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. The same year, it incorporated the remnants of Villemort Infanterie.
In 1714, the regiment was placed in garrison in Strasbourg. In 1715, it incorporated the remnants of Saint-Germain-Beaupré Infanterie and Chalmazel Infanterie. In 1717, it was transferred to Thionville.
In 1719, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance, the regiment served on the Spanish border. It took part in the capture of Castelléon, San Sebastian and of the Castle of Urgell. After the war, it was assigned to the troops isolating Marseille during the plague. It then returned to Strasbourg.
In 1722, the regiment was stationed at Besançon. It then successively garrisoned Lille, Cambrai and Saarlouis. In 1727, it took part in the training camp of the Meuse and then returned to Strasbourg. It was later transferred to Givet and Charlemont. In 1730, it returned to Alsace where it occupied Colmar, Schelestad and Brisach. In 1731, it was sent to Languedoc and took up quarters in Nîmes, Montpellier and Perpignan.
In 1733, at the outbreak of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment was sent from Montélimart to Italy where it took part in the siege of Pizzighetone and of the Castle of Milan. In 1734, it participated in the Battle of San Pietro where it lost more than 800 men. Later the same year, it fought in the Battle of Guastalla.
In 1736, the regiment returned to France and was stationed in Nîmes and Montpellier. In 1737, it was transferred to Perpignan but soon returned to Montpellier and the Cévennes.
In 1740, on the eve of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was transferred to Besançon. It 1741, it was sent to Strasbourg. In 1742, it took part in the operations in Bavaria. In 1743, part of the regiment participated in the unsuccessful defence of Dunkelfingen. The regiment then retired to Strasbourg but was soon despatched to Brisach and then to Colmar where a fourth battalion was raised. In 1744, the regiment took part in the siege of Freiburg; in 1745, in the siege of Oudenarde, Termonde and Ath; and in 1746, in the siege of Namur and in the Battle of Rocoux. A fifth battalion was then raised. In 1747, the regiment was present at the Battle of Lauffeld but was not involved in combat. In 1748, the five battalions of the regiment took part in the siege of Maastricht.
In 1749, the regiment went to Lille where its fifth battalion was disbanded. In 1751, it was stationed at Givet and Charlemont; in 1753, at Verdun, in 1754, in Thionville and Marsal; in 1755, in Metz and later in Valenciennes.
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:
- from August 25 ,1749: Marie-Jacques Marquis de Brehant
- from February 26, 1761 to June 5, 1763: Louis-Philippe Comte de Durfort
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment was at the camp of Dunkerque. It was then sent to Saint-Omer.
In March 1757, the regiment set off from Saint-Omer and marched through Flander and Brabant to join 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. In this battle, the regiment lost 300 men., including Lieutenant-Colonel de Gascoing, killed; Colonel de Brehant, Captains Chevalier d'Ure, Dallène, Saint-Mauris, Durond, Panisson, Saint-Paul, du Gravier and five lieutenants, wounded. 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. The regiment took up its winter-quarters in Goch in the Ducky of Kleve.
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. In this battle, the regiment lost Captain de Vidal and Lieutenant de Montagnac, killed; and Captain de Monteil and Lieutenant des Bardes, severely wounded. 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. It later took part in the defence of Göttingen. By December 30, the regiment had taken up its winter-quarters in Eschwege.
On February 12, 1762, the regiment, along with the Grenadiers de France, was attacked by a superior force under the command of General Spörcken. It sustained a cannonade during five hours, forcing the Allies to retire. In this affair, the regiment lost Major Gelb, Captain de Richemont and Captain de Montlouët, killed. On September 21, the regiment took part in the Combat of Amöneburg.
From March 1763, the regiment was stationed in Strasbourg.
|Coat||white with yellow buttons on the right side and 1 yellow button on each side in the small of the back
|Waistcoat||red with yellow buttons; horizontal pockets with yellow buttons|
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.
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.
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. 221-303
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.