Following my recent, though blessedly brief descent into olive-drabness, I’ve now recovered my senses and am feeling much better now, thanks for asking!
Having started my French Seven Years War project in ‘Frogruary‘, the army is now complete (for the time being), as I’ve got enough troops for a game. I’ve still got a 12-figure regiment of hussars and eight more infantry battalions waiting to be painted, but I’ve moved on for now to the ‘Western Allied’ Army (the combined armies of Britain, Hanover, Hesse-Kassel, Brunswick and Schaumburg-Lippe).
I dedicated the month of April to painting nothing but French cavalry and managed to get 60 of them done; four 12-figure brigades of Chevauxlégers and one 12-figure regiment of Dragoons. These are all 18mm figures by Eureka Miniatures and the flags were all made and printed by me, utilising the picture files on Kronoskaf and my own laser-printer.
I say ‘brigades’ because the vast majority of French line cavalry regiments were absolutely tiny, formed of only two squadrons, which were invariably understrength at around 120 men apiece, so only 240 men or so for an entire regiment. Consequently, a regiment is represented here by a single base of four figures and they are then grouped together into 8, 12 or 16-figure brigades, with a brigade being treated in game terms as a regiment.
I’ve only given an officer, standard-bearer and trumpeter to one regiment in three (the senior regiment in each brigade, based on the order of battle for the Battle of Rossbach). This does make things rather easier, as the details of flags and livery for a lot of French regiments are simply not known. As it happens, the vast majority of Chevauxléger regiments were dressed very much the same, in grey-white coats with red facings, white ‘metal’ and royal blue saddlery. The only difference being the design and colour of lace edging on the saddlery and waistcoat.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that the bulk of France’s cavalry arm were referred to as ‘Chevauxlégers’ meaning ‘Light Horse’ or ‘Cavalerie Légère’ meaning ‘Light Cavalry. However, these terms are misleading. French Chevauxlégers of the time were very much heavy cavalry, fighting in the line of battle, riding heavy horses and often wearing a cuirass under the coat and an iron skull-cap under the hat. The term was a historical one dating back to mediaeval times, differentiating the relatively lightly-armoured retainers from the fully-armoured Gendarmes (knights). That said, the ‘light’ part of the title was falling out of use during this period, with ‘Cavalerie’ often being used (though not formalised until 1791). Nevertheless, I have seen figure manufacturers list these in their catalogues as ‘light cavalry’ due to their misunderstanding of the terminology, so it can be rather baffling when you are collecting a SYW French army!
The performance of the French cavalry arm was generally dismal throughout the first five years of the Seven Years War and the bulk of the blame was placed on the 32 ‘Gentlemen’s Regiments’ of Chevauxlégers. Consequently from December 1761 the cavalry were reformed, with the Gentlemen’s Regiments being disbanded over the following year and absorbed into most of the 15 existing Royal Regiments, 5 newly-raised Royal Regiments and 10 regiments belonging to ‘Princes of the Blood’. Most of these regiments now doubled in size to four squadrons apiece.
Above: The ‘La Reine’ Brigade at Rossbach was formed from the ‘La Reine‘ Regiment (in the centre), ‘Fitz-James‘ Regiment (on the left of the picture) and ‘Bourbon-Busset‘ Regiment (on the right). ‘La Reine’ was a Royal Regiment, ‘Bourbon-Busset’ was a Gentleman’s Regiment and ‘Fitz-James’ was a foreign regiment, being the sole Irish cavalry regiment in the French Army’.
‘La Reine’ and ‘Fitz-James’ notably wore red coats with royal blue facings and linings, though ‘La Reine’s coat lacked lapels. ‘Fitz-James’ was one of a few regiments that adopted bearskin caps in 1758 and although my army is based around the Battle of Rossbach in 1757, I can never resist a bearskin… ‘Bourbon-Busset’ wore the very common combination of grey-white coat with red facings and linings.
Above: The ‘La Reine’ Brigade. The ‘Bourbon-Busset’ and ‘Fitz-James’ Regiments both had royal blue saddlery, while ‘La Reine’ had red. The lace edging for ‘La Reine’ was blue with a white chain pattern, while that of ‘Bourbon-Busset’ was blue with a yellow chain pattern and ‘Fitz-James’ had a green & white check pattern. ‘La Reine’s shabraque and holster-covers were decorated with a yellow fleur-de-lys badge.
Above: The ‘La Reine’ Brigade. As mentioned above, I’ve only done command figures for the senior regiment in each brigade. Consequently the standard here is that of the ‘La Reine’ Regiment, having a red field scattered with small fleurs-de-lys, the Queen’s crowned cypher in each corner and emblazoned with the universal sun motif and white scroll bearing the motto ‘Nec Pluribus Impar’, edged with a fringed of mixed silver and gold threads. Staves always resembled a tournament lance and were usually coloured to match the standard’s field colour, though royal blue was also common. The trumpeter wears the Queen’s livery, which was essentially the reverse of the King’s livery, being a red coat with blue facings and heavily laced in a blue & white chain pattern. French cavalry musicians commonly rode greys.
While not shown here, ‘Bourbon-Busset’ carried a standard of the ‘stock’ pattern of the sun motif and scroll above, surrounded by a wreath and a fleur-de-lys in each corner, with the field in red. ‘Fitz-James’ carried the same design with a yellow field. Livery for ‘Fitz-James’ is given as a yellow coat with green facings, presumably laced as per the saddlery, though nothing is known of the livery for ‘Bourbon-Busset’.
Note that in the vast majority of cases, buttons and hat-lace were of white ‘metal’, small-clothes and gloves were buff leather and belts were of natural reddish-buff leather. Cloaks were carried rolled behind the saddle and were of the same colour as the coat, with the lining colour showing at the ends of the roll. Cuirasses and iron skull-caps were issued to be worn under the uniform, though were not always worn.
Above: The ‘Bourbon’ Brigade at Rossbach was formed from the ‘Bourbon‘ Regiment (in the centre), ‘Beauvilliers‘ Regiment (on the right)and ‘Volontaires-Liègeois‘ or ‘Raugrave’ Regiment (on the left). The ‘Bourbon’ Regiment belonged to a ‘Prince of the Blood’, while ‘Beauvilliers’ was a Gentleman’s Regiment and the ‘Volontaires-Liègeois’ were a foreign regiment.
The ‘Bourbon’ and ‘Beauvilliers’ Regiments both wore grey-white coats with red facings and linings, while the ‘Volontaires-Liègeois’ wore royal blue coats with yellow facings and linings, white buttonhole lace, bearskin caps and white belts.
Above: The ‘Bourbon’ Brigade. Saddlery was royal blue for all three regiments. The lace edging for the ‘Bourbon’ Regiment was white with two crimson stripes, speckled white. ‘Beauvilliers’ had yellow lace with a red chain pattern. The ‘Volontaires-Liègeois’ had plain yellow lace, though the shabraque and holster-covers were decorated with three fleurs-de-lys arranged in a triangle, with a crown above.
Above: The ‘Bourbon’ Brigade. Again, I’ve only done command figures for the lead regiment, namely the ‘Bourbon’ Regiment. ‘Bourbon’s trumpeters had yellow-buff livery with crimson facings, white buttonhole lace and crimson saddlery with white lace edging. ‘Bourbon’s standard was of the ‘stock’ pattern, featuring the sun motif with white ‘Nec Pluribus Impar’ scroll above, surrounded by a wreath and four fleurs-de-lys. The field colour was blue.
The ‘Volontaires Liègeois’ had a ‘stock’ standard with crimson field. Their livery is not known. ‘Beauvilliers’ had ‘stock’ standards with an aurore field. Again, their livery is not known.
Above: The ‘Lusignan’ Brigade at Rossbach was formed from only two units, the ‘Lusignan‘ Regiment (in the centre) and ‘Descars‘ Regiment (on the right). I had four figures spare, so I also painted the ‘Montcalm‘ Regiment (on the left) from the ‘Poly’ Brigade (which was in the third line at Rossbach and the remainder of the brigade is still on my ‘to do’ list).
All three were Gentlemen’s Regiments and had grey-white coats with red facings and linings.
Above: The ‘Lusignan’ Brigade (plus ‘Montcalm’ Regiment). All three regiments had royal blue saddlery. ‘Lusignan’ had lace consisting of alternating yellow and blue squares, while ‘Descars’ had red & yellow checked lace and ‘Montcalm’ had a red and green check pattern.
Above: The ‘Lusignan’ Brigade (plus ‘Montcalm’ Regiment). ‘Lusignan’ carried a standard which had a white field on the obverse side with the ‘stock’ golden sun design. The reverse had a plain red field with a white scroll carrying the motto ‘Nec terrent, nec morantur’. The livery for ‘Lusignan’ is not known, so I’ve gone with a grey-white coat and saddlery (to match the white field of the standard), decorated with the blue & yellow regimental lace.
The ‘Descars’ Regiment had ‘stock’ standards with aurore fields, while those of ‘Montcalm’ are not known. Musicians’ livery for ‘Descars’ or ‘Montcalm’ is not known.
Above: The ‘Penthièvre’ Brigade at Rossbach consisted of the ‘Penthièvre‘ Regiment (here in the centre), ‘Bussy-Lameth‘ Regiment (here on the right) and ‘Saluces‘ Regiment (on the left). ‘Penthièvre’ belonged to a Prince of the Blood, while the other two were Gentlemen’s Regiments. The ‘Saluces’ Regiment became the ‘Seyssel’ Regiment in 1759, while ‘Bussy-Lameth’ briefly became the ‘Ray’ Regiment in 1761, shortly before its disbandment.
All three regiments wore grey-white coats with red facings and ‘Penthièvre’ was one of a few regiments to adopt bearskin caps in 1758. ‘Saluces’ had plain grey-white coat and cloak linings instead of the usual red.
Above: The ‘Penthièvre’ Brigade. All three regiments had royal blue saddlery. The ‘Penthièvre’ Regiment had blue lace edging with a central yellow stripe, while ‘Bussy-Lameth’ had violet lace with a buff central stripe and ‘Saluces’ had white lace with red edging and a red chain pattern.
Above: The ‘Penthièvre’ Brigade. The ‘Penthièvre’ Regiment had red standards, with the obverse side being of the ‘stock’ pattern and the reverse showing Bellerophon mounted on Pegasus, with a white scroll above, bearing the motto ‘Terraque, marique’. The regiment’s musicians wore red livery, decorated with the regimental lace.
The ‘Bussy-Lameth’ Regiment carried crimson standards of the ‘stock’ pattern. Livery is not known.
The ‘Saluces’ Regiment had red standards, though with a black border within the gold fringe. The obverse had the ‘stock’ design, while the reverse was decorated with a lion, surmounted by a scroll bearing the motto ‘Animo major quam viribus’. Musicians’ livery is not known.
Above: The ‘Apchon‘ Dragoon Regiment (which became the ‘Nicolai’ Regiment in 1761). Dragoon regiments were much stronger than the bulk of the Chevauxléger regiments, each having four squadrons with a little over 700 men at full strength. Consequently, this is represented by a single unit of 12 figures.
French Dragoons were still classed as mounted infantry and until 1755 included companies of permanently-dismounted infantry. The Dragoons would operated in concert with the Hussars and light infantry on the flanks of a battle, as well as in the advance guard, rearguard and ‘Petit Guerre’, sometimes fighting dismounted. However, like the dragoons of other nations, they were increasingly used as mounted cavalry.
It would be nice to have dismounted Dragoons as an option, but Eureka don’t make them at present and nor do Old Glory 15s or Blue Moon.
Above: The ‘Apchon’ Dragoon Regiment. Most French Dragoon regiments at this time wore red coats, with a few wearing blue. The coat lacked lapels but was heavily decorated with white buttonhole lace for all regiments. The waistcoat would be coloured to match the coat or the facing colour and was also heavily laced in white. Headgear was either a tricorn or the traditional French Dragoon’s ‘Pokalem’ stocking-cap. Instead of tall cavalry boots, Dragoons wore infantry-style gaiters in black.
In 1762 the newly-raised ‘Schomberg’ Dragoons were issued with green coats and brass helmets, creating a fashion that would later be adopted by all French Dragoon regiments.
The ‘Apchon’ Dragoons initially had a plain red uniform, with no contrasting facing, lining or waistcoat colour. The regimental lace, which was used to decorate the edge of the saddlery and the ‘turn-up’ of the pokalem, was of alternating blue and aurore squares. However, in 1758 the regiment adopted light blue cuffs and waistcoats. The coat linings (visible as tail-turnbacks) remained red, though the turnbacks were decorated with light blue heart-shaped badges. The red cloak was also given a light blue lining.
Above: The ‘Apchon’ Dragoon Regiment. All Dragoon regiments carried swallow-tailed guidons. Those of the ‘Apchon’ Dragoons were green and decorated with the golden sun and a red scroll with the motto ‘Nec pluribus impar’.
Instead of trumpeters, Dragoon regiments had drummers, reflecting their role as mounted infantry (this was common in most nations’ dragoon regiments, even the ones who had abandoned the mounted infantry role). The drummer here is accompanied by a hautbois (oboe player). The livery is not known, so as always, you can’t go far wrong with the colour of the guidon (green), decorated with regimental lace. When inventing livery, bear in mind that only Royal regiments were allowed to have blue livery (of the King’s pattern).
That’s all for now. Next time I might have the first of my Seven Years War British and Hanoverians ready to show off, or I might have to delve once again into olive-drabness…