Royal Italien Infanterie

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Origin and History

The regiment was raised on April 27, 1671 in Italy and Piedmont by the Count Magalotti, formerly captain in the Gardes Françaises, according to a commission issued on March 27 of the same year. It initially consisted of 27 companies, each of 204 men. Louis XIV was so satisfied when he inspected the regiment that he immediately decided to name it “Royal-Italien”. On the same occasion, he decided to dress the regiment with brown uniforms (the same colour as the justaucorps that he was wearing on the day of the review).

In 1672, during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the newly raised regiment joined the Army of Flanders and took part in the capture of Wesel, Nijmegen, Grave and Bommel, and in the relief of Woërden. In 1674, it fought in the Battle of Seneffe. In 1676, it participated in the siege of Condé and in the covering of the siege of Bouchain; in 1677, in the siege of Saint-Omer and in the Battle of Cassel; and in 1678, in the capture of Ghent and Ypres and in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1679, the regiment was reduced to 12 companies. In 1683 and 1684, it covered the siege of Luxembourg.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment took part in the Combat of Walcourt; in 1690, in the Battle of Fleurus; in 1691, in the siege of Mons and in the combat of Leuze; in 1692, in the capture of Namur and in the Battle of Steenkerque where it distinguished itself. In 1693, it fought in the Battle of Landen and was at the siege of Charleroi. In 1695, it assisted to the bombardment of Bruxelles and served at the sieges of Dixmude and Deynse. In 1697, it took part in the siege of Ath.

In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted only one battalion and was still serving with the Army of Flanders. In 1702, the regiment took part in the combat under the walls of Nijmegen; in 1703, in the sieges of Alt-Breisach and Landau and in the victorious Combat of Speyerbach; in 1706, in the Battle of Ramillies and in the defence of Menin; in 1708, in the Battle of Oudenarde; in 1709 in the attack of Hasnon Abbey, in the Battle of Malplaquet; in 1710, in the defence of Douai; in 1711, in the capture of Arleux and the attack of the Allied camp at Hordain; in 1712, in the Battle of Denain, in the defence of Landrecies and in the capture of Le Quesnoy and Bouchain; and in 1713, in the sieges of Landau and Freiburg.

In 1727 and in 1732, the regiment took part in training camps on the Sambre River.

During the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served in on the Rhine from 1733 to 1735 and distinguished itself at the Combat of Clausen (October 20, 1735).

In 1741 and 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was attached to the army of observation of Flanders. In 1743, the regiment was sent to the Rhine and then retired to France. In 1744, it was thrown into Strasbourg and later contributed in the recapture of Wissembourg and of the Lines of the Lauter and in the siege of Freiburg. In 1745, it was recalled to Flanders where it participated in the siege of Ostend. In 1746, it assumed garrison duty in Alsace. In 1747, it campaigned in Provence before being sent to Genoa in Italy. On July 1 of the same year, the regiment was increased to two battalions. It then took part in the defence of Genoa. In 1748, it took part in the defence of Voltri.

In November 1748, the regiment returned to Antibes in France. In March 1749, its two weak battalions were merged into a single one.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 48th, it was under the nominal command of king Louis XV and under the effective command of:

  • from April 28, 1741: Charles-Armand, Marquis de Monti
  • from June 28 1759 to 1780: Marquis Charles Botta (as colonel-commandant while the Marquis de Monti served as general)

On December 21 1762, the regiment was increased to 2 battalions by the incorporation of the disbanded Royal Corse Infanterie.

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment mustered at Toulon for the preparation of the expedition against Minorca. It distinguished itself at the siege and capture of Fort St. Philip of Mahon. For the attack of June 27, it formed the head of the centre column which advanced against the western lunette and the Carolina Redoubt. The signal for the attack was given at 10:00 p.m. In a wink, the regiment made itself master of the covert way, cut down the palisade and nailed twelve guns, braking down their carriage. In this affair, the regiment lost Captain de Modène, Colonel d’Elva, Captains Patrizzi, Pierardi, Comte Monaldi, Tenesoli, Marquis Botta and Grenadier Lieutenant Cancelli, all wounded. After the conquest of Minorca, it remained in the island.

By August 1 1757, the regiment was still stationed in the island of Minorca. It was later transferred to Corsica to quench troubles.

In 1759, it returned to Minorca where it garrisoned Ciutadella until 1762.

In December 1762, the regiment returned to Perpignan in France where it assumed garrison duty. An ordonnance dated December 21, 1762, increased the regiment to two battalions by the incorporation of the disbanded Royal Corse Infanterie.

Uniform

Until 1750, the regiment had a brown uniform with red distinctives.

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Etrennes Militaires 1758, Abrégé du Dictionnaire Militaire 1759
Etat Militaire 1758, 1760 and 1761

completed where necessary according to the illustration in the manuscript "Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757"
and Taccoli's illustration in "Teatro Militare dell' Europa" of 1760"
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade

N.B.: around 1759, Taccoli illustrated a grenadier of the regiment with an Austrian style black bearskin without front plate and with a sky blue bag laced yellow with a yellow tassel

Neckstock black
Coat grey-white with 4 yellow buttons under the right lapel and 4 narrow yellow buttonholes on each side below the lapels
Collar sky blue
Shoulder Straps n/a
Lapels short sky blue lapels not reaching the waist, each with 7 yellow buttons and 7 narrow yellow buttonholes and 1 yellow button near the collar
Pockets horizontal pockets (3 yellow buttons and 3 narrow yellow buttonholes on each pocket)
Cuffs sky blue, each with 3 yellow buttons and 3 narrow yellow buttonholes
Turnbacks sky blue
Waistcoat sky blue
Breeches sky blue
Gaiters white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box natural leather, grenadiers carried a small black cartridge box decorated with a brass grenade on their waistbelt
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard n/a


N.B.: Raspe, at the end of 1760, illustrates a medium grey uniform instead of a grey-white one.

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

Officers

Officers wore uniform quite similar to those of the privates with the following differences:

  • gold laced tricorne
  • silver gorget
  • no turnbacks
  • a wooden cane

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

The colonel flag was white with a white cross sown with golden fleurs de lys. Ordonnance flags had a white cross with each canton subdivided into a brown and a red triangle. The cross had 12 golden fleur de lys in each of its branch. The ordonnance flags remained unchanged from 1671 to 1791

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

References

The article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Pajol, Charles P. V., Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 213
  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française, J. Corréard, Paris, 1849-1856, Tome 6, pp. 285-294, 297

Other sources

Anonymous: Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757, Vol. 1, ca. 1757

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

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (an interesting website which has unfortunately disappeared)

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1761

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

Service Historique de l'armée de terre: Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757

Taccoli, Alfonso: Teatro Militare dell' Europa, Part I, Vol. II, Madrid, 1760

Vial, J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar