Villers Dragoons

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Hanoverian Army >> Villers Dragoons

Origin and History

In 1670, Duke Georg Wilhelm of Celle acquired a regiment of four companies which had been initially established by Lieutenant-Colonel Franke for the Electorate of Cologne. It had been enlisted in the region of Liège and was made up of poor Walloons mounting Polish horses. In 1671, the regiment formed part of the force which captured the city of Braunschweig. In 1673, it served against the French on the Rhine.

In 1674, during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment marched to Alsace where it took part in the combat of Entzheim. In 1675, it took part in the siege of Trier. In 1678, it fought in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1679, two companies of the regiment were disbanded.

In 1683, the regiment was re-established at four companies. In 1684, two additional companies were recruited.

In 1685, during the Great Turkish War, the regiment was sent to assist the Imperial army operating in Hungary and took part in the siege of Neuheusel and in the Battle of Gran. In 1687, two companies were disbanded.

In 1686, the regiment was posted on the Elbe to guard Hamburg against Danish entreprises.

In 1688, during the Nine Years’ War (1688-1697), part of the regiment was sent to the Netherlands to assist Prince William of Orange but was soon recalled to Hanover to protect Holstein-Gottorp against Danish entreprises. In 1690, the regiment marched to Brabant and fought in the sanguinary Battle of Fleurus. In 1691, it took part in the Battle of Leuze; in 1692, in the Battle of Steenkerque; in 1693, in the Battle of Landen; in 1695, in the sieges of Huy and Namur.

In 1700, the regiment took part in the campaign against the Danes in Holstein.

In 1701, the regiment was re-established at six companies.

In 1705, at the death of Duke Georg Wilhelm of Celle, the regiment was incorporated into the Hanoverian Army.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive regimental Chefs were:

  • from 1691: Colonel von Villers aka Villars (died in 1708 in Bruxelles as major-general)
  • from 1708 to 1716: Colonel von Hahn (died as major-general)

Service during the War

In the night of 19 to 20 March 1702, the regiment along with Bothmehr Dragoons suddenly marched on Schöningen and Königslutter in the Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel; while Hanoverian regiments advanced on Seesen and Weser in the neighbourhood of Wolfenbüttel. Furthermore the Hanoverian General Sommerfeld took Peine, chasing the soldiers of the Bishop of Hildesheim from the town. This sudden attack succeeded completely; a large part of the army of the Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel was taken prisoners while the rest took refuge in Braunschweig. The regiment then returned to the Netherlands.

On 17 January 1703, the regiment suffered heavy losses when Brigadier von Villers, who was posted with 200 men at Gimmig, was attacked by 1,500 French dragoons, grenadiers and fusiliers. In this attack, Villers was captured along with 100 men and 169 horses and brought back to Bonn; his regiment also lost two standards and a pair of kettle-drums. When Bonn was captured by the Allies, Villers and his men were freed and the standards and kettle-rums recovered.

From May 1704, the regiment took part in Marlborough's march to the Danube. On 13 August, it fought in the Battle of Blenheim where it distinguished itself, capturing the kettle-drums of the French Gens d’Armes, another pair of kettle-drums, nine standards, 8 colours and four guns. In this battle, the regiment lost Lieutenant-Colonel la Rosche, Major Kaufmann, 2 lieutenants, 46 troopers and 106 horses killed; Major-General von Villers, 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 2 ensigns, 35 troopers and 34 horses wounded.

On 11 July 1708, the regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde where it formed part of the 40 sqns under General Bülow who pursued the French. In this battle the regiment lost Lieutenant Wangri, 11 men and 29 horses killed; Captain Berhard, Ensign Wichmann, 31 troopers and 19 horses wounded.

On 11 September 1709, the regiment took part in the Battle of Malplaquet, capturing 1 standard and losing Lieutenant du Plat and Adjutant Küster killed.

In 1710, the regiment returned to Hanover.

In 1711, 400 men of the regiment under Major von Müller advanced in the Bishopric of Hildesheim and occupied Marienberg, Wiedelah and Steinbrück.


The uniform of the regiment consisted of a white coat with red distinctive, a red waistcoat and silver metal.


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This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain: