Champagne Infanterie

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

Origin and History

From 1521, the Bandes de Champagne became progressively distinct from the Bandes de Picardie. By 1552, after the conquest of Metz and of the Évêchés, the organisation of the Bandes de Champagne was completed. From October 1552 to January 1553, they took part in the defence of Metz against the Imperialists. In 1556, twelve companies followed M. de Guise in an expedition against Naples. By 1558, they were back in France where they took part in the actions at Calais and Thionville. Between 1558 and 1568, companies of the Bandes de Champagne were at the origin of Normandie Infanterie.

In 1568, 10 companies of the Bandes de Champagne joined the army of the Duc d'Aumale and took part in actions at La Neuville and Saint-Quirin. In February 1569, they repulsed an assault of the Imperialist at Saint-Jean near Saverne. On 12 March, they fought at Silly. On May 29 1569, the regiment received an official status. Indeed, 26 companies of the Vieilles Bandes Françaises (including many from the Bandes de Champagne) were grouped into a new regiment who would later become Champagne Infanterie. The same year, the new regiment took part in the Battle of Moncontour (3 October) and in the siege of Saint-Jean-d'Angély. In 1572 and 1573, the regiment took part in the sieges of La Rochelle and Sancerre. In 1574, it served in Normandy and took part in the storming of Saint-Lô and in the siege of Fontenay. In 1575, it fought in the combat of Dormans. In 1580 it was at the siege of La Fère.

In 1585, the regiment was renamed Champagne Infanterie.

From 1585 to 1598, the regiment took part in the "War of the Three Henrys", seeing action in countless engagements and sieges.

In 1600, the regiment was at the siege and capture of Bourg-en-Bresse and in the submission of several towns of the province of Bresse.

In 1610, the regiment took part in the War of the Jülich Succession (1609-1614). In August, it entered into the town of Jülich and then returned to France where it garrisoned Verdun.

In 1619, at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), the regiment took part in the capture of the castkes of Dreux and Anet and distinguished itself at the combat of Pont-de-Cé. In 1621, it was at the attack on Taillebourg where it suffered heavy losses. It then took part in the siege and capture of Monheurt. In April 1622, it was at the siege and capture of Royan. The regiment was then sent to blockade La Rochelle. It then garrisoned Fort-Louis near La Rochelle. In 1625, the regiment took part in the conquest of Ré Island which it occupied till 1629 when it was sent to campaign in Montferrat. In 1630, it campaigned against the Duchy of Savoy, contributing to the capture of Saluzzo. In 1631, it returned to France and took its quarters on the border of Lorraine. In 1633, the regiment took part in the capture of Reving and Fumay. In 1634, it garrisoned Nancy. In 1635, it campaigned in Alsace, storming Altkirch in January, taking Marche (18 May, fighting at Avein (20 May) and taking part in the siege of Louvain. In 1637, the regiment was at the siege of Landrecies and stormed Solre. It was then assigned to the defence of Maubeuge. In 1638, it was at the sieges of Saint-Omer and of the Castle of Renti; and at the capture of Catelet. In 1639, the regiment was at the siege of Lilliers and at the capture of Hesdin. In 1640, it was at the siege and capture of Arras which it then garrisoned. In 1641, it was at the sieges of Aire and Bapaume. In 1642, the regiment was sent to Roussillon where it took part in the siege and capture of Collioure and then in the siege of Perpignan where it rested a few days after its capture. In 1643, it served in Languedoc where it took its winter-quarters.

In 1644, it was sent by sea to Catalonia to take part in the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59). In August, it took part in the siege of Tarragona. In 1645, the regiment covered the siege of Roses. On 22 June, it fought at the Battle of Llorenç del Penedès. It then took part in the relief of Flix. In 1646, it was at the siege of Lérida where it was almost annihilated by the Spanish relief force. In 1647, the regiment took part in a second (unsuccessful) attempt against Lérida. In 1648, it was at the siege and storming of Tortosa. In 1649, the regiment entered into Barcelona threatened by the Spaniards. In 1650, it was decimated by plague and then the Spaniards laid siege to Barcelona who capitulated on 12 October 1652 after a siege of 15 months. The regiment was allowed to leave Barcelona with the honours of war, retiring to Perpignan. It was then sent to Guyenne where it distinguished itself in the defeat of Miradoux. In 1653, the regiment took part in the capture of Bourg, Sarlat and Libourne and took its winter-quarters in Roussillon. In 1654, it was at the capture of Villefranche, at the relief of Roses and at the siege and capture of Puigcerdà. In 1655, the regiment was at the capture of Cap de Tiers and Castillon before taking part in the relief of Solsonès. It then wintered in Languedoc. In 1656, it returned to Catalonia where a detachment stormed the Castle of Boraçan.

In 1659, after the Peace of of the Pyrenees, the regiment returned to France where it was stationed in Bourbonnais.

