Castellas Infanterie

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

Origin and History

Up to the reign of Louis XIV, to the exception of the Gardes Suisses, no Swiss regiment had been maintained on a permanent basis in the French Army. They usually served for four years before being sent back home and replaced by new units. In 1671, Louis XIV charged Pierre Stuppa, a captain in his Gardes Suisses, to negotiate with the Swiss Cantons the creation and cession of four regiments. Contracts were signed on August 14 of the same year. The four regiment arrived in France at the beginning of 1672 and were admitted in the French service on February 17. The present regiment was initially under the command of François Pfiffer de Wyher.

In 1672, during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the new regiment campaigned in Holland. In 1673, it took part in the siege of Maastricht. In 1674, it fought in the Battle of Seneffe. In 1675, it took part in the covering of the sieges of Dinant, Huy and Limbourg; in 1676, in the sieges of Condé, Bouchain and Aire; in 1677, in the siege of Saint-Omer, in the Battle of Cassel and in the capture of Saint-Ghislain; and in 1678, in the sieges of Ghent and Ypres, and in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1683, the regiment contributed to the capture of Courtrai and Dixmude. In 1684, it covered the siege of Luxembourg.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment fought in the Combat of Walcourt. In 1690, under his new colonel, Gabriel Hessy, it took part in the Battle of Fleurus. In 1691, it took part in the siege of Mons. In 1692, the regiment was transferred to the Alps. In 1693, it took part in the defence of Pinerolo and in the Battle of Marsaglia. In 1696, the regiment returned to Flanders where it took part in the siege of Ath.

In 1701, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was recalled to Flanders where it worked at the defensive lines of Antwerp. In 1702, it took part in the affair of Nijmegen and in the the capture of the Chartreuse de Liège. In 1704, its 2nd and 3rd battalions took part in the unsuccessful defence of Landau. In 1705, the entire regiment was sent to Spain where it took part in the unsuccessful siege of Gibraltar and in the relief of Badajoz. It 1706, it took the garrison of Cuença (2,000 men) prisoners of war and then participated in the capture of Carthagena. In 1707, it fought in the Battle of Almansa and in the submission of the Kingdom of Valencia. In 1708, the regiment took part in the capture of Lérida and Tortosa and in the cannonade of Puente-Major; and in 1709, in the affair of Girona. It was then sent back to Languedoc. In 1710, it returned to Flanders. In 1712, it took part in the Battle of Denain and in the sieges of Le Quesnoy and Bouchain. In 1713, it was sent to the Rhine and contributed to the recapture of Kayserslautern and Landau.

In 1719, during the brief war between France and Spain, the regiment took pat in the sieges of Fuenterrabía and San Sebastián.

In 1729, the regiment changed its name to Burky.

In 1733, at the outbreak of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment the regiment quit its quarters in Roussillon and took up quarters in various places in Languedoc. In 1734, it embarked at Toulon for Italy. It initially occupied various posts in the regions of Modena and Mantua, before garrisoning Guastalla where it lost 1,300 men to illness.

In 1736, the regiment returned to France where it took up quarters at Perpignan, Collioure and Montlouis.

In 1738, the regiment, which was now known as Tschudy, was sent to Embrun.

In 1740, at the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment changed its name to Vigier. It 1742, it was sent from Embrun to Toulon. In 1743, it formed part of the Army of the Alps but was sent back to Provence after suffering heavy casualties in an attempt to cross the Pallion River. In 1745, it recrossed the Var River. In 1746, one of its battalion took part I a raid on Acqui and then the entire regiment took part in the siege of Acqui. The the 1st and 2nd battalions took part in the Battle of Rottofreddo. In 1747, it was at Hyères and in 1748 at Chiavari.

From 1751, the regiment was successively stationed at Lyons, Belfort and Lille.

The regiment counted two battalions and had prévôté (provostship).

