1600 - 1789
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FRENCH RÉGIMENT ROYAL DRAGON SOLDAT c. 1735
Dragoon regiments were owned by the nobility and managed by a mestre de camp equivalent to a colonel. All dragoon regiments went by the name of either of these two persons. Ownership of a dragoon regiment was bought and sold or created and disbanded for an emergency; hence, the great number of regimental names suggesting scores of regiments. The core regiments rarely numbered more than 15 or so at any given time; of course, these were supplemented by emergency regiments. Few regiments maintained their founding names to the end of the Ancien Régime in 1791 and, in 1735, the Régiment Royal Dragons was one of these. The Royal Dragoons were created by decree in 1668. In 1791 the Royal Dragoons became the 1st Dragoon Regiment of the Republic.
PAINTING GUIDE FOR A SOLDAT OF THE RÉGIMENT ROYAL DRAGONS c. 1735
Justaucorps (outer coat): Blue lined in red with white-laced buttonholes and white metal buttons, down the front and back. Cuffs are red with four white buttonholes and white metal buttons. Pocket flaps have three white-laced buttonholes with three white metal buttons. A single shoulder strap on the left is blue piped white. The right shoulder has a white aiguillette cord with two brass tips. See Uniformes No. 66, L’Homme de 1735, Michel Petard, for a full color view of this regiment’s justaucorps.
Buffle (inner coat or vest): It is red adorned similarly to the justaucorps with white buttonhole lace and white metal buttons. The sleeves had four white metal buttons and each pocket flap had three white metal buttons.
Culotte (pants): Red.
Manteau (cloak, sometimes referred to as “coat”): The manteau is blue with a red lining. The front is closed by white metal buttons on white-laced buttonholes. When not worn, it is rolled and stored at the back of the saddle secured by black leather straps. See Uniformes No. 66, L’Homme de 1735, Michel Petard, for a full color view of this regiment’s manteau.
Bonnet: The most distinctive article of clothing for the Dragoons of the Ancien Régime was the bonnet. It was blue with an upturned red lining edged in white ending in a red tassel. See Uniformes No. 66, L’Homme de 1735, Michel Petard, for a full color view of this regiment’s bonnet.
Bottes (Boots): Boots are black Dragoon style with six buckles and three brass buttons. Spurs are polished iron.
Bas (Stockings) when visible are white.
Chapeau (Tricorne): The tricorne is black edged in silver tape and adorned with a black silk cockade held in place by a double piece of silver lace attached by a white metal button. It was worn well down just over the right eye with the “point” slightly to the right. It was worn rarely and then only at the commander’s order.
Ceinturon (Waist Belt): The ceinturon or sword belt is light brown and supports the sword and bayonet scabbard.
Bayonet Scabbard is wood with a brass tip.
Banderole (Carbine Sling) was not issued to dragoons because they carried the standard infantry musket.
Mousquet (Musket): Dragoons carried the standard infantry musket. Unlike the light cavalry, the musket was not provided with a shoulder sling but was carried in a boot strapped to the left front side of the saddle and secured to the left top of the saddle by a strap around the neck of the stock with the butt resting in the boot.
Pistolet (Pistol): Each soldier carried just one pistol in a holster attached to the left side of the saddle front. Barrel length was 35.2cm long. The pistol holder was of brown leather with brass end caps and covered with cloth housing (see “Housses”). On the right side of the saddle in place of a second pistol holder was carried a small tool such as a shovel, pick, axe, etc, covered in black leather.
Housses (Housing or cloth covers): The single pistol holder and the rear of the saddle were covered in cloth material blue in color and bordered in white with blue piping on the outer edge.
Cartouche (Cartridge Box): The cartridge box in brown leather held nine paper cartridges and was attached to the ceinturon (waist belt) on the trooper’s right side. Additionally, a powder flask of fine black powder for charging the flintlock’s pan was attached by a cord that passed over the left shoulder and held in place by the left shoulder strap.
Rank Galon (Rank Stripes): Brigadiers (corporals) had one silver stripe high up on the cuff just below the cuff buttons. Sergents had two silver stripes in the same position.
Sabre (Sword and Scabbard: The sword was the so-called “à la Mousquetaire” with a blade length of “33 pouces de longueur” with white metal guard. The scabbard is a polished dark wood color with white metal tip. The sword knot or dragonne was white.
Gant (Gloves) with a short gauntlet were worn on parade and in combat. The color was a pale yellowish-beige and probably made from deerskin.
Horse Leathers were black with white metal fittings.
Chevaux (Horses) were generally bays of various shades.
FRENCH DRAGON c. 1735 References
1) Uniformes Les Armées de l’Histoire, Issue No.66, L’Homme de 1735, Dragons de Vitry, by Michel Pétard
2) Costume Militaire Ancien Regime No. 9, Les Premieres Dragons 1640-1725, by Eugène Leliepvre, Hussard du Marais
3) Officers and Soldiers of French Dragoons, Vol 1 1669-1749 by Véronique & Ludovic Letrun, Histoire & Collections
4) Louis XV’s Army (1): Cavalry & Dragoons, Osprey Men-at-Arms No. 296, pages 33-41.
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by George Grasse