Volontaires de Wurmser

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Volontaires de Wurmser

Origin and History

On January 11, 1762, a decree was issued at Versailles for the creation of the Volontaires de Wurmser who counted 735 men, mostly raised in Alsace, and consisted of:

  • 1 grenadier company
    • 3 officers
    • 7 NCOs
    • 1 drummer
    • 44 grenadiers
  • 8 fusilier companies, each of
    • 3 officers
    • 7 NCOs
    • 1 drummer
    • 36 fusiliers
  • 8 dragoon companies, each of
    • 4 officers
    • 3 NCOs
    • 1 trumpeter
    • 31 dragoons

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • from January 11, 1762: Dagobert Sigmund, Comte de Wurmser assisted by Lieutenant-Colonel Chevalier du Petit-Thouars (wounded at Ziegenhein in 1762)

On December 23, 1762, Minister Choiseul informed the Comte de Wurmser that Empress Maria Theresa wanted to take his corps in the Austrian service (as it had been done with Vierzet Infanterie).

The French unit was disbanded on March 1, 1763, but most of its men joined the Wurmser Freicorps in the Austrian service. Some sources also mention that some men were incorporated into the Volontaires de Soubise.

Service during the War

In March 1762, the unit was attached to Soubise's Army of the Upper Rhine. On June 24, the unit was present at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal. On August 22, it engaged Luckner's Corps near Ruppertenrod and lost 200 soldiers and 5 officers taken prisoners as well as a cannon. On August 30, it took part in the Combat of Nauheim where it formed part of the vanguard under Lieutenant-General de Lévis. Around 9:00 a.m., elements of the unit were among the troops which defended Friedberg and repulsed an attack of the Luckner Hussars. On November 20, 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 till the final evacuation. The unit was among those which remained in Germany until the final evacuation.

Uniform

Alfred de Marbot in his work “Costumes militaires français depuis 1439 jusqu'en 1789” illustrated a dragoon and a chasseur both wearing a hussar style uniform as depicted below.

Uniform Details in 1762 as per
Alfred de Marbot
Headgear dark green felt mirliton laced white; with a dark green flame edged white; decorated with a white plume
Pelisse dark green (the chasseur does not seem to wear a pelisse)
Fur trim black sheepskin along coat edges and cuffs
Lace white brandebourgs
Buttons 1 row of large pewter buttons between two rows of small pewter buttons
Dolman dark green with white brandebourgs and 1 row of large pewter buttons between two rows of small pewter buttons
Collar black edged white
Cuffs black pointed Hungarian cuffs edged white
Pockets edged white
Trousers black Hungarian-style trousers
Greatcoat dark green (the chasseur seems to wear a greatcoat over his dolman)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt not available
Waist-sash not available
Cartridge box not available
Scabbard black with pewter fittings
Boots black leather Hungarian boots edged white
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth white bordered dark green with a white fleurs de lys in each rear corner
Sabretache not available

Other interpretations

Sapin-Lignières in his book "Les Troupes Légères de l'Ancien Régime" gives a textual description of the uniforms of the infantrymen and dragoons:

  • Infantryman: Hungarian-stle bonnet, green coat with white buttons; a black collar, black cuffs and black lapels; green waistcoat with white buttons; black Hungarian-style trousers; black half-gaiters; black shoes.
  • Dragoons: green Hungarian-style coat with white braids; green Hungarian-style waistcoat with white braids and small black cuffs; black breeches


Colours

As per Mouillard the ordonnance colours were as follows:

  • a white St. Andrew cross with yellow upper and lower cantons and black left and right cantons.
Ordonnance Flag - Source: Kronoskaf

References

Bukhari, Emir: Napoleon's Line Chasseurs; Oxford: Oxprey Publishing, 1977

Chartrand, Rene: Louis XV's Army (4) Light Troops and Specialists; Oxford: Osprey, 1997

French Wikipedia:

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 5 Hastenbeck und Roßbach, Berlin, 1903, Appendix 1

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

Napoleon Series Archive 2010 Wurmser Regiment Etranger, 1762]

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

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: Correspondance complète, Vol. 29.

Sapin-Lignières: Les Troupes Légères de l'Ancien Régime -Les Corsaires du Roy de l'Armée de Terre

Acknowledgements

Arno for additional info on the uniforms and fate of the unit