Origin and History
The regiment was created on September 3, 1684 as “Béarn Infanterie”, in the Pyrenees region. Indeed, expecting a Coalition to soon form against France, Louis XIV raised 30 new regiments from September 1 to 30 for the defence of the various places of the realm. By raising one regiment a day, he avoided any problem of precedence among these new regiments. The new regiment was formed from the “Garanné Bataillon” of Picardie Infanterie and given to Henri-Charles de Mornay, Marquis de Montchevreuil.
In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment took part in the conquest of Palatinate. In 1690, it was attached to the Army of Flanders and fought in the Battle of Fleurus. In 1691, it was with the Army of the Rhine. In 1692, it was transferred to Italy. In 1693, it took part in the Battle of the Marsaglia. In 1694 and 1695, it campaigned in the Alps; and in 1696 and 1697, on the Rhine.
In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was assigned to the Army of Germany. In 1702, it took part in the capture of Neuenburg and in the Battle of Friedlingen. In 1703, it served with the Army of Bavaria. In 1704, it took part in the Battle of Schellenberg and in the disastrous Battle of Blenheim. In 1705, it was attached to the Army of the Moselle; in 1706, to the Army of the Rhine and in 1707, to the Army of Flanders. In 1708, the regiment took part in the failed expedition in Scotland and in the Battle of Oudenarde; in 1709, in the Battle of Malplaquet; in 1712, in the Battle of Denain and in the sieges and recapture of Douai and Le Quesnoy.
During the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served in Italy from 1733 to 1736.
From 1739 to 1741, the regiment was part of the force occupying Corsica.
In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment served in Flanders. In 1743, it was sent to Germany and took part in the Battle of Dettingen. In 1744, it was at the siege and capture of Freiburg. In 1746, it served in Flanders where it took part in the Battle of Rocoux. In 1747, it was assigned to the defence of Provence. On July 19 of the same year, it took part in the combat of Assietta. Two of its officers and 113 men died in that battle.
In 1749 the Santerre Regiment was incorporated to the Béarn. The regiment counted two battalions.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 72nd and was under the command of:
- from January 15, 1745: Vincent-Sylvestre de Thimbrune, Comte de Valence
- from March 23, 1747: Henri-Bernard-Emmanuel, Marquis de Valence
- from January 1, 1748 to November 25, 1762: Claude-Sylvestre de Thimbrune, Chevalier de Valence
The regiment was disbanded on November 25, 1762. Its grenadiers and officers were incorporated into the Grenadiers de France while its sergeants, corporals, fusiliers and drummers were offered the opportunity to serve at Saint-Domingue in the colonies by joining the Boulonnais, Foix or Quercy regiments.
Service during the War
The two battalions of this regiment operated on different theatres of operation for most of the Seven Years' War. The 1st Battalion remained in Europe while the 2nd was sent to Canada.
The 1st battalion remained in Europe throughout the Seven Years' War and was assigned to the defence of the coasts. By August 1 1757, the regiment was stationed at La Rochelle in Aunis Country.
In 1755, the second battalion (13 companies) formed part of the reinforcement destined to Canada. On May 3, the fleet transporting these reinforcements set sail from Brest. On June 20, the battalion disembarked at Québec. Soon after, it was sent to Fort Frontenac (present-day Kingston) along with a battalion of Guyenne Infanterie. The battalion took up its winter-quarters in Contrecoeur and Laprairie.
In June 1756, the second battalion was sent to defend Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario. In July, part of the battalion was recalled from Niagara to join the expedition against Fort Oswego. It took up its winter-quarters in Contrecoeur and Laprairie.
In May 1757, the second battalion was back to Carillon (present-day Ticonderoga) where it continued work on the fort. By July 20, a French force totaling 8,000 men (including this battalion ) was gathered at Carillon. On August 1, this force left Carillon with the Marquis de Montcalm and advanced towards Fort William Henry. From August 5 to 9, the battalion took part in the Siege of Fort William Henry. After the capture and destruction of the fort, the French force reembarked on August 16 for Carillon. On October 20, the battalion quitted Carillon to take its winter-quarters, leaving a piquet behind to garrison the fort during winter. On October 27, it went to Montréal to garrison the town during winter. On November, the battalion nearly mutinied due to the reduction of rations. For winter-quarters, 7 companies remained in the town of Montréal while 6 companies went to the opper part of the Island of Montréal.
In mid June 1758, the battalion left its quarters and moved towards Carillon. On June 30, it was part of Bourlamaque's detachment which took position at the head of the portage at the outlet of Lake Saint-Sacrement (present-day Lake George). On July 6, as the British expedition against Carillon materialised, it followed the French main force to the left bank of the fall before retreating to Carillon. On July 7, it worked at the entrenchment in front of the fort. On July 8, it took part in the victorious Battle of Carillon where it was deployed on the right wing under the Chevalier de Lévis. Between November 1 and 5, the entire French army gradually quitted Carillon to move to its winter-quarters, leaving detachments from various battalions to guard the fort. The battalion took up its winter-quarters in the lower part of the Island of Montréal.
On May 29 and 30 1759, the Chevalier de Lévis arrived at Québec with all 5 battalions of regulars (La Sarre Infanterie, Royal Roussillon Infanterie, Languedoc Infanterie, Guyenne Infanterie and Béarn Infanterie) along with the Milice du district de Montréal. While awaiting the arrival of the expected British amphibious force, the French army encamped on the right bank of the Saint-Charles River and fortified it to serve as a second line of defence if ever the British managed to land at Beauport. On June 26, the French army moved to its encampment at Beauport. The 5 battalions of regulars, forming a single brigade, held the centre. On July 31, the battalion took part in the victorious Battle of Beauport where, with the grenadiers, it guarded the extreme left near the cataract of the Montmorency River. On September 13, the battalion took part in the disastrous Battle of Québec (aka Battle of the Plains of Abraham) where it was deployed in the centre. After the battle, the regiment followed the French army in its retreat towards Jacques-Cartier. On October 28, the piquets and grenadiers of the battalion retired from Pointe-aux-Trembles (present-day Neuville). In November, the regiment took up its winter-quarters in the lower part of the Island of Montréal.
By March 1760, 52 men of the battalion had been detached to Saint-Jean while 18 were unfit for duties. This left 384 men available for the expedition against Québec. The latter were supplemented by 184 men from the militias of Longue-Pointe, Pointe-aux-Trembles near Montréal (not to be confused with the town of the same name near Québec), Rivière-des-Prairies and Sault-des-Récollets who were integrated into the battalion. From April 21 to 25, transport vessels gradually sailed from Montréal for Québec. Overall the battalions then counted 24 officers, 371 regulars, 221 militia and 33 non-combatants for a total of 646 men. On April 28, the battalion took part in theBattle of Sainte-Foy where it was deployed in Lasarre Brigade on the left wing of the first line. During this battle, the regiment charged at bayonet point. In mid May, after the failure of the siege of Québec, the battalion retired to Jacques-Cartier. On May 24, the battalion left Jacques-Cartier. On September 9, after the capitulation of Montréal, the battalion still counted 306 men and 23 officers. On September 16, as per the terms of the capitulation, the battalion was embarked aboard British transports who reached Québec on October 10 and 11 and then sailed for France where they arrived in December.
After the return of the 2nd battalion to France, the regiment was reorganised by the regulation of February 1, 1760 into only 12 companies of 20 fusiliers and one company of 40 grenadiers.
On November 25, 1762, the regiment was disbanded.
The following description of the continental uniform has been verified against the manuscript "Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757, tome I" and Taccoli's book published in 1760.
|Coat||white lined white
|Waistcoat||red with a single row of copper buttons; horizontal pockets with copper buttons|
Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.
Initially, in 1755, the Ministry of the Navy supplied new uniforms to the troops sent as reinforcement to Canada. Accordingly, the 2nd Battalion was issued uniforms differing from its regulation uniform. At a certain time during the following years, this battalion probably received uniforms more in accordance with its full regimental regulation. The Ministry of the Navy specifications were as follows.
In the general state of the supplies of the six regiments embarked for Canada in 1755, the drummers of the Artois, La Reine, Béarn, Bourgogne, Languedoc and Guyenne regiments were described as wearing the King’s Livery.
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 (the regular colonel colour carried by most French infantry regiment)
Ordonnance colours: a white cross and isabelle (coffee) cantons. Each cantons had two horizontal red bands. The ordonnance colours remained unchanged from 1684 to 1762.
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 8, pp. 217-219
Anon.: Manuscript Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757, tome I"; Musée de l'Armée, Paris
Bakshian, Aram Jr.: Soldiers of New France - French and Indian War, The Armchair General Vol. 1 No. 3, 1968
Chartrand, Rene, The French Soldier in Colonial America
Dechêne, Louise: Le Peuple, l’État et la Guerre au Canada sous le Régime français, Éditions du Boréal, 2008, p. 355
Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London: 1899
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Lévis, chevalier de: Journal des campagnes du chevalier de Lévis en Canada de 1756 à 1760, Montréal, Beauchemin, 1889, p. 38, 40-42
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
Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891
Parkman, Francis: Montcalm and Wolfe, Collier Books, New York, 1884, p. 218
Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757, Service Historique de l'armée de terre
Taccoli, Alfonso: Teatro Militare dell' Europa, Part 1, vol. 2; Madrid, March 1760
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.