In 1661, the regiment was transferred to Lorraine. In 1665, it was attached to a French corps sent to the support of the Dutch Republic attacked by the Bishop of Münster. The regiment took part in the siege of Lochem and wintered at Emmerich. In 1666, on its return to France, the regiment assumed garrison duties in Metz.

The fact that Champagne Infanterie, Navarre Infanterie and Piémont Infanterie were all created during the same year gave rise to endless argumentations about their respective ranking. In 1666, Louis XIV had to edict a regulation stating that each of these regiments would alternate for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranks on a yearly basis. Champagne Infanterie was among the six French regiments known as Vieux Corps.

In 1667, at the beginning of the War of Devolution (1667-68), the regiment campaigned in Flanders and was at the sieges of Charleroi, Tournai, Douai, Courtrai, Oudenarde and Lille, before returning to Metz. In 1668, it took part in the conquest of Franche-Comté.

In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment joined the army of the Prince de Condé near Liège. It then took part in the sieges and captures of many Dutch cities. The regiment suffered heavy casualties during the siege of Nijmegen. It then took its winter-quarters in Utrecht. In 1673, the regiment served in Germany under Turenne. In 1674, it captured Germersheim and seized the defile of Burghausen, before taking part in the Battle of Sinsheim (16 June). It then retired to Philippsburg. On 4 Octiber it distinguished itself at the Battle of Ensheim. On 5 January 1675, the grenadiers of the regiment stormed the town of Turckheim. On 4 July, a detachment stormed Dachstein. On 24 July the regiment fought in the combat of Offenburg. On 1 August, the regiment bravely held the bridge of Altenheim to cover the retreat of the French army. In 1677, a detachment captured the Castle of Dabo. On 7 October 1677, the regiment was at the combat of Kokersberg where it guarded the artillery. In November, it took part in the capture of Fribourg. In 1678, the regiment served on the Rhine taking part in the storming of the entrenchments of Seckingen, in the combat of Offenburg, in the storming of Kehl and in the siege of the Castle of Lichtemberg.

In 1679, the regiment was sent to Languedoc where it worked to the construction of the canal.

On 17 October 1683, a grenadier company of the regiment distinguished itself in the defence of Grevemakeren. In 1684, the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Luxembourg.

At the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), in 1688, the regiment took part in the sieges of Philippsburg, Mannheim, Kaiserlautern, Kreutnach, Neustadt, Oppenheim, Worms, Speyer, Mainz and Frankenthal. In 1689, it campaigned in Flander where it took part in the attack of the Castle of Walcourt. In October, it went to Lille where it wintered. In 1690, the regiment took part in the Battle of Fleurus (1 July). In 1691, it was at the siege of Mons. It wintered in Dinant where a third battalion was created. In 1692, the regiment covered the siege of Namur and fought at the Battle of Steenkerque (3 August). In December, it took its winter-quarters in Saint-Omer. In 1693, it took part in the siege of Furnes and wintered at Strasbourg. In 1695, the regiment initially served in Germany before being transferred to Flander and then to the Moselle. It took its winter-quarters in Nancy. In 1696, it served on the Meuse and wintered in Dinant. In 1697, the regiment covered the siege of Ath.

After the Peace of Ryswick, the regiment assumed garrison duty in Valenciennes.

In 1701, the regiment was among the French troops who occupied Limbourg for King Philip V of Spain.

In 1702, when the War of the Spanish Succession broke out, the regiment took part in the Battle of Friedlingen. In 1703, it participated in the siege of Kehl, in the attack of the Lines of Stollhofen, in the storming of Hornberg. It was later attached to the army sent to reinforce the Elector of Bavaria and took part in the Battle of Höchstädt and in the siege and capture of Augsburg. In 1704, it fought in the disastrous Battle of Blenheim where, along with Bourbonnais Infanterie, it covered the retreat of Tallard's corps by occupying Oberglau. In 1705, the regiment was attached to the Army of the Rhine but saw little action. In 1706, it operated against the Lines of Stollhofen; it 1707, it forced the Lines of Stollhofen and entered into Württemberg and captured Pforzheim and Schorndorf and then fought in an engagement at the gorges of Lorch. In 1708, it was recalled in Flanders where it took part in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve Lille. When the city surrendered, it retired to Cambrai. In 1709, it fought in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet. In this battle, the regiment lost more than half of its strength but it captured nine colours to the Allies. In 1710, the regiment was stationed in Abbeville and did not see any action. On 1711, it took part in an attack on Arleux. In 1712, it fought in the Battle of Denain and took part in the sieges of Marchiennes, Douai and Le Quesnoy. It then covered the siege of Bouchain. In 1713, the grenadiers of the regiment took part in the siege of Landau. The regiment then participated in the capture of Fribourg.

In 1714, after the Peace of Rastatt, the regiment went to Saarlouis where it incorporated the remains of three disbanded regiment (La Londe, du Roure, Bugey).

