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TACTICS DURING THE AGE OF THE MUSKET — BRENT NOSWORTHY
 
Military Organizations
After the collapse of Operational Studies Group (OSG) in 1981 I ensconced myself in the Bibliothéque Nationale de Québec à Montréal where I systematically worked my way though numerous volumes of Ètat militaire de France and Lemau de la Jaissse's, Carte générale de la monarchie Françoise contenant l'histoire militaire depuis Clovis and his Abrége de la carte générale du militaire de France sur terre et sur mer to piece together the evolution of the organization of the French army during the 18th century. Returning to New York several years later, I decided to expand this study to include the French army during the Napoleonic Wars. I have recently resurrected this project and have been able to supplement this study by consulting additional references such as Ètat général de mai 1748 at the Ann S.K. Brown Collect in Providence. What follows are selected portions of this unpublished manuscript that will be regularly updated.




Wars of Austrian Succession: Fusiliers de Morlière
The Volontaires royal had been created to serve with the army of Italy. The corps de arquebusiers de Grassins was considered to be too small to completely service the army of Flanders, to which it was attached. Consequently, an ordinance dated October 16 1745 authorized the creation of a new troupes légères corps. It was known as the fusiliers de La Molière and had a substantial strength. Its 1000 men were divided into 700 soldiers on foot and 300 mounted. Under the command of Alexandre Magallon de La Morlière, it was organized into 2 grenadier companies (50 men apiece), 6 fusilier companies (100 men), and 6 dragoon companies (50 men each).

 


Its staff consisted of: 1 colonel and 1 lieutenant colonel, both of whom contrary to the then popular custom did not command their own company, 1 major, 2 aides major, 1 aumonier, & 1 surgeon.

The infantry formed a single battalion; the cavalry 2 squadrons. The corps enjoyed the services of 2 Swedish cannons and a munitions "chariot." 1

Uniform: The infantry wore a brown habit with a garance red collar and cuffs; garance red "brandebourgs" on the front of the habit; white buttons; garance red waistcoat & breeches; black gaiters; black bonnet bordered in white. The infantry was armed with a fusil, bayonet, & sabre. 2

The dragoons also wore a brown habit, but with garance red cuffs, collar, and lace; white buttons; waistcoat & breeches of "yellow" skin; ankle boots; an iron helmet with a scarlet turban, crowned with black leather and ornamented with 3 copper fleurs de lys on its front. Marshal de Saxe when assigning this type of headdress to the cavalry in this corps was the first to give the iron helmet to a corps containing foreigners.3 The dragoons were equipped with a muskatoon, 2 pistols, and a sabre.

As of December 1 1746, the corps strength was raised to 1500 men and included 500 dragoons.4 These additional 500 men were divided into 3 new companies of 100 fusiliers and 4 companies of 50 dragoons. The corps was now organized into 2 battalions and 4 squadrons.5



Grenadier Company
Officers Men
1 captain 2 sergeants
1 capitain en second 3 corporals
1 premier lieutenant 3 anspessades
1 lieutenant en second 1 drummer
___________ 41 grenadiers
4 officers total 50 men total


Fusiler Company
Officers Men
1 captain 4 sergeants
1 capitain en second 1 capitaine d'armes
1 premier lieutenant 6 corporals
1 lieutenant en second 6 anspessades
1 sous-lieutenant 4 workers
1 drummer
___________ 78 fusiliers
5 officers total 100 men total


Dragoon Company
Officers Men
1 captain 3 brigadiers
1 lieutenant 46 dragoons
1 cornette 1 drummer
1 marechal des logis ________
4 officers total 50 men total

The two pieces of canon suédois were attached to the dragoons, who were also supported by a munitions wagon.6 Its staff at this point consisted of:
1 colonel (without company)
1 lieutenant colonel(with company)
1 major
2 aides major
1 chaplin
1 surgeon 7

The September 1, 1748 reorganization which essentially returned the French army to a peacetime footing also affected the fusiliers de la Morlière. It now adopted the same organization as the volontaires Bretons. Its 980 men were organized into 2 grenadier companies (50 men each) and 7 fusilier companies (80 men apiece), and 8 dragoon companies (each with 40 dragoons).

 

An October 10th ordinance gave the fusiliers de La Morlière, the volontaires bretons, and the arquebusiers de Grassins a common organization. Each consisted of 640 men and was made up of: 2 grenadier companies (50 men each), 6 fusilier companies (60 men each), and 6 cavalry companies (30 men apiece).7

 

All three corps were affected by a third reduction when on December 1st of that year (1748) each was reduced to 340 men made up of: 2 grenadier companies (40 men each), 4 fusilier companies (40 men each), and 4 cavalry companies (25 men apiece). 8

 

Exactly two months later, on August 1st 1749, the 3 corps were amalgamated to form the volontaires de Flandre.



1 Bellehomme, Victor L; Histoire de l'infanterie en France, 5 volumes, Paris, 1893-1902, Vol. 3, p. 160.
2 Susan, , Louis A. V. V.; Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie Françoise; 8 volumes, Paris, 1849, Vol. 8.
3 Susan Vol. 8 & BH, Vol. 3, p.160.
4 Susan says 1060 fusiliers & 540 dragoons.
5 BH, Vol. 3, p 167.
6 Ètat général de mai 1748, Paris, 1749, pp. 106-107.
7 BH, Vol. 3, p.176.
8 BH, Vol. 3, p. 178.

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