Origin and History
This regiment pretended to be one of the oldest in France, tracing back its origins to the Graville Regiment raised in 1598 at the Castle des Marches in Savoy.
The regiment was incorporated into the French Army by a decree issued on February 3, 1630, during the War of the Mantuan Succession (1628–31), for the Comte de Grancey. It incorporated remnants of old compagnies franches.
In 1630, on the year of its creation, the regiment took part in the occupation of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and in the attack on Veillane. At the beginning of 1631, it was disbanded but immediately re-established on July 8, campaigning in Lorraine and contributing to the capture of Vic.
In 1632, the regiment was sent to Languedoc where it took part in the Battle of Castelnaudary. It then marched to the Rhine where it was at the siege of Trier. In 1633, it took part in the siege of Épinal; in 1634, in the capture of Haguenau, Bitche and La Mothe, and in the relief of Heidelberg and Philisbourg; in 1635, in the campaign on the Rhine.
On December 8, 1635, when King Louis XIII associated several of his best infantry regiments to provinces of his kingdom, the regiment was renamed “Perche”, a name that it retained until 1639.
In 1636, the regiment took part in the siege of Saverne and then followed his commander to Montbéliard where he had been appointed as governor. In 1637, the regiment operated around Basel and Montbéliard, relieved Héricourt, captured Sainte-Ursanne, besieged Saint-Hippolyte and stormed Isle-sur-le-Doubs. In 1638, it took part in the relief of Lure and in a combat near Montbéliard, where it was virtually annihilated.
In 1639, the regiment was re-established as a gentleman regiment of 12 companies under the name of “Grancey”. In April, it participated in the siege and battle of Thionville, where it was once more almost completely destroyed. The remnants of the regiment retired to Metz.
In 1640, during the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), the regiment was assigned to the Army of Flanders and was at the siege of Arras, In August 1641, it was transferred to Lorraine and contributed to the capture of Bar-le-Duc, Pont-à-Mousson, Saint-Mihiel, Ligny, Gondrecourt and Neufchâteau, to the siege of Mirecourt, and to the storming of Jonvelle. In 1642, the regiment was increased to 30 companies and contributed to the siege and capture of Dieuze. It was then transferred to Roussillon and, on its way, fought in an engagement near the Castle of Rey and took its winter-quarters in Franche-Comté. In 1643, it took part in the siege of Thionville; in 1644, in the siege and capture of Gravelines where it then assumed garrison duty for eight years. In 1652, the regiment defended Gravelines against the Spaniards but was forced to surrender. In 1653, the regiment was transferred to Italy where it contributed to the capture of Serravalle, to the defence of the Tanaro and to the capture of Carpignano, taking its winter-quarters in the Saint-Martin Valley. In 1654, it took part in the combat of the Bormida; and in 1656, in the siege of Valencia. It then returned to France. In 1657, it was at Thionville. In 1658, it took part in the siege of Dunkerque and in the recapture of Gravelines where it assumed garrison duty.
In 1664, the regiment was part of the relief force sent by King Louis XIV to Hungary to assist the Imperial Army against the Turks. It fought in the Battle of St. Gotthard. In 1666, it was recalled to France.
In 1669, the regiment was part of the relief corps sent to Candia (present-day Heraklion) on the Island of Crete. It returned to France the same year.
In 1671, the depleted regiment was increased to 20 companies.
In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment took part in the conquest of Holland and in the capture of Orsoy. During the following years, it assumed garrison duty in the conquered places. In 1675, it took part in the combat of Consaarbrück; in 1676, in the relief of Maastricht; in 1677, in the capture of Saint-Ghislain; and in 1678, in the Battle of Saint-Denis.
In 1683, the regimen took part in the siege of Courtrat.
In 1688, at the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment took part in the capture of Philisbourg, Mannheim, Speyer, Worms, Oppenheim, Trier and Frankenthal; in 1689, in the defence of Bonn. In 1690, the regiment was transferred to Italy where it contributed to the capture of Cahours, fought in the Battle of Staffarda and took part in the capture of Saluzzo and Susa. In 1691, it took part in the capture of Nice, Veillane, Carmagnola, the Castle of Montmélian and Villefranche, and in the recapture of Susa; in 1692, in the defence of Susa and Pinerolo; and in 1693, in the Battle of Marsaglia. From 1694 to 1696, the regiment continued to serve in Piedmont. In 1696, it took part in the siege of Valencia before being transferred to the Meuse. In 1697, it was at the siege of Ath.
