all the actions of the Garde during the reign of Louis XIV and Louis XV.

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

  • from 3 May 1684 to 18 February 1716: Louis de Melun de Maupertuis

2e Compagnie – Mousquetaires noirs

This foot company was created in August 1660. It was the guard of the Cardinal de Mazarin, who gave it to the king in 1661. In 1663, it was transformed into a mounted unit. On 9 January 1665, King Louis XIV became captain of the company and integrated it into the Maison du Roi as the company of "Mousquetaires Noirs".

The company was quartered in its own hotel, rue de Charenton in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine in Paris.

The company had similar organisation as that of the "Mousquetaires Gris".

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

  • from 1 June 1692 to 30 June 1716: Jean de Garde d'Agoult, Marquis de Vins

Service during the War

In July 1701, the two companies were posted at Schlestadt. They were transferred to the Moselle at the end of July.

In January 1702, the two companies were allocated to the Army of Flanders. By the end of April, the two companies were posted in Upper Guelderland. As of 28 September, they formed part of the Army of the Maréchal de Boufflers campaigning in the Low Countries. At the end of October, the two companies were sent to Tirlemont. In November, they took up their winter-quarters in Paris.

In May 1703, the two companies 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 two companies took part in the Battle of Ramillies, where they were deployed behind the first line of the cavalry right wing. In mid-June, they were sent to Dunkerque.

On 11 July 1708, the two companies part in the Battle of Oudenarde, where they were deployed in the first line of the cavalry right wing.

Uniform

Troopers of the 1ère Compagnie

Uniform Details as per
Susane
Headgear black tricorne laced gold, with a white cockade and a white plume
Neck stock n/a
Coat scarlet lined scarlet, laced gold with golden buttonholes and gilt buttons

blue soubreveste lined red, bordered with a silver braid, laced with a double silver braid and decorated in front and rear with a white velvet cross with a silver velvet fleurs de lys at the end of each branch decorated with silver and red flames at the angles.

Collar none
Shoulder straps wide silver braid
Lapels none
Pockets vertical double pockets
Cuffs scarlet
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat scarlet laced gold (as per Mouillard)
Breeches scarlet
Leather Equipment
Shoulder belt none
Waist belt golden
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard n/a
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddle-cloth scarlet laced gold
Housings scarlet laced gold
Blanket roll n/a


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

Troopers were mounted on grey horses.

Troopers of the 2ème Compagnie

Uniform Details as per
Susane
Headgear black tricorne laced silver, with a white cockade and a white plume
Neck stock n/a
Coat scarlet lined scarlet, laced silver with silver buttonholes and silver buttons

blue soubreveste lined red, bordered with a silver braid, laced with a double silver braid and decorated in front and rear with a white velvet cross with a silver velvet fleurs de lys at the end of each branch decorated with silver and yellow flames at the angles.

Collar none
Shoulder straps wide silver braid
Lapels none
Pockets vertical double pockets
Cuffs scarlet
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat scarlet laced silver (as per Mouillard)
Breeches scarlet
Leather Equipment
Shoulder belt none
Waist-belt silver
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard n/a
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddle-cloth scarlet laced silver
Housings scarlet laced silver
Blanket roll n/a


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

Troopers were mounted on black horses.

Officers

Like for all units belonging to the Maison du Roi, the horses of the officers had to be grey.

Musicians

Mousquetaires de la Garde musicians in 1724. - Source: Alfred de Marbot Tableaux synoptiques de l'infanterie et de la cavalerie...

Exceptionally for a mounted unit of the Maison du Roi, the Mousquetaires had drummers and oboists rather than kettle drummers.

Standards and Colours

Since Mousquetaires served mounted and dismounted, they carried one flag and four standards. The flags were much smaller than the usual infantry flag. The square standards were of the usual size.

Flags and standard had a heavily embroidered white field fringed in gold and silver.

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

Standards of the 1ère Compagnie de Mousquetaires gris

From 1657 to 1775, the colours of the company remained unchanged.

Obverse: decorated with a central scene depicting a bomb fired from a mortar and falling on a city, the whole surmounted by a scroll carrying the motto “Quo ruit est lethum”

Standards of the 2ème Compagnie de Mousquetaires noirs

Obverse: decorated with a central scene depicting a bundle of 12 red arrows pointing downwards fastened with a blue ribbon, the whole surmounted by a scroll carrying the motto “Al terius Jovis altera tela”

Reverse: decorated with a golden royal sun

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. 228-235
  • Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 10-11

Other sources

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

Mouillard, Lucien; Les Régiments sous Louis XV; Paris 1882

Service Historique de l'armée de terre, Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757

Vial J.-L., Nec Pluribus Impar

Acknowledgements

Gilbert Noury for the information on the colours and standards