From 1741 to 1748, the regiment took part in the War of the Austrian Succession.

In 1749, the Maréchal de Belle Isle, the future Minister of War during the Seven Years' War, bought the regiment for his son, the Compte de Gisors, for the sum of 75,000 livres.

On the eve of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted four battalions and had prévôté (provostship).

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • since February 1 1749: Louis-Marie Foucquet, Comte de Gisors
  • from June 3 1758: Marquis de Juigné (formerly colonel of the Grenadiers de France)
  • from December 1 1762 to 1778: Comte de Seignelay

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was stationed in Normandy.

In 1757, the regiment went to Metz to join the Army of the Lower Rhine, placed under the command of the Maréchal d'Estrées, for the planned invasion of Hanover. The regiment was then sent half to Neuss, half to Düsseldorf. At the end of June, the entire regiment was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées' Main Corps. On July 26, the regiment was at the Battle of Hastenbeck where it was deployed on the right wing under d'Armentières. It attacked a strong redoubt, containing 8 guns and 2 howitzers, at the outskirt of a forest. The regiment lost 63 men, 1 captain, 2 lieutenants and 92 wounded in this battle. After the victory, it encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine from July 31 to August 2. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven on September 8, it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed in the centre of the second line. In December, the regiment took its winter-quarters in Osnabrück, in the fourth line of the French army.

At the end of February 1758, the regiment still was at Osnabrück when the Allies launched a winter offensive in Western Germany. The regiment retreated behind the Rhine with the rest of the French army. It took its quarters at Krefeld. In April, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment remained at Krefeld. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by an Allied Army led by Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. It remained in this camp until June 12 and was placed in the centre of the second line. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the left wing of the first line under Lorges. In Mid August, after Ferdinand's retreat to the east bank of the Rhine, the regiment, as part of the Army of the Lower Rhine under Contades, recrossed the Rhine to launch an offensive in Westphalia. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the infantry left wing of the first line.

On April 11 1759, the regiment was part of a corps of 14 bns and 4 sqns detached from the corps of the Marquis d'Armentières under the command of the Comte de Saint-Germain to reinforce the Duc de Broglie who was threatened by the advance of the Allied army. Saint-Germain marched towards the Lahn River and arrived at Königstein on the evening of April 13, too late to take part in the Battle of Bergen. On April 14, he effected a junction with Broglie's Army. 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 and was deployed in the first line, on the left wing of the infantry centre. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the infantry left wing under the command of Guerchy. On September 20, during the Allied counter-offensive in Western Germany, the regiment formed part of a force who took position on the heights of Wetzlar to prevent the Allies from passing the Lahn.

By January 3 1760, the regiment had taken position at Weilburg. By the end of January, it had taken its winter-quarters in the first line of the French army. By mid March, the regiment was billeted in Limburg an der Lahn, in the first line of the French army. By May 23, the regiment was part of the second line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of the Prince de Croy. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Oberzwehren and Niederzwehren.

On February 15 1761, the regiment was at the Combat of Langensalza. On July 16, it was at the Battle of Vellinghausen. It also took part in the defence of Göttingen.

On June 24 1762, the regiment was at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal. It also took part in an action at Grebenstein.

In 1763, the regiment was stationed in Cambrai.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Kronoskaf from an illustration by Lucien Mouillard
Uniform Details as per
Etrennes militaires 1756 and 1758 and Etats militaires 1759
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade (white cockade as per Taccoli)
Grenadier black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade
towards 1759, bearskins became increasingly common among grenadiers of the French Army
Neck stock black
Coat white with yellow buttons down to the waist on the right side; 1 yellow button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none (white from 1759)
Shoulder Strap white fastened with a small yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels none
Pockets vertical double pockets on each side (6 yellow buttons on each single pocket)
Cuffs white, each with 4 yellow buttons
Turnbacks none (Taccoli's work published in 1760 shows white turnbacks)
Waistcoat red with a single row of small yellow buttons; horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Breeches white
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 black with white metal fittings


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

Officers

n/a

Musicians

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.

Drummer wearing the Royal Livery - Source: Jocelyne Chevanelle

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

French Royal Livery - Source: reconstruction based on a sample from Jean-Louis Vial's collection


Colours

Colonel colour: white field with a white cross.

Ordonnance colours: green field with a white cross. The ordonnance colours remained unchanged from 1569 to 1791.

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

References

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 3, pp. 92-150

Other sources

Chesnaye des Bois (de la), Aubert: Etrennes militaires, Paris, 1756, 1758, 1759

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

Louis XV: Ordonnance du Roy portant règlement pour l’habillement de l’Infanterie françoise 19 Janvier 1747

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

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

Rohan Chabot, Alix de: Le Maréchal de Belle Isle ou la revanche de Foucquet, Perrin, Paris, 2005

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.