Berry Cavalerie

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years' War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Berry Cavalerie

Origin and History

The regiment was initially raised on February 13, 1648 in Catalonia under the name of Moustaros.

In 1652, the regiment came to the Province of Guyenne to quench troubles. It was disbanded at the end of the campaign.

During the War of Devolution (1667-68), a regiment known as San Esteban and Roussillon existed and was probably built around the mestre de camp company of the regiment disbanded in 1652. In 1668, the new regiment took part in the conquest of Franche-Comté.

On January 30, 1673, a regiment named Roussillon was created. At the end of the year, it was ceded to the Comte d’Illes. It was also known by the name of his commander, M. de Saint-Louis. In 1675, the latter acquired the regiment.

In 1684, the regiment took part in the siege of Luxembourg. In 1685, it became the property of the Marquis de Villacerf.

In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment was present at the capture of Philippsburg, Mannheim, Frankenthal and Mainz. In 1689, it was given to the third grandson of Louis XIV: the Duc de Berry and became known as “Berry Cavalerie”. The same year, it served on the Rhine. From 1690 to 1697, it campaigned in the Low Countries, taking part in the sieges of Namur, Charleroi and Ath and in the battles of Steenkerque and Landen.

In 1698, the regiment was at the camp of Compiègne.

In 1701, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment served with the Army of Flanders. In 1702, it distinguished itself in the combat of Nijmegen. In 1703, it fought in the Battle of Ekeren, before being transferred to Spain in December. In 1704, it took part in the campaign in Portugal; in 1705, in the unsuccessful Siege of Gibraltar and in the relief of Badajoz; in 1706, in another relief of Badajoz and in the capture of Cartagena; in 1707, in the Battle of Almansa, in the submission of the kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia, and in the Siege of Lleida; in 1708, in the Siege of Tortosa; and in 1710, in the defence of Roussillon and Languedoc and in the Siege of Girona. From 1711 to 1713, the regiment fought bands of Catalan rebels.

In 1714, the regiment was at the camp of the Saône; in 1727 and in 1730, at the camp of the Sambre.

In 1733, at the beginning of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment was encamped near Metz and it took part in the occupation of various places in Lorraine. In 1734, it campaigned in Italy and took part in the battles of Colorno, San Pietro and Guastalla. In July 1735, it returned to France and took up its quarters in Clermont-Ferrand.

In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was part of the Army of the Lower Rhine and spent the winter in Westphalia. In 1743, it was sent to Bavaria and contributed to the operations around Braunau, Egra and Schmidmuhl, before returning to Alsace in July. In 1744, it campaigned in Flanders where it took part in the sieges of Menin, Ypres and Furnes, before returning to Alsace, where it fought in the Combat of Augenheim and participated in the siege of Freiburg. In 1745, the regiment took part in the Battle of Fontenoy, in the capture of Tournai, in the Combat of Mesle, in the surprise attack on Bruxelles and in the captures of Bruges, Ostend and Nieuport. In 1746, it occupied Bruxelles and fought in the Battle of Rocoux. In 1747, it took part in the Battle of Lauffeld; and in 1748, in the siege of Maastricht.

After the war, the regiment was stationed at Orléans and Vendôme in 1749, Calais and Ardres in 1750, Nogent-le-Rotrou in 1751, Besançon in 1753, Gray and Le Mans in 1754, and Angers in 1755.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the Duc de Berry was the Mestre de Camp of the regiment but the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:

  • since February 1, 1749: Joseph-Alphonse-Omer, Comte de Valbelle
  • from December 1, 1762 to April 13, 1780: Henri-Charles-Joseph Marquis de Lambert

When the French Cavalry was reorganised on December 1, 1761, the regiment was increased to 4 squadrons, each of them consisting of 4 companies of 40 troopers, for a total of 640 troopers. The 2 additional squadrons came from Lusignan Cavalerie which was incorporated into Berry Cavalerie.

