Origin and History
The regiment was raised on September 24 1651. It was reorganised in 1672. Until 1733, when it was renamed “Conti Cavalerie”, the unit was a gentlemen regiment designated by the name of its current owner.
During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment initially occupied Lorraine in 1733. It then served on the Rhine in 1734 and 1735.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment initially served in Westphalia from 1741 to 1743. In 1744, it was transferred to the Italian theatre of operation where it campaigned until 1745. From 1746 to 1748, it took part in the campaigns of Flanders.
After the war, the regiment was stationed at Arras in 1749, Lille in 1751, Falaise in 1752, and Arras once more in 1755.
The regiment counted 2 squadrons.
During the Seven Years' War, the Mestre de Camp was the Prince de Conti while the Mestre de Camp Lieutenant commanding the regiment was:
- since February 6 1756 until January 3 1770: Marquis de Langhac
Service during the War
By August 1 1757, the regiment had joined the French army in Germany. It is first mentioned in service duty after the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, when it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed on the right wing of the second line. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in the third line of the French army in Minden.
In March 1758, during the Allied winter offensive led by Ferdinand of Brunswick, the regiment was part of the French garrison of Minden which was attacked by an Allied corps under General Kilmansegg. On March 15, the garrison of Minden surrendered without opposing any serious resistance. The regiment was later exchanged.
By May 23 1760, the regiment was part of the right reserve of the first line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of Prince Xavier. On October 13, the unit arrived at Neuss with Castries. At the end of October, the regiment was sent back to France.
On April 2 1763, the regiment was reorganised at Laon.
|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|
|Neck stock||black cravate|
|Coat||steel grey lined steel grey with 4 pewter buttons under the right lapel and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||buff leather jerkin fastened with hooks and eyes|
|Greatcoat||white lined white|
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 primary source for the uniform at the start of the conflict is the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.
Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:
- a white cockade on the tricorne
- coat, lapels, cuffs and turnbacks edged with the regimental braid described in the previous table
- steel grey waistcoat edged with the regimental braid described in the previous table and steel grey breeches (maybe the dressed uniform)
- only 3 buttons on each cuff
Lienhart and Humbert, a secondary source, show the following differences for the uniform of 1757:
- gold laced tricorne with a white cockade
- an aurore (light orange) aiguillette
- only 3 buttons on each cuff
- steel grey saddle cloth and housing bordered with a braid consisting of a red, a white and a blue stripes
Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:
- no turnbacks
- no lace on the coat and waistcoat
- Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
- brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs
Regimental standards (4 silken standards): jonquille (light yellow) field, embroidered and fringed in silver
- obverse: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar” in gold
- reverse: centre device consisting of an eagle flying through lightning bolts surmounted by a scroll bearing the motto “Nec terrent, nec morantur”
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 358-359
Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Lienhart, Docteur and René Humbert: Les uniformes des armées françaises”, Leipzig,
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who 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, 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 mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.