Royal Deux-Ponts Infanterie
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Origin and History
The regiment was raised on April 1, 1757 by the Duc de Deux-Ponts in his estates as well as in Alsatian bailiwicks. This family owned the County of Ribeaupierre (Rappolstein in German), and the bailiwicks of Bischwiller, Guttemberg, Seltz and Hagenbach. Outside France, it also owned the bailiwicks of Neucastel, Barbelroth, Cleeburg and Weylenbourg in Alsace.
The regiment initially counted 2 battalions but was soon increased to 3 battalions.
In February 1758, the regiment was increased to 4 battalions.
On January 18, 1760, when the German infantry was reorganised, the regiment was reduced back to its original strength.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 119th and was owned by:
- since April 1, 1757 to March 10, 1788: Christian Duc de Deux-Ponts (never assumed direct command of the regiment)
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the effective command of:
- from April 1, 1757: Charles-Chrétien Guillaume, Baron de Clozen (promoted to brigadier on August 15, 1758; and to maréchal de camp on February 20, 1761)
- from February 20, 1761 to February 21, 1765: Baron de Scheidt
On December 31, 1762, the regiment was reduced to 2 battalions.
Service during the War
Somewhere between August 23 and September 6 1757, the regiment joined the Army of Saxony, led by the Prince de Soubise, in the area of Erfurt and Eisenach. Soubise considered the regiment as being of a particularly bad quality. On September 27, it was brigaded with I./Royal-Roussillon in the first line of the left wing of the Franco-Imperial Army. On November 5, the regiment was at the disastrous Battle of Rossbach where it was still brigaded with I./Royal-Roussillon in the first line of the centre. In this battle, the regiment lost Captain Geyer and Captain Stuart. At the end of the year, it took its winter quarters on the Kinzig River, at Hanau in Hessen.
At the end of January 1758, the regiment was assigned to the army that Louis XV planned to send to Bohemia for joint operations with the Austrian Army. However, when Ferdinand of Brunswick launched his surprise offensive in Western Germany, the regiment retreated towards Düsseldorf and Deutz with the bulk of Broglie's Army. It passed the Rhine on April 3 and 4. In the first days of June, Soubise's Army assembled near Friedberg in Hesse for an offensive in Hesse, the regiment was part of a detachment under the command of the Duc de Broglie who followed up Ysenburg during his retreat. On July 23, the regiment took part in the Combat of Sandershausen where one of its battalion was placed in the first line of the centre to support Royal Bavière Infanterie, while another battalion guarded the defiles at Sandershausen and the two remaining battalions guarded the town of Kassel. Three of its grenadier companies fought against the Hessian occupying the Ellenbach Woods on the French right wing. In this action, the regiment lost Captain Marquis d’Issembourg, killed. In September, it participated in an expedition on the Electorate of Hanover. It contributed to the capture of the mines of Klausthal. On October 10, it fought in the Battle of Lutterberg where it was deployed on the left wing of the second line of infantry.
On Tuesday January 2, 1759, at about 5:00 a.m., Nassau Prince Louis Infanterie presented itself before the Sachsenhausen Gate of Frankfurt and was admitted as previously agreed. As soon as it had entered the town, the regiment ordered the town-guard to deposit arms and to admit 5 other regiments (Beauvoisis (2 bns), Rohan Montbazon (2 bns), Rohan Rochefort (2 bns), Bentheim (2 bns) and Royal Deux-Ponts (4 bns)). These regiments then seized the artillery on the walls and all the other gates, easily capturing the city of Frankfurt. This very important town remained under French control for the last four years of the war. On April 12, Broglie's Army bivouacked near Bergen. He immediately deployed the regiment in the orchards near the village. On April 13, the regiment took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the first line of the right wing under the command of Prince Camille de Lorraine. The regiment was among the infantry entrenched in the village of Bergen. In June, at the beginning of the French offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the “Right Reserve” under the command of the Duc de Broglie who had taken position at Friedberg in Hesse. However, it was detached to Frankfurt to guard the city. On August 1, 2 battalions of the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where they were deployed in the first line of Broglie's Corps. The regiment took up its winter quarters in Frankfurt.
By the end of January 1760, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in the third line of the French army along the Rhine and the Main from its mouth. By mid-March, the regiment was billeted in Langen, still in the third line. By May 23, the regiment was part of the left flank brigade of the first line of Broglie's Army. On July 10, the regiment fought in the Combat of Corbach where it formed part of Broglie's leading brigades. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Frankfurt.
