Berry Infanterie

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Berry Infanterie

Origin and History

The regiment was created on September 2 1684 for Vincent de Buade, Marquis de Goesbriant. Indeed, expecting a Coalition to soon form against France, Louis XIV raised 30 new regiments from September 1 to 30 for the defence of the various places of the realm. By raising one regiment a day, he avoided any problem of precedence among these new regiments.

During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served on the Rhine from 1733 to 1734.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment served in Bohemia in 1743 and 1744. In 1746, it was stationed in Thionville. From 1747 to 1748, it served in Flanders, (1747 in Maastricht and 1748 in Sarrelouis).

The regiment initially counted two battalions but an ordonnance, dated November 10 1756, brought it up to three battalions.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 71st and was commanded by:

  • since February 17 1746: Marquis de Contades
  • from February 1759: Marquis d'Hugues

Service during the War

An ordonnance, dated November 10 1756, stipulated that the second battalion of regiment would be sent to India and instructed to increase the effective strength of the regiment to 1,080 men (excluding officers) organised as follows:

  • staff (including a commander and an aide-major for the second battalion)
  • 2 battalions of 540 men (excluding officers), each consisting of:
  • 8 companies of fusiliers, each of:
    • 3 officers
      • 1 captain
      • 1 lieutenant
      • 1 sub-lieutenant (carrying the colour if the company had one)
    • 60 men
      • 3 sergeants
      • 4 corporals
      • 4 anspessades (lance-corporals)
      • 48 fusiliers
      • 1 drummer
  • 1 company of grenadiers of:
    • 3 officers
      • 1 captain
      • 1 lieutenant
      • 1 sub-lieutenant
    • 60 men
      • 3 sergeants
      • 4 corporals
      • 4 anspessades (lance-corporals)
      • 48 grenadiers
      • 1 drummer

Furthermore, for service in India, the second battalion would be split into two distinct battalions (2nd and 3rd). However, the situation in North America made the French Court change its plan and the 2nd and 3rd battalions were sent to Canada.

Therefore, for most of the Seven Years' War, the three battalions of the regiment operated on different theatres of operation. The 1st Battalion remained in Europe while the 2nd and 3rd were sent to Canada in 1757.

1st Battalion

The first battalion remained in Europe throughout the war.

By August 1 1757, the battalion was stationed at Quimper in Bretagne.

2nd and 3rd Battalions

On May 3 1757, M. Dubois de la Motte escaped from Brest with reinforcement for Louisbourg: 9 ships of the line, 4 frigates, and the 2nd and 3rd battalions of this regiment. In August, judging his force strong enough, La Motte sent these 2 battalions to Québec aboard the Bizarre (64) and Célèbre (64). The two battalions of the regiment suffered badly from an epidemic during transit. Bouganville Journal, September 20, 1757:

"The Marquis de Montcalm reviewed the Berry Regiment, the two battalions must have lost two hundred men by the epidemic which still continues. In the last twenty days there have died four nuns, four chaplains, and generally fourteen or fifteen people a day. On the nineteenth, twenty-two died. It is some sort of plagues contracted on board the ships. I see the same thing happen each year and I am astonished that they do not seek remedy for this evil. Ventilation put in the ships would at least diminish the cause."

On May 15 1758, the shortage of supplies was such in Québec that La Reine Infanterie left the town for Carillon where ampler supplies were available. The 2nd and 3rd battalions of Berry Infanterie did the same a few days later. At the beginning of June, the 2 battalions arrived at Carillon. On June 30, the 2nd battalion was part of Montcalm's detachment who encamped at the saw-mill near the fall on the west bank of the channel connecting Lake Saint-Sacrement (present-day Lake George) to Lake Champlain. The 3rd battalion was kept in reserve at Carillon with the Troupes de la Marine. On July 5, the 3rd battalion was ordered to build a breastwork and abatis on the high ground in front of the fort. On July 6, the 2nd battalion followed the main French force to the left bank of the fall before retreating to Carillon. On July 7, both battalions worked at the entrenchments in front of the fort. On July 8, the regiment took part in the victorious Battle of Carillon, the 3rd battalion watching the flanks and rear while the 2nd battalion was deployed in the centre under Montcalm. Between November 1 and 5, the entire French army retired from Carillon to move to its winter-quarters, leaving detachments from various battalions to guard the fort.

