Wednesday, July 21, 2010

13e Régiment de Cuirassier

Three provisional regiments of heavy cavalry were formed at the end of 1807 for the campaign in Spain. They were supposed to be formed with a compagnie of 3 officers and 120 men from the 4e escadron de dépôt of each heavy cavalry regiment. The regiments in central Europe formed the first two provisional regiments (formed in Tours in November of 1807), for service in north/central Spain. The regiments in Italy formed the third provisional regiment (formed in Poitiers in 1808) for service in the south/east of Spain. Originally commanded by majors, these officers were promoted to the rather unusual rank of colonel en 2e.

2e Corps d'Observation de la Gironde
1er Régiment Provisoire de Grosse Cavalerie
Major Guillaume-François d'Aigremont (1770-1827, du 1er Cuirassiers)
   1er Régiment de Carabiniers à cheval (4/119)
   2e Régiment de Carabiniers à cheval (4/118)
   1er Régiment de Cuirassiers (4/142)
   2e Régiment de Cuirassiers (2/138)
   3e Régiment de Cuirassiers (2/100)
This unit moved to Madrid in early 1808.
By order of the Emperor dated October 21, 1808 the 13e régiment de cuirassiers was formed from this unit and the remains of the 2e Régiment Provisoire de Cuirassiers under the command of Colonel of Aigremont with its depot established at Niort, initially 5 squadrons but reduced to 4. It was sent to Suchet and unit served with distinction until disbanded at the first restoration.

2e Régiment Provisoire de Cuirassiers
Major Philippe-Albert Christophe (1769-1848, du 12e Cuirassiers)
   5e Régiment de Cuirassiers (2/109)
   9e Régiment de Cuirassiers (2/64)
   10e Régiment de Cuirassiers (2/96)
   11e Régiment de Cuirassiers (3/120)
   12e Régiment de Cuirassiers (2/100)
Thise unit moved to Madrid in early 1808.
The 2e régiment provisoire de cuirassiers were all killed or captured with Dupont at Bailèn, the few who were either dismounted or sick that had been left in Madrid were sent to the 1er régiment provisoire de grosse cavalerie on the 24th Decemeber 1808.

Corps d'Observation des Pyrénées orientales
3e Régiment Provisoire de Cuirassiers
Major Antoine-Didier Guéry (1765-1825, du 8e Cuirassiers)
   4e Régiment de Cuirassiers (~2/~100)
   6e Régiment de Cuirassiers (~2/~100)
   7e Régiment de Cuirassiers (~2/~80)
   8e Régiment de Cuirassiers (~2/~80)

This unit served with Duhesme, and was generally on occupation duties in the area around Barcelona. They wasted away steadily over the next two years, though reinforced by a second draft of nominally 400 men from the same regiments in early 1810, they were virtually destroyed at the Battle of Mollet in January 1810 (the Spanish taking 250 horses, cuirasses and casques for the Coraceros Espanoles), those who were captured were held in the fortress at Lerida and freed when it was taken by Suchet, the men were absorbed into the 13e regiment, though officially they were forgotten about by the Ministrère de la guerre, and were finally disbanded upon a second(!) order from Napoléon at the beginning of 1811.

Campaign History:
1808: Tudela and the siege of Zaragossa (December 1808 - February 1809)

1809: Zaragossa
June 1809 siege of Moria.
November 1809, Suchet 3rd Corps is ordered to march on Valencia.
At Castellon de la Plana, in March 1810, trooper Vinatier forces a passage of the fortified bridge.

1810: In April 1810 during the siege of Lerida, in the plain of Margalef, 450 men of the regiment returning by forced march, attack and rout a relieving Spanish column taking a general, three colonels, three guns and three flags.
Lerida falls on May 14th.
Mequinenza falls on June 8th.
They lay siege to Tortosa.
In November 1810 the 13e Curiassiers and the 4e Hussars defeat the Spaniards of Uldecona.
Captain De Gonneville joined the regiment shortly after and took charge of a company.

1811: Tortosa capitulated January 2, 1811
The regiment spent two months in Santa Olalla and Daroca.
Meanwhile, in another action against Uldecona, Robichon with 57 cuirassiers of the 3e escadron attacks 500 Spanish cavalry and routs them.
Napoleon gives orders to withdraw 400 troops to reinforce the cuirassiers depot for the Army of Germany.
During the siege of Tarragona (Catalonia), which falls in June 1811 and is accompanied by the massacre of the population who had resisted for three months, part of the regiment is used to cover the rear in Lower Aragon.
Suchet, now a Marshal, marches on Valencia. The Spanish occupied the fort at Murviedo (Sagunto) in an effort to stop Suchet's march. Several French assaults over a period of a month are beaten back but on October 25th Blake moves to relieve the fort and the French turn to engage him. During the subsequent action, the French cavalry are being forced back when Captain Gonneville leads a charge of his 2e escadron against 1500 cavalry, they rout the Spanish, capturing General Caro. Sagunto falls.

1812: Valencia capitulates on January 9, 1812, and the enemy's cavalry file past the 13e Cuirassiers before giving up their weapons and horses. Suchet was given the title of Duke of Albufera. Gonneville notes that besides the horses, his regiment also recovered a maître de musique!
The regiment is stationed in outposts around the city and patrols the region.
In 1812, the unit had 34 officers, 591 NCOs and soldiers including 26 acting as personal escort to Suchet.
At Castalla (July 21 1812) Suchet faces a Spanish army under O'Donnell. The advanced guard with the 24e Dragoons and a squadron of the 13e Cuirassiers commanded by General Delort is victorious. Trooper Becheret captures a flag.

1813: In September threatened by the English army, Suchet seizes the Col d'Ordal.

1814: 13e Cuirassiers led by de Bigarré returns to France. It is enaged in the battles for Lyon and is in action at the Battle of Limonest on 20th March sabreing a battery of 8 guns and capturing its train.

Battle Honours
Lerida 1810, Sagonte 1811, and Col d'Ordal 1813

When first formed they wore a mix of uniforms based upon their originating regiments, including various colored lapels, though mainly with red facings, the Carabiniers retained their bearskins and formed an elite company of the regiment.

In mid 1809 they bought 400 pantalons made from a local cloth in brown color (worn tucked in the boots, like the normal cuirassier pantalons and not Mameluke style over the boots) as they still hadn't received either leather breeches or trousers, they also make some surtouts in the same cloth. In 1811 at Valencia Captain Gonneville remarked "I have no cuirass and my saddle is english".

It wasn't until 1812 that they received leather breeches and an 1810 regulation surtout. In July 1812 a large convoy arrived from Pau, escorted by men of the regiment, with new vestes, breeches, pantalons, boots and gloves allowing the whole regiment to be refitted to 1812 regulations. The surtout, without lapels, had 10 buttons in the front with a burgundy collar piped blue, burgundy cuffs without piping and burgundy turnbacks. The carabinier or elite company was similarly outfitted but retained the bearskin. The surtout of the trumpeters was burgundy with blue lapels and with white galons on the front. In 1813 the carbiniers finally lost their bearskins as the whole regiment received new casques.

Yvert, L. Historique du 13e Regiment de Cuirassiers 1807-1814-1891 Chartres; 1895.

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