Thursday, December 30

1870: 1e Escadrille De Cyclistes Lead Charge At Sedan

The French army's embracing of new technologies saw a number of units equipped with experimental weaponry and equipment during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Pierre Michaux's development of the pedal powered velocipede in 1868 led to a craze that swept France and the military found the idea of the vélocipède à pédales as a low cost, low maintenace replacement for the horse quite attractive (velocipedes not needing feeding for a start!). The 2eme Regiment de Lanciers provided a squadron for evaluation trials and this unit was still equipped with velocipedes when war broke out with Prussia in July 1870.

Attached to the Army of Châlons, the 1e Escadrille de Cyclistes undertook scouting work for the high command before seeing action at the Battle of Sedan, when, attached to General Margueritte's cavalry, they took part in the three failed charges on the Prussian XI Corps at the village of Floing.

Whilst the French defeat at Sedan and the surrender of the Emperor marked the end of the Second Empire, the vélocipède à pédales were regarded as having proven successful and the new Third Republic raised both cavalry and mounted infantry units equipped with velocipedes, a move replicated by other powers in the last decades of the nineteenth century.


  1. You know, I have read - not scientifically proved, but merely read about - that a human on good roads with a bicycle will actually outpace cavalry.

    Granted, a bicycle mounted charge is ridiculous, but for replacing mounted infantry (aka dragoons or hobilars), it works.

  2. Bicycles were extensively used in both world wars and given the French love of them in the late 1860's it is not without merit as an idea.

  3. Charge of Bicycle Brigade! Great picture :) Real VSF goodness!

  4. Robida or your own drawing?
    Marvelously 'Bicyclepunk'!


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