In 1761, the regiment was at Frankfurt am Main. It was sent to Bergstadt with other troops to force the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick to retire from Büdingen to Lich. On March 21, it took part in the attack on Stangerode, where the Colonel-Commandant Comte de Clozen was wounded. On July 6, it accompanied the Carabiniers, under the Marquis de Poyanne, to Erwitte to screen Lippstadt. On July 15, it took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen where it was attached to the vanguard of the right column. It made itself master of the village of Vellinghausen and of the nearby castle and drove the Allies back beyond the abattis defending their camp. It then took position in these abattis and in a nearby redoubt. Granby’s Corps vainly tried to drive the regiment out of these defensive positions. In the evening, the regiment was relieved by Aquitaine Infanterie and Rouergue Infanterie. On August 19, as it was marching towards the camp of Fürstenberg, the regiment was attacked near Oldenburg by a corps of English and Scottish grenadiers but it drove them back. On September 2, it made itself master of the Forest of Sababurg. On September 3, it captured the Castle of Sababurg and its garrison. On October 10, it captured Wolfenbüttel and its garrison.
In 1762, the regiment served in Western Germany. When it returned to France, it was stationed at Thionville.
In May 1763, the regiment was transferred from Thionville to Zweibrücken.
The États militaires of 1758, 1759 and 1760, La Chesnaye in 1759 and Taccoli's work all describe the uniforms illustrated in this article.
Surprisingly, the plate in the manuscript of 1757 kept at the Musée de l'armée illustrate a very different uniform: blue coat lined white, blue breeches, red collar with a small white buttonholes, red cuffs, white waiscoat, white buttons on one side of the coat, white laced buttonholes on both sides of the coat, 3 white buttons and buttonholes on each cuff, 3 white buttonholes at the small of the back, black tricorne laced silver. This plate might have been done after 1757, around 1761-62, or the illustrator did not work from a real uniform but had access to the pattern of the uniforms and colours of the future uniform...
In 1761, as described in the États militaires of 1761 and 1762 and Raspe's publication in 1761, the uniform was changed to a sky blue coat lined white with 3 white buttons under the lapel with crimson collar, lapels (9 small white buttons) and cuffs (slit cuffs with 3 white buttons and 3 small white buttons on the inner side of the cuff towards the arm). The waistcoat and the breeches were white. The horizontal pockets had 3 white buttons. The tricorne was laced silver.
|Neck stock||probably black|
|Coat||white lined white with 6 white buttons down to the waist on one side
|Waistcoat||white with 6 white buttons down to the waist on one side|
Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.
Becher's gouaches kept at the Wieimar Library, illustrate a fusilier and a grenadier of this regiment. They are consistent with the États militaires of 1758, 1759 and 1760 with the following minor differences:
- for the fusilier
- black tricorne laced silver with a white pompom in place of a cockade and 1 white tassel in each lateral corne
- 3 white buttons and buttonholes on each cuff
- escutcheon shaped pockets, each with 9 to 11 buttons
- 2 red grenades on the small button fastening the turnbacks
- yellow breeches
- grenadier sabre with red/white swordknot and pompoms
- sabre belt worn as a bandolier across the right shoulder
- for the grenadier
- dark brown bearskin with a silver front plate
- 4 white buttons on each cuff
- 2 red fleurs de lys on the fastener holding the turnbacks
- grenadier sabre with red swordknot and 2 red pompoms
- sabre belt worn as a bandolier across the right shoulder
Contrarily to other royal regiments, the musician of this regiment wore the livery of the Duc de Deux-Ponts.
There seems to be important confusions concerning the colours of this regiment. Susane in 1850, Bouillé (Les drapeaux français- étude historique - 1875), Pajol in 1880 and Mouillard, all describe the colours illustrated hereafter. Furthermore, they all indicate that there were two successive colour patterns: a first in 1757 and a second in 1770. However, the manuscript "Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757, tome I", supposedly of 1757, depicts the colours that these four authors consider as the 1770 pattern.
Initially, the colonel colour was probably white with a white cross.
Initially, the ordonnance colours had a white cross and purple and crimson cantons.
There is no doubt that, after 1770, the regiment carried more elaborate colours. However, these new colours had probably been distributed at an earlier date. The exact date of distribution of this new pattern is not yet known. These colours are illustrated hereafter as per the manuscript of 1757 and Chaligny's painting of 1771:
- colonel colour: white field sown with golden fleurs de lys; a golden sun with the king's motto "NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR" embroidered in gold on a blue scroll lined red in the upper part; the complete arms of the Duc de Deux-Ponts in the lower part;
- ordonnance colours: a white St. Andrew cross with a golden crown in its centre and two golden fleurs de lys on each branch; upper and lower white triangles charged with 5 red vertical waved bands; left and right white triangles charged with 5 blue horizontal bands; the arms of Bavaria and Palatinate in the left and right triangles; the arms of Veldentz and Hohnstein in the upper triangle; the arms of Ribeaupierre and Hohenack in the lower triangle.
The 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 7, pp. 348-351, 354
- Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 194-195
Brodrück, Karl: Quellenstücke und Studien über den Feldzug der Reichsarmee von 1757, Leipzig 1858, p. 218
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website which has unfortunately disappeared from the web)
Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV, Paris, 1882
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
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
Jean-Louis Vial for the additional information on the colours and uniforms.