In 1759, the 2 battalions served in the region of Montréal. In November, they took their winter-quarters from Terrebonne to Berthier.

By March 1760, 104 men of the second and third battalions had been detached to Saint-Jean while 14 were unfit for duties. This left 718 men available for the expedition against Québec. In March 1760, the Chevalier de Lévis reorganised his little army. He assigned part of the few remaining officers to command the 3 militia companies attached to each regular battalion. Accordingly, the two battalions of the regiment were supplemented by 509 men from the militias of Îles-Bouchard, Mascouche, Lachenaie, L'Assomption, Repentigny, Saint-Sulpice, Lavaltrie, Lanoraie, D'Autray, Berthier, Île-Dupas and Île-aux-Castors who were integrated into these battalions. This measure left too few officers to command each company of regular. Therefore, Lévis amalgamated each pair of companies forming a platoon into a single company, a battalion thus consisting of only 6 divisions instead of 12 as before. The order of battle would now be 6 ranks deep. The 2nd and 3rd battalions of the regiment thus amalgamated militia from Îles-Bouchard, Mascouche, Lachenaie, L'Assomption, Repentigny, Saint-Sulpice, Lavaltrie, Lanoraie, D'Autray, Berthier, Île-Dupas and Île-aux-Castors. From April 21 to 25, transport vessels gradually sailed from Montréal for Québec. Overall the two battalions then counted 51 officers, 727 regulars, 519 militia and 61 non-combatants for a total of 1,358 men. On April 28, the two battalions took part in the victorious Battle of Sainte-Foy where they were deployed in the centre of the first line. In the morning of April 29, one battalion marched to the trenches before Québec while the other took part in the construction of siege works. On May 25, the two battalions left the camp on the banks of the Jacques-Cartier to retire towards Montréal. At the end of June, during the British three pronged attack against Montréal, Bougainville, who commanded at Isle aux Noix, requested reinforcements. He had only 450 men and several British vessels were now operating on Lake Champlain. Lévis sent him the II./Berry Infanterie along with 250 militia. On September 9, after the capitulation of Montréal, the battalion still counted 716 men and 46 officers. On September 14, as per the terms of the capitulation, the two battalions were embarked aboard British transports who reached Québec on October 10 and 11 and then sailed for France where they arrived in December.

Reunited Regiment

After the return of the depleted 2nd and 3rd battalions from Canada, the regiment was reorganised on April 1 1761 into only two battalions.

Uniform

Privates

The Continental and Canadian uniforms were identical.

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Etrennes militaires 1758
and Etat militaire 1761
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced gold with a black (or white) cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced gold with a black (or white) cockade
Neckstock black
Coat white lined white with copper buttons on the right side and a copper button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none (red in 1759)

N.B.: the manuscript "Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757" and Taccoli both illustrate a red collar as early as 1757

Shoulder Straps white fastened with a small copper button (left shoulder only)
Lapels none
Pockets double vertical pockets (3 copper buttons on each single pocket)
Cuffs red, each with 5 copper buttons
Turnbacks none but the skirts of the coat could easily be turned back for action, thus exposing the lining
Waistcoat red with two rows (one row as per Taccoli) of small copper buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Scabbard n/a


Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.

Officers

n/a

Musicians

n/a

Colours

Colonel colour: white field with a white cross.

Ordonnance colours: white cross and violet cantons. Each canton was traversed by an isabelle (coffee) horizontal band. Ordonnance colours remained unchanged from 1684 to 1762.

Colonel Colour - Source: Kronoskaf
Ordonnance Colour - Source: Kronoskaf

References

Anon.: Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757, tome I, manuscript , Musée de l'Armée, Paris

Bakshian, Aram Jr.: Soldiers of New France - French and Indian War, The Armchair General Vol. 1 No. 3, 1968

Chartrand, René: The French Soldier in Colonial America

Evrard, P.: Praetiriti Fides

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Louis XV: Ordonnance du roi concernant le Corps de Troupes que Sa Majesté destine à faire passer aux Indes Orientales - Du 10 novembre 1756

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)

Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV, Paris 1882

Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757, Service Historique de l'armée de terre

Taccoli, Alfonso: Teatro Militare dell' Europa, Part 1, vol. 2; Madrid, March 1760

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.