Du Roi Infanterie

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Origin and History

This regiment was raised on January 2, 1663. The king wished that the sons of the most illustrious families of France would make their first arms in this regiment. It initially counted only 20 companies whose officers came from the Mousquetaires. It was soon brought to 50 companies.

Soon after its creation, in September 1663, the regiment went to Lorraine and took part in the reduction of Marsal.

In 1667, at the outbreak of the War of Devolution (1667–68), the regiment joined the Army of Flanders and took part in the sieges of Tournai, Douai and Lille before garrisoning Oudenarde. In 1668, it returned to Saint-Germain where, during a review, the king decided to add 4 grenadiers to each company of his regiment, a measure soon extended to the other infantry regiments.

At the end of 1669, when the old Lorraine Infanterie (occupying the 14th rank of seniority) was integrated into Du Roi Infanterie, the latter regiment inherited from the rank of the former.

In 1671, the regiment became the 12th of the army and acquired the privilege to be considered as the 6th of the Petits Vieux regiments. The regiment soon became a school where all improvements in discipline and tactic were initially introduced.

In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment took part in the siege of Doësbourg where its colonel-lieutenant was killed. It was also at the siege of Orsoy on the Rhine and took part in Turenne's expedition in the estates of the Elector of Brandenburg and in the storming of the Castle of Berckhembaum. In 1673, the regiment took part in the siege of Maastricht; in 1674, in the sieges of Limbourg, Besançon and Dôle, and in the Battle of Seneffe; in 1675, in the sieges of Liège, Dinant, Huy and Limbourg; in 1676, in the siege of Condé and in the protection of the siege of Bouchain; in 1677, in the sieges of Valenciennes and Cambrai, and in the capture of Saint-Ghislain; in 1678, in the sieges of Gand and Ypres, in the Battle of Saint-Denis near Mons, and in the blockade of Strasbourg. In 1679, the regiment took part in the sieges of Homburg and Bitch, and in the engagement of Linden.

In 1680, the regiment assumed garrison duty in Lille. In 1683, it took part in the sieges of Courtrai and Dixmude, and in the bombardment of Oudenarde. In 1684, it was with the army who covered the siege of Luxembourg.

At the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688–97) in 1688, the regiment followed the Dauphin who laid siege of Philisbourg. It then took part in the capture of Mannheim, Spires, Worms, Trier, Frankenstein and Mainz. In 1690, it fought in the Battle of Fleurus. In 1691, it took part in the siege of Mons, in the capture of Halle and in the Combat of Leuzes; in 1692, in the siege of Namur, in the Battle of Steenkerque where it suffered heavy losses, and in the bombardment of Charleroi; in 1693, in the sieges of Huy and Château-Picard, in the Battle of Landen and in the siege of Charleroi; in 1695, in the sieges of Dixmude and Deynse and in the bombardment of Bruxelles; in 1697, in the siege of Ath.

In 1701, on the eve of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment left its quarters at Versailles and Saint-Germain to occupy various places in the Spanish Netherlands in the name of the new king of Spain Philip V. In 1702, it took part in the combat of Nijmegen; in 1703, in the sieges of Alt-Breisach and Landau, and in the Combat of the Speyerbach; in 1706, in the Battle of Ramilies; in 1708, in the Battle of Oudenarde; in 1709, in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet; in 1711, tin the attack on Arleux; in 1712, in the Battle of Denain, and in the capture of Marchiennes, Douai, Le Quesnoy and Bouchain. In 1713, the regiment served on the Rhine where it took part in the capture of Spires, Worms, Kayserslautern and Landau. It completed this long and terrible war by the capture of Freiburg. It then returned to its quarters in Marly.

In 1719, the regiment was stationed in Marly. Louis XV first saw this regiment during a general exercise in the Plain of Sablons. In 1721, it went to Paris for the visit of the Turkish ambassador. In 1722, it escorted the Infant of Spain from Arpajon to Versailles. In 1727, the regiment took part in the training camp near Richemont on the Moselle.

In 1733, at the outbreak of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment was sent to Italy where it participated in the sieges of Gera d’Adda, Pizzighetone and the Castle of Milan. In 1734, it fought in the battles of San Pietro and Guastalla and was at the siege of Mirandola. In 1735, it drove the Austrians out of Goito. In May 1736, it returned to France.

In 1739, the regiment took part in the training camp near Compiègne.

In 1741, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was first assigned to the Bohemian theatre of operation, taking part in the storming of Prague. In 1742, it participated in the capture of Iglau, and in the unsuccessful defence of Prague; in 1743, in the retreat towards France, in the Battle of Dettingen and in the Combat of Rheinweiler. In 1744, the regiment was transferred to Flanders. Where in contributed to the capture of Menin, Ypres and Furnes. It then returned to Alsace where it participated in the Combat of Augenheim and in the siege of Freiburg. In 1745, it returned to Flanders where it took part in the siege of Tournai, in the Battle of Fontenoy and in the sieges of the Citadel of Tournai, Oudenarde, Termonde and Ath. In 1746, it participated in the covering of the siege of Mons, Charleroi, Saint-Ghislain and Namur, and in the Battle of Rocoux; in 1747, in the capture of the Castle of Illema, in the Battle of Lauffeld; and in 1748, in the siege of Maastricht. It then returned to its quarters at Versailles.

In 1753, the regiment took part in the training camp near Compiègne. It then marched to Nancy where King Stanislas of Poland had taken refuge with his court. On November 26, 1755, the regiment was at the inauguration of a new place in Nancy.

On the eve of the Seven Years's War, the regiment counted four battalions and had prévôté (provostship). Exceptionally, compared to the standard organisation of an infantry regiment, each grenadier company counted an additional officer; and each fusilier company, 2 additional officers and 5 additional men.

The King was the colonel of the regiment. However, the colonel-lieutenant was the real commander. During the Seven Years's War, the regiment ranked 12th and the colonel-lieutenant of the regiment was:

  • since May 26, 1745 to October 26, 1767: Claude Louis François de Régnier, Comte de Guerchy

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was at the camp of Saint-Valéry.

In 1757, the regiment joined the Army of the Lower Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées for the planned invasion of Hanover. On May 18, it arrived at Büderich to work at the entrenchment of the bridgehead. In June, it was encamped at Bielefeld with d'Estrées' Main Corps. On July 26, the regiment was at the Battle of Hastenbeck where it was part of the left wing under the Duc de Broglie. It advanced against the Hanoverian right. In this battle, the regiment lost Major de Saintenac, Captains de Raymond and de Sorbon, and 1 lieutenant, wounded. After the victory, it encamped from July 31 to August 2 at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine. Later on, it participated in the conquest of Hanover. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory from September 28 to November 5. In this camp, the regiment was placed in the centre of the first line. It later took part in the expedition against Celle. The defeat of the Franco-Imperial army at Rossbach in November caused the general retreat of all French corps behind the Rhine. At the end of the year, the regiment took its winter-quarters in Kassel in Hessen.

In April 1758, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed in Neuss. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by Ferdinand's Army 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 first line. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was placed in the centre of the first line under Guerchy. After this defeat, it retired on Königsdorf. 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 the Marquis de Contades, recrossed the Rhine to follow the Allied army. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed in the centre of the first line.

In June 1759, 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 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. In this battle, the regiment lost Captains Bardonnenche, Noircame and Lannoy, wounded.

By May 23 1760, the regiment was part of the first line of the infantry centre of Broglie's Army. On July 10, the regiment was part of the left wing of Broglie's Grande Armée who came to the support of the vanguard around noon at the Combat of Corbach. A few days later, it was among the corps who forced the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick to retire from Sachsenhausen. On July 31, it arrived too late to take part in the Battle of Warburg. On September 13 at daybreak, the regiment was part of M. de Stainville's Corps who was marching towards Frankenberg when it clashed with a retiring Allied corps between Rhadern and Münden/Ork. Both forces were separated by a wood and a small stream flowing into the Eder. Stainville reinforced his left with Bouillon Infanterie (2 bns) placed in the Castle of Lichtenfels. Combat began around 10:00 a.m. when M. de Scey at the head of Du Roi Brigade and M. de Melfort with the Légion Royale advanced. The Allies occupied positions on a steep hill. Nevertheless Auvergne Infanterie stormed these positions on the double. Fersen counter-charged the dragoons of the Légion Royale at the head of his cavalry but was made prisoner with some of his men. Then, the grenadiers and chasseurs of the brigades along with the dragoons of Légion Royale; du Roi, Auvergne, Bouillon and Royal-Pologne infantry brigades pursued the Allies up to the village of Neukirchen near Sachsenberg. Bülow was forced to abandon some guns to pass the defiles. In this action M. de Stainville took 400 prisoners and 8 pieces and considerable baggage. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Hanau.

On July 16 1761, the regiment took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen where it came to the assistance of the Deux-Ponts Brigade who had just made itself master of the village but had been counter-attacked by Lord Granby. After a hopeless resistance, it was forced to retire. The regiment later took part in the combat of Neuhauss.

In 1762, the regiment, along with Bourbonnais Infanterie, successfully defended Melsüngen which was repeatedly attacked by the Allies.

In 1763, the regiment was stationed at Besançon.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Etrennes militaires 1758
and Etats militaires 1761
completed where necessary as per illustrations in Taccoli's book and in the manuscript "Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757"
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 Infantry

Neckstock black
Coat grey-white lined blue with 9 copper buttons and 9 aurore (light orange) frogs grouped 3 by 3
Collar none
Shoulder Straps grey-white fastened with a copper button (left shoulder only)
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 copper buttons and 3 aurore (light orange) frogs
Cuffs blue, each with 3 copper buttons and 3 aurore (light orange) frogs
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat blue lined red with 22 copper buttons and 22 aurore (light orange) frogs
Breeches blue (surprisingly Taccoli illustrates white breeches)
Gaiters white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
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

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


Colors

Colonel colour: white field with a white cross charged with 48 golden fleurs de lys.

Ordonnance colours: a white cross charged with 48 golden fleurs de lys; the first and fourth cantons were red and the second and third cantons green. The motto "Per decori virtu" appeared on the flags in 1753.

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

N.B.: the manuscript "Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757" illustrates an ordonnance colour with a white cross charged with golden fleurs de lys and the motto "Per decori virtu". All four quarters are royal blue. This might be a new colour pattern issued in 1757.

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 4, pp. 90-127

Other sources

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

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 5 Hastenbeck und Roßbach, Berlin, 1903, Appendix 10

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

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.