Aubigné Dragons

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Aubigné Dragons

Origin and History

The regiment was one of the four dragoon regiments that Louis XIV ordered to create on September 14, 1673. Its first mestre de camp was Jacques de Cassagnet de Tilladet, Chevalier de Fimarcon. By November 6, the regiment was ready and was sent to Flanders.

In 1678, at the end of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment took part in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1681, the regiment was at the camp of the Sarre from where it was sent to Piedmont to occupy the place of Casale.

In 1684, the regiment joined the Army of the Meuse which covered the siege of Luxembourg. From 1684 to 1688, it was cantoned in the vicinity of Strasbourg.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment was part of the Army of Flanders and participated in the raid against Mainz. In 1690, it took part in the capture of the Castle of Beckticheim. In 1692, it was transferred to Flanders for the siege of Namur. It also fought in the Battle of Steenkerque. It later took part in the bombardment of Charleroi and continued to serve in Flanders until 1697.

In 1700, just before the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was sent to Italy. In 1701, it took part in the Combat of Carpi; in 1702, in the Combat of Santa Vittoria, in the Battle of Luzzara, in the siege of Guastalla and in the capture of Borgoforte; in 1703, in the affair of San Benedetto, where the entire Savoyard Contingent had to surrender as prisoners of war; in 1704, in the sieges of Vercelli, Ivrea and Verrua; in 1705 in the capture of Verrua and in the Battle of Cassano; and in 1706, in the Battle of Calcinato, in the Siege of Turin and in the Battle of Castiglione. In 1707, after its return to France, the regiment was allocated to the Army of the Rhine. In 1708, the regiment was sent to Flanders and took part in the defence of Lille, after the capitulation of the place, it was sent back to the Rhine. In 1710, it returned to Flanders and took part in the defence of Douai. From 1712, it served on the Rhine until the end of the war.

In 1717, the regiment was stationed at Montauban; and in 1726 and 1727, in Bretagne. In 1727, it took part in the camp of the Meuse; in 1732, in the camp of the Moselle.

In 1733, at the outbreak of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment was sent to Italy. During this war, it took part in the capture of Gera d’Adda, Pizzighetone and the Castle of Milan, in the occupation of Parma and Tortosa, in the battles of San Pietro and Guastalla and in the sieges of Gonzague, Revere and Reggiolo.

In 1736, the regiment returned to France where it took its quarters in Metz.

In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia, in the Combat of Sahay and in the capture and unsuccessful defence of Prague. In 1743, it was back in Alsace and fought in the Battle of Dettingen. In 1744, it was stationed on the Moselle and took part in the siege of Freiburg. In 1745 and 1746, it served in Alsace once more. At the end of 1746, it was sent to Provence. In 1747, it took part in the capture of Nice and Vintimille. In 1748, it marched from Provence to Montauban and then Belfort.

In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Valence and Romans; in 1750, at Huningue; in 1751, at Le Puy; in 1753, at Metz; and in 1754, at the camp of Gray and then at Bourges.

In 1756, the regiment counted four squadrons and ranked 9th.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • from December 1, 1745: Balthazar Urbain, Chevalier d'Aubigné
  • from February 20, 1761 until June 5, 1763: Antoine Cléradius Comte de Choiseul-La Baume

In 1786, the regiment became the “Chasseurs des Evêchés” or “2ème Chasseur”.

Service during the War

In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was stationed at Saint-Malo, and then at Dinan and Arras.

At the beginning of 1757, the regiment was at Valenciennes. By August 1, it had joined the French army in Germany for the planned invasion of Hanover. At the end of 1757, it took up its winter-quarters in Sonsbeck and Kalkar on the Lower Rhine, in the fourth line of the army.

In 1758, the regiment, which seemed to have been in poor conditions, returned to France and was posted on the coasts of Bretagne.

In 1761, at the request of its new mestre de camp, the Comte de Choiseul-La Baume, the regiment was sent to Germany. By June, it was part of Soubise's Army of the Lower Rhine. On July 16, at the Battle of Vellinghausen, the regiment formed part of the corps of the Prince de Condé. By the end of July, it was attached to de Muy's Corps. In September, the regiment was at the action of Ostende.