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 52nd and was under the command of:

  • from March 14 1756: Rodolphe, Baron de Castellas

Service during the War

In 1757, the regiment initially served with the Army of Germany, taking part in the capture of Wesel where it remained in garrison. Somewhere between August 23 and September 6, the regiment joined the Army of Saxony, led by the Prince de Soubise, in the area of Erfurt and Eisenach. On September 27, it was brigaded with Cossé Brissac Infanterie and La Viefville Saint-Chamond Infanterie under Prince Camille in the second line of the left wing of the Franco-Imperial army. On November 5, under the Comte de Lorges, it took part in the disastrous Battle of Rossbach where it was placed in the second line of the centre. In this battle, it lost Captain Dieffenthaler wounded and taken prisoner; Grenadier Captain Reich and Lieutenant Muller, killed; Captain Waldner and one lieutenant wounded. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters on the Fulda River in Hessen.

At the end of January 1758, the regiment was assigned to the army that Louis XV planned to send to Bohemia for joint operations with the Austrian Army. However in March, during the surprise Allied winter offensive in West Germany, the regiment retreated towards Düsseldorf and Deutz with the bulk of Broglie's Army. It passed the Rhine on April 3 and 4. By July, it had joined Soubise's Army assembling near Friedberg in Hesse. On October 10, it was present at the Battle of Lutterberg where it was placed in the centre of the first line.

On April 13 ,1759, the regiment took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the third line of the right wing under the command of Prince Camille de Lorraine. The regiment was deployed in column behind the village of Bergen. In June, during the French offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the main army under the command of the Marquis de Contades where it was deployed in the second line, on the left wing of the infantry centre. The regiment then took part in the defence of Wesel, threatened by the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick.

By the end of January 1760, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in the first line of the French Army. By May 23, the regiment was part of the right flank brigade of the first line of Broglie's Army. On July 10, the regiment fought in the Combat of Corbach where it formed part of Broglie's leading brigades. By September 19, the regiment was attached to Prince Xavier's Corps, forming part of the second line of his left column. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Vacha.

On February 15 1761, the regiment took part in the Combat of Langensalza. On September 13, the grenadiers and chasseurs of the regiment distinguished themselves at the affair of Naensen.

On June 24, 1762, the regiment was at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal.

To do: details of the campaigns from 1761 to 1762

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: rf-figuren
Uniform Details as per
Etrennes Militaires 1756 and 1758 and Etat militaire 1758, 1760 and 1761

completed where necessary with information from C. Pajol's book and L. Mouillard's uniform plates
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced silver
Grenadier black tricorne laced silver

towards 1759, bearskins became increasingly common among grenadiers of the French Army (Taccoli's work published in 1760 illustrates a grenadier wearing a black bearskin with a blue bag edged white)

Neck stock black
Coat garance red lined blue with 10 pewter buttons down to the pockets on the right side and, on the left side only, 10 buttonholes
Collar none
Shoulder Strap blue fastened with a pewter button (as per Mouillard) on the left shoulder
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons and 3 narrow blue buttonholes
Cuffs blue, each with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks none(Taccoli's work published in 1760 illustrates blue turnbacks)
Waistcoat blue with one row of pewter buttons and narrow blue buttonholes; horizontal pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons
Breeches blue (surprisingly depicted as red by Taccoli)
Gaiters white
Leather Equipment
Cross-belt natural leather (white as per Taccoli)
Waist-belt natural leather (white as per Taccoli)
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard brown with brass fittings (as per Taccoli)


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 cross with the motto “Castella tuetur propugnacula” on the horizontal and vertical branches; each canton carrying 7 white flames.
N.B.: white colour with a white cross as per the manuscript of 1757

Ordonnance colours: white cross with the motto “Castella tuetur propugnacula” on the horizontal and vertical branches; each canton carrying 7 flames (red, yellow, blue, white, blue, yellow, red).
N.B.: white cross without motto; each canton decorated with 8 alternating blue and red flames as per the manuscript of 1757

Colonel Colour - Source: PMPdeL
Ordonnance Colour - Source: PMPdeL

References

The 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 6, pp. 344-355

Other sources

Bunel, Arnaud: Vexillologie militaire européenne] - Régiment de Vigier (Suisse)

Manuscript "Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757, tome I", Musée de l'Armée, Paris

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, p. 199

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

Service historique de l'armée de terre: Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23

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

Vial, J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar

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