In 1701, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment served on the Rhine. In 1702, it was transferred to Italy, where it took part in the Battle of Luzzara and in the capture of Luzzara and Borgoforte. In 1703, the regiment initially campaigned in Tyrol and contributed to the capture of the entrenchments of the Imperialists in the Leder and Nota valleys and to the submission of Riva, Nago, Arco and Torbole. In 1704, it took part in the sieges of Vercelli and Ivrea; in 1705, in the capture of Verrua, in an affair near Moscolino, in the Battle of Cassano and in the storming of the entrenchments of the Gumbetto; and in 1706, in the Battle of Calcinato and in the Battle of Castiglione. The regiment then had to retreat to France and remained in Savoy. In 1707, it participated in the defence of Toulon. After the retreat of the Imperialists, it returned to Savoy where it defended the alpine passes until 1712. In 1713, the regiment was transferred to the Army of the Rhine. It took part in the siege and capture of Landau where it then remained as garrison after its capitulation.
During the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served in Italy in 1735. The following year it was at Valence.
During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment initially served in Bavaria in 1741. On January 1, 1742, it was forced to capitulate at Linz under the condition of spending a full year out of active service. On June 27, 1743, it was at the Battle of Dettingen. In 1745, it served in Alsace and was on the Meuse in 1746. On July 2, 1747, it was at the Battle of Lauffeld.
The regiment counted two battalions.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 23rd and was under the command of:
- from August 25, 1749 until June 22, 1767: N. de la Lucerne, Marquis de Briqueville
On December 10, 1762, the regiment took the name of the Province of Soissonnais, replacing the regiment formerly bearing this name, which had been disbanded during this reorganisation of the French Army.
Service during the War
On April 7, 1756, the regiment embarked at Toulon aboard the fleet. On April 9, the expeditionary force sailed for the planned invasion of Minorca. By April 10, it had disembarked at Ciutadella on the Island of Minorca. On April 21, the first battalion of the regiment was left behind to garrison Ciutadella while the second battalion followed the main army. On April 28, a detachment of the first battalion escorted the heavy artillery from Ciutadella to Mahon. During the night of June 27, the regiment distinguished itself during the general assault on Fort St. Philip de Mahon. After the capture of the island, it returned to France.
From 1757 to 1759, the regiment garrisoned Toulon.
In 1760, the regiment was sent to Germany. On October 11, it took position between Neuss and Meerbusch. On October 14, Castries selected Normandie Infanterie and Briqueville Infanterie to reinforce Wesel. On October 16, the regiment took part in the Battle of Clostercamp where it lost 127 men.
By February 1761, the regiment formed part of Castella's detachment posted in the area of Wesel. At the beginning of June, it was part of Soubise's Army of the Lower Rhine. On July 15, the regiment took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen where it fought along the Gardes Françaises. It distinguished itself once more on August 30 at the combat of Münster (aka combat of Roxel). General Kilmansegg had sallied out of Münster and was advancing in two columns towards the villages of Bozensell and Albachten, occupied by French light troops and dragoons. These French troops were on the verge of being annihilated when the Briqueville, Alsace and Bouillon infantry brigades came to their rescue with their grenadiers converged into battalions in the van. The Allies were immediately pushed back and took refuge into the village of Roxel where they entrenched. Nevertheless, the Allies were chased from their strong position and forced to retire under the protection of the guns of Münster, losing some 400 men.
In March 1762, the regiment was attached to the Army of the Lower Rhine under the Prince de Condé. By May 29, it formed part of Blot's Brigade posted at Mettmann and Ratingen. On August 25, the regiment took part in the Engagement of Grüningen, where it was deployed at the extreme right of the first line of the infantry centre. In December, when the French army evacuated Germany, it was directed on Valenciennes.
Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.
The drummers of the regiment wore the Royal Livery: blue coat lined red; red cuffs, waistcoat and breeches; laced with the braid of the small Royal Livery.
Colonel Colour: white field with a white cross.
Ordonnance Colours: a white cross with black and red cantons (each canton consisted of a red and a black triangle). The new Soissonais Regiment retained the same flags as the former Briqueville Regiment.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française, J. Corréard, Paris, 1849-1856, Tome 5, pp. 55-69, 78
Duc de Castries: Le Maréchal de Castries (1727-1800), Flammarion, 1956
Evrard, P.: Praetiriti Fides
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (an interesting website which 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
Vial, J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar