La Marine Infanterie
Origin and History
The regiment already existed since 1621 when troops were raised during the blockade of La Rochelle. However, it became a regular regiment of the French army only on September 26 1635 when Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu persuaded the King to integrate it into his regular units. It initially counted 18 companies and was known as "Cardinal Richelieu". The regiment took the 16th rank.
From 1648 to 1652, Cardinal Mazarin was meste-de-camp of this regiment. He used his influence to include it among the Vieux Corps, changing its rank from 16th to 6th.
At the end of 1736, the regiment was permanently renamed La Marine.
La Marine Infanterie was among the six French regiments known as "Vieux Corps".
The regiment counted four battalions and had prévôté (provostship).
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 6th in the French Army and was commanded by:
- since February 1 1749: François Vachon de Briançon, Comte de Belmont
- from November 30 1761 to January 3 1770: Louis Bernard de Cléron, Comte d'Haussonville
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment left Dunkerque for Lille.
In the spring of 1757, the regiment joined the army of Maréchal d'Estrées at Wesel. In June, it was encamped at Bielefeld with d'Estrées' main corps. On July 26, the regiment took part to the battle of Hastenbeck. It was in the column under Chevert who accomplished the flanking movement to attack the Hanoverian left wing in the woods. After the victory, it encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Lower Rhine Army from July 31 to August 2. It participated to the conquest of Hanover. On August 26, the regiment and the Dauphin Brigade advanced against Rethem forcing the Hanoverian troops to abandon the place. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed in the center of the first line. On October 7, it joined the Army of Saxony at Weissenfels. On November 5, as part of Comte de Saint Germain Corps, it did not take part directly to the battle of Rossbach but covered the retreat of the Franco-Imperial army. It initially took its winter-quarters at Paderborn. However, after the breakdown of the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, it moved its winter quarters in the first line of the French Army in Braunschweig. On December 25, it occupied Celle (Zell) after forcing the passage of the Aller along with Vaubécourt and Aquitaine regiments at the bridge of Alten-Zell.
In January 1758, a detachment of the regiment took part to the operations led by the Marquis de Voyer around Halberstadt. During the retreat of the French army towards the Rhine, the regiment participated to several small engagements near Milingen, Rheinfeld and Camps abbey. In April, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed at Kleve. On June 2 1758, after the crossing of the Rhine by the Allies, the regiment was part of Villemure's corps which tried to oppose the Allied advance in front of Kleve. However, his flank being threatened, Villemure retired on Kalkar. On June 3, Villemure retired from Kalkar to Xanten before joining the main French army at Rheinberg. The regiment remained in this camp until June 12 and was placed in the centre of the first line. On June 23, the regiment took part to the battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the left wing of the second line under Saint-Germain whose division bore the brunt of the Allied attack when it tried to stop an outflanking manoeuvre. It defended the woods along the Niers River during three hours, repulsing three attacks before retiring in front of superior forces. 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 now under Contades, recrossed the Rhine to follow the Allied army. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the infantry left wing of the second line. At the beginning of October, the regiment was attached to Fitzjames' corps which was sent to reinforce Soubise's army in Hesse. On October 10, it was present at the battle of Lutterberg where it was placed on the right wing of the first line. It was not involved into any serious fighting during this battle. The regiment took its winter-quarters at Kleve.
In April 1759, the regiment returned to France where he was sent to reinforce Le Havre theatened by the British.
From March 1760 to June 1761, the regiment was stationed at Dunkerque. Then, it was transferred to Brest.
On May 8 1762, a detachment of the regiment was among the expeditionary force of some 750 men who set sail from Brest to capture the fishing station of Saint Johns in Newfoundland. The fleet was commanded by Chevalier de Ternay d'Arsac while the ground troops were under Comte d'Haussonville, colonel of La Marine. On June 27, the French expeditionary force captured Saint Johns and held it until September 18 when it had to surrender to a British relief force. On September 23 all French troops were embarked on British vessels as prisoners of war.
In 1763, the regiment was stationed at Metz.
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.
The colonel flag was white and the ordonnance flags had a white cross with the quarters alternatively green and blue. The ordonnance flags remained unchanged from 1636 to 1791.
Chesnaye des Bois (de la), Aubert; Etrennes militaires, Paris, 1756, 1758, 1759
Evrard P.; Praetiriti Fides
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
Menguy, Patrice; Les Sujets du Bien Aimé
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
Vial J. L.; Nec Pluribus Impar
Yahoo Lace Wars User Group Message No. 17136, 17168
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.