Service during the War

In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was stationed at Saumur and Mouzon.

In 1757, the regiment was initially stationed in Longwy. It then joined the Lower Rhine Army commanded by the maréchal d'Estrées. At the end of June, it was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées' main corps. On August 16, the regiment was among the force sent by the duc de Richelieu to occupy the Duchy of Brunswick which had submitted to the French domination after the battle of Hastenbeck. It was detached to Wolfenbüttel under M. de Voyer. At the end of the year, it took its winter quarters in the first line of the French Army in Wolfenbüttel.

In April 1758, when the comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed at Kleve, Donsbrüggen, Nütterden, Zyfflich and Niel; between Kleve and the German-Dutch border. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the army of Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's army on June 2. It remained in this camp, where it was placed on the right wing of the first line, until June 12. On June 23, the regiment took part to the battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the right wing of the first line, under Armentières. In Mid August, after Ferdinand's retreat to the east bank of the Rhine, the regiment, as part of the army of the Lower Rhine now under the marquis de Contades, recrossed the Rhine to follow the Allied army. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the right wing of the first line.

In March 1759, the regiment was posted near Hachenburg. It then returned to France and was quartered in Dôle.

In 1760, the regiment returned to Germany and was part of the force under the Prince de Condé at Friedberg.

In June 1761, the regiment formed part of the Army of the Lower Rhine. By November, it was posted in the district of Düsseldorf and the countries of Jülich and Bergh.

In April 1762, the regiment formed part of the avant-garde of the French Reserve under the Prince de Condé which marched from the Duchy of Bergh to Schwelm. It then took position near Gervesheim. At the end of May, the regiment was in the vicinity of Dülken. On August 25, it fought in the 1762-08-25 - Engagement of Grüningen, where it was deployed en potence on the right flank. On August 30, it took part in the Combat of Nauheim, where it charged twice.

In December, when the French army evacuated Germany, the regiment was directed on Valenciennes.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753 and Etat Militaire of 1761

completed when necessary as per Raspe, Funcken and Mouillard
Headgear 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 pewter button
Neckstock probably a black cravate
Coat royal blue lined red with 3 pewter buttons under the lapel (as per Raspe) and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder straps white epaulettes (from 1761: ponceau red)
Lapels red with 7 pewter buttons (from 1761: buttons grouped 3 by 3)
Pockets horizontal pockets with 4 pewter buttons (as per Lienhart and Humbert)
Cuffs red with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat yellow leather jerkin fastened with hooks and eyes (from 1761: edged in ponceau red)
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat royal blue lined red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear soft black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue bordered with a light blue braid decorated with white squares (as per Lienhart and Humbert)
Housings blue bordered with a light blue braid decorated with white squares
Blanket roll n/a


Troopers were armed with a carbine, two pistols and a sabre. They were also supposed to wear a breastplate under their coat during battle but this regulation was not always followed.

Evolution of the uniform during the war

Throughout the war the French cavalry uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only source for the uniform at the start of the conflict is the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753. The first pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.

Lienhart and Humbert show the following differences in 1757:

  • white cockade at the tricorne
  • blue shoulder strap with a pewter button and a white aiguillette
  • 4 buttons on each pocket

Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:

  • a white cockade on the tricorne
  • 9 pewter buttons gouped 3 by 3 on each lapel
  • turnbacks attached with a small pewter button
  • buff waistcoat edged red and blue breeches (maybe the “dressed uniform”)

Officers

Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:

  • Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
  • brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs

Musicians

No information available yet.

Standards

Regimental standards (4 silken standards): royal blue field fringed and embroidered in gold; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in gold; in each corner the arms of Berry and a golden fleurs de lys

Tentative Reconstruction
Regimental Standard - Copyright: Kronoskaf

References

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

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 2, J. Hetzel et Cie, Paris, 1874, pp. 178-187
  • Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 345

Other sources

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

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

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

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

Service historique de l'armée de terre - Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23

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