Picardie Infanterie

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

Origin and History

In 1481, Louis XI charged the Sire d'Esquerdes to train the newly raised Bandes Françaises which would form the basis of the future French infantry. On 17 August 1483, Louis XI appointed d'Esquerdes governor in Picardie. The Bandes Françaises followed him in this province where they established themselves for a long period and thus became known as Bandes de Picardie. From 1484 to 1491, the Bandes de Picardie held their ground against the armies of the Holy Roman Emperor, capturing Saint-Omer and Thérouenne.

Between 1494 and 1521, there is no mention of the Bandes de Picardie but they certainly continued to exist.

From 1521, the Bandes de Picardie were involved in several campaigns in Champagne, Genoa and Picardie.

From 29 April 1547, the Bandes de Picardie had a permanent colonel-general. In 1551, the unit was sent to Italy. In 1552, recalled to France, it took part in the conquest of the "Trois-Évêchés" and in the defence of Metz. In 1556, it courageously defended Saint-Quentin but was finally taken prisoners.

The regiment was officially constituted in 1558 by Henri II, from the "Vieilles Bandes Françaises". It ranked first among the French Line Infantry regiments, immediately after the Gardes Françaises and Gardes Suisses. Consequently, it was part of the six French regiments known as Vieux Corps.

The regiment served in almost all the wars that France waged during the XVIIth century.

In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was sent to the Spanish Netherlands where it occupied Antwerp in the name of the new king of Spain, the Bourbon Philip V. In 1702, it took part in an action at Nijmegen. Its third battalion vainly defended Liège. In 1703, regiment campaigned in Flanders. On 30 June, the three grenadier companies of the regiment took part in the Battle of Ekeren. In 1704, the entire regiment served under the command of Villeroy and covered the retreat of the Army of Bavaria. In 1705, the regiment was stationed in Thionville to cover the frontier; in 1706, it fought in the Battle of Ramillies; in 1707, it was stationed in Lille; in 1708, it took part in the capture of Ghent and Bruges, in the Battle of Oudenarde where it was the last French unit to leave the battlefield. In 1709, it took part in the Battle of Malplaquet; in 1710, it remained stationed in Amiens; in 1711, a detachment of the regiment took part in the attack on an outpost at Hordain near Bouchain. In 1712, the regiment was part of a corps who made a diversion on Landrecies while Villars won the Battle of Denain. On 15 August, its third battalion opened the trench in front of Fort Scarpe at Douai. The regiment then took part in the sieges of Le Quesnoy and Bouchain before taking its winter-quarters in Saint-Omer. In 1713, the regiment went to Alsace to cover the siege of Landau. It later was at the siege of Fribourg.

By the time 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 August 25 1749: Marquis de Brehaut
  • from February 26, 1761 to June 5 1763: Comte de Durfort

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was at the Camp of Dunkerque.

In 1757, the regiment joined the Army of the Lower-Rhine commanded by the Maréchal d'Estrées for the planned invasion of Hanover. At the end of June, the regiment was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées's Main Corps. On July 1, under Chevert, a corps consisting of Picardie (4 bns), Vaubécourt (2 bns), Condé (2 bns), an unidentified regiment of Grenadiers Royaux (2 bns), the Carabiniers and 20 guns left Bielefeld. On July 2, they arrived at Hervorden. On July 8, they left for Hoya. On July 26, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hastenbeck. It was leading Chevert's Column who accomplished the flanking movement to attack the Hanoverian left wing in the woods. After the victory, from July 31 to August 2, the regiment encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Army of the Lower-Rhine. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal Duc 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. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in the first line of the French army in Braunschweig.

In April 1758, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed in Wesel. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by an Allied army under 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 first line. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the right wing of the first line under Chevert. 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 the Marquis de Contades, recrossed the Rhine to follow the Allied army. On August 20, the regiment was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the infantry right wing 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 and was deployed in the first line, on the right wing of the infantry centre. On July 13, the regiment was part of a corps, under M. de Beaupréau, sent forward by Contades to Eidinghausen near Gohfeld to support Broglie at Minden. On July 14, this corps passed the Weser and marched to the French camp near Minden where it replaced Broglie's Reserve. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the infantry right wing under the command of the Chevalier de Nicolaï. On August 10, closely followed in his retreat by Allied detachments, Contades formed 2 rearguard detachments near Dransfeld. The regiment was attached to the rightmost of these detachments, under the command of M. de Planta. The Allies first moved against the rightmost detachment but the regiment, along with Belzunce Infanterie formed in battle at the head of the defile, putting a stop to the Allied advance.

On January 3 1760, the regiment was part of a corps under the Marquis de Vogüé who attacked the town of Herborn, an advanced post of Wangenheim's Corps. In this attack the French took 100 prisoners. The regiment along with La Tour-du-Pin Infanterie then cantoned in the village for the night. By May 23, the regiment was part of the first line of the infantry centre of Broglie's Army. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Eschwege.

On September 21 1762, the regiment took part in the Combat of Amöneburg.

In 1763, the regiment was stationed in Strasbourg.

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 white or a black cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade
towards 1759, bearskins became increasingly common among grenadiers
Neck stock black
Coat white with yellow buttons on the right side and 1 yellow button on each side in the small of the back
Collar white (none before 1759)
Shoulder Straps white fastened with a small yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels none
Pockets vertical double pockets on each side (9 yellow buttons arranged in patte d'oie on each single pocket)
Cuffs white, each with 4 yellow buttons
Turnbacks basques could be fastened in turnbacks with hooks and eyes
Waistcoat red with yellow buttons; horizontal pockets with yellow buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters white
Leather Equipement
Crossbelt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
Waistbelt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
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


Colors

Colonel colour: white field with a white cross.

Ordonnance colours: red field with a white cross. These 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 2, pp. 221-286

Other sources

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

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 (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.