For the campaign of 1762, the regiment was once more part of the army of the Prince de Soubise on the Upper Rhine. By mid-July, it was at the camp of Helsa. On June 24, the regiment was at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal, where it was attached to the left vanguard under the command of M. de Stainville. On August 30, it fought in the Combat of Nauheim where it formed part of Stainville’s vanguard. In this combat, the mestre de camp and 11 officers were wounded, while five dragoons anwere killed and five wounded. On November 20, when Louis XV issued his instructions regarding the French armies serving in Germany, specifying which units should return to France right away and which should stay in Germany until the final evacuation, the regiment was among those which would remain in Germany.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform in 1757 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753,
the Liste Générale des Troupes de France of 1754,
the Etrennes Militaires of 1758 and Etat Militaire of 1761

completed where necessary as per Raspe
Headgear red fatigue cap with a red turn-up edged with a white braid decorated with two red zigzag stripes
or black tricorne (reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat) laced silver, with a black cockade on the left side fastened with a black silk strap and a small white button
Neck stock black cravate
Coat red lined red with white buttons and white laced buttonholes down to the pocket and a white button on each side at the small of the back
Collar small red collar
Shoulder straps left shoulder: red shoulder strap bordered with a white braid decorated with two red zigzag stripes and fastened with a small white button

right shoulder: fringed white epaulet

Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pocket flaps, each with 3 white buttons and 3 white laced buttonholes
Cuffs red (light green from 1757), each with 4 white buttons and 4 white laced buttonholes
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat red (with small light green lapels from 1757) with white buttons on the right side and white laced buttonholes on both sides
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff leather stitched white
Waistbelt buff leather stitched white
Cartridge Pouch red leather
Scabbard black leather with copper fittings
Footgear buckled shoes with oiled calf leather soft bottines (sort of leather gaiters) or, for foot service, white gaiters
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red bordered with a white braid decorated with two red zigzag stripes
Housings red red bordered with a white braid decorated with two red zigzag stripes


N.B.: the fatigue cap was supposed to be worn only for the king's review, for foraging or when the regiment's chief ordered to wear it. In fact, dragoons often wore their fatigue cap during campaigns.

Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet, a pistol and a sabre. Carabiniers were armed with a rifle instead of a musket.

Evolution of the uniform during the war

Throughout the war the French dragoon uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary sources for the uniform at the start of the conflict are the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753, the Liste Générale des Troupes de France of 1754 and the Etrennes Militaires of 1758. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.

Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:

  • a black bearskin with a light green bag and tassel instead of a tricorne
  • no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
  • no buttons on the cuffs
  • black cavalry boots

Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1761 shows a uniform corresponding to our description from 1757 but with a white cockade at the tricorne and without lapels on the waistcoat.

In December 1762, a regulation introduced a brand new green uniform with lemon yellow as the distinctive colour.

Officers

The uniforms of the officers were similar to those of the troopers with the following differences:

  • the coat was made of Elbeuf woollen cloth (or of a woollen cloth of identical quality)
  • linings were made of woollen cloth as well
  • no braids on the coat or waistcoat but only silver buttonholes with silver plated wooden buttons
    • Raspe publication illustrates plain red coat and waistcoat without edging or laced buttonholes at the end of 1760
    • Raspe publication illustrates a uniform corresponding to our description but with red breeches at the end of 1761
  • red breeches
  • saddle cloth and housings bordered with a silver braid (5.41 cm wide for captains and 4.06 cm wide for lieutenants)
  • standard cavalry officer sword (gilt copper hilt, 83.92 cm long)

Officers were also armed with a musket and a bayonet and carried a cartridge pouch containing 6 cartridges. This musket was shorter than the muskets carried by troopers.

The maréchaux-des-logis and sergeants had similar uniforms made of Romorantin woolen cloth. Their coats and waistcoats had no silver buttonholes. They carried sabres like the maréchaux-des-logis of the cavalry regiments. Their saddle-clothes and housings were bordered with a 2.7 cm wide silver braid.

Musicians

Drummers wore a coat similar to the one worn by the musicians of the cavalry. Musicians were always shaved and had no moustache. They were usually mounted on grey horses.

Musicians probably wore the livery of the House of Aubigné which is unfortunately unknown. From 1761, musicians probably wore the livery of the House of Choiseul-Beaupré: azure blue field with gold.

Guidons

Regimental guidons (4 silken swallow-tailed guidons): red field embroidered and fringed in gold;

  • obverse: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a red scroll bearing the motto “NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR”
  • reverse: centre device consisting of 2 laurel wreaths with a vertical scroll bearing the motto “IN GEMINO CERTAMINE”
Aubigné Dragons Regimental Guidon – Copyright Kronoskaf

References

This article is mostly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “Aubigné Dragons” published on his website Nec Pluribus Impar. The article also incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 3, J. Hetzel et Cie, Paris, 1874, pp. 59-67
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 430-431

Other sources

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website which has unfortunately disappeared from the web)

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1761

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1762

